Review Request: Mists of Kel Doran

8 months ago | smatthews65 (Member)

Hello,

I submitted my novel late last year, but I'm new to Web Fiction Guide...and writing in general, so I'm still in the process of learning. My serialized medieval fantasy novel, Mists of Kel Doran, is about halfway through its first 'Episode' and I would be honored if someone would take the time to review both the site and navigation, as well as the novel itself. As such, I would be happy to perform the same for anyone else that is interested.

As for Mists of Kel Doran, it's a series I've been developing for a few years, with several 'seasons worth' of material prepared. The series will take place in the 'Dark Ages' of mankind, focusing on man's inhumanity toward man during the Middle Ages, though set in a fantasy world of my creation. I currently have 6 chapters published, with several more near completion...and I hope this series offers a long, 'binge-worthy' read for years to come. :)

The home for my online series can be found here:
http://www.mistsofkeldoran.com/novel.html

And Chapter I - Harbinger begins here:
http://www.mistsofkeldoran.com/online_novel_s1_e1_ch1_harbinger.html

Thank you in advance for your time...and I appreciate any feedback you would offer.
Scott

Mists of Kel Doran Online Novel
http://www.mistsofkeldoran.com/novel

Read responses...

Page: 12

Responses

  1. TanaNari (Member)

    Posted 8 months ago

    Well, since no one else seems to want to help you out, I'll give it a read. You may have to wait a week or so, and I leave an open invite to anyone who wants to jump in earlier to do so.

    Author of Price.
  2. smatthews65 (Member)

    Posted 8 months ago

    Thank you, TanaNari...I appreciate that.

    Please, take your time. Don't rush on my account ;)

    Mists of Kel Doran Online Novel
    http://www.mistsofkeldoran.com/novel
  3. Docmars (Member)

    Posted 8 months ago

    I'm up for a swap it might take some time but I'd be up for it

  4. Docmars (Member)

    Posted 8 months ago

    https://www.camelotmagazine.com/fiction/adventures-in-the-pirate-continent-episode-one-a-ship-sinking-on-the-high-seas this one

  5. TanaNari (Member)

    Posted 8 months ago

    Well, you got your review. I doubt you're going to be thrilled to read it, but you have it. And, honestly, I held back for the official review... the original review title was going to be "20,000 words of environment porn", but I wanted to be slightly less acerbic than that.

    Author of Price.
  6. Rhythm (Member)

    Posted 8 months ago

    Well, I've given my own commentary as well, not gonna say any more than that. Hope it is of value.

  7. Rhythm (Member)

    Posted 8 months ago

    Dary pointed out that the review read more like something from a critique circle, and I realized that that was basically because I had written it as more of a critique than a review, so I'm reposting it here.

    The writing is solid, especially for a beginner writer. As TanaNari says, there is a massive attention to minute detail, and I get the sense that you're trying a bit too hard to be visual with descriptions. I’ll give an example. Here is the first paragraph of the story, unedited:

    "Dusk had settled upon the vast expanse of the ancient Forest of Valshyr. After four days of eternal sunlight, both suns mercifully saw fit to slumber beyond the horizon. The ample, eager moon now had its turn in the spotlight. The magnificent shape crested the hills that flanked the forest on all sides; full and round, it imposed its will upon the rest of the still evening sky. Ordinarily, the insects of the forest would come out to worship this newcomer to the sky; to celebrate the death of one day with the birth of another. Yet, the evening air would be quiet this night, as it had been every night for as long as anyone can remember. Anywhere else in the world, the soft, gentle breeze that ushered in a new evening rustled the leaves of every tree in the valley. Ordinarily, a harmony existed with the insects’ melodic reverie; however, this was no ordinary forest, and this was certainly no ordinary night."

    Now, the writing here is by no means bad. The grammar is serviceable, although it could use an edit, and the imagery is actually pretty good. The problem, from my perspective, is that it is far too much for what essentially amounts to someone saying "It was nighttime after the two suns had set. Normally there would be sounds from the forest, but tonight there weren’t"

    I have taken the liberty of rewriting the same paragraph with a word limit of exactly half the length of the original. Here it is:

    "Dusk had settled for the night over the Valshyr forest, four days of light by the binary stars finally giving way to the softer light of the moon. Ordinarily, the cool night air would have brought forth the insects from among the trees, yet the night was quiet. On a normal night, the gentle evening air would set leaves rustling in harmony with the chirrups of those same insects. However, this was no normal night, and Valshyr was no longer a forest."

    Now, I personally think the rewrite doesn’t lose very much at all in terms of content, despite having been done with exactly half of the words, and that's a problem. If you can lose half of your words without losing any of your content, then you're being unnecessarily wordy.

    A fundamental aspect of writing is being able to maintain audience interest by not lingering overlong on any given thing, and I think that if you have any major lessons to learn at the moment, that one is key. You seem pretty confident with prose, but prose is not inherently a good thing. You have to choose your moments with it.

    I think you've got a fair degree of skill as a writer, but you just tend to write too much for what you're saying. It's a bad habit, and it makes your work denser and harder for readers to access.

  8. smatthews65 (Member)

    Posted 8 months ago

    I appreciate your feedback. As a first time writer, I think it’s invaluable to get this kind of critique early in, before too many bad habits set in.

    I will revisit these chapters and see what I can do to ‘streamline’ the prose.

    Thanks again, everyone....and thank you for your honest reviews, Rhythm and TanaNari.

    Mists of Kel Doran Online Novel
    http://www.mistsofkeldoran.com/novel
  9. Typist Kid (Member)

    Posted 8 months ago

    I'm kinda impressed. Both of the reviews (or critique) are helpful, but they can be pretty discouraging as well. Especially when written professionally. Nevertheless, keep your head held high, and brave through!

  10. smatthews65 (Member)

    Posted 7 months ago

    Just wanted to chime in that I took your advice. I went back through the first Chapter and trimmed a lot of fat...~40%, to be exact :(

    I'm a little embarrassed to say that I wasn't familiar with the term 'purple prose', and had to look it up. (Learned quite a bit yesterday, it would seem).

    Anyway, just taking the opportunity to thank you again for your time.

    If anyone is curious, here is a link to the 'trimmed down' version of Chapter I...minus nearly 1000 words.
    http://www.mistsofkeldoran.com/online-novel/chapter-i-harbinger

    Mists of Kel Doran Online Novel
    http://www.mistsofkeldoran.com/novel
  11. TanaNari (Member)

    Posted 7 months ago

    Still needs a lot of work. Unnecessary adverbs, circuitous descriptions, and the rest are still pretty rampant. Let's look at your first paragraph, and what I'd do to it.

    "Dusk had settled upon the vast expanse of the ancient Forest of Valshyr. After four days of eternal sunlight, both suns mercifully saw fit to slumber beyond the horizon. The ample, eager moon now had its turn in the spotlight. The magnificent shape crested the hills that flanked the forest on all sides; full and round, it imposed its will upon the rest of the still evening sky. Ordinarily, the insects of the forest would come out to worship this newcomer to the sky; to celebrate the death of one day with the birth of another. Yet, the evening air would be quiet this night, as it had been every night for as long as anyone can remember. Anywhere else in the world, the soft, gentle breeze that ushered in a new evening rustled the leaves of every tree in the valley. Ordinarily, a harmony existed with the insects’ melodic reverie; however, this was no ordinary forest, and this was certainly no ordinary night."

    Your version, all 164 words of it. Let's cut this thing apart, sentence by sentence.

    "Dusk had settled upon the vast expanse of the ancient Forest of Valshyr."

    "Dusk settled upon the Forest of Valshyr."

    Nobody cares that it's vast and/or ancient. Unless it comes up later when people are actually *talking* about said forest, you can cut that out.

    "After four days of eternal sunlight, both suns mercifully saw fit to slumber beyond the horizon."

    "After four days, both suns fell below the horizon."

    It's not eternal if it only lasts four days, just saying. Also... how does one measure a day in a place without a sunset or sunrise? I'd just drop the "dual suns" thing, myself. Oh, and if the word ends in 'ly', you can (probably) delete it. And there's no reason what so ever to personify the sun unless you're doing a specific type of story that you aren't doing.

    "The ample, eager moon now had its turn in the spotlight."

    "The full moon now had its turn in the spotlight."

    There is no reason at all to describe the moon to such detail, let alone with sensual words like 'ample' and 'eager'. That belongs in romance novels. You don't appear to be writing a romance novel.

    "The magnificent shape crested the hills that flanked the forest on all sides; full and round, it imposed its will upon the rest of the still evening sky."

    "It rose over the hills that flanked the forest on all sides."

    We know it's a moon, no need to call it a "magnificent shape", and since we were just talking about it in the prior sentence, the word "it" will suffice. We also know it's evening, no need to mention that. And it's an inanimate celestial body, it doesn't have a will to impose.

    "Ordinarily, the insects of the forest would come out to worship this newcomer to the sky; to celebrate the death of one day with the birth of another."

    There is no reason to keep this sentence at all. We can convey its ideas in the next.

    "Yet, the evening air would be quiet this night, as it had been every night for as long as anyone can remember."

    "The silence of the grave dominated the forest, as it had for as long as anyone can remember."

    THIS is a situation where a personification word applies- something foreign, alien, in a forest without life. Conveyed in as few words as necessary.

    "Anywhere else in the world, the soft, gentle breeze that ushered in a new evening rustled the leaves of every tree in the valley. Ordinarily, a harmony existed with the insects’ melodic reverie; however, this was no ordinary forest, and this was certainly no ordinary night."

    These two sentences can be folded with the last into something like:

    "There was no breeze, no rustle of leaves, no song of insects other nocturnal animals."

    And of specific note... try not to repeat the same word (with exception to certain 'invisible' words like 'a' or 'the') more than once in a paragraph. Let alone one like 'ordinary' which you can often avoid using at all.

    Now, here's how I'd put together your first paragraph after cutting it apart:

    "Dusk settled upon the Forest of Valshyr. After four days both suns fell below the horizon, making way as the full moon rose over the hills that flanked the forest on all sides to take its turn in the spotlight over the silence below. There was no breeze, no rustle of leaves, no song of insects other nocturnal animals. Death ruled here, as it had for as long as anyone can remember."

    Having cut the sentences to shreds, I was then forced to modify them further so they fit together again. I merged a few sentences, repositioned some of the prose, and whittled your 164 words by 55% to a much more readable 72. I could slim it further, but doing so would make it so different that it would no longer resemble yours in the first place. And that's not the goal here.

    Now... I know, I personified 'death' after telling you to stop personifying the sun and moon (and will now tell you not to personify the valley at all). The difference being that, at least in this case, 'death' is an active force that is doing something specific and dangerous.

    You could personify the sun in a situation like, say, the middle of a desert where words like "oppressive, lethal heat" would make sense. There, the sun is important. Here, the sun is not.

    Author of Price.
  12. smatthews65 (Member)

    Posted 7 months ago

    I truly appreciate your help on this, TanaNari...unfortunately, it looks like my reply may have wasted a lot of your time :(. It would seem you clicked on the link in the original post...not my reply.

    You see, I also took your advice on site design. With Weebly, there’s no way to create a sidebar to clean things up short of a blog page...but I initially looked to have each chapter as a stand-alone page, rather than a piece of a larger blog...after reading your critique, I revisited the idea and structured a new blog page with all the navigation of a regular page...best of both worlds, as it were.

    I say all this because I feel I monopolized way too much of your time already...but want you to understand how much it means for an established writer to offer such assistance to someone starting out, like myself.

    Here is the new chapter...first two paragraphs at least, along with the new link copied from my reply:

    Dusk settled on the ancient Forest of Valshyr. After four long days, the eager moon had its turn in the spotlight. It crested the hills and imposed its will upon the still evening sky. The insects of the forest would normally worship this newcomer, but the air would be quiet this night, as it has for nearly a thousand years. Ordinarily, a harmonic reverie exists in a forest; however, this was no ordinary forest, and this was no ordinary night.

    There would be no harmony this evening because there were no leaves, and no insects. As far as the eye can see lie rolling hills filled with one thing…ash. Mountains of decayed life blew across the ancient forest, a blanket of gray waste. Where once stood mountainous oak trees now lies emptiness. Where once a breeze caressed millions of green leaves now lies a void. Where once voiced a chorus of insects now sits silence. Where once lived the great Forest of Valshyr now lives…the Mist.

    http://www.mistsofkeldoran.com/online-novel/chapter-i-harbinger

    Mists of Kel Doran Online Novel
    http://www.mistsofkeldoran.com/novel
  13. TanaNari (Member)

    Posted 7 months ago

    Heh. Oops. My brain no work good.

    I'll do a new edit-fix later, but you can still afford to take the 'don't personify terrain features' advice.

    Author of Price.
  14. Rhythm (Member)

    Posted 7 months ago

    Well, speaking for myself and myself alone, that intro sounds a lot better, Smatthews64. I'll be sure to take a look at the revision when I have a moment.

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