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Printed from http://www.writing.com/main/profile/reviews/dovetailed
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Public Reviews
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Review of Wilgar's Dilemma  
Review by Dovetailed
In affiliation with TGDI Group  
Rated: E | (4.5)
Hi bertiebrite!

I am writing this mostly because you said some kind things about my ‘Saga of Jorgund’s Curse’ story (which is actually competing against this piece in this month’s DWAC) and partly because I want more practice at reviewing. As usual, all that follows is just a jumbled mass of my opinions – no offence is intended by anything I say and it is at your discretion as to how much of my blabbering you choose to listen to.


Plot (as I understood it):
A warrior (presumably one of veteran years and experience) named Wilgar is roused from slumber by his bossy wife, Herta. He is due to set off on a grand expedition to the north, but instead gets dragged into a domestic row with his Herta about taking the dogs out to do their business. Wilgar loses the argument and ends up having to take the dogs out.


General impressions:
I really enjoyed your story. I found it very reminiscent of Hagar the Horrible and there were several moments that made me laugh out loud.

There were two key contradictions that I think really made it work as a comedy – firstly, the contradiction between the grand fantastical elements of what is promised (snow trolls, adventure, mighty warriors) and the overwhelmingly domestic and realistic interactions that we actually get to see. Secondly, the contradiction of the mighty warrior versus the brow beaten husband personified in one character – this is a trope that has been used before I suppose, but it is still a solid one and it really works.

The writing style is also brilliant – you do a really good job of ‘showing and not telling’ your tale (something I am definitely jealous of and that I really need to work on in my own writing). The descriptive passages (what little of them existed) were also very clear and didn’t suffer from any overly purple prose. I think perhaps you could even afford to use a little more sense description (scents, etc), but that’s mostly a matter of style/taste and it is certainly not necessary to do so.

Finally, I found it somewhat sad that there was very little redemption or love shown between the husband and wife by the end. I realise that if there had been such a scene the punchline about bringing back a snow troll would have been undermined, but I guess I was kind of expecting that at some point it would be revealed that actually Herta was deeply worried for her husband’s wellbeing. Maybe you could put something to that effect after the snow troll insult?


Best Bits:
The entire argument between husband and wife is extremely convincing – I can completely see Wligar’s exasperated face as every attempt he makes at dodging having to take the dogs out is rebuffed.

I felt that the line ‘He heard a titter of laughter behind his back and turned to face the others. His frown could kill a man at ten paces so the laughter subsided instantly.’ Hit exactly the right note (although maybe ‘and so’ or an em-dash would work better than just ‘so’).

The muttered and unspoken insults: ‘"Shut up, you old hag!" he mumbled into his thick red beard’ and ‘"I'll bring you back a Snow Troll to eat you," Wilgar thought’ both made me guffaw.



Gremlins (spelling, grammar and bits that I found odd):
Your grammar, spelling and punctuation are great, but I did spot a couple of things:

- ‘leave it's comfortable surround’ should be ‘leave its comfortable surround’. The possessive with ‘it’ is admittedly odd.

- ‘He shook his head, then remembered, today they left for the Great Northern Expedition’ I found this snippet a bit odd. Partly this is because the ‘they’ originally made me think it was Wilgar and his wife going on the expedition (she was the only other character mentioned at that point). Additionally I am not sure on the punctuation. I think it should be ‘He shook his head, and then remembered; today they left for the Great Northern Expedition’

- Finally, the line ‘”Take them," she said, a thick rod of ironwood in her hand. Herta used the ironwood to roll out bread, but Wilgar knew she used it for other things as well’ made me laugh but probably for the wrong reason (and maybe just because I am British and we have a penchant for the double entendre) – in any case I kind of took it to be a somewhat naughty innuendo. If you don’t see what I mean just think a little more about ‘thick ironwood rod’ and what ‘other uses’ could be.


Conclusion:
Really great – I very much enjoyed reading it. Keep at it and I look forward to reading more of your work soon.

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Review by Dovetailed
In affiliation with TGDI Group  
Rated: ASR | (3.0)
Hi SunSlayer!

I am writing this as part of the TGDI’s spotlight review forum. Thank you for sharing your writing, and for choosing to write in my favourite genre – fantasy fiction. As usual, this is just my opinions – no offence is intended by anything I say and it is at your discretion as to how much of my blabbering you choose to listen to.


Plot (as I understood it):
A teenage boy unexpectedly wins glory in a grand, medieval tournament. For his reward he requests a knighthood from the king and is told it shall be his, on the condition that he rescues princess Eli who has been kidnapped. The boy sets off and finds the fair maiden in a strange tower which has giant’s stairs and midget’s doors. As they begin their escape, the boy receives a static shock which wakes him up - rousing from his sleep it becomes apparent that the entire escapade had been a dream which he soon forgets. However, the reader soon sees that the reality is reflecting the dream world when a new girl named Eli arrives at his school.


General impressions:
This has the potential to be a very adventurous tale and there were several points that stood out for me (see Best Bits).

I think the story maybe suffers in its current state from using too many well-established tropes (‘boy becomes a knight’, ‘save the helpless princess’ and ‘it was all a dream’ to name a few) – although it is great to use tropes to engender a sense of familiarity in the reader, there is also a fine line between that and cliché (I certainly struggle with this in my own writing).

Additionally, for my taste, each individual part could have done to be a little longer and included more narrative description to set the scene. I also would have enjoyed more character description and perspective to relate to Felix and the others a bit better –the best way I have found to flesh out a character is to think how you or a friend would react to a situation and what they might be thinking.

Finally, I found rescuing the princess to be quite anti-climactic; I was expecting that the story was building to a showdown with Eli’s captor – but we never met her captor... Unless the enemy king was, in fact, the evil bunny?


Best Bits:
I quite liked the fact that you didn’t explain how a boy without armour or a sword had won the tournament – it should have been my first clue that it was a dream, but I didn’t pick up on it.

I also liked the nature of the dark tower with the enormous steps and the tiny door – it kept me, as the reader, guessing as to what kind of creature/bad-guy I was expecting to be encountered (despite the fact we never did find out).

My favourite bit, though, was the line “When Felix landed on the step with his armour, he looked at it with regret to leave it behind, but he knew it was more important to get Eli to safety than to wear some shiny armour”. This sentence was quite touching and has the potential to serve as a moral, or grander point, to take from your story – that obtaining the trappings of a knight doesn’t matter half so much as obtaining the sense of honour – if this idea was developed further I think it could transform your tale into more of a fable.


Gremlins (spelling, grammar and bits that I found odd):
I will start with a list of simple corrections:
•‘He won the tournament that was going on during the feast and earned right to sit at the table of the lords’ = ‘He had won the tournament held during the feast, and had now earned the right to sit at the table of the lords’
•Suprised = Surprised
•‘Felix, eating quite messy’ = ‘Felix, eating quite messily’
•‘he had to rescue the king’s daughter who was captured by ...’ = ‘he had to rescue the king’s daughter who had been captured by ...’
•‘he fulfilled his wish, and now he can save a princess from an evil lord’ = ‘he had fulfilled his wish, and now he could save a princess from an evil lord’
•‘enthousiasticly’ = ‘enthusiastically’
•‘Slowly he reached the base of the tower’ = ‘Slowly he approached the base of the tower’
•‘The stairs were as high as his height’ = ‘Each step was as tall as himself’
•‘...rest in the middle of one of the huge stairs’ = ‘...rest in the middle of one of the huge steps’
•‘atleast’ = ‘at least’
•‘The key was still on the lock’ = ‘The key was still in the lock’
•‘He said in a trusting and comforting way’ = ‘He said in a trustworthy and comforting way’
•‘silence, only broken by Eli’s happy sobs’ = ‘a silence that was only broken by Eli’s happy sobs’
•‘occured’ = ‘occurred’
•‘and there were tears everywhere at her face’= ‘ and tears covered her face’ or ‘tears streamed across her face’
•‘it seemed there were only a few steps were left’ = ‘it seemed there were only a few steps left’
•‘still slightly reminding some of the things that happened’ = ‘still somewhat remembering the events of his adventure’

Some of the less simple things that I would probably look to change include:

• Repetition of words in a sentence, e.g. ‘The time was the medieval times’, ‘ There were no guards and Felix remembered the guard’s words’. Try and look for synonyms to avoid this as it can be jarring to read – it is an easy mistake to make; I usually pick up quite a few instances when I come to check over my own work.

• Occasional apparent contradictions e.g. the distance issue that Yuuyake pointed out (you also state near the end that ‘Felix told her that they still are some minutes away from her father ‘ which adds to this confusion). Also you state in one sentence that “A boy named Felix Erchoq with the age of fifteen was the talk of the day” and in another “The lords [...] ignored the boy and were talking to the king about who gets the newly conquered castle of Desiva” – is Felix being talked about or ignored?
As Yuuyake also said in their review (in such a comprehensive manner that I shall not go over the same ground, but merely lend my support to all that was suggested) utilising all of the senses and showing rather than telling would add a great deal of depth to your work.


Conclusion:
This review is now longer than the story it is reviewing, which is a little excessive, hence I will stop. As I said before, I think the story shows promise, but I do think it needs some work. All I can say is keep at it! Keep writing, keep reading and, once again, keep writing – practice is the key to everything. Thank you again for sharing your work – I look forward to reading more of it in the future! *BigSmile*
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Review of Magic Wars  
Review by Dovetailed
In affiliation with TGDI Group  
Rated: ASR | (3.0)
Hi David,

I am writing this as part of the TGDI’s spotlight review forum. Firstly, congratulations on finishing the initial draft of your first chapter and thank you for sharing your writing.

I feel I should probably forewarn you that this is my first attempt at writing a review and, additionally, to call me an amateur writer would be an insult to all of the fine and upstanding people who use such a label – I only started writing around a week ago. I am, however, a veteran reader of fantasy and can at least tell you how I found the experience of reading your first chapter.

Bearing all of the above in mind I would caution some trepidation in reading all that follows. Additionally, as usual, this is just my opinion – no offence is intended in anything I say and it is at your discretion as to how much of my blabbering you choose to listen to.


General impressions:

Overall I think the central world design – an archipelago of ancient islands complete with various philosophies, cultures and races is prime fantasy real estate and should serve as a good setting for a compelling tale.

For me personally I found the first chapter a bit of a hurried rush to introduce a wide cast of characters each with a short snippet of back story – some of the dialogue was great, but some of it also felt a little forced. With the number of interactions going on it felt a little like the voyage was verging on being a big meet and greet for adventurers.

You clearly have a good knowledge of history/geography and have taken several names from various historical figures and greek myths – Kolasi (Hell), Theos (deity) , Thanatos (demon of death), Byzantine, Phocaia (I am guessing Phocaea, seat of the proto-seafarers), Phoebus, Roger Bacon, Lazare Dee (I am guessing John Dee), Amazonians, Dun Amhlaidh, Okefenokee and Areus are all names I recognised and I am sure there are more I didn’t. I think that taking inspiration and even occasionally using a variant of a name or two can give the story some added depth and give enjoyable nods for the reader to spot. However, I think at the rate you were introducing places and people I found the number of nods a little jarring (god knows that I have been guilty of this particular issue too).

There also wasn’t much thinking, observation or internal analysis on the part of David, which I think is an important tool in helping us understand how he is feeling or for giving narrative that is a matter of opinion (e.g. the ridiculousness of the garb of the unassuming man).

The first 4 paragraphs are in quite a different style to the remainder of the chapter (and a different tense) and might find a better home in the prologue.

Also, as an aside, I really like the simile of being “cooped up like a barrel of pickles” – I’ve never heard it before, I assume it is your own turn of phrase and you will have to forgive me if it falls into my everyday speech.


Conversations:

As you pointed out, the conversation between Sierra and Mia does seem quite odd – I would personally be quite surprised if an amazon sat down next to me and started spouting misandry (although I am a man so if she called me sister I would be doubly offended). Maybe you could either make Sierra seem more surprised or give her some internal monologue around her knowledge of Amazonians to explain her fairly casual response.

In the first part of the conversation between David and Sigrun (the lance knight) I was a little confused as to whether she was talking to David or the gekkun monk.

Finally, the level of openness and casualness between these strangers does seem a little bit contrived.


Introduction of the races:

Half elves/elves are pretty standard fantasy fare so I guess you have chosen not to give too many details in narrative and I think that’s fine.

Orcans sounds good and I like the fact you haven’t chosen to go into too much detail just yet – I would wait a bit before unveiling more racial traits. Tails, silver hair, possibly naturally graceful, with black and white shiny skin is all I have to go on so far and it is more than enough to go on for now.

Gekkuns I have even less to go on and that’s fine – I know that this one has a green and yellow tail, also something about the name makes me think Lizardman, but I am probably way off. Depending upon what he is you could maybe add a descriptor in the sentence ‘Then he reached his hand out to David for a shake’, e.g. he could reach out a furry paw, a vicious claw, a powerful talon or a scaly hand depending upon the traits of his race.


Punctuation/Spelling/Etc (Gremlins of the pedant):

There were a few instances I saw where the word ‘adventures’ used where I think you may have meant ‘adventurers’.

The word solder was typed a couple of times where you meant soldier.

‘The location of the Isle of the Sacred Mountain, where Theos give the world the laws to his children’ because of the nature of the list which preceded this sentence I would consider starting it with something like ‘It was also...’. Additionally, in the latter part of the sentence ‘Theos gave the world the laws of his children’ or ‘Theos gave laws to his children’ would make more sense.

‘He asked as his curiosity having finally gotten the best of him’ should be ‘with his curiosity having finally gotten the best of him’

The sentence ‘Then their commander with a small unassuming man dressed ridiculously in an in tempt to appear important came aboard’ seems a little odd to me (aside from just ‘in tempt’ needing to be ‘attempt’), maybe something like – ‘Once all possibility of resistance had been quelled, the commander climbed aboard the vessel with a small, plain featured man at his side. As they came into view David noticed that the short man was wearing some of the most outlandish clothes he had ever seen, and he couldn’t help but think it was worn in a poor attempt to seem important.’

‘Her hair appeared like strands of silver threads in the wind’, I don’t think you need to pluralise both words – ‘strands of silver thread’ is possibly better.

‘But not before striping them of anything they might be carrying’, I suspect you meant ‘stripping’.

‘He said this more to the soldiers then anyone else.’ – ‘then’ should be ‘than’.
Also watch apostrophes: your’s only needs to be yours. On the other hand ‘solders commander’ needs to be ‘soldiers’ commander’.


Conclusion:

I think you have a great world, a decent range of characters and some interesting races. However I also think you can hook your readers better by introducing your cast and their back stories more slowly (maybe over a few chapters). Giving more internal thoughts would add sympathy for your protagonist and give of us a better understand of why/what he is doing.

Good luck with it all and keep at it!
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