Day Twenty One: Time & Tied.

The old adage goes that “you should not judge a book by its cover” and though it is a virtuous sentiment it is not one that is typically followed. Welcome to day Twenty One of my 31 Days of First Impressions Challenge! In this challenge I will be reading the first entry or chapter of a different serial (or web fiction) and then give my first impressions on them be they good or bad. In short: I will be judging a book by its cover.

Today I read Time & Tied by Mathtans!

Author’s note: I may have a bias as I wrote for this author’s serial for an April Fool’s Day swap and wrote a post on his other serial, Taylor’s Polynomials. As such I was already familiar with the author’s style of writing.

Site Design:

Mathtans’ site this time around was very sleek and intuitive. I had no problems navigating to where I needed to be and had no issues with it that were not cosmetic. The site this time around is also responsive (its layout adapts to resolution change) and looked great on my phone. Actually, it looked better on my phone.

I am not a fan of Mathtans’ art. I do not think they go well with his prose, and they look a bit amateurish. Yes, in saying this I am aware that my own art is terrible and I have no ground to stand on. But I think the art is hurting more than helping here. I got a strong “Hardy Boys” vibe from his art. The mobile version does not have these issues, the art is done away with, and the simple white text on black header gave me a much more serious and professional tone.

The Hook:

“It was the night before Carrie Waterson’s first argument with a future incarnation of herself. Rather ironically, she was thinking that a time machine would solve all of her problems.” –Time & Tied, Chapter 1.01 Timely Discovery.

This hook is simple in writing but complex in concept. It is also short and does its job efficiently. I know I have been ranting on about how I like my hooks urgent in just about every post in this challenge, but I have no problem with this one here. It grabbed my attention.

The Chapter:

Time & Tied’s chapter was a fun read. Mathtans’ prose is not flowery or especially poetic, but it is strong and well written. I only had a couple concerns with what I read: there is a butler named Jeeves and he was not presented as being tongue in check, so a little cliché. That aside, my only other concern is that there was a link that led to another chapter before its end, however it was related to the story and had a clear explanation to navigate back. It seems that because this story is about time travel it gives the reader the option to bounce around to get a full glance on the complex timeline. This is a very cool idea, and I am curious as to how well it works, but it might be distracting.

The Verdict:

I love stories about time travel. As I write this I have a Lego Back to the Future DeLorean on my desk next to a TARDIS. I had fun reading this.

Despite the flaws and the concerns I had, I am willing to overlook them and read on. Mathtans is a competent writer, and the strongest aspect on his site is his writing. As it should be.

Time & Tied can be found at https://mathtans.wordpress.com/ and you can vote for it at the the Top Web Fiction list here.

Join me tomorrow for my impressions on bluepencil’s serial Noli Mi, or check out my own serial:

You Kant have Breakfast

Rev. Fitz
Michael Fitzgerald (Rev. Fitz) is a writer, illustrator, and amateur Electrical Engineer who lives in Seattle.

4 Comments

  1. Thanks for the analysis! I suspect you nailed one of the major reasons I don’t get a lot of click-throughs to Part 2; my writing is not very urgent or poetic. In fact, it used to be even worse. When I first wrote the thing over 15 years ago, it started “At the back of a rather nondescript two story house, a window rose.” When I first started posting it two years ago, the revised hook was “A time machine. That would solve everything, Carrie Waterson decided.” That got swapped out with what you saw, ehhh, maybe maybe a year in? (I documented it somewhere. What I lack in prose I more than make up for in precision. I hope.)

    It’s maybe worth noting that the first time I ever got site feedback was about 8 months in; that’s when I cut back on the images to one per part (kind of you to use the word “amateur”) and created the index page. Navigation was fixed some time after that. The phone thing was a bit of a fluke, but I agree, it seems to work. It’s good that after a couple years, I’ve settled into something passable. I guess the point of this comment is to offer extra hope to anyone who reads comments, and thinks that I in any way started with all the things Rev Fitz is keen on in the beginning.

    Thanks again for taking a look and highlighting my competency! I think most people who like time travel will like the story. (In fact I’ve found Time & Tied is very much like the anime Steins;Gate, in that both take a while to really get going.) At the same time, pretty sure I’m not making it into anyone’s Top 5, unless they’re a fan of the genre.

    1. No worries!

      Even the most poetic and beautifully written prose falls short if the story is not a good one. I think your strength is in story telling Greg. I would rather read a story that was written in the most straightforward and cut-and-dry way possible if it was a good one then read an F. Scott Fitzgerald level of prose with a lot of plot holes.

      Thank you for the insights in your journey to get where you are now, it is very interesting seeing the history of a serial that has been around for so long! These kind of things give hope to those doubting their own abilities.

      I have thoughts on using your web-comics to draw in readers for your serial (something I have been doing myself) if you car to hear them, by the way.

      1. Thank you! Plot holes is something I try to avoid. As to using comics to draw attention to a serial, by all means, I’m curious. You can email, or even post on WFG, maybe others would have an interest as well.

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