Hi all! I will start by saying I do not know how often it is appropriate to ask for people to read/provide feedback on unfinished stories. I am writing a fantasy epic and I am roughly 43,000 words in. This puts me to the place where I have one ending and am to the last "chapter" for one of the main branches; I also am at a place where I am wanting some feedback and proofreading.
Here is a link to the story: Dark Master
The idea of the story is that you are a master of dark magic, which is illegal, and you have the choice of using this magic for good or evil. The goal is to save the world from a terrible evil that uses light magic while changing people's perspective on dark magic. Of course, you can also save the world while continuing dark magics sinister reputation.
To get to where I am deep into the story you have to choose to trust/forgive Emily in the beginning, then choose to leave the earth school. From there the story branches further, but I have a lot done on those branches. If you do not trust Emily at the beginning of the story there is not a lot written, and what is there has to be redone a bit for characters to be consistent with the rest of the story.
I am pretty open to feedback, but if people do not want to read an incomplete work I understand. I also ask that if reading it now would prevent you from ever reading it once complete you also wait. I am trying to get it done sooner rather than later, but I would appreciate feedback before I am already done. Keep in mind that it is pretty long (already more words than any of my other games and not yet halfway done).
If this is an atypical request or if it is bad taste to add for feedback at this stage, let me know.
Oh you're still at it? That's great! I remember reading the first few pages (I guess there were 5 or 6) around a year, and it was interesting, and quite well written. I have great expectations so this better be good!
Yes I am, and I am honored that you remember it! I started a year ago, and then sort of wasn’t around much for a bit. When I came back I took time to write two other story-games for experience. This game is now 3 times longer than it was back then (both in total words and length of a single branch). I hope it lives up to your expectation!
I will start with the disclaimer that I might be wrong, but this is me talking about how I understand it, so if you manage to get more definite answers, do go with those. If I am wrong, at least then I'll (hopefully) learn. (Also, I think I'm using U.S. rules, despite UK being what I ought to be using).
Anyway, the weird thing is that you DO get it right quite a number of times, but why is it not totally consistent? Perhaps there is some misunderstanding going, either on your part or on mine. Regardless, it is worth looking into.
I hope this shows what I'm talking about clearly enough, since there are further problem parts down both ways. Dialogue attribution needs to be a part of the same sentence as dialogue, otherwise it is a sentence fragment. Attribution can go before OR after the spoken part. This brings me to a tangent...
Let us take a look at two sentences:
Now, I think both of these are technically correct, and I'm just using them to illustrate formats for where you have attribution between dialogue. There is a third one; all together there is:
It is possible that you have put some thought in which one fits best for flow and the like, but it is also possible you haven't. If you haven't, I think thinking a little about how you use these could help with keeping the story flowing how you want. It is good to be aware of the way things can be done.
This is something I'm talking about more, but I might be blowing it out of proportion on account of having started thinking about it some more, so take this with a grain of salt.
The Story Begins: adverb-ly count.
What do these numbers mean? I don't know, and considering I counted some things that weren't adverbs, I know even less so.
*edit* ouch, that table doesn't look too great, whoops.*end-edit*
But look, the point is, you used adverbs in place of the simple 'said/say' a number of times, and while there is nothing wrong with this, you want to be aware of it. This is because overdoing can detract from the reading experience.
This would matter more for when you are trying to build tension or make scenes snappy, it also affects sentence size which means it can be used to help vary length. Be doubly aware of it when writing fight scenes too. Sometimes, readers can figure out that something is done quickly based on context, making the word quickly obsolete.
This section is really just a general piece of advice, so it is less specific.
There is obviously much more to potentially mention, but I want to avoid rambling too much. I haven't read it all yet, or even most of it, so I might try again later when I have a bit more time.
It does look very promising though, but I really ought to take a closer look before saying something like that, aha.
Anyway, keep writing. The funny thing with dialogue punctuation is that because so many people get it wrong, it means it doesn't really detract from the reading experience, at least for people who don't know to look out for it. This applies regardless of if my evaluations were correct or not, heh.
P.S. Breaking technical rules (with a purpose) to achieve something is also allowed, but you generally ought to know the rules to do that well, and in certain cases you ought to ask yourself if it is worth it. Sentence fragments are generally bad, but they can have a particular effect that might work in certain situations. I think mentioning this is important, as if you are unaware, it can make writing appear more restrictive than it actually is (although I feel it may not be that relevant to you atm).
Hmm I did not realize this was distracting. I am trying to add to the mood and personalities of the characters. The lazy fella yawns more than he annunciates, etc. my worry is that is I change all of them to “character says” it will be repetitive and monotonous. My goal on the first page specifically was to quickly build the characters personalities so that their deaths were meaningful. I guess I am unsure how else to do this.
I have a lot of dialogue, so this would be very valuable to discuss. I have seen posts about removing the tags where there is a lot of dialogue—allowing the reader to assume the dialogue is alternating between two speakers—but usually I have more than two characters present. I do not want to create an issue where the reader loses track of who is talking. I could try to have each character have very distinct habits (like “err umm well he X Y Z” “Err umm well you see...”) but that seems really daunting. It also may just be annoying.
i understand you are busy, but if you have a suggestion I am open! I want to make the dialogue flow well and be interesting.
Thank you, this is wonderful feedback!
I think you are right about not capitalizing the attributions. I thought that if dialogue ended with a “!” Or something else besides a comma that would cause the next word to be capitalized like usual. I found out this rule from you in another thread (I believe) where someone was asking for proofreading of the first page of a story. I looked it up and this is absolutely something I did wrong. I think the last page of every branch may have it right? I hope...
I will have to look at this more closely. I did try to vary this structure (“text,” attribution, “text”) a bit, but my other stories had a problem with the flow. I do know that you can but the attribution before, after, or in the middle of the text. To be honest, I do not know when each form is best.
I am excited for Gower’s articles because my grammar is pretty weak...I will do my homework and try to root out most of the grammar problems.
I will look for this too as I haven’t given it much thought. I try to be descriptive and use these kind of words so the readers mental picture matches mine. I also think it adds variation, but I have not thought about how it relates to sentence lengths and flow. As I mentioned above this has been an issue in my writing, so I appreciate this suggestion. I guess I can let the reader think and figure a few things out...
I also will admit I haven’t purposefully broken and rules for effect, unless it is something actually spoken by a character. That is to say that if the mistake is not in quotation marks it was not intentional.
Exclamation or question marks are treated as commas for the purposes of punctuation if followed by attribution. I think of it as them just replacing the comma (or full-stop), and depending on what is replaced, punctuating appropriately.
Regarding when to use certain structures for dialogue...I'll need to think on it a bit. It is true that you did have variation, I just have a vendetta against: "text," attribution, "text." (so I had to mention it when I saw it, but it is technically correct so jumping on it is a little weird).
Structure/style are definitely worth discussing though, because they can have a massive impact on the reading experience. However, as I understand, there are less hard rules surrounding such things, and the last thing I want is to force my incomplete style upon you, aha.
Gower mentioned writing a style article regarding...certain styles, I forget their names, one was sweet. As I understood it, it might be something most people don't think about or know, in the same vein as dialogue punctuation, so I think it'll be a great article to read.
Trying to be descriptive is obviously good, and trying to characterize characters is great, but there are ways to go overboard and lose the desired effect. I don't want to say this is what has happened, I ought to take a closer look before making any such judgement, but I will say that if your style ends up being more on the descriptive side, there is nothing wrong with that. I think it is sort of about trade offs, but higher level stuff that goes into writing is trickier for me to talk about (as I'm more than amateur), which is why I push for author intent.
Moving on, breaking rules for effect is unnecessary, I'd say, but keeping it in mind as a potential tool is still good, just in case you find a situation where you are conflicted on what to do. The reading experience comes first (or something like that)!
Anyway, I'll go take a closer look and see if I can attempt writing about stuff other than punctuation and adverbly, aha.
Thank you! I do appreciate the feedback and am sorry about your vendetta (haha). I am trying to play with the structure more in the later pages that I am writing now to see what works. The structure you seem to dislike I find to be useful to imply pauses in speech or to slow the pace. You could argue it is choppy though, I suppose.
I will check out the articles, especially the one on writing styles! That sounds interesting.
If you get a chance to read it and notice anything that needs work feel free to say so! If I went overboard with any descriptions tell me where so I can correct it.
I'd like to have a full read when I get the time; school's started again so :(
Keep at it though! This is shaping up to be real good.
Thanks! If you do read it and have thoughts please let me know! I am trying to finish it before the year is out. I hope school goes well!
Also I am planning on reading your last page to 16 words post—I am very excited to check this out.
Will do :)
Because finding outside sources will help guide me a bit...here is one that mentions style (and it is poorly made, so you can just disable the html which hides the rest of it, though I'll only be talking about the first part): Narrative Techniques yada
You don't have to use any of these, but being a little more aware might prove beneficial (although I obviously don't know how aware you are atm). This is a bit of new ground for me when it comes to writing it, so I hope I don't get anything wrong, aha.
Check it out:
For those who read this and don't know the difference between similes and metaphors, simile use words within the comparison, in this case 'like'. A metaphor doesn't. i.e. "The bulb was like a sun." vs "The bulb was a sun."
I find that metaphors come across more strongly, and that I lean towards using similes more, but both have their uses and should be kept in mind. They can create powerful images, and help convey ideas quickly. How exactly to figure out which one to use? I can't answer that, see what'll lead to the best sentence I guess...but this is a bit of a non-answer.
Anyway, to demonstrate, see how these compare in regards to what they invoke:
The darkness was like a swarm of locusts. vs The darkness was a swarm of locusts.
I feel there is also more room to misunderstand a metaphor, in that you might think the darkness actually is a swarm of locusts, and this is why the surrounding context will matter.
Mizal likes this one. Here is an excerpt from the above-linked site (regarding what it says about imagery):
Imagery creates visuals for the reader that appeal to our senses and usually involves figurative language: 'The bar was a dark, gloomy eyesore.' This statement appeals to our senses to help us visualize and feel the negative aspects of this location.
Figurative language is the opposite of literal, so you don't have to be literal with the words meaning when describing something.
I'm not really qualified to muse much about imagery, but reading more about it might be a good idea. Anyway, if you lean more towards describing than not, imagery is a powerful tool that will help you engage readers and ensure they want you to keep describing things.
I was supposed to focus on reading what you wrote, so I'll list the other elements to save some time, aha.
I find it stands out, because I think they are used to show unnecessary but additional information, and I question why this is needed in a narrative work. I am curious what others think about parenthesis in their stories though, because this might just be me. If you do feel the same but are unsure on how to get a similar effect, I advise reading one of Gower's more recent articles: Relative Sentences.
If you are like me, and write in proper English, feel free to glance at the last section to feel better about yourself (if you didn't know this stuff), but regardless, it gives some good insight in how sentences convey meaning.
The word THAT is used for RESTRICTIVE CLAUSES.
The word WHICH is used for NON-RESTRICTIVE CLAUSES.
Read the article, but I point this out because this means you can use non-restrictive clauses to replace some parenthesis, such as here:
Amel is ran by a small board of 4 high Templars, who are skilled knights with powerful anti-magic fighting (they can cancel the spells of wizards and witches).
Amel is ran by a small board of 4 high Templars, who are skilled knights with powerful anti-magic fighting, which allows them to cancel the spells of wizards and witches.
(This is, of course, assuming I understood the article correctly.)
Sadly, this won't work for all parenthesis, but I still think it is worth thinking about a bit.
Numbers can be written with letters or...numbers. The most important thing is to be consistent. I like to do what a random google search told me, and that is:
A simple rule for using numbers in writing is that small numbers ranging from one to ten (or one to nine, depending on the style guide) should generally be spelled out. Larger numbers (i.e., above ten) are written as numerals.
However, you have used '4' as a numeral, and that is fine, just remember to be consistent in the future. (This still applies if you change it, then be consistent with whatever style you change it to).
This is harder to do in branching narratives, but still possible. Potentially adding in stuff after you have the vasts majority of the story written is one way to go about it, since you can be sure of where things will go. Anyway, I mention this to say that this line:
“I guess you don’t mess around with your revenge,” you joke trying to stop your heart from racing and kicking yourself for not remembering this trick earlier.
It makes me hope there is a path where Emily takes more serious revenge regarding something. Anyway, this can apply to any form of foreshadowing, though as it is generally subtle, chances are good I'll miss it (heh).
OKAY! Time to finish reading a path, I've more than met my psuedo-random thoughts quota.
I'm not here to nitpick, because it ends up pointless most the time, as explanations can be thought of to resolve any non-issues brought up.
Instead I'll say that optional lore dumps, where you explain rather than show, is interesting, because it always makes me wonder if I'd have been better off not reading them and seeing how the story tackles these things as they become relevant. I know Endmaster has these types of links, so I shouldn't be too judgmental as I'm sure they can work, so I guess my point is, just be careful with these type of pages.
Although, here is one nitpick, just for good measure: A brief history of the beginnings of Amel is the title of some book, so why is it not capitalised the way a book title would be? A Brief History of the Beginnings of Amel looks much better to me.
I like this. Burnt paper. Soggy paper. A fun image, and I agree with Todd about having an idea on why they changed to blocks.
Having different types of tones to ensure the story isn't just tension-tension-tension is good, as it can help keep readers engaged. It is easy to burn out if tension is all that is happening, but it does really depend on execution.
Anyway, I'm liking the tone flow so far.
“Lesser Fire Ball!” Emily shouts pointing at a tree behind you.
Foolish girl, there are bushes around, you'll start a forest fire!
Never mind, it isn't that kind of fireball.
Magic being triggered by words is very interesting to me, considering you don't need to have intent to cast, but just need to say the word. I wonder if in the fire school, when a teacher is teaching students about the world-class spell 'nuke', and they say, "Few fire mages are capable of world-class magic at all, but I am one of the few who are, heck, I can even cast nuke!" Boom.
Jokes aside, this also makes me wonder if there is only one language in the world, but such questions aren't very important, as they'll be answered as relevant.
I like the developments, and the branching is looking good. It is also progressing at a good pace.
I'm looking forward to the complete release, and I'm actually tempted to stop reading to avoid spoilers, aha. If the quality stays consistent I'd be pretty happy, and I have no reason to think it won't at this time.
Still, the macro is important, so trying to comment on that is a good idea.
However, for now I'll stop, but stay tuned for part 3, where we'll talk a bit about characterisation, minor/macro side of writing (to the extent of my abilities at least), and attempt changing some scenes around to (hopefully) examine style some more. It is important to not let yourself be influenced by my personal style though, as it has its own flaws which you wouldn't want to inherit, so think about the stuff mentioned and how/if it applies to you for your specific circumstances.
P.S. If no one responds to this, I would be able to just edit in the 'part 3', so consider holding back any responses till later. Regardless, very promising stuff, and do feel free to ask if there is something more specific you'd like me to ramble about a bit (since writing has so much to it, I'm sure I can think of something to say regarding most stuff, aha).
Reexamining some things has led to me making the decision that a part 3 is unnecessary, and frankly, it'd likely end up a mess. The stuff could still be worth talking about, but it'll be best if I leave it to others. Regardless, still looking forward to this.
Wow this is a lot!
I am going to try to take it all in and keep it in mind while writing. The articles--particularly the only on dialogue punctuation--are very helpful! I have already made some minor changes (such as the capitalization of the book you mentioned). I will be referring back to this often as you gathered a lot of technical writing info here!
I appreciate the help and the positive feedback! If you want to stop reading I do understand as reading an incomplete story can be maddening (haha).
One note on the "words as wands" section, because I thought this was a hilarious observation, is that you do need intent to cast a spell. Specifically you need to focus and emit energy in the proper way. The reason Todd casts the spell accidentally is because he lacks control. He also has so much dark energy that he can accidentally discharge some without thinking--think about how his aptitude test went vs Emily's (and Emily is considered a prodigy). That is my best explanation for the accidental spell-cast!