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Proofreading and first impressions

3 months ago

Looking for someone to review a story I'm working on, "Varfell".

Want to make sure it's coming out coherent enough and flows right, etc.

I believe it can be found and played from my profie even though it's a wip?

If not, maybe try this link.

https://chooseyourstory.com/story/verfall

Proofreading and first impressions

3 months ago
Stories are accessible as long as you have them in Sneak Peek. (Title and description showing up in the profile.)

Can't read anything at the moment but the description looks promising. So many authors lean towards fantasy here, a modern small town horror looking thing will stand out.

Proofreading and first impressions

3 months ago

Gotcha, thanks!

Proofreading and first impressions

3 months ago

Well, the biggest issue is probably not something that you expected, but it's that there's no choices for too many pages. I feel like reader retention will be low because of this. It doesn't matter that there's 5 choices after those four pages without choices, because people will quit before they get there, thinking that it's just a story with arbitrary links/pages.

Also, the beginning is just odd, out of place, and uncomfortable. I mean, who would own a "MILF" mug (other than Ford)? I get that you want to start the story with a more lighthearted tone to help contrast the horror, but this feels like too much.

Otherwise, this isn't much to comment on. Keep writing, you haven't even gotten to the real nitty gritty of the horror yet, which is the main attraction of a horror game.

Proofreading and first impressions

3 months ago
Commended by mizal on 9/2/2021 11:12:41 AM

Hello there! I don't write reviews and critiques that often, but here's my take on it. The biggest compliment that I can give is that I got a clear sense what kind of person you want this main character to be. I think that I will break my commentary in some small bite sizes, makes stuff a lot easier to read. 

 

Lack of choice and how to fix it without getting a headache

It seems that other people have already pointed out your lack of choices in the beginning. It can indeed turn some people off your story. If you want to keep the linear structure without changing too much of the bulk, here are my suggestions in creating the false sense of choice. Be aware that you should use these methods sparingly otherwise people will notice.

 

number one: make longer pages

When I read through the first two pages, I was constantly thinking: "You can stick them together, it wouldn't break the flow." I cannot exactly say what the "ideal" page length is, but I do know that you have more liberty with the length on the first page as its purpose is to suck you into the world and story. So don't be afraid to make longer pages if the situation calls for it. The pages "options" and "a little jumpy" can also be stitched together without any worries.

 

number two: interactive lists and info dumps

This is what could be used to make the whole exposition about your children a bit more palatable. I feel that you should introduce them in a more organic way, but that's not what we're talking about. The thing is that you could make this list a lot more interactive.  Instead of a whole text block, break these segments apart and make these choices like this example: 

 

Bob drifts off. He thinks about his children. The child that comes to mind is:

> Bobby (background info about bob if you click on this option)

> Ann (idem)

> Margaret (idem)

> Don (idem)

 

It takes a bit more work with the editor, but it is more fun to the reader. Plus, this is a good way to info dump stuff on the player without making them feel bored. 

 

Number three: All roads lead to Rome

This is kind of what I often see in the walking dead video game series. You have the option to make a lot of choices, but the end result is the same except for some flavor text. One example is making a choice whether you like your coffee hot or cold. Thus, you write a page about you sipping hot coffee and a page where you were sipping cold coffee. Both pages will then lead to the same page: You throw the coffee away. 

When I read your text I haven't seen a way how you could use it, but it is a fun thing to keep in mind. 

 

Characterization and stuff

Look, I got the sense what you want to do with this main character. He is a gruff, perverted, everyday man who just wants to grill. I like that you got a clear personality for this guy. However, please be aware of making pop culture references and some "modern" language and slang, especially when you are not the same age as this main character. It's the same with fifty year old film board members writing a teen comedy, shit can easily get cringy if you're not careful.

The star wars references I can forgive, as it is a timeless work. However, regarding the line about Ariana Grande, I know that my dad doesn't give a shit about whether Ariana Grande is worse or better than Cardi B. Hell, he doesn't even know their names. If he was going to reference something, then it's probably dolly parton, michael jackson or any other famous person around his time. Even if you say that he likes this kind of music or listens to it for the sake of his daughter, this would clash with his previous personality and values. I got the feeling that he is a traditional man who likes traditional gender roles. So I have difficulty in believing that he would ever have a remote interest in singers that are popular with teenage girls without expressing reluctance about the act in itself. 

Regarding his relationship with his eldest daughter, I have a feeling that such a person would never be this self-aware of himself. 

 

You have never treated her badly because of this, or any other reason, but you were raised to be prepared for your first child to fit a “traditional” mold for girls

 

This is not what a generation x person would say. I only have seen this phrase used by millennials and zoomers. This father would probably say that he was irritated that she hadn't grown out of her tomboy phase or something like that. Also, the fact that he is uncomfortable with his daughter liking girls.

 

You are old-fashioned and are still getting used to the fact that she is smarter than you and she likes girls.

 

This too. No one will ever say this to describe themselves. This is too self-aware, too much introspection. I think that it is better to imply these thoughts than outright state them. Give more examples how these values clashed with each other. Perhaps something more like this:

"She once told you that she got a so-called girlfriend in college. At first you thought it was just a phase, that it was due to the college she went to or due to the dykes in the city, but after a while you knew that this issue wouldn't go away any time soon. You both were stuck with it. Perhaps you should have never sent her this far away in the first place. Plenty of people never went to school and they turned out fine. Despite your differences, your daughter is still your daughter. You wouldn't want to trade her for anyone else."

 Also, don't be afraid to put in some offensive slurs in it for this character. Plenty of older people use it unknowingly. It gives also an easy insight to the worldview of this man. 

To summarize this point: keep the age of the character in mind when writing your prose and funny remarks.

 

How to describe people

Hahaha, when you describe people's appearances less is indeed more. The blonde hair and blue eyes of the children could easily be skipped in my honest opinion. Then there's also this page. 

 

You stand in your bathroom in front of the sink in your pajama pants, glaring at the mirror at the 6’ 3” 225lbs dark blonde, blue-eyed bearded man in the mirror. You still have another 25lbs if you'd like to lose. Looking down, you squeeze your belly fat with both hands and growl “Die! Nobody wants you!” 

 

Do you really have to state your dark blonde hair or the fact that you're tall. Nope. I had forgotten about it as soon as my eyes glazed over it. If it doesn't add to the characterization of the character or isn't a very important plot point, leave it out. The last line however, is actually pretty nice and something you should do more often. You know that he is overweight, but that he is also a bit insecure and that he has a sense of humor. The line perfectly encapsulates what kind of person we're dealing with: "a middle-aged cringy everyday man." 

"6’ 3” 225lbs dark blonde, blue-eyed bearded man in the mirror" makes my mind go blank. No one will use these words to describe themselves. 

Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule and one excerpt of your story fits that mold. One thing I do forgive is how he describes his wife. The fucker is horny, naturally he will describe every curve of her ass and her hair and eyes. It would be weird if he doesn't.

To summarize this: every description of appearance has to serve some purpose. Be mindful about it.  

 

Minor nitpick

Dude, there are so many names that I have to keep track off. Five in only four pages and two minor ones. Then there were nicknames for some of the children. I'd say that you should get rid of the nicknames just to make it easier for the reader to keep track of all the children. 

 

Conclusion

The prose was readable and well-formatted, something that I always can appreciate. Huge massive text walls are a pain to read without proper spacing. Furthermore, I like that this main character isn't a empty husk. He was brimming with personality and flavor. I cannot comment too much on the flow since you haven't shown us a lot of the story. The premise does look very promising. To be honest, humor and horror can gel pretty well. Genre blending works are always an interesting read for me. 

Just keep in mind some of the points above and you'll be fine. Good luck with your story!

Proofreading and first impressions

3 months ago
Commended by mizal on 9/2/2021 11:12:32 AM

Here's a few things that jumped out to me:

1) Give the player options and/or reduce the length of the introduction.  This has already been said, but the lack of choices in the first few pages is indeed an obstacle for prospective readers.  In addition to the methods Darius suggested to curb this problem, you could also try to weave in some of the background material later on in the story.  For example, the information on the main character's family doesn't need to be discussed until the main character is in a position of directly interacting with them.  He doesn't even speak with the two younger kids in this section, so their introductions might be a good idea to push off.

2) Show, don't tell.  Much of the information you directly tell the reader could be conveyed through narration and dialogue.  You did a good job of this with Ann's introduction.  Particularly, the background information on the kids could be more smoothly conveyed through a scene where the main character sends them off for the day.  For example:

"Did Lexi get back to you about when she's coming to visit?" you ask Ann as you walk back out of the bathroom.

"She and her girlfriend will be coming down this thanksgiving."  

You grunt slightly at that.  Alexsis is your daughter, and obviously you love her, but her coming out as lesbian is still going to take you some time to get used to.  Best to change the subject.  "Good.  We still haven't had a chance to talk about the latest star wars movie."

You could do something similar with the other kids.  Maybe as Connor leaves for school the father reminds him about an upcoming test, and you can then go into some brief narration about Connor's academic habits.

In general, using external cues (such as dialogue and the scenery) to prompt your character's reflections will make the writing seem more direct and grounded in the moment.

3) Spelling and grammar are good!  I wasn't scouring thoroughly for typos, but everything I saw seemed well-edited.

4) A quick note on characterization:  I like the consistency of the narrator's characterization.  The reader gets a strong picture of his personality by the end of the introduction sequence.  However, often the narration is describing the main character's relationships and thoughts in an objective, disconnected way, which makes the reader feel more separated from him.  In order to pull the reader in to the narrator's perspective, I recommend writing his thoughts and opinions through his own words, rather than summarizing them for the reader.  This is probably particularly important for a horror game, where reader immersion is a key aspect.

A few quick notes:

-For the wife to have a 20-year-old kid and be only 37 herself, she would have had her first kid at 17 years old, so you may want to adjust some of the character ages.

-Your game description should probably talk more about the content of the game, and less about the main character's background.

Overall:  You've established your main character and the story's tone thoroughly, it seems like a pretty strong opening!

Proofreading and first impressions

3 months ago
>For the wife to have a 20-year-old kid and be only 37 herself, she would have had her first kid at 17 years

....Are you trying to say there are places where that's unusual?

Proofreading and first impressions

3 months ago
I don't think it's too much reading before the choice, it's four pages but they're shortish ones. That seems fine to me in an intro although you'll want to be careful of too many sections like that as the story progresses.

Just pointing out as well that Darius and Gryphon's combined commentary was longer than the story snippet itself. The real test of pacing and how well it holds together can only come once there's a bit more there.

Proofreading and first impressions

2 months ago
You're off to a great start, good luck with this!