Critique pls

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alfdale
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Critique pls

#1 Post by alfdale » Fri Jul 14, 2017 11:19 am

A long, long, long time ago (I forget when exactly) I had an idea for a VN that I thought was interesting. I worked on it for a bit, and then of course real life intervened and so on. As a result it's not completed.

At the moment I am expecting to have a little more free time than I thought I would, and am wondering if I should try to get back into it again. On one hand it's not very long, nor was it ever meant to be very long, so I think I can probably finish it. On the other hand I don't know if it's any good, even if I could finish it. I guess the point is, I'm not sure whether I ought to use that little free time I am expecting to have, to work on it, or do something else entirely.

Is there any kind soul on the forum willing to take a look at it and tell me what you think? I know, I know - 9 times out of 10 when someone asks this what they really want is to be praised and reassured and encouraged. All those are nice, obviously, but for me there is a real question of how to spend my time; so plain honest critique is very much sought and appreciated.

A short description - it's a GxG kinetic novel (ie, no choices) called "Childe Rowan to the Dark Tower came". I suppose it is a romantic comedy of sorts; at least that was the intention from which I began writing it. The plot is about a knight-initiate called Rowan entering the Dark Tower to rescue her childhood friend, Princess Clarisse, only to find that the damsel in distress has a crush on her captress, the magical girl Mirabel. I guess it sounds silly enough, but I hope it is entertaining too. It's slightly under 10,000 words long at the moment, and around 70% done.

Please let me know by PM if by any chance you're so kind as to be willing to help. Thanks a lot in advance!

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Re: Critique pls

#2 Post by Winston_Nguyen » Sun Jul 16, 2017 2:32 pm

Try: https://www.reddit.com/r/DestructiveReaders/

You have to critique another person's work before you can post up yours, but it's what keeps the community going.
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Re: Critique pls

#3 Post by alfdale » Mon Jul 17, 2017 8:21 am

Oh well. Never mind really. I don't suppose it was very good in the first place.

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Re: Critique pls

#4 Post by Cakey » Mon Jul 17, 2017 9:28 am

alfdale wrote:Oh well. Never mind really. I don't suppose it was very good in the first place.
Every idea is good if you implement it in the right way. Maybe post part of your work here, like demo - length or something?

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Re: Critique pls

#5 Post by alfdale » Mon Jul 17, 2017 7:46 pm

It feels a little embarrassing, though...

Well, here goes.

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1riW ... sp=sharing

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Re: Critique pls

#6 Post by arisan » Tue Jul 18, 2017 9:34 pm

Overall, I think the script needs refining in terms of the voice and characterization. It hints at a contrast between Rowan's archetypal chivalry and Mirabel and Clarisse's genre-savviness. Making those differences starker would potentially yield better, more consistent humor/irony and also make each character more distinct.

The basic plot and conflict--Rowan trying to emancipate Clarisse and Mirabel resisting it--does a fine job of setting things in motion
And I like how it turns later on to include emancipating Mirabel.
However, Clarisse's inconsistency (or indecision?) throws me off. What does she want? One moment she wants to stay the next she wants to help Rowan get her out. There doesn't seem to be a true underlying desire to lend weight to her excitable surface shifts.
Mirabel's resistance seems poorly grounded as well. While the three tests are fine for comedic effect, it's difficult to pin down what outcome she wants, exactly. If she's truly entranced by Rowan, wouldn't she want to ensnare her as well? But more importantly, what is at stake for her? What happens if she fails to detain Clarisse? It's not clear how much she fears her mistress's reprisal--or, indeed, if she fears it at all. And what is her overall attitude toward her mistress: does she serve out of fear, devotion, her own ambitions? These should color her actions vis-a-vis her attempts to detain the others, but I don't see it. Nor do I think such weight is incompatible with the humor that the script aims to incorporate.

More detailed comments follow.

On visuals and narration/exposition:
[A room. The floor is covered by a carpet. At the centre is a huge bed with canopy. There is a chest with dresses lying messily in, on, and around it, and a bookshelf full of books, a table with a tray, a teapot and two cups.]
Soft, rich fur rugs—
A bookshelf of dark mahogany—
A four-poster bed with silk canopy—
And, in that chest, more dresses than I have ever owned in my life—


Is the bracketed text supposed to reflect the visual assets? Why are some descriptions in the bracketed text while others are narrated? Of the narrated text, only the last line contributes something that visuals could not, i.e. a contrast between Clarisse and Rowan’s material status.
This occurs in a few places with scene setting. It’s not that narrator should never describe what’s going on, but since the whole story is in 1st person, may as well play up the subjective aspect of the narrator’s perception, as the last line above does.

On voice and verisimilitude:
Rowan: “…Why are you suddenly talking like a society hostess?”

Rowan: “Clarisse, you’re the Crown Princess, not the daughter of some wandering gigolo. You can’t go chasing after every pretty skirt that catches your eye.”

It’s hard to pin down what the setting is trying to go for and this is one of the lines that captures why. What time period is the story trying to emulate? “Society hostesses” (I’m assuming along the lines from ladies of the middle class to salonieres) didn’t exist during the feudal period and by the time they came around, knighthood was just another kind of peerage.
Similarly, the term “gigolo” wasn’t popularized until the 20th century. It feels especially off because Rowan, who of all the characters speaks most like a fantasy trope, is the one who says it. It would make more sense if contrast was drawn between Rowan’s archaisms and Clarisse and Mirabel’s more contemporary diction (though the contrast would still have to be clearer).

<Armor-donning scene>
The armor as described seems…horribly uncomfortable. Knights typically wore softer layers under their mail and plate. It’s also part of what made donning the armor take a while.

On overwriting:
Rowan (exasperated): “Hah…”
I heave a deep and heartfelt sigh.

The "hah" is unnecessary, since you mention the sigh anyway (and saying she sighed outright is clearer).

On tenses:
With a sinking feeling, I obey, trying to look as stern and knightly as I could.
To my surprise, the witch who stood across the room is only a young girl around my age. She has an attractive freckled face, with fluffy purple hair stuffed under a black conical hat, and held a wand topped by a heart-shaped device in her hands.

The narration isn’t consistent in its tenses, shifting between past and historical present, sometimes within the same sentence.

On Rowan's characterization:
Once again, Mirabel’s voice abruptly switched into the ‘bullying’ tone. A predatory light gleamed in her eyes. I tensed.
Rowan: “W-What do you want?”

Rowan: “Are you going to attack me?”

I’m finding it hard to get a handle on Rowan’s character. She displays enough grit and resolve to go to the Dark Tower on her own, but her behavior in front of Mirabel fluctuates between gallant knight and quivering squire at the drop of a hat.

Rowan: “Holy smite!”
I hold my sword up and swing it down in a swift motion. A shining bolt of brightness strikes the demon from above, bringing it to its knees.
Akkanoth: “Hrrr. Divine magic. You have interesting companions, witch.”

More of the voice confusion. Rowan slipping into RPG parlance (and the demon replying in kind).
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Re: Critique pls

#7 Post by alfdale » Wed Jul 19, 2017 8:00 am

I guess all that's fair enough. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment!

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