Escape by Matthew D. Ryan


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Post April 21, 2012, 11:54:03 PM

Escape by Matthew D. Ryan

This story was too heavy on exposition, but other than that, I liked it. The characters were distinctive, well-rendered, and believable, and the plot and story progression were excellent. Setting details and descriptions of action were very good, too. I also liked that the plot was fresh, and I couldn't guess what was going to happen in advance.

Mr. Ryan, I might suggest you stretch the story out a little to bring out the details a bit more naturally; it felt too much as if the characters were telling each other things they already knew, especially at the beginning. This story was compact and quick to read, but it would have been better to make it a little longer for the sake of "show, don't tell."

I could really feel the plight of these poor guys, and that's what a good story should make the reader do. A little more showing and less telling, and this would be top-shelf stuff.
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Post May 09, 2012, 02:12:10 PM

Re: Escape by Matthew D. Ryan

Definitely an issue of telling vs. showing, as Lester pointed out. That’s always an issue regardless of genre, but although this story starts out as a Fantasy piece, when you examine it afterwards, it’s actually Horror. The reason I bring that up is that it’s really hard to build suspense when you’re telling instead of showing. Not that the action is poorly written; it’s just that it’s buried by a lot of backstory and dialogue.

For example, the very start of the story:
Dreggin Yorr fingered his axe, and stared out across the mist-shrouded clearing. In the distance, cloudy tendrils clung to the trees, wreathing aspens and pines in cloaks of white. Feels like the Ghost Hills back home, he thought, adjusting his shirt of rough hide. The Ghost Hills were a desolate place west of the cold mountains his clan called home; he had set foot in them only once and only for a few short hours. The whole time it felt like he was being watched by some kind of malevolent hunger that pervaded the very air.

Standing next to him, Galrin Grendeth, one of his companions, shuddered nervously. A thin, wiry man dressed in black, Galrin always seemed to be on the lookout for trouble. His eyes roved and shifted ceaselessly and his hands constantly kneaded together as if infected with some kind of miserable ague. "This is not good," he said, his voice breaking slightly. "Do you have any idea where we are?"


I would forgo the first paragraph completely and slightly tweak the second:
Galrin Grendeth shuddered. A thin, wiry man dressed in black, Galrin always seemed to be on the lookout for trouble. His eyes roved and shifted ceaselessly and his hands constantly kneaded together as if infected with some kind of miserable ague. "This is not good," he said. "Do you have any idea where we are?"


The aim is to set the mood. When you start of with a lot of telling, you’re setting the mood to bore the reader.

There also seemed to be a tad too many adverbs and odd adjectives, but that’s just a quibble. Overall, I’d say this is an average story. Some editing could significantly make it better.
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