Reviews for The Sentinels Of Forever: Book One
kimetara chapter 1 . 2/21/2005
Whew. I guaranteed you a review and here it is, although I'm sorry it's rather late. Life has a habit of catching me unawares. _;;

...uh...okay. Hmm. The beginning of a story is extremely crucial to its success, since it's what's going to catch or lose the reader's attention. Your opening basically consists of a geography and minor history lesson, which is understandable - background knowledge for the book, right? But, well...very few books can open in such a manner and be successful, simply because to a reader it seems boring. Rather than telling about everything in the beginning, try incorporating those aspects as the story goes along - "show, don't tell". If a planet is inhabited by such-and-such, bring up a casual comment in a conversation somewhere. If there's a lot of warfare on a planet, maybe you could write out a battle. But if you're going to lay everything out like a science history textbook, an average reader is going to find that very boring.

Also, I suggest picking and choosing which details are most important. Although it's important for the author to know as much about his universe as possible, the readers really don't need that much information. They just need enough to understand the book. For example:"But the blues and greens that were at least sometimes visible on its surface were normally at least a few shades darker in either case than the blues and greens that were often visible on Hujedini and Nehidiu's global surfaces, in fact. It normally orbited about twice as far away from Gratham as Soyabiu did, whenever possible. And it had about ten times as many known moons that orbited it as Gratham IV did, if not more than that, as well. It was also the last apparently habitable world in the system for sufficiently humanoid beings here, as far as anyone could then tell, in actual realty. It normally took Nolikeo about 1,100 Terran days to complete an orbit of Gratham, whenever possible, as well."

Um...that's a lot of information that, at this point in time, has no relevance to anything whatsoever. I doubt even half of that will stick in a person's mind, especially considering how much information was given out before and after that little excerpt. ;; Excess information should be avoided as much as possible.

Let's to phrase this next point. have a very distinctive style of writing. Unfortunately, it tends to be extremely stilted.

Er...example again:"At the current time, at least eight very important people were inbound from other worlds in the KPO, either on ships or through the portals. Supposing, of course, that they weren't already on either Hujedini or Nehidiu, in fact."

The second sentence is unnecessary, and because of that, it breaks the flow of the writing. If there are eight people heading towards Hujedini or Nehidiu, then of course they won't already be on Hujedini or Nehidiu. If some of those eight people are already on Hujedini or Nehidiu, then change the number - say there's two people already there, then there would only be six people heading in. Make sense?

Example 2: "'I don't think we'll be able to finish everything in sufficient time to save as many people as we might want to here, Natsuko,' said a tall black-haired man apparently about nineteen Terran years of age. He appeared to be about three or four such years older than his girlfriend, who was blonde, but who often had her hair in braids tied with pink ribbons, whenever possible."

This one is stilted because of the sudden shift in focus. The paragraph supposedly was supposed to be describing Kenji, but midway it abruptly focused on Natsuko. The same sort of sudden shift is exemplified here:

"Natsuko's mother was about 39 Terran years of age, and her hair was largely black in color with a few developing streaks of gray and white. She was about six inches taller and about twenty pounds heavier than her oldest daughter, who was herself about 5'1" and 103 pounds. She often wore her hair completely unbound, except for a mostly gold bow at the top of her head."

One moment you were talking about Natsuko's mother, and then you suddenly jumped to Natsuko's height and weight. This sort of abrupt change in focus is jarring and confusing for the reader, and although it can be used as a writing technique, it should be utilized sparingly and only in proper situations. In this case, it's just distracting wayward information.

Interestingly, I all of the things I've mentioned so far stem from one base issue: you're trying to give the reader too much information at one time. Again, it's important for the author to know as much as possible about what's going on, but the reader only needs just enough to understand the story, and that's best given in neat, concise dosages. The rule "show, not tell" is absolutely vital in keeping the reader's attention.

Also, I think you tend to be writing and then suddenly go, "Oh! I need to put this bit of info in," but rather than go back and see where the information would best fit, you stick it in right where you thought of it (like Natsuko's weight and height when they were being compared to her mother's). It's a bit more work, but if you really want that detail you should go and make sure that it's in its proper place to keep the story flow consistent.

Hmm...besides that, you have an inclination for unnecessary sentence clauses. Yeah, those interfere with story flow too. p (Sorry, I just keep picking on this thing... ;; )

Ex. "They had eventually fallen in love with each other no more than just a few years before the current date of AD 951, in fact. And they were already talking about marriage to each other when she came of sufficient age to rule the KPO on her 16th birthday, as reckoned by the Hujedinian calendar year."

Okay...let's see. First of all, here's another example of wayward information - the date of the story should have been stated somewhere around the beginning, not halfway through a sentence. Same with Natsuko taking over KPO when she turned sixteen.

Second of all, excess information. Since they're a couple and they're discussing marriage, obviously they're going to be married to each other. Also, I highly, highly suggest picking one calendar and sticking with it as much as possible. The other calendars would naturally be relative to that one, but for describing ages, stay with one calendar system. It's hard enough just keeping regular ol' lunar and solar calendars straight; if you start throwing in alien ones things get a little crazy. (Same goes for distances - stick with one measurement system. Feet do not go with meters, miles do not go with kilometers, etc.)

Thirdly, the unnecessary sentence clause. There's no need for "in fact" to be there. There's also no need for the "And" to be there if it's going to be two sentences, but once you remove the "in fact" it'd probably work better if the sentences were combined.

Rewritten, it could be like this: "They had fallen in love with each other just a few years ago, and they were already talking about marriage when Natsuko turned sixteen."

Much, much shorter and less stilted. Less information? Certainly. However, the important details (I assume) were moved to places they belonged, while the unimportant/repetitive ones were removed.

...okay...I think that's enough for now. Sorry for rambling on and on. ;;