|Reviews for In Retrospect|
| Blouta chapter 9 . 7/14
Ahhhh. I’m so sad this hasn’t been updated in so long. This is freaking amazing. AMAZING. What a unique idea. It’s fresh and I was kept on my toes the whole time. Katara’s weird master waterbending. The dream/flashbacks. Zuko not having his scar. It’s all sooooo interesting! I was curious to find out how the gang discovers Zuko. I really hope you update. If not, I enjoyed this while it lasted :)
| Salome Maranya chapter 9 . 6/23
Time travel in ATLA fics is new for me, and it's proving to be an interesting lead. Good touch with the 41st Division, too. And the irony with Zhao. I like how events are progressing. They're familiar but not exactly the same. The gaang interacts in a smooth manner. Katara's slightly deus ex machina waterbending gets rid of the Pakku subplot, I wonder how that would go. Also, it would be interesting if/when the past and the alternate present fully intersect/combine in their awareness.
| kellyhorse chapter 9 . 6/4
PLease finish this :(
| klj chapter 9 . 5/31
this whole fic is just waiting for the other shoe to drop lol
| Luna Lillyth chapter 9 . 5/29
This is interesting. Despite the time travel, the details of what is exactly up and down isn’t completely obvious. We know, as an audience, that there is time travel but we have yet to see the full extent of it. Which makes it mysterious.
| Luna Eevee chapter 9 . 5/7
You'd be surprised how long some readers can follow a story. And even if you lose some readers in that time you gain new ones to make up for them (like me!). I'm really interested in your story. Please continued.! You're doing a great job!
| Joan chapter 9 . 4/14
Oh man I'm really enjoying this time travel fic. And the Katara POV is really nice. I know it's been a long time since you updated but know that people are still enjoying this story even now.
I hope that you do return to this story. I'm really curious about this sudden power boost Katara got! And Sokka is having weird nightmares...
| Phoenix Invictus chapter 9 . 4/12
This story is too good to remain unfinished. Please continue it.
| Blue-Inked Frost chapter 8 . 2/11
Here from WA - going straight to Chapter 8 as requested. Have watched Legend of Korra.
Overall, this is very well written with a straightforward and clear style, quite fast paced, with some excellent small details and character interactions. I did recognise Lee as Zuko, with the scars and the swords!
The chapter starts with a very tranquil beginning, perhaps giving the characters a break from what has happened previously.
"If she concentrated, she could hear the ruffle of the wind on Appa's fur and feel the beast's chest expand with each breath against her back." - Reading this part of the story made me feel that sensation where you don't always notice the small details or the background noises unless you choose to focus on them in a quiet moment. I did wonder if 'focus on' might be a better phrase than 'concentrate'. These sensations are still heard and felt regardless of concentration; it's more a question of 'noticing' or 'choosing to feel/hear'.
"Momo had curled up against his shoulder, his long ears curled over his head to block out the sun." - I liked this little detail here about the animal and his probable native environment involving a lot of shade.
"It was one of those times when the monotony of bison travel didn't bother her" - This sentence establishes the character as someone who prefers to be active; agood subtle way of showing who she is.
"Aang and Lee were quietly discussing something at the front of the saddle, the smooth rise and fall of their voices lulling her to drowsiness." - The phrasing 'quietly discussing something' made me wonder if the 'something' was important, and if so, is Katara feeling left out. (Quietly - connotation of not wanting to be overheard; discussion - connotation of something substantive to discuss.) If they're meant to be having a more casual conversation, maybe different phrasing such as 'their quiet, relaxed voices' would have this association.
"They both jerked upright at the same time, the sides of their heads banging together." - A piece of physical comedy that's very in character for the show; however, in writing, I think it is not as funny as it would be to watch.
"But why would the spirits talk to her when they had a perfectly good Avatar right there?" - It definitely makes sense that the characters are sceptical of these weird dreams, even in a spiritual world. From a reader perspective, we know that the dreams are very significant and so it feels like the characters are slow to catch on, but the characters don't have that metafictional knowledge at all, so it's understandable.
Katara's feelings about Aang's quick mastery of water were so understandable. You did a great job of showing her in a sympathetic light and demonstrating how it would feel to be so quickly upstaged in an area she worked so hard to learn about.
I like how you showed Katara's hidden rage and power by showing the river all frozen to ice. My reaction to Lee and his provocations is is 'smug jerk' - perhaps because of Lee's time travelling, he and Katara seem to have an unequal relationship at this point, where Lee has an enormous knowledge advantage and is being very smirky and self-satisfied about it. Katara hitting Lee with large amounts of water would be troublingly violent in return, except that it does come across as more slapstick comedy like in the show and you showed that Lee was not seriously injured.
"the water lit up in her awareness - not just in the river, but in the grass beneath her feet, pumping through the veins in Lee's body" - Isn't it a bit early for Katara to be aware of water in grass and veins? I did see the episode where she learns bloodbending at a relatively late point in the story and I got the impression she hadn't had that insight until she met Hama.
In the flashback scene in the Spirit Oasis, I noticed the beautiful, sophisticated descriptions of the territory and Katara's waterbending strategies, so I felt there was an implication that the characters had grown up somewhat. But this was weirdly juxtaposed with the very juvenile dialogue, 'big girl', 'ugly'. If the characters are older and have such sophisticated descriptions, then it's odd that their battle banter is more juvenile than most of this chapter.
It was intriguing how you gave the chapter such a mysterious ending, having the characters move on with the knowledge they need to explore these mysterious dreams after Katara's faint.
This story is on an interesting premise, and this chapter made for an enjoyable read! Hope this feedback is OK.
| agirlwithgoodergrammar chapter 9 . 1/17
This...this is amazing! I don’t even know what to say! Please keep it up!
| agirlwithgoodergrammar chapter 2 . 1/16
Woah...deja vu. So, is this time’s Zuko going to chase after then soon? Also...you are the master of writing emotions. Also, very very intriguing...I love it!
| agirlwithgoodergrammar chapter 1 . 1/16
Also, the title is wonderful! So...my theory is, maybe Zuko messed up the mission in an AU and traveled back in time to fix it?
| agirlwithgoodergrammar chapter 1 . 1/16
Oh...my god. I have been waiting for this. I came here from your other KnB story (which is amazing, BTW) but this is also amazing! And intriguing and confusing! When Zuko talks about the laundry-doing friend that used to hate him, did he mean...Katara? Ohmigod I have to read more! Also...is there Zutara? I mean, I wouldn’t mind either way, since I really think Zuko and Katara are more suited for each other anyways! :D Keep it up!
| juniper294 chapter 9 . 12/4/2017
So I love this story. I love the idea of zuko knowing everything, and how katara is remembering bits and pieces. I was a little confused about how the time travel worked until these last few chapters, but I figured it out without the authors note. Overall, this has been a good read and I'd like to read more. thanks for sharing.
| DC20 chapter 5 . 12/3/2017
It's been some time since I watched Avatar, so my memory as to specific canon details is a little murky. However, I think you really nailed the tone of the show. As I was reading I didn't have to try to visualize this as if it were an episode-it naturally popped into my head that way. Great work.
You requested specific feedback on character, with Zuko being your primary concern. As above, I don't think you need to worry about that. Zuko was always a very internally motivated and serious character in the show-that comes through here. He's serious, brooding, and arrogant while still fostering doubt and a lack of confidence within.
This shows well in the dream flashback, and I think I really noticed it in his fight with the Earth King. While it was more overt in the dream sequence, I found the showing of character in the fight sequence to be more impressive. While both sequences were well done in that regard, the dream was explicitly focused on the showing, while the showing of character was secondary in the fight. You did a great job of showing character in the scene, even though it wasn't the primary focus of the action. That can be tough, and a lot of writers struggle with constant characterization and dividing scenes into an either/or between “character scene” and “action scene.” I didn't see that as an issue here (for the most part—I'll raise one broader point on this below), and Zuko's characterization was seen throughout.
As a note, I saw your author's note at the bottom of the chapter indicating you received comments about a lack of emotion. I can't speak for your other chapters, but I did not see that as an issue here.
As another somewhat related aside, I really saw his characterization shine through in the line, “The lunatic wanted a fight? He got himself a fucking fight.” I liked that line especially for a few reasons: it's a great use of zooming deeper into Zuko's specific thoughts in third person without falling back on a lens such as 'he thought.' Again, this speaks to both injecting character and emotion in a scene not otherwise focused on that, and even better shows Zuko's determination without outright telling us what he felt.
Mechanically, I really liked how the line was presented—it's dropped into it's own paragraph. It may not be something thought about too often, but the mechanics of line breaks can go a long way in emphasizing and elevating certain lines. I felt the line break here—as well as the language Zuko used—brought the line itself weight.
I also didn't find the profanity distracting here. The show couldn't use that sort of language, but if it could have, this is about how I would see Zuko using it. It seemed to fit him despite its absence in the show, so it didn't draw me out.
Overall, I think you did an excellent job with showing characterization and emotion, and don't see many if any issues with your storytelling here. It's a scene that could have easily been overwritten, but you moved through it quickly and with efficiency. That worked for the best here. Great job on that.
All of that said, I think you can make a number of improvements in the writing itself.
For the most part your actual writing was very good. You make great use of varied sentence structure—I never felt that the sentences plodded or choked. There's a good mix of simple and complex sentences that gives the story a great flow.
I also really liked some of the stylistic choices you made in the writing: specifically the use of commas in some sentences to push drama forward. One of my favorites was “He scrambled for the pouch at her hip, uncapped it, dumped the water on her hand.” Technically it's missing a conjunction, but I think it's actually better for it. It really drove forward the urgency of what was going on here. In fact, I think I'm going to steal this format, refuse to cite you as a source, and take the credit for myself. I was really impressed with that.
Where I think the writing fails is in the meandering of some of the sentences, especially throughout the action scene in the first half. While writing styles may vary, there are a few general guidelines across the board that tend towards stronger writing, and I think keeping a few of these in mind will bring your writing up to match your storytelling.
First and foremost, a lot of your descriptions feel watered down simply through the language you use to get the point across. I tended to see this most in words that are used to either describe an action or modify how the action was done. For a few examples:
Line 1 of paragraph 4, which starts with “Bumi was waiting there, clad in his...”
Here's a sentence that feels weak where I don't think that was the intent. Look out for places where you can remove state of being verbs (is, was, were, etc.) in favor of strengthening a verb it is attached to. In this case, “Bumi waited there, clad in his...”
Similarly, I found the same issue with linking verbs, with the biggest offender being the word “started”. It's used seven(!) times throughout your fic, with the vast majority being in the first half; it really pulled me out. Take this line for example:
“The king's outstretched hand started closing into a fist.”
It feels weak compared to the effect you want—imparting a dire, impending situation. Kill “started” and keep your language surging the story forward. This is an action scene—you want the writing to feel urgent. As is, it doesn't. “The king's outstretched hand closed into a fist,” is better. A stronger verb than closed, like “clenched,” is even better than that. An adjective like “slowly” can work here as well if you want to show the more deliberated movement. I think 'outstretched' as a descriptor is optional as well, but that may be a matter of personal preference:
“The king's [outstretched] hand (slowly) clenched into a fist.”
From the immediately following paragraph: “As the earth encasing him started contracting...” to “As the earth encasing him contracted...”
Aside from words like 'starting,' I saw similar issues with other, similar types of words. “Up” was another big offender, in descriptors like “lifting up” or “built up.” Cut that kind of stuff:
“A low growl built up in Zuko's throat,” to “A low growl built in Zuko's throat.”
“A slab of rock rose up and he jumped away, only to collide with another slab of rock that had materialized behind him,” to “a slab of rock rose and he jumped away, only to collide with another slab that had materialized behind him.” (Note here that the second 'of rock' in 'slab of rock' was also removed—through context, we know that the second slab will also be made of rock)
I also think you have a tendency to over-describe some action to the detriment of the scene. I think your intent is to guide the reader on the action and make it feel cinematic, but I think it ultimately bogs the action down. See:
“Bumi kicked his wall towards Zuko, but he just punched through it, delighting in the feeling of the rock crumbling under his fire.”
I think there's too much direction here. If Bumi is kicking his wall, we can assume he was aiming at Zuko—especially if Zuko punches through it. Try something along the lines of:
“Bumi kicked his wall forward, but Zuko punched through it, delighting in the [feeling of] rock crumbling under his fire.” (“feeling of” could be cut as well, I think, but it's not a major issue with the sentence)
Compare this writing with the writing of Katara's death in the dream sequence. Those paragraphs put you right there. The writing is urgent. Frantic. It doesn't waste words or but us in the action through a filter—we're experiencing it WITH Zuko, not being told about how Zuko is experiencing it. That's your A Game. Spread that around the rest of your writing and I think you'll be in a great place.
Ultimately, I think part of the issue is that the scene with Katara is focused on his emotions while the fight at the beginning is focused on a fight. Again, I think you're driving a distinction between the two types of scenes, with the writing of the emotional scene shining through and the writing of the action scene attempting to be cinematic, but falling a bit short because it instead ends up holding the reader's hand in descriptions. As far as storytelling goes, and as I said above, you do a great job of showing characterization in both types of scenes. As far as mechanical writing, I think it's something to keep in mind.
Last issue—while you do great in showing that characterization and emotion throughout, I think you overdid it at one or two points. And I think this was done because of the comments you referenced in your author's note. This wasn't a prevalent issue, but I'll note the one that jumped at me in particular:
“His fire was wild, hot and destructive, and he reveled in it, losing himself in the adrenaline for a few euphoric moments.”
Cut the “...for a few euphoric moments.” End with the adrenaline and it's a fantastic line. The “for a few euphoric moments” brought it over the edge to too much, and really, I can extrapolate that already from “reveled in it” and “losing himself in the adrenaline.”
I'm not going to list out all of the instances I noted for the issues I brought up above, and I honestly don't believe it would be beneficial to you if I did. Just keep your eye open for these sorts of things.
Overall, I think you did a fantastic job here. As much as I harp on particular issues here, I found the writing to be very well done and far above standard—and I probably wouldn't have written so much and nitpicked if I didn't. Great work, and keep at it—this looks to be shaping into a fantastic story.