Fourteen young women are engaged in a novel writing contest.
Note: The 14th Princess contains some graphic sexual content, graphic violence, and harsh language.
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Aug 25, 2013: The Fourteenth Princess is an ambitious story, which begins by bringing fourteen former princesses who need to write for their lives. They are all from smaller kingdoms that have been conquered by an emperor who now has set up a contest which involves all of them writing a novel with an assigned theme and in the style of a famous author in previous times (think George Sand, Flaubert, Sir Walter Scott, etc.). The novels will be used to judge which of the fourteen of them will be the emperor’s future wife, and the ladies in waiting, etc., all the way down to the last place finisher, who is apparently slated to be the wedding day entertainment, being thrown to some genetically engineered beast-men who will . . . you know, do unsavory things with her, and once they’ve thrown her broken body aside, if she’s not already dead she’ll be unpleasantly killed. The author has written a main narrative relates the day-to-day lives of the novel writers, while there are also entries you can click on in the main that lead to novels for each of the fourteen princesses.
I applaud the author for her ambitions, but the story didn’t engage me, unfortunately, for a number of reasons. One of the main reasons that it turned out to be impossible for me to connect with the story is that with fifteen main characters (fourteen ex-princesses and one . . . event coordinator, I guess you could call her), it’s impossible to spend much time with any one of them. Any hint I got about who they were usually was conveyed by the author (e.g., commenting that one girl was the “most perky” or prettiest, or what have you), rather than there being enough time in the story to allow the characters to develop by displaying their actions and personalities. Another problem in connecting with the main characters is that they’re members of such a rarefied strata of society that it’s almost guaranteed that the people reading the story won’t be able to identify with them in that regard. I certainly had no luck. Unfortunately, the main narrative seemed to be the shortest part of writing posted so far, which didn’t help either.
As for the posts that are supposed to be the novels the ex-princesses have been writing, which seem to be the majority of what’s been posted so far, I couldn’t really get into those, either. My problem was that if I wanted to read the work of Kafka, or Graham Greene, or any other famous author I’d just pick up one of their books; when I’m reading something by another author, I’m really interested in hearing that author’s voice, not an imitation of some other writer’s. I think having students writing ‘in the style of’ some famous author is something mostly writing teachers are interested in, because if they’re familiar with the author they’ve assigned, it’s easy to have a yardstick to judge the student’s efforts in achieving the desired style.
Also, let me plead with the author so that she realizes that capitalization is her friend. It allows you to easily see important things as you read, like where a sentence begins, or the names of people or places. Let me encourage you to always use capitalization in the future, because reading what you’ve posted, which currently has no sign of capitalization anywhere in the narrative, caused me a bit of a headache in trying to read it.
At any rate, although this story was not my cup of tea, younger readers who have a broad sense of fairytale and a strong pull towards it might like to check out this story, or those that are interested in writing that’s largely in the style of other authors. I encourage this author to keep writing, and will be interested to see what she comes up with in the future.