|Reviews for American Wuxia|
| Michael Panush 3/3/12 . chapter 1
I am somewhat hesitant in writing this review because I don't want to come across as being mean or insulting, but I've read your stories for a very long time and always made the same criticisms and comments. So far, you haven't listened to those criticisms and changed your writing style in any significant ways. I'm beginning to feel that it is somewhat pointless to keep writing reviews if they will be ignored. I will write a review to this, expressing - once again - those same points. I urge you to listen to them as you clearly have imagination and the discipline needed to become a good writer. You just have to do a little more work and think a little more critically about setting up your plots, characters, and writing style. If you can re-evaluate your priorities as a writer, I know you will improve and create some truly awesome stories that are as good as the ideas you have. This story, while it is a good concept, is an unfortunate failure. The reasons why are the usual culprits, which have appeared in nearly all of your stories - the bad writing, the overly simple plot, and the poor characterization. If you can't fix these, it won't matter how good your ideas are.
So, I can see you tried a little to write better. You had some metaphors in there, and a few were good. But a lot were cliches or hyperbole or were just bad. "A hot knife through butter" is a cliche. When you're editing this story, look at each metaphor and make sure it's interesting, evocative, original and sounds right. If it doesn't, you need to take some time and come up with another metaphor. But beyond the metaphors, there is another problem that's hampered almost all of your stories and is prominent here - the simple lack of details. You had some decent, but not very evocative descriptions of people, but what about where they are, the weather, and - most importantly - the sensory details? How does the main character's fist feel when it's striking something? What about the sweat running down his back when the rat's fireballs cause the air around him to heat up? Without those, your action scenes are boring recitations of events. They all happened too fast, with far too little time describing each action. Reading these action scenes was really a chore, and they shouldn't be.
The other problem you have re-appearing here is that plot is far too simplistic and boring. There was no tension, no suspense and no build-up to the action scene. The characters simply engaged in a battle and - after a few minor problems involving guns being out of ammo - won. They weren't confused and the villain did nothing to hide his scheme. There was no twist or moral or allegory. It really seemed like an excuse for a fight scene. This needs to change. You've got to have the plot mirror the character's growth, to have them change or come to some revelation through what happens to them. The action has to mirror what's happening internally to them. That did not happen here. That brings me to the next point.
Your character work is far too shallow. Will and Gao felt like excuses for a way to describe some cool guns, but we don't know what motivates them, what drives them, why they react to the supernatural without any problems, why they want to fight instead of going to the police, or why we're supposed to sympathize with them. Have you decided on their backgrounds? Have you given them any internal conflicts that they have to overcome? I really couldn't find it. This came out in their dialogue. They both sounded almost exactly alike - stating the facts in a boring, normal way with an occasionally clever aside. The villain was even worse. Why is he friends with some magic rat and burning things down? And I don't mean plot-wise, I mean what motivates his character to do that? It's okay to have nasty, evil villains but they need a coherent philosophy. This one just felt like a one-not joke.
So overall, I am disappointed in this story. I apologize if my words seem overtly harsh, but I really want you to change your writing style and deal with these constant problems. You need to change this if you want to improve is a writer. You have some great ideas. A Wushu urban fantasy seems awesome and you have a cool cliffhanger here that sets up the overall story well. But if you can't have prose that isn't bad metaphors and poorly described action, make plots that are more than just fights and have complex characters with motivations that we sympathize with than your stories will not be very good. As always, I'd be happy to read more but I do hope that you take my comments and use them.