First Web Serial: Graven

3 months ago | Sharkerbob (Member)

So, after dinking around on this site and the discord for a while, I finally got a mental breakthrough, and have started a web serial of my own.

Behold!: http://gravenserial.blogspot.com/

GRAVEN is a dark superhero series taking place in the near future, after mysterious structures called Doorways appear on Earth. Many enter the Doorways, but only a scant few ever return. Those that do are granted superhuman abilities, but have no memory of what transpired. Eleven years later, the world has been radically changed due to superhuman conflicts. Now the world's first superhuman gathers a group of bounty hunters to try and prevent the further collapse of the world.

I won't lie, this will likely be a rough series, at least to start. This is not my first story or even web project, but I have always struggled a lot with long form fiction, so this is largely an experimental learning process for me. Hopefully it will be the first step towards bigger and better projects down the road. Nonetheless, I hope it will still be an entertaining ride. If you decide to check it out, let me know what you think!

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Responses

  1. Walter (Member)

    Posted 3 months ago

    I will definitely be checking this out!

  2. Sharkerbob (Member)

    Posted 3 months ago

    Ah, excellent, sempai has noticed me.

    Just according to keikaku.

    :P

  3. Rhodeworks (Member)

    Posted 3 months ago

    Here are some thoughts in no particular order, just things that immediately jumped out at me. I haven't read very far, so, these are all first impressions.

    What separates this from the wealth of first-person superhero stories or serials in general? I check out a lot of serials and, honestly, anything in first-person is getting to the point where it just feels done.

    The beginning isn't particularly gripping. I read something a few days ago that basically said 'don't open with weather or landscapes, the audience will just skip over it to find the people'. It also commits a few sins of early chapter writing which are, like, 'here is what I look like, here is what I wear' etc. I noted a lot of adverbs, including the old paradox of using the word 'suddenly' to demonstrate something happening quickly. But many, many serials have issues like this.

    Now, here's the thing, I think the premise is pretty cool. Mysterious things where people go into and come out with superpowers if they're lucky? Neat! The Premise section on your About page is what got me to take a look. But I think it'd benefit from being tightened, more detailed, and more precise. Here are my thoughts on it specifically:

    "In 2029, mysterious structures called Doorways appeared across the world. Any human that entered immediately disappeared."

    Good. But how many Doorways? Are they rare? Are they evenly spread? Are they big? A mysterious structure could be a hut or it could be a Tower of Babel. Are these things hiding or are they ominously hanging over the landscape?

    "Most never returned, but every once in a while, someone would come back out, garbed in strange clothing and possessing superhuman powers. Despite the odds, many of the desperate, ambitious, and hopeful surged through the Doorways in search of personal power."

    Don't use 'most', 'many of' and 'every once in a while', they basically deflate any tension. It's always rough using numbers in a story, but here is where I think giving the audience some idea of how stacked the odds are, especially when you say 'despite the odds', would be really beneficial. Is it 1 in 10? 1 in 100? 1 in 1000? How many people have gone wandering into these Doorways? Do people come out immediately or does it take time?

    "Eleven years have passed, and the world has undergone catastrophic changes as the result of superhuman conflict. Entire continents and civilizations have been lost, a supervillain epidimic threatens those societies that remain, and the world's greatest superhero team has just been destroyed. In the wake of this latest tragedy, the world's first superhuman returns to America, seeking to gather a band of powerful bounty hunters. With their help, he hopes to track down the source of these disasters, and perhaps save what remains of the falling world."

    This kind of confused me because, as best as I can determine, the first character in the story proper is a woman.

    Another thing I thought would be that the story could benefit from a short prologue. A lot of people say skip them but I think the weirder a story is, the more they can be helpful. A short 500-1000 words about, I don't know, the day the Doorways appeared or the first person to go into one or the first person to come out of one could be pretty good and answer some of these question-thoughts I had. Additionally, it'd serve to differentiate the story a bit from other first-person superhero serials.

    But again, these are just my random thoughts based on my brief perusal. Take 'em with as much salt as required.

  4. Sharkerbob (Member)

    Posted 3 months ago

    I appreciate the feedback. Thanks for giving it a look.

    As I said, this is a first attempt, and I'm sure its going to need a lot of work. At this point, the main goal is to prove that I can actually DO something like this at all, and that by the time the project is finished, I will have managed to improve my craft some.

    What separates this from the wealth of first-person superhero stories or serials in general? I check out a lot of serials and, honestly, anything in first-person is getting to the point where it just feels done.

    I can definitely understand that. I have often been plagued with the problem of realizing that the "brilliant ideas" I've come up with are often already played out by the time I'm in a position to get them on the page. It's been frustrating at times, but its been one of many things holding me back in the past that I need to get over, or I'll never manage to do anything.

    Still, what's old and played out for most people around here is still new and interesting for me as a medium, and more importantly, this is a format I've personally never really tried before. A lot of this project is putting myself out of my comfort zone. It is my hope that writing with this approach can help me break the cycle of constant failure to get projects done or even started.

    I've been coming up with superhero stories since the 1980s, and I was always planning things as though it were an episodic comic book or cartoon show. I can create characters hand over fist and create settings on the fly, but it took a long time for me to realize that I just don't have that many individual stories between all those ideas. Moreover, the older I get, the more I realized I am not interested in the "generic adventures" of the characters I was creating. And then, throughout the 2000s, I started trying to branch out from superheroes, but still with a focus on superhuman adventure stories, and I still just couldn't get things to click. Even when I knew "the story", I just didn't know how to implement it well.

    It took reading some of the webserials around here to realize that maybe I should change my approach. I'm not sure if I will stick with serials after this project is done, but I can definitely say I've done more writing for this story in the past couple weeks than I have for the "heroic fiction" genre in Years. Feels good, man. Even if this is my only serial, I'm hoping this progress will help me break through to continue writing in some capacity after.

    As for the perspective, third-person omnipotent or limited has always been my go-to standard, though I have played around with shifting perspectives of first and second on occasion. Doing a full story in first person perspective forces me to approach the characters differently. I'm not sure how well it'll work, but I feel as though a lot of the time, characters of mine come off very flat. Getting directly into their heads will hopefully force me to explore them better.

    I'm sure people are going to look at my story and think it's trying to be a shitty knock off of Worm or Fifth Defiance or similar such stories. The funny thing is, tons of stuff in Worm and FD reminds me of things I was coming up with back in the 80s and 90s and 00s, but I screwed around too long and never managed to bring any of my concepts together into a cohesive, compelling narrative. Wildbow and Walter have woven those concepts into excellent stories, and that's inspired me more than the subject matter itself. That is to say I didn't get my ideas from them, rather they showed me a way to make my own ideas work. Hence, it probably will feel a bit over familiar, but as it goes, it should start feeling like its own thing.

    The beginning isn't particularly gripping. I read something a few days ago that basically said 'don't open with weather or landscapes, the audience will just skip over it to find the people'. It also commits a few sins of early chapter writing which are, like, 'here is what I look like, here is what I wear' etc. I noted a lot of adverbs, including the old paradox of using the word 'suddenly' to demonstrate something happening quickly. But many, many serials have issues like this.

    Yeah. These are really bad habits of mine. Description of the character is always clunky for me. I went a while not describing people hardly at all in my stories, but then some readers bug me that they don't know what a character looks like.

    "Suddenly" is definitely one of my verbal ticks I really need to break. -_-

    Now, here's the thing, I think the premise is pretty cool. Mysterious things where people go into and come out with superpowers if they're lucky? Neat! The Premise section on your About page is what got me to take a look. But I think it'd benefit from being tightened, more detailed, and more precise. Here are my thoughts on it specifically

    "In 2029, mysterious structures called Doorways appeared across the world. Any human that entered immediately disappeared."

    Good. But how many Doorways? Are they rare? Are they evenly spread? Are they big? A mysterious structure could be a hut or it could be a Tower of Babel. Are these things hiding or are they ominously hanging over the landscape?

    "Most never returned, but every once in a while, someone would come back out, garbed in strange clothing and possessing superhuman powers. Despite the odds, many of the desperate, ambitious, and hopeful surged through the Doorways in search of personal power."

    Don't use 'most', 'many of' and 'every once in a while', they basically deflate any tension. It's always rough using numbers in a story, but here is where I think giving the audience some idea of how stacked the odds are, especially when you say 'despite the odds', would be really beneficial. Is it 1 in 10? 1 in 100? 1 in 1000? How many people have gone wandering into these Doorways? Do people come out immediately or does it take time?

    One of the things I'm hoping to work on is the slower pacing of doling out information over time instead of a massive info dump up right front. I'm still trying to parse how to apply this, but the intent here to make the reader wonder about the Doorways for a while before revealing that kind of information.

    I see your point on the vagueness of "most", though.

    "Eleven years have passed, and the world has undergone catastrophic changes as the result of superhuman conflict. Entire continents and civilizations have been lost, a supervillain epidimic threatens those societies that remain, and the world's greatest superhero team has just been destroyed. In the wake of this latest tragedy, the world's first superhuman returns to America, seeking to gather a band of powerful bounty hunters. With their help, he hopes to track down the source of these disasters, and perhaps save what remains of the falling world."

    This kind of confused me because, as best as I can determine, the first character in the story proper is a woman.

    It'll be a five-person group, with the man in question being the team leader, but I didn't feel he was the right one to start the story on. I take your meaning though, that does throw things off a bit.

    Another thing I thought would be that the story could benefit from a short prologue. A lot of people say skip them but I think the weirder a story is, the more they can be helpful. A short 500-1000 words about, I don't know, the day the Doorways appeared or the first person to go into one or the first person to come out of one could be pretty good and answer some of these question-thoughts I had. Additionally, it'd serve to differentiate the story a bit from other first-person superhero serials.

    You know, I was thinking of doing a prologue like that, with the first person to find and enter the Doorway, but I wasn't sure if it would work. When you put it like that, I think I probably should, so I'll try and add one in soon.

    But again, these are just my random thoughts based on my brief perusal. Take 'em with as much salt as required.

    Thanks a lot. :)

  5. Sharkerbob (Member)

    Posted 3 months ago

    And prologue added.

  6. Rhodeworks (Member)

    Posted 3 months ago

    It's okay to info dump in the premise though. Well, not info dump, but provide the basic building blocks of the world and setting. IMO, the reader should be armed with the basic information that the general populace knows. Info dumps in the middle of a story are bad and clunky, but in a blurb/about/premise bit, it's basically expected. It's been eleven years, after all -- people would have a pretty good idea of the odds and so on.

    For example, if you replaced 'mysterious' with 'towering' or 'monolithic' or another more interesting adjective (the things that people walk into and come out superheroes maybe are mysterious? You don't say...) could do a lot. It isn't so much as info-dumping as it is word usage.

    Another thing that stuck out to me but I couldn't edit it in... 'Entire continents and civilizations have been lost.' This is massive. But does it mean lost as in destroyed/wiped out, or more in the sense of degraded and destabilized? Either way, if you're leading off with that scale of devastation and change, the world would be very, very different indeed.

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