So, I have been seeing some complaints over the pacing of the series. This happened early on as well, it seems to happen during the set-up portions of this story. However, I have become a little selfconscious of it due to also having a slowed pace of writing due to having to work while going to school. As such, I have decided to address some of the complaints directly in the form of an FAQ, and to also include a poll at the end so that I can get an idea of just where the sentiments lie for the readerbase as a whole.
This is a little out of place for an FAQ since we are still in the middle of the act, but once again, the complaints were recent and the update rate is slow. So, it would take a while to get the story to the end of the act and I kinda want to address this now. (I will likely move this FAQ later.)
Now, to get into some of the things I have seen as complaints. I will attempt to re-word the complaints into the form of a question.
Q: So, Aerien is a princess in the capital now. It has officially jumped the shark. Is there going to be any real direction from here on? Or is it just Aerien milling about doing family and personal relationship stuff?
A: Don’t worry, I have not gone all Mary Sue with Aerien. Some other people have called it correctly, Aerien’s princess status is a tether to chain her down. Also, there is a plot being set up. This whole trial thing is a bit of a detour, but there are things that need to be properly set up in order for everything to play out.
Q: So, what is with the slow pacing of the series?
A: I tell a very character driven story. There are things that are going to happen in this story, and I intend to write this in a way that will get the readers in a place where they can really feel what is about to happen as though they were in the story. In order to do that, I need my readers to not only know the characters, but also be aware of all the little things that lead to the events that are going to unfold.
You might not see it right now, but every single chapter I have been sliding in things that foreshadow what’s going to come. Perhapse part of the problem here is that Truth is off at boot camp. He seemed pretty good at picking up the breadcrumbs I was laying out.
Q: What is with all the useless details you keep adding in?
A: There are 3 kinds of details I bring into the story. First is set-up for events to come, as I have mentioned before. Second is character building. I consider character building details to be very important. They may seem irrelevant because they do not advance the story, but they are actually very important as they show, rather than tell, what the character’s personality is like.
I am actually rather surprised because I have seen quite a few people mention useless details and try to give examples, but not one of them has mentioned the half chapter I dedicated to showing Eirlathion’s routine in how he cares for the plants in his room in extreme detail. That’s alright, but apparently the fact that Aerien knows vomit is comprised of stomach acid and bile which took half a sentence to mention is not alright. I wonder about these people sometimes.
The last kind of detail I bring into the story are artifacts. Basically, they are my attempts to start the story down one direction, and then having it get lost before I can follow up on it in anything like a timely manner. An example would be Aerien’s comment about knowing what language she wants to use in her spell crystals. However, now we are over 50 chapters later and Aerien hasn’t even started on her spell crystals yet. I genuinely expected to write about her trying to form spells in the very next chapter after that, but the story wound up going a different direction.
I have planned out the broad strokes of the story, but sometimes the details get pulled in a different direction. It is the unfortunate hazard of writing on a schedule and posting my rough draft directly to the internet to be read. These details that are artifacts of false-start storylines are about the only genuinely useless details by my assessment, and I really would like to go through and edit to take them out if I can only find the time.
Q: You tagged this as martial arts, so where’s all the action?
A: I am not sure if you counted, but there have been 5 fights in the space of 90 chapters. I have read a few series with the martial arts tag myself, most of them belong to the cultivation world genre. 1 fight per 20 chapters is actually about the standard in those as well. And, just like this one, the rest is world and character building.
Actually, this reads in a manner that’s fairly similar to most of the martial arts books and movies I have consumed. This even includes famous western martial arts movies like the Karate Kid. I would challenge you to go back and watch that and count the fight scenes.
My best guess as to why some people may be left with the impression that there is very little action is that I try to portray my fight scenes in a very realistic way. This means that fights are over very quickly. In real life, any fight where there is a weapon involved will be over in less than 5 seconds. The only fights that ever go longer are fist fights. Those can last a few minutes depending on the presence or absence of rules. If there are no rules, it will probably last about 30 seconds before someone is on the ground in a choke hold, or trying desperately to protect their face while the other guy is going ground and pound on them.
(Aerien would have them in a joint-lock submission hold. Either that, or they would be dead because she broke their neck.)
Well, I think that is everything where it comes to the most frequent complaints I have seen. I have also noticed that it is rare for someone who has a complaint to show up in the comments section. They all seem to go to the reviews section and leave a bad review. In other words, where I can’t respond and they can’t get anything to change for the future. Doesn’t sound like anyone who likes the series and wants to see it improve to me.
My main reason for writing this now though is that I actually did encounter someone who complained in the comments section and we had a very nice little back-and-forth. He seemed like a nice guy, and if you actually talk to me like that I tend to take what you have to say more seriously.
I do feel the pacing can be managed a little better and maybe include a little less of the written equivalent of “en.” (A japanese concept most frequently talked about by Studio Gibli. It is the use of the quiet moments to help the big moments be more impactful, and to allow the audience to take a breather and internalize what came before.) I will have to think about my approach. If anything does change, it will not be immediate. I do not think I am even capable of stepping up the pacing immediately, both because it would feel too wrong to me and also because it would ruin the story to make such a sudden tone change.
So, now it is time for the poll. Having just said what I did in the above paragraph, the results of this poll will not actually cause any immediate change. Regardless of the outcome of the poll, the remainder of the current book will not change at all. However, it might have some influence on how book 3 is written, as well as the still pending edits.
Make it slower, I want to sit back and enjoy Aerien and the kids being cute. Votes: 6 2.5%
It's perfect just like it is! I love this series! Votes: 82 33.7%
I don't really care, it's your story, write it however feels right for you. Votes: 110 45.3%
The slow pace bothers me, but it has a lot of interesting concepts I want to see more of. Votes: 41 16.9%
It really bothers me, it makes this series very difficult for me to read. Votes: 4 1.6%