Furry Writers' Guild Forum

Beta readers wanted: A Kitsune of two worlds

I am in need of a couple beta readers. I’ll give it a week’s time (after Easter). Anyone interested contact me and I’ll send a Google doc link with comments enabled.

The story is 2.6k words. The story takes on a framework of a Japanese myth. The location takes place in feudal Japan and follows the life of a samurai. Secrets are revealed and several twists happen in this very short story.

I am looking for strong reviews to critique this work and make sure it’s up publication standards.

Sure, I’ll give it a shot!

I can take a look.

PMs sent to both of you.

I see Erdwolf has already done a pretty thorough job with the technical fixes. I have not made changes to the document itself but I will try to sum up my input here:

I appreciate your dedication to immersing the reader in another culture and mythos, from the use of Japanese terms to how these characters led their lives back in that era. You stay true to how the kitsune legend and how the feudal system works. Respectful, accurate cultural portrayals make me happy. ;D

As for how the story can be stronger:
Try to show, don’t tell. I understand this story is coming from a folkloric angle/tone (the opening reads just fine), but I mean this suggestion in respect to conveying the character’s emotions and personalities. Doing this through dialogue or body language is a more involved and active process for the reader than simply saying that a character feels this emotion. Don’t just say a character is sad. Show me that she is sad. Don’t just tell me that the samurai is a quiet soul. Show me that he is, perhaps through interactions with other people, or take us into his thoughts of how he enjoys being alone at home, as opposed to losing himself in a crowd and constant noise.

On that note, try to make more streamlined, economic use of characterization, action, and description. Weave them together when you can, particularly in using action or a situation to reveal a facet of a character’s personality or appearance. Instead of “She wore a red kimono with a floral pattern imprinted on it,” you could say “Dirt dulled the flowers imprinted on her red kimono.” Another example of situation + appearance: “He almost mistook the wound on her leg for more red cloth, had her brow not been furrowed in pain” to emphasize the wounded, distraught state she’s in, in addition to revealing her appearance.

Try to use less of the passive voice. It acts as a buffer, padding the narrative when it can read more smoothly in the active voice. I’m not saying that this is absolutely forbidden. Sometimes the use of “was” is unavoidable and necessary, but as with adverbs, I would limit using passive voice as much as possible.

About the pivotal point/twist in the story: I really like it! I think it’s very sweet and makes the samurai even more likable and admirable. You can build more into this moment, such as her reaction to the revelation, her struggling to let go of her fear, or him struggling to convince her that everything will be ok. The samurai’s devotion to Inari is a great example, as well as the woman’s plight before meeting him, though I’d like to see more hints and foreshadowing of their vulpine natures leading up to this scene. Perhaps you can dwell on the samurai wondering why she’d be hunted down by a dog, and she’d be reluctant to tell him, and his kindness is even more so when he continues to look after her anyway.

This is a bold, perhaps scandalous suggestion I’m making, but I think you could cut out everything after the twist and end it there, while building more on the relationship, tension, and conflict that led up to the revelation, which I thought was the poignant highlight of the story. You don’t have to agree; after all, it’s your story and the choice is up to you. I’m only showing you an alternative route I see that’s open for you to take.

I hope any of this helps. Feel free to discuss more with me on what you think and what you plan to do.

Passive verbs is still a very “new” concept for me to fix. I still am not very clear how to remedy them.

The first version of the story ended with the reveal of the twist. I had to expand out the story to reach a bare minimum of 2.5k words.

I’m still very green at this and have been trying to get out of “telling” through a first draft as I write. Granted though, Japanese mythos is very general and “tell”.

Thank you two for the help so far and I’ll work on the story more. Let me know if either of you two want to do a follow-up pass on the story?

I sent you a PM :slight_smile:

Project completed. No more need for beta readers.