Story Title: The Key Holder
Chapters read: 3
The description is pretty good, but it could be better. I like how it doesn’t reveal the whole plot and uses part of the title in it. There’s a slight grammatical mistake in it. I think it needs improvement though to draw the audience in more.
Max is living with guilt. Riley is living with anger. What will happen when fate brought them together? Will they be each other’s key holder?
The description sounds like it could be the description of many other stories except for the key holder part. Since I haven’t started reading it yet while writing this first impression, it makes me wonder if the world involves a concept tied to the words key holder. I think an interesting thing to put or rather not put in a description is character names. It might be better to leave who are the main characters ambigious. Think of the description as a pitch to the audience. You need to capture their attention through the cover and the description.
He’s trapped within his mind due to insurmountable guilt. Her anger clouds her judgement, causing her grief. When fate brings them together, will they be the key to the other’s problems?
I kind of got jumpscared when music/sound started playing all of sudden. I advise putting your splashes for sound, music, and warnings before the story starts, so the reader knows what they’re getting into first. This would let readers who don’t like those effects to turn their sound down or turn off their ringer. Some readers might be reading in public places while others might not want to hear loud sound effects.
You could try to incorporate the CC of the MCs more fluidly. For example, Riley could be cleanning in the hotel room’s bathroom. She goes to clean the mirror, and she starts to wipe it to get a more clear image. That could be where CC of Riley is done, and it helps lessen the sort of tell than show feel. It introduces us to her and how she cleans hotel rooms from time to time. With Ryan, his sister could Facetime him. Once we go to his perspective, we can then change his appearance.
I like the music choices for these scenes, but I feel weird about it at times. I’ll explain it more within the transitions section. I like the interactions between the main characters and the side characters they know so far.
I think a major thing that I’ve noticed so far is the amount of telling and not showing it through dialogue or actions. For example, during the scene of where Riley takes care of Thea’s son, Lukas, she narrates how she usually takes care of him whenever Thea has a date. You can show this detail through dialogue instead of narration.
Riley could be like “whatcha up to now, squirt?” or ask him about what he wants to do now. Then he could respond. Try to show more of how she’s relaxed and good with kids through dialogue or her interactions with Lukas instead of telling the reader she’s that way. I just felt like some scenes ended too soon without any real developments.
Another example is the ice cream parlor. When the first customer comes in to talk to Joey, Riley narrates again about how Joey knows she’s not comfortable with strangers. I like the interaction before where Joey was like I got this.
However, there is still times where narration can be easily shown through another medium. When Riley talks about Joey constantly switching jobs, we could have a flashback of the countless jobs or have Riley list off the amount of jobs Joey has quit over the years when Joey mentions the grocery store. If Riley knows this information, would she really be that shocked about Joey quitting the grocery store if she constantly switches jobs?
There’s little to no grammar issues from what I’ve seen. Just try to double check and make sure everything is clear and makes sense. You can do this through a grammar check, proofreader, or beta reader.
The transition between different music is awkward. Like in multiple scenes, the music just stops, causing this awkward silence. The next scene comes with some new or the same music before stopping like the scene before, creating a cycle. In order to enhance and improve the transition between new audio pieces, you need to use more of volume commands, so it can go down steadily or up. Use commands like volume music 0 2000. That mean it’ll go down to 0 in 2000. The next scene could have new music, so in line after the music line, put something like volume music 5 2000 in order to raise the volume whenever that scene starts.
Scenes end too early sometimes. I like the use of fades and the occassional iris, but I feel like you transition off some scenes too early. Like some scenes end awkwardly with the characters just standing there. For example, in episode 2, Riley returns the book to Hanna and Sally. They thank her, and they say they’re going to head off to class. Then it just fades there with all three of them standing. It feels kind of unsatisfying, and there’s nothing that shows the impact it has on Riley. The scene could have ended with the two girls heading off with Riley standing there awkwardly thinking about how she averted any possible crisis. There’s a lot more scenes that end awkwardly after the characters say their last pieces of dialogue.
For the most part, the directing is pretty smooth, but there are some bumps in the road.
I noticed some layering issues, specifically during the scene before Riley runs to the bathroom. When we panned to her working near the pool, her foot was on top of the guy who was in front of her. You can fix this by having Riley move to another layer that’s less than the guy’s layer.
Use more overlays in your story. I noticed the first scene when Mr. Thomas came in that there was no chair for him to sit. Once Max and him started going down, I imagined Mr. Thomas being on his knees for the rest of the meeting. You can add a chair from the Episode catalog, get one from a pretty cool art shop on the forums, or find a chair yourself on a public domain image website. If you want to have him talk using a stand animation, just zoom more on his face to emulate the illusion of him sitting.
Incorporate more zooms during conversations, so the scene flows better, and we know who we should focus on.
There’s some common mistakes like characters popping in from time to time, characters sliding, and speech bubbles not being placed right. The scene with cars driving didn’t feel all that smooth.
I recommend checking out JemU776‘s tutorial list and cece_hunter’s awesome thread about making your directing above average for these kinds of issues and to make a story flow better.
The dialogue was pretty good, but I think it gets slightly overshadowed by slightly overbearing narration. Since dialogue shows us a lot about a character’s mannerisms, opinions, and beliefs, it’s important to incorporate more fluid dialogue for readers to connect to the characters.
There could also be more variation in syntax and punctuation to help distinguish characters from each other.
I picture Lukas as a hyperactive child, so it might make sense to give him more exclamation points at times when he gets really excited or shorter sentences for when he’s hyped.
In contrast, Riley seems more laidback, so she might use more periods with longer sentences than his. When she gets nervous or uncomfortable about crowds, use more stutters, shorter sentences, and awkward animations to exemplify how she feels.
Another thing to note is make sure every character uses a speaking animation when they speak. If we can see their back, you can use any regular animation you want. If they’re eating, you could have them take a bite, pause for a beat, and have them speak using a speak animation. I noticed some characters didn’t do more speaking animations when it went to their next sentence.
I’m going to keep it down to short list of characters that showed up a lot. Some character might have a couple of sentences.
Riley - She seems very reserved, and something might have happened to her in the past. I found it confusing when she was willing to accept Joey’s offer to go to the mall. Like even if there’s not going to be a lot of people there, there’s still going to probably be a good amount of people. The only things I know about her is she works multiple jobs, she’s good with kids, she likes baking, and she doesn’t feel comfortable with strangers. Based on this knowledge, I’m confused about why she’d accept the offer.
Max - I know more about Riley than I do about Max tbh. He’s an event planner, a bachelor, and he has siblings. I just didn’t find him all that memorable tbh.
Thea - She seems nice. I just feel like she’s kind of one dimensional.
Lukas - He’s a kid who loves sweets, and he likes Riley.
Joey - She’s Riley’s friend who actively tries to get Riley to come out of her shell more. She seems laidback and helpful.
- Based on the description, I thought the story would seem more serious at first. As I kept reading up to chapter 3, it felt like the description doesn’t match up with the story so far. Maybe it gets revealed later on in the story, but it just felt like there was no indication of Riley’s anger or Max’s guilt. I don’t know how it affects their daily lives or how they function. The only things that I can think of is how Riley doesn’t have a social life, and Max is single for reasons.
- Biggest thing is developing characters more through dialogue and actions. I don’t have a real grasp on any of the characters. Every second of the story could be used to reveal the characters for who they are. Don’t overuse narration to explain things. Just show those things instead of telling us. The only character that felt slightly complex was Riley.
- There’s a lot of promise in the story, and I definitely enjoyed the mood of the story. The background choices were good too. I’m interested in what’s going on with Riley. I hope she’s able to achieve her aspirations.
- As I look at the scenes, I noticed something very major. The background characters caught my eye. A lot of the background characters were generic characters from the Writer Portal. This may turn some people off your story. I suggest editing those specific characters and outfits, so they look less generic. If you need help with outfits or character design, you can check out outfit shops and ask for background characters.
I hope this helps.