Re: Looking for critical Mentorship on a fantasy story

#1
Hello everyone! I'm new to forums so sorry in advance if I make any basic etiquette mistakes.

I'm preparing to start a weekly release of a fantasy story I've been brewing for a while now, and after several bouts of extensive rewrites, I figured perhaps it's time I seek out an outside perspective. I'm looking for a fair but honest critique on things like pacing, tone, character and style. In-depth feedback would be preferable, when possible.

About the story:
Summary: One of the nine Aeons who created the Spheres has a vision of an apocalyptic darkness threatening to end all known life. After an unexpected upset in the balance of power, the Aeons must learn the meaning behind the vision while also navigating the plans and ambitions of their fellows.
-A high fantasy story set in a created world featuring nine distinct planet-like Spheres
-Written in limited third person with multiple POV characters
-There's no foul language or adult situations; there are descriptions of injuries, but nothing I would consider gratuitous
-There's not a big focus on romance; the romance subplot is tertiary, at most
-For thematic Reasons, there are only ten chapters, but they're quite long; chapter 1 clocked in at over 40k words. For the sake of posting, they'll be broken down into smaller sections between 4-7k words

If this sounds like something you're interested in, please contact me. I'd love to hear from you, particularly if you're adept at spotting things that need to be cut out. I know I'm a bit of an over-writer, and while I've tried my best to make sure every scene is relevant, I'm sure there are things I could trim off for the sake of brevity.

Thanks for taking the time to check this out!

RE: Looking for critical Mentorship on a fantasy story

#2
Congratulations on making so much progress on your story! Finishing several drafts of a 200k-400k book (I'm guessing, based on ch1) takes so much dedication...

I don't know if I can commit to giving feedback for your entire book, but I'd be interested in taking a look at chapter 1 just to see what's going on and figure out if there's anything I can help you with. I don't have any true editing/critical experience, but I can probably point out any immediate issues with pacing, tone, and amount of exposition, as well as whether or not the characters are likable/effective. If nothing else, I'll be able to give feedback over whether or not your first chapter has hooked me into wanting to read more.

I don't post much on RRL either, but if you click on my rep points, you'll be able to see a couple of my posts. It should give you an idea of what level of feedback you could expect me to give.

I'm contactable through Discord but can also review through google docs, so if you're interested, we can exchange contact info.



Also - this is more related to pitching your story. I'm about to go super in-depth into your summary, so if the summary you gave here isn't your working one, then you can totally ignore it.

If you had to pick one or two main characters who make your book what it is, who would it be, and what personal obstacles do they face while on the journey to stop the apocalyptic darkness? When people search for stories to read, it's easier to grab their attention if you can present a character (or several) whose personal situation or goal they can relate to. It's harder to sell a story as something worth a reader's interest if you only present the plot. There are many stories about saving the world, or worlds, in your case, from a mysterious force, but what makes your story unique is the characters' struggles as they attempt to save it.

The way you presented your story puts emphasis on the fact that the entire universe is in danger and that someone (the Aeon who had a vision) has to save the 9 worlds. Here, the main promise you give the reader is that there are characters who will discover and explore 9 unique fantasy worlds, and that somewhere along the way they'll stop an evil from destroying those worlds. The fact that there will also be character interactions and development is mentioned in the summary ("the Aeons must learn the meaning behind the vision while also navigating the plans and ambitions of their fellows"), but there is nothing tying the personal identities of the characters to the development of the plot. From the summary alone, the plot moves regardless of who these characters are. Their identities, other than the fact that they are Aeons, are inessential.

I think it's important to either bring some of the characters forward and write what personal involvement they have in this (ex. Though Harold vowed to never again pick up a sword, he must now rise up and battle so that he can defend his family from the encroaching darkness), or mention how the group dynamics change (ex. The Aeons, torn apart by the past betrayal of one of their own, must now learn to band together again in order to save their universe).

In other words, you can present your cast as either starring a main character (like in Iron Man, where Tony Stark leads the movie) or as an ensemble (like in The Avengers, where there are multiple strong leads working together as one unit), but in the end, you have to make the people involved seem interesting to read about.

Summaries are really tough - I'm super bad at them myself, hahaha. >_< Film synopses are good references, though, because they highlight the main characters, the conflict they face, and (usually) what they must do throughout the story in order to overcome that conflict.

Iron Man: A billionaire industrialist and genius inventor, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), is conducting weapons tests overseas, but terrorists kidnap him to force him to build a devastating weapon. Instead, he builds an armored suit and upends his captors. Returning to America, Stark refines the suit and uses it to combat crime and terrorism.
Avengers: Age of Ultron: When Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) jump-starts a dormant peacekeeping program, things go terribly awry, forcing him, Thor (Chris Hemsworth), the Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) and the rest of the Avengers to reassemble. As the fate of Earth hangs in the balance, the team is put to the ultimate test as they battle Ultron, a technological terror hell-bent on human extinction. Along the way, they encounter two mysterious and powerful newcomers, Pietro and Wanda Maximoff.

RE: Looking for critical Mentorship on a fantasy story

#4
@ars

Thank you very much for your interest and your kind words! While I feel I am plenty dedicated to finishing things in the long run, finding ways to maintain day-to-day motivation without getting discouraged is... challenging, to say it mildly.

You raise some very good point about summaries that I hadn't really thought of, though in retrospect they seem so obvious. I suppose I was trying to be as concise about the plot as possible, but now I realise all I did was accidentally cut out the heart of the story that people would actually care about. Because you're completely right: the characters are the reason I care about the plot in all of my favourite stories. I'll need to reconsider how I present things in the future, especially since I do consider large chunks of the plot to be character-motivated and that's really not getting across as things are now. That's definitely something I need to work on.

I absolutely would love to hear what you have to say about the first chapter; given how thoughtful your comments on the summary alone were, it sounds as if I would really benefit from your insight. Recent feedback has made me aware of the fact that my style tends to sound a bit too detached (ex. My summary talking about nothing but the plot while neglecting to mention the characters; seems that's a symptom of an altogether larger problem, hahaha) so I'd like to revise some things and shove a bit more emotion in there before sharing what I have. Would you be willing to look at the first section in, say, perhaps about a week? If nothing else, I greatly appreciate your input on the summary!

(sorry for the day-late response; this has been a crazy week, and just as I sat down to type out my reply, a storm knocked out my internet, because of course it did)




@WhiteSamurai

I've bookmarked that post and will be looking through your guides over the next few days. Because I want to go back and fix a few problems I've been made aware of, I don't think I quite meet Requirement #5 ("Have at least a Prologue and 4 chapters") at this exact moment, though I doubt it'll remain that way for long. Once I've properly spruced things up a bit, I likely will be sending you a message about it.

Thanks!
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