Look it's a bunch of review stuff!
Thu Oct 21, 2010 5:39pm

Given that at least two people have asked for reviews and I'm feeling mighty lazy (shocker I know) I've decided to combine it all into one fantastic SUPER REVIEW!

I'm not sure why the involved parties would want something like this but they do. So wish ...ing granted baby!

So Kaze, Demios, strap in, strap on, nut up, and shut up cause here we goooooooooooo!

First thing I've got to get right off the bat is primarily for Kaze.

The biggest problem I have reading your Nino Isle stuff is that I have trouble caring about Kaze the Character (forever after to be known as KtC).

He's really kind of a smug bastard who is good at everything and sometimes acts more like a snarky teen than a mercenary commander doing... Well what IS he doing not leading his own band of mercenaries? I've kind of forgotten and the bios aren't handy. Either way it's probably not dramatic enough to suit my Shakespearean tastes!

Which is to say they're all still breathing!

Anyways, you're probably feeling a bit spiteful yourself after I've ripped your boy to shreds but let me put some salve (or is this going to be salt?) on the wound by offering up a potential solution!

Secondary characters!

You see, Nino Island undoubtedly has quite the collection of odd-ball folks that could be called upon as support characters and as I recall from the games most islanders were a fairly nice bunch. So in the amount of time he's been there Kaze could have connected a bit with the local community. Maybe someone he saved from Reaverbots is so thankful they're working really hard to overlook the fact that he's a snarky bastard and be his fwendy-wendy.

Barring that, well Kaze is a HUMAN. Most of us want to make some kind of connection with our fellow man. Maybe he'd at least have had some bragging rounds with other diggers at the local pub after he'd hit the sauce enough to lighten up.

You'll notice that Demios created an entire crew of secondary characters to bounce Aurora off of. This is the ancient writer's analogue to “throw shit at the wall and see what sticks”.

See when you write only about one character and what's going on with him internally you end up in a circular vacuum where your character will never change and therefore be no more interesting than he was to begin with.

Now if you've stumbled upon that ultimate rarity that is the INSTANTLY ENGAGING AND INTERESTING CHARACTER then it's fine if he never changes a lick. He's already so deep and delightful we're all more than happy to simply watch as he drinks a cup of coffee.

Unfortunately... You haven't.

So that's something to consider.

Your action is there. Bland. But there.

Something I've come to notice is that the shorter your action sequences and the sharper your sentences are the better the action comes off.

Por ejemplo:

B was easy, but he missed an occasional shot on some faster targets. A tested his reflexes as the Reavers became more aggressive and brought actual weapons to bear. He had just gotten comfortably assured with himself that he was going all the way when he started S. Once the doors opened, the air was different. Thick with eerie malicious smog that clouded the mind and soul, and yet the halls themselves were even more deadly silent than the previous challenges' gloom. Red eyes glowed in the distance, bobbing. Kaze's eyes probed the blackness, finally picking out ghostly doll-like robots that floated soundlessly. He took a step forward, the the nearest of the dolls began to float towards him, descending from its high vantage point. It carried no obvious weapons, aside from a modest spike on its head. Kaze let it float over so he could get a better look at it; it was painted powder blue and stared blankly into space. When it was 20 feet away, Kaze raised his rifle and put a single round into its head.

The explosion was instant and immense in the confined space. It picked Kaze up off his feet and slammed him flat against the wall before he slid six inches down onto his feet. Wet copper flavor filled his mouth as he realized he'd bitten his tongue. He coughed, hacking blood onto the floor before looking up through the lingering haze of burnt incendiary compound. Two dozen more sets of eyes blinked to life in the darkness and started their approach. Swearing violently, Kaze threw the rifle into full automatic and emptied the remainder of his magazine into the crowd. He was rewarded with three similarly sized explosions, all painful in the enclosed space but nothing like the first. As he switched out magazines, he realized that there were no sympathetic detonations; the suicide drones were completely immune to the blasts created by their own kind. Back to single-shot, and the rifle bucked onward. Explosion after explosion battered Kaze's senses, and dull aches began to develop all over as nearly two dozen shockwaves all told pulsed through the chamber.

He fought his way through the hall, and his ammunition reserves began to run dangerously low. He was just about to start wishing for a good old fashioned plasma weapon when he slotted his last magazine and pulled the bolt back. A set of double doors slid open at the end of the hall, and Kaze relaxed his aim as he passed through. The ground was littered with small robotic snakes, each a mere 15 inches in length. Kaze was about to try and kick one when another reared up like a cobra, but launched itself like a sprung catapult. A quick twist saved him from being skewered, and the snake punched a clean hole into the wall wide enough to stick three fingers through. Kaze grabbed its body as it tried to wriggle free and, finding it strangely soft, crushed it in his hand. Parts sizzled and sparked as green fluid leaked from the insides, and every snake in the room suddenly took keen interest in him. Their numbers totaled over threescore easily, but even more concerning were the green variety who, unlike the normal orange ones, cloaked themselves in plasma as they approached.

Calling on his magic, Kaze summoned an azure mist across the ground. It beaded and clung to the bodies of the tiny robots, glowing and whispering strange sounds. When the mist was expended, a surge of will flared in Kaze's mind, and the magic burst into unnatural flames that stripped apart the snakes at the atomic level. No heat went up from the dozens of little fires; only cold light and hollow moanings of moving air. Kaze moved around the edge of the room, never turning his back to the snakes. He was fairly sure none of them had survived, but nobody ever died being too sure.

The next room was worse. More suicide drones, this time spawned en masse from a central unit. The room after featured a number of massive walking pillars that generated impenetrable electrostatic forcefields and attempted to crush him between them. When that failed, they deactivated the fields and simply tried to barrage him to death with strange floating balls of energy. Bunkered enemies with flamethrowers, dummy boobytrapped treasure caches, and suicide drones in every other room forced Kaze to rely on his magic when his bullets ran dry. By the end of it, he was caving the heads of his enemies in with the stock of the rifle.

You wrote that.

B was cake. A-level proved a decent warm-up. So S couldn't be too much trouble right? Kaze crossed his arms and idly counted the shafts of light racing past the elevator door as it descended. A flicker of nervous tension snarled across his nerves as the lights started going faster. And faster. And faster. They went from strobes to a constant white blur mirroring the pace of his heartbeat.

Just as suddenly as the speed increased it decreased and the elevator door opened with a polite sound and the gentle whoosh of oiled metal on metal.

Kaze reflexively snapped his rifle to his shoulder. The world outside the elevator did little to quiet his heart. The hallway was epic in size. Sweeping so high light didn't penetrate to the roof. Small vents along the floor pumped heat into the massive hall cloaking everything in a sweaty mist that rolled and frolicked on the air currents creating ghosts of movement that had Kaze's trigger-finger twitching.

Red dots began appearing just as he hesitantly stepped out of the elevator. As though the door closing behind him were a cue. The set nearest bobbed then swept forward at a stately pace. Kaze's struggled to see the thing as it came closer making out a vague outline that was cartoonish in proportion with a single spike shooting up from the rounded cylindrical head.

When he saw it clearly the would-be digger drew a careful bead between the strange thing's eyes and fired a single round.

Even years later he rued that single moment of blunt stupidity.

The strange robot must have been packed to the gills with explosives. The shockwave alone picked him up as though he were a small child in the hands of a giant and slammed him against the elevator chute hard enough to dent the metal. Then the explosion itself stole the very air from his lungs.

Gasping and bleeding Kaze swallowed his urge to vomit and struggled to his feet. Through the smoke he saw that all the other red dots were locked on him and converging rapidly.


And so on.

What should immediately become clear is that I'm striving to show the action through the lens of the character. I'm not reporting the facts but flavoring them with what I imagine KtC's perspective would be.

And when the action DOES really kick in it's sharp and fast. Think Taken and you'll have a good idea for how I see violence in everything I write.

Now what I found interesting was the ultra-brief aside by the civilized secretary on Kaze's relative status on the social scale. For me that's enough to warrant the last paragraph being done entirely from her perspective for the simple fact that how she sees Kaze is how we will see him.

The secretary smoothed a frown from her face as the elevator hummed to life. Undoubtedly carrying the near-lifeless body of the belligerent amateur digger that had demanded he be run through the tests. As if there weren't regulations. As if she didn't have a hundred more applicants that day.

Checking her hair the secretary sent a preliminary call to the local hospital informing them they'd likely have a new tenant.

She had barely hung up the phone when the elevator door chimed open and expelled a cloud of noxious smoke that immediately set her lungs to itching. What came through the smoke was like something from the history books.

The digger's armor was bent, battered, cracked, burned, and utterly gone in places. His helmet bore a dent the size of her fist and blood streamed down the digger's face from where the padding had given way to the metal beneath.

Swaggering -or staggering she wasn't quite sure which- to her desk the digger dropped his rifle down on top of all her papers utterly ruining them.

“Thirty seconds left.” He probably meant it to be a joke but his tone sent a shudder through the secretary and was that blood on his teeth? From the look of him she wouldn't put it past the digger to have become like an animal in the end. Certainly his rifle had seen use as a club.

“SS tomorrow.”

It wasn't a request and the secretary found herself so terrified she didn't even treat it as one. Merely nodding dumbly at the brute.

The digger nodded, scooped his rifle up, and departed like the hulking neanderthal he truly was leaving the secretary to figure out how she was going to push his paperwork through and get him the test he required.

Surely the mayor would understand if she explained things properly....

See the difference in how KtC is presented? Secondary characters are like the hallway of mirrors in Enter the Dragon. You can show your character off from all different angles creating a richer and fuller entity.

I offer more of the same for your second post of the series.

  • What's the point then? (nm)Zeo, Thu Oct 21 3:09pm
    • Look it's a bunch of review stuff! — Zeo, Thu Oct 21 5:39pm
      • And this hurt like a mother...er to read, so I guess it's working. I really appreciate you doing this, and I'm starting to understand real writing technique through it. And how I've utterly failed to ... more
      • Review stuff the SEQUEL!Zeo, Thu Oct 21 5:48pm
        Demios, my friend, I don't know what you want me to say. You know I'm a fan of your stuff if only for the fact that there is always a base-line level of quality you rarely dip below. Your technical... more
        • A trilogy?Demios, Thu Oct 21 11:02pm
          Most of that is fair. I will say though... The technical fight scenes are written the way they are because I have a lot of fun writing them that way. You're absolutely right that I could spend more... more
          • Fair enough!Zeo, Thu Oct 21 11:16pm
            I knew you'd be the one to critique my critiquing! And I gotta be honest the whole eyes thing was a complete spur of the moment thing that right after I wrote it I read it and it sent a little shiver ... more
        • Do me next. (nm)LJB, Thu Oct 21 6:32pm
          • Bob you haven't written anything in...Zeo, Thu Oct 21 6:47pm
            What... 3 maybe 6 months? Besides I'm not sure I'm egotistical enough for all that. It'd be like the shrub critiquing the redwood.
            • *smirks*LJB, Thu Oct 21 6:58pm
              See, I knew you wouldn't.
              • So it's a CHALLENGE?Zeo, Thu Oct 21 7:22pm
                Well then. Have at thee sir and let slip the dogs of war! But you must return the favor eh!? And now I have to go dig up something you've written from the dusty and cobwebbed recesses of the site.... more
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