Webnovel Story. Genre(s): Fantasy — # of Chapters: 28
TQ 3 PD 2 CF 2 || RL 2 CL 3 — Overall: 12
Important Note: There is a big difference between a webnovel–a story of the internet and mobile world–and a published book. Besides straightforward editing, published stories are constantly polished to be more engaging, meaningful, and clear. So a successful webnovel doesn’t equate to the same caliber of a published novel. This is due in part to an online writer typically being a one man/woman show. Thus, reviews will be given as if regarding whether this could be a published print or e-book.
All 28 chapters were covered in this review.
Great beginning. It gives insight into the main character and his life in well-balanced detail. All the while, it hooks the reader in with the robbery. The idea of robbery isn’t original, but the scene is written well and allows readers to imagine the scene clearly in their heads. There’s also a great balance of emotion to the end, and the robbers’ characters are differentiated and realistic rather than being simple ‘bad guys.’
Technical & Writing Style:
The writing is very well done overall with few mistakes. Complex sentences are pulled off for the most part. Sometimes they feel a little awkward. For example, “The voice immediately stunned Rentaro, before he reacted in an enlivened manner, filled with both fright and a little bit of excitement.” The dependent clauses after Rentaro don’t flow and connect to the previous as well as it could. Imagine, “The voice immediately stunned Rentaro, before he reacted in an enlivened manner.” This part itself doesn’t sound right, and with the addition of the second comma and clause, it adds to the awkward sentence structure. It’s unclear whether the fright and bit of excitement is connected to the stunned Rentaro, or the reacting in an enlivened manner. To keep the sentence close to the original format, one suggestion is, “The voice immediately stunned Rentaro; before he reacted in an enlivened manner, he was filled with both fright and a little bit of excitement.” There are other ways to clarify the sentence if this isn’t the intended order of emotions.
Writing style-wise, you have a nice range of vocabulary and structure your sentences in engaging ways which highlight the order of small actions and gestures and give it believability and vividness in imagery and sensation.
Be careful of character identity/name mistakes like in chapter 11, “Rentaro noticed to his astonishment that only Roy’s left eye was ice-blue, while his right eye took on a more grayish-hue. Compared to Rentaro’s height of one hundred seventy centimeters tall, Roy was relatively shorter at around one hundred fifty centimeters and he had a light skin tone.” Roy is actually Icrin.
Rentaro – He is believable, likeable, and rather innocent. His train of thoughts and questions are realistic while answering reader’s questions about the world settings. In chapter 8, he sorts out his innermost desires, giving readers more insight into him. From a logical, mundane sense, knowing yourself this deeply seems unrealistic. But some people can understand themselves but purposefully stay ignorant of it, or at least in outward actions and appearance. As long as Rentaro’s character stays consistent, details like these are no problem when considering believability. On another point, writers and readers both have to imagine how one would realistically act when in such a bizarre situation as entering a fantasy world after death. Thus, realism is harder to judge.
System/Wilhelm – Starting off, the gentleman-like voice that sounds like an old man gives some character. Typically with system novels, I’d say, due to the extensive use of Systems, often without much personality, it would be more original if the System had a name. Other ideas would be some kind of backstory for why the System exists. Some kind of differentiation from other System novels would make this story stand out more while possible making it more realistic but staying in tune with the ‘game’ feel. You actually address these points very well. It creates mystery around the binding of souls while making the two closer as companions. Considering how often the System will show up in the story, this differentiation makes conversation and events more interesting. After the naming, Wilhelm’s personality quickly arises. Great job.
Roy – Adorable. His appearance was well described and intriguing.
Icrin – A little lacking in personality in comparison. The spar from 12-13 could’ve shed more light on him rather than Icrin declaring they’re sworn brothers solely due to other villagers being afraid of him. Perhaps, delve more into his emotions and train of thought in getting to know Rentaro.
Elders and side characters Haz, Ichi, Shin, Phu, and Tsyun – Be careful with introducing too many characters. If they’re not all that necessary to forward the plot, consider cutting some of them or combining characters. Too many names and characters, especially early on, makes them harder to remember for readers. As a possible guide, one named/detailed character per two chapters/3,000 words at max. It’s okay to name characters that are part of a group, like the Elders, later on when they are of more importance or get spotlighted with some event.
Kyon – Ok. He has personality, but it’s not all that distinctive/original.
Chapter two is a bit lengthy in its description; however, it is of no real concern considering the concise explanation that is intermixed with amusing conversation makes it all interesting and palatable. Chapter four feels very much like a video game with the shop currencies and items. From there on to chapter 89 there is a lot of explanation. It is balanced with conversation rather than being an instructive chunk. However, it doesn’t negate that it’s still continuous explanation. This is important to note in later chapters. Perhaps, even, consider learning through action rather than taught-and-applied. I imagine though that a person would actually want to learn about their surroundings and skills first, especially if it were a video game, but for the sake of a story, this can quickly become tedious no matter its form/method of explanation—which in your case is through conversation.
Chapter 9 is the first spar and largest amount of action thus far. The fight was easy to follow and imagine; however, Wilhem does speak rather lengthily. He offers critique, and certainly for the character this is good, but viewing from a reader’s perspective, it’s unnecessary and boring. For future explanation, ask first, if I take this out, will it affect the plot or later understanding of events? Also, can I condense this information more succinctly? In terms of pacing, this will be your biggest concern. As a guide, highlight all the explanation, which is usually Wilhelm’s words, and gauge and limit the length. Oddly enough, you have great moments of “showing” and not telling, but the explanations are starkly “telling” in comparison.
Chapter 16-18 have very little of Wilhelm’s explanation. It’s bit dialogue heavy, still. At 20, it goes somewhat back into Wilhelm’s explanation, but more distinctly, it’s dialogue heavy in explanations by others too.
In 21, you consider some shortcomings of the plot. Due to the heavy reliance on the System and “game” attributes, there is a clear lack of what’s important in driving the plot. It can’t simply be getting stronger/becoming number one. Considering Rentaro’s focus on sincerity and companionship, a possible idea is fighting for his friends/solving their innermost anxieties and problems. The “missions” also foretell to this particular development. From the start, there should be some goal everyone is working toward. Since Wilhelm is the first, is there something he desires or wants to accomplish? Maybe it could be one of the Grimoire’s spirits. Or, since they start out in the village, something which threatens it? The end of chapter 24 to 25 begins this with the threat of Corpse Soldiers, but this development is a little late in the story. It is late mostly due to the all the explanations beforehand as the actual event progression isn’t that slow.
The story is technically sound with very few mistakes. Sentences are also structured well, and the style is somewhat distinctive. The prologue is solid, but soon, the chapters become cluttered with explanation while later chapters have little with more action. Some balancing could be done to reduce the forefront load of world-building. Let Rentaro learn more through action than explanation. An idea is in-battle commands from Wilhelm rather than explanation beforehand or assessment afterwards. Once this issue gets addressed, the plot direction can clear up and become more focused. Lastly, the number of characters need to be decreased. Also, with all the terminology, too many names of things can be hard to remember. It also directs the story away from the plot and toward technicalities/details of the world instead. Plot and character development should always be first. At this point, it feels more like a video game rather than a fantasy genre.