Well, with school starting tomorrow (exactly at five on the dot for me), I find myself with time suddenly being shortened to lengths that I’ve dreaded, but must cope with nonetheless. It’s a sad fact that reviews will come at an even slower pace. Rest assured though, that I’ll still continue to look over work, even if I must deal with various pressing issues first. School can be such a drag at times…
Regardless, it’s time I talked a bit about this story. It’s quite interesting, though it feels a bit scattered in its overall designed. It tries to present this ambitious story, yet it never quite settles on what it wants to convey, nor who should be the one to convey it. Nonetheless, the story still shows promise where it counts—its overall ideas.
Let’s dive in, shall we?
As always, what I say in any of my reviews is solely my opinion and no one else’s’. I, under no circumstance claim to be wholly correct on any matter in particular. Take my words with a grain of salt and draw up your own conclusions on the review presented. You are the writer, you have the power to shape the story as you see fit; I’m merely here to aid you in that regard—nothing more, nothing less.
-Points of interest-
-Formatting—you use some odd formatting choices, the most obvious of these being the use of coding—which you’ve no doubt left in order to make posting on such sites as FIMfiction easier. Still, there are cleaner methods of doing this, and I encourage you do so, as coding doesn’t look quite as clean as it should, and might actively detract from the work presented.
-More varied punctuation—you need to use more varied punctuations in your story. Other than periods and commas, you need em-dashes and semicolons, though be careful about using too many semicolons, as it can lead to your narration dragging a bit. The best course of action is to learn where commas and em-dashes work best, and where they don’t. The best way to know this for a fact is through the narration itself. If you feel your flow is disrupted at any time because of punctuations, then you likely need to revise their usage.
-Tenses—watch your tenses. As I read, I felt that some areas would benefit from tense revisions. Again, it has to do with the overall flow of the narration. If a situation calls for a tense change (present to past, past to present) then don’t hesitate to do so.
-Speaking verbs—you need to add more speaking verbs. Some of your statements either ends before you can flesh these out, or don’t even have them in at all. Speaking verbs allow you to transition from dialogue to descriptors in a smooth manner while also keeping the narration flow intact.
Characters; this is where the story falls somewhat short of expectations. For one thing, it moves between a young Celestia and her father, to the present with the CmC and the story’s villains, to a mention of Trixie of all things, though her appearance is anything but common. It’s hard to explain it, but you never quite focus on any one particular character long enough to really develop feels and emotions. You constantly move about, attempting to show us as much as possible while negating the aspect that would make your tale stick with the readers: the characters, their personalities, and their struggles.
Let’s take your villains for example. For one thing, you don’t make any effort to explain who they are. You mention names and do play around with the idea that they do what they do ‘strictly because of business’, but this leads to a dichotomy between the reader and these characters. So far, your main villain is vague and bland, seemingly bent on the singular goal of world domination. You have not given him a proper motivation nor even a proper physical description. As is, the reader is left to assume that this pony is some kind of crazed scientist whose sole goals so far are merely ‘for science’ and ‘rule the world’. His henchmen do get more description, starting with ‘Gore’ (aka Greg the griffon)—who seems to be the most level-headed of the trio, and Rot, who for some reason struck me as a less dense and childish Gluttony from ‘Fullmetal Alchemist’, especially with his last remark about ‘eating subject 7’. Again, out of these viallins, Greg appears to be the most sensible one, commenting on how he does it because it’s a paycheck. This however, begs the question; is he doing this because he wishes it, or does he enjoy the work on a deeper level, using the excuse of ‘money’ as a way to continue on his work without having to accept he’s sick to the core?
While this is entirely possible, you’ve left characters so far underdeveloped, and your story already suffers for it. The only characters that are so far developed—and that’s because have come with pre-made personalities—is the CmC, and even they leave much to be desired.
What you need to do is give the characters more of a focus. Use the scenes with the villain to give him more of a defining personality. It doesn’t have to be all of it at once (after all, this is only the first of many chapters) but you should at least drop qualities that will shape who this individual will be. Use foreshadowing and allusions; give the reader something to look forward to in the character. Greg and Rot can also use exposition; though play them as you have. Make Rot more of a ‘hound’, his personality more of a willing servant with little in the way of actual drive, but do so by giving him a reason. Have him be dense yet strong; so that he fits the ‘muscle’ trope to a T. Greg is a little more difficult, for he might develop into a complex character all his own. Play him as the deadpan and indifferent merc, who holds his reservations to the job—and may even be amicable towards the ‘victims’ of the pony’s mad experiments—but never quite doing anything so long as he gets a big-fat paycheck. Use this fact to both stick him to the villain, but also to ultimately have him turn on his boss once he gets a better offer. Greg’s all about the money—use that to your advantage.
Finally, you have the ‘doctor.’ You need to give this character the biggest overhaul in personality—as in, he needs to be given one. He’s dull, uninteresting, and again, seemingly acting only for the science and the world domination angle. He needs more of a catch to make him truly interesting. Give him a reason for his actions. Perhaps he’s not quite as evil as he seems, and only does what he does because he really believes it’s the only way to prevent X disaster; perhaps he’s as evil as he seems, but actually has an ulterior motive for it, such as wanting to prove a point or two. Maybe he has no real rhyme or reason, doing what he does not only because he can, but because no one will stop him. The ‘doctor’ needs to have a reason set early on for his actions.
The rest of the characters also need expanding, but first, you need to fix your plot…
The plot is the second big element where your story takes a nosedive. It’s unfocused and tries to cover far too much in too short a timeframe. Let me break it down for you:
You being the story by more or less setting up the plot that a young Celestia and Luna must escape before Discord arrives. You more or less promise a plot that involves the two young regents having to live in hiding among old earth ponies, living in fear of a being whose power they cannot hope to match on their own. Worse, you imply that the father of this two regents is going to perish, just as his own father had. This alone would make an incredible—albeit predictable and a bit overdone—plot. However, just when it seems like you’ve settled on a plot, you suddenly jump to a situation that quite honestly, made no sense. It was unexpected, but forgivable.
So then we focus on what the reader is obviously supposed to believe are the antagonist as they attempt to create what I can only describe as pony Frankensteins for… no specified reason other than ‘world domination’.
That’s fine, so long as the reasons are believable. Perhaps the pony doing this believes in some sort of twisted moral that sees him creating the ‘atrocities’ for some ulterior motive. Again, that’s fine, provided its given exposition.
However, you then jump to a school scene to show a lesson involving the tribes of ponies. This part works because it actually explains things well, even if it so far has little relevance to the rest of the plot. It introduces what the reader is to assume will be the main characters, the CmC. However, just as you seem to finally be heading down a right direction, you jump to a scene where you more or less show us Trixie and her… less than favorable fate.
Honestly, this scene more or less comes out of nowhere. It isn’t foreshadowed nor does it hold any real rhyme outside of giving us bit of background for Greg, which could have been done the previous scene with the ‘doctor’. From there, you jump between the CmC, Dash, Twilight, and the Doctor once again—each jump just as jarring as the last. The Dash scene where she’s fantasying about… I’m not even quite sure what she’s fantasying bout other than it involving Gilda and joining ‘the clan’ is more or less unneeded. It builds nothing, provides no real answers to what is happening, and it does nothing to show us character. Whatever information is dropped is so vague as to be confusing, even if it is meant to be later expanded.
Finally, the ending of the chapter implies quite a lot, but again, you don’t give us much characterization from the main villain, and foreshadow nothing. This doesn’t do anything to hype readers for what might yet happen in the next chapters.
My suggestion is that you really look at your plot, pick the parts that you know will not only move the story forward, but also provide the best amount of exposition to sell both the characters and the world to the reader, and use that to forge a story that is both memorable and unique. Omit characters that hold no value (such as Dash, unless you give her more a reason for being present) and refine the characters present so every word they utter moves the plot forward.
Your mechanics could use some work. You need to not only use more varied punctuations and speaking verbs, but also where to put commas to create a narration flow, where to use periods to create tension and emphasis, and where to drop allusions, foreshadowing, and syntax that both serves to show how characters talk, as well as serve as possible wordplays to really create a sense of immersion. Your grammar is fine for the most part, but writing’s more than just grammar.
I guess what I mean to say is that you need to think a bit more about how you use certain words and phrases.
As a whole, I would say this tale holds promise. The plot sounds interesting, and the idea of there being a crazed stallion of science willing to alter pony physiology to meet whatever sick ends he may hold is valid—if a bit overused. However, the story is bogged down by a seemingly lack of focus, underdeveloped characters (even for a first chapter) and the desire to tackle too much in too short a time.
You need to pick what you believe will work, shrink the focus, and expand on these aspects to forge your story from there. Remember; the best stories are those whose focus is rock-solid on a specific location. I know this because I too attempted to tell too much at one point, and failed at it, so this warning comes from personal experience.
Take care of everything that I’ve pointed out, and return to SLP and I for further assistance. Best of luck, and by all means feel free to bash me for me less-than-stellar views.
Well folks, I’ll take this opportunity to lay down some news.
The first of this news is that starting tomorrow I’ll once again resume my schooling. That means that I’ll be busy for the grand majority of the day. That will of course translate to even slower reviews than normal, one or two a week at best.
My apologies in advance for this.
Secondly, I would like to apologize to Eyeclops, especially since SLP and I do realize he’s likely been waiting for some time, but we are going to have to reject his entry. The reason? It’s length. I point to our thread rule No. 6: “If you expect us to review anything over 10k words, you better hope we like it, because we won't review it if we don't.”
So far, I’ve given your story a brief look, and I must say that it is quite good for what I’ve read. Unfortunately, at 42 pages long and 20+ k words, it far surpasses what both SLP and I set out to review in our thread. So, for the time being, we are going to have to drop you from the queue
However, if you were to split your tale into manageable pieces that never exceed 10k words, I’ll take on your story, though again, due to my new time constraints, it might take some time.
Same goes for you DanSplats, you are still pending by SLP, so you can go either way. If he agrees, then I expect to take on your work. If not, then follow the spoilered text above.
GV and BM, your stories will be reviewed soon. SLP and I appreciate the patience.
That is all for now. Have a good evening.