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FRS - Flames on the Horizon, by Henry

Fruipit May 16, 2014 User blog:Fruipit
This review was conducted by the Fanon Review Squad and reflects our best judgment of writing and fanon authorship quality. Please don't take offense if the review wasn't positive. We always give advice!

Flames on the Horizon

FOTH Main Image

Over 500 years have passed since the Rupture, when Avatar Kuyin, an Avatar-gone-bad, nearly destroyed the world after unleashing a powerful explosion of the elements. All of the world succumbed to fires, eruptions, earthquakes, floods, and terrible storms, destroying all the technological advances made since Avatar Aang's time. Civilizations crumbled, and the world was forced to start from the beginning.

So, basically, we have an island home to many waterbenders (actually, it's part of the Water Tribe, technically). They live right next door to the Air Nomad family, and all their many children, and the neighbourhood bully, Fire Nation, comes up and tries to take what isn't theirs. Actually, it's a lot more interesting than that, but this is just the general gist. Henry first became known as an author for his creative debut story, The Sole Woodbender—let's see how he does with his new epic adventure (with a side of action), Flames on the Horizon!


Plot = 8.9: Okay, this is one of the best categories to mark. Henry has taken an idea that I haven't seen befo7re and really put his own spin and influence into the writing. I know, from The Sole Woodbender, that he's actually one of the most creative-thinking, original fanfic writers (not an oxymoron). I would have liked to see a bit more of the world it was set it. I read the main page only after I read the story, and while Henry has the plot laid out for everyone to read, it occurs too soon in the story. We're already getting to the rising action and yet I don't really feel like I understand everything that is going on unless I read the mainpage. It's okay to put relevant information up, however one has to be careful not to rely on the front page to give readers the information they should be getting from the actual story. So, the deduction from this story comes from the execution of the plot, not necessarily the creativity or the originality.

Characterisation = 7.9: I quite liked the characters, actually. They had interesting names, although every time I read 'Nani', I'm reminded of Lilo's older sister from Lilo & Stitch. This does become slightly problematic when it's taken into account that the story is very 'Hawai'ian' themed, but really, it didn't affect anything at all. Just thought I'd mention it as an interesting point ^^"

That being said, though, the characters were very stereotypical. Uso of the Fire Nation was just another Captain Zhao. I couldn't picture him at all, really, which was a shame. He is your straight-cut 'bad guy', however all bad guys need some type of redeemable quality. He has only one side to his personalty, but humans are not one-dimensional. In short, he is too textbook evil. Yes, bad people can do bad things because they want to, however there needs to be some motive behind that want, as well.

All the characters had the same voice, and the same tone. I would expect those on the island to have a more roguish tone than the enlightened, spiritual Air Nomads. They may have different personalities, but when they're speaking it's only because of the 'he said/she said' at the end that the reader knows exactly who was speaking.

Unfortunately, we don't see an exceptional amount of character development in the other people. This is due to the fact that while the characters do have faults—they behave like real people, they just don't learn much over the course of the story, and as the readers, we haven't learnt that much about them Devion is a guy who has the hots for the most beautiful girl in the village who happens to be a master swordswoman. That's the surface, and that's all we know. Devion is a little shy around his crush and he doesn't get along with Makanui, but we don't know why. In the author's dash to create an interesting plot, he's sort of forgotten the characters. In this case, it isn't the usual 'having characters act OOC in order to create the plot he wants'; instead it's 'creating the plot he wants and the characters just happen to be there as everything unfolds'. In part, this could be rectified by letting us know what people are thinking. There has been a very specific cause->effect pattern occurring throughout the story, but the readers don't really feel exactly what is motivating the people to take action (the 'effect'). We know, but we don't understand. As a writer, it's your job to make us understand and feel the way the characters do.

Believability = 7.9: The deductions in this section stem from the actions taken by characters, and really, the believability of everything else was right up there. Unfortunately, characters are a huge aspect to almost every story, and thus they need to be the ones that the audience believes in.

It would take longer for two boys to carry a man up a cliff, even if they were young and strong. It's a cliff, which usually entails jagged edges and an almost vertical climb. I also find it strange that the chief wanted Devion and Kialuk to come to the meeting with the Fire Nation, because they really, in the social heirarchy, have no place there, and there is no conceivable reason beyond 'you found that half-dead guy' that would justify such a decision. The meeting was a negotiation between the Fire Nation and Island, and a young, reckless teenager had the chance of only exacerbating the tensions.

The actions of the characters, and to some degree, the characters themselves, are the most unbelievable part of this story. By building more on them, it would really help the reader to envision the story and see it how the author intended. Frankly, I don't believe some of the actions. The Fire Nation suddenly delivering an ultimatum seems, well, sudden. To give such definite conditions is not entirely realistic; I think the Fire Nation would try and make a deal first, based on what many other countries (all of them, when I think about it) did during colonisation in the 18th-early 19th century (such as Britain making the Chinese economy dependent on opium in order to get real Chinese tea). This might not be the case in this story, however there is not enough elaboration nor explanation as to the Fire Nation's attitude to justify such a stance.

Technical writing = 9.4: Minor comma over-use in some parts, however there are also sections that required more—particularly in dialogue—that wasn't present. I found that this was more prevalent in the later chapters, however there's no outstanding grammatical or spelling errors. Good job, Henry! Probably especially awesome seeing as how you edit your own work. Go you! :D

Non-technical writing = 8.3: I noticed several instances of the same word (usually an adjective) being used several times within the same paragraph. There is nothing wrong with this technically, however it does make the story sound repetitive, especially when there are so many synonyms for similar words.

The descriptions were short and slightly confusing. Some words are used as descriptors, but fail to actually show the audience what is happening—"undulating", in the first chapter, is one of them. What is 'undulating'? It is, according to my dictionary, "[to] move with a smooth wave-like motion", however this doesn't actually tell the audience what this looks like, only what the character is doing.

The action moves too fast, and we aren't given enough warning. There needs to be some padding between events to prepare a reader, and to get them fully engrossed in the story. Chapter Three suddenly introduces Air Nomads, who, until this point, were never a factor.

There is a lot of dialogue, which isn't a problem, however I would love to see it balanced out with more description. Phrases such as "Devion could tell the chief was very tense and nervous about this meeting" are fine, however I want to see how the chief was tense and nervous. I don't want to be told he was. Really get into the descriptions, because they can turn a good story into a great one, and I know you have the potential!

Organisation = 8.1: The shift from the prologue to the first chapter was a bit jumpy, as they style is actually quite different, and this prologue isn't fully explained or justified in the following chapters.The sudden introduction of the Air Nomads threw me, with another instance being evident in the latest chapter, which suddenly mentions the Avatar. We have not heard anything of the Avatar before now, and suddenly introducing a new (if only potential, at the moment) character is not something that should be done half-way through a story. We need clues, otherwise the story doesn't flow and and both the plot and organisation suffers, as it makes it seem as though the author doesn't always know what they are doing—a fact that Henry shows us is false by the sheer amount of backstory and information on the main page.

Total score = 8.38

My advice: Focus on building up your world. You have a plot, and I can tell that you have your own mental image, however this doesn't always express itself so clearly on the paper. Remember that you can use more than just visual descriptors; they live on an island—does he wake up to the smell of the salt, and fall asleep to the sound of the waves? The same goes for your characters. How do they hold themselves; how do they feel? Focus more on what's going on in there characters' minds, rather than what's going on in the world. I know you have a plan, and that will not fall by the wayside if you give it a less pressing focus. However, the characters, and the world, will suffer if you only focus on plot.

Why I enjoyed this story: I like reading a story and knowing that the author knows what they are doing. Henry is one of those authors. I remember his first story, and I think it's really cool being able to visibly see people improve their writing. I liked this story for the plot, really. And Henry seems to be aiming for a balance with romance, action, and adventure, and I think he's on the right track.

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