A Summoner’s Confession, by Khana Santamaria (10:27)

IOD-SummonersConfessionToday we see that a mistake in your magic system can throw your entire world into question.

What I gleaned about the story: A young girl learns that she can draw the stuff of magic into her own world through her dreams.

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WTF #1: Strange paragraph breaks

Analysis: The entire first scene is a monologue, but the paragraph breaks come in the strangest places. Normally, I’d have chalked this up to a stylistic quirk, but it actually confused me, so that makes it more serious. The paragraph breaks seem to come for no reason I can discern. In several places, it felt as though there was a second person interrupting the first. But no. There’s just the POV character, apparently talking to herself. But when I have to go back to see what’s going on, immersion has definitely broken.

WTF #2: She tried to explain that her people lacked the ability to manifest will… that they could only exist. Drifting souls, aimless in a sea of magic, surrounded by the powers of creation, and yet unable to influence them.

Analysis: Interesting. A world of magic, populated by unconscious sleep-people. Yet somehow, this sleep-girl (who purportedly cannot manifest will) was able to make herself appear to the protagonist in a dream, stay with her during the day, and carry on a self-determined conversation. Don’t those things constitute “manifestations of will?” What about later, when Sora (the protagonist) tells us: Since I had given her something of my world, she wanted to give me something of hers. She tried to help teach me how to pull her world into mine. Sounds to me like the girl without will is willing all over the place.

If this had been a casual side comment, I might have been able to move past it, but this is no sidebar issue. This seems to be a key element. The line is telling us how magic works in this world, and why the protagonist is special not only to her own realm, but to the dream realm as well.

A magic system needs to be more than just a few lines of plausible veneer-speak. Those words have to be made real, woven into every aspect of the world and its culture. So once again, we see an example where what we are told in exposition is not manifested in action.

WTF #3: They came for me then, of course. They presumed I was a sorcerer just discovering my talents, and I suppose in a way, they were mostly right, though I didn’t think so at the time.

Analysis: That part right there? Those 35 words of backstory? That contained enough story for an entire novel. At the very least, an exciting chapter. But instead, I got 35 words of tell about it. The first scene is one long flashback, about a dream Sora had as a child. And as I’ve said before, if you open with a flashback, you probably should have started the story earlier.

 

 

 

Paralan's Children, by Katharina Gerlach (24:34)
Flower's Fang, by Madison Keller (4:17)

About the author

Jefferson Smith is a Canadian fantasy author, as well as the founder, chief editor and resident proctologist of ImmerseOrDie. With a PhD in Computer Science and Creativity Systems compounded by a life spent exploring most art forms for fun and profit, he is underqualified in just about everything. That’s why he writes.