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DESCENDANTS AND CHAMPIONS

Good ideas in search of lots of polish

By theredsheep, author of Pyrebound

Feb 24, 2019: The blurb sounds cool. The author came up with loads of lore, all available on the story’s website. It seems like it could be the basis of an awesome story—but it needs a lot of work. The story, as it currently stands, sounds very rough and stream-of-consciousness, like it was typed out all at once and not edited. It’s not always clear what’s going on, and moments that should have heavy emotional resonance aren’t given the weight they need by the slapdash narrative. The chapter titles ("With Great Responsibility Comes a Whole Lot of Death," "A Body Falls Out of the Sky and they Get Chased by Demon Dogs") sound tongue-in-cheek, but the story plays it totally straight. Honestly, I’m just confused there.

It seems like the author had a bunch of cool ideas, got excited about them, worked them all out . . . and then wrote the story itself as something of an afterthought. You can’t really tell what a Protadon is from the text (etymology suggests "first tooth"); you have to lean on the glossary and other supplements. Supplements need to be supplementary—either a courtesy to readers who forget a term introduced and made clear a few chapters back, or else a little addendum for people who understand the story but wouldn’t mind learning more about the world. They can’t do the heavy lifting.

I don’t want to discourage this writer, because there’s something to work with here. I would advise her to give it a sentence-by-sentence overhaul, making sure the story is self-sufficient and slows down when it needs to. As-is, it’s an embryo.

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ADVENT

Hidden Gem on Web Fiction Guide!

By Thedude3445, author of Rainbow Destructor

Feb 4, 2019: Now THIS is a great example of what the medium of web fiction can pull off if done right. Using short chapter bursts and nested hyperlink asides, Advent paints the picture of the life of a young child from a broken home who gets involved in events out of their own control. It’s a pretty short story and not one that is good for plot summaries, so I won’t get too much into the plot.

The main plus for the story is the absolute mastery of voice by the narrator. The story is thoroughly, utterly within the point of view of this child and restricts the reader to viewing it entirely through them. You can only piece together the story through subtext and inference, and the realization of certain elements make for really emotional revelations, even if the narrator themself may not ever come to the same realizations.

And the story makes good use of hypertext fiction to expand on its story; often during chapters, there’ll be links for you to click, taking you to observations, memories, or side scenes from the narrator relating to something within the main part of the chapter. This kind of nonlinear storytelling is exactly the kind of thing that web fiction. and only web fiction, can pull off in a prose story, and we absolutely need more usages of the internet as a medium for storytelling!

Advent is a must-read for fans of web fiction, and the fact that it’s a short and breezy read means you can knock it out in an hour or less. Don’t pass it up.

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ADVENT

Feel a bit accomplished you read through the good, sad serial.

By Snuggle Squiggle, author of Endless Stars

Feb 2, 2019: Advent is a short and well-honed story. It’s a realistic work, written in first-person and influenced by diary fiction without leaning too heavily into the form. There are roughly twenty five chapters of several hundred words each, and for each there’s a footnote or three which are shorter.

The prose of Advent tastefully mimes a child — simple and declarative, almost suggesting stream-of-consciousness with its lack of commas or advanced constructions. Sometimes you’ll see the voice seem to grope around to describe something Luke doesn’t have the word for — “metal that’s so hot it’s liquid” instead of “molten”, for instance. It’s charming and never breaks your immersion with exaggeration or excessiveness. Aside from the flavor, the prose flows and renders masterfully. Once or twice it is marred by a typo, but chances are you wouldn’t notice.

Advent does not try to give exhaustive descriptions, or transcribe every encounter. It strives more to render vividly with details and impressions instead of the sort of immersive realism more common in web serials. While this robs the story of a certain kind of viscerality, the reader remains present in Luke’s mental landscape, and that is all what the story wants and needs.

Meanwhile, the characters of Advent are solid or even good. Luke is a study in complexities, cynical and troubled yet still childish. While I was engrossed in his perspective, it never felt like identifying. His perspective color all impressions of other characters, yet even the ones he does not care for still have suggestions of depth shine through. It’s clear that Luke and his mother are the focal points here, and their characterization is at times tangible. The other characters complement them decently enough.

The plot of Advent is perhaps its least exceptional aspect. It is straightforward to both a fault and a virtue. You wouldn’t be quite surprised at how it ultimately turns out, and yet the uncertainty and tension runs taut through it. And once it reaches its final cadences, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to tear up.

When it all comes together into a story, the result is a resonating and memorable piece of web fiction. It does not truly grip you — it doesn’t make you stay but doesn’t give you reason to leave. This is not a story that satisfies viscerally. But on an abstract level, I find it fulfilling.

The ending is not poignant, but I cannot decide if it’s a fault. It’s simple, wistful, and feels kind of fittingly empty. It is not a great ending. But I don’t know if this story could — or should — have had a great ending.

Due to its length and realism, I feel confident recommending this story to just about everyone.

Brevity isn’t a common sight in web fiction. Telling a straightforward story with a only couple characters is no less impressive when it works, and for Advent, it works quite well.

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