Fanfic - The March of Progress

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Canadanne
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Fanfic - The March of Progress

Post by Canadanne » Tue Dec 21, 2010 5:52 am

So, I spent three months watching KM on an almost daily basis, and when I ran out of episodes to watch, I had terrible withdrawal symptoms and really wished there was more. And since my head was full of ideas, the obvious solution was to write some of my own! Which I have now done:

http://www.canadanne.co.uk/writing/km_march/ch1.html

It's just my little fantasy of what Series 9 might have been like, bringing together a bunch of my favourite characters and environments from over the years, whilst attempting to maintain continuity with previous developments. There's a certain amount of poetic licence... obviously it's not subject to the restrictions of an actual TV series, so the levels are longer and some of the puzzles are probably harder than you'd ever see on the programme. (Also, I made the experience a little more "real" for the dungeoneers. They are supposed to be there, after all!) I've included a mixture of old stuff, new stuff, and old stuff in new combinations. There ought to be something for everyone, whatever your Knightmare preferences.

This is the first fanfic I've ever successfully completed, so please don't criticise too harshly and crush my sense of achievement! It's no great masterpiece but I had a lot of fun writing it, so I hope other fans might enjoy reading it. Let me know if you do - I'd love to hear about any favourite lines, ideas you liked, or in-jokes you managed to spot. :) I'm also happy to answer questions about any aspect of the story... there's a lot of associated trivia, unexplored possibilities and so on, which I planned out behind the scenes. (A bit like Tim's unused material that we never got to see!)

Anyway, that's enough of my introductory spiel - I'll let you read the fanfic now!

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Re: Fanfic - The March of Progress

Post by JamesA » Tue Dec 21, 2010 5:25 pm

Excellently written. I especially like how you've given each and every one of the eight series some form of recgnition in your story, be it a room or character. Lord Fear's sardonic mannerisms have been captured perfectly, and the inclusion of some of today's modern affairs and technology works pretty well too, in particular that Treguard had to eventually learn to adapt.

The whole team undertaking the quest have been portrayed as very likeable and easy to get along with, and I particularly enjoyed their adventures towards the latter parts of Level 2. The puzzles, riddles and obstacles were cleverly devised (or reworked in some cases), and then came the brilliant twist at the final encounter, which came across to me as very original - I'd have never even thought of doing something like that.

Of course, I've done this response without wanting to give away too much of the plotline - in fact, I would highly recommend this to every other Knightmare fan out there.
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Canadanne
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Re: Fanfic - The March of Progress

Post by Canadanne » Wed Dec 22, 2010 1:03 am

JamesA wrote:Excellently written. I especially like how you've given each and every one of the eight series some form of recgnition in your story, be it a room or character. Lord Fear's sardonic mannerisms have been captured perfectly, and the inclusion of some of today's modern affairs and technology works pretty well too, in particular that Treguard had to eventually learn to adapt.

The whole team undertaking the quest have been portrayed as very likeable and easy to get along with, and I particularly enjoyed their adventures towards the latter parts of Level 2. The puzzles, riddles and obstacles were cleverly devised (or reworked in some cases), and then came the brilliant twist at the final encounter, which came across to me as very original - I'd have never even thought of doing something like that.

Of course, I've done this response without wanting to give away too much of the plotline - in fact, I would highly recommend this to every other Knightmare fan out there.
Wow... thank you very much for the glowing review!! I'm delighted you thought it was good! That's made my day. :)

Yeah, that is a good point about trying to respond without giving too much away... it's a shame this forum doesn't include the facility to hide spoilers behind a "reveal" button like I've seen elsewhere! (At least, I assume it doesn't.) All I can suggest is that people read the story before they read any other comments that may be posted in this thread!

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Re: Fanfic - The March of Progress

Post by HStorm » Wed Dec 29, 2010 11:24 pm

(Need to apologise in advance, but, as anyone who has read my Dr Who reviews can attest, when I don't like an aspect of a story, I will say so without hesitation.)

I hate to say this, but I am having trouble focusing on reading this. My attention keeps wandering, and I think the reason is that it's written in the present tense. It does make it feel a little 'kiddie-friendly' somehow.

From what I've managed to take in from it, the details seem fairly good - there's some good Lord F dialogue - although there does seem to be a note of 'continuity-for-the-sake-of-it', with characters and ideas from all over the series' history being drawing upon for reasons that don't really flow naturally from the story, which does seem a bit fannish. Any story that features Granitas, the Mills Of Doom, blockers and skeletrons, all in the one quest, will immediately have the audience shouting, "fanfic!!!"

There have been some good exceptions, but as a rule, I find that fics that present a quest exactly as though on TV, complete with blindfolded dungeoneer and three advisors, can be very difficult to become immersed in. I usually find fanfics are better for fleshing out the regular characters away from the dungeoneers than for trying to emulate gameplay, but I guess that's just a matter of personal preference.

The language is very tidy and well-presented, and there are some well-written passages conveying the team's fear and confusion, especially in chapter 2. But there's not a lot happening that hasn't been seen elsewhere. Maybe a few more ideas for doing fresh things with old puzzles/characters would be a help? Without them, it does seem a little generic at times.

To sum up, it's not bad, and given that the general standard of KM fanfiction is low (and yes, that certainly includes some of my own stories, especially the pre-audio ones; feel free to rip apart Theatre Of Dreams and The Chrysalis if you can find them on fanfiction.net - ;) ), I guess that makes it one of the better offerings out there. But as I say, it needs a bit more character of its own.

Sorry if I sound a bit rough, it's just the way I am when I review things. Remember though, if I thought the story was a no-hoper, I wouldn't bother saying anything or offering any suggestions for amendments.

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Re: Fanfic - The March of Progress

Post by Canadanne » Thu Dec 30, 2010 1:55 am

That's all fair enough - I know it's terribly bloated and self-indulgent, but it was written purely for my own enjoyment of exploring favourite aspects of the dungeon and the show. So if it seems "fannish", that's because it absolutely is! I really didn't intend it to be an exercise in craft... just thought I'd share the finished product in case anyone else would get some enjoyment from it, which apparently someone did, so I think it was worth doing.
HStorm wrote:I usually find fanfics are better for fleshing out the regular characters away from the dungeoneers than for trying to emulate gameplay, but I guess that's just a matter of personal preference.
That is certainly something I intend to try at some point (although I'm a little wary of posting future efforts here, having specifically requested gentle treatment and instead been greeted with a list of criticisms). As I said in my intro post, the TV quest-based approach was really just me trying to extend my own viewing experience when I ran out of real series to watch, and a chance to "fix" a few of the undesirable changes from the later years. I didn't set out to tell an original story, so I'm not surprised you feel it lacks one.

Anyway, thanks for the positive feedback you did include in a roundabout way! I'm glad you and JamesA both mentioned Lord F's dialogue as a highlight, as he is the star of the show in my opinion and I was keen to get him right. And I'm relieved by your assurance that it doesn't completely stink.

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Re: Fanfic - The March of Progress [Spoilers]

Post by Drassil » Sat Jan 25, 2014 1:11 pm

After an egregiously long delay, some feedback from me!

You are modest to call The March of Progress a 'little fantasy': the envisioning of a whole new series of Knightmare, on a consciously more epic scale than the TV studio permitted, is no small feat.

Having written a lot of Knightmare fanfiction in the present tense, I soon got used to this aspect of your narrative. Writing out Majida was a good opening move and I'm willing to bet that you wouldn't have enjoyed writing her as much as you seemed to enjoy scripting Pickle and his antechamber interactions. The team's sharpness offered many satisfying moments. In the tavern, they recognised characters (as I always wanted Knightmare contestants to), and they knew a pillory when they saw one!

Many scenes were quite gripping and your faithful yet inventive character portrayals helped immensely with that. I preferred your Snapper-Jack to Series 8's! Although the descriptions of characters' attire didn't feel necessary when they were so familiar, as with Dave Morris' KM novellas I enjoyed picking up technical terms, e.g. aventail and spandrel.

I didn't catch any mentions of the Life Force clock, and at various points I found myself wondering what it looked like, assuming the advisors could see one. Please tell us it wasn't pie-like in appearance!

Given the limitations of text, a number of the puzzle scenes work well. I particularly liked the heightening of tension in the levers scene. I had some trouble visualising the journey across the causeway: including a new 'illustration' each time a row fell away would have helped me to keep track of the dungeoneer's progress.

During the Skarkill encounter, the team were lucky not to offend him with the phrase "turning a blind eye" and lucky too that he didn't decide to capture them and take the gold anyway!

In the old Dungeon scenes, I liked your use of the term 'crack of doom' (one of the more explicit Tolkien vibes in the story) and Treguard's nostalgia for maggots! There was one line I tripped up on. In reference to the Automatum, you wrote: 'Trying to reason with it, one suspects, is probably not an option worth investigating.' I found myself asking who 'one' was. It felt a little like the narrative voice was causing a distraction at a time when the characters' reactions were sufficient to guide the storytelling.

This leads me on to a stylistic comment that (a) other readers may not feel is valid and (b) I offer constructively as something you could apply to future fanfiction. There are moments at which the narrator describes thoughts and actions when the dialogue alone would do the job. For instance: 'At the mention of spellbooks, Megan immediately lets out a sigh of relief - so they did hang onto the correct item after all! "Well done, guys; you were right!" she gratefully whispers to Louis and Bronwen. Thank goodness she had listened to them.' As a reader, Megan's direct speech was all I needed. The advisory term that some writers use is 'show, don't tell'. While I don't like to strike a negative note, giving a debut fanfic a stream of unbroken praise would feel self-consciously sycophantic and that's a path I'm wary of treading.

After first reading your Ariadne encounter in Chapter 3, I went back to reread the Ariadne scene in my first Knightmare fanfic - only to find, seven years on, that I'd somehow omitted to type it up from the handwritten draft! This was then rectified. For that, I am very grateful to you.

In Chapter 4, I enjoyed the dispelling scene, the terms 'mystic mug' and 'pointy-eared tree-huggers' and Pickle's gloating. I also appreciated your commitment to writing a final encounter that addressed some of the flaws in Knightmare's own. When I got to the end of the story, I was sad that it was over and am glad that there is a chance of further fanfiction from you.

Knightmare Audio Series crew: assuming the author is in favour, please consider dramatising The March of Progress. It's ideal.

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Re: Fanfic - The March of Progress [Spoilers]

Post by Canadanne » Sat Jan 25, 2014 6:31 pm

Blimey, that's the second nice review of this fic I've received out of the blue in as many weeks! Thank you for sharing such detailed thoughts. :) I'm not as fond of the story as I was at the time (having since read everyone else's Knightmare fanfic), but I had lots of fun writing it, so I'm glad to hear some other people enjoyed it too.

I can't remember if I gave any thought to the life force clock! There's no way my fantasy series would include that damn pie, though. ;D I'm sure they would have reinstated one of its earlier incarnations, or introduced a new one along those lines.

LOL re: turning a blind eye - I don't actually recall if I chose that phrase deliberately or not!

Yes, I have learned a lot of storytelling tips since I wrote this - I'd never really studied creative writing before, so I had no idea about POV and how to show instead of telling, etc. I've been trying hard to get my head around all that stuff. :) No worries about pointing it out; I never said constructive criticism was unwelcome, I just wasn't ready for overwhelmingly negative reviews!

I wrote a long character-based fanfic not long after this one. It's got a bunch of ideas I love, but the writing leaves a lot to be desired (for reasons like you mentioned here), so it's taking forever to knock it into shape. :( Very frustrating when you have a great desire to write but you're not a natural writer. I must have at least half a dozen stories in my head, but finding the best way to express them is another matter entirely.

Oh, I didn't realise it was my fic that made you notice the missing scene in yours! Haha. Glad to have been of service!

Thank you in particular for the very flattering remarks toward the end of this review! I like to hear about people's favourite lines/moments ("mystic mug" just wrote itself and still cracks me up, plus it would have been quite a topical joke with the National Lottery in its infancy!). The final encounter is perhaps a bit too wordy in the end, but yeah, I just wanted it to be more satisfying than some of the ones we saw. As for the suggestion of an audio adaptation, I'm not sure it's actually good enough for that, but I'm not against the idea if anyone wanted to. :)

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