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Dakota Bjornsen; gah too harsh
Topic Started: May 11 2015, 02:04 AM (415 Views)
MurderWeasel
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Heya, Cicada! Dakota is a decent start, but he is DENIED pending some fairly extensive reworking and adjustment.

"Caucasian-looking" is a weird descriptor--is Dakota Caucasian or not? His bio suggests that he is, but the phrasing here leans the other way, indicating that he only looks Caucasian.

6'1" and ~160 pounds actually makes Dakota notably on the low end of weight, and most of the descriptions seem to line up with that, but the discussion of a lot of his weight being from fat doesn't quite gel for me; it'd be great if you either explained it (does his body store a lot of weight in one place?) or cut it (if he's pretty thin but not muscular, we can infer where any excess comes from and the description itself actually confuses the matter a bit here).

How short exactly is Dakota's hair? Short and long are pretty vague descriptors, and a bit more detail is useful to better get a clear picture of him.

"Academia" isn't exactly a hobby, at least not as presented here; what appeals to Dakota seems to be the information, rather than the trappings of university life, with which he has no real experience.

Arizona State University is a decently respected college, so I'm a bit confused by Hegel hoping to go into science. Is she not already able to study/major in it for some reason? Do you mean as a career?

If Hegel had little contact with her family, how was she paying for school? Why was this contact so limited? 1997 offered plentiful opportunities for contact even with those abroad. I'm also confused by Erik's family's reaction. Why was a child such a big deal to them? Were there no other options (marriage, say) to get around their objections? Why, in light of this, were the couple so determined to keep the child? Why didn't they try to get into contact with Hegel's family for help? Kingman is also a double-edged sword as a place to move; while the cost of living may be lower, so is the opportunity, and it means leaving behind all their established support networks/jobs/friends in Albuquerque.

I'd like a bit more information on Hegel's death, because again it's quite unusual. Peripartum cardiomyopathy is something that my research indicates is treated fairly aggressively when discovered and actually has a really good (98%) survival rate. I'm again wondering where her parents were during this time. Also, did his parents not lighten their stance at all in light of the situation? It's really unusual a reaction.

What sorts of precocious questions was Dakota having? I'm also more than a bit skeptical of a preschooler reading college-level science textbooks with any approaching comprehension and lasting interest. In preschool, most kids are just getting the most basic ideas of how to read. I'd like this delved into much more deeply, made less improbable due to, perhaps, his father boning up on the issues and explaining them to him, moved a little later so that he's a bit older, or ideally a combination of all three.

Dakota's fear of blood/needles could use a bit of expansion/elaboration. Right now, the setup is odd, because he's freaking out as soon as seeing the needle most likely without any idea of what the needle is going to do. More than that vaccinations typically draw a very minor amount of blood at most; they're more about putting things into the system. The magnitude of Dakota's reaction also strikes me as a bit over the top and cause for significant concern. If he's fainting every time he's exposed to blood, what happens if a classmate gets a bloody nose, or he falls and scrapes his knee? Collapsing can also lead to very severe injuries, and seems like something that would be taken seriously and looked into at great length.

I'm a bit confused by Dakota being teased for his name, because Dakota is actually a gender-neutral name. In fact, until 2010 Dakota was a name more common among boys than girls (while the data I found only goes back to 2000, it is also anecdotally accurate to my experience, as every Dakota I met growing up was male).

Even for someone growing up in difficult circumstance, Dakota seems really precocious in a way that strikes me as oddly unshakable. I'm fine with him trending towards these developed behaviors and attitudes early, but I feel like he's solidified as a person at seven years old to a far greater degree than almost anyone does, and I'd like to see the timeline pushed back a little and the magnitude perhaps dialed down a bit.

$40-50,000 is actually doing really well for a single-parent household in Kingman, and should in no way represent a step down from the life they enjoyed with government aid--in fact, it would likely open up far more options to them. That level of income is enough to sustain a solidly middle-class lifestyle with a larger family in a more expensive place, especially for just two people. I'd also like to know what Dakota's father was doing to make such money. This comes up frequently throughout the profile as a cause of Dakota's relative poverty, and it just wouldn't be; median income means it falls exactly in the middle, and thus Dakota's family is statistically probably doing better than half of his peers. More than that, some of the degree of his poverty even before strikes me as a bit exaggerated. Old TVs can be had for under thirty dollars at thrift stores, and local programming was still widely available during the time he was growing up. Computers are pricier, but again, they are very much available even for people at the lower end of the income bracket. I've had friends on food stamps who had computers and TVs--not nice ones, but ones that got the job done.

Being good with people does not at all naturally translate to good business sense--there's a lot more to it, involving a lot of math and decision-making. I'd also like to know how old Dakota is when he writes his serial. The section could us ea bit of tightening in general--I'm not overly concerned with the content or quality unless it in some way reflects on Dakota as a character, especially since a lot of these things are subjective judgments being presented as facts.

Being a DJ, unless you're a really huge name, is actually less than $50,000 a year in most cases. Even on the high end, most don't touch $100,000, so the difference in income is unlikely to be as extreme as presented.

Why would Dakota choose a webcomic as a business endeavor? By the time we're talking, webcomics were a massively oversaturated field, meaning that the odds of pulling in notable income would be quite low, even for a high quality work. Coupled with almost no expertise in the field, and it seems the sort of project one might undertake for artistic purposes while using business sense to promote it/get it rolling, but as an entrepreneurial decision in itself it's quite a poor one.

Why did Dakota need so many other people working on his comic? Most webcomics are one or two person shows. Also, humor doesn't really become archaic unless it's rooted in referential/pop-culture-following humor.

What was Dakota's part time job?

If Dakota relied on his mother's books for over a decade, wouldn't a lot of his knowledge be out of date? Psychology especially has evolved significantly even over a brief span of time, and texts from the early nineties are likely to have notable deficiencies over a decade later. This is true to a greater or lesser degree of other subjects as well.

By this point, or certainly by the time of the abduction, Dakota should actually already know where he's going for college as a senior, since acceptance letters tend to trickle in around the time frame of pregame.

"Made possible so far by his popularity and speaking ability, Dakota has been privately interviewing a lot of his friends in extreme depth, the sort of life probing done in these profiles for example." <- this breaks formality and the reference to the profiles should be removed. Also, this sort of thing would be cause for extreme skepticism around school, because that sort of prying could go wrong incredibly easily. It's also something that would be of limited utility--interviewing one's own friends creates huge potential for bias and a poor sample size. More than that, to be accepted as valid this sort of study would typically require ethical oversight from an unbiased committee, something that would not be available to a high schooler.

Why did Dakota decide on French as his language of choice?

I'm having issues with Dakota's eating disorder. It's absolutely the sort of thing that would be quickly noticed since he lives in a two-person household with a family that's spent a lot of time on a budget. This means there's just no way his father won't notice that no food is disappearing, and a whole lot quicker than where it finally does come up. More than that, the reaction itself is quite odd; it's wholly unrelated to his problems, destructive in a way that he'd absolutely know about, and something that will be apparent in a hurry. Going from toned to weak and sickly isn't something that can be hidden. I'm really not sold on this element right now, and I'd like to see it either retooled to better be something he could get away with/something less extreme, or removed.

How would Dakota develop such a severe social dependence when a good chunk of his early life would involve him spending time alone/in the company of a small group of people? Why is it so extreme? Where does it come from?

Dakota's disadvantages all come in one bundle at the end of his profile, and that sort of raises a larger issue I'm having with him: he's really good at almost everything and the flaws he have read more as afterthoughts or additions that don't really tie into his profile or have any effect on him outside of the paragraphs centered on them. I'd like to see this retooled, with a focus on toning down his unusual excellence to something a bit more grounded, working in some of his issues in a more natural way and maybe adding one or two more things that give him trouble, and generally adding more range wherever possible.

On a related note, which may be part of what's causing this impression: Dakota's bio is almost exclusively about the abnormal events in his life. I don't know who his friends are, why he likes writing, what he's generally like in school. I'd like to see some of the focus moved more in this direction.

Dakota's advantages and disadvantages sections could use some polishing too, but most of that will be in response to the other changes mentioned above. I'd suggest working on retooling his bio first, and then adjusting these sections accordingly.

The big take-aways here:

Dakota's birth leaves a lot of questions regarding his family situation and the unusual extremity of the reactions; I'd like to see that fleshed out without ballooning the section too much, since the focus of the bio is Dakota himself.

Dakota's profile is full of extremes, from his fear of blood to the level of his precociousness to the solidity of his identity and ethic to his stress reactions, and I'd really like to see these things dialed down a bit and a little more complication and nuance added.

Dakota's profile is similarly focused on abnormality, when what's most interesting, compelling, and useful going into the game is the normal parts of life. Can some of the focus be redirected, and some of the less important abnormalities smoothed out?

Also, some grammar stuff:

First off, a tense issue: the biography should almost always be in past tense ("Dakota did...." vs. "Dakota would do...") and that slips a lot. If there's a specific area where you're intentionally shifting with a purpose in mind, that may be fine, but if in doubt use past tense for the bio, and present tense should be used for Appearance, Advantages, and Disadvantages.

"His body type is mostly flat, without much muscle to speak of, in a few places like his lower ribs the skin clings to bone." -> "His body type is mostly flat, without much muscle to speak of; in a few places, like his lower ribs, the skin clings to bone."

"He has somewhat crooked teeth as he's never had orthodontic work done, they have a fairly noticeable overbite and one of his canines grew in awkwardly, creating a slight gap in his smile."
-> "He has somewhat crooked teeth as he's never had orthodontic work done; they have a fairly noticeable overbite and one of his canines grew in awkwardly, creating a slight gap in his smile."

"He mostly sticks to neutral colors as he doesn't have the visual eye for anything stronger, earthy tones for his shoes as well like browns and blacks. " -> "He mostly sticks to neutral colors as he doesn't have the visual eye for anything stronger, preferring earthy tones for his shoes as well like browns and blacks. "

"The elder brother Anders was accepted to the Berklee College of Music in Boston while Dakota's father Erik was far less stand out in school and attended ASU only under familial pressure." -> "The elder brother, Anders, was accepted to the Berklee College of Music in Boston while Dakota's father, Erik, was far less stand out in school and attended ASU only under familial pressure." (A quick grammar tip that helped me with this one when I was taught it in school: any time you directly name or address someone, commas go on either side, because sometimes without them the meaning can change. This is easy to remember with the phrase, "I helped my uncle, Jack, off his horse.")

"Erik would take the time to gently encourage Dakota of the importance of his deceased namesake, of the wonderful person her mother had been." -> "Erik took the time to gently explain to Dakota the importance of his deceased namesake, of the wonderful person she had been."

"Social pragmatism such as the example of his using his dead mother as a conversational tactic was stamped out of him at this age, Dakota was molded into a young boy who refused to lie or cheat, compelled by the need to honor his mother's spirit and what she stood for." -> "Social pragmatism such as the example of his using his dead mother as a conversational tactic was stamped out of him at this age; Dakota was molded into a young boy who refused to lie or cheat, compelled by the need to honor his mother's spirit and what she stood for."

"The two brothers and their respective families had kept in contact regularly, though each side was busy handling their own respective lives" -> "The two brothers and their respective families had kept in contact regularly, though each side was busy handling their own lives" (the second "respective" is redundant)

"break through" -> "breakthrough"

"and was now touring the country along with his family that summer as a guest DJ at clubs across the country" -> "and was touring along with his family that summer as a guest DJ at clubs across the country" (lots of redundancies trimmed)

"including a curious girl a few years younger than him named Mara, Anders' daughter." -> "including Anders' daughter, a curious girl a few years younger than him named Mara." (Original phrasing made it sound like her name was "Mara, Anders' daughter")

"Eccentric but friendly and a precociously brilliant artist, Mara and Dakota became famously friendly very quickly." (this one could just use some dialing back of the enthusiasm--it blows things out of proportion in the way I've commented on elsewhere and I think is a good indication of what to watch out for)

"Anders' physical reunion with his brother also came with very welcome news, since Anders was now making big money he had no intention of leaving his younger brother behind." -> "Anders' physical reunion with his brother also came with very welcome news: since Anders was now making big money he had no intention of leaving his younger brother behind."

"he was strict on deadlines and warranted no excuses." -> "he was strict on deadlines and accepted no excuses."

"Dakota struggles with language like no other subject, he personally speculates that his skill in English makes it hard for him to learn other languages in an effective manner by retooling his mind." -> "Dakota struggles with language like no other subject. He personally speculates that his skill in English makes it hard for him to learn other languages in an effective manner by retooling his mind." Also, this sort of speculation seems at odds with his interest in psychology, since it's totally unsupported by the science.

'giving in' and 'safety valve' should be retooled to avoid the quotation marks. A discussion of quotation marks in profiles may be found here; the cliff notes version is they introduce ambiguity and force interpretation on the reader without bringing anything to the table.

"as Erik's life is becoming distinct from his sons." -> "as Erik's life is becoming distinct from his son's."

Post when you've got that taken care of, and I'll give Dakota another look. Thanks!
V7:
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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MurderWeasel
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This character has been abandoned at the handler's request. It is eligible for resubmission at any time.
V7:
Juliette Sargent drawn by Mimi and Ryuki
Alton Gerow drawn by Mimi
Lavender Ripley drawn by Mimi
Phillip Olivares drawn by Ryuki
Library Vee
Misty Browder
Offline Profile Goto Top
 
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