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Re: Comments on "Small Choices - an EVE-Chronicle-esque"

Thanks, guys!!! :D I think I'm starting to feel a little bit better about myself. lol

I have the next chapter completely written up - I'm proofreading it now. It SHOULD be out soon. :P Unless something unwelcome happens again...

I'm considering asking you guys where you want the plot to go - considering this month's LTFC theme is exploration (it seems a creative thing to do) - but, you know... just a thought.
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Re: Comments on "Small Choices - an EVE-Chronicle-esque"

Posting here because, where else? lol

The post last night was delayed because of unavoidable family issues... I hope to rectify that today.

In the meantime, I'm going to go off on a little random, thoughtful tangent while I mull over what's going on in the story so far. Spoilers will abound, but only for those who haven't read the story (such that it is) yet.

Chapter 6 commentary thing
Spoiler:      SHOW
Here I'm just going to talk about what I'm noticing, and hopefully, whatever comes out of my mouth will make for a good read. If you don't want to read it, fair enough - you don't have to. You won't be missing anything. Think of this as one of those running commentary tracks on a movie.

I'm reaching a rather difficult point in the story - understandably so - and running into a few minor problems along the way.

  The first, and foremost, of these, is that I haven't introduced very many main characters - at least, not to where they would believably take part in the story. We know Hraden has a friend, Jarnel (and yes, that was a reference to Parnell), and we know that the two seem to mutually like each other. However, Jarnel doesn't appear to have a ship at the moment, and Hraden doesn't know him quite well enough to say, "Hey, let's go on this adventure together!" No, you can't do that - it wouldn't be believable, regardless of whether you need another person in the story. And let's face it - conversation - interaction between characters - is what drives a good story. It's not enough to simply have speech, though - something like that winds up being a lot of tagless sentences:
  "Yeah! I like that idea!"
  "But would it work?"
  "I don't know, let's try it!"
  "You're always too hasty, let's try looking at it from this other angle first!"
  That's atrocious to read. You have to say what the person is doing, too - as I demonstrated in an earlier post in this thread. And that brings me to another problem: Hraden is in space. People can't really interact physically in any manner between spaceships. Having someone on a viewscreen instead is clumsy and clunky to describe, too. A hologram of the person would be a believable touch - if it wasn't for the fact that both people are sitting down, and then you have to explain the technology behind it too, or at least have it sound feasible within the universe.
  My point is, it's difficult, and a fine art to master. Asimov was excellent - if you've ever read one of his stories, you'll know that he almost never focuses on the surroundings of the characters, nor even on what the characters are doing, but rather on what they're saying and thinking. At this point, I don't really have any companion for Hraden's adventures. Taiya herself would make a decent companion, especially as she could sit in the co-pilot's chair, but for two things:
  1. Taiya dislikes travel in general. This was introduced for a good number of reasons, but I risk spoiling things by divulging them.
  2. Taiya has a job at the farms on Odgen Station. I don't think she could easily escape from them. (And yes, there is a full backstory for how the two met, though I don't think it'll ever make it into the actual story, sadly enough. I may post it here if people are interested.
  "So it's simple!" you say. "Just add another companion!!" No, it's not that simple, actually. If I wanted to do an [url]asspull[/url], I could conceivably make a new character simply appear to go on an adventures: "Before Hraden got in his ship, he stopped by his friend Shoan's house. 'Hey, Shoan!' Hraden called in through the window. 'You ready to go do some wanton adventuring?'" Unfortunately, that would come across as bad writing - and justifiably so. To really do a good job with that sort of thing, you have to foreshadow it - mention Shoan earlier on in the text. It's something I neglected to do.
  Taiya was a special case - it's believable that Hraden would have a girlfriend, it was within the first three chapters, and I was able to lampshade it by having her ask (in one of her first lines, no less), "Did you even think about me?" Because no, he didn't think about her, and the audience therefore shares the same perception as the main character in this, and goes, "Oh... I didn't think about his family either." It makes them more able to see things from Hraden's perspective.

  And that brings me to my second issue: In most stories, I could simply go back and add something in earlier on because people wouldn't see anything but the finished product. It doesn't work that way in something like this - I'm releasing the story as a series of episodes that aren't pre-written - I can't go back and edit details, I can't go back and change things or insert people or plot devices. As soon as I hit "Submit", everything is permanent. I'm not going to retcon or pretend something doesn't happen, or insert something new after the fact and say, "Hey, guys, go read chapter 3 again, I added a new character!". That would just be bad form, I'm sure you would agree. A writer has to cater to his audience, not the other way around.
  To be fair, though, I'm used to writing like this. Perhaps some of you have clicked the link, but there's a link in my sig to a fantasy/sci-fi novel series I worked on for a couple years, releasing chapters the exact same way as I am now. I have a basic understanding of how this needs to happen, so anything I screw up? That's all on me.

  The third issue is by far the simplest of the three: Space travel. It's incredibly boring to write, "And Hraden dodged another asteroid while he continued on towards his mission." Such drab, dull devices would doubtlessly decrease the devotee's desire to decipher my diction. (I promise I won't do any more alliterations. :P ) But no, really - space is boring. Making it interesting is a puzzle. What do you do, as your protagonist travels between star and distant star?
  If I was to, as Lum suggested, simply skip to the next portion, the feeling of travel would be completely lost. When something happens slowly, the reader expects it to take a longer time to read. For instance, if I was to write three paragraphs in slow-motion about someone pressing the "fire" button on a military cruiser, and then skip six hours' worth of time and say "his target exploded six hours later", that would come across as very bad writing.
  My current solution is simple: Spice things up, and shorten where plausible. To keep things from feeling too short or disjointed, I have Hraden do different things as he travels - perhaps he picks up a book a la Victor, or perhaps he listens to music, or maybe even tries to puzzle out the mysteries of his plot line. It's hard... most of the time I'm worried I'm going to lose your attention. I can't go overboard with detail, but I also can't skimp.

  Writing is a balancing act, and very often feels like walking a tightrope. You want your audience to have a specific reaction to what you write - you want them to enjoy it. Sometimes you want them to feel sad, sometimes you want them to feel elated, or even sympathetic, so you deploy special devices to help achieve those ends. The trouble is, if you're not careful, those devices can be overdone to the point that the audience becomes detached from the emotion in the scene, or at the worst, ceases to care about the character.
  To combat all this, I'm taking a lot of time to research and puzzle through everything before I write out a new chapter. I have a few text files where I'm planning future events. In case you're wondering, no, the ending of the story is not set yet. I'm still working it out as I go along. Right now, I have a vague idea of what I want to happen, and another vague idea of how I'm going to get there, but beyond that, I'm discovering the story just the same as you are. That's part of what drew me to put all my effort into writing for the LTFC: What could better follow the theme of Exploration than allowing your audience to read and explore a for themselves?

(On that note... I was going to write a "choose your own story" program for the LTFC after I finished Small Choices, but I don't think I'm going to finish this story in time. Worse, this may wind up being longer than a typical EVE Chronicle. I hope that doesn't upset anybody looking for a shorter read...)
Finally, it's worth noting that feedback is very important to me (positive or negative). If you see ways the story could improve, I would love to hear about it, and would most definitely take your suggestions into account.

Expect the next chapter within the hour. :D
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Re: Comments on "Small Choices - an EVE-Chronicle-esque"

Really... huh. :eh: Maybe it's just me then... I really didn't like the quality of that one, and the next one is a bit too "jumpy" for me... trying to fix that as we speak. I went on a writing spree and have over 4.5k words written - I'm polishing the next chapter right now. The one following it should come out soon after that. I'm trying to pick up the pace a little. I've been dealing with some minor depression issues lately, but I'm working through it. One thing I really don't want to do is stretch out the updates too much as I reach the climax of the story - that's when cliffhangers become a real problem, in my opinion...

All that said, I really would like suggestions on how I could improve, if anybody could fire some off at me. :P
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Re: Comments on "Small Choices - an EVE-Chronicle-esque"

Reloading Suggestion-Gun...

One thing I'd like to say is the only thing I found a little off was the step between the scene where Sofie is showing all places on the screen and our main character taking the decission to make the trip to that place. It felt a little jumpy and without much effort from him to push the button and go. Maybe it's only me, but I would put some thought on it, maybe thinking about the girl back home. Imagine you drive every day to the office and one evening someone gives you a map to a new fantastic place (a fair, a park, a mall, a virtual reality arcade hall...) and without putting much thought into it you drive there, without saying your wife/girlfriend/family or the guys at the office. OK, he's a free miner and does what he wants, but... a little odd, isn't it?
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