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Review by A. T. Miller
Rated: 18+ | N/A (Review only item.)
Title: "The Eyes of the Beholder (The Eyes of the Beholder)

Author: Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈

Plot: I am questioning this piece for one reason. I cannot abide a twist. I do not hate this story, but it feels a little unfair that you did a 180 at the last minute. I understand that keeping the strangeness of the ending a secret was crucial to the dramatic climax, but it felt like reading a western with gunslingers at a high-noon shoot out, but then they’re aliens who actually just really love fruit cake. I do not mean to be blunt or sound negative, but I felt there needed to be more of a hint that this kind of ending was within the realm of possibility.
Near the middle, I had a feeling that death would be involved, but I thought it would be Jeff who bought it. I imagined that he would fail, and then later the father would kill him, and maybe the rest of Timmy’s family. This is reminiscent of a killer you might have heard of on AMW, a staunchly religious father who one day came home and for no apparent reason massacred his entire family and then disappeared for 40 years, starting a new family under a new name in another city. I was actually kind of disappointed that the story did not go in this direction.
How you might fix it: I would hint a bit more about sacrifices in the prose, mention them in passing at the breakfast table, in conversation, even in the prayer. If you already addressed it, I missed it.

Style & Voice: At first, I wanted to give you strictly kudos, cause your writing style and word choice are rich and diverse. Still, I thought there were parts where the wordiness was intentionally obscure, but not to benefit the prose, more to make the writing “seem” more intelligent. That’s not a cut down, I do it a lot myself, so I know to look for it. My example for this is the use of the word “lilt” to depict branch movement. I last heard the word used by Dennis Miller in 1993 to describe Kathleen Turner’s fakey, pseudo-European accent. I would just consider describing more in this part.
There were other parts where you use words over and over. “Lilt” was used twice, the word “voice” was used 6, and so on. In the case of the second, you seem to hit the same road block that I do trying to think of an original way to say, he said, without tagging it too blandly or obscurely. Maybe describing the voice’s traits, gruff, gravelly, irritable, smarmy, pandering, etc., might help. Stephen King said, “The road to Hell is paved with Adverbs,” but it is not necessarily lit by adjectives when used wisely.

Referencing: I don’t know that this piece was long enough to reference much in the way of genre. I put it at near Earth, or Earth itself, between the 50’s and today. There was enough here to suggest that it was modern, newspapers, school sponsored sporting events, and a town happily committing ritual sacrifice. This suggests either a warped Earth-type dimension where these things are common, or a rural community where the sense of morality has shifted to a deadly distance from center. The religious angle draws me more toward the latter.

Scene/Setting: The setting was bold and vibrant, reminding me of my own childhood and the way I saw the world. I felt that this was where you shined. I cannot give you much here except to say that sometimes, less is more. Being descriptive is awesome, but be careful not to drip the adjectives over the rim. Again, a problem we share.

Characters: The characters were well-though, and specific. Only once, right at the beginning of the race scene, did Mitzi and their mom seem to conjoin a bit, but that was fixed by the time the race started. The characters were clear cut, and each one seemed very likely to operate in their world and in their narrative roles exactly as they should. The father being a killer was not a big leap, so that wasn’t the problem. The twist, as I mentioned, was too sudden, but that had nothing to do with characterization, which you have down cold.

Grammar: There were a few minor details that I’ve highlighted. I’ll make my remarks where they appear below. Otherwise, excellent in execution. You do a great job, appearing very professional and concise.

Just My Personal Opinion: Max, you are a great writer. I loved the work, though I felt a bit cheated by the ending twist. I needed more cohesion to make it justified. I sound like a broken record with this, but I promise I’ll not make a post about it. My last editing post did not go over well. I want to be led a bit more here, given some sense of the finale throughout. Maybe some aggressive chopping by Mom in the kitchen, skewering the breakfast sausage or something like Abraham taking out his chirrens (the Nawlins word for “children.” “Nawlins” is Nawlins for “New Orleans.”) in the name of God. The quote at the top, for me, is very cryptic. Very, very, very cryptic, as I do not come in contact with the good book that much (or at all). Still, I’m not convinced that it does not belong. I have a sweet spot for tying ancient references into modern prose to add background texture. Still, if there could be something at the end that helps define the passage as it relates to the rest, I would understand it better. I have no idea from what tale of scripture this bit takes place.

1) I remember that day began filled with excitement and anticipation.
(If he had forgotten, would he still have mentioned it? This is redundant. Of course he remembers it. He’s the narrator. If he forgot it, it would be omitted from the story and we’d never know.)
2) I giggled and squirmed while she ruffled at my hair and pretended to tickle me.
(Does she really need to pretend to tickle Timmy? How does one do this, and why? Is she holding her hands above him and making tickly motions? I hate it when my characters start doing complex actions that are difficult to define, and force me to make statements like these. I usually just let the characters to what they are attempting and call it a day. Why doesn’t she just tickle him, anyway? It sounds like it would be fun for both of them. If I get a vote, I say that it’s okay. Tickle away, Mitzi!)
3) Poppa's voice paused. I sneaked a peek and saw his lips purse and his forehead crease.
(Here’s another of those moments where a character’s actions force the writer to make a difficult choice on wording. Obviously, Timmy cannot see his father until he takes the time to look, and you make a clear point to do this, but you go on in later sentences to describe other dialogue with the same word “voice” again and again (and again and again and again).
4) Jeff's voice was muffled behind pancakes and sausages. He gulped at his milk.
(Here’s a two-fer. Voice, again, a challenge to substitute. I suggest not substituting, or using the awkward reference, but to let the character do what they want to do. I put this to you, do you find sometimes that your characters tend to wander off? Do they refuse to listen when you order them around; they won’t go into that room with the dark stalker that you need them to enter because they’ve seen the same movies you have (cause they are you in a way)? I try, within reason, to let them be who they want to be. It’s hard, but they’ll thank you for it in ways you can’t imagine in the long run. I also thought that the word “at” made the following sentence unnecessarily wordy. I’d just omit “at”).
5) Poppa will beat me if I don't ask, but I cannot tell Aaron that.
(You break tense here).
6) Nyah, nyah!"
(I just thought this was cliché. Stephen King wrote a story called “The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon,” and in it he had his protagonist, a modern, 9 year old girl, say this when she was angry, “Aw, chicken guts!” It felt like a 60+ year old man wearing a little suit and speaking the dialogue. Avoid this whenever possible.)
7) Her voice lilted with astonished joy.
(Here’s another two-fer. “Lilted” and this, find a word that means both astonishment and joy, like wonder, awe, etc. This reminds me of anime, where the character is about to have an awesome-happy-fun time. I would avoid using two very similar words as modifiers when there is one better word that means both.)

That’s it. I told you there wasn’t much. Now, understand that wherever I’ve sounded snippy, it’s meant with humor, not sarcasm or talk-downitude. I hope my comments help, and I hope you’re this brutally honest with me in the future. Of course, I know you will, so have a happy-fun-awesome day!

As Ever,

A. T. Miller

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Review by A. T. Miller
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
Greetings! My name is A. T. Miller, and I'm a fellow member of the Rising Stars. I have found your work, "The Green Stories," and felt compelled to review it. I want to warn you that I may have a few bits of criticism, but anything I write is meant in a spirit of good will, to offer an outside perspective and some technical advice.

First and foremost, let me say, "WOW!" What an excellent story! You have a spark that few writers can muster. Here is a set of unique characters in an original environment actually living their lives, not attempting to capture the Chalice of Chastity or defeat the Demon of Darkness to save the Princess Plantagenate. What a promising start you have. I intend to keep reading until I reach the end, and on if you're still writing this.

Though I felt this deserves a very high award, I cannot in good conscience give you a 5. I do not feel that this is a complete work. There are still too many unexplained variables and smoothness issues you may want to examine before calling this "done."

My first issue was with indents. I know lots of writers don't bother with them on WDC, but that detail turns me away from reading any work. If it's worth writing, it's worth doing it correctly. You've got a story that you've obviously labored very hard on, and I think you do yourself and your work a disservice by neglecting this minor but imperative tidbit. I don't want to talk down to you on this matter, but if it's just a matter of not knowing how, just type {indent}, highlight, right-click, and hit copy. Then, in front of every paragraph, hit Control-V. You can also just use the space bar and then at the bottom hit the button that preserves spacing and format. Five spaces would do, but ten is about the equivalent of an MSWord tab hit.

My second issue was with sentence structure. I have this problem with my own writing, so I know how hard it is to deconstruct thoughts, especially when there is nothing inherently "wrong" with your grammar. The only thing is that you are writing at or near college level, and for the content I think you should consider simplifying thoughts, breaking up complex sentences, and dumbing down certain concepts so that younger readers can access what I think is a truly awesome reading experience. For an example, I submit the following:

You wrote:

Doyen Canter - Den to his men - kicked at an abandoned crossbow, its string broken and splayed like a worm upon the earth

I suggest this:

Doyen Canter - Den to his men - kicked a Tanner's crossbow. Its string, broken during the fray, twisted like a worm upon the earth.

Of course, style is a personal choice, so each to his/her own. There are other examples, but I think you get the idea.

My third issue was diction. You use words like "boxes," "skirmers," and "Skainsmate." Now, I kind of got the middle term as an abreviated title for "those who skirmish," but the others eluded me in a way that was somewhat distracting. Now, I don't ask for a total rewrite by any means, but maybe some earlier clue as to what you are refering would help immensely, like maybe describing the box in more detail. Of course, this is a perfect segue into my fourth and final issue...

Description. You do a great job of creating vivid details appear not only crisp, but human. The way Feeona clutches her dress like a swaddled babe up the tree and then clutches the trunk like a child to her mother has not one, but at least two purposes. These images call to her orphan nature, that she is missing something in her life that the thieve's band may emulate, but cannot replace, i. e. her parents. This is effective, but I think you need more description. You are adept at weaving glimpses of characters into action and dialogue, but you should not focus solely on the primary players. I wanted a better idea of the layout of Doubter's Dell, at least the area where the attack was happening. I know you gave a good description of it later, at least something to nibble on in the first scene would be nice.

(You know what it is, don't you? You mention an object, such as the Tumbler, and then use it in a scene, and then describe it afterward. You may be taking too much for granted with the reader's imagination. It feels like I'm playing catch up on these details.)

Also flesh out the supporting characters earlier, and whatever other relevant info you might want to include, like time of day and weather. I got only that there was mud somewhere in the beginning scene.

My praise for your work is this, you have a good narrator in Feeona. One can feel the contrast between her life's philosophy and that of her mercen compatriots. There's a certain realness to it as well. I like the complex storyline right away, and think you do an excellent job of creating suspense. Feeona is not a totally reliable witness to the events, but her noble nature makes her likable, and keeps me willing to follow her along.

Your writing absorbed me. I finished and found myself wanting more. That is the highest compliment I can offer.

I invite you to visit my port and read anything you like. I will definitely be back to read more Green Stories.

As Ever,

A. T. Miller

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Review by A. T. Miller
Rated: 18+ | (5.0)
Hi SonofDrogo,

Good, clean, harmless fun. That is what I had reading this work. There were moments where it slowed just a bit, but you kept right on with the delightful imagery and action and comedy. I laughed out loud at the meteor marshmellow hitting Victoria!

I want to talk a bit out those dialogue tags, though. I like the way that you shuffle them up, use other things, especially action, to define who's talking. It's just that once or twice I felt they were over-used. Like when you inserted "she demanded," I felt that Victoria's intensity was well set without this affirmation. Etc. You get my meaning.

I gave you 1 star for crafting a story that had a high overall readability. It was very enjoyable. I gave you star 2 for your grammar and sense of wording. Nothing here seemed to go too far from your intention, although I mentioned the slight problem I had with your tags. I applaud your use of indents!!! It is so rare to find another writer who takes the extra time to include them. Thank you! I gave you star 3 for your characters and their continuity to the story. Your main character stayed focused, no going out of the boundary of the story. No jumping from one character to another, etc.. I gave you star 4 for maintaining the atmosphere of the camp, the comedic value of the situation, and the sense of hopelessness and frustration of your protagonist. Your setting was perfect, your descriptions vibrant, and your timing excellent. I gave you the final star 5 for tying together your intriguing beginning with your most-fitting finale. With a bit of tweaking, I think this story is fit for publication. There is no higher praise I can give than that.

I invite you to visit my port and be as critical of my work as you feel I deserve. I hope to visit your port again soon.

As Ever,

Adrian T. Miller

Rising Stars 2008
Review by A. T. Miller
Rated: E | (5.0)
It's actually a very good poem. I don't normally use rates so unprofessionally, so I apologize for overreacting, and accept your apology for the OSB. It's just that, what you left is what I like to call a "One Star Bomb." It's the worst review you can give an item (and people take them way too seriously on the site, meaning they choose not to check something out based on star ratings), and then not to give some kind of definitive criticism... It's just really rude. Of course, you don't have to. It's a democratic website, but if you're going to make friends of other writers and not a whole lot of enemies, it's nice to leave at least a "this is just a blank page." That's all.

Anyway, your poem is very well written, gives a clear picture in your mind of where you want it to go. I'll go into a deeper inspection later, but I have to go on an errand first.

As Ever,

Adrian T. Miller
Review of The Oubliette  
Review by A. T. Miller
Rated: 18+ | (4.0)
Hi Kip,

This is A. T. Miller. I just read your story "The Oubliette," and I wanted to give you a thorough review. One disclaimer before I begin is this: I do not intend to offend you or disparage your work in any way. All comments come from a helpful, constructive place.

Ok. Upon my first read-through, I was surprised by the excellent use of language. Your unique voice and word choices make for a read that sets itself apart from your typicall short story. I wish you would have indented your paragraphs, though. I know that this is an online environment, and the separation of paragraphs with an extra space are quite common, but the little things like that matter more than we sometimes realize. Genius is in the details.

The pace was quick, which was appropriate for the size and intent of the piece. I wanted a little more substance at times, though. You drop readers into a scene and just get moving. That is great, but maybe a little more flesh could help me understand better what's going on.

I found story engaging. It draws you in, takes you along with the characters, especially near the end when they reach the Oubliette. Still, when you earlier gave the Colonel's intention of giving Amanda the upper echelon's attention, I found myself wanting that future. Same with the Doctor. Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that the end is inappropriate, just that I did not get the impression that any of the characters had it coming, so-to-speak.

One problem I had was when the creature from the pit was "raping" Amanda. To suggest that she wanted it in some weird way was kind of shrill. I mean, if you had given some inkling that she was freaky earlier on, it would have been justified.

I gave you a 4 because you have a great voice for storytelling. You have confident skills. I took off points for lack of description (Keep in mind, when you provided description, especially of Mercy, it was mind-blowing. You know how to do it, and how to do it well. Now I think you should do it more often.). I also took off for plot development. It isn't a bad story, even the ending, but it just needs a bit more justification early on.

I enjoyed the read, and I can't wait to read more. I hope my review is helpful.

As Ever,

Review by A. T. Miller
Rated: 18+ | (4.5)
Hi, Bardgoddess,

This is Adrian. There are a few minor typos, punctuation issues, etc., but as you seem to have a firm grasp of it most of the way through, I'm sure you can weed them out without me knit-picking about them.

Do you want some kind of formulaic review? What I mean is, there's a kind of format, a list of points a lot of reviewers seem to use to explain specific things that stuck out. I'll just fall back on the old college standard, first a comfortable read-through, then a skim for texture and style.

I read the piece in its entirety, and I think that character interaction is not only realistic, but fun to read. The dynamic that you've set between Sean and Emily is very relatable, and that's hard to manage. I found myself likening their relationship to mine with my wife Sarah. There were a couple of things I did not feel were perfect, though.

For one, Sarah, my wife, would never have let me run off without screaming bloody murder and then latching on with her claws for dear life. She would have assumed that I was in duress and called a policeman, or thrown something hard at my head if she thought I was addle-brained. The second part I found difficult to accept was the joining of Merlin and Sean, not as a functional dual/entity, but where it concerned his relationship to Emily. Personally, if I was suddenly of two minds, literally, and Sarah was just hunky-dorry about it, I'd feel like she was cheating on me. Is that weird? I mean, she fell in love with ME, not me + whomever. If she were that easy about it, I'd have to wonder about her loyalty to me. Another part, and maybe this is the Yankee Doodle American in me, but is it really that easy to just kneel to some guy in an alley? Even if he turned out to BE a king, I cannot fathom that response, much less understand why Emily would suddenly do the same.

You put together your story in a way that it flows in linear forward, not a lot of jumping around, going off on wild tangents, always moving. That is great with this size of work. There were a few parts that felt like speed bumps, though, particularly the paragraphs where Sean was relating what he knew about the Arthurian legend and Merlin's memories. I'm not suggesting to edit them out, just to let them grow a bit. In this case, I think a little side-track is okay. Let us live the moments a little, savor them, for they are, or seem to be, the essence of Sean's transition. Maybe if you explain this more, I could more easily accept his and Emily's easy attitude toward it.

I wanted more from your settings. I have never had the privilege of going to the UK, though I flew over it once, so I cannot picture all of the sights, sounds, smells, etc. of downtown London, Westminster Abbey, or Stonehenge. Is that a kind of "henge" or something? What's a "henge?" Why's it made of stone? Well, we can't exactly have a "cheese henge" now can we? There'd be rats all about the place.--Sorry. Having a moment.

I can absolutely relate to the angst of the ghost tour! In New Orleans, my home, we have a ghost tour and a vampire tour and they are EXACTLY as hackneyed as you describe. I kept thinking as I pissed away my night and hard earned cash that I used to pass these buildings every day during daylight hours and never once got any hint that they were haunted by anything more than derelicts. Anyway, kudos on this part of the story. Still, I think you could have used the tour as a way to acquaint your readers with a flavor of the city. I know the story isn't about London, per say, but a good backdrop helps.

All in all, I would say you have a story that, even though I don't favor the end so much, I would very much like to hear more of once you've worked out the editing kinks.

I also like to include my reasoning behind the star-ratings--and I hate the star rating-system so very much--that I give. I gave you a 4.5 for creating an engaging story with likeable characers, an ambitious suspension of disbelief, and just plain good writing techniques. I did not take away for the grammar, typo quirks, as I'm sure you know about them already. I took away a half star because of the speed bumps, and for a weak setting, especially at the beginning. I did not take away for the final direction of your plot, as I feel that it is a matter of personal taste. Now, if you had had aliens fly down and beam them all onto their craft to visit Avalon in the stars, that would have been a show-stopper, something that I could have taken more points from you for. Lol! This was an excellent story, and I intend to read more!
Review by A. T. Miller
Rated: E | (3.0)
I'm giving you an average on this one because this is not really a "reading" piece, but a request for advice. If it were, you would have gotten a one because there needs to be a lot more, obviously, to a story.

Anyway, how about writing all of these things at once?

Complexity is the key to a believable and relatable character. As a child, Bob (that's what I call all my as yet unnamed characters because I will ALWAYS seek a name change in the future for a character named Bob) gets lost in the jungles of Africa. This is not a present day occurance, but a memory he relives on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. He learned a few tricks in the wilds that he now employs as a cop. Suddenly, an invading army recruits the criminal organization (traditionally the last line of defense for well established but desperate governments on their last legs, for examples, seek history on Jean Lafitte) as part of a death squad to hunt down rebel forces. As an already police trained and physically fit specimen, Bob is the perfect choice for, and is drafted into, the U. S. Military. They send him on a mission to eliminate the death squad, but finds himself on the receiving end of a hot lead injection. Before taking a dirt nap, Bob struggles to turn the tide of war and save the city and country he kind of loves.

That help? Hope so. Keep me posted if you do this.

Review of Prologue Revised  
Review by A. T. Miller
Rated: 18+ | (3.5)
Much better. Still, many grammar errors. I gave this a 3.5 because it has a lot of promise. You've done a better job with the descriptions, but still, sentence structure is going to be difficult. This is why. You have yourself some very complex ideas to get across. There are certain rules not even a good grammar guide will teach you. You have to learn it first by trial and error, as you obviously have, but also from reading works of those you admire. Try emulating their sentence structure, understanding what goes where and when, etc.. A good writer follows grammar. A great writer breaks the rules and gets applauded for it.

I stand by my advice on indents. Type the { symbol, the word indent, and then } this symbol all together. Highlight it, the press control+c on your PC keyboard. This may differ if you're using a MAC. Press control+v with the cursor at the front of each paragraph, and the WritingML tag will appear as a space of about ten increments.

Were and was are two tricky words. In the context of "The corridor were large and painted red," replace were with was, as in "The corridor was large and painted red." Also consider that the semicolon ; is meant to separate two closely related but complete sentences. "It was hot in class; however, I was way too cool for school." That's a mentally challenged example, I know, but it is perfect nonetheless.

It is clear that you have talent. My advice for you as a writer is this, obsess. Obsess over every nuance of the writing field. Go get books that explain the craft of writing in the writer's own words. Read college grammar guides, as well as classics like Dickens, Hemmingway, Shakespeare, Tolstoy, and their like. Once your grammar is impeccable, you can start to focus on deeper things like tone, style, characterization, plot, irony, etc.. That will make your writing great.

Check out my last critique, cause you did miss some spots as well that I hit upon. And, as always, keep writing.

As Ever,

A. T. Miller...
Review by A. T. Miller
Rated: ASR | (3.0)
As you wish, my friend, or enemy as you will,

I want to remind you of the relationship between writers. When one writer rises, so do those in his or her immediate circle. That is not supposition. It is fact. J.R.R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis were part of a writing group all the way back to Eton Univerisity in England. So were numbers of poets, writers, and painters. I could name a few, and if you ask, I will.

I didn't give you the low rating you so richly merit by your own personal request, because you did, in your misguided way, give advice that I respect. Reviews have to be given honestly. That means we cannot pull punches. If there's a dangling participle, we need to declare it. Still, pointing out everyone's shortcomings is rude unless asked for. If anyone wants a critical editorial, then by all means ask for it.

Nothing you say, NOTHING, will undermine me. But then, you don't even know me. Call me your enemy, and I will tell you to choose your enemies better. I've been to hell and back, and nothing you could say or do could scare me. Review me and put low or negative comments, undeserved, and I will bombard your port back to the stone age. Aspiring authors must know that they have lots of others challenging for that space, but THIS is not that venue. Send your work to Ballantine, the Gislaison Agency, editors or agents, and be judged. That is the battle ground.

I welcome anyone who wants an honest review to ask ME for one, and I will give it without question, or sabotage.

My name is Adrian T. Miller.
Review of Small Unknown  
Review by A. T. Miller
Rated: 13+ | (1.5)
         The boy’s locker room silence ended as the tired and sweaty boys entered loud and rowdy from gym. The boys could hardly breathe as the odor of perspiration from their and the last block’s odor fused together. The broken air conditioner made things worse as the boys complained about the heat.
         “Yo man, what are you doing tonight?” Rey said as he undressed beside Carol.
         “I don’t know,” said Carol, “I might go to the movies . . . or I might chill at home.” Carol took his plain white tee filled with holes and shot it into the trash can next to the PowerAde drink machine a couple of feet away. “Why you ask?”
         Rey pulled his books from his gym locker and put them on the floor in front of it. “I just worried if you wanted to come hang out with me, Steve, and Cas tonight.” he said. With an odd look, Rey looks over at the trash can and says With a raised brow and an open mouth, he glanced at the trash can.
         “Why you throw away your shirt?”
         “The shirt got like 40 million holes in it.” Carol exaggerated as he opened his locker.
         “The shirt only got a couple of holes in it.” said Rey. “You suppose to wear messed up shirts or shorts to gym.”
         “I know but I just don’t like wearing shirts with holes in them.” said Carol.
         “Carol!” yells mike, a classmate from Rey’s next block, walking towards him while putting on his shirt. Carol took (whose?) books (because Rey already took his out and set them on the floor, remember?) out of his locker and turned to look at Mike. “Did you do that vocab homework in English?”
         “Yep...you?” Carol said.
         “Naw man, can I copy yours right quick?” Mike said.
         “Yeah sure.” Carol said. Carol put the books on the floor and took out (whose?) English notebook. “I hope I put it in here instead of my history notebook.” Carol flipped through a few pages in his notebook, found the homework, and handed it to Mike.
         “Thanks.” Mike said.
         “That junk was hard!” said Carol, stressing his homework.
         “I know,” laughed Mike as he walked away, “that’s why I never do her homework.”
         The rowdiness (describe the rowdiness in more depth) of the locker room turned two notches down as a boy walked in. The boy was 16, but he looked 30. His hair was so long that it covered half of his back and almost covered his eyes. The hair was black as Crayola crayon and his eyes seemed to look as if he had no emotions. He looked like he weighed 300 pounds and his body was full of muscles.
         “Donavan, right?” the gym teacher greeted the boy. “Come in my office.” The boy went into the office through the locker room door and closed it behind him.
         “How many people you think he killed?” Rey joked.
         “That dude looks crazy.” said a guy walking by Rey and Carol.
         “He just came here yesterday.” said Carol. “He’s a foreign exchange student from some small country which I never heard of. It’s called Norakane. Its in Europe.”
         “You talked to him?” Rey said.
         “Naw,” said Carol, “Mrs. Joe told me. I seen him walk down the history hall with Mrs. Stone the guidance consular.” The door of the office opened and the boy walked out carrying a brown bag. He headed toward the lockers. The bell rang and the boys in the locker room hurried out.
         “Man you don’t even have your shoes and shirt on.” said Rey as he finished tying his shoes and headed out of the locker room. “Hurry up before you get tardied.” Soon after Rey left, the locker became quiet and the only people left in the locker room was Carol and Donavan.
         “Is this gym locker number 17?” said Donavan with a strong European accent. Carol looked at him very afraid and took a deep breath.
         “Yep right next to mine.” said Carol trying to be friendly as he sat on the floor putting his shoes on.
         “Thank you very much.” said Donavan as he opened his locker.
         “Hi my name is Carol.” said Carol as she stood and greets him with a handshake. “Welcome.”
         “Thank you.” said Donavan, smiling as he took Carol’s hand. “My name is Donavan and I come from Norakane, it’s in Europe.
         “Nice.” said Carol. “Why did you come to America?”
         “It was a dream for me to come here.” said Donavan. “My uncle and I had to come here because my parents died in the civil war in my country and diseases plague cities.”
         “Am sorry for your loss.” said Carol.
         “Thank you.” said Donavan. “My aunt died from a disease that people never heard of before. I didn’t see her die, but my aunt’s boyfriend did. He said that the disease just ate her body not long after she got it.”
         “Where she get it?” Carol said.
         “Nobody knows.” said Donavan.
         “Well I hope good things happen to you here.” Carol laughed.
         “I hope so.” Donavan agreed.
         “I see your getting use to American stuff.” Carol said as Donavan took a can of Axe deodorant out of his bag and placed it on the bench in the front of their lockers. “I got the same one too.” Carol took the bag out of his own locker and pulled the exact same scent of Axe deodorant and stood it besides Donavan’s.
         “I love Axe.” said Donavan. “That one, Axe essences is my favorite.”
         “Really?!” said Carol, supremely (what?). “That’s my...” Warning bell interrupts. “Warning bell already?! That’s just great... well nice meeting you.” Without thinking, Carol accident grabbed Donavan’s deodorant, put it on. He then threw the deodorant in his bag.
         “I bet the ladies here will love ya.” Carol said, then put his shirt on, grabbed his things and headed out the door.

This is just a suggested revision of your work, or at least what I believe is the first segment.

Check your work with spelling check on your computer, and remember that computers are just as dumb as those who program them. Re-check your work with a grammar guide like E.B. Strunk & White's "Elements of Style".

When writing, either go through and place the writing html markers for indents, or simply check the box on the edit page that asks if you'd like to keep tab markers from works that you bring from outside writing programs such as Microsoft Word.

Remember tense, pick one, and stick with it at all times. If one thing already happened, all things must have already happened. Also, tags such as "asked" "says" & "said" can get wordy and tiresome, but fall back on the tried and true "said" whenever in a pinch. I suggest using something else entirely, such as promoting actions like "laughed", or inserting a relevant action into the dialogue, such as "Don't be a fool, Marty!" Doc Brown crumpled his fists in rage at the young man.

Preparing an outline for your work can be a huge benefit, and also reading works from other authors you admire can do the same. Remember, a writer READS, READS, and the READS some more.

You have the commitment to sit down and write a complete story, but go the extra mile and edit, edit, and then edit some more. Genius is not unattainable for the every day writer. It's not in brilliant prose, grand ideals, or undeniable summations. It is in the details. It is the sublime collaboration of simplistic nuances that enable us to enter the worlds of other men and dwell. You have that ability. Now use it.
Review by A. T. Miller
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
You immediately immerse my senses in back and foreground. They are clear and concise. Your character interaction is believable, and your grasp of the scene as a whole is authoritive. I would keep "ly" words, such as "softly" to a minimum, say five in a total work of this size. I know the current format is probably due to constraints of this venue, but to submit this professionally, it would have to adhere to guidelines referenced in Writer's Market Guide, sold at Barnes & Noble. Also, I found myself wanting more clarity on whose speaking in certain areas, but only briefly. Overall, this is a fine piece of writing that I could see in publication. Great job!
Review by A. T. Miller
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
Great developement, interactivity between characters, and sense of place. I can see the back and foregrounds clearly, and this immerses my senses quickly. I'd just watch for high number of "ly" words like "softly," etc.. Also, I could have used more directed speech, meaning that it isn't always 100% clear whose talking. Ooverall, excellent. I could see this in publication. Great job!
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