Looking for Feedback on a First Chapter Draft

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wenki_cai
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Looking for Feedback on a First Chapter Draft

#1 Post by wenki_cai » Thu Jun 07, 2018 4:38 pm

Hi all. I'd really like to start getting some more feedback on my writing, so I'm dropping a draft of the first chapter of my current VN project here.

Here's the doc to read: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Ytv ... sp=sharing

For now, I'm mostly looking for feedback regarding storytelling itself, mainly if it makes for a good opening to the story and other impressions about it. I'm considering adding a small intro before this scene to set up the setting more, but I've omitted it because I don't feel solid enough in specific worldbuilding aspects and I thought the original intro I wrote felt cheesy.

I think some feedback will help guide my efforts a bit more, as I've been streamlining my story a lot lately so I've had to restructure stuff. Thanks in advance, and please let me know what you guys think!

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Re: Looking for Feedback on a First Chapter Draft

#2 Post by Mutive » Thu Jun 07, 2018 7:28 pm

I really loved the voice. It sounded natural and fun!

My primary concern is that I didn't get a particularly strong sense of the stakes. Why does playing the video game matter? (Is there something in particular that rides upon the outcome? If so, that would be awesome to know up front - like if there's a scholarship or some big game or whatever.)
Enjoy Minion!, my free to play game at: https://mutive.itch.io/minion

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Re: Looking for Feedback on a First Chapter Draft

#3 Post by wenki_cai » Thu Jun 07, 2018 9:51 pm

Mutive wrote:
Thu Jun 07, 2018 7:28 pm
I really loved the voice. It sounded natural and fun!

My primary concern is that I didn't get a particularly strong sense of the stakes. Why does playing the video game matter? (Is there something in particular that rides upon the outcome? If so, that would be awesome to know up front - like if there's a scholarship or some big game or whatever.)
Ah you know? This'll sound a bit silly but I never really considered what the actual prize of competing is.

That being said, you have a good point on stakes. I decided to discuss with someone about how I see it so far, since in the grand design of the story, winning is beyond the prize at the end of the tournament. This would probably be more of a worldbuilding detail (in that intro I mentioned), but VStrife itself has a pretty large impact on the US as it stands in this universe, so I think for these guys, the stakes are more emotional in nature than physical (e.g. "to be a master" vs "win 10k"). There are some other individual motivations that eventually strain the group so I think some of it won't be spelled out so early on, but hinting at the reasons why they want to go for it early on would be helpful.

Anyway, glad you brought it up though! I don't always cover my bases, so I find it helpful.

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Re: Looking for Feedback on a First Chapter Draft

#4 Post by Mutive » Fri Jun 08, 2018 1:52 pm

I think emotional stakes are great! But again, the better that can be defined earlier on, the easier (I think) it is to get a reader hooked.

i.e. people needing a new teammate because they like playing a game - that's fine, but that's also a great many Friday nights for me (so not something worthy of a story)

People needing a teammate because there's big game that they need to win to prove to themselves that they're not anti-social losers - they're also gamers who can accomplish something *huge* - well, those are cool stakes. :)
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Re: Looking for Feedback on a First Chapter Draft

#5 Post by wenki_cai » Fri Jun 08, 2018 9:47 pm

Yeah, I see what you're getting at with earlier introduction of stakes. I think I can write in something like that in the first scene, I've got some conversational stuff in there where I think it would fit comfortably.

Thanks for your help! I might post an update at a later point when I tweak/rewrite stuff. :)

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Re: Looking for Feedback on a First Chapter Draft

#6 Post by airenrin » Sat Jun 09, 2018 2:55 am

First, I know this is still a rough draft so some of the feedback might be a bit advanced for the story at this point in time. I'm wondering how you are planning on executing the story. As a visual novel, a lot of the descriptors on the background and the character would be already drawn out, so you could probably skip that part in the written part.

In terms of audience, who are you trying to 'market' this to? Western audiences prefer a catchy opening and allow other world building details to come at later parts of the story. The east part of Asian audiences prefer the 'world' to be described for them so they don't have to think of the details later on in the story. I suggest looking at some of the openings in light novels (bakatsuki.org or princerevolution.org have translated stories from Japan and Taiwan) and then look at some of the openings in young adult or new adult novels in the book store. Like as in the first page or the first three paragraphs and see how they are structured.

I suggest looking into the word choices and sentence structures. I notice a lot of long sentences in the fight scene, which made my eyes glaze over. Short, choppy sentences lead to a sense of urgency. Longer sentences slows the story down as it forces the reader to take in the scene. If there is a gameplay component in this fight scene, it would probably be the tutorial.

Several other items of note:
- How did the other team know that your main characters play vstrife? Since there was a line in the beginning of not being able to find other good players easily, I'm guessing that Vstrife is like a female friendly WoW or LoL of that world. It's a popular thing that media is aware of it, but what does it mean to the economy, political environment, etc? You introduced virtual reality machines. Is it specifically made for that one game? Can a regular household afford one of those?
-The virtual reality machine is part of the local cafe? I kind of expected that huge, chunky machines like that would take up a lot of energy and space for a cafe to own 10 of them.
- Alex meshes with the team easily at a ridiculously rapid pace. As a new member of the team, he is unaware of how the other members usually operate, so you might want to showcase that trouble a bit more. Especially since the team is used to having another person in the team that probably didn't have the same fighting style. I also notice that you placed a lot of emphasis on his day job as a fashion designer. You could explain part of his ease with working for this team if you have the team discuss their fighting styles and what they expect Alex to do for the team, then put the details of the fashion designing at a later part of the story (occasionally have some dialogue later on in the storythat gives a detail of how he is going to be late because of so and so project is delayed, etc until it leads up to an obstacle)

Hope this helps!

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Re: Looking for Feedback on a First Chapter Draft

#7 Post by wenki_cai » Sat Jun 09, 2018 10:44 pm

Hi airenrin! Thanks for the great response!

I'm a bit torn on how to approach the opening, as I've envisioned it several ways over time. I think this version of the opening I wrote is a bit slower and eases the reader in a bit more, but going by your advice of checking out light novels at some point could be a good way of assessing whether I want to take that route. However, I never really did catch that a Western audience would prefer a much more intense opening, so I should consider that as well.

You have a really good point about fight scene writing. I'm always afraid of not being descriptive enough so I probably overcompensated, so I could probably ease up on the action stuff's descriptive levels. There is no gameplay component within this scene, since the story is a kinetic novel, unless you were referring to something else?

Judging by your other notes, it looks like there were certain details I wasn't clear on with regards to worldbuilding that I should make sure to point out within the chapter. For some answers to some of those questions, if you're curious:

-Okay, I completely screwed up in my language during that chapter and called the facility they're at a restaurant. The location that the characters are at a special facility made specifically for VStrife. Anyway, that's actually why they can house these machines: that's the primary service that location provides. As a result, it would also imply that anyone at that place is there to play or observe VStrife.
-Virtual reality in this future is pretty widespread and has also advanced quite a bit from what we have right now. In my vision of it, consumers and companies and such have different levels of access to the technology, generally based on price range. In general, most people do not own machines to play VStrife, especially since they would be expensive and it's primarily a team game anyway. As a result, machines are usually hosted by local businesses or facilities and stuffs.
-VStrife is pretty big in terms of pop culture impact and the company that maintains it does well. In case if you're curious: the company that maintains VStrife makes a lot of its money through the sale of machines to local businesses. I don't have a complete breakdown of the expenses, hence why you haven't seen me mention anything like pay-to-play and stuff.

Those are just some quick answers to some of the things that you were wondering that I just overlooked in actually explaining within the chapter, I can add those in though. Obviously, some of that may change and there's a bunch of stuff I still have to figure out, but I'm glad you mentioned those things.

Yeah, Alex meshing in real easily with the team at first is a bit of a stretch. Interesting that you note the scheduling/job difficulties as a conflict, that's actually part of the group's conflict later on!

Anyway, thanks for the detailed response! I'll keep those things in mind as I improve the chapter!

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Re: Looking for Feedback on a First Chapter Draft

#8 Post by airenrin » Sun Jun 10, 2018 1:10 am

No problem. The first line/paragraph/scene is definitely one of the hardest things to write for stories. If you check out other authors' blogs, they would say the same. I recommend checking out Janice Hardy's Fiction University. It's a website and they do weekly critiques of opening paragraphs that other writers send in. It's more aimed towards western audiences and usually they have a thorough breakdown of why the paragraph worked or not. It's aimed more for the paper print types of novels, but you'll find more information on crafting a story. My background is more centered on story creation, so I'm happy to give advice on that.

The best way I can describe it is like watching a movie. What details do you notice when watching the fight scene? You'll probably notice the first and second arrow as it fires towards you so you'll dodge, but you didn't notice that the ground is slippery from rain earlier, so you slid and fell. The falling part is a distraction, so when you regain your bearings, the third arrow is already beside your head, barely skimming past your cheek. At this point, you had might have noticed your companions had engaged in their opponents, but after that fall, you probably don't know where they are. The character's peripheral vision narrows when it gets harder to see or when they are more engaged in an activity. In other words, the fight scene doesn't need to be long, but whatever happens, make it memorable.

Ah, so it's a kinetic novel. In that case, I would definitely advise you incorporate more descriptions about for smell and taste. I was wondering since a large part of your first chapter is focused on the fight that the player/reader can control the characters' choices.

A lot of writing advice is "to show, not tell", but a huge part of a writer's style is choosing when to show and when to tell. The scheduling/job difficulties as a conflict was written into Alex's self-introduction in the chapter. A subtler way of hinting at that conflict and foreshadowing that it would be a problem in the future is have Alex say that he's a fashion designer for his company. Then on later interactions, have him come in late or make excuses on why he couldn't meet up because of an important client. (Show) It's hard for him to play vstrife if he needs to pay the bills. Finally, when the others confront him, that's when he admits that he's having financial trouble. (Tell)

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Re: Looking for Feedback on a First Chapter Draft

#9 Post by Kinjo » Fri Jun 15, 2018 5:04 am

Posted some feedback on the doc. I'd agree with everything the others have said, too. Hope it helps.

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