Prologue & Chapter 1 we’ve discussed already.Ch. 2
I’m three pages in and nothing has happened. You could definitely stand to cull a good majority of the start of this chapter.
The way that Novell stumbled upon the professor is a bit hazy to me. Despite the giant walls of text devoted to describing the weather, I don’t have a very good sense of place here. Is it some kind of cave? (That is where Yeti’s live, right?) The professor says the weather is so bad that Novell would have died if not for his interference. So, uh, what is Novell doing flying around there?
Things got interesting once the professor got on the scene. His diction and quirky behaviour makes the surrounding events interesting.
He is also rather demonstrative of a certain thing: You cannot leave Novell alone. By that I mean, the narrative cannot be in a position where it’s just Novell by himself. He’s boring. He doesn’t seem to want
anything. Heck, it doesn’t even seem like his lack of a cutie mark bothers him that much. This lack of drive does not bode well for a protagonist.
Again, nothing yet has happened in the way of this story’s central premise. Novell is the “Unmarked”, but this has not been relevant to the story at all yet. For what reason am I, the reader, still reading this story? I cannot find a very good answer. You need a hook to keep the reader reading.Ch. 3
You could stand to tone down all the yacking at the start here. I mean, the only thing that’s happenning is Novell getting permission from his parents to go on an adventure, which is kind of awkward. There’s no expectation that his parents will say no, so to me it’s all “blah blah blah”. I’d want to get this dialogue out of the way as soon as possible because there’s no tension behind it.
Somehow I feel like Search calling Novell an “interesting fellow” is sarcasm…Ch. 4
I liked the description of the inn.
All of this dialogue is so boring… People are just greeting each other and going through what amounts to smalltalk. Ugh.
The whole wood carving business feels like a very out of place digression.Ch. 5
> Because everypony hates me, no matter what I do.
Aside from this wildly eccentric Professor? The brooding here makes no sense given the circumstances.
I really hate to say this, but I’m going to stop reading here. I think there are a whole wealth of issues you could stand to address before sending this off to another reviewer.
The first thing … there is no easy way to put it. This story is boring. I am 25,000 words into the story and nothing particularly meaningful has occurred. The only conflict so far was in the second half of chapter 2 when Novell was being attacked by a Yeti, which was resolved soon after. In other words, the only conflict so far has come from something that isn’t even sentient.
I’m not joking when I say this story could probably be reduced to half the length. The four and a half chapters I’ve read so far could be written in two. This is the number one thing you could do to improve this story. You noted that other reviewers have dropped the story early (just as I am doing). The reason is obvious: the story is too slow. There is no hook at all short of a promise that once they get to Canterlot, some guy is going to answer the question about Novell’s lack of cutie mark. But the answer to this question could very easily be quite lame fanon about cutie marks (which we all have), and because the story up until this point has not distilled a lot of confidence in the reader of you as a writer, there’s no reason to believe that this answer is worth the wait.
Don’t say, “Wait it gets better.” You want to get to the good bits as soon as possible. After the very first paragraph, I need to be thinking, I need to read the rest of this page.
After the first page, I need to read the rest of this chapter.
And then, I need to read the rest of this book.
Get a hook in right away. Promises of fanon only work if you can convince me you are clever.
So the first thing you should do is go through the entire
story and remove absolutely everything that possibly could be removed without ruining the story. Be merciless.
Your prose is at times incredibly difficult to read. The most actionable advice I can give you in this regard is that you need to be less afraid of using proper nouns and pronouns. By that I mean, you have a severe case of Lavender Unicorn Syndrome. I mean, I used to not understand why LUS bothered some reviewers so much… but now I know. Please read Ezn’s article
on this topic.
Aside from the issues Ezn mentions, I can’t keep track of the hue, saturation, and colour of every character’s mane, coat, and eyes in the story. The information is just not important enough for me to have to think about it. So when you start referring to people as “the pale pegasus” and “the blue-eyed stallion” and “the orange mare” (orange coat or orange mane?), I have to think an unnecessary amount just to know who the subject of the sentence is.
What else makes this story difficult to read? Your characters spend so much time agreeing with each other. Rarely ever does the dialogue have the characters at any meaningful odds with each other, and if they are it’s resolved shortly. Even Whisper, who has been described as reckless and juvenile, hasn’t presented anything more than minor annoyances to the protagonist. All of these yackety yack dialogues should be first on the chopping block.
Every word in your story should be doing one of two things: developing character, or advancing the plot. If it’s not doing either, get rid of it.
This brings me to Novell. He is the reason nothing happens. He does not push the story to interesting places. He is not in any way disagreeable, and so does not drive any conflict. He is broody about his circumstances, but what actual bad things have happened to him as a result of his blank flank? Short of being called some names by narrative nobodies, not much. Even Whisper’s brattiness comes off as mostly friendly banter. On the other hand, he’s getting to go on an adventure to Canterlot with a zany professor because of it. That he’s so hung up about it is terribly difficult to sympathise with, and this is the protagonist
we’re talking about here. All the issues I’ve brought up so far have simple fixes, but this will require some serious thought. Either spruse the supporting cast up so that Novell is the straight man to their zany antics (think Will Turner to Jack Sparrow), or make him actually do
something. Because right now, all I’m thinking is that Novell is a loser, and he’s a blank flank because he’s uninteresting. I’m not rooting for nor interested in the protagonist at all, and that’s a really bad thing when there’s no other anti-hero type characters to fall back on.
I really apologise for not having much nice to say here. You do lots of things right, far more than you do wrong. It’s just there isn’t much to say much about the things done right. The grammar is spot on. Search’s oration is fun to read. You have a diverse set of characters that have a believable reason to go on an adventure together. Your description of the landscape evokes vivid imagery when the prose doesn’t become too burdensome.
I feel kind of bad that this story isn’t in any real way disagreeable (because at least that way I could hate it). I just feel… bored. I want to read something else.
The primary question you need to ask yourself while writing: “Is this interesting?”
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