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Landslide

one year ago
At the request of @poison_mara, I reviewed Landslide. I think my review is a bit too long to fit on the story page, so it's here:

Starting this thread because I think this review is going to be a bit too long to throw onto the page of the story. Mara, I’m going to try and read this for content, as I’m aware of the English language barrier. But I’m going to guess now that some errors in the language are going to be too entertaining for me to not mention. I promise you the purpose of this is to help you see what I’m reading and seeing so that you can make things better. None of this is to make fun of the writing or the story at all.

First, the disclaimers: this is my review. It is likely not like anyone else’s. In fact, you probably couldn’t find anyone else who completely agrees with what I write here. But it’s my opinion. I’m also writing this as I read through this for the first time. These are my first impressions as I read it. I’m not saying they’re right, just what I’m thinking. I haven’t looked at the other reviews or read anything else about this bit before writing this other bit. This is written in the spirit of helping you see how others (okay, me) see your story and to perhaps give you ideas for improvement, and not to be mean or anything else. Please don’t take it personally. Also, I tend to type very fast when working these, so there are likely many typos in this review. It is likely worth exactly what you paid for it. Finally, you did ask.

The story description sounds fun and entertaining. There’s a few minor errors that that stand out: “IN a natural park,” “And Sera HAS to,” and “NOT for children.” They’re minor, but for native English speakers, they really do stand out. It can cause the reader to have to go back and re-read sections, and that can take the reader out of the story. For me, when I read a story, my mind creatures pictures of what I’m reading. When there are conflicts, the picture isn’t as clear. If I have to re-read, I have to step out of the picture and the story is harder to understand and comprehend. Anyway, on to the story!

In the first sentence, there’s two English errors: “found” should probably be “find” and “faster enough” should be “soon enough.” I like the setup, though. I like that the story starts out with action and being trapped. I’ve already glanced ahead and noticed the “How did I end here?” link (that should probably be “How did I get here?”), so I know I’m going to get more detail soon. I would question my body being swollen from crawling through broken windows. Usually that leaves cuts and bleeding, not swelling. And I’m not sure anyone would call shards of glass from broken windows “crystals.” Why is it a “mortal” trap? I’m not sure what an “immortal” trap would be, so I just don’t see why that word would be there. Just “trap” or “accident” or even “landslide” could work there.

Now the sudden cracking from the cantilever is odd. I get that the place apparently collapsed around me. But there’s a candle flickering. The only way there’s a candle flickering after a cottage is buried in a landslide is if I lit it AFTER the landslide. But apparently the beams are cracking and the entire place is about to fall down on top of me. I feel like there might be a pacing issue here. When I started reading about someone finding me in time, it sounded like I was prepared to sit and wait a long time. The candle kind of supported that. But then the crawling through the glass and the cracking of the beams make it feel like there’s a big rush here and if I don’t move quickly then I’ll be smushed. I’m not sure what to think of those differences in pace.

Ok, I mentioned some of the English would stick out. On the Sera page: “I CAME here,” “relax and FINISH up my,” “and just WOKE up,” becomes my coffin,” “turns more stale,” “The CANDLE’S flimsy,” “light FADES away.” The story mentions hearing a noise and waking up to the planet shaking. Those are quite different things. If I hear a noise, that might be a mouse or something. I think it would be more dramatic if the entire world is shaking, that’s not just hearing a noise. Was I supposed to laugh at the next part? If I’m imaging an earthquake, that can be a terrifying experience. But then I pictured a giant tambourine. That’s funny, right there. I think perhaps that’s just an analogy that doesn’t work there. There’s a similar issue with the hissing noise. What is that? Is there a snake nearby? Was that the gas line? And how did the noise cover my whatever is my coffin? Noises don’t really do that very well (though they can with a special type of literary feature).

“You let yourself go” in English is normally associated with someone who was at one time fit and active and who is now fat and lazy. And another pace issue: suddenly I wake up in a massive earthquake, but I simply go and sit down behind the broken furniture. Well, if the earthquake is over, I guess that could be. But again, it shows a very slow pace and unhurried actions. Stale air won’t make breathing torture, it’s just stale. And stale really refers to the quality of the air, not the quantity. But if oxygen is disappearing, this suddenly got really, really bad. I thought there was just an earthquake and I was hanging out in the wreck of a house. But if there’s suddenly no oxygen, I’m trapped in an airtight container, and I have been for some time. Also, if there’s no oxygen, that candle over there is going to have trouble burning. I also had trouble with the last sentence. Did I die from lack of oxygen? Or did I die from fear? But wait, I’m not really dead, I can see that I have options at the bottom of the page. But to be fair, it did just tell me I died.

I’m going to die fighting. I can’t walk on my fours. I don’t know what that means. Did that mean crawling? No sense in even talking about how many limbs I have on the ground, just crawling would work. Those broken crystal windows are serious: they penetrated my bones! Most of the time broken glass would just penetrate the skin a little bit, not bones. But now I’m suddenly walking because I’m taking steps. That certainly implies I’m on two feet, not crawling on all fours. Except I’m walking on my knees. I’m also walking around, but trying to crawl my way to the surface. Which is it? Am I walking or clawing? I would think if I’m clawing, I’d read about my fingers digging in dirt, or clearing debris, or something like that. If I’m walking, or even crawling, where the heck am I going? Is there a door out of here that’s airtight?

Am I even alive? When you write “In the films,” you’re really taking the reader out of the story here. I have to stop what I’m doing, leave the picture in my mind, and think about films. For me, this really destroys the images and current feeling of the story. But wait, I’m dead. I think this is twice now that I’ve died. A minute ago I was crawling, walking, or digging my way out, but quite suddenly I died. Again. I don’t know what the hell is going on in that second paragraph. It shifts point of view from “I” to “your” in the same sentence. But now not only am I dead, I’m outside my own body that has apparently been dead for quite some time. Am I just delusional? Is this another LSD story? Why would my body already be infested with maggots if I just died? And why would I be looking at my own face? And where did this rusty, putrid anchor come from? Something is weird? You’re not kidding me. “How much time HAS PASSED since the landslide?”

One step beyond: Why is everything pink? I’ve heard of things going black. I’ve heard of people seeing the light. But I’ve never heard a dead person talk about everything going pink. But at least someone’s talking to dead me. And apparently I’m pissed at them. Why would I suddenly yell and swear at someone I don’t know? I’m not sure how to “burst promptly.” I’m not sure I can think of a way to use those words together in a sentence effectively. Maybe I should just yell. Also, since this appears to be me talking to myself, wouldn’t I know why I had been swearing since I was a kid? It seems quite odd to say why I “probably” was doing it.

This seems like a weird god. I get that it’s told me all about me being cursed, and apparently I really am dead this time. But why would it let me reunite? And I don’t know how a single person reunites. Usually that’s an action that specifically takes more than one person who have been together before. So I don’t know what word you were going for there, but it’s not “reunite.” At least I’m not so high that I don’t know about how long it takes my body to rot.

Also, how can something “decompose naturally in one day.” If it’s happening in one day, that’s kind of the opposite of naturally. From what I’m reading here, I think I got crushed in the house, I died, my body decomposed in one day, I’m staring at my body as a ghost, and someone is talking to me. If that’s not what’s happening, I’m even more confused than normal.

How can I save myself from that fate? I have to gather emotional power. Oh, and my emotions are magical. And I have to murder people to obtain this magical emotional power. People I possess. Or I can meditate until I am nothing. I’m not sure if I’m on LSD or the voice is. And voices don’t evaporate, especially if they stop talking. They just stop talking. But hey, now I’m back in my rapidly decomposed body again, pinned in rubble, so I’ve got that going for me. I have to say, those are some interesting options for me on this page. Since I think I was told to murder people, I’ll choose the anger option (because I didn’t actually have an option to murder my people).

I will wield my anger: I’m not sure “snarkily” is a word. And if it was, I don’t think it would go with a “crisp tone.” That was five paths. I think if there’s opposing paths, that part should be mentioned first, and you can introduce the different paths by pointing out how they are opposed to one another. But I have no damn idea what path I’m on now. I was told to go with murder, I chose anger, but now I’m told to continue trickery. I’m also really bad at math because after I’m told there are four (or five) paths and told to stay on just one; I ask about the other two. But wait, there’s more: after I was told to choose murder, actually chose anger, and then told to continue trickery; when asked about the others, I’m told those are violence and anger. So all told now, there’s paths for: murder, anger, violence, sex, sympathy and kindness, wisdom, apathy, havoc, wrath, trickery, lust, and passion. We’re up to twelve paths now. And I think the voice (that evaporated earlier) implies there’s yet another, path number thirteen: anything goes.

Oh wait, the voice is a him. I didn’t get that before. But I am confused at my choices. I can burst at him. First, I don’t know where he is. Last time he talked, the voice was all around me. Second, can I burst at him? That implies I will just throw my bloated ghost-corpse directly at him, wherever he is. I’m not sure that sounds like a legitimate option, so I guess I’ll ignore him.

Ignore Him: Now he’s a moron. I thought he was a god of some kind. I guess a weird god like this could be a moron, too. Hey look, I found another path: hopelessness! I really thought I had picked the angry murder path, but I guess that wasn’t to be. But hey, I was being nice when I chose to murder my friends, apparently. I have absolutely no idea what “Barely can’t read but possess editorials” means: not a clue. I do know “barely” and “can’t” are almost never found together, though. Apparently I’m a gay lawyer, though.

You start to ascend: Now I’m a dead ghost gay lawyer fume. I don’t know what a “fume” is. I only know that word as a verb. “elevate throughout” should be “rise through.” Now I’m between dimensions. No wait, now I’m floating around the perimeter of something. What, I have no idea. To go around the perimeter of something, I’d need something to go around, wouldn’t I? But now my head is spinning around, poltergeist-style, 360-degrees. And now someone is made of colors. And people. And everything. I think I absorbed some LSD on my way through the soil. I’m wondering how much marrow will be left in my bones if everything decays. I’m thinking the marrow dries up, too. How do I know the mystery timer is a timer if I can’t read the display? And what kind of speech reminds someone of white noise in a television?

What the hell? Now the voice is being nice to me? And it’s telling me I have a physical body – that’s rising up through the soil and seeing things in bright colors and a 360-degree view. That’s not like any physical body I’ve ever seen. And wait, why am I not used to having a physical body? I thought it was less than a day since I was buried? But hey, at least in my physical body, mortals can’t see me because… why? But at least I’ll adapt. “Fresh new dead ghost soul” had me laughing. I wonder where this random three people a day came from and if the current physical body I’m in counts as one. Apparently my tongue only works sometimes as I was just talking to the random male god-voice, but now I’m struggling to mumble. And there are human bubbles around. Wait, there’s a rescue team? For what? Remember, it’s been less than a day since the accident, as far as I’m aware.

I’ve run out of time, but it appears like most of the choices lead right back to the main path. That can be done well, but each choice should have an effect overall on the story. Since I didn’t get all the way to the end, I can’t be sure, but it doesn’t look like that’s the case.

In many cases, I think you tried to use too many ten-dollar words. There were several instances where you used a fancy word where a simple word could have been used. For example, no one “says bombastically.” They just don’t. No one says that word, and no one writes it. That’s just one place where a simple word, even if it’s been repeated, can word just fine. There’s no need to find a different way to say everything in every sentence. With conversations, you’d be surprised how well just using “said” can work, even when it looks repetitive.

Overall, I think you have the makings of a very good story here. But I think your English word choice is enough that it takes away from the story to the point that it’s distracting. It isn’t even that you don’t know the words – in many cases they are technically the correct words. However, they’re not words that people really currently use. I would suggest that as you learn more English you read as much as you can so that you can see which words are used in different cases. I know you’re working hard to learn the language, and the only thing missing is the colloquialisms of the language. I do realize it would be a lot for someone to majorly assist you, but I do think you have a good story: if this were run past a native English speaker where they could ask and confirm all the above question with you, translating it a bit, I think you quite possibly have a great story here. Don’t give up, English is a hard language with lots of strange, unwritten rules that are hard to learn unless you speak it and use it quite a lot. Good luck!

Landslide

one year ago
Thanks, @Ogre11 To my disclaimer the game was written in 10 days and has absolutely no proofreading. But it is very helpful the details you have pointed out. The game has been useful to me to notice that the horror genre is a genre I am terrible at and should not trying to make one again.

Landslide

one year ago
Horror is, imo, pretty hard to pull off. And I think in this case it was more the English word choice that took away from it -- I think there's a potentially good horror story here, I just couldn't focus on it because I was distracted by the word choices.