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WIP I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For - by Kathryn518 - M - HP/SW

Discussion in 'Almost Recommended' started by Revlisflow, Jan 15, 2017.

  1. Jon

    Jon The Demon Mayor Admin DLP Supporter

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    I don't think that their complaint is that you have large chapters, just that the ratio of words : plot/character development could use a bit of fine tuning.

    Them suggesting you try smaller chapters was their solution to that issue.
     
  2. Republic

    Republic The Snow Queen Prestige DLP Supporter

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    You don't know me, but I regularly churn out 20k chapters myself. Trust me, I understand the appeal of long chapters.

    The problem is not the length, necessarily. Many have pointed it out before me and you have yet to address this, but it's the content. The pacing. Things actually happening. Having long chapters is fine, as long as you can meaningfully fill them with content, which it appears that you can't.
     
  3. Kai Shek

    Kai Shek Supreme Mugwump

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    Feel free to continue to create the stories that you like to write with how you like to write them. This is a hobby that you do in your spare time because you enjoy doing it. It appears to me that you don't want to change some of the things that might make your story better in a literary sense. That is completely fine.

    I'd rather read these slightly flawed stories that you enjoy writing than watching your love for writing die because you're trying to force yourself into doing something else.

    If you're trying to turn this into a career, then yeah I would say that a lot of these people have solid advice. However, it seems you are arguing on the basis of what you 'enjoy' doing. At that point it's time to continue to do what you enjoy.

    You keep doing you. There are plenty of people who are enjoying your way of doing things.
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2017
  4. Snapdragon

    Snapdragon Seventh Year

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    It's not about long chapters which I consider one of your strengths. The problem some people have is that almost nothing relevant happens in a long chapter of your SW story for instance.
     
  5. Newcomb

    Newcomb Headmaster

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    I agree with Kai Shek, for the most part. That is, this is a hobby, if you have fun writing the way you do, by all means keep doing it.

    That being said, if you are actually trying to improve, I think the core of the issue has more to do with the mechanics of your writing itself, and not with anything like chapter length, or pace, or character development.

    Simply put, your writing leaves very little room for the reader. It's overstuffed.

    What you have to realize is that the story happens in the reader's head. It doesn't just exist on the page. Storytelling is an action - it's not static. The words that you write are just shorthand, symbols for ideas and emotions and concepts that bloom in the reader's mind. That's the magic trick of writing - you picture a scene, you write some words, and then the reader reads those words, and an interpretive version of that scene organically happens in the reader's mind. But the key thing here is that the words you write are not the same thing as the scene, and your writing treats it like it is. There's an element of extreme over-explaining in your writing that kind of kills the opportunity for that magic trick of "the real story happens in the reader's imagination" to work correctly; put simply, you're leaving the reader no room to feel that action, you're preempting it, like you're rushing to fill the gap because you don't trust the reader to be able to do that work themselves. And in doing so, you really leech the verve and life out of what could be some very impactful scenes, in my opinion.

    It's the literary equivalent of a person standing way too close and shouting in your face for a prolonged period of time. I already got the point, and the repetition and loudness doesn't reinforce it, it actually makes it weaker.

    I'll give you an example. (I'm actually not familer with the fic this thread was started to talk about, I've only read I'm Still Here, so the example will be from that)

    This is from the beginning of a chapter, setting a scene. What's really interesting about this bit of writing is how you can almost feel the hesitation, the lack of smoothness. Like, the plane is starting to take off, the wings are starting to lift, and then, oops, nope, let's start over and try it again.

    That is, look at the narrative thrust of paragraphs 1 and 2. Look at the key notes you're hitting. Harry abruptly wakes up, his shoulder is in pain. And he doesn't know where he is.

    That's a perfectly decent opening. It's tense, it makes you want to know what's happening, all that good "opening salvo" stuff.

    Then, the third paragraph. A new element! He's not alone in the room. But, a discordant note:

    See how the second sentence kind of kills the momentum? It's over explaining, it's distracting. It's something the reader could reasonably infer. It's also something we really don't need to know. We already have the general idea of how the war's changed Harry; in fact at this point it's been rather hammered into our heads. The fact that Harry's aware there's someone else in the room really doesn't need explanation beyond its statement; we're perfectly free as readers to just believe that, because it makes sense. He could hear them breathing, for example. It's a statement a reader will just accept, making the sentence, at best, null.

    At worst, though, what it's doing is interrupting the momentum of that plane taking off, of that scene really getting going in the reader's head. Harry wakes up, his shoulder's in pain, he's in bed, he can tell someone's in the room - and then, clunk - "also he could tell that because of a thing I've already talked about repeatedly, this is just Example 392994894 of it, but let me tell you again anyway."

    Good writing flows, it lets you sink into it without interruption. This is an interruption.

    Then, the next two sentences -

    It's just kind of... rehashing a version of the opening two sentences, right away. The plane is starting to life off, and then you decide you want another go at the takeoff. For really no reason other than the fact that you want to be sure, really really sure, that we get it, as readers.

    The only real thing you gain in those sentences is Harry sitting up and looking around. There's no new information, there's just a restatement of the condition of his shoulder. It's just... spinning your wheels, narratively.

    ____

    This might seem like nitpicking in the extreme, focusing on the nitty-gritty of like, .00000001% of your writing. However, it's a hugely systemic problem. It's just... how you write. It's everywhere. In the positive sense, we can call it a commitment to wanting to get your point across. What I'd more realistically frame it as is an inability to trust your own writing (and your readers!) enough to give your words room to breathe without stifling them in over-explanation.

    This isn't to say that every sentence has to advance the plot, that you should strip your story of anything that's even slightly off topic. Downtime can be great. Scenes where nothing plot-related "happens" can be great. By all means, take your time. This is an entirely separate issue. What you have to ask yourself, each time you write a sentence, is "what note is this conjuring in the reader's mind? Is it a note that I've hit before? If it's a note I've hit before, how recently have I hit it? If it's a note I've hit before, what's the reader going to get out of hitting it again? Does it reinforce the narrative thrust of the scene, or undermine it?"

    Every time you write a new sentence, you should be reading back a few sentences and really perfecting that "airplane taking off" feel - the curve should be smooth. Organic. Flowing. Not jerky and filled with pockets of dead space.

    I believe a competent, even semi-professional editor would literally - not figuratively - knock off 50% of your wordcount, no problem, and the story would be so much tighter, so much more powerful, have so much more room to breathe.

    Forget chapter length, pace, character development, all that shit. You have the foundation in place to have those things work smoothly. It's this basic, systemic trend of figuratively repeatedly shouting at the reader that's really hurting the story.

    Just my two cents.
     
  6. kathryn_518

    kathryn_518 Squib

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    But I did. I said, that it's not always bout OH HUGE EVENT HAPPENING. But interactions between characters them, their relationships changing and developing. That's my point that is still progression. Is the pacing perfect? Nope. Yep. I can use improvement. That was my disagreement.
    Newcomb

    You have really really good insight.

    I'm very visual, and when I type, it's not so much writing so a reader can see. But I'm watching a movie in my mind, and writing what I see. Including all the surrounding details. I never really thought about it from a 'letting others fill in' type insight. I'm not sure that an editor would knock off quite that much, because some of my writing is interactions, that are more discussions and back and forth, though I bet it comes close to half. But yeah, If I were doing this professionally I probably would.

    Of course if I had the mind to come up with complete originality for ideas rather than synthesis of what already exists I probably wouldn't be writing fanfiction.
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2017
  7. Caledfwlch

    Caledfwlch Sixth Year DLP Supporter

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    I feel like the issue is the meandering. There's an awful lot of text to wade through for so little reward. I understand that you see character interaction and growth as more important than the advancement of the plot but, as other people have already noted, that keeps treading on the same paths rather than making new headway.
     
  8. Newcomb

    Newcomb Headmaster

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    I mean, yeah. The "professional editor" comment was not a real suggestion, just something to illustrate the scope of the issue, as I saw it. Obviously no one here is being held to the standards of published fiction.

    I don't think there's anything wrong with writing with the process you're describing. I think that's what most people do, at least some version of it. What I might suggest is adding an additional filter in your "watch the mind movie -> write what I see" process to factor in some of the stuff I was talking about in my post above.
     
  9. Sorrows

    Sorrows Professor Prestige DLP Supporter

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    You know I always think that one of the best things you can do to a piece of writing is force yourself at gunpoint to remove about 10% of the words. Once you think you can't possibly remove any more cut another 10%. No arguments or bargaining with yourself. Cut 20% of the draft. Treat it like an essay with a character limit. It forces you to re-word things, cut unnecessary phrases descriptions or even scenes. You have no choice but to streamline things and remove the dross.

    Then maybe then put a few back that you absolutely can't live without. You find that's less than you think.

    114 words

    Remove 14 words

    96 words

    Remove another 10 or so words

    80 words

    Add a bit back in: Final 91 words.


    Now I am not saying my final product is superior to your original, it's just a different version of it, but the process itself forces you to reevaluate the necessity of every word and line to the scene, interaction and plot. I find it very useful as an editing tool since I also tend to wander off into massive exposition and descriptions if not stopped forcefully.
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2017
  10. Republic

    Republic The Snow Queen Prestige DLP Supporter

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    Now you're just being deliberately contentious. Character development certainly counts as something happening but guess what? You don't have that either. Others have pointed it out before, and now so do I. Things don't change with and between characters and if they do, it's at a glacial pace. That's not just a stylistic choice, that's an actual writing deficiency.

    You can continue to excuse yourself all you like, but if you ever want to improve you'll have to address this eventually.
     
  11. Steelbadger

    Steelbadger High Inquisitor

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    I'm not sure there's much I can add here that hasn't been said already, but I'd like to comment, simply because I have read this, and I did enjoy it. It's not my favourite story, by any means, but it is eminently readable.

    The issues with pacing are, well, I would definitely consider them to be the a symptom, rather than the disease. Part of the problem is, as Newcomb said, over-descriptiveness. I am finding it a little difficult to offer useful critique as there are simply so very many words that even finding somewhere to start seems an elephantine task. Instead, I'll choose a chapter at random, and look for something that jumps out at me:


    Sorry for the large quote, but I think the scale of it nicely shows some of the issues at play. I'll ignore the smaller issues, like overly frequent repetition of the same words over and over again (which should really be caught by a beta), and instead focus on the larger problem that this passage represents in microcosm.

    There's nothing wrong with the story telling going on here, but so very many words have been mobilised for not much gain. What has happened in this passage? Harry has tipped out a large collection of jewellery, asked Ahsoka to look through it for a gem that might be suitable for use as a lightsaber crystal, then split the piles into two sections. Aayla noticed that Harry was powerful (and perhaps a little hot too).

    This passage comes after Harry single-handedly destroyed an entire fleet of slaver ships, and numerous other instances of much more impressive power than simply sorting through a pile of stuff. Why is this particular instance of his use of magic so noteworthy?

    I'd suggest that it's not. And that's a problem. I think of description as being something of a finite resource. Finite, because your reader has a limited attention-span, a limited memory, and a limited amount of time to invest in reading and understanding your work. What is it that you want your reader to take away from this scene? As it stands, it's unlikely that they'll get anything from it at all, as it will blur into all the rest of the 'character' scenes like this.

    By lavishing so much attention on this relatively unimportant moment, you have downplayed the importance of those moments that are important. Expand this to an entire story, and you end up with a 100k word tale inhabiting 300k words.

    ---

    So, part of the problem is the over-application of detail where it serves no purpose, but I'd suggest that another issue is that you've simply given yourself too much work in the first place.

    I've always been of the opinion that attempts to write good harem romances are doomed to failure. It's a case of damned if you do, and damned if you don't. You have, again, finite detail that can be deployed in the description of your story, but by going the route of a Multi romance, you have greatly increased the number of characters that sorely need some part of that detail. If you starve them of that detail in an attempt to keep the pacing engrossing, then you end up with boring one-dimensional characters, and a failed romantic arc. If you give everyone the amount of fleshing out they deserve, then you will end up with simply too much description, and the pacing will suffer.

    There's a reason why the greatest romances happen in stories where very little else actually occurs, and there's a reason why stories focused on action or adventure seldom have a romance worth the words used in its recording. People are hard, and trying to truly do even one person justice is a losing battle. Expanding your scope to two, and then dropping in something so hard to grasp as love into the mix, well you end up pretty thinly spread already. Trying to add an exciting adventure too? Good luck, for you will most definitely need it.

    I do not wish to seem overly harsh, for I really have enjoyed reading this story when I want to relax and usher the clock forwards a few hours. I'd just be delighted if, one day, in my trawling through FFN, I find a story by you that has all of your attention to detail, but with an additional appreciation of the value of no detail, when no detail is needed. If that day never comes, well, I'll still be able to enjoy your stories, but I do have hope.
     
  12. mart3183

    mart3183 Squib

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    It has some very funny scenes along with some decent grammar. I like the premise of the story, but it loses it's shine along the way. Although I have read it, it's way to wordy without anything happening, which makes it a hard read.

    I just end up feeling like: get a move on, I wanna see what happens to the plot. 2.5/5 rounded up till 3/5 purely because I like the premise with harry as MoD, powerful, action, ect., ect.
     
  13. nevu

    nevu First Year

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    Oops, double posted on mobile. Not sure how to erase.

    Argh actually it only loomed like it and I deleted my post.

    Basics : story updated recently.

    Harry needs some drawback to being so powerful now that the story is trying not to be a comedy. Philosophers stone needs a serious drawback. Sirius' behavior is really weird with Harry - he last saw him at 15 and they definitely didn't have that relationship.

    Also, author should use WbA forum if she wants to use dlp for improvement. Much easier to get feedback on specific sections there, though I may recommend using a chapter from a story that isnt already 300k words.
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2017
  14. Methos

    Methos Seventh Year

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    I think what is supposed to hold Harry back is magic wielding Jedi and Sith.
    read few chapters back.
     
  15. syed

    syed Supermod

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    Also, no matter how powerful he is, he is being forced to act on a galactic scale.
     
  16. nevu

    nevu First Year

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    What I'm complaining about may wind up being more of a pacing problem. It isn't that he won't ever be actually challenged, it is that 350k words in he hasn't been outside of mild arguments that he always wins. The most difficult thing for him to do (destroying the drones) apparently took a few minutes to set up, with that being the only drawback. He's had no setbacks so far - the closest thing was the slicer dying which he got around easily.

    It is also somewhat hard to believe that Jedi/Sith who gained access to broader magic a month ago will realistically pose a challenge to a 1500 year old immortal wizard.

    Sheev is a different story, but that is his buffed up force powers (which and political acumen coming into play, which fits more into the "1 person trying to solve galactic problems." mold, which I agree is probably a cause of setbacks for him, but... Not yet.

    Really, among successful stories throughout history most of the ones that start with a powerful hero are about their fall from power or failure - the tragedies. I don't think that's where this story is going, but that would be interesting.
     
  17. VorpalWeenie

    VorpalWeenie Squib

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    The plot isn't that unique so far but it's a lot of fun. Take a cliche of Harry coming in the nick of time to save pretty alien and put it in the SW universe. He's not a unique character but it all flows anyway.
    The good:
    -Solid writing. Always solid writing from Kathryn518.
    -Harry's fun! He's enjoying life, somewhat, and that's enjoyable to read. He's helping Asoka grow as a person without descending into some automatic debauchery.
    -It's actually interesting to piece back the layers of Harry's backstory, even though it's taking a reaaaally long time to do so. Kinda weird Harry had 2 wives in the past but it doesn't hurt the story in the present, although it's definitely unnecessary. Feels like an exposition device. I always detest Harems but Harry is a lot more casual here so we'll see.
    -The author is taking time to pierce the veil of the dark side. Anything can happen.

    The bad:
    -It really does take quite a bit to get going. But that's an acknowledged factor in Kathryn's fics.
    -Too much emphasis on everyone reacting to Harry's presence. Kills immersion to have to suddenly care about a Sidious POV. The force is changing and Harry is bringing a third path to the future. Yes, of course he is, but too many people comment on it for us to enjoy it.
    -Harry is suddenly the only good person to ever see the modern Jedi order to be massively flawed. Yes, the goal is to fix the SW universe before shit really hits the fan but it feels a little obnoxious. Only a little because Harry honestly doesn't give that much of a crap. Once he gets invested though- and he will, I hope he doesn't go the way of Judgy McBashface.

    I do focus most of my reviews on the negative but that's because I'm a critical person in general.
    I like this as a bit of fun and I'll continue liking this as a guilty pleasure until the Harem part puts me off.
    4/5