With the first week of Reality Realized under way let's get into my scores
Let's Not Talk About This Produced by JE
Characters and Dialogue Score: 11/25
I’ll start off with the positives here, Carson is an awesome host. He brings a personality all his own to the story, and manages to be both despicable and loveable at the same time. His comments on the airship and opening scene were great, and he flipped the switch so easily between nice guy and jerk. He’s already my favorite character hands down and he brings a lot to the show that I’m looking forward to seeing.
Then there’s the cast of characters… and this is where things start falling flat for me. Now there were a few minor standout characters like Bennet, Michelle, and Julian who each were pretty interesting in their own special ways. Kyle kinda got interesting near the end as well… but that was it really. In fact I can’t remember many other names from the story and I re-read it last night to write this up. A lot of the characters just felt very… interchangeable really. Like I remember that Hayden spoke with a keyboard, Fabio was pretty talkative, and Tamara wanted to be alone. I’m blanking on many other details when it comes to these guys. I think this stems from a few major issues, one of which is that you didn’t really use most of the stereotypes effectively. I continuously had to go back and check the stereotypes chart at the top of the page to remember who these characters were, because a lot of them didn’t show discernible character traits throughout the chapter. If they did then they were too subtle and became lost on me.
Another major issue is that the dialogue the characters had was very… wooden at times. Like it was dialogue, it was there, but it didn’t really do much. It felt like they were just filling the space with noise that wasn’t really important. The only dialogue I can remember off hand was said by Carson, now the host should be memorable, but not this overpowering. If I can only remember lines that came from one character out of a cast of 19 characters… that’s not a good sign.
My final big issue with the chapter, and this one was more of an irritant than anything else, is that the characters called each other by their full names (with the exception of Carson) every single time they spoke. This factor added to how forgettable a lot of the characters became because they just kept saying things like, “Hey Bennet,” “Wait up Tamara,” and “Ok Hayden.” There must be some discernible traits for these kids to call each other by, like nicknames or descriptions, because there was no way that they’d all instantly remember each others names.
So after all that my verdict on Characters and Dialogue is an 11/25. The dialogue really fell flat and almost all of the characters were bland and easily forgettable. There wasn’t a ton of substance to this chapter, and that needs to be corrected. I’ll admit had it not been for Carson and Bennet this rating would’ve gone even lower.
Suggestions on How to Improve
My number one suggestion is that you need to give these characters discernible traits and physical descriptions. Without these two character building tools the reader can’t get invested in the characters, because they can’t envision them for themselves. Now I’m not saying go into meticulous detail about every aspect of their physical form, but a small amount of description really goes a long way. An example would be, “The tall, thickly muscled teen made a short jump to the ground from the helicopter’s open door. He was dark skinned, wearing a white skullcap, shorts, and a t-shirt with a giant ‘D’ on the front. The large teen had a warm smile as he shook the host’s hand firmly, nodding to the other contestants in greetings.” Now that of course described DJ if he was to enter Let’s Not Talk About This. See how just three sentences goes a very long way to having the character be memorable. The reader can already see what he looks like, get a minor read into his personality, and tell that he’s probably an athletic threat in the game. All of those details came from three brief sentences.
Another improvement that can be made is to sneak character traits into a character’s dialogue. You did this to a degree with Hayden and definitely did this with Michelle, Bennet, and Carson. But I didn’t see it a lot with the other characters, just those small little dialogue moments that develop a character slightly. Now Bennet is meant to be a mystery, so his dialogue turned out good because he’s not supposed to be giving away much about himself. However, you need to make the dialogue more than just these somewhat hollow conversations. There needs to be more meaningful talks then just small talk or else you can’t draw the reader’s attention, and more needs to go on for them to talk about. I get that this was a pretty boring and uneventful first challenge, but there has to be more drama than a cell phone issue and people wanting to be alone. I guess what I’m saying is that you need to cut down on the small talk that means almost nothing, and give the reader something to chew on. Like had someone taken a more aggressive stance on anything the groups were arguing about, that would’ve created some interesting scenes. Not everyone can be so passive and/or passive-aggressive.
This leads me to my final suggestion, there needs to be more stand out characters. I know that balance is a good thing, especially in a larger cast like this, but too much balance can just give us a lot of characters who don’t bring a ton to the table. People need to stand out and do things to help them stand out. There need to be leaders amongst the cast each chapter, and the true key to balance is balancing out the standout moments for each character. If you have the first boot stand out in their boot episode, then they at least leave in a memorable way. A great example of this is Eva at both of her eliminations in TDI. Sure she was in all of five episodes total throughout the TDI, but she’s memorable because she was a terror in those episodes. She stood out above many other characters and had great moments. That’s the type of thing you should do JE, not make everyone OTT5, but split the screen time in a way that allows every character to have their moments throughout the season and a hand full of characters to have moments in each episode. However, this also means not making anyone completely invisible, find a role for the characters and stick them there. Some are going to be over the top, some will have complex personalities, some are going to fly under the radar, and some will end up middle of the road. I hope all of my advice makes sense, if you have any questions feel free to ask me.
Plot and Flow Score: 14/20
Now most of the issues I have with the plot and flow are issues that also occur with the characters as well. It was bland and didn’t have a ton of substance. But, I have to admit that the flow was very consistent till the end, yet it was slow. When it picked up and amped up the drama during the team pick… now that was great and it really saved this chapter as a whole. However, the first two parts were just too slow, to the point where I had to take a break in between them to keep from losing interest. The final third was great though and they actually got me interested in what was going on… even if it didn’t raise my interest in the characters.
So even though the first two parts lagged and weren’t terribly interesting, the third part really picked up the story in a big way. My verdict on plot and flow is a 14/20.
Suggestions on How to Improve
Generally just keep a slightly faster pace during the chapters to come. Keep interesting conversations and actions flowing and give the reader something a bit more meaty to chew on. Your flow was solid but it just needs to get picked up a bit, and the plots just need to get more development. There’s not much more to say here.
Theme of the Week Score: 5/20
Now this was a big point where you struggled JE. This chapter was meant to introduce us to the characters and lay solid foundations for them going forward. As I said before under characters, this wasn’t solidly done. Everything I said under characters is what applies to this category. They all needed more development then they got really, and the introductions were very brief without much detail. My biggest complaint is that we didn’t get physical descriptions for the characters or pictures, so it was really hard to even envision them.
So with this section basically rehashing all of my issues on characters, and adding the fact that the intros were far too short, my verdict on the theme of the week is a 5/20.
Suggestions on How to Improve
Everything I said under characters applies here, especially the example I gave.
Personal Enjoyment Score: 10/15
So now I know at this point you must think I hated the chapter with how much criticism I’ve given on it… however, I rather enjoyed aspects of it, specifically Carson and the third part. I haven’t seen what other users have put forward yet, but I’d bet a lot of money Carson’s going to be one of the most enjoyable hosts this season. He’s quirky, fun, and is pretty reminiscent of a certain sadist from Total Drama. Plus that third part and the team pick were pretty damn good. There’s promise here, you just need to improve on the cast and this’d be a really solid story.
So I do like the story somewhat, but I don’t LOVE the story, at least not yet. I’m a tough critic, but you did surprise me in some ways. Improve on what I’ve said is bad and emphasize what I’ve said is good, just don’t emphasize too much. My verdict on personal enjoyment is a 10/15
Spelling and Grammar Score: 9/10
Spelling was impeccable, grammar was solid, all you have to watch is word choice in certain areas and your tenses. The tenses tended to switch here and there and it was a bit distracting at times but not majorly so.
So my verdict on spelling and grammar is a 9/10
Desription Score: 2/10
Now I’ve gone over parts of why this grade is so low under characters, but the huge thing is that there is just too much brown prose in this story. By that I mean...everything is under described, and there’s a severe lack of adjectives throughout the chapter. You really need to add more adjectives and liven up the description more to let your reader get a feel for who they’re reading about and where they are.
There’s not much more to say outside of deeper description and more adjectives. My verdict for description is a 2/10.
Final Verdict: 50/100
So my final verdict for the first chapter of Let's Not Talk About This is a 50/100. You’ve got a lot that needs improving JE, but luckily you have the time and the advice now to help you improve upon the weaker parts of the story. I see plenty of potential here, it just needs to be refined and utilized. By no means do I hate the chapter, I just think it needs plenty of work. Good luck JE, and I look forward to your next chapter.
Easy, Breezy, Beautiful Produced by Reddy
Characters and Dialogue: 23/25
Well done, almost every character in this first chapter was a standout to me. You balanced them very well and everyone had at least one somewhat large moment. I'm particularly hooked on "Triple H," Vicky, Pietro, and Ramsey. I particularly enjoyed Vicky and Ramsey's interaction, and would love to see that explored a bit more. I can say with confidence that I can recite every character's name and remember who they are, not only in terms of physical appearance, but also personality. The dialogue was sharp, fit the characters well, and really allowed us to see who these people were right off the bat. Oh and your hosts... <3 love is all I can say.
Now I had a few very minor gripes. I felt that some characters, like Chadd and Travis, were weak here. However, it's completely understandable that a few characters wouldn't get as much. Besides with his stereotype it'd seem like Travis isn't meant to speak much. Also a few lines of dialogue here or there fell a bit flat. But overall this was an excellent first chapter in terms of characters, and I look forward to seeing how they go forward in the story.
So with the minor things only removing a bit from the score, verdict on characters and dialogue is a 23/25.
Plot and Flow: 19/20
The flow was excellent here and had a pace that really moved along. No segment felt too long or too short for me and the pacing was great. You also set up a ton of possible plots/rivalries moving forward that should be really interesting to delve into. Also the hosts are being particularly mysterious, and I love it! My one gripe is that despite the segments being evenly paced some of the characters got a bit short ended during some of them, like Travis and Chadd, but aside from that I have no issues.
My verdict for plot and flow is a 19/20
Theme of the Week: 18/20
Although it was an unconventional way to introduce the characters, the intros were very interesting and fleshed out almost every character very well. Same small issues here that I had under characters.
My verdict for theme of the week is an 18/20.
Personal Enjoyment: 15/15
I loved it, that is all.
My verdict for personal enjoyment is a 15/15.
Spelling and Grammar: 8/10
There were a few errors here or there but nothing that detracted from the experience. However, the slight tense changes and spelling mistakes were kinda annoying.
My verdict for spelling and grammar is an 8/10.
Every setting and character was richly detailed and it really helped drag me in to the story. My sole gripe is that you used their names quite a bit instead of descriptors like "the thickly muscled." Now you did include these, but not to as much of an extent as I would've liked to diversify the word choice. Also using the stereotypes right as the characters were introduced was a bit odd, since we were just meeting these characters for the first time.
My verdict for description is a 9/10.
Final Verdict: 92/100
I don't give 90's very often Reddy, so take this as a statement of a job well done. You blew it out of the water, now keep it up and you may just end up as the Reality Realized champion!
My final verdict for Easy, Breezy, Beautiful week one is an outstanding 92/100!