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Seeking Criticism

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#1 KennethEng   Members   

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Posted 18 March 2017 - 11:48 PM

This is not a search for a job, but I am seeking honest criticism for my new book:

https://www.amazon.com/Spell-Knights-Kenneth-C-Eng-ebook/dp/B06XPKCRXY/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1489902286&sr=8-1

 

The reason for this is that I am trying to develop this into a game (as can be seen by the scenarios in the book), but I cannot figure out why no one is interested. I have received some criticisms, but I am trying to get multiple opinions in order to assess my audience. 

As a postscript, I am not interested in discussing my political views, as most folks here seem to point that out as the first thing Kenneth Eng is known for. This topic is meant for a discussion on the above book. 



#2 frob   Moderators   

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Posted 19 March 2017 - 01:42 AM

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Cover is disturbing. What's with the fox head plastered on a girl's body? Who wears a mid-thigh skirt in a snow storm? Also, white on white is a bad choice for the text.

Since the price is $0, I picked it up. I could only read the prologue and the first chapter, and even that took effort.

 

Pick an age level and stick with it. It feels like you are trying to write a young adult fantasy. The text doesn't bear that out, but it feels like that is the goal.

Beginning in the first paragraph you have some fairly basic language: "The wind blew softly, sweeping small dust clouds over the cobblestone roads". I instantly had confusion with "sweeping small dust clouds" . Does that mean clouds of small dust? Dust clouds that are small? Clean it up. 

Then you jump to "The only light came from the stars, and the occasional candlewick flames swaying with the air as nocturnal villagers tried to get some reading in before slumbering."  Have you tried to say that out loud? The words are far more advanced than typical young adult fantasy.

Then you reach this gem: "At the same time, Nephro, a red anthropomorphic lobster, sat in his home, hunched over before a parchment."  You're going with "anthropomorphic"? That's not young adult language.  

Then down another paragraph, "A female anthropomorphic ibex goat barged in, hooves stomping on the wooden floors with footprints of dirt."   :blink: What kind of book am I reading? This is not young adult fantasy, not with words like "anthropomorphic ibex". What kind of hooves create footprints?  Are they floors that have footprints, or are the footprints freshly made from the hooves?

 

Sentence structure is irregular. You have many clauses in your sentences and hold them together with commas. It feels like you put together a bunch of sentence fragments and stuck them together without rhyme or reason. A good warning sign for these problems is comma use. In your first ten sentences you have 14 of them as you string together concept after concept.

Paragraphs are not cohesive. They should generally express a single idea in the first or final clause. All other parts of the paragraph should build on the idea.

Chapter one, the first paragraph expresses at least two ideas: the realm of the Sphere and the realization that the world is filled of heroes and villains. It feels like you might be developing a few more ideas, but they awkwardly die in the middle. 

The second paragraph expresses four ideas: the idea of a castle under construction, who the characters are ("anthropomorphic primates"), the summer season, and that nobody is working (stated four times).  It is important to establish the scene, but the structure is far too complex for the simple idea of a castle construction site and slow-moving workers.

The third paragraph: More "anthropomorphic primates", the idea of protective guards, the fact that you have a democratic kingdom, the technology level of castle guards using battleaxes, the idea that armor fit badly, that they were lazy, stupid and incompetent, and (three times) pointing out that these are primates. Sorry, anthropomorphic primates.  Not to be confused with the anthropomorphic birds covered in the following pages.

The small bit of dialog is nice, for a page or two. I'm wondering why you've got locations like "Castle 52" and "Village 208". Sadly, the issues above resume and make the rest of the chapter painful to read.

 

I am trying to get multiple opinions in order to assess my audience. 

 

My opinion is that the author needs go to a community college and take a few courses on written English, with particular focus on feedback from the instructor and classmates.  I would also advise reading the text aloud to other people just to hear how it sounds.

 

Also, I'm moving this to the Writing forum, where it is a much better fit.


Check out my book, Game Development with Unity, aimed at beginners who want to build fun games fast.

Also check out my personal website at bryanwagstaff.com, where I occasionally write about assorted stuff.


#3 sunandshadow   Members   

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Posted 19 March 2017 - 02:32 PM

I also didn't like the cover image, but I would have ignored that as far as a book goes.  (I do regularly read furry fiction, just to establish that.)

The reason I wasn't interested in looking at it even as a free book is the way the summary makes it seem to be aimed at quite a young audience, and I find that a lot of YA material is just terrible.  What the summary said about the content of the book didn't encourage me, as neither the setting nor the main character sound appealing.  I have to wonder why you wrote this particular story.  Even if you specifically wanted to write a story about anthros, and a non-sexual one at that, and even if you specifically wanted it to be YA too, there are many more interesting stories there that you could have written.  If you want to describe your writing goals and motives, I might be able to make a more constructive suggestion.


Edited by sunandshadow, 19 March 2017 - 07:15 PM.

I want to help design a "sandpark" MMO. Optional interactive story with quests and deeply characterized NPCs, plus sandbox elements like player-craftable housing and lots of other crafting. If you are starting a design of this type, please PM me. I also love pet-breeding games.


#4 richardurich   Members   

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Posted 19 March 2017 - 04:54 PM

The fox head on the body on the cover is not natural looking at all. Maybe you're in the uncanny valley, because it's way creepier than it should probably be. I'm not sure why.

The text of the book, I only managed to read a couple paragraphs. When I hit the anthropomorphic crab, I quit. You just don't use anthropomorphic to directly bestow that attribute. Ever. It's a technical description, not a picture painted with words. If frob is right that you used "ibex goat" that also would have instantly killed the book for me. It would be like reading poodle dog or pit bull dog. Noun noun is usually improper structure. Use an adjective or two instead. Unless you know exactly why you are using a noun to describe another noun in grammatically incorrect fashion, don't do it.

Let me cover the opening paragraph since it didn't instantly repel me, but has issues. Heavy use of it at the start is a turnoff. If you want me to care, "it" is not how you accomplish that. Humanize if you want me to empathize. Vilify if you want. Enrapture me with beautiful descriptions of the scenery if you so choose. But pick what you want to accomplish, then write accordingly. I want to be drawn in. Like let's say Village 208 is where a great evil guy came from a hundred years ago. Then you pull someone in by saying "Nephro pushed some leaves aside to reveal an unkempt sign. Village 208. The mere sight of those words made Nephro's shell rattle uncontrollably. Even knowing The Evil One was dead before Nephro existed. Even before his great-great grandparents." Now I know Village 208 is scary, Nephro isn't quite human, but can push aside leaves, read a sign, and feel fear the same as I would. Whoa, he's anthropomorphic without saying it! And my writing probably sucks, but hopefully you get the point. Ask me to write some code, and it will be much prettier!

Let's take a look at the opening paragraph a different way. What emotion did you try to evoke from the reader? If you don't have a clear answer, the reader usually fills it in with "boredom" for you. And honestly, it feels like that was actually your aim! I mean, you literally said "Not much happened here."

I don't want to discourage you too much though. Your story might be awesome. These are all pretty minor things that are kind of easy to fix compared to dealing with a horrible story. If you haven't taken a writing class, take one online or something. I bet you'll surprise yourself with how much improvement you will see if you just learn the basic concepts in storytelling. If I had to make a single suggestion to you, I'd say don't try to fill in all the details. Just focus on whichever details serve your purpose at the moment. Think about how many characters in books aren't really well-defined. How tall was Jesus in the Bible? What race was he? Did he have a crooked nose? We don't know, because the story didn't warrant those details.

#5 KennethEng   Members   

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Posted 31 March 2017 - 09:44 PM

Thank you folks. Since most of the comments here state that the story is fine, what would it take to turn this into a game? I know absolutely nothing about games, never having played them for decades. However, I am trying to market this to industry pros by creating a test market. 



#6 Tom Sloper   Moderators   

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Posted 31 March 2017 - 11:16 PM

Kenneth, this is the Writing forum. If you want information about how to
get a story turned into a game, you need to post that request in another
forum.
- If you want to ask about how to license your story to a game publisher,
ask that in the Business and Law forum.
- If you want to ask about how to contact developers and manage them in
developing your game, ask that in the Production and Management forum.
Good luck!
-- Tom Sloper
Sloperama Productions
Making games fun and getting them done.
www.sloperama.com

Please do not PM me. My email address is easy to find, but note that I do not give private advice.

#7 KennethEng   Members   

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Posted 01 April 2017 - 12:42 AM

Thanks. Does anyone at least find the concept appealing?



#8 sunandshadow   Members   

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Posted 01 April 2017 - 01:57 PM

Studying screenwriting or writing for comics/graphic novels is a good place to start learning how to write a game script.  Story by Robert McKee is a book you could read - here's the amazon link, or you may be able to find it in a library:

https://www.amazon.com/Story-Substance-Structure-Principles-Screenwriting/dp/0060391685/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1491076166&sr=8-1&keywords=story

As far as your concept, I actually think that's the weakest point.  We can teach you to improve your writing skills, but teaching someone what makes good content is a lot more challenging.  I still would like you to describe your goals and motives in writing this story.  And I'm quite confused where you are seeing comments saying the story is fine.  I'm pretty sure we all said we didn't want to read the whole thing and thus were unable to evaluate the story.


I want to help design a "sandpark" MMO. Optional interactive story with quests and deeply characterized NPCs, plus sandbox elements like player-craftable housing and lots of other crafting. If you are starting a design of this type, please PM me. I also love pet-breeding games.


#9 jbadams   Senior Staff   

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Posted 19 April 2017 - 05:03 AM

Since most of the comments here state that the story is fine

Literally no one said that, you might want to re-read the feedback you've been given if that was your takeaway.  Like the others, I would suggest some basic education of writing technique.


- Jason Astle-Adams