Thursday, November 22, 2012

Nye's Song by Robert S. Douglas

My apologies to the author, but I can't say I was able to enjoy this one. I wanted to: it had a great premise. Actually a splendid premise, but the writing lost me. First I had to slog through the Fighting Fantasy rules, made worse by the fact that I couldn't skip them, even though I already know them, because he makes a point of saying "things are different, but I won't tell you what. You have to read it ALL AGAIN. Bwahahaha..." Okay, he didn't say that exactly, at least not in so many words, BUT HE MIGHT AS WELL HAVE.

Anyway, once you get to the actual text, something about the writing just put me off. Maybe someone else had a better experience with it, but--especially in this read-through, after gems like Academy of Magic and Final Payment--the writing in Nye's Song just didn't grab me.

There are a few things I can point out that might improve it. First off, give us a better idea of what's going on in the world. There's something about Shadow, and Blight. What are these things? Why do we care? Why is our hero fighting them? Second, try to get more into the mind of the character. I felt like... like it was trying too hard, instead of just being.

For example, early on the main character is creeping into a shadow-blighted town, gun at the ready, and right then he decides to have himself a sad moment, "aren't we all just relics? Why are we even fighting anymore?"  And I'm sitting here thinking, "I don't know, why are you fighting? Nobody ever told me! If you're so tired, go have yourself a lie down!

"On the other hand, if you're not going to lie down, aren't there things you should be paying attention to? You're in the middle of some sort of dangerous situation (apparently--no one ever told me, but you seem to think it's dangerous) so stop daydreaming and keep that gun up!"

As an author, you have to stay in character with the characters. Make sure the reader knows what they're thinking and why, and make sure their reactions are appropriate to the situation. Angsty existentialist reflections are for the time after (or before) the battle, alone with your tea in a tin cup on your dirty bedroll--not for the moment you're storming a hostile location.

Another thing, try to set the scenes a little better. The description doesn't need to be excessive, but it should be clearly established A) Where the characters are, B) Which characters are present, and C) What the matter at hand is. It seemed to jump around a bit too much.

So yeah... I liked the premise, but the writing and characterization fell flat. I think the only real solutions to this are simply reading more and writing more. Best of luck, Robert.

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