Review Request: Mists of Kel Doran


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:

And Chapter I - Harbinger begins here:

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


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.

Thank you, TanaNari...I appreciate that.

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

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

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.

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

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.

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."

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.

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

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Yeah, the edited version is a whole lot cleaner. Fix the rest of it and I'll have to rework my review.

Oh, there was one thing that seemed relevant to mention. You know the concept art you have on your page? Well, I took a look at some of it, and there are a few concerns. For one, you don't seem to have credited the artists, which is generally considered a dick move, but when you do it on a monetized site, it can actually get you in a lot of trouble. That's why a lot of online fiction is actually pretty sparse when it comes to pictures. I'm not saying you did this intentionally. I'm sure it was an honest mistake and that you just wanted to share a collection of things you found cool, but it could get you in trouble, especially when some of the art you're using appears to be re-skinned artwork from Dungeons and Dragons guidebooks, which means you could wind up pissing off a big company like Wizards of the coast (Cuz that art's actually kinda theirs). I would recommend that, at bare minimum, you explicitly state at the top of that page that the artwork isn't yours and that it's just a gallery of stuff other people have done that you think is neat.

TanaNari: Already on it! :)

Rhythm: I try to get most of my stuff from royalty free sites like Pixabay...but I've also noticed that some of the art could potentially belong to someone else. I'll definitely dig into that and ensure I'm not stepping on anyone's toes.

Again, I appreciate both of your input...thanks for helping me take these first steps.

hi so I finished my review and I just kinda want to say I think liked it the most, but i have some serious issues with it.

Thank you for your time, Docmars.

For what it's worth, I've 'republished' the first 5 chapters, replacing the old content altogether. For the sake of reviewers and potential readers, I didn't want everyone rehashing the older, re-written content.

I'm embarrassed to say, over the course of 5 chapters, I've shaved off around 4600 words (and another 1100 off Ch6). I would say that assessment of my writing was pretty spot thank you, Rhythm and TanaNari, for that. I've also added a few subtle hooks to tie the 3 Wyvern's Rest story lines together...or at least show their correlation with one another.