The Raie’Chaelia: Melissa Douthit

I don’t read a lot of indy books.  It’s for a lot of reasons.  The main reason being I don’t have an e-reader other than my laptop and the other being I don’t want to shift through all the shit to get through the few gems that exist in the independent book world (and yes, there are a few good indys you just need to know where to look).

So why am I reading this?

Well, this little book has caused a lot of controversy or should I say its author has caused a lot of controversy by harassing and publicly outing reviewers amongst other things.  Honestly, the book itself has developed a reputation of being like The Room of YA/Fantasy books.  However, I think it’s worse than that movie (though you can argue that the author’s actions are about on the same level as this)

Before I start reviewing said book, here’s some things you need to know about me.  My undergrad degree is in creative writing.  That does not mean I’m necessary a good writer, but that does mean I’ve had training to find basic writing mistakes and I know how to workshop stories.  This story, I’m pretty sure, has never been workshopped.  So, that’s what I’m going to do today.

Title: How do you even pronounce it?   I get that this book is a fantasy, but the title of your work should be something your audience should identify with.  It should draw the reader in.  This title just makes the reader look at the book oddly wondering what the heck it is and if it’s even written in English.

Grammar:  People do make mistakes, but this is published work.  Published work for sale which means it should be rid of typos and internet chat speak (yes, !? would be considered internet chat speak).  Having these sort of errors are glaring and makes the work look unprofessional.  Honestly, I’ve seen fan fiction that has less grammatical errors than this.  I get that indy’s lack the resources that the major publishing houses have, but it’s not that expensive to hire a copy editor.  Case in point, I have a cousin who makes her living from copy editing and most of her client base consist of poor college students.  If a college student can afford to have their term paper looked at then Douthit can afford having her manuscript looked at.

Show Not Tell: This is like the first rule you’ll learn in a creative writing class.  Need an example of what showing is versus telling.

Telling:

“Yeah, right!” she said with a sassy sniff and mounted.

Douthit, Melissa (2011-05-27). The Raie’Chaelia (Kindle Locations 2024-2025). Couronne Press. Kindle Edition.

How could this have been turned into showing.  By merely chopping off sassy sniff.  And showing through the characters dialogue and actions that she’s sassy.  Remember, the reader isn’t stupid.  This is only a small sample of the over use of telling that goes on in this book.  I chose this particular quote because it’s one of the least painful to read.  But imagine reading a whole book like this, it would drive you crazy.
Info Dump: Even the most experience writers have problems with world building.  It’s a complicated task.  However, one of the big lessons about world building is not to info dump.  Here’s a sample of this hideousness:

“Ben hesitated for moment and then said slowly: “Your father is King Duquaine, the Rightful King of the Realm and a scion of the Ielierian.”  Chalice’ heart sank.  She hung her head again and rubbed her temples.  Her head was no longer hurting but she knew what being a daughter of the King meant and she didn’t want to believe it.”

Douthit, Melissa (2011-05-27). The Raie’Chaelia (Kindle Locations 2704-2706). Couronne Press. Kindle Edition.

This continues for  another thirty or so pages.  I know, right?  Just this paragraph alone is causing you to yawn.  That’s why info dumping is so bad because the reader gets bored.  Plus, it upsets the balance of mystery vs manners.  Good authors don’t tell the reader everything at once, they let information slip gradually.  Sometimes through dialogue (but not dialogue like this), actions, narration, or other devices. Remember, the Harry Potter world wasn’t built in one book.  Rowling took her time with gradually emerging Harry and the reader into the wizarding world.  That’s why it worked.

Forced Dialogue: Dialogue is hard to do.  You have to make yourself (as an author) sound like multiple people, keep the flow of conversation, and at the same time that dialogue needs to convey the relationship/s that the characters have with each other.  Let’s look at a typical dialogue passage in Douthit’s book:

“Let me see that book, Chalice,” he demanded, holding out his hand.  She gave it to him and he studied it thoroughly. “What is Shae’Ielian?” he asked.

“That means the Rightful King.  Why?  What do you think the verse is talking about?”

Douthit, Melissa (2011-05-27). The Raie’Chaelia (Kindle Locations 846-848). Couronne Press. Kindle Edition.

This is essentially how the dialogue is used throughout the whole story.  Question.  Some lame answer. Question.  It doesn’t flow and these two characters that are suppose to share some great bond come off as lame.  Speaking of characters…..

Horrible Characters: The characters in this were horrible.  You can basically summarize them up in one or two sentences.

Chalice: Special snowflake (see below quote)

“Chalice was also very beautiful.  She had fair skin and a smooth oval face that was caressed by long, golden, butternut curls.  They folded down the sides of her cheeks and framed her red rosebud mouth, button nose, and large sapphire eyes that were decorated with long dark eyelashes. “

Douthit, Melissa (2011-05-27). The Raie’Chaelia (Kindle Locations 200-202). Couronne Press. Kindle Edition.

Jeremy: Special snowflakes boy toy.  Who author avoids using the cliche insta love by making them long lost friends (it doesn’t work, it just makes the forced relationship between the two even more painful).

“She couldn’t believe she had forgotten him.  They had been inseparable during the three years he stayed with her and her grandparents at the inn.  She remembered the words of Grandma Naelli: Those two are always together.  You can never find one without the other.  She should have at least recognized him by his eyes.  He had the same eyes.  Of course, everything else had changed quite a bit.  Time had done its job.”

Douthit, Melissa (2011-05-27). The Raie’Chaelia (Kindle Locations 527-531). Couronne Press. Kindle Edition.

Chinuk: A rip off of George Lucas’s ewoks (better people than me have went into more depth on this)

Ben: An Albus Dumbledore/Gandalf wannabe who info dumps so profusely that his info dump has turned into info diarrhea.

Horses: Oh, God there are more descriptions (even a chapter) devoted to the horses than anyone else.  This horse obsession reminds me of Grace Brisbane’s obsession with wolves in Shiver.  Here’s a sample:

 “She was the most beautiful horse she had ever seen.  She was pure white with four dark hooves and dark eyes.  Her forelock, mane and tail were as white as the snow and they draped down her forehead, neck and rear, blowing smoothly in the cool wind.”

Douthit, Melissa (2011-05-27). The Raie’Chaelia (Kindle Locations 2223-2225). Couronne Press. Kindle Edition.

Supporting Friends: We have the bland girlfriend of Chalice (really, what’s with that name) and their chubby friend who eats all the time–now where have I seen that before (oh, like every bad movie that involves a quest)?

Plot: So we come to this.  Since the characters are so cliche it shouldn’t surprise you then that the plot was cliche too when it exist.  That’s right when it exists.  Most of the book consisted of info dumping that was inconsistent and so boring that I didn’t quite understand what their quest was.  Maybe that’s because of the made up language that was used heavily throughout the book too which looked like someone got drunk and then decided to have fun on Microsoft Word.

Verdict: The Ra-Rashakaka (okay, The Raie’Chaelia) needs a lot of work.  I don’t even know if it is salvable.  It  needs to be completely  rewritten probably at least twice and then heavily edited (probably about ten to fifteen times) and then looked at by a copy editor or least someone who did fairly well in English in high school.  I get that this book is a self published book, but it’s still work people are paying for.  You know, despite her antics I feel sorry for Ms. Douthit.  It must be hard to live in a delusional world where you can’t accept that your writing isn’t perfect.  Criticism is there for a reason.   That’s why creative writing classes are spent eighty percent of the time workshopping  others work.  Do I suggest reading this book?  No.  I got it for free that’s the only reason I read it.  However, if you like looking at a good train wreck (like me) this might interest you.  At the very least, it’s a good way to workshop work without attending an actual creative writing class.  Oh, and Ms. Douthit, my creative writing teacher didn’t care if anyone’s comments for the workshop were negative.  We didn’t get to talk to the end and we had to accept and appreciate what other students said to us.  After all, it’s not like you paid for this review

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6 thoughts on “The Raie’Chaelia: Melissa Douthit

  1. *sigh*My fear of not polishing my stuff enough is what keeps me from publishing it for sale. I publish on fiction press, I proof read and if things slip, things slip (I mostly mean typos and grammar errors here and there) but I didn't take nobody's money for it. See I'm all for self publishing – and I totes agree that there are some true gems out there in the self-pub world – but if you are going to charge people for reading your writing, then at least make sure it's properly edited and proofed.(And I know I just say I sometimes let things slip on FP but I do have a standard and I go back and edit if necessary). This story – that I don't even attempt to name – sounds pretty bad on the face of it, I mean, the whole tell instead of show, and the bad dialogue *sigh* oh and the insta love… this book drove me crazy just reading it's description.

  2. I know what you mean. I have fan fiction posted, but it's hardly proofed to the degree I do on my original fiction/school assignments (if it was, it probably never would've been posted in the first place). And I think that's okay because it's fan fiction and I'm not charging anyone for it. This book however isn't on fiction press or ffnet and the sad thing is, instead of pulling it and reworking it to be something more acceptable she's harassed several reviewers and has tried to game the system in the past with sock puppets. The whole thing really leaves a bad taste in my mouth for various reasons. Anyway, you pretty much summarized my thoughts perfectly. I think the thing that sort of closed the deal permanently was the info dump dialogue. That and every exchange started with the word "Yeah" I freaking kid you not.

  3. Oh, God!Yeah every sentence? that sucks. my friend who sort of helps me workshop my stories – mostly she got dibs and gets to read everything early – tells me when I repeat an expression too closely together, she's like "dude, change that!" And Info dump sucks! I hate it, nothing makes me not care faster.

  4. Pretty much every sentence. Or at least enough to make me shudder when seeing the "Yeah". That's cool that you have a friend workshop like that. I always feel that with writing the more input you have the better.

  5. Thanks. I read your review too and I think you did an awesome job explaining the lack of research Douthit did when it comes to linguistics. Honestly, if there is one good thing about this book it is the reviews. Because there is so much wrong about the book, I have learned a lot about writing from reading the various criticism people have given Raskakakakwhatever.

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