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TEEN: Storm Island

Hi! Here to post my comments from the awards. I've been interested in this fic for a while so it was a good opportunity to see what the fic was all about, with all the good things I've heard about it!

Plot

With what I know about the story, I get the feeling that it started as an unconventional journey fic and has slowly strayed away from that concept as the story's gone on. But after reading almost six chapters, I can't get a sense of what the plot is other than that. It seems to be borderline slice-of-life, maybe, as Andrea and Kimberly explore various regions and islands and try to make sense of who they are. I can't say for sure.

Setting

I don't know much about the setting of Storm Island itself, but I read about some other islands and the amount of thought and detail that went into the island's customs, technology, agriculture, and everything else was an absolute pleasure to read. Kimberly Prescott does a good job of portraying how diverse and complex the world really is, which I had hoped for when I learned that the story's setting was fanmade.

Characterisation

The dialogue can be clumsy sometimes, though there are some gems in there that I loved. Aside from Andrea and to a certain extent Kimberly, the characters seem melodramatic or not quite developed. Brother Dent from the Mistweaving ceremony seemed unrealistic in particular. He claims nonstop to know very little about the power that is Mistweaving, yet he's studied and performed it for decades. It may have been more believable to have him express his personal opinions on the matter, then state that they were personal opinions rather than irrefutable facts.

There's also the matter of characters and their emotions. I'm not convinced by them. Andrea's moping in particular I see very little reason for other than that she was a pessimist since the day she was born. The foundation for their emotions is there, but the execution needs work.

Style

The improvement between chapter 1 and the recommended reading is very obvious. The description is more polished and vivid, and the pacing is solid as well. The dialogue and emotional stuff remains to be a struggle, however.

Technical

There were a few typos, mostly during dialogue-heavy scenes. There should be commas attached to dialogue tags, not periods. But that's an easy fix and doesn't distract from the overall story, and neither do any other typos I found.

*

Kimberly Fairbrooke

Depth

Kimberly is interesting in that she knows how fortunate and gifted she is in life, but she goes about her life as if that fortune/those gifts aren't really important to her. That's not to say that she mopes around and thinks her suffering to be above everyone else's, nor does she exploit her good fortune. I like that she doesn't seem to take herself too seriously, and that she's able to be carefree and happy because of it.

What also interests me is her background. With the recommended chapters, I don't know much about her background, but with the way her dialogue is worded, I can tell she comes from a very different culture than the one she's exploring. I can always support diversity in fics.

Development

With the recommended chapters, you see Kimberly try Mistweaving, which is a miraculous power that can be bestowed upon pokemon (especially water-types) and occasionally humans. When Kimberly fails the test, she isn't downtrodden. She wants to stay and study, but doesn't seem to find it worthwhile. When her Blastoise exhibits Mistweaving potential, however, she feels the same way. I'm wondering what logic went behind her turning down learning about a miraculous power such as Mistweaving when clearly she had the potential for it. So I'm giving this section a 5/10 because she declined the chance for character development, and I saw no good reason for it.

Originality

It's hard, in my opinion, to make a character who's always positive and carefree interesting to read about, but Kimberly Prescott does it pretty well. You see that Kimberly's been treated pretty badly despite being so positive and carefree... which you would think are good traits to have in a friend, but in the story, it seems that she was taken advantage of for it instead. To see Kimberly Prescott take a unique road for this character and have her find a friend who actually cares is heartwarming.

Entertainment Value

I feel that the story's dialogue can be a bit off sometimes, but there were some gems in there that I really loved, especially with Kimberly's dialogue. Her unique speaking style adds to her entertainment value most of the time as well.

Contribution to the Story

Going back to having Kimberly find a friend who cares for her... What I liked most about the relationship between Kimberly and Andrea is not the romantic implications, but the fact that they just barely met and are already this close. That happens more often in real life than you'd think, but stories tend to portray relationships that slowly develop over time. It's hinted heavily that their escalating relationship may not work out because of how fast it's developing, which I also find realistic and a good character dynamic to explore.
 
There's a couple of things I'd like to respond to, regarding your review:

Development

With the recommended chapters, you see Kimberly try Mistweaving, which is a miraculous power that can be bestowed upon pokemon (especially water-types) and occasionally humans. When Kimberly fails the test, she isn't downtrodden. She wants to stay and study, but doesn't seem to find it worthwhile. When her Blastoise exhibits Mistweaving potential, however, she feels the same way. I'm wondering what logic went behind her turning down learning about a miraculous power such as Mistweaving when clearly she had the potential for it. So I'm giving this section a 5/10 because she declined the chance for character development, and I saw no good reason for it.
It's unfortunate my score was dropped so heavily because of her choice to leave the monastery, since most readers know why she'd do so as it's touched on in other chapters. Can't go back and change the scores, but it's not like it'd matter anyways. She still had no chance against Sai/Atis :p

Anyways, and I'll spoiler tag this if you haven't read the other chapters and are interested in doing so later, but there are two reasons she left the monastery, one obvious and one not so obvious:

The obvious reason, that had been touched on throughout pretty much the entirety of the Sakala storyline, is that she's trying to find her way home back home after taking an unexpected vacation. To stay and learn the art of the Mistweaver would have taken time she simply didn't have. Instead, she's going to try to wing it on the road via the book she picked up at the gift shop.

The not so obvious reason, which is revealed in her diary entry, is that she was certain she was falling for Andrea already. She made a wish upon a well to ask for clarity regarding her feelings, and as little 'signs' started to become apparent, she felt more and more attached to her. She'd already found one of the best friends she's ever had, and one she's growing attracted to, she didn't want to lose that by staying behind.

I can say that she doesn't necessarily need to be at the monastery to learn the art she showed such an interest in, and her attempts to do so are part of a larger development plot I have planned for her.

Depth

Kimberly is interesting in that she knows how fortunate and gifted she is in life, but she goes about her life as if that fortune/those gifts aren't really important to her. That's not to say that she mopes around and thinks her suffering to be above everyone else's, nor does she exploit her good fortune. I like that she doesn't seem to take herself too seriously, and that she's able to be carefree and happy because of it.
I always kind of saw her as an extension of myself, in a way. Not a self insert, I hope, since there's still a lot that's radically different between me and her, but this specifically is what I identify with. I'm not exactly fortunate, or particularly gifted in anything, quite the opposite. I'm poor as hell and average at best at the things I strive to achieve my best at. I'm always teetering on the brink of failure, but the most important thing is to never let it get me down. I try my hardest not to let my circumstances define who I am. I take my suffering in stride because I always know there are people out there who have it worse than I do. I just try to be happy with what I have, and I usually achieve that by remembering it could always be worse. That's the kind of thinking I wanted to apply to her and it brings me joy to see that I've managed to do that.

What also interests me is her background. With the recommended chapters, I don't know much about her background, but with the way her dialogue is worded, I can tell she comes from a very different culture than the one she's exploring. I can always support diversity in fics.

...but there were some gems in there that I really loved, especially with Kimberly's dialogue. Her unique speaking style adds to her entertainment value most of the time as well.
She comes from Kanto, and while it's not explicitly explored all that much, I've taken a lot of liberties with that region that I just haven't had the opportunity to write about yet. Rather than retain its primarily modern Japanese inspiration, I took it in a different direction and based it off of England. When I mention her accent (not sure I've done that in the recommended chapters), I always imagined a British Oxford accent, and I tried to capture that in the way she speaks.

Now, onto the comments about the story itself:

Plot

With what I know about the story, I get the feeling that it started as an unconventional journey fic and has slowly strayed away from that concept as the story's gone on. But after reading almost six chapters, I can't get a sense of what the plot is other than that. It seems to be borderline slice-of-life, maybe, as Andrea and Kimberly explore various regions and islands and try to make sense of who they are. I can't say for sure.
Correct for the most part. It was originally intended to be a run of the mill journey fic where Andrea does a few favors for the professor while she conquers the gyms despite having no idea what she was doing. Thankfully it quickly diverged from that. I'm not sure what to describe it now, really, though slice-of-life probably most accurately describes the majority of season 2, as both do a lot of personal discovery while on the road in Sakala. Once that's over, it'll probably be going back to pseudo-journey, though the slice-of-life aspect will remain.

Characterisation

The dialogue can be clumsy sometimes, though there are some gems in there that I loved.
I think the problem here is that I'm writing as I speak in real life. Lots of bumbling, lots of umming and uhhing, and lots of drawn out, roundabout ways of saying simple things. It's what I know and what I'm comfortable with, so it's what I do. And yes, people do tell me that it's a nightmare to talk to me in real life

Aside from Andrea and to a certain extent Kimberly, the characters seem melodramatic or not quite developed. Brother Dent from the Mistweaving ceremony seemed unrealistic in particular. He claims nonstop to know very little about the power that is Mistweaving, yet he's studied and performed it for decades. It may have been more believable to have him express his personal opinions on the matter, then state that they were personal opinions rather than irrefutable facts.
Actually, regarding Brother Dent, I intended for him to be a younger character, maybe in his mid 30s. He was down on his luck and couldn't handle the pressures of modern life in the big city, so he ventured to the monastery to find his spirituality, and decided to stay and study the art of Mistweaving for about a year before Andrea and Kimberly met him. I need to remember to actually describe these details instead of just list them out in my notes, otherwise details like them never get across to the reader and cause confusion.

There's also the matter of characters and their emotions. I'm not convinced by them. Andrea's moping in particular I see very little reason for other than that she was a pessimist since the day she was born. The foundation for their emotions is there, but the execution needs work.
Unfortunately that's a bit more difficult for me to work on. I don't really do emotion all that much in real life so I don't have much experience to draw from, and it clearly shows in chapters where there's large amounts of dialogue between characters that genuinely care for each other. I'm not sure what to do about it, other than meticulously study what should be natural. It can be difficult to do, to get a grasp on something people generally don't talk about in much depth because 'everyone' already knows it.

Anyways, hopefully some of this rambling has further piqued your interest enough to give the rest of the story a go, as it's always nice to bring another reader into the fold.
 
It's unfortunate my score was dropped so heavily because of her choice to leave the monastery, since most readers know why she'd do so as it's touched on in other chapters. Can't go back and change the scores, but it's not like it'd matter anyways. She still had no chance against Sai/Atis :p

Unfortunately, the judge of your story is never guaranteed to already be a frequent reader of your story, nor is it guaranteed that your frequent reader is going to remember all the details/reread the story. Not to mention a judge who hasn't read your story and doesn't have time to read anything but the first chapter, the most recent chapter, and the recommended ones. :(

Having read the reasons, even if the obvious reason was pointed out, Kimberly wanting to go back home doesn't change my opinion about her leaving the monastery because I don't know why she wants to go back home. I don't know anything about her home, either. I do remember reading about wanting to go home, though... and that a lot of things have kept her away. But I didn't feel how motivated she was to go back home through the story's writing itself.

As for the second reason, I got the impression that she wanted to stay with Andrea, but... that didn't impact me much, either. I'm a sap for romantic stuff, too, so it's not that I don't care for the reason itself. Mistweaving was depicted in the story as an absolutely amazing power that very few people in the world possess, and Kimberly was shown to have potential to wield it (or, at least, Juliano did, which makes Kimberly have some potential by extension). Another downside to having a judge that doesn't have time to read the rest of the story is that I didn't know the context of the rest of your worldbuilding. I'm wondering if there's a lot in your worldverse that is actually comparable to Mistweaving - ie. Mistweaving is not actually as magical/amazingly rare as it's portrayed to be in the chapters I read.

As an obvious example: animals with a pokemon's power in the real world would be an absolutely amazing power that people would do anything to obtain, but in the pokemon world it's just commonplace.

If your worldbuilding is relatively similar to what real life is - ie. Mistweaving really IS rare and amazing and all-powerful - then it doesn't make sense to me that Kimberly would go try to "wing it" because she has an emerging crush on Andrea that may or may not end up as anything at all.

I forget the specific differences between Kimberly and Andrea, but I do remember they both felt they'd finally found a true friend after feeling lonely for a long time. Which is fine, and would have explained more to me because emotions make people do crazy stuff sometimes, but I didn't feel the emotion in that either.

I can say that she doesn't necessarily need to be at the monastery to learn the art she showed such an interest in, and her attempts to do so are part of a larger development plot I have planned for her.

That first part made me question just how "hard" you really have to study to be a Mistweaver, or how rare Mistweaving really is, because Brother Dent - or someone, at least - implied several years' worth of intense dedication.

She comes from Kanto, and while it's not explicitly explored all that much, I've taken a lot of liberties with that region that I just haven't had the opportunity to write about yet. Rather than retain its primarily modern Japanese inspiration, I took it in a different direction and based it off of England. When I mention her accent (not sure I've done that in the recommended chapters), I always imagined a British Oxford accent, and I tried to capture that in the way she speaks.

That makes more sense, and I kind of imagined that in my head at some bits so it works, I just wasn't sure if that was the intention!

I think the problem here is that I'm writing as I speak in real life. Lots of bumbling, lots of umming and uhhing, and lots of drawn out, roundabout ways of saying simple things. It's what I know and what I'm comfortable with, so it's what I do. And yes, people do tell me that it's a nightmare to talk to me in real life

I might recommend writing emotions in a drawn out, roundabout way of saying simple things as well. Whatever you produce with that doesn't have to be put in the chapter itself, but if you are having trouble portraying emotions and whatnot, trying to explain it in a million confusing words and then trying to cut down may get you closer to having it feel real than avoiding/glancing over it.

Actually, regarding Brother Dent, I intended for him to be a younger character, maybe in his mid 30s. He was down on his luck and couldn't handle the pressures of modern life in the big city, so he ventured to the monastery to find his spirituality, and decided to stay and study the art of Mistweaving for about a year before Andrea and Kimberly met him. I need to remember to actually describe these details instead of just list them out in my notes, otherwise details like them never get across to the reader and cause confusion.

Yeah, I didn't quite get all those details! And it also gave me the impression that Mistweaving took decades to master, thus rendering it unbelievable for Kimberly to simply "wing it".

It can be difficult to do, to get a grasp on something people generally don't talk about in much depth because 'everyone' already knows it.

Not sure what you mean here. Do you mean that people don't talk about their emotions in-depth because their emotions are obvious and not worth talking about, or?
 
Unfortunately, the judge of your story is never guaranteed to already be a frequent reader of your story, nor is it guaranteed that your frequent reader is going to remember all the details/reread the story. Not to mention a judge who hasn't read your story and doesn't have time to read anything but the first chapter, the most recent chapter, and the recommended ones. :(
Yeah, fair enough. It's just a bummer, I guess. It's kind of disappointing to have your work judged 'inaccurately' due to time constraints, but it's all we can do really. As a judge myself, I was certainly guilty of it anyways, so is there room to complain?

Having read the reasons, even if the obvious reason was pointed out, Kimberly wanting to go back home doesn't change my opinion about her leaving the monastery because I don't know why she wants to go back home. I don't know anything about her home, either. I do remember reading about wanting to go home, though... and that a lot of things have kept her away. But I didn't feel how motivated she was to go back home through the story's writing itself.
This has given me a bit of thought, if any of my characters are nominated for "Best" categories next awards: Kimberly is no doubt a complex character who has a lot going on with her. I highlighted the chapters I thought would best show off what is, currently, one of her big development plotlines. What I failed to do was realize how interconnected everything about her is. The chapters I suggested put what I wanted to show forward, but the details I wanted the judges to see were built on other details that weren't evident or referenced in those chapters. Essentially, I gave a zoomed in look at her while missing out on the big picture, and the big picture is key to understanding her as a character.

Perhaps next time I should choose something a little less grand and focus on something that's more easily digestible. That carries its own risks, I guess, but it might improve my chances of having my characters being interpreted 'correctly' (not to say that you interpreted her incorrectly!).

Another downside to having a judge that doesn't have time to read the rest of the story is that I didn't know the context of the rest of your worldbuilding. I'm wondering if there's a lot in your worldverse that is actually comparable to Mistweaving - ie. Mistweaving is not actually as magical/amazingly rare as it's portrayed to be in the chapters I read.
There is, actually. A cult centered around blood magic, which is apparently wieldable without any specific training, was explored in season 1, and there's another form of 'magic' that I'm hoping to get into later on in the story. Mistweaving is incredible, yes, but not exactly unique.

But I do get where you're coming from. If someone's first exposure to the paranormal was Mistweaving, they'd probably feel compelled to study it closer with the actual practitioners. Perhaps a bit of thought down that road would have been beneficial. Still, she has her own life to get back to and a career in the arts she wants to focus on, and it would have been the third major focus in her life she'd have dropped if she stayed to study it.

I forget the specific differences between Kimberly and Andrea, but I do remember they both felt they'd finally found a true friend after feeling lonely for a long time. Which is fine, and would have explained more to me because emotions make people do crazy stuff sometimes, but I didn't feel the emotion in that either.
This is what bums me the most. The growing emotional bond between them is the most important thing I wanted to establish with these two characters, and I'm not succeeding at that? I've put so much effort into it and it didn't even cross my mind that it hasn't been effective. I wouldn't even know where to begin to fix that.

That first part made me question just how "hard" you really have to study to be a Mistweaver, or how rare Mistweaving really is, because Brother Dent - or someone, at least - implied several years' worth of intense dedication.
Without getting too spoilery (for even regular readers), all I can say is that spirituality can be deceptively simple, and it is man's nature to make a mountain out of a mole hill. The monks state that it takes years of study and working on spiritual harmony, but is that true? It may just be their own understanding of forces that the mind can't fully comprehend. Perhaps there's something else to the power of Mistweaving that they have taken for granted that they haven't factored into their mastery. Or perhaps it's just plot armor kind of thing and I'm boosting her capablities to make her an interesting character and speed her development along.

As far as winging it is concerned, that is why I had her purchase that book at the gift shop (can't remember if that was in one of the recommended chapters). It's intended to delve into the spirituality of the monks and explain what they know of their powers. While it would serve greatly as a general 'this is what we know, and this is how to do it', they stated that it might not give her the complete picture she'd need to understand and practice the art herself.

I might recommend writing emotions in a drawn out, roundabout way of saying simple things as well. Whatever you produce with that doesn't have to be put in the chapter itself, but if you are having trouble portraying emotions and whatnot, trying to explain it in a million confusing words and then trying to cut down may get you closer to having it feel real than avoiding/glancing over it.
I'll give that method a try. Thanks!

Not sure what you mean here. Do you mean that people don't talk about their emotions in-depth because their emotions are obvious and not worth talking about, or?
Yeah, pretty much. It's generally expected that an average person in a modern society understands the nuances of emotion, since emotion is core to being a complete person. Having been bullied early in my life and largely withdrawn the rest of it has made me miss out on that. Now that I'm coming out of my shell and seeing that my ability to interpret emotions other than anger and hostility need work, I'm having trouble with it. When I look for research or commentary on the subject, I either find stuff that's way over my head and needs a master's degree in psychology to understand, or people simply gloss over the concept of emotion, 'because everyone knows what it is' already.

Like, I'm having difficulty finding any information on how to portray certain emotions, and the background work that goes into those emotions, if that makes any sense. The most I can find is a cookie cutter, 'this is how you should do it', but I don't want cookie cutter. I want to understand why, rather than how. I dunno. Even my understanding of the concept of emotions is tough to describe. Maybe I understand it more than I tell myself, but it really doesn't feel like it sometimes.
 
So, I'mg oing to be lazy and just kind of outright copy paste what I wrote for the awards.

Storm Island

Plot 6/10: Storm Island’s plot is actually pretty simple and linear once you think about it, at least up until the big switch in later chapters it’s a journey fic minus the act of getting badges. Even after its switch the plot ends up falling back to what it was before. However, the thing that makes the plot interesting is the way that Prescott presents it and the little details she does with it, essentially turning the whole situation of dealing with Team Rocket into a more complicated affair than just random encounters with the members. It does suffer from being pretty slow though and while it takes its time to let you know the characters the story itself ends up dragging.


Setting 8/10: The setting in Storm Island is one of the three things that make it stand out for me. Prescott’s setting isn’t overly explained or detailed in how it’s presented but it’s very creatively done and you can tell that she’s gone to great lengths in order to present it as best as she can and showcase how it all works organically with the story. This gets even better once we switch over to the Region of Sakala that allows her to showcase a new variety of settings that haven’t been seen before in any Pokemon medium, it’s honestly inspiring. Sadly while I liked the Storm Island setting too it was a lot more conventional in what was portrayed aside from a few of the settings showcased so I have to discount some points in that area.


Characterization 7/10: The characters in Storm Island also do a good job of selling the story to its readers. Every character at least has a distinctive personality that’s clearly influenced with the way the world around them spins, Andrea and Kimberly in particular are very relatable and they along with some other characters end up coming off more like actual people and help the world feel like it’s been lived in.


Unfortunately not all characters get to have the characterization they deserve, with some of them being actual main characters for a while in the story. Also while the characters are convincing and help sell the world they live in they’re more interesting when they are together as opposed to them being separate, again with the exception of Andrea and Kimberly who have both shown to be interesting even when they’re on their own.


Style 9/10: And this is the last area where Storm Island truly shines for me. The thing that helps clinch the deal is the way in which the story is shown through it’s vivid, fast paced description and flow. It all goes by smoothly and in a way that allows you to clearly (or at least mostly clearly) imagine what’s going on and where it’s going on without needing an excess of description. It also rarely slows down the pace which in itself works really well for this story and helps make it better whereas a lot of fics doing what Storm Island is doing might feel slow and unending (even if the story does drag in parts like I mentioned before).


Technical 10/10: I honestly don’t have much to say in this regard. Grammar-wise Storm Island is as good as you could possibly want it to be, maybe it could be better but as it is right now it’s still entertaining.


Overall 75/100: Storm Island is by no means perfect, it’s got a lot of things to work on in the story department mainly and it still has to work on the way it treats all of its main characters. It however is still a fun story to read and one I’d recommend to anyone interested in Pokemon fanfics.

Kimberly Fairbrooke from Storm Island


Depth 8/10: When Kimberly was first introduced I didn’t think she’d be anything more but a rich girl coordinator or something along those lines, I was certainly surprised when she stuck around for more than a couple of chapters and even moreso when she became Andrea’s third traveling companion at the start of the Sakala arc.


Since then Kimberly’s character has been explored more to the point where we’ve seen a lot of the facets she has that aren’t related to what she is but to who she is. She’s got her own insecurities but hides them by being cheerful and trying to stay positive, she’s an experienced trainer but she’s only gotten as far as she’s gotten after a lot of thinking about what she wanted to be and a lot of struggling to get there. Overall, I think she’s an interesting character to explore and is the best companion Andrea’s had by her side.


Development 8/10: Kimberly as hole hasn’t changed in her overall personality since she was first introduced, but she has grown and learned a lot since she was first added to the story. Whether that’d be going up against the wildlife in Sakala or almost dying or just learning to deal with someone like Andrea and trying to find more about herself, she’s still grown and faced a lot of things that have made her different from who she was before.


Originality 7/10: I wouldn’t exactly say Kimberly’s character is original, she does still represent the rich girl archetype, just it’s the more fancy and respectful side of it rather than the spoiled one. However, it’s the things that Prescott adds to her character that help her come out as a better, plus there are some…extra developments there that really help her stand out.


Entertainment Value 10/10: Now, the thing with this category is that technically it can vary depending on the one judging the character. I myself love Kimberly, I’ll write paragraphs of why but really all I can say is that I like her so much I wouldn’t mind having a spinoff fic just about how she became who she was when she was first introduced into Storm Island.


Contribution to the Plot 5/10: See, this is where Kimberly kind of falls apart for me, this depends on what plot you’re looking at. If you’re looking at Andrea’s journey then Kimberly does play a large role in supporting Andrea and being someone for her to get to know and confide in. However, since Storm Island has a bigger (albeit slower) plot in its story we have to consider that too. In the bigger scheme of things Kimberly actually isn’t that important sadly, this is mostly due to the fact that ever since she was introduced the bigger plot has been put on hold but in general she’s not that important to it.


Overall 80/100
 
Yeah, fair enough. It's just a bummer, I guess. It's kind of disappointing to have your work judged 'inaccurately' due to time constraints, but it's all we can do really. As a judge myself, I was certainly guilty of it anyways, so is there room to complain?

Might be something to bring up with AceTrainer14, then. I think to avoid issues he removed scoring in the "Best" categories anyway, not sure if he'll have any other ideas.

This has given me a bit of thought, if any of my characters are nominated for "Best" categories next awards: Kimberly is no doubt a complex character who has a lot going on with her. I highlighted the chapters I thought would best show off what is, currently, one of her big development plotlines. What I failed to do was realize how interconnected everything about her is. The chapters I suggested put what I wanted to show forward, but the details I wanted the judges to see were built on other details that weren't evident or referenced in those chapters. Essentially, I gave a zoomed in look at her while missing out on the big picture, and the big picture is key to understanding her as a character.

Perhaps next time I should choose something a little less grand and focus on something that's more easily digestible. That carries its own risks, I guess, but it might improve my chances of having my characters being interpreted 'correctly' (not to say that you interpreted her incorrectly!).

I notice a lot of people like to put recommended chapters that are all right next to each other, too. I wouldn't be opposed to reading a story for the awards that has random recommended chapters (chapter 3, 7, 10, 15, or something). Something else to consider, maybe!

There is, actually. A cult centered around blood magic, which is apparently wieldable without any specific training, was explored in season 1, and there's another form of 'magic' that I'm hoping to get into later on in the story. Mistweaving is incredible, yes, but not exactly unique.

But I do get where you're coming from. If someone's first exposure to the paranormal was Mistweaving, they'd probably feel compelled to study it closer with the actual practitioners. Perhaps a bit of thought down that road would have been beneficial. Still, she has her own life to get back to and a career in the arts she wants to focus on, and it would have been the third major focus in her life she'd have dropped if she stayed to study it.

That makes more sense, then. The dialogue and shock that was portrayed in the story threw me off there.

As a general note for your response: it's okay to reflect back on the past events of your story. Retelling them can be boring, but there are ways to make it interesting. So having the narrative reflect back on other forms of magic in your worldverse would be acceptable, and would have shaped the worldbuilding better for me as a new reader that judged your story. This also applies to emotions and backstories. Saying "this is how I felt then, this is how I feel now and it's different/the same" is acceptable and a good refresher even for frequent readers. Recalling new facts or expanding on already-revealed facts about Kimberly's hometown would have been okay too. Like you said, all those little details you outline in your notes can definitely help. Together they build a stronger context/image of your world for your readers, and bringing important details back over and over can strengthen your story as well.

This is what bums me the most. The growing emotional bond between them is the most important thing I wanted to establish with these two characters, and I'm not succeeding at that? I've put so much effort into it and it didn't even cross my mind that it hasn't been effective. I wouldn't even know where to begin to fix that.

Well. Let me reword what I said to make it more clear. I didn't feel the emotion in regards to why Kimberly would give up studying Mistweaving at the monastery in order to stay with Andrea. It's very clear to me that Kimberly has feelings for Andrea, and that those feelings have been developing quickly and are growing by the day. And the past reflection on feeling lonely/misunderstood got through very well. But with its placement in the story and with the lack of context with worldbuilding, I had expected Kimberly to debate the pros and cons of staying/leaving more than she did. Though since I know now there's comparable magic to Mistweaving and your reasoning for spirituality being deceptive and whatnot, that lessens the complaint a bit. I still might recommend having put something more about it in the letter, otherwise a frequent reader possibly could argue that that diary entry could've been placed at a later time in the story almost word-for-word and it would have been fine. If that makes sense.

Without getting too spoilery (for even regular readers), all I can say is that spirituality can be deceptively simple, and it is man's nature to make a mountain out of a mole hill. The monks state that it takes years of study and working on spiritual harmony, but is that true? It may just be their own understanding of forces that the mind can't fully comprehend. Perhaps there's something else to the power of Mistweaving that they have taken for granted that they haven't factored into their mastery. Or perhaps it's just plot armor kind of thing and I'm boosting her capablities to make her an interesting character and speed her development along. As far as winging it is concerned, that is why I had her purchase that book at the gift shop (can't remember if that was in one of the recommended chapters). It's intended to delve into the spirituality of the monks and explain what they know of their powers. While it would serve greatly as a general 'this is what we know, and this is how to do it', they stated that it might not give her the complete picture she'd need to understand and practice the art herself.

The explanation words for me with the context you gave me.

Yeah, pretty much. It's generally expected that an average person in a modern society understands the nuances of emotion, since emotion is core to being a complete person. Having been bullied early in my life and largely withdrawn the rest of it has made me miss out on that. Now that I'm coming out of my shell and seeing that my ability to interpret emotions other than anger and hostility need work, I'm having trouble with it. When I look for research or commentary on the subject, I either find stuff that's way over my head and needs a master's degree in psychology to understand, or people simply gloss over the concept of emotion, 'because everyone knows what it is' already.

Like, I'm having difficulty finding any information on how to portray certain emotions, and the background work that goes into those emotions, if that makes any sense. The most I can find is a cookie cutter, 'this is how you should do it', but I don't want cookie cutter. I want to understand why, rather than how. I dunno. Even my understanding of the concept of emotions is tough to describe. Maybe I understand it more than I tell myself, but it really doesn't feel like it sometimes.

There's some things here I agree with, and some I don't. I think you're right in that it's expected for people to understand the nuances of emotion, or emotions in general... but I think the reality is that no one actually does. I've found from personal experience and from listening to a lot of drama over the course of the last several years is that people who expect others to automatically understand their emotions without them having to express the emotion at all nearly always ends in disaster. No one is a mind reader, so how is someone supposed to know your emotions? Also, if there are some emotions a person wants to hide and works to hide, why would that even be considered a possibility if everyone just "knew"? No one just understands emotion all the time, and I don't think anyone ever will because everyone is always changing in some way or another - so assuming emotion is a waste of time as well. What made me angry yesterday might not make me angry today, but it might make me angry again tomorrow. Why? Well, that differs for everyone too, based on past experiences and a whole lot of other things.

Another thing is trying to understand your own emotions. I might think I know what's causing me to be angry right now, but if I delve deep down into past experiences and the whole lot of other things that caused me to be angry, I might be surprised at the answer. The answer might have absolutely nothing to do with the current situation at all, but is completely based on an unresolved conflict that made me angry forever ago. No one answers "why" not because "everyone knows what it is" already, but because they don't really know and don't want others they don't know. If they DO know, chances are they are afraid to admit it or that they don't quite fully understand it themselves, but they're getting there.

But of course, everything I just put could just be the truth for my experiences and not yours/someone else's. No one really knows that, either. It makes life frustrating, but interesting. :p
 
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Plot 6/10: Storm Island’s plot is actually pretty simple and linear once you think about it, at least up until the big switch in later chapters it’s a journey fic minus the act of getting badges. Even after its switch the plot ends up falling back to what it was before.
I think this part will always kind of struggle, as the plot is designed to be relatively straight forward: girl is hired as research assistant, girl is assigned projects, girl travels to projects and completes them, girl is assigned next project. Along the way she'll run into unrelated problems or take some time to find her own experiences, but that will always be the core of it. Along the way I've tried to break it up by bringing in some branches that do try to tie in together, but those are destined to be linear as well. Kamin's spinoff (gotta get back to work on that) was one of those branches, as is the Team Rocket branch.

I don't see how I can weave together multiple, intersecting plots without adding lots of new characters, and that would only serve to slow down the story which is something I'm desperately trying not to let happen.

Though I probably can say that the lessons Andrea learns and the things she sees in Sakala will have a direct impact on later plots in the story. I've already vaguely alluded to this in two chapters(I won't say which, because that will spoil some things) It's not just a grand distraction from the plot, even if it looks like it.

It does suffer from being pretty slow though and while it takes its time to let you know the characters the story itself ends up dragging.
I think this is a consequence of how infrequently I update it rather than with the story itself. There are very few chapters I'd consider 'filler' that serve no purpose; a chapter either pushes the plot along, provides some insight into the setting, or focuses heavily on character development. I guess the time spent in Letchworth kinda dragged on, but I digress. I'd probably be content with the pacing of the episodes and the length of the series if this were to be made into a faithful TV adaptation.

For example, with the Sakala storyline, I did plan on it being similar in length to season 1, which I felt moved on fairly reasonably. My decision to change which route the girls took may extend the season by 4-6 chapters, but maybe also cut down the time they spend in one location for too long.

Your input is valued, however, and I want to hear it. What are the things that felt a bit slow to you? I'll review them and see what I can learn from them to make future chapters/arcs a little quicker.

Prescott’s setting isn’t overly explained or detailed in how it’s presented but it’s very creatively done and you can tell that she’s gone to great lengths in order to present it as best as she can and showcase how it all works organically with the story. This gets even better once we switch over to the Region of Sakala that allows her to showcase a new variety of settings that haven’t been seen before in any Pokemon medium, it’s honestly inspiring.
:D

Sadly while I liked the Storm Island setting too it was a lot more conventional in what was portrayed aside from a few of the settings showcased
This should be fixed a bit once the action returns to Storm Island. Some of the early issues with the setting revolve around @Caitlin; 's desire to keep the world within the bounds of believable realism, where it's just another ordinary country in a modern, Earth-like world, with a few exaggerations mixed in (a forest that doesn't get sunlight, for example). Now that I'm at the helm, I hope to make things a bit more unique with each visited location, and each one will have some sort of not-so-standard quality about it to make it stand out. Hopefully Azure Ridge and Silvermist will also get a bit of sprucing up if/when they're visited again.

Unfortunately not all characters get to have the characterization they deserve, with some of them being actual main characters for a while in the story.
Which ones, Kamin (and probably Larson, since he's unlikely to return as a main character) aside, did you feel didn't get a proper look? Officer McKenna comes to mind as there isn't much about her past that's known yet, but she's only recently come into the spotlight.

I myself love Kimberly, I’ll write paragraphs of why but really all I can say is that I like her so much I wouldn’t mind having a spinoff fic just about how she became who she was when she was first introduced into Storm Island.
This has crossed my mind, actually. According to my notes, she landed on Storm Island about a week before Andrea's story began in chapter 1 and participated in a contest in the city she arrived in, and it's something I'd like to explore. Her interactions with her giant, menacing bodyguard (RIP) while on the road or in town would make for some amusing chapters as well. It's just a question of time and the drive to do so. It probably comes as no secret that while I love the story I'm writing, my motivation to continue writing it has been waning in recent months. Adding more to the plate would probably kill what's left.

In the bigger scheme of things Kimberly actually isn’t that important sadly, this is mostly due to the fact that ever since she was introduced the bigger plot has been put on hold but in general she’s not that important to it.
She's not important to Andrea's continuing experiences as the professor's assistant, but she'll have a lot going on herself. She's actually intended to be a second main character rather than a supporting character, but I'm not sure I'm comfortable saying she's reached that position yet. Once she returns to Storm Island and starts competing in contests again, as well as getting into her own distractions while in the road, I'll promote her.

That's probably why she didn't do as well as I hoped she would in the awards (despite winning? Listen to my baseless complaining!). I'm setting her up to be something different than what people perceive her as.

Anyways, and I can't say this enough, but thank you, all of you, who continue to read this story. Even if there are bumps along the way, it's really done wonders for my self-confidence.
 
chapter 51
Storm Island
Chapter 51: The Hound and the Mountain Lion

Nearly an hour passed as Andrea and Kimberly made their way north towards the mountains of Yulong-la. Neither knew what to expect of them, so they romanticized an idea based on the name of the mountains: Jade Dragon Cliffs.

Kimberly pictured something out of fantasy. She expected to see tall cliffs of silky smooth jade, cut by raging rivers and waterfalls, carved by the wind and delicately polished by time, accompanied by large steppes of lush and fertile grass. Images of large dragon statues carved into the sides of the mountains filled her head. Along the pathways, she hoped, would be beautiful and ornate structures, designed to highlight the deep culture and history of the land.

Andrea had a different picture in her head. She tried to deconstruct the name; she thought it was unlikely that the cliffs were indeed made of jade. Rather, she thought, the area may have earned its name from some sort of local tale. She understood the local population as a superstitious people, still wrapped up in ancient myths and legends. Perhaps a powerful dragon-like Pokémon made its home here many centuries ago. Maybe even a legendary warlord who styled himself as the Jade Dragon centered his holdings in these foothills, and a great palace erected to honor his accomplishments would be there.

It became quickly evident that neither were right. As they climbed higher and higher through the winding, rocky trails, the land became more barren and desolate. The green tinge of the stone around them seemed to fade as they progressed further into the mountains, the plant life started to thin and the trees began to appear wiry and moribund. Even the air started to feel stagnant and the wind began to die down. There were no grand buildings or ornate structures, just bland, rough rock. It was the opposite of what they expected.

"This place is ugly, isn't it?" Andrea asked. "Want to turn back?"

Kimberly was conflicted. The visuals were depressing, but she was certain there was more to the surrounding wilderness than met the eye. "Let's keep going. Surely there's more to this place, the travel brochures said so!"

"Maybe it's a tourist trap... We can't rule that out."

"Hmm..."

Andrea began to search for information about the Jade Dragon Cliffs on her R-Kit. She hoped to find some sort of review of the area by a previous visitor, but there was very little information about it. There were a few unhelpful and uninformative reviews by locals, and the Sakala Board of Tourism's website was remarkably brief about the area. "I'm not finding anything."

"Nothing?"

"Unless you count 'My wife and I enjoyed our time at the Mojjan Hotspring!', no. Nothing."

Kimberly's face lit up upon the mention of a hotspring. "That is something! I'd love to check out a hotspring!" she said with excitement. "It's been so long since I've been to one..."

"Do you think we'll even find it?" she asked, trying to locate it on the map.

"We should definitely try! It'd be so relaxing to soak in some nice, hot water..."

Indifference is all that Andrea felt. She really wanted to press on with their journey to Mankala, but she also didn't see the harm in exploring a country she might never visit again. She unwrapped the R-Kit from her wrist and handed it to Kimberly, then pointed down the trail in front of her. "Lead the way."

As they made their way across the precarious cliffs and through the dusty valleys, they noticed how quiet it was. Fellow travellers were few and far between, and all of them kept to themselves. Most didn't even nod as they passed, or offer a short and friendly greeting, instead staring at them as if they were strangers at best or monsters at worst. Andrea thought it was rude of them, but began to think it may have been a local custom to not interact with strangers. Kimberly didn't mind, as it allowed her to focus on the surrounding landscape; while it was barren, rocky and unmistakably drab, she could still find the magic in it.

At every fork in the road, the two debated on which path to take. Kimberly wanted to climb higher into the mountains in the hopes that they'd come across some grand vistas, but Andrea wanted none of it. She was still sore from the long walk between Muyang and Yulong-la and wanted to remain on the flat roads. They reached a compromise and decided that for every two straight roads they crossed, they'd climb up a level.

Their compromise quickly rewarded them. The path ended in a circular plateau that definitely appeared to be manmade; ornate stone railings were carved around the outside, decorative hedges lined the railings, and a pagoda-style gazebo sat in the center. It reminded them of the wishing well plateau they visited on the Thousand Steps. The two wandered up to the edge and looked out over the vista. The city of Yulong-la sat below them, nestled in a valley between two mountains. They were both awestruck by the size of the city, with skyscrapers and high rises stretching out towards the distant and foggy horizon. Andrea tried to count the tallest of the buildings that stood out amongst the rest of the urban jungle, only to lose count somewhere around sixty.

"Quite a big city isn't it..." she marvelled. "And I thought Azure Ridge was big."

"Is it not? You always said it was." Kimberly asked.

She shook her head. "Not like this! I can't even see where this place ends! At least you can walk from one end of Azure Ridge to the other without needing to book a hotel!"

Kimberly giggled at the idea.

She sighed. "I just want to get home... Maybe not back to Azure Ridge, but back to a place I understand."

Kimberly grabbed onto her shoulder and pulled her in for a friendly embrace. "I feel you on that one, friend."

"Are you going back to Lanark when we're done here? Or are you going to resume your trip to Storm Island?"

"I haven't decided. A decision like that will hinge on a lot, and I'm not ready to make it yet."

"Oh yeah? Like what?"

Kimberly retracted her hand and laughed nervously. "I don't know. My health, maybe? Or I might find a different calling in life, besides coordination... Or maybe I'll fall in love with someone out here... The possibilities are endless."

"Ha. Love, huh? Wouldn't that be nice..." She pushed against the railing and began to wander over to the gazebo. "Well, I'm going to get some rest while I can... These damned legs..."

Kimberly watched as her friend wandered away, then began to curse at herself. "Did I honestly just say that?" she thought. "Fall in love with someone? She must think I'm a bloody sap!" She gazed out over the city again and tried to think about another subject, but she found it difficult. "Why now? Why did I find such a nice and lovely friend now, when it could mean so little, so soon?"

As she tried to collect her thoughts, the serene silence that blanketed the area was shattered with a deep, guttural howl that echoed through the valley. A quick-moving blur slid down a cliff nearly forty yards away and vaulted over a gorge towards a trail just a short distance away from the girls, roaring loudly as it did so. The creature was feline in appearance, with a beautiful coat of white, fuzzy fur that covered a majority of its body. Circular patches of brown fur covered its face, ears, tail and feet. Large, sabre-like fangs that hung out of its mouth only added to its menacing presence.

The creature charged with incredible speed towards a young hiker who had only just realized that he'd been targeted. It leapt through the air at him and extended its claws as they began to gleam with a bright, white light. The man shrieked in pain as the mountain lion's claws sunk into his arm and ripped away at his flesh. As fast as the man was brought down by the beast, he made his escape and found his way back to his feet again. He did his best to scurry up a rickety tree in an effort to buy himself a few crucial seconds to think of how to escape.

Kimberly gasped at the sight and began to walk backwards in disbelief, something that caught Andrea's attention. "Oh my god!"

"What's the matter?" Andrea asked. She hopped to her feet and rushed over, only to see the mountain lion eyeing the man as if he were a delicious meal. "Shit!" she shouted. "We gotta help him!"

Kimberly reached for her purse and grabbed her prized Master Ball, then tossed it into the air. With a bubbling torrent of water, Juliano appeared and looked towards his master for direction.

"That man is in serious danger, we have to help him!" she pleaded.

Juliano nodded and bolted forward, completely disregarding his own safety as he nearly tumbled down the stony path towards the man and the mountain lion.

Andrea, on the other hand, hesitated for a moment. She thought about which of her Pokémon would be most likely able to protect the man from such a creature; Furball was certainly brave, but wouldn't stand a chance. Likewise, while Sorrow had served her well in the past, she seemed both too small and too fragile to fight such a beast. She didn't understand Dilithium enough to know whether it would be a bad idea or not. She hesitated to think about it, but she grabbed Dune's Pokéball and held it close to her chest. "If he doesn't listen... he'll at least make a great distraction..." she thought.

She tossed the Pokéball forward and a ring of darkened energy surged outward from it. Before she could even issue an order, Dune lowered to all fours and charged towards Juliano, the injured man and the attacking mountain lion.

"Please don't let this be a bad idea..." she whimpered. "Dune! Distract that mountain lion!"

Whether or not Dune had listened to her order was anyone's guess. He appeared to be much more furious than usual, stumbling over his clumsy feet as he attempted to move quicker than his legs could carry him. He blazed past Juliano and leapt into the air. The hiss of fire began to radiate outward as a bright orange light flickered between his fangs. Dune and the mountain line collided in mid-air with a cloud of fire, no doubt saving the treebound man's life.

The two appeared to be evenly matched: Every movement, every swipe, even every growl and snarling roar was mirrored between the two as they circled around each other. Dune took the opportunity to strike first and lunged forward in an effort to surprise the mountain lion with his agility. Unfortunately, the mountain lion proved to be his better and easily dodged his attack. The mountain lion followed up by jumping onto his back and sinking its jaws into his rump.

"Dune! That's not going to work, that thing is way too fast!" Andrea shouted. She raised her R-Kit to scan the creature, hoping that it would give her some sort of strategy to employ against it.

"Balinia, the Balin Wildcat Pokémon!" the R-Kit noted. "Balinia are aggressive and territorial feral cats found in equatorial regions around the world. They are prized for their luxurious and soft furs, which fetch high prices on the illegal fur market. They are also prized amongst competitive Pokémon trainers due to their relentlessly aggressive nature, often fighting to the bitter end despite overwhelming odds against them."

"That's not very helpful..."

Juliano jumped at the opportunity and snuck around the brawling beasts towards the tree. He outstretched his stubby arms and motioned upwards towards the stranded man, as if encouraging him to jump. The man didn't hesitate and dropped from the tree directly into his arms, and the two made a quick escape back towards Andrea and Kimberly. He dropped the man off in front of them and took up a defensive pose between them and the Balinia, ready to protect them, or follow more orders.

"Try to relax, we're going to do everything we can to keep you safe," Kimberly said, hoping to quiet the man's agony. She took a quick look at the man's injuries, noting four deep lacerations in his left arm, each of them bleeding profusely. While she wasn't a medical professional, she deduced that the man's injuries were likely life threatening. "We have to get this man back to town, quick!" she said.

"We have to deal with this mountain lion first, or it's just going to follow us. I have a feeling I'm going to need your help." Andrea answered back. She tried to formulate a plan, but the savage combat between Dune and the Balinia was too much of a distraction to think clearly. She had never seen anything quite like it.

"Juliano, keep us safe," Kimberly ordered as she dropped her backpack to the ground. She rummaged through it for first aid supplies. She knew it wouldn't be enough, but it would have to do until they got back into town.

In the fight between Dune and the Balinia, something had to change if he hoped to win. He fought wildly and without strategy, lashing out with immense power and speed. It had likely served him well in his native environment of the Blackwood Forest, where he enjoyed his position as the top predator, but in this new set of circumstances, he was at a clear disadvantage. No longer could he leap out of the darkness at unsuspecting prey and end the fight before it began. In this case, he had to fight, and it was becoming more and more apparent that he didn't know how to. Every attempted lunge and every failed swipe was met with a painful counterattack, and each served as a lesson for him.

Andrea tried to focus. She knew she had seen herself through worse situations before, and this would be no different. She observed the Balinia from her safe vantage point, trying to find some sort of weakness for her to exploit. As she did so, the nagging thought that Dune would continue to ignore her carefully thought out plans taunted her, so much so that she thought about simply abandoning him. She tried to remain optimistic, however.

One thing she observed about the Balinia was its extremely long and slender tail. It acted as a sort of rudder, allowing it to counterbalance the weight the rest of its body threw around during the fighting. She noticed that its tail would twitch and lean heavily just as it leapt out of the way of each of Dune's attempted attacks, then quickly pivot in the opposite direction to slow the creature's momentum and allow it to maintain its footing. Perhaps this could be exploited somehow.

"Dune! I have an idea!" she shouted, in the vague hope that he might actually listen for a change. "Aim for the tail! The tail is allowing it to move efficiently, if you cripple it, maybe you can slow it down!" She realized that aiming for the tail on a quick moving creature would likely be difficult, and added to the strategy: "Try to fake your movements, as well! Trick it into thinking you're moving in the opposite direction!"

She waited to see if any of her advice got through to him. At first glance, it didn't look like it. He lunged forward again without any sort of strategy, only to be met with raking claws all along the side of his body. However, he stopped in his tracks as he readied himself for his next attack; he stepped towards the right then quickly changed direction as the Balinia moved to counter him. The Balinia's side flank was exposed and Dune capitalized on it. He latched onto the Balinia's long tail and crushed it between his massive jaws. When he let go, the Balinia's tail fell limp.

"Holy shit, he's listening..." Andrea murmured.

The tide of the battle shifted quickly. The Balinia struggled to maintain its footing now that its tail was crippled, and it was notably slower when attempting to dodge Dune's attacks. Dune turned the tables and used his now-superior agility to his advantage. Now it was he who was avoiding the attacks and countering them, and it almost seemed as if he cruelly enjoyed his newfound advantage. When he could have easily ended the battle in a decisive manner, he drew it out to show the Balinia who was really in charge.

Meanwhile, the injured man had gone into shock. His breathing was erratic, his limbs were shaky, and he frantically tried to either fight Kimberly off or compress the wounds on his arm with his other hand. "Gotta... gotta get..." he muttered over and over. Kimberly tried her best to calm the man down, but nothing she did seemed to have any effect on him. To him, all that mattered was getting his wound treated.

"We have to get him out of here, now!" she pleaded as she motioned for Juliano to pick the man up.

Andrea was torn between what to do. She wanted to escort the man to safety, but she also didn't want to leave the Balinia unattended, only for it to follow them, or regain its strength and attack someone else. A quick look at the state of the injured man pushed her towards fleeing from the mountain lion. "Oh man, he's in bad shape..." she commented, then raised her voice. "Dune! That's enough, follow us!"

Dune perked up upon hearing the command and looked over towards the group, then returned his attention to the crippled Balinia and began to circle it like a vulture, growling and showing off his fangs as he did so.

"Now!" she commanded. Dune stopped his circling and snarled one last time before rushing over towards her. She grabbed his Pokéball and held it out in front of her, ready to recall him at a moment's notice, but she didn't. The way he approached her was different than every time before; rather than charge at her like a savage animal, he approached her in a more refined yet still intimidating manner. "Are you okay, Dune?" she asked.

He sat at her feet and looked up at her, staring intently and endlessly as if he were judging her. It almost appeared as if he was fighting the urge to attack her.

She pointed down the road in front of them. "Go on. Keep us safe until we get back to town."

He growled at her, turned his attention back to the Balinia for a moment, then did as she asked. He took off down the path, studying his exotic surroundings with intense scrutiny as he did so.

She turned her attention to the injured man and tried her best to reassure him. "Don't worry, mister, we're gonna get you the help you need..." She patted Juliano on the back and urged him forward.

"Ah... an... angel..." the man whimpered.


- - - - -

Author's note: Previous chapters have firmly established Kimberly as being from the region of Kanto, specifically the town of Visalia, which was a custom addition I made to the region. Going forward, I am changing her home region to the Republic of Lanark, to accommodate the growing world of the 'Storm Island-verse'. Previous chapters will be altered accordingly to reflect this change.
 
Well, I might as well kick off my attempt to do a general catch-up with this. So, what can I say. Well, I suppose Dune's half-hearted obedience will look better in light of the rewrite. Part of me is prepared to just let it be - since showing training pokémon can quickly snowball into hundreds and hundreds of words inflating each arc ... and off the top of my head I can't think of where I would squeeze that in either.

I was kind of amused by the Jade Mountains appearing as an entirely uninspiring place after a season full of assorted sumptuous descriptions.

The length was about right for this one, I think
 
Well, I suppose Dune's half-hearted obedience will look better in light of the rewrite. Part of me is prepared to just let it be - since showing training pokémon can quickly snowball into hundreds and hundreds of words inflating each arc ... and off the top of my head I can't think of where I would squeeze that in either.
I'm not certain I'll touch on Dune a whole lot with the pending rewrite. His character was always meant to be this fearsome beast that Andrea knew she couldn't control in a safe manner, but always kept him as some sort of a backup for an emergency situation like seen in this chapter and in chapter 32.

One of the big things I wanted to do for character development for him was for him to realize that he wasn't as tough as he thought he was, and that only by working together with a trainer could he potentially reach his... potential. I may have hamfisted in the development a little too quickly, though he's certainly been rebellious to his detriment in the past. It feels like a tough personality to get right.
 
One of the big things I wanted to do for character development for him was for him to realize that he wasn't as tough as he thought he was, and that only by working together with a trainer could he potentially reach his... potential. I may have hamfisted in the development a little too quickly, though he's certainly been rebellious to his detriment in the past. It feels like a tough personality to get right.

My first thought is that you'll struggle to sell that - not because it doesn't make sense, per se, but because of the way you've portrayed pokémon throughout. That's quite a complex thought process, and so far you've shown pokémon to be more or less intelligent animals. I suspect it'll look a bit odd for Dune to be singled out in this way, alongside the likes of Furball who presumably would be much the same as he's shown now
 
I guess it's finally happened.

To my regular readers, both vocal and silent, I have some disappointing news. I've decided that it's time to put Storm Island on permanent hiatus. It's something I've been considering for some time now. It may have been evident in recent chapters, but I just don't have the drive and passion for it anymore. It's been a struggle to sit myself down and write out the next few chapters. Here's my thought process on it all:

First, and probably most importantly, I've been building on hollow foundations for quite some time. When Caitlin and I first started Storm Island, we didn't know what the hell we were doing, what we wanted to accomplish, or how we'd go about it. We had a few cities down, we had a few gym leaders down, we had two main characters (yet still massively hollow and underdeveloped) down. We didn't have an ending in mind, middle steps, etc. We started writing, and we started planning on what little we had. It worked for awhile.

Then chapter 13 happened, the chapter in which I was given full creative control over the story while Caitlin focused on her personal life. As I started looking forward, I realized how little we had planned and how much trouble the story was in. I tried to build on what was there, but when you don't have a foundation, your building is doomed. I threw in a plot about a cursed castle filled with human sacrifices to try to bring about a main antagonist. Unfortunately, I mistakenly solved the threat of the cult within a few chapters.

Where to go from there? Team Rocket, of course! They had been foreshadowed a bit, but there was no real plan. I knew I wanted a brief break from travelling across Storm Island, so I cooked up the sinking of the Beckinshire as an excuse to both thrust Team Rocket into the spotlight and move the focus elsewhere. I think that's where it fell apart. I made them too big, too soon. How can I possibly trump what they've done without making it ludicrously unbelievable?

And then Sakala. I like Sakala and what I've done with it. That's where I think the story began to shine. I had a completely fresh slate to work with, so I could plan accordingly. Things fit together better. The characters started to become more interesting. Interactions between them worked out better. Yet at the same time, I painted myself into a corner. There are two things I did that I feel contributed to my lack of passion for the story:

The first was the concept of Mistweaving. I was stoked for it at the time, but now that I look at it, I'm not sure it has any place in the story that I originally wanted to tell. A scientifically minded character who's brought into contact with mystical powers that defy logic and explanation just doesn't feel right to me. Secondly, why does a flashy coordinator need the ability to heal people? It doesn't fit anywhere.

The second was that I started to try to link the concept of Mistweaving with the concept of blood magic that was seen on Storm Island. I tried to mix the two together, as a sort of light vs. dark thing. I felt bad about taking the teeth out of the cultists back in the Blackwood Forest so quickly, since it's a neat idea that I wanted to work with more. So I looked at ways to bring them back and thought pairing it with Mistweaving would do the trick. Now, I'm not so sure.

Another big reason that I'm putting the story on hiatus is that the past few chapters (chapter 49 excluded) have been such a bore to write, and the next few that I've tried have been as well. I know where I want the story to go, but it's been so laborious to work with what I've written already to get there. Here's an example:

I planned on adding a third character to the party to bounce off of Andrea and Kimberly. I originally wanted it to be a male travel guide, but changes before his planned introduction took that off the table. I was going to have Shantiang (the blind man's grand daughter, introduced at the monastery) join, but I felt like three female leads was pushing it. Now I have this injured man in the latest chapter I have to tend to, and it's driving me absolutely titty bonkers trying to ram it all together. I don't know if I can do it.

One final reason that I've lost steam when it comes to Storm Island is that I've been devoting so much time to other projects. I'm pursuing a science-fiction novel that I hope to have published some day, and that's been eating up the most of my time. More time has been spent developing an RPG inspired by the Pokemon games that's set in the same universe as Storm Island, so perhaps it's not dead forever. We'll see how long it takes before I lose interest in that, too.

So, what's in store for Storm Island? I don't know. It's likely that I won't be releasing new chapters anymore, at least not in its current incarnation. I absolutely adore the characters I've created, Andrea and Kimberly especially, so I've been looking at possibly starting a new, more laid back story centering around them and a third character. Their story together is one that I still want to tell, even if the rest of the story around them has fallen flat. I don't know what I'll do with them, if anything.

Anyways, I would like to thank the readers who've stuck with the story over the years. It's given me the hope that perhaps one day, I can make something of this hobby that I've picked up. It's been a struggle so far, but the same can be said for everything I've tried.

Most importantly, it's given me the confidence that I can actually achieve something in life. Before Storm Island took off and gained the (still small) following it did, I was in a dark place in my life. Once I saw that people could enjoy the content I've created, it made me reconsider how my life was going. I am thankful to each reader, as entertaining each of you has given me a reason to get out of bed each morning, and it's what's kept me going.

Until next time. I don't know where it will be, or when, but hopefully, I can return to Storm Island some day.
 
I noticed the link in your, and while not a regular reader, I always liked what I read of this and the characters and will be sad to see it disappear from the front page and nomination lists - I've always liked this small collection of long-running stories we've got, so it is sad to see that list get a bit smaller.

In saying that, I completely understand your decision and fully respect you for making a firm decision, something I wish I had done with many of my projects. Having semi-abandoned a few of my stories, I found that taking several months/a year to reconsider things and re-evaluate where they are going has hugely helped me find the motivation to write them again and improve my other stories, and I hope that the same happens for you. At any rate, I hope we see some form of conclusion in the future - whether it be next month or next decade - to farewell these characters and set them sail on some new adventures.
 
(Finally re-caught up to this thing for the project, so...)

Well. Kind of weird that the last "chapter" of this story might be in a non-canon spinoff written by other people. Was definitely not calling that at the time.

I'm not entirely sure what to review/comment on here since you've abandoned the project. I want to say that I very much liked the last few chapters and thought that Storm Island had sort of reached its groove. If you were to rewrite it, I actually think you'd figured out a good way to handle it. A couple bigger plots/goals mixed in with people kind of just walking around, setting up one of the most interesting takes on the Pokemon world I've seen, and interacting with each other as their interpersonal plot/journey unfolded. So it's kind of sad to see it go now that you've finally figured out how to write it.

My prior criticisms also still apply, for the most part. I would recommend doing more planning in advance in the future, as you yourself seem to have realized by the cancellation post. You can also do well without some sort of an epic background plot, since your strongest suits are writing settings and character dynamics.

I wish you luck in your future endeavors.
 
You can also do well without some sort of an epic background plot, since your strongest suits are writing settings and character dynamics.

I think that's an interesting point, @Eliza Prescott. Much as I like your version of Team Rocket - it's certainly the most believable I've read - the strength was not so much what the Rockets were doing as who was doing it
 
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