I intend to use this list to track each fiction I write, and specifically note where it succeeded beyond normal, as well as where it failed. This should help me to drill down what I consistently do well, and what I need to work on.
Valkyrie (Utgar Rewrite)
- Good twists. The story had several good twists which I feel confident were kept sufficiently hidden from the reader, and sufficiently hinted at throughout the story. These twists also come together at the same point at the end (roughly).
- Good inter-character dialogue. I’m generally pleased with the level of outlined inter-character (2+ characters speaking to each other) dialogue. I feel like it flows naturally, while conveying emotion and thought passively.
- Lots of inadvertent subplots. The fiction came out with lots of subarcs going on in both the main and side characters. This wasn’t by design, so these subarcs/plots weren’t too developed, but it’s still an interesting phenomenon to look into.
- Emotionless opening. The first draft of the opening featured several lifeless pieces of wood – characters which didn’t really have any emotions or reactions to the events going on. This is partly due to the main character hiding his emotions, but mostly due to a lack of emotions being present in the first place. This was largely fixed in the second draft.
- A lack of stake connections. While the personal stakes are present, they were undeveloped, and subsequently rarely if ever seen or felt in the main story. While this problem might have fixed itself further in, it created a blank spot in the early pages which was perfect for connecting to motivations, but fell flat instead because the stakes were buried too deep in the characters, with no way to be realized or seen by the reader. I’m not 100% sure what happened here actually, but I know I didn’t develop the stakes enough.
- It is my hope that the rewrite sufficiently fixed this, by simply SHOWING the result of failure during the blank point. This got a bit mixed up with an unintended subarc though, so results might be unpredictable.
- While there are good subplots present, they feel underused. It doesn’t feel like there’s enough time to justify the character changes they cause. I feel like this might be because the fiction simply wasn’t long enough to give them time to mature fully. This indicates I need to work on balancing subplot count with story length, or somehow weave in even more subplots purely for the purpose of exploring character and expanding story. Which again… what does that add but content for content’s sake?
- The obvious way to fix this is simply to develop the subplots fully. Doing so will give them full time to mature, as well as increasing story length to match. As long as I don’t try to rush anything and take my time to explore the subplots, they shouldn’t feel rushed or underused.
- A character interaction between Ahnvad and Runa, where Runa’s reaction to it is not shown when they interact again. If interactions exist, reactions should be shown, especially if PoV characters are involved.
Rise of the Valkyrie (Utgar)
- Clear structure. Utgar does have a clear structure, albeit one completely devoid of anything BUT structure. Still, it is useful as a character arc/plot arc study.
- Lack of compelling villain – I feel like this is due to the conflict being between the character and the setting. The villain really boiled down to a symbol (which all villains do, but this one felt like it). He was shoehorned in, and the story could have been mostly written without him (indeed, he only shows up at the very end).
- Missed opportunities in character/setting – I feel like this is due to me focusing on the character arc to the exclusion of the plot. I’m working on this.
Horizon in Sight (Dan’s Tale)
- Successfully subverted expectations – Most likely due to the unintended genre switch; that will happen. The reader should want to see Dan blast his way to freedom, but his arc can’t end that way. It can’t. Valhalla accidentally made it seem like it can. Amazing.
- Singular Perspective – 3rd person which successfully relates things through a character’s eyes, always explaining motivations to the reader without overtly doing so. Cements relatability and therefore reader-character investment.
- Extreme lack of thematic subtlety – Overuse of key thematic words, on-the-nose thematic dialogue, thematic bluntness.
- Predictable deaths of side characters upon completion of purpose – Something I hadn’t considered, will work on ways to complete a side character arc without killing them off, and will work on ways to include them in a meaningful role even after their arcs are completed.
- Removable Protagonist – This is a unique problem, stemming I believe from the fact that Dan’s tale is first and foremost a character arc, and his ultimate goal is NOT tied to what happens in Valhalla, but only to getting back to Heleer. Will make sure the character goal and the world goal align in the future.
- Abrupt ending of Valhalla story arc – unsure really what caused this. Possibly a lack of Vydar backdrop, but that would be difficult in a single PoV story. It would also detract from the singular perspective I had going.
- Minor plot holes left in due to being minor – next fan fiction.
- Out of sync character-reader knowledge – I don’t have any good way to handle this when a story calls for it. Somehow not tell the reader I guess?
Horizon in Sight (Part One)
- Consistent element introduction, keeping reader interest up.
- Very strong characterization.
- Lack of solid explanations for every little thing. While unnecessary, the little things do detract more than they add if unexplained.
- Fairly clear structure. Despite not being developed with a structure, the story follows the 3-act structure fairly well, and is actually a pretty good example of it’s parts.
- Uses tropes to keep the reader guessing. Dilmir’s heavy use of tropes helped keep the ending hidden when I diverted from those tropes. Again, this was not planned.
- Heavy use of tropes. Dilmir was about 50% based on fantasy tropes and LotR/Eragon-style elves. There was some originality, including the magic system and the core of the story. But the rest was auto-generated by tropes.
- Painfully slow opening. The opening is PAINFULLY slow. While the story follows the 3-act structure, it disregards the traditional timings, putting what is in reality the Point of no Return about 1/3 through the book. Everything before that is repetitive training, with minimal action or dialogue, and only a few character thoughts.
A Chance of Success
- Loose ends. Didn’t develop a lot of what could have added to the story, instead rushing through the plot. Not sure what caused this, but it was mostly likely my focus on the plot to the exclusion of all else.
Apocalypse: Valhalla’s Darkest Hour
- First successful escalation of stakes and conflict towards the end.
- Loose ends. A few questions were unwittingly presented and then not capitalized upon. Primary among these was the question of who Mike’s father was. This might just be an artifact of the genre, and not the actual story.
- Forced end. It might be that the entire end was forced writing, meaning the set up hadn’t occured to make it plausible. It therefore smacked of being unrealistic (which it was when I look back at it).