Reviewed [Oc] Week 227: The Return of the Professor - Feedback

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Staff member
Feb 18, 2008
A third round of feedback in one day. As said before, I don't want to belabor the same points, so I'm going to focus on things distinct to this chapter.

This is an exceedingly minor part of your chapter, but you mentioned Craxtus taking a steam dray to Yulia. I did not, in fact, have any idea what a steam dray was. I ended up googling it after the chapter was done. Now, I realize it's not for everyone, but I like setting a scene, building a world around the characters. This was a very minor detail to your story, but I would honestly have loved if, instead of seeing it on Wikipedia, you could have described the steam dray to me, maybe even put it in context of the world like saying it's less common because most engineers chase the allure of terra regia or that it's more common because it does use TR, but not as much, or any sort of story surrounding them.

The dray could also serve as a vehicle, quite literally, for all of the reflection that Craxtus is doing early in the chapter. After describing hailing the vehicle and maybe how it feels to ride in one, Craxtus considers how long the ride will be and he has nothing to say to the driver and so lets his mind wander. The driver could also say something innocently that Craxtus can't help but relate back to his ordeal.

I am also disappointed in how the entirety of his explanation to Yulia is left out. I would not expect or want you to go into all the details, but a few choice reactions in between sipping tea or serving snacks could both to intrigue the reader or refresh their memory, depending on which is more appropriate. It also allows you to demonstrate how much time passes.

Both of these points are a long way of saying not to skimp on the details. Don't rush the passing of time, use the passing of time to your advantage. Use the world around the character to tell a story or illustrate an emotion.

One final thing I wanted to talk about briefly: TorBru isn't scary. We're told over and over again by every character that TorBru is big and bad and nasty and don't cross them or you'll be wearing concrete shoes and... none of it connects. Now, I have not read every chapter or collab involving them, but I've been around since pretty close to the beginning. I was there when Aeria rescued Craxtus the first time and I've read a lot of the intervening plot. What I have never read is TorBru doing anything legitimately menacing. I don't know if they've killed or injured a single important character; certainly not in anything I've read. In the few attempts they've made, there's a character like Yulia or Diamantus or Eden who conveniently has the knowledge, the resources, and an army at their back to go toe-to-toe with TorBru.

I'm not calling for you to let George R. R. Martin into your soul and start killing off characters randomly, but the problem you're running into here is that your villain has been around so long that their incompetence and impotence is showing. If you want to keep TorBru around and have them credible as a threat, there's ways you can address this. The good guys can start recognizing how unsuccessful TorBru has been, start underestimating them, and have it bite them in the worst way; TorBru can recognize that these small-fries they've been trying to handle are more serious than they believed, and dedicate more of their effort to squashing them; neither of those happens, but we see what happens to people when TorBru gets their way, either through flashback or preferably through current events. Something lasting has to happen.


Writing Week is 266

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