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The Constructive Criticism Thread:

Please read the rules below before posting. We're taking turns to post text, and text posted out of turn will be hollered.

The discussion over at the "Is being Troperiffic a Bad Thing?" thread got a few of us seriously talking about starting a full-fledged, free for all dedicated ConCrit thread. Thanks go to your friendly neighborhood Herald, Chihuahua0, for giving this the go-ahead smile

This is how it's going to work:
  • This thread is for helping people improve as writers. Please stay away from needlessly gushing or needlessly being mean when handing out criticism.
  • No mentioning your own work when giving out criticism. This is to prevent "Let's talk about ME" derails.
  • Feedback will be given to one person at a time. We're taking a deliberately slow pace; a person's turn to get feedback is generally supposed to last a week, but we're not ending someone's turn until they get feedback from at least five different people. On the other hand, the person getting feedback can end their own turn if they figure they're done.
  • When a turn ends, we wait 12 hours to see if anyone of the people who have just given feedback wants to be up next. If they don't, we pick the person up next from the feedback request list.
  • Yes, it's okay to point out spelling and grammar errors made by the person you're giving feedback to.
  • If you're unfamiliar with the original verse of a piece of Fan Fiction up for feedback, pretend it's a piece of original fiction and criticize accordingly.
  • If and when you step up to receive feedback:
    • Post actual writing (not world-building, concepts, layouts, character lists and so on).
    • Be specific in what you are looking for, or at least mention what is troubling you the most.
    • Fan Fiction is fine, but take into account that anyone not familiar with the source material will judge your piece "blind", essentially by the same standards as original fiction. This means you might get called out on flaws that fan fiction usually gets away with in practice, perhaps even justifiably so. Just like any other kind of criticism, consider it or ignore at at your discretion.
    • Be ready to hear some things you probably didn't want to hear. This should go without saying, but, please: No being bitter, being sarcastic, calling people out for "going too far" or otherwise expressing disapproval of the criticism given to you. If you think people are being unfair to your writing, make your case civilly.

With that said, I suppose we can begin and see whether this goes anywhere. The first person to respond with a post to the extent of "I'll go first" will go first.

edited 17th Feb '12 5:07:01 PM by TripleElation

 401 Mr AHR, Sun, 8th Apr '12 6:08:14 PM from ಠ_ಠ Relationship Status: A cockroach, nothing can kill it.
Ahr river
Yeah, no, the panel description looks fine to me.
 402 Esteban 009, Sun, 15th Apr '12 4:44:18 AM from Practically Atlantis
Bitter Hateful Cynic
uuuuhm... did the thread just die?

 403 Night, Sun, 15th Apr '12 4:44:41 AM from PSNS Intrepid Relationship Status: Drift compatible
Who you are does not matter.
Apparently.
"Let us look less to the sky to see what might fall; rather, let us look to each other...and rise."
 404 Esteban 009, Sun, 15th Apr '12 5:02:08 AM from Practically Atlantis
Bitter Hateful Cynic
should we just move to the next in line?

Euo will do!
Guess so. smile
"When all else failed, she tried being reasonable." ~ Pratchett, Johnny and the Bomb
 406 Mr AHR, Sun, 15th Apr '12 8:49:17 AM from ಠ_ಠ Relationship Status: A cockroach, nothing can kill it.
Ahr river
But only one person looked at Dealan's work. Hardly seems fair.
Easily entertained
[up]Truth.

Dealan, if you're still around, I could take some time to have a look-see. Just say the word to confirm I'm not tossing words into empty air.

edited 15th Apr '12 8:53:43 AM by KillerClowns

I'm still here, yes. Especially now that Easter passed.

Easily entertained
Okay, as promised. From the top. As is my tradition, spoilered to avoid influencing other critics.

Page 1: A decent start, has me wondering what our unnamed protagonist got volunteered into. That's the impression I got off the first panel, from the "enthusiastically" and the general bitter tone of the writing. The comments about therapists, sleep loss, weight loss, et cetera serve to empathize that, but I notice you got it started right out the bat. Wondering if the job revelation will be strong enough to match the grim tone. You almost make it sound like he's going in to suffer Cold-Blooded Torture.

Page 2: Heh. An office job? Really? Though I'm getting the impression that's not the job that had him so out-of-sorts on page 1. So, he works for some sorta news organization, and it's the sort that feels there's no such thing as bad publicity. I'm getting a real tabloid-y feel off it myself, may or may not be as intended.

Page 3:So, you tease us with a job that sounds like Hell itself on page 1, and now you've got John stuck reading op-ed mail and sorting out which ones are the most worth his time? A shitty job, sure, but compared to the enigmatic assignment described earlier? Also, why is Sharron is avoiding Bernard? They seemed to be getting along fine before. Is it to do with that magazine you mentioned?

Page 4: While I'm now somewhat curious about this exceedingly enigmatic "girlfriend", overall, the plot seems to be dragging along a tad. This could be partially medium-based — the actual comic would be feeling faster due to lack of description text — but just noting it. Strangely, I have no urge to know the life of an overworked newspaper/tabloid employee. Isn't there something more?

Page 5:The "fights crime... very technically" and "assuming all we've been told is true" give me the impression we're dealing with some sort of secret police types, and the fact that he's working at a paper celebrating the success of an anti-immigrant story doesn't help this. But I sense no enthusiasm on his part, which is a good thing IMHO. Still. I find myself scratching my head, feeling like I'm missing some vital piece of the puzzle. And while I feel like there could be a very good, strong story with that piece in place, it's more frustrating than curiosity-enticing at this point.

edited 15th Apr '12 10:56:45 AM by KillerClowns

Maybe I went a little overboard with the negativeness here. All the weight loss etc. stuff didn't occure because his everyday life is hell, it occured because of the lasting consequences it's going to have. And it's what his initial reaction was, not his daily thoughts. His actual life is not that bad, as he mentions. So, I need to make that clearer.

Yes, the job he complained about is something completely different. That's why he refers to this one as his "office job". Another thing that must be made more clear.

Sharron is acting like that because she's giving herself an one minute break. It would earn her than an annoyed comment at most, but she does that pretty often and tries to avoid Bernard noticing it whenever she can.

About the rest... so, get to the point faster, basically? I'm not sure how I can do that without cutting things I don't want to cut, but point taken.

Since it doesn't seem like this will get any more reviews, the next in line can feel free to post. Though a last minute review wouldn't be unwelcome.

Easily entertained
[up]As I said, though, it's hard to gauge timing. Comics give the same amount of information in less time than a book. So what seems too long in a script might be fine for a comic, and what feels right in a script might feel rushed in a comic. Still, if I were you, I'd err towards a bit of trimming if in doubt, but try a rough sketch and see if it feels right.
Obsidian Proboscidean
I guess the twelve-hour period is up, and I'm next, so here it is.

It's a fanfiction, so I figure not everyone will be familiar with the source material. However, it's almost finished (I'm writing the last chapter right now), and it seems it might be easier to critique a work that's closer to completion.

Writing-related issues:
  • Should I nix the "story within a story, " told-in-flashback thing?
  • Do the filk songs do their jobs by advancing the plot? Also, are the lyrics well-written or at all entertaining?
  • Do the characters and their situation compel you to keep reading? If you're not a Yu-Gi-Oh/Abridged Series fan, does it make you curious about them? Do they "sound" different from each other (like, if there weren't dialogue tags, could you tell it was a different person talking based on word choice)? Does the characterization seem consistent?
  • Is the dialogue natural (for a parody)? Does it seem like I tried too hard to make it funny and neglected to make it believable? And is the dialogue actually funny (or can you see it being funny, if it turns out that it's just a matter of taste in humor)?
  • Are there any glaring plot holes? Does it seem coherent? Is everything explained?

Canon-related issues (if you happen to know the source material):
  • Did I blend the dub characterization with the abridged characterization competently?
I'm an elephant. Rurr.
Ecce Homo Superior
I've read the first chapter so far. (If you don't like comments on singular chapters and would prefer a more overarching review, do tell me). Obviously I can't give a lot of comments on the more plot-related points so far, but I'll critique what I can.

In spoiler tags to protect other critics. I start with answering your questions, then move on to some other points I liked.

The first filk song (the "American Pie" one) is pretty good, but it doesn't really add anything to the story. The "Sound of Music" one is very funny Stylistic Suck, and obviously needed for the plot.

The opening is pretty strong, and by the time we find out about the show, I'm invested in the characters and want to find out what happens to them. For the record, I'm familiar with both Yu-Gi-Oh! (though I never watched the dub) and its Abridged Series.

I can't say much about the characterisation from what little I've read. Tristan's characterisation is very good, though; he has a definite but not exaggerated personality. The other characters feel a little bland at the end of the first chapter. Obviously, they might be fleshed out more later, and it's possible that I'm just more used to the more caricatured characterisations in Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series. However, you introduce four new characters (Yami, Yugi, Pegasus and Mokuba) in one scene, and it's possible that readers who aren't familiar with the show might confuse them. EDIT: Well, probably not Pegasus, since you've made him pretty distinctive.

The dialogue seems natural and realistic. On the other hand, most of the dialogue wasn't incredibly funny in this chapter. (This doesn't mean that the story as a whole is lacking in comedy; see below.) There are some low-key funny bits (like Mokuba's snark about the drinking), but nothing incredibly hilarious. Pegasus' fanciful manner of speech comes off as a bit grating rather than funny, though that might be a taste thing. EDIT: Though I forgot to say, the "in art, it's called 'nude'" line is hilarious.

However, I wouldn't worry about the dialogue being low on comedy, because the narration more than makes up for it, with many good jokes and a generally witty style.

While I haven't seen the dub, it does seem like the characters are somewhere in between canon and abridgement characterisation, so you seem to be doing fine there.

Some further points:

Technical stuff: "getting him hire a new writer" needs a "to".

Another typo: ""I am the blue-eyed white fairy!" He roared"; "he" shouldn't be capitalised.

Well, two lines in and this already gets a laugh from me: "The streets were deserted, save for a few vagabonds and stray cats. Sometimes, the stray cats attacked the hobos, unable to find any mice."

However, there are a few further jokes about cats attacking people that feel a bit pointless (unless this is going to become a plot point). If the cat jokes after the original one aren't building up to something, you might want to cut them.

More stuff I found hilarious: "He stared at the typewriter and wished it had internet access", Yahtzee City, pretty much everything involving Tristan's dad, the ecstasy joke, everyone scratching their heads, and Abysmalinth.

The description of Tristan's apartment is well-written, especially the way he'd been moving his furniture around to erase his memories.

A tense problem, though: "to erase any memories of the events that happened there". This is only correct if the events are still happening in the current timeframe. If they're prior to it, it should be "that had happened".

Something that might need clarifying: "The visitor was a shorter, more doe-eyed version of the man." It's hard to know which of the men this refers to. I'd change it to "of the man on the couch".

"What he spit out grabbed everyone's attention and held it ransom for all the money in Domino City." This metaphor feels a bit laboured. Ending the sentence after "held it for ransom" might be an improvement.

All in all, from what little I've read, this looks good. You have a good writing style, and the narration is funny, with pretty much all the jokes feeling natural and not overstated (I've pointed out the ones that didn't work for me above). While the characters apart from Tristan feel a bit bland so far, none of them is out of character. The play scene with Tristan's lyrics is great. The plot you've outlined seems interesting and original, too.

Hope that was of at least some use for you.

edited 21st Apr '12 9:37:59 AM by DoktorvonEurotrash

(it's David Bowie)
 414 Night, Fri, 20th Apr '12 3:45:38 PM from PSNS Intrepid Relationship Status: Drift compatible
Who you are does not matter.
In general I would agree with above points, with a few caveats. I think most of the filk stuff is a bit more awkward than is suggested, but then I've never been fond of it as a thing, so.

Recognizing that this is an absurdist piece, it works pretty well. On the other hand, I'd offer the warning that your style of writing and choice of opening material does not immediately convey this, so it can take a bit before the reader might realize that and in the meantime they could be confused.
"Let us look less to the sky to see what might fall; rather, let us look to each other...and rise."
Ecce Homo Superior
Comments on Chapter 2, again in spoilers to spare other critics:

The plot moves along nicely (it's possible that the scene in the club gets a bit long, with some extraneous weirdness that could be trimmed down, but that's up to you), and there's enough funny stuff going on to make me want to read more.

I'm pretty neutral on the filk songs in this chapter. The "Wannabe" parody is probably the best.

Yugi gets a bit more space in this chapter, while Yami and Mokuba seem very peripheral. As for new characters introduced, Joey and Duke are strongly and consistently characterised, and I like Kaiba too, though his appearance isn't that big. (I must admit, if I were to write a Moulin Rouge! parody with Joey in Satine's role, I would have put Kaiba as his wealthy admirer, rather than Duke.) The dialogue has more funnier lines than in Chapter 1, without being unnatural. Everything is generally good. You've captured the Everyone Is Gay vibe of Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series, and the bits with Tristan swooning over Joey are fanservicey and fun without being lewd.

Typoes and the like:

Typoes: "black paneled" should be "black-panelled"; "mucous" should be "mucus" (since it's the noun, not the adjective).

""He's the one Yugi is waving a tissue at." Bakura answered" That should be a comma, not a full stop.

Further comments:

The good jokes are thick on the ground, such as Noah thinking that most people wouldn't know who Duke was, or how Duke used his last paper tissue. The writing is still good, doing justice to the chaotic décor of the club.

I'm still enjoying this, though it seems so far (I read a bit into Chapter 3 as well) that you're sticking very close to the plot of Moulin Rouge!. It seems to me that the bits I enjoy most are usually the ones that don't follow too close to the plot of that film. But then, I didn't like Moulin Rouge! a lot, so that's probably why. Apart from that, this story is funny, well-written, and does a good job with the characterisation of its central characters.
(it's David Bowie)
Ecce Homo Superior
Chapters 3, 4 and 5:

Technical stuff (chapter 3):

"And to think Tristan thought those brown eyes looked so innocent." Again, this should be "had thought".

"He was even gladder that Pegasus left" Again, should be "had left".

""I can't believe I'm love" is missing an "in".

(chapter 5):

"You both lay down" should be "lie" ("lie" is the intransitive verb, "lay" is the transitive).

More substantial comments under the cut:

The characterisation and humour continue good, and the plot is involving. My main problem with this story isn't anything you asked about in your original post: like I said before, it sticks very close to the plot of Moulin Rouge!, at least in the bit I've read. I know it's a parody, but it could do with a bit more freedom from the source material. The "poetry reading" scene is a case in point: it doesn't feel like it adds anything to the corresponding scene in Moulin Rouge (except for a jab at Nicole Kidman's ham acting). Similarly, I like Tristan's and Joey's rooftop dialogue, just because it's not so tied to Moulin Rouge.

On the comedy note, I like the plot of the play, and the scene where they explain it to Duke is a comedy high point. But there are too many funny things in this story for me to list them all.

The dialogue is good, with some very funny lines, like Joey's "I-I need time ta practice controllin' myself. It's like when you need ta work up a tolerance to somethin'." I also like Tristan saying he would have thrown himself off the Mastodon Hotel, and Joey's reply. Heck, pretty much all the dialogue is good to great.

I keep being unimpressed about the filks. Tristan's one in the hotel room is pretty uninteresting; sure, it's intentionally banal, but it's not particularly funny. (Though his poem beforehand has some nice lines, like "I'm accustomed to nickels, but boy, you're a dime".) The "Walk Like an Egyptian" filk has an appropriate choice of song and some funny bits, but again, doesn't really stand out. The "Dragostea Din Tei" parody is OK, and I like how you blend the two songs in the love medley. I'm not saying the songs are bad (and goodness knows I'm no good at writing filks), but they're a bit bland.

The love medley itself drags a bit, but I like Kaiba lampshading how it never ends.

I really like the conversation between the Kaiba brothers at the end of Chapter 5. It's dramatic without being overstated, and I like the exchange between Kaiba and Noah, both thinking that they've chosen the best of two bad alternatives. The ensuing fight has nice snappy dialogue.

Mokuba's monologue at the end of the chapter is very well-written. It's pretty dark, but doesn't jar with the general tone of the story. The very ending of the chapter is very good, too.

So, to sum up my response so far: good story, though in the first five chapters at least it feels very similar to the parody material. Song lyrics are mostly decent, occasionally good. However, the characterisation, comedy and general writing style hold a high standard.

Feel free to ask me for more specific comments if you feel there's something I missed or need to clarify.
(it's David Bowie)
Obsidian Proboscidean
Thanks. I'll get around to correcting the typos sometime this week.

I don't have any specific questions. It's okay if you leave comments on the story, but there might be a word limit.

I was kind of trying to stick close to the plot of Moulin Rouge, but it will diverge a lot, starting with that last section of chapter five.
I'm an elephant. Rurr.
Ecce Homo Superior
[up]I might do that!
(it's David Bowie)
 419 gbrngfol, Wed, 2nd May '12 3:05:49 PM from roughly that way
my planet is here
am i allowed to post unfinished works here? or is this conversation only for finished litrature? i'll decide to put my name on the list when i get an answer.
I think there's no point in signatures.
Yes, unfinished works are fine.

 421 Snowy Foxes, Wed, 16th May '12 4:43:40 PM from ´ ಠ/// Д ///ಠ` Relationship Status: Heisenberg unreliable
Let's swim together!
Bump.

Where are we now?
 422 Jabrosky, Wed, 16th May '12 5:16:52 PM from San Diego, CA
Madman
This is a story I wrote as a high school graduation present for a deviantART friend of mine. It could be considered fanfiction in that it stars some characters of her creation, but you don't really need to know a lot of her "canon" to understand what's going on.
 423 Leradny, Wed, 16th May '12 5:21:39 PM from Alameda, CA
Did you put yourself on the request list?

 424 Jabrosky, Wed, 16th May '12 5:27:47 PM from San Diego, CA
 425 burnpsy, Thu, 17th May '12 12:36:52 AM from Ontario, Canada Relationship Status: Abstaining
The Eternal Fool
Wow, this thread had promise and was actually being rather useful. Why is it dead?
Total posts: 677
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