|Review:||Jackson Robles says:|
Hey Schoe! I've started this bugger about three times now, gotten about halfway through and then by some fluke have either been pulled away or the browser defenestrated. I'm not entirely sure if it'll work this time, but I'll apologize for the week or so it's taken to get to this piece. And I apologize for some of the things I might say - they aren't meant in a negative way, I promise, there are just a few things I wanted to comment on, you know? All in all though, I see that you have most definitely igven this school some serious thought, and it most definitely feels like it could be a real place in Bavaria - excuse me, Germany. ;)
The bit about having whole curriculum guides from the start of school to finish actually sounds really interesting. I like the idea, much like Percy, and the bit about the school's funding coming from tourism - not to mention the exclusivity of the school, well, it's great. The name suffices. I don't much like 'aptitude', but maybe it comes from the translation from German to English, you know?
However, the interesting and fully developed school aside, I've got some comments about the narration and methodology of this piece. You are grand at descriptions and definitely give a full feel for the characters, but the events and some of the things that they say strike me as a bit stilted. The story doesn't flow very well to me, in fact sitting together like blocks, where each paragraph is either completely interdependent of anything around it, or linked by some Elmer's School Glue hastily applied. The story also just feels like a simple fluff piece. There's not a single element of conflict or real drama whatsoever, and I feel slightly as though I am reading off of a list or a newspaper article about the Dow Jones's current disreputable state.
Now, I know better to make such claims (and claims is a loose word, I would more like to say statements, as they are just what I think... but anyways!) without giving any examples of what I mean. Or what I'm trying to say, I suppose would be a good way to put it.
Let's start with the notion of not a single instance of conflict. I know this is just supposed to give us a resemblance of a school in some far off land, and can't exactly have You-Know-Who blowing up ramparts, but I'm not just looking at this story in terms of the challenge. You asked for anything I saw fit to comment on. This story goes from complaining about climbing up a hill, to talking to the Headmaster, to getting drunk, to waking up and talking to a smiling Kingsley - when we find out the surprise ending - this whole thing was for Percy's own good (or at least a chunk of it). I kind of had that figured, oddly enough. Just the use of inebriation and all that jazz, it felt as though Percy was being intentionally overwhelmed, which sounds a bit strange, but Percy had a diamond gaze on his face the entire time, you know? No complaints there. It was a scene between two people the entire time. Percy and the headmaster and hungover Percy and Kingsley, but it still felt just like someone was reading a report. And it had mild points of interest, like I said, but I will repeat what I said: it was like reading a very long newspaper article in story format. We were getting a fantasized version of the report Percy was writing you know?
Onto the lack of flow. There were many jagged changes in writing. I saw quite a few notable block paragraph changes really early on. I could see we were on Percy's shoulder the entire time, but the way the story began made it a bit hard to get into. We thrown face first into a story that knows where it's going, but I felt constantly reminded that there was an author's hand behind everything Percy thought and was shown to - the Headmaster was basically your left hand in showing us this school, and I'm okay with the large role of indicating that he fulfilled. Granted I don't think I could do better on this piece, but sometimes we get a hard topic. I really think this one was. You definitely fit the criteria, but I just feel the story to be a bit belittled, you know? The comedy felt forced and I wasn't amused - but those are my tastes. I have a different sense of humor than other people.
I will say that Percy felt in character. Kingsley seemed like a younger Dumbledore, which I'm sure he would have become (at least I think...) and I'll repeat the fact that I had very few problems with the characters. Narration brunted on me. Dialogue fuels the piece, and it goes back to the notion that it feels much like a list.
It's hard to have good flow with so much dialogue. The narration's thought processes relay too much information rather than thought to provide for good flow. So it is not as though I'm necessarily blaming you. I don't want to do that, actually, as this review seems far too harsh to me, and I really don't want it to sound like that. It's a good bit of story, but like anything there are a few problems. Just the level of depth I'm trying to go into them I guess I'm going a bit far, so I'll let it go.
I'd give this a solid thumbs up if they wanted to read about a magical school in Germany. If they wanted a riveting tale of magic and adventure - no. But that doesn't matter, I'm critiquing this as though it was SUPPOSED to be one of those, you know? So I'd give this review a thumbs down! At any rate, I better wrap this up before I go any further down the path of bad reviewing.
In conclusion: Swan Lake feels real, as do the characters. Narration is a bit rigged and fights to flow correctly, lack of interest as this feels like a list, but that's okay because it IS a list. No conflict needed. I need to work on my reviewing, and thumbs up to this piece.
Author's Response: I deeply thank you for your honesty and will keep your critique points in mind. I'll take a look and see if I can tweak some of the things you mentioned in regards to dialogue and watch out for that 'list writing'. You do have a valid point there.
I do appreciate the part that Swan Lake feels real! This means I've done a good job of describing this place where I've actually been, which I consider a huge compliment and that was my ultimate goal when writing the piece--perhaps why less attention was paid in other areas.
I found your review extremely sincere. No sugar coating, I appreciate the feedback immensely!