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You know what they say about the rule of thirds; it's present in writing and drawing and photography. You also know what they say about third time lucky, yes? Well, I'm back once again to try out for the Review Squad.
is probably more well known on the wiki as being one of the most prolific commenters, leaving thoughtful feedback on many of the active stories we have on here, but did you know that he has his own story, too? Today, I'm reviewing his fanon, .
This is an OC story that follows a group of young adults as they work within the Liberation Alliance against Yi Ming, the Emperor of the Earth Continent. The reader follows seven people within the Liberation Alliance as they work together to bring peace to the Earth Continent.
Plot = 8.9: This section deals with the plot overall; the individual details will be explored in the following categories.
Now, I didn't read the main page when I started this story. I just jumped straight into it, and so was immediately thrust into a world I didn't understand, but was excited to learn about. By the end of the first chapter, I felt a little confused. There was an Air Nomad general, a group of children(?) and Sanqok, the main character. Sep did a wonderful job setting up the characters (which I will elaborate further on later), however I found it difficult to attain complete immersion when I kept wondering about the world. When is this set? How old are the characters?
That being said, it's clear that Sep has a plan, and even from the early chapters the reader can see all the puzzle pieces (although we can't yet start putting them together). The deduction here simply comes from knowledge that the author assumes the reader will have (usually from the mainpage, or in conversation/interviews/word of mouth etc.). Because of this assumption, some details that were important tended to be glossed over, such as the answers to the questions above.
Characterisation = 6.5: I spent a lot of time umming and uhhhing about this category. As the wiki's resident Toph
stalker lover, I found the personality and characteristics of Noki to be a little too similar to comfortably call her an 'original character'. Certain scenes and lines she was in was almost exactly how Toph would speak or act: 'Noki rolled her eyes, sighing, and spoke, "I may be blind, but I still can feel the stupidity in your grin, you know?"', and the scene in chapter five where she is swept away into a river is too similar to the scene in the Serpent's Pass. It is for these reasons in particular that bring the score down; the deduction here is simply for unoriginality with the characters. Other than that, as people, the characters seemed fairly well-developed. As actual characters in this story, I found them to occasionally be a little purposeless, and I found myself questioning their actions as I couldn't understand why they would do something.
Another character that was hard to pinpoint was Zoruka. For a character who was so heartbroken at the violent murder of her father (by her husband), she didn't seem nearly as fazed in joining his campaign. Usually when someone's parent is killed, the child doesn't work for their murdered, and certainly doesn't enjoy it; she took to the job of Grand Secretary with surprising ease. She feels like a completely different character in chapter five compared to chapter three, and this kind of change isn't really shown—or justified—in the intermediate chapter.
Action = 7.9: Right from the first chapter, we get some action. It was an excellent chance for Sep to introduce the character of Sanqok, as it seems as though he will definitely have use for his waterbending and swordsmanship. The execution of the action was very sudden and somewhat disjointed. The reader is told that there is a gust of wind, or a swiping sword, but we really don't get the visuals of what is being done, nor the effects. Does the earthbender stamp their foot down with a resounding slam, forcing the earth beneath their toes to crack in terror as with a feral snarl, the bender swings their hands up, the earth given no choice but to obey, knocking over everything (and every person) in its path in a desperate attempt to follow the bender? Or does the bender just kick a rock at his opponent that hits their stomach?
Punctuation/formatting = 7.0: The punctuation is reasonably well-done here, however there is a reduction in score. This comes from two things; the first is dashes.
Overuse of dashes breaks up the sentences and makes it harder to follow (especially when several dashes are used in the one sentence); when a function word (at, the, on, to, etc.) or parenthesis could be just as, if not more helpful, it's generally preferred. Commas can also help, however I've noticed that they do tend to slip into the writing where they aren't needed. This can be avoided by using linking words (and, or, because) or punctuation (a semicolon ';' or colon ':'). It is primarily because of the overuse of this grammatical tool that the score is reduced so much, although I can already see in the later chapters that the usage is less common.
The second is the formatting, which comes in two parts. Sep is usually really good at formatting his paragraph breaks, however I noticed in a few instances that he had accidentally had two different speakers on the one line. The second is that he has a habit of, with any like of dialogue that ends in a full stop, question, or exclamation mark, to also add a comma after the closing speech marks. This isn't needed, and is actually incorrect in English rules of dialogue. However, it didn't detract from the rest of the story.
Aside from these, his grammar and formatting is generally really good. I didn't see any of the common errors, and the ones I pointed out really are more to do with the style of the author; there is nothing technically wrong, remember that, however it can make it harder for some people to read it.
Believability = 8.0: An uprising of some sort in the Earth Kingdom is a perfectly believable plot, and not one I've come across in this time frame. The characters are believable, and so are the actions they take, however only on a small scale—as individuals. It could be that the audience just doesn't have all the information yet, but even so, it should be more explicitly stated why the Earth King is the way he is—why he does what he does—and, on the other hand, exactly why the Liberation Alliance is so keen on overthrowing him. The audience is given a huge paragraph of dialogue in the fourth chapter as a reason is given, however this seems more like a personal reason of the character. We get very little history, and it is details such as that which are important. The causes need to be stated for there to be an effect.
Organisation = 6.5: The reason for this reduction is honestly because of the way the story is introduced. It's easy to follow what is happening to the characters on a small, short-term basis, however the larger picture isn't defined clearly in the story, which can be distracting. It's hard for a reader to fully submerge themselves in the story when there are questions on their mind that they aren't getting answered. As I mentioned above, I didn't read the mainpage; I wanted to see how the author managed to introduce everything in a clear manner.
The other thing I noticed was the passage of time. The scenes jump around, and there is a year between the fourth and the fifth chapters, however the characterisation does not reflect this; Sanqok in particular is just as chummy with the other members of the Liberation Alliance as he was when they fit met each other.
Total score = 7.46
My advice: A beta reader or editor would not go amiss, especially if grammar is not your strong suit. There are plenty of users willing to help; all you have to do is ask.
Also, work on that description. From the way you introduced the characters, I know you're capable of it. It's just the action and scene transitions that let you down in that department. I know you're capable—just keep writing!
Why I enjoyed this story: Honestly, I enjoy any well-written OC story, and this was no exception. The characters, one of the most important aspects of an OC story, were strong and well-crafted. The plot wasn't so complex that I forgot about what happened in the previous chapter within ten minutes of finishing it, however the story has enough levels and intrigue that are sure to keep anyone interested.
The story is absolutely filled with historical references, and one of my favourite parts was just how well the main characters interacted. This story is about them, and their conversations and actions towards each other really made this story come alive