I was particularly nervous that another group would come in soon, due to every living thing in my dungeon except me, Dani, and the Silverwood tree being dead and reduced to ash when the jerks, I mean- the scouting group, had come through.
This is not an unreasonable fear, but injecting the narrative with a “joke” like this is even worse than leaving them in dialogue. With dialogue, you can pull the trick where other characters present roll their eyes, so if the joke lands, then great, the audience is laughing and probably doesn’t care that other characters in the book didn’t like it, and if the joke flops, then at least the joke was supposed to be a dud, which means the audience’s eye rolls are directed towards a character in the story, not the story itself. It might even help improve their immersion into the story by making the other characters, the ones who are also rolling their eyes, more relatable.
Sticking it in the narrative, on the other hand, means that when the joke is bad, I roll my eyes at the story.
Cal spends a while rebuilding himself and is not raided in the meantime. He’s nearly starting over from scratch, with the silvertree being pretty much the only thing to survive the raid, although he does still retain all of his personal upgrades, his library of creatures and objects, and his influence.
During the rebuilding process, Dani goes and grabs some flowers for Cal to replicate. Cal expresses appreciation, which leads to this exchange:
“I knew you would like them!” She beamed, then whispered, “Narcissist.”
I gasped at the unexpected attack, <I am not!>
“Well you do spend all day every day looking at yourself soooo…” She teased me.
I played along, <It is as far as I can see, rude-oh!> The friendly banter continued for a bit, until Dani got sleepy and flew over to the ledge she tended to rest on.
This is the most stilted, cardboard “banter” I’ve read in years. Granted, I try to only read books that are good rather than intentionally diving for the crummy stuff like most let’s read people do, but my let’s reads so far serve as undeniable proof that my means of limiting myself to good books are hardly foolproof. Despite having read a fair share of bad books, I don’t think any of them had dialogue this painful. It feels like someone trying to generate some witty banter, noticing that it’s completely forced and artificial because of how lacking the characters are in chemistry, and then just leaving it in anyway.
This terrible dialogue seems to be the theme for this chapter. The above quoted portion is probably the worst of it, but there’s similar “banter” when a bunny comes into the dungeon and starts munching on Cal’s newly grown plant life (somehow remaining outside his vision while doing so, despite the fact that the thing it’s eating is presumably inside his zone of influence). Cal kills the bunny as part of a scheme to make more mobile minions. Close chapter.
Ordinarily, when I wrap up a chapter while way under length, I do more until my post has reached a respectable size. In no small part due to my professional GMing shenanigans, however, I am pretty busy and happy to have an excuse to end early. So we’re wrapping here, instead, but future posts will probably cover multiple chapters.