I’ve been doing my rounds of beta, and critique reads, as usual.
I’m seeing a problem.
Your fantasy story is a piece of literature, not a video game. Why do I say this? Well, I’ve been receiving a lot of reads lately that have no main character. Don’t get me wrong, there is a named protagonist, but somehow, for some reason, there is a lack of character being represented in the main role.
Essentially, the protag is an avatar that the writer is moving through the world. He/she lacks motivation, desires, feelings, fears…they more or less are just running about fucking with shit. Other characters in the writing are generally well characterized, with a degree of depth. But, the main dude? Stuff, more or less, just happens to him, not because of him.
This is why I say that your writing isn’t a video game. You see, the faceless, flat main character, that bumbles around a free roaming environment, is exactly what you get from an MMORPG, or similar games. The people I’ve seen give me these flat, avatar-like, protags are, for the most part, VERY into gaming. I think the format has rubbed off. This is bad. A video game is not the same as literature. You can’t just take a character and run him around facelessly. The reader will give up on your story quickly. There is no one to relate to, to care about (I mean, even if he does die, he can respawn, right?), to hang in there with. Only people can pull emotions from other people. An avatar of a person will never work. (I don’t want to get into fan-fic, which so often also has the avatar main characters. That’s a blog of its own.)
Overall, if your story is reading like a play through of Skyrim, I think it is important to keep in mind that there are many things that happen that make no sense in gaming story-wise. Motivations are ignored, or non-existent. NPCs that previously hated you, can love you again with the tiniest provocation. (And vise versa.) People your main character has little to no history with will die for you, seek to murder you, trust you unyielding, distrust you ardently, repeat things that were already said/understood…the list goes on. These are all things that are murder in a book. Don’t base your story style off of your last Skyrim play through. Because I can tell! Especially when it involves a Dragon-knight diving into some ancient undead tomb to retrieve <insert random mystical/legendary artifact> .
So, yeah. This is fantasy literature. This isn’t fantasy gaming. The story is tendered differently. In gaming, the story engages the user less, but personifies him fully. In literature, the story distances it self from the user, while engaging him completely.