Sjoria: Seeking Fresh Perspectives!

Hi there everyone!

I'm new to this site, and also web serials in general. I can use all the advice I can get! The particular project I'm working on right now, SJORIA, is an epic fantasy novel I've been working since I was a teenager. I finished it a few years ago, and since then I've been ironing out my teenage-mutant-ninja-newbie mistakes.

The trouble is, I've been ironing so long that I'm probably blind to potentially glaring errors by now. I have sent it out amongst my friends for some feedback and critique, but so far they've either never gotten back to me on it or merely said "it's great". I /know/ it needs work. I just need to know where specifically. So, I'm looking for some fresh unbiased perspectives and critique who aren't worried about hurting my feelings. I'm happy to see most people on these forums seem to be very honest and helpful when it comes to these sorts of requests, so I'm looking forward to your responses!

My web novel can be found at

I'll give it a scan (much) later. I like helping out the newbies, but I'm running way behind right now, so it's probably gonna take a while, and most likely someone will beat me to it.

Well, two things right off the bat:

1. Music on a website that auto-plays? That's an instant-shutdown of a tab on my browser, most of the time. Ditch that, or at least make it so that it doesn't play automatically.

2. A bunch of your images are broken.

Fix those, I'll come by in a few days and have a read.

@TanaNari - No problem ^^

@Patrick - Thanks for the tips on my site! Not sure if it makes a difference, but the music only autoplays on the first page. Since that's a instant turn off, though, it's definitely a problem. I'll tweak it a bit so it doesn't play automatically, or maybe put in a more visible mute button on the landing page? As for the images, my artist is a couple of months behind schedule. But she told me yesterday that she has finished the drawings, she just needs to digitalize them. I'll have those updated as soon as she sends me the files.

Oh boy... this is gonna be harsh, and I feel bad for making it harsh, but it needs to be said. So it's on me to be the bad guy.

Personally, I think all the graphics scream "trying too hard". Especially that one on the intro page... panning stock pictures and bad CGI of the solar system... just does not make a good first impression.

You really go overboard on the purple prose, as well. And there's a couple points where your words tumble over themselves. Take the second paragraph of your intro, where you have 'sleeping' in an otherwise past-tense storytelling. Sure, it fits in the context with the way it's written, but there are far cleaner options.

Your intro runs with

"Something had changed. It was a small thing, and most creatures sleeping in blissful unawareness that night would take it for granted. However, the very atmosphere of Sjoria herself became restless."

I would (while attempting to stay in your language choice, at least) write something more like:

"Most creatures slept in blissful ignorance as the very atmosphere of Sjoria became restless."

Because a single easy to read sentence is pretty much always better than three sentences, one of which I needed to read three times to properly parse. Speaking of making things easier to read- double space everything. Paper books

A trick I like to use is to read my story out loud after I've written it- anything that feels awkward to say gets the edits. In fact, I'll often "act" out entire conversations between my characters while doing yard work or whatnot. Most of my neighbors suspect I'm insane. About time they figured it out.

From there... a 140 word paragraph dedicated to triple moons (fun fact- multiple moons has been done before... a lot...), then another 480 describing the environment in some extremely flowery language before we *finally* get introduced to a human being. Keep in mind that, on average, a paperback novel uses about 500 words per page.

So... it would be page three before you introduce a character- aka: the most important thing in the novel.

It's generally better to introduce a strong (by literary definition- which is to say 'interesting and noteworthy', not necessarily capable or powerful) character in the first sentence, before all other things. After said character introduction, then you can start to really focus on the environment around them and how they experience it. Now, mind you, it's not an absolute rule- it can certainly be broken, and to amazing effect with the right writer(s), but it's generally better not to.

Actually, here's a link to some advice by actual publishing agents.

With exception to "Dream Sequences", I think you broke every rule. But, then, I haven't read all that deep into it.

@TanaNari; Don't feel bad! I seriously appreciate your feedback! Like I said, all I've been getting from friends is "It's great" and I'm like, uh huh, so how come you can't tell me what happened in the chapter? *laugh* I honestly can't tell you how much genuine feedback means to me. It will definitely help me to improve my story and my writing overall.

Trust me, one writer to another... we *all* crave good (by which I mean 'comprehensive and useful', not necessarily 'positive') feedback. We're like moths rushing for the flames, in that regard... and those of us who survive our encounter come out stronger for it.

That doesn't mean the burning feels good, however.

It *does* hurt, but so do braces, and I'm glad for those as well. The end result makes it all worth it.

After mulling over what you said, I did do quite a bit of editing on that intro, but ultimately I decided I'm going to cut the Prologue for now. Maybe I'll release as something of an easter egg later, but (as deeply attached as I am and have been to it) I think the story as a whole really stands better without it. And, anyway, my one devoted beta reader finally admitted a few days ago that the reason she never finished the story is because it got her attached to the wrong main characters. I'm a lot less flowery and more character driven from Chapter One on, too. And it's a 20 page behemoth compared to Chapter One's 7... So, there's that ^^;

Hey. Wanted to reply to this but haven't had time. Feedback is cool, but one thing I learned having put things out on sites like Fanstory, the reviewer is important. TanaNari and I swapped reviews (though I'm horribly late for much of the reason I was late here) and that helped me to put his feedback into perspective. He's a very lean and efficient writer, so much so that I view it as too lean, but others might not. That said, he does have a point. I read just a bit of this and found it not to be my cup of tea. Then again, epic fantasy really isn't something I enjoy. I can see the purple prose argument but you are also world building. The question to ask is - is this bit necessary? If it isn't, kill it. Maybe the moons are relevant. Maybe the tug of the tides are a big deal later. In that case, your pretty picture is functional. In your description, you are giving a hint at future events. World building is a thing that is expected from epic fantasy and so you have some latitude, but remember that the choice is yours. Braces is a bad analogy because braces are there to fix something that is objectively wrong with your teeth. This is all subjective. Also, it's YOUR book and so your preferences count. Is that going to be a problem? Maybe. But if you're not telling YOUR story, you may not have the spirit to get to the end and at the end you have something that isn't your vision.

So try to grow. Take advice. Look at what you like to read and figure out what they are doing that makes it enjoyable and after marinating in that for a while, just write your stuff.

And this is the reason a lot of people tell begining authors to write short. A lot of initial works are terrible. Take mine for example. No one is making a movie out of that! But be patient and try to learn.

Stay weird.


I'm really liking Sjoria so far (read first chapter). Thanks for producing this.

@ScreamingCandle - Thanks for the encouragement! I get what you're saying. Genre and style choice is a bit of a grey area, I guess. "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder": not everyone is going to like everything. I'm finding out, since I started this web novel, that the biggest trick is just finding my people, my "tribe" I guess you could say haha

I mean, I've heard purple prose is the bane of all writerdom, but I thought about what you said though and looked at the things I enjoy reading. They really all have that in common: super flowery descriptions. I enjoy that. Most of my favourite authors died a hundred years ago. I guess somewhere along the line it just fell out of style? If it's being used to cover up for a lack of characterization or plot, I can see how it'd be pretty annoying. Personally, I find the purple prose the only redeemable aspect of such works. But when I get the purple to decorate a well crafted plot and characters I can relate to, I'm riveted.

That said, TanaNari does have a point about my words tumbling over themselves. There are quite a few points where reading the sentences out loud was a feat haha I'm glad he pointed it out, as I have been able to clean up a lot of my writing because of it!

The moons do play an important role in some of the cultures of different races in the world, so they're definitely staying ;)

@Walter: Thank you! I hope you continue to enjoy it ^^