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Gee, Ponychan sure isn't as lively as it used to be. I'll be happy to continue providing feedback on the whole of your story after completing this review as long as there are no stories in the queue; in the interest of procedure, however, here is the review of your introduction and first chapter. REVIEW
Evaluation sheet: https://docs.google.com/document/d/16UrDWvJCMq-qChtk_bX0ARAfHAq_9xLpu0fIbn3CviU/edit
Most comments and suggestions have been provided in-Doc. I would like to highlight particular issues and suggestion here. Introduction
Your introduction is as fascinating as it is poorly-executed. BR, you bear a striking resemblance to J.K. Rowling in your writing, by which I mean you are a gifted storyteller who executes their narratives in a questionable manner. During your introduction, you describe an absolutely fascinating process; a visceral, horrifying, utterly disgusting and simultaneously engrossing process that seems, at least to me, to be totally unique. This plot point promises some serious originality within your story; originality that this fandom desperately needs. However, stylistically, you squander that potential through a series of tired cliches and, frankly, immature sentence structure/word choice. For example:
>"No! You’ll not have me! I’ll die first!"
Whether this artistic trope began with Patrick Henry, the word may never know; in any case, I am as tired of this type of statement in literature as I am of Smurf movies (which is to say, very). The "Brave Soul Baits the Monster/Antagonist/Creepy-Ass Vine Things by Being Bold in the Face of Death" trope is a lazy excuse for writing. You're better than this. I know you are.
>"No, he was headed for a far worse fate."
Why in the world is such a statement necessary? This is certainly telling, but it's not even telling that can be justified; you are literally words
away from describing how horrifying this character's ultimate fate is; this statement, and many like it, appear throughout your story, and do not merely seem artificial, but entirely tacked-on. I'm being so harsh on this for the simple reason that these sorts of statements yank readers from their state of immersion. "But death would be too welcome" is already an ominous sentence that promises further horrors; anything further on this note, other than direct demonstration, is repetitive. I have harped on understatement a million times before, and will continue to do so now: in storytelling, understatement is always
ideal. To use a cliche of my own, let the reader use their imagination; simply letting someone's expectation of what is about to happen run free can work wonders for your story's ability to create suspense.
>"He knew what was coming next, and only wished he had seen it coming sooner."
This sentence was almost painful to read. I want you to try something: imagine that same sentence, but spoken by a character rather than narrated. Take Harvey Dent from The Dark Knight
, for example. Remember the hospital scene, during which time Dent discovers that Rachel was killed by the Joker's trap?
Imagine if, instead of picking up the coin and screaming, as he did, he shouted, "I knew this was coming! If only I had seen it coming sooner!"
We wouldn't fucking tolerate it. Not in a million years. Dent's actual
reaction was unbelievably powerful; it was relatable and deeply emotional. What I'm getting at here is this: while in third-person narration, there are a certain number of artistic liberties you can take, you should, for the most part, treat the narrator as just another character. If a sentence couldn't reasonably be used by a character in the same way as it could be used by the narrator, I would reconsider it.
There are many other issues with your introduction, but these have been closely analyzed in-Doc; specifically, many of the other issues revolve around sentence and paragraph structure that I believe would substantially improve the flow and atmosphere of the introduction. Please consider them.Telling
Boy, howdy, we all knew this was coming. Telling is, by far, one of the most common complaints I raise in my reviews, but this story is just a textbook case. Specifically, most (if not all) of Twilight and Pinkie's interaction in chapter one is telling; that is, you reveal an absolutely flabbergasting amount of information within the span of roughly 2,000 words. Just to give a few prime examples...
>"Ink Blot and her mother were almost constantly at odds, and Pinkie had come to see Twilight during a few of their more virulent bouts."
Already, I sense that Ink Blot and Pinkie's relationship is going to be a major element in this story. Why on earth would you reveal such an important plot point in a single sentence? It's not revealed gradually through awkward conversation, not even alluded to. It's just handed to the reader on a silver platter. One of the most important elements of any work of fiction is something I refer to as the "lightbulb moment." This is the moment in a story where, during either conversation or subtle narration, the reader figures out an important plot point. The absolute most important element of this is the figuring out.
Most of your readers are not children; they do not need, or for that matter, want to have everything explained to them in explicit terms. Just the opposite: they want the opportunity to gradually glean information. Take Star Wars' reveal of Darth Vader as Luke's father as an example (I didn't bother placing spoiler tags because, if at this point, you have not seen Star Wars, well...). That twist is one of the most beloved and classic in all of history. Yes, it was
revealed in an instant during Luke and Vader's confrontation, but only after an entire story
worth of buildup and subtle suggestion: Yoda's wise advice, Luke's discussions with his aunts and uncles, etc. As a consequence, every fucking person in every fucking theater across the world collectively shat their pants when watching that scene, because it was unexpected, but simultaneously ex
pected because of carefully Lucas had crafted the films.
>"'I was so proud of her, the day she got her cutie mark. I always knew she’d be a great artist. Mackie and I both knew. The day she was born, she…' Pinkie’s lip trembled. 'She was so beautiful. A work of art. She had my face, but his eyes.' Pinkie let out a short laugh. 'I thought it was a clever joke, calling her Ink Blot, like the psychology test, but Mackie said it would be a good name, like abstract paintings.'"
What the shit? You literally just skipped over a lifetime worth of information in an amount of words that probably took two minutes to write. I'm not saying you need to tell Ink Blot's life story in order to make this scene more powerful, but I sure as hell want to see more of the time period being discussed here. This and the above example are just two of literally dozens throughout this section in your story that strike me as lazy; it takes very, very little effort to discuss a back story in explicit terms, and a hell of a lot more to reveal that information through basically any other means. Pinkie is literally telling Twilight every detail of her relationship with Ink Blot, and by consequence, you, the narrator, are telling us
every detail. I don't want to read a freaking military operations debriefing; I want to read an intricately crafted, beautiful and deliberate work of art.
Of course, these issues are what spawn your greatest issue: pacing. I'm not surprised that this is still problematic for you, and the reason is obvious. Telling doesn't take a lot of time. What I would have much preferred is to see this chapter from Pinkie's perspective. That is, I would have loved to see Pinkie experiencing
all these frustrations of parenthood, see all the emotions she's displaying in this scene, but in the moment
. That would have been absolutely wonderful, and I'll tell you why. Can you imagine reading a series of scenes in which Pinkie tries progressively harder to win Ink Blot's affections, only to be shot down each time? Can you imagine how painful, how empathetic it would be, to watch Pinkie languish, in silent misery, as she watches her daughter slip away despite her best efforts? I can't even imagine how heartbreaking that succession of events would be with the right amount of effort. Instead, this scene is utterly flat, nothing more than a series of surface-level plot points that elicit next to no emotional response. It would likely take more than 5,000 words to communicate these same ideas in scenes rather than telling, and therein
lies the beauty! All those words give you an incredible opportunity for character development, and for laying plot strings. There is so much potential here; don't squander it.VERDICT
As was the case with The Pony on the Wall
, excellent opportunities, poor execution. Correcting your telling will improve your pacing, and correction your character interactions will improve your telling. Really, this all comes down to characterization issues; begin there, and before you know it, you'll see a trickle-down effect that improves your entire story. The most important elements I want to see improved in this story are:
1) Diction. You'll notice, when reading over my comments on your introduction, that I complained a lot about your word choice. It is very difficult, yet extremely important, to strike a balance between language that is simplistically immature and utterly purple. You have strayed too far to the former. I need to see more intricately and thoughtfully crafted sentences.
2) Structure, both of sentences and your plot overall. Again, I would love to see you gut the entirety of Pinkie and Twilight's interaction and replace it with a series of scenes involving Ink Blot and Pinkie. I want to see the pain, the frustration, the wistfulness in Pinkie's attitude. I want to see her lose more and more hope of ever having a close relationship with her daughter again. I want to feel what she feels, not hear what she says. I think this is going to improve the entirety of the story if you correct surrounding passages to match.
3) Characterization. I really didn't buy Pinkie's characterization in this chapter. She seemed OOC, and Twilight, while not out of character, was exceptionally flat. Work on creating genuine emotion in your characters. My advice is to read your entire story as a dramatic read, as if it were a stage play. Ask yourself, honestly, if each piece of dialogue is as realistic and impacting as it could be, and revisit.
A plethora of other comments and nitpicks have been provided in your rubric evaluation and in margin comments in the document. Feel free to ask any questions you might have. Good luck!
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