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Looking for Beta Readers for a Story

4 months ago

Hey everyone!  I've finished writing my story for the Manifest Destiny Contest, and am looking for a few people to help me beta read before I officially publish it.  If you're interested in helping me out, here's the link to the storygame:  Capture the Flag

This is a short cave-of-time style entry for the family friendly category about a group of kids playing capture the flag.  It is 27,960 words in total, and I would guess about 4000-5000 of those words are padding due to copy-pasting.  I don't have a specific target age in mind, but the kids in the story are around 12, so that would be closest.

In addition to usual feeback on quality/premise/etc., here's some specific feedback I'm looking for:

1) How should I rate the maturity and difficulty?  I'm not familiar enough with the systems yet to be sure where this game falls.

2) Is there anything in here that makes you question its placement in the family friendly category?

 

Also, I know for contests many people track their daily progress, so here's mine:

July 20:  I created a plan for every link in the game, and wrote 2933 words.

July 21:  3518 words.

July 22:  3282 words.

July 23:  3773 words.

July 24:  2299 words, I reworked some issues with my plan.

July 25:  5066 words, I reworked some issues with my plan.

July 26:  5192 words, I began to edit and map the story out on the CYS editor.

July 27 (today):  1684 words, I finished the editing, finished mapping on the editor, and copy-pasted all the words in.

 

For anyone who beta reads this, your help is greatly appreciated!  Thanks a ton!

 

EDIT:  I can't figure out how to make the link clickable, but it still leads to the game if you copy-paste it.

EDIT 2:  Got it, thanks Mizal!

Looking for Beta Readers for a Story

4 months ago
That is a lot of writing. I mean it's not even September yet, why are people already starting these? Was this a plot you already had in mind or something you came up with on the fly? Seriously how the heck are you doing 5k words a day, that's @Green44 levels of productivity. Anyway, I can't volunteer just at this moment I'm afraid but I hope you're able to find somebody to help look it over. Lots of the more active members are tied up in their own contest entries write now. Normally @Zake might do it, but he's busy letting Mara write his story for him right now. I could conscript @Ogre11 but he'd wander in confused, and then leave that way too. It occurs to me that @Avery_Moore isn't doing anything useful, but generally her ass is too wily to pin down on these kinds of things.

Looking for Beta Readers for a Story

4 months ago
Huh? Who? What?

Looking for Beta Readers for a Story

4 months ago
Well, Gryphon has done a good job of finishing this so fast, so there's a chance I end up with some free time before the deadline, aha.

Altho I generally dislike proofreading (even if I think it is important), so I might not jump at this opportunity. Then again, I could just do a general reading and leave the 'smaller' mistakes for others (if there are any).

Time will tell, (someone can tag me in two weeks).

Looking for Beta Readers for a Story

4 months ago

Oh, I should have clarified this in my original post, but I already did a pretty thorough proofread, so there shouldn't be any spelling or grammar mistakes (I hope).  If you do have time for a general read, that's all I need, if not, no pressure!

Good luck on your contest entry!

Looking for Beta Readers for a Story

4 months ago

The plot was one I came up with after seeing which categories were open for the contest, but it's a pretty simplistic plot so it was easy to plan quickly.

I really only had time to do this because I'm between years of schooling right now, so there aren't any other draws on my time.  The day with 5066 words was also one of the days I did the most copy-pasting, too.

Since everyone's busy with the contest right now, I'll probably just try and reanimate this thread in a few weeks to see if anyone's time has cleared up.  Thanks for the reply!

Looking for Beta Readers for a Story

4 months ago
Commended by mizal on 7/28/2021 8:00:58 PM

I enjoyed playing your game. I felt as though I’d entered a full-on war, so you effectively communicated the game’s tension and seriousness. I liked how you broke it up with casual, "childish" conversations during jail time and patrols. The strategies and rules were fun and well-explained. I enjoyed the various problems, variety of choices, and sometimes unexpected outcomes. 

In addition, because you gave each group member a unique trait, they became more memorable. My favorite character was Corey and his stealthiness. I'm unfamiliar with rating game difficulty, but I didn't see anything less than family-friendly. Overall, I felt you did a good job. 

I’d like to offer several suggestions that may help enhance your story. (Please excuse my rough examples.)

 

First, to better capture interest and avoid overwhelming readers with information, consider opening the story closer to/in the middle of action. What if it began with a setback and raised the game’s stakes? Seeing the characters and their traits in action can increase their appeal. For instance, including more action may look something like: 

(Set near the opening scene)

“Pick faster!” Katherine snaps. 

They’ll be coming for you soon. By now, you and your group should’ve been deep in your territory, preparing for the game to start. Instead, you’re squatting on the streambank next to Mike, who’s sprawled on his stomach. Green, spiked burrs cling to his jacket and pants. 

Katherine scowls. “What were you thinking?” She rips another burr off his sock. “Why’d you roll when you landed?”

You roll your eyes. “He wasn’t thinking. That’s the problem.” Everyone knows that when you leap across the stream, you need to land on your feet. 

Mike’s face reddens. “Guys, stop,” he groans. 

Across the water, the woods echo with distant shouts from the other team. Earlier, you’d sent your faster runner, Stacy, to hide the flag. But if your opponents cross the stream to steal it, she won’t last long alone. Tossing aside the last burr, you pat Mike’s shoulder and heave him to his feet. “C’mon, we gotta get moving.”  

As for your great background information, it can be alluded to throughout the story. Ex:

“Do we really have to do this?” Katherine’s [color] eyes cut to you. “It’s just a cafeteria seat. Can’t you find another?”

At the thought, you bristle. “No way.” [explain why it’s important]

Alternatively, once the action/scene has been set, you could use the next scene and briefly jump back to earlier that morning (ex: “It all started when . . .”)

 

Second, consider spacing out character introductions to reduce confusion and avoid overwhelming readers. One way is to later introduce some of the characters’ unique traits through action, rather than stating them. It also helps readers feel they naturally discovered the information. 

Another way is for opposing team members to be introduced during encounters since the protagonist doesn’t initially spend much time with them. For instance, it may look something like: 

(During the scene when you hide in the bog)

The voices grow louder. As they near the bushes, you peer out, only to freeze.

It’s Jonathan, the second fastest boy in your class. Next to him walks Finn, whom you’ve seen with your friends but never talked much to. 

 

Third, to avoid repetition, perhaps reduce the use of dialogue tags. You could also alternate them with actions, which can reveal more about the character. For example, instead of (“It’s almost five minutes,” says Katherine, checking her watch), try keeping it to: (“It’s almost five minutes.” Katherine checks her watch.) 

 

Fourth, to show instead of tell and also increase immersion, consider reducing filter words similar to “you hear” or “you see.” Too many can place distance between the character and the reader. It also reduces the impact of your great descriptions. For instance, the sentence “You can hear the sounds [of] voices approaching” might look something like: 

As you land on a tree branch, a noise stops you. “Wait,” you whisper.

The group falls still. Your sneakers wobble on the branch, but you hold still, straining your ears. There. Distant voices drift through the woods, coming closer.

Katherine exchanges a panicked look with you. 

“What do we do?” Stacy hisses. 

You scan the area, but there’s not much cover. Only mud and tree roots. Finally, your eyes fall upon a cluster of bushes on the left. The only problem? They’re sitting in the wettest, muckiest part of the swamp. If someone stumbled upon you, the mud would slow you down. 

Another option is to sneak around the voices towards the right. A risky move, but if spotted, you have a better chance of escaping to your territory. 

 

Finally, consider condensing your sentences. Multiple times, they contain unneeded, lengthy phrases. For instance, instead of “It’s slow going through the swamp, since you don’t have any particular desire to . . . etc.” perhaps it could be reduced to:

Going through the swamp takes ages. You’d cut through it, but who wants to slosh in mud and run around in wet sneakers? Instead, you and your group stick to the dryer parts and climb on tree roots when possible.

 

Overall, I enjoyed your game. The dynamics between your characters felt engaging and fun. Combined with the conflict and interesting war strategies, it was a fun, short read. Adjusting the opening scene, spacing out introductions and information, and working on the immersion would enhance your piece. I hope you keep writing!

Looking for Beta Readers for a Story

4 months ago
Oh hey, good to see you're still coming around. I remember you used to do some pretty nice reviews.

Looking for Beta Readers for a Story

4 months ago

Hey! I still stop by to check out new games. This site offers a good variety.

And thank you for the commendation and your comment. That's nice of you to say that! :) 

Looking for Beta Readers for a Story

4 months ago

Thanks a ton for your feedback!  This is a really in-depth response, I greatly appreciate your illustrative examples, and the time you took to help me with this.  I'm going to go and incorporate your suggestions into my game.  I'm not sure if I'll use the first one though, as I'm not sure I could write a flash-forward opening action sequence that isn't specific to one of the four main plot lines.  Would you like me to tag you after I incorporate the edits?

EDIT:  I've finished going through the story and putting the edits in, though I couldn't find a way to work the first point in without making the story's intro lose cohesion.  Thanks again for your feedback, it was really helpful!

I'll probably officially publish this story tomorrow or the next day if there are no other people who want to review it.

Looking for Beta Readers for a Story

4 months ago

Hey there! I'm glad you found my feedback helpful. I took a glance. You did a good job with rewriting those sections! If you're looking for grammar feedback, I edited this sentence from the bog scene (awesome description of the brook by the way. I could hear it): 

“Wait,” you whisper and lean forward. Stacy and Corey's conversation dies out. Sure enough, drifting above the distant gurgle of the brook are approaching voices. And they’re coming right towards you. 

Well, it seems you have plenty of time before the contest deadline. If you want more feedback & beta readers, waiting a little longer doesn't seem like it'd hurt. Either way, best wishes with your writing!

Looking for Beta Readers for a Story

4 months ago

Gyahh, thank you for catching that!  I'm definately going to have to do a more thorough proofread than I thought.  Thanks a ton!

Looking for Beta Readers for a Story

3 months ago

(Since I already have a relatively recent beta reader thread, I’m just reanimating this one instead of posting a whole new thread.)

I’m not really expecting anyone to go for this, as you’re all busy with your own stories for the contest, but if anyone does have some free time on their hands, I’d greatly appreciate some beta readers for my new storygame:  Ruins of Anzar

This is an open-map item-based game for the puzzle/game category about exploring some ancient ruins.  Play length will vary depending on how easily you solve the puzzles.  I’m aiming for this game to be moderately challenging, but for each puzzle to have a clear and logical solution.

I’ve already thoroughly edited this game for spelling/grammar and bugs, so you don’t need to look for those.  If you do see any I missed, however, please let me know.

 

In addition to the usual feedback on plot/writing/etc., here are some specific pieces of feedback I’m looking for:

1) What do you think of the title?  I know you’re not supposed to use a made up word in a title, but I think this may work regardless.  Thoughts?

2) Did any of the puzzles seem counterintuitive, or was the answer not hinted at enough?  I don’t mind some being difficult, but the answer should at least make sense in retrospect.

3) How was the overall difficulty level?  Did the game seem too hard or too easy compared to what I'm going for?  How would you rate it on this site's 8-point difficulty scale?

4) Especially at the beginning, this game has a few passages that are a little info-dump-y.  Were these sections boring and distracting, or did they work well where they are?

5) Would this game benefit from having a hint book guide?  This guide would be provided to the player on the first page, and include hints for solving the various puzzles.  Eventually it would directly give you the answer, but not before giving hints and suggestions first.

 

If nobody responds to this, I plan on reanimating this thread again after the contest is over.

Looking for Beta Readers for a Story

3 months ago

You probably should attempt to reanimate it after the contest, as I'm very busy working on my stuff for it, and I assume that a bunch of other people are in the same boat. Once the contest is done I will definitely take a look at your storygames, but you know, contest.