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You've been counting stars, now you're counting on me
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Ooh, tricky question time!

On the whole, I think it's an interesting version but one that's still struggling to define itself. It's very early to make sweeping judgements, but from what I've seen so far, I'm finding good stuff and bad stuff.

Good stuff:
-V5 is a lot less bloated, which makes it easier to follow and care about.
-V5 is pretty well paced/active.
-The overall mechanics of the site (that is, the basic grammar stuff) have drastically improved.
-I feel handlers are on the whole very involved with their characters/stories.

Bad stuff:
-There's a tendency towards writer silliness instead of character silliness. The degree to which this is true is perhaps smaller than in past versions, but V5 is a smaller version overall and it feels proportionally about the same.
-I feel like there's a lot of playing it safe going on. That is, I think a lot of people find comfortable niches and then stick to them, and while that's not awful it prevents real growth from occurring, which is a disappointment.
-V5 is, as mentioned above, still trying to find its character. I can point out standout characters, but to describe the version as a whole with any degree of specificity would be very difficult.

To further expand upon my issues, I think a good deal of this could just be stylistic divergence.That said, I tend to have issues with humor that springs either from characters being so overblown as to be impossible to imagine as real people or from humor that springs primarily from a detached narrative voice poking fun at the character from an omniscient standpoint. The latter is a lot more common in V5, likely because it's a super common style in humorous internet article and in popular books (think Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams). The problem is, it's a style pretty well suited to a self-contained work that treats all characters equally, but not to a platform encouraging interaction between writers. It tends to end up feeling like the universe itself hates certain characters, which exaggerates them and makes them feel less realistic than a bit of interiority might.

As to playing it safe, this is a hard one to really describe without delving into specifics, but I see a lot of handlers trying the same stuff they've done in V4/Mini. This is fine, but I always find it a lot more enjoyable to see people branching out, writing outside their comfort zones and taking risks. It doesn't have to be big stuff; maybe you always write boys so decide to try a girl, or maybe you tend towards athletes but instead try a bookish sort. This feels a bit like an overall nervousness about failure, which I totally get (nobody wants to do badly!), but I think it also keeps people from really reaching their full potential.

A little side category to this is people staying the course with characters that they think aren't working. I've heard this mentioned but quite a few handlers, and it's a place where I do have advice. That old saying, about not changing horses in the middle of the river? That doesn't apply to SOTF. If you're not feeling a character, it's probably because you've diverted the from their core concept/what makes them work. Far too often, I see handlers say "I've messed things up and now I can't fix them, so I'm just going to power ahead." It's better, far better, to try to put things right again. Look at my favorite example of everything (Lenny). Lenny's character and arc take a drastic change upon his reunion with Lulu, a mere two threads before Endgame. It was something that made sense with his character and was desperately needed. Basically, don't get locked into patterns just 'cause you've started on them. Don't be afraid to let characters go new ways, and enlist others for help if you have to!

This has gotten a bit long and sprawled into mid-version advice, but that's the basic gist of it.
Juliette Sargent drawn by Mimi and Ryuki
Alton Gerow drawn by Mimi
Lavender Ripley drawn by Mimi
Phillip Olivares drawn by Ryuki
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