Review Request/Swap: Desert Steel


  1. TanaNari (Member)

    Posted 4 years ago

    I just posted a new chapter where I ruined the main character's life. AGAIN!

    PS- another writing tip. You use "although" a lot. I'd recommend you delete at least 3/4ths of them. Don't feel bad, most writers have a couple favorite words they abuse like that. It's a habit we all have to break.

    Author of Price.
  2. Deadpansmirk (Member)

    Posted 4 years ago

    @Tananari thanks for the feedback. I'll try look out for this in future chapters.

  3. Whyknotzoidberg (Member)

    Posted 4 years ago

    Oh yea also after I finished desert steel, I started price, and I gotta say it's pretty good so far tana.

  4. TanaNari (Member)

    Posted 4 years ago

    Thanks. One of the things I *know* is a bit of a weakness... I put too much time into the setup of the school life. I did it for good reason that is totally paying off now that I'm in the late game... but it makes the early story a little slower than it necessarily needs to be.

    ... I have a habit of playing the long game. There are things foreshadowed in the first three chapters that won't be tapped until the climax of the story. The problem is, since this is a first draft, it means I couldn't predict exactly how much buildup I'd need.

    I'm sure there will be a few deleted early chapters in the final edit.

    Author of Price.
  5. Khronosabre (Member)

    Posted 4 years ago

    I will follow in the footsteps of the others here and post a little more specific advice for you here to help out. Especially since my review was a

    Did I mention I'm a harsh critic? No? Sorry...

    Really really really, I would focus on showing things instead of telling them, that was my biggest pet peeve with the story. So much telling how things are when you've got such describing talent, use it to show me how things are. I don't want to hear from you that that guy is hard, I want to see examples of it and form my own conclusion. Readers are smart. They can put together clues if you set them up right. Reveal things to us slowly instead of hammering us with what you believe we should think straight out, it'll make for a more interesting journey and it'll make us more invested and immersed since we'll believe we formed our opinions on our own.

    TanaNari already mentioned the purple prose issue which I agree with entirely. You could also spend a little less time explaining some things. Sebastian knew somehow that the digger was going to get out of the machine and look at the body? And there was a whole little explanation as to how he knew that. It was really jarring and bizarre to me. You easily could have left that out entirely and just had the guy get out of the machine and the same thing would have happened. Things like that, just watch out for.

    And seriously, female characters. Please. In long-form fiction there is no excuse to not pass the Bechdel test. I know you're going for a Western homage and those typically don't treat women all that well, but it's modern. It's kinda sci-fi. You can change it. Maybe you're already planning to, but if you're not, I'm begging you, get on it haha.

    Hope any of this was helpful!

  6. Deadpansmirk (Member)

    Posted 4 years ago

    @khronosabre Yeah the 98% thing was stupid. I think I was just rushing to put down a statistic. I'll probably just change it to 'mostly'. I've already got other chapters written, and more girls appear, far more than 98% anyway. Again, dumb statistic. It was just because studies show young males are generally the biggest risk takers, so I felt it would be unrealistic considering how the world filtered entrants.
    Otherwise, purple prose yeah, I'll definitely be cutting that back.
    Regarding the explanation of how Sebastian knew about the digger was to show Sebastian was smart, which is another of his traits.
    Anyway, thanks for the criticism. I hope I can use it to improve.

  7. TanaNari (Member)

    Posted 4 years ago

    I hate it when people pull the sex card. There are some good works that can't pass the Bechdel test. The Star Wars movies, as an example. And some truly shit ones that do pass it. The OTHER Star Wars movies, for example.

    If you switched the genders of all characters, I think Kill Bill would fail the test.

    Frankly, it's sexist to demand placing female characters into a story. Just as it's sexist to demand male characters.

    When we can let the story fall naturally where it may and treat people as *people*, not sets of genitals, that's when actual equality begins.

    Author of Price.
  8. Khronosabre (Member)

    Posted 4 years ago


    So I don't really want to explain the importance of representation and mainstream media's subpar treatment of female characters because there are a lot of people out there who can explain it a lot better than me and if you were going to be interested in that, you could read a thousand articles about it.

    So I'll give you something you can't argue with. Women make up roughly half of the population on Earth. Right? Given that, is it really feasible, since access to world-traveling portals is so widespread, only 2% of those travelers would be women? No offense meant, Deadpansmirk, I get that it was just a throwaway line, totally understandable. But really. No.

    It's not 'pulling a sex card' to point out a logical flaw in a piece of fiction.

    And it's also not 'pulling a sex card' in general to expect at least some members of half the human population to be present. I'm not asking anyone to make their main characters women, by any means. You're exactly right, if Kill Bill switched genders, it would fail the Bechdel test (which by the way I never said is the be-all end-all of literary critiques it absolutely isn't. I also would never say that Star Wars (as much as I love it) treats women well. Any of them. Regardless), but if Kill Bill switched the genders it would be just like every other movie.

    Which is why I implore creators to consider why a character has to be what we as a society have come to view as the 'default'. You don't have to make female characters, no one does. But again. 50% of the population. So by sheer logic alone I just have to ask. Why aren't you?

  9. Whyknotzoidberg (Member)

    Posted 4 years ago

    I honestly think that it doesn't matter what genders or races are present in the story. Just that its good. I don't read a medieval novel and go HEY! Wwhere are all the black people? Also why are there no strong women's? I don't, because in that setting there were no black people, and women were oppressed and didn't get out much. Those types of characters don't fit in the setting. Token characters should not be jammed in a story for no other reason than to make the story diverse. It weakens the narrative, and is just plain annoying.

  10. TanaNari (Member)

    Posted 4 years ago

    I'll just point out that mainstream media treats men just as poorly. Really, mainstream media's just complete shit in general. Making that about gender is sexist. Unless you ask all the crazies that believes it's not discrimination if it's against white men.

    ... I've had a few nuts like that... I've had people tell me that female on male rape isn't real so I should take it out of my story... because yeah... f-ing social justice wackjobs... I'm waiting to see how they flip their shit over the gay, black, republican.

    Now, in a story about one way trips to another world... yes, women would be a vastly outnumbered by men. Maybe not to the extent of 50 to 1... but it would be fairly close.

    Lots of nations would just stuff criminals through the hole. And in the USA, the inmate population is less than 7% female. And men get two or three times harsher sentences for the exact same crime. Numbers that double for sex crimes. Y'know... in case you want examples of *real* discrimination.

    And those are numbers that hold true in "progressive" nations like the USA and western Europe. It's much MUCH worse in other parts of the world.

    And once word gets out that this world is being used as a prison colony by places like Iran, Russia and North Korea... well... most sane women are gonna stay the fuck away from those holes.

    Most sane men, too... but... going in is functionally suicide. And all stats on suicide show men are much more likely to carry out elaborate and successful suicides. We have roughly equal suicide attempt rates. Men are three to five times more likely to succeed.

    Yeah. A 2% female populace doesn't challenge any logical application of modern numbers, especially in the early years of the colony program. I'd probably bump it up to roughly 4-5%, most of whom would be members of heavily oppressed, usually religious, minorities in various nations. Anyone who says the numbers would even approach 10% of the populace simply doesn't know the world.

    Author of Price.
  11. Khronosabre (Member)

    Posted 4 years ago

    "I'll just point out that mainstream media treats men just as poorly."

    Huh. Okay.

    Anyway, your discussion of prisons is entirely irrelevant because that's not what happens in the story at all. The exact description of the desert world's makeup is this: "The people that had moved irreversibly to an endless desert were diverse. There were thrill seekers, psychos, explorers, entrepreneurs, losers, dregs, dropouts and idiots."

    And to say that those descriptions apply only to males is harmful to women AND men. So again. 2% or even your 5% does not make sense. This isn't about 'token' anybody. It's about not excluding people who were and are present without a good reason to do so.

    Regardless, this isn't the place for the larger conversation I'm tempted to have. I'm sorry for derailing your thread with my critique. I stand by it 100%. Good luck with your serial.

  12. Whyknotzoidberg (Member)

    Posted 4 years ago

    Preach Tana.

    Anyways, I saw you mentioned my losing of focus during fight scenes,many I was wondering if you could point out where I screwed up so I can fix it?

  13. Whyknotzoidberg (Member)

    Posted 4 years ago

    By you I meant deadpan, sorry

  14. TanaNari (Member)

    Posted 4 years ago

    Hmm. I'll grant you that the use of the portal as a prison world wasn't mentioned directly, although with words like "dregs and psychos" used, it's heavily implied. And all logic of the real world screams it would be used as such.

    The author could afford to add a single line that spells it out.

    ... And it's sad that people still have to *preach* that equality means not treating certain people as people special compared to other people.

    Author of Price.
  15. Deadpansmirk (Member)

    Posted 4 years ago

    @whyknotzoidberg I see you've moved your site to wordpress, congrats! It's already easier to navigate. Just a tip, if you categorise your post by chapter and then change the tite: 'categories' to 'table of contents' you have a functional table of contents.
    As far as focus in fight scenes, the part where Max lands in a baseball rec field, and then the Dutch/Danish Draak (whichever he is) comes from the forest. Maybe just two sentences more describing the layout of the area. I realise I might be one to overdescribe, but a bit more detail probably won't hurt.
    Similarly, in the warehouse, it isn't clear where the spotlight and villains are. Are they on a gangway, or the ground? Are there lots of crates about, or is it mostly clear ground. People surround Max and point their guns at him: how many, and where were they? Just a sentence or two to give the reader a sense of the place before you destroy it in an epic fight would be needed, I think

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