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48 Public Reviews Given
Public Reviews
1
1
Review by badvoudou
Rated: 13+ | (5.0)
This looks like an awesome contest, just the thing to kick my boo-tay out of the dry spell I'm in. Question, re: placing lyrics in each story - is that to mean complete lyrics posted at the beginning, or do we have scatter them throughout the story?

This is great, I can't wait to get started!

Thanks,
Sheila
2
2
Review of Running from Dawn  
Review by badvoudou
Rated: 18+ | (3.5)
Hey, nickyg! I saw this on the Review Request page. And then I saw that it was about a disgruntled woman – and, shoot, I’m all over that.

I’m glad I read this - I love your writing style. It’s gritty and dirty. There are a few areas you might want to work on, but overall, you’ve got a good opening chapter here. It kept me reading to the end - if I hadn’t stopped to review, I would have gone on to the next chapter and that is half the battle.

general stuff: This is short for a chapter – or did you break it up to make it easier to read online? Either way, there’s a not heckova lot happening, but that doesn’t matter - the narrative is engaging enough to keep me there. You have a lovely rhythm to your words, almost prose-y. And the way you weave in the backstory – awesome. Character development is amazing. Stella is sharp and clear and very real, very well drawn.

Here’s the only major problem I saw: I gotta admit – I didn’t really find their behavior completely believable for two people who’ve been up all night packing their noses. Yeah, Stella’s hips are jittery, but it’s attributed to her new freedom, not narcotics. The account of their careful conversations and long, awkward silences just doesn’t ring true. It’s too – too – I don’t know. Too sedentary, maybe? I noticed this was listed under the "experience" genre. If you've got experience in this type of situation, bring it. You've got the ability to make your reader taste it at the back of their throat, feel it in their fingertips - you could make someone who's never done a hit in their whole life feel like they have - that's how good you are. Give yourself the space. It's a novel, you've got room to sprawl a little, right?

Anyway. Moving right along. Storywise, since this is only the first chapter, and a short one at that, I really don’t have much to say. You did a brilliant job introducing Stella, and setting up her situation, and you ended the chapter with a page-turning comment. What more could a reader want? *Smile*

nitpicky stuff: Ah yes - here’s where I micro-manage your work. Seriously. I’m going to be all up in your story’s grill. Some other things you should know: I get chatty, I’m liable to contradict myself, and I usually make at least one bad joke. The most important thing, though, is that all my suggestions are offered with utmost respect to you, the author.

"She swayed her hips rhythmically to the bouncing beat that only she heard inside her head." – The opening line has to be amazing. You know that. Someone who writes this well has to know that. You know which line really really hooked me? The cigarette line further down in the *Paragraph*. Now that is one attention-grabbing line. Even though I’m gonna pick it apart right…about…now…

"Her skeletal cigarette, ash dangerously hanging on, sat neglected between two fingers. Her nostrils burned like the cherry." – To me, “skeletal” implies that the cigarette is dead, used up, all ash – in short, I don’t see a cherry on it at all. And maybe that’s why I had to read the “nostrils burned” line a few times before I connected it with the cigarette in her hand. Now don’t get me wrong - I like “skeletal” - it fits the tone of this scene perfectly – but maybe you could, yanno, tell us where the cherry is.

"Strangers had always complimented her…" – Nice.

"Stella was slim but strong, a build well suited for the demands of hunting and gathering, but she was hollow tonight." – Huhwha? I admit it. I’m stymied. This line went right over my head. The part about her feeling hollow – that I get. It’s the hunter-gatherer reference that threw me.

"The substance on the table, appearing as innocent as a misplaced pile of snow, was responsible." Dude - brilliant, effective imagery is one of your strong points. But here – well, not so much. There’s no such thing as an innocent-looking pile of cocaine. No matter how you cut it. Heh heh heh. No, really – I didn’t bring it up just so I could slay you with my rapier-like wit. That was just a happy coincidence.

"She felt runway beautiful anyway, and dangerous," – Remember when I mentioned tightening up the tension, getting more into the coked-up mindframe? I think this phrase is perfect for that - it's a very sharp, sniffy-type thought.

"One more line, she told herself, and she would call it a night." – Aw yeah. Good stuff. It’s always "one more". If you want this line to pop a little more, you could make it a separate *Paragraph*.

"It was not the glamorous night that she had envisioned earlier, strutting out the door with friend in hand, but there was nowhere else to go." – Nice.

"Despite its newness, however, she watched the phone struggle through only an hour of use before buzzing its last vibration." - careful here –a few lines later the phone dies a quiet, lonely death, forgotten in her handbag under the table. Also - the way this is worded, it’s saying that the phone is new, not the charge.

"At the time, Stella was even glad that she hadn’t dragged along the charger;" – this is an awesome *Paragraph*. You totally nailed the passive-aggressive tactics of relationship fighting. Well done! But this line, "Without his anger, there was no traction, no foothold, nothing to justify her decision not to go home." made me stop and think – isn’t she even going to listen to the messages (er – read them, I mean)? Did she really decide not to go home because she reckoned she knew what he was going to say? [shrug] Meh. Maybe Stella would, but this girl would want to know exactly what he said/texted so I could throw it in is face later. Or did I read that all wrong – was she only thinking that maybe she wouldn’t go home?

"Her audience, a poster boy for ads against drugs, especially those claiming stunt growth, she thought, was captivated." – One of the few mechanical gripes I have with this piece. Most of your fragments and long-ish sentences flow beautifully, but this one clunks. Too many – what’s the term – clauses? Those phrases separated by commas. Gah – grammar police, where are you? Anyway. Consider trimming something out of that line, for clarity. And there might be a word missing between "claiming" and "stunt". Oh – a little inconsistancy here, he’s “captivated” by her twitchy hips, but this seems contradictory to his showing "…the first signs of life all evening." later.

"He nodded, fiddled with the scab on his elbow." – Nice detail. Well, not nice, it's kind of ewww, but you know what I mean.

"“Maybe I didn’t want to see it. Didn’t want to think that the problem was marriage itself. Had some crazy notion that it was something you could excel in if you just tried. I refused to see it as the farce it is—how it’s only a channel through which we age each other.” " – Clearly, Stella is an intelligent individual. But sometimes her dialogue comes off as stiff, like she’s reading lines in a play or something. I’m not saying you need to dumb her down. Maybe just make her sound a little less like Lilith from Cheers.

"She shouted his name like a question, an exclamation, a plea, but still there was no response.”" – Another dialogue nit. Same as above.

"His eyes, having fallen on his ankles like the purpose of her story was hidden there, rose to meet her own." – Aw, man. *Bigsmile* I know you wrote it this way to avoid the cliché, “He studied his ankles, as if …” – maybe if you replaced “on” with “to”?

"“So I ran. Couldn’t see s*** in front of me,” a chuckle. “In front of my jelly shoes.”" – You might
want to put a period after “me” and capitalize “a” – like so: “…front of me.” A chuckle. “In front of…” . Especially since you capitalized "Shook away the image.".

"A laugh. “Actually, she went back to him a month later.”" – Like I said before – excellent place to end the chapter. I was so ready to read more.

I think – yes, I think that’s all. Holy crap, that was a huge monster review. But listen – whether you take any of my suggestions or not, any time you put into editing/rewriting this will be well worth it. You’ve got a fresh, unique voice – all you need is a little polish. But not too much. Then you’ll sound just like everyone else.

The only reason I gave this a 3.5 is because I don't think you're going all-out. I think that if you stretch just a little more, you will be an incredible writer.

Thanks for a great read, nickyg. Hope you found something helpful in here.
Sheila

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Review of Inside The Dark  
Review by badvoudou
Rated: 13+ | (3.5)
Hey Firedude!

This was another good one. Visceral, great use of repetition. I liked the way the girl kept her eyes closed to block out the unpleasant scenes. The way you utilized sound and smell and the impression of lights made this very intense. Sneaky, too – the reader almost doesn’t realize how little of the description is sight-oriented. The orderly bedroom and flashing clock contrasts the messy family life, and also shows the girl’s efforts to gain control over her unpredictable situation. Well done there, too.

I noticed that there wasn’t a single contraction used, not even in dialogue. I’m wondering if it was deliberate, to slow the pace and draw out the tension, or if it just came out that way. Either way, though it works fine during the narration, it did stiffen the dialogue. Especially when the words are so emotionally driven. That’s just a nitpick, though, not a real biggie.

Have you considered changing POV from 1st person to 3rd person? The reason I ask is because I’m assuming the girl is young. Like I said before, the narrative is excellent, but doesn’t ring true – the language level seems too sophisticated. A 3rd person POV would allow you to keep the narrative as-is, without causing the reader to question the authenticity of the narrator.

The ending left me a little cold. I liked the fact that she took the risk, and liked the thought process that lead up to it, but when she just blurted it out…it just didn’t seem to fit. Too easy, maybe? Have you thought about pushing her a little, letting her find a more clever and subtle way to blow the whistle?

I hope this doesn’t seem harsh compared to my other review. The last one had a few little nitpicky things, but this one was heavier. The quality of your writing is just as good here - it’s the story that has a couple hitches.

I hope you found something helpful in here, Firedude!

Sheila






4
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Review by badvoudou
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
Hey firedude!

The first thing that struck me about this was your brilliant dialogue. Natural, easy, very real. Nice turn on the dialect too – just enough to set it apart without overkill. This was a quiet drama that played very well as all dialogue/monologue. Well, yeah, not entirely dialogue/monologue, but nearly so. You know what I mean*Pthb*. This line, “`Mama, you fix us a diein’ meal.' He whispered. `Be quick. Be quick, Mama.'” is amazing, as is the *Paragraph* that follows. Bullseye. Awesome.

There were a few things I noticed – nothing major. In fact, they’re things I probably wouldn’t have noticed if the majority of the writing wasn’t so strong:

"He say `We gone to die today.'… and then shoot himself," Mrs. Wilson said,” – 7 sentences there. They’re short ones, but it’s still quite a mouthful to end with, “, Mrs. Wilson said,”. A suggestion: If move the tag, it’ll break up that *Paragraph*, and give your reader a pause to breathe and get their bearings. Where to put it? I vote for right after the first sentence. That first sentence, “He say…”, is an excellent hook. If you allow a second for the words to sink into the reader’s brain, it might pack an even stronger punch.

Mrs. Wilson mentions shaking hands often. You use repetition very effectively throughout the rest of the story, but in this case it didn’t seem to serve the same purpose. Crap, it’s such a nitpicky thing, I know, but it’s something that caught my eye.

And finally, I noticed a few phrases like this, “tears trickling down the deep furrows in her face” – technically, there’s nothing really wrong there, but the rest of the piece is just so…so finely drawn and so clearly has its own voice, that those type of lines fall flat. Shoot. I’m not sure exactly what I’m trying to say. I guess after seeing what you’re capable of, those lines seem out of place. Eh. Did that make sense?

Anyway, I just dug this. Subtle, profound, and well-told. Dialogue is hard, and you have such a knack, you make it look easy. Jealous me! Thanks for the read, Firedude, and I hope you found something useful in here. Oh yeah - auto-rewards comin back at ya - I could have read this anyway.

Sheila

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#902269 by Not Available.

5
5
Review by badvoudou
Rated: 18+ | (3.5)
Hey tseawolf87!

Sorry it took so long for me to get this done - my apologies!

First, I have to say that as an intro this works very well. If I’d read this standing in a bookstore, I’d probably buy the book. Excellent job of building a scene, pushing the tension, and leaving the reader wanting more.

I think this one needs some work too, though maybe not as much as “Clipped Wings”. Mostly the same points I mentioned in my other review: repetition, redundancy, POV breaks, and wordiness. I also noticed a few lines written in the passive voice, and a few continuity hitches.

Now imagine a room like this with no windows or electricity; it pays no mind to the sun or to the light bulb.” – redundant – you just said the same thing in the line before.

Now, take away all the objects that could possibly reside in this room.” – Wordy alert! A bit passive, too (“could reside”). Since you’re building tension, the more active the lines are, the better. Suggestion: “Now, [empty the] room.”

Its darkness is eternal, its solitude unforgiving.” – Good one!

Typo – “sanity slips from their grips” = “grip”, as there is only one enemy

The habit of using “of _____” ( “of objects”, “of creatures”, etc) tends toward wordiness and is repetitive. Also – watch the use of “now” – it pops up quite a bit.

POV is mixed. In *Paragraph* 2, for example, we start with his POV (“his eyes begin to focus”), and then move to hers (“but realizes her vocal cords”). Two POVs can’t inhabit the same *Paragraph*. Or so I’ve been told.

The path before him wears blood stains like a nightgown” – I loved this – abstract and visceral, and conjures up hideous pictures in my head. But this part, “and the glow reaches her huddled body in the opposite corner.” – well, it seemed to halt, then backtrack the action (continuity hitch). He’s already seen her (his eyes focused on her a few lines back), and is already walking toward her.

"What do you want!" she asks repeatedly” – the ! and the word “asks” contradict each other. If you want to keep the !, consider using “says” instead of “asks”.

I only used one example of each edit point, because I gave a pretty in-depth review of “Clipped Wings”, and didn’t want to you to feel I was harping on the same stuff. If this review was too generic and you were looking for a deep review, with more specific exampes, let me know!

Like I said, this is a great intro, it just needs some editing.

Sheila

PS - In your intro – should “nyctophiac” be “nyctophiliac”? (I had to look it up – Sheila learned a new word today!Yay! )
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Review of Clipped Wings  
Review by badvoudou
Rated: 18+ | (3.5)
Hey tseawolf87!

This story immediately put me in mind of the Nirvana song, “Polly”. In fact, it played in my head the whole time I was reading. The bird echo (the opening scene, the winged young thing at the bar, her helpless fluttering, and the final *Paragraph* that tied in with the first) was well done – subtle at times, but easy enough to grasp. The opening scene does a stunning job of showing how deeply disturbed Keith is, and sets the scene well for the rest of the story.

The basic elements are here, but I think this needs quite a bit of work – lots of editing, rewriting, tightening, and polishing. I’ve got some suggestions/comments worked up. Everything that follows is only my opinion, and offered as helpful, honest feedback. Use anything that makes sense and disregard the rest.

Some technical stuff:

Double spacing between every *Paragraph* will make it much easier on the eyes.

I noticed that your style is slightly elevated, but not maintained in all aspects of your writing. Hah - that’s just pretty talk for: If you’re going to use $5 words and complex sentence structure, the grammar needs to be spot on. A few examples: “a bird hopped itself on the curb” = “a bird hopped on[to] the curb”. “With the top down and her hair blowing in all directions, the Mustang's speed was hard to keep up with,” – er… cars don’t have hair *Wink*. Not even red Mustangs. “in every which direction like birds tend to do” - the word “like” is out of place – to stay consistant, try “as” instead. Those are just a few – a careful read-through (or better yet, reading it out loud) will help you net the rest. Another point about the elevated language – I’m going to borrow a much-used phrase: no need to promenade the canine when you can walk the dog. You can keep the formal, detached style without using latinisims (I think that’s what they’re called). Example: “entered the apartment complex where she resided.” – this reads as stiff and affected on the page, and if you read it out loud, it sounds that way too. “entered her apartment complex” is just as good.

Keep an eye out for repetition and redundant phrases. *Paragraph* 2 describes Keith picking up an injured bird. The bird is called “the handicapped creature”, “the harmless life form”, and “The helpless bird”. The last sentence in the previous *Paragraph* told us the bird was lame. No need to keep telling us.

I know I’ve been yapping on and on about your style this, your style that. Just a little more, I swear. It’s easy to run toward wordiness when using the elevated, formal tone you’ve got going on. Examples: “He gently picked up the bird in his hands” – “in his hands” is unecessary; your readers will assume he used his hands. “from his safe distance on the curb, his weapon of choice when it came to dealing with his father's abuse.” – “from his safe distance on the curb” could easily be condensed to something like: “from [the safety of] the curb”. “his weapon of choice when it came to dealing with his father’s abuse.” is also easy to trim – “his weapon of choice [against] his father’s abuse.” (Not trying to rewrite your work, just using a working example - hope I didn't cross the line!)

Your sentences tend to be very long, and sometimes structured oddly. And I totally respect that as a style choice. <whispers> I happen to be the queen of the mile-long sentence. The problem lies in the patterns the sentences make as a whole. For the reader, long sentence after long sentence after longer sentence after long sentence creats a slow, hypnotic rhythm that will make their eyes glaze over. They may even begin to drool slightly. Anyway, my point is this – stick a few short sentences in to break up the long ones. Short sentences are great for building tension. If you edit for wordiness, repetition, and redundancy, it’ll tighten up those long sentences and they won’t seem so cumbersome.

Watch POV. While the majority of the story is written in 3rd person, single vision, the last *Paragraph* pulls it into 3rd person, omniscient. In this *Paragraph*, “With the top down and her hair blowing in all directions”, POV is mixed – in addition to Kieth’s POV, we also get the girl’s POV (her recognizing the pattern of his shirt, her feeling of panic). When POV switches from one character to another, a new *Paragraph* is needed.

Good stuff, random comments & questions:

Keith Livingston was twenty-three years old and still living with his parents” – This reader was left wondering why, at the age of 23, Keith still lives w/his abusive father, and why he still runs from him. He has his own car – what’s keeping him at home?

sumna' bitch,” – Brilliant!

paying no mind to his father's blur of rage running after him.” – A bit of a contradiction, don’t you think? His father’s rage is the reason he left the curb in the first place. That he felt threatened by his father is made clear by the phrase “Keith gave …from his safe distance on the curb,”.

and took off into the young midnight,” – This is an awesome phrase – love it.

Ned Burkovitz was in the corner talking to the juke box,” – another good line – there’s always that one guy in every bar; it must be required by law or something.

his mirror-rehearsed strut” – you nailed it there

leaving her lifeless underneath him” – This threw me – she isn’t lifeless, later she starts moaning in the car.

Keith retrieved his blonde rag doll” – another good one – shows exactly how Keith perceives her.

dropped her under a tree, tearing her clothes off in the process. – Pretty darn near impossible to do, I think. Unless she fell very, very slowly.

He had his way with her,” – Kind of a vague, clichéd term for someone with such a strong vocabulary at their disposal. I know by some of the outstanding lines in here that you can do better for yourself. You could re-write, come up with something stronger, or you could cut it altogether, and jump from “sense of power he was now feeling.” to begin a new *Paragraph* w/ “[He] sat next to her under the tree with the smell of tabacco now filling the park air.”. Your readers will have no trouble filling in the blank. And sometimes, when left to their own devices, readers’ imaginations are far creepier than anything a writer can come up with.

never to mention the events of that night to anyone.” – I gotta question the plot here. This line leads the reader to believe that he completely got away with it, and I don’t think I can buy that. How could he not have been caught? All DNA evidence aside, he left a neon trail behind him.

Okay, that’s it for me. Don’t be discouraged by the length of this review. There are some amazing lines in this piece, and the “clipped wings” theme is presented beautifully – not many writers can capture something so simple and at the same time so profound. This is so worth more attention.

Hope you found something helpful in here!

Sheila

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#902269 by Not Available.
7
7
Review by badvoudou
Rated: E | (5.0)
Hey revdbob!

Saw that you were looking for feedback for “A Birthday Feast for Hsiao-tse” and thought I’d give it a read.

Very well written, and extremely enjoyable. I saw that one of your genres was “children”, and I think this would be a lovely story for children aged 6 – 8 - a great read-aloud story. I don’t have much to offer as far as suggestions for improvement, just a couple nit-picks.

Everyone was in high good spirits.” – “high” and “good” are almost the same, seems redundant.

The villagers enjoyed very much the treat of having such delicacies to eat as they had never seen before.” – A little awkward, and maybe a bit wordy. I know it’s convoluted to maintain the fable feel, but a little rearranging and editing would make it easier to read.

After considerable singing and dancing, the village elders all made speeches, some of them much too long for the young ones who went to sleep or else ran off to play.” – I’m usually not a comma freak, but I think putting one after “young ones” wouldn’t be a bad idea for readability.

The word “great” is used a few times, kind of noticeable on the second read-through.

And finally, a silly question – how the heck do you pronounce “Hsiao-tse”?

Thanks for a great story, revbob – well done all around! Sorry this wasn’t a very long review, but you don’t leave much for a girl to pick on, you know *Pthb*.

Sheila

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#902269 by Not Available.

8
8
Review of End of Summer  
Review by badvoudou
Rated: E | (4.5)
Hello again, Meesterplad!

Great story! I really liked this one. Very quiet and subtle, with much going on under the surface - and you served it up with very little "tell", which is hard to do with character-driven fiction (IMO, anyway). Your imagery is fresh, I don't recall seeing anything that struck me as tired or cliche. There was enough dialect to pinpoint this as a reigonal piece, but it wasn't so heavy it was difficult to read. I just really dug this story.

The only thing I have to offer in the way of constructive criticism is this - I caught myself skimming around *Paragraph*15. I think it's because it was pretty much an expansion of *Paragraph*2, dealing with changes in the island's population. Both *Paragraph*s have some great lines - you might want to consider weeding out the ones you aren't in love with, and putting the survivors all in one place. It would kill that feeling of repetition, move the story along.

You mentioned that you were planning to submit this - in my humble (unpublished) opinion, I think it stands a very good chance. There are lots of markets for character-driven fiction out there.

Overall, a well-written piece, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The voice of this one is entirely different from another great story of yours I reviewed,
 Performances  (18+)
A young man's preparation and performance one night in a gritty drag show.
#964674 by Meesterplad
- I'm impressed with your talent for diversity!

Sending back your auto-gps - would have R&R anyway.

Sheila

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9
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Review of Performances  
Review by badvoudou
Rated: 18+ | (4.0)
Hey, Meesterplad –

Saw this on the review request page a few days ago and gave it a read.

A night in the life of an eighteen-year old working class drag queen. Loved it. I’m a huge fan of blue-collar stories, and yours is brilliant. There were some excellent lines in here – a few I thought you just nailed: “Janet shifted on the couch, a tightening knot of bone and muscle.”, “He forced the key over a second time, … and held it there as the engine shook to life.”, “as she conjured a fickle wick of confidence inside her chest,”, “He thought of Diabolique biting dollars from men’s hands,…” Also liked the way Justin’s identity changed when he was in costume – I thought the pronoun switch was very effective.

Much as I like it, I do think this needs a lot of careful editing.

The main thing I noticed is that the writing tends to be wordy, and the reader is given tons of unecessary information. Trimming those excess words and cutting back on stuff not relevant to the story will really tighten this up. Example: ““I won’t be there too late,” Justin said. “I think I might be catching what mom’s got.”
“Alright,” his mother said. “I’ll be asleep, so be quiet anyway. I gotta get rest.” A coughing fit boiled up from deep in her chest, as if to assert that however Justin might be feeling, or anyone else who might claim illness in her presence. Her sickness trumped all others, and completely justified the time she’d taken off work. With a cough that severe, and phlegm gurgling from the waddle of her throat, there was no way she would go into work tomorrow either.
” The phrase “however Justin…” is a good example of wordiness, and since Justin just said he wasn’t feeling well, it isn’t needed. The part about her taking time off work really has nothing to do with the story. We already know she’s got a bad cough and is hacking phlegm – we saw her do it in the hallway – so that line isn’t necessary. "“I won’t be there too late,” Justin said. “I think I might be catching what mom’s got.”
Alright,” his mother said. “I’ll be asleep, so be quiet anyway. I gotta get rest.” A coughing fit boiled up from deep in her chest, as if to assert that her sickness trumped all others.
"

Take close look at spelling and punctuation and missing words. When I edit my own work, I read out loud – it always helps me find this kind of thing. A few examples: “Justin strut into the living room” - “strut” = “strutted”. “ Excited?” Diabolique asked.” – missing (“). “Justyne walked into the dressing room, an exhaustion suddenly enveloping her large serpent.” This one made me do a double-take – first I thought she had a snake, then I thought it was a phallic reference *Smile*. Then I realized you may have forgotten to put in “like a”.

Keep an eye out for repetition – not word repetition, but descriptive repetition. Justin’s wig is described a few times, as is his makeup, his stage and street clothes, his build – once is enough. Also, take a closer look at some of the imagery - examples: “wearing a snarled red wig, perched askew on his head like he’d grabbed a dead opossum from the pavement and wore it as a joke.” I like the image, but since possums are gray, it kind of displaces the picture of a red wig. “except for a golden chain as thick as his thumbnail that dragged around his neck.” – a thumbnail generally isn’t very thick - try “as wide as his thumbnail”.

You might want to reconsider giving away so much information about Will too soon (*Paragraph* 6) – for me, as a reader, it took the punch away from the scene with Will near the end.

This story is written in 3rd person omniscient POV. Be careful, though, about the switches from one character’s POV to another. Each POV needs its own *Paragraph* – example: this *Paragraph* starts out with Janet’s POV – “Janet shifted on the couch, a tightening knot of bone and muscle.”, then the mother comes into the room, and it switches to her POV – “She paused, waiting for the living room to come into focus, and squinted at the TV through a fog of lingering sleep.”.

One final (I swear) thing – and this is just a little nit-pick – I was skeptical about the restrictions Joyce put on the performers’ behavior in the dressing-room to protect the fragile Justin/Justyne. I’m sure that sort of thing could happen, but it just didn’t ring true to me.

Okay, that’s it for me. I know this was a long review but please don’t think I’m being harsh. I loved the story - it’s original and gritty, and any more work you put into it will only make it better. If you decide to do a re-write, let me know – I’d love to read it. Hope you found something helpful in here. Oh - giving back your gps - I would have reviewed this anyway.

Sheila
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#902269 by Not Available.

10
10
Review by badvoudou
Rated: E | (4.5)
Hey Wallweed -

Well done! I liked this one. The theme is a fairy-tale staple, but the way you told it is wonderful.

You asked if it was too long - I don't think so. You could trim a few lines here and there in the first two paragraphs - there is a lot of "bard" description there - but overall the length is ok. Also, give it another read-through for typos - there were a couple, but nothing major.

Anyway, another good read - thank you, Wallweed!

Sheila
{bitem#902269}





11
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Review by badvoudou
Rated: 18+ | (3.0)

Hey Dark Starr –

Here's my review, made public as we discussed.

You did a great job with the action in this story – you got us in the door, showed the situation, kept things moving at a brisk pace with no background clutter, no unnecessary information. We didn’t learn a whole lot about the heroine, but since this is just a prologue, I’m assuming we’ll find out more as the work progresses.

I do think that this needs a good bit of editing and polishing. I have a few suggestions and notes - as always, they’re offered to help, so use what makes sense to you and toss the rest.

Have another look at spelling and punctuation – there were a few typos/misspelled words and some missing quotation marks/commas. Examples: “ although I value your…opinion…, I’m not taking head.” – “head” = “heed” - “ “your color coordination, sire. As she leaned” = “your color coordination, sire.(”) As she leaned” - “this is HQ go ahead” said a deep male voice” = “this is HQ (,) go ahead (,)” said a deep male voice”

There were a lot of repetitive words/phrases/images. These are the ones that are really noticeable - I gave a few examples of each, but with a good read-through you’ll be able to catch the rest:

“slowly”: “she slowly walked”, “Octavius stood slowly”, “eyeing each one of them slowly”, “They walked slowly”, “Nasstassja spun around slowly,”, “Standing slowly,”, “sitting slowly,

Looking/seeing/eyeing: “Eyes stared upon her”, “her eyes took in the scenery.”, “she saw five gentlemen”, “Octavius looked up at the man.”, “eyeing each one of them”, “looking at him.”, “looked at him with smoldering eyes.”, “she eyed the person

Smiling: “smiled at the irony”, “He smiled,”, “she smiled softly”, “smiling up at him.”, “as he beamed.”, “a bright smile”, “Nasstassja smiled slowly,”, “smiled brightly,”, “Nasstassja smiled warmly,”, “towards the woman as she smiled,

“slipped”/”slid”: “sliding clear polished nails”, “slipped off her shades”, “she slid her hand”, “slipped an arm around her”, “slipped the pins from her hair”, “sliding hair from her face”, “slipped the earpiece”, “slipped the microphone

Also look for: “walked”, “quickly”, “bowed”, “soft/softly”.

For the most part, the dialogue is good, if a bit stiff (which is ok, because these characters are sophisticated dudes) but please take another look at this one – [Nasstassja says] “ “Monsiuer Bertrand stated that I was allowed to rest in his personal chambers when I became tired. My feet are very tired. Could you show me where they are?”” Poor girl – sounds like she’s lost her feet. *Wink*

Consider varying your sentence structure a bit. Quite a few sentences follow one of two patterns - this one: “Nasstassja smiled as he kneeled, picking her up off her feet and carried her to the bed.”, “She tapped his hands as she crawled out of the bed, walking to the windows as she pulled the draperies closed.”, or this one: “She stepped slowly into the tub as she pulled her hair into a knot.”, “He led her into the room as he cleared his throat.”. A few variations would make for more interesting, textured reading. Also - the word “as” is all over the place – it’s everywhere. If you read closely, most of the “as” conjunctions [not sure if that’s the right term – grammar squad, help!] are unnecessary, and sometimes impossible. (This one: “ walking to the windows as she pulled the draperies closed.” has her pulling the drapes closed on her way to the windows. ) There are tons of ways to avoid using “as”: “She went to the windows and closed the drapes.” “She stepped into the tub, pulling her hair into a knot.”

There’s a hefty dose of adverbs here, too – most of them could go – your descriptions are solid enough to stand without them. Also a tendency toward wordiness. Trimming some of the other extra words will only strengthen your writing. Example: “She raised up to face him, nudging his [face] with the barrel of her gun. He opened his eyes and immediately froze, seeing the gun.” The red shaded parts could go – “immediately” is unnecessary (“froze” is an immediate action) – we know he saw he gun, his eyes are open and it’s in his face. I bracketed “face” because it’s repetitive – kind of vague too. Maybe substitute “cheek” or something?

Some storyline points:

You may want to capitalize “desert eagle” – it took me a minute to figure out that she was pulling a gun out of the closet instead of a bird *Bigsmile* For this part I consulted my resident weapons expert – my husband (he’s an ex-Marine [infantry], now working in law-enforcement). Basically, what he said was that there could be an issue with the Desert Eagle – it’s a huge caliber handgun – a freakin cannon. It’s very heavy. It would be extremely awkward for a petite little thing like Paradise to whip it out from underneath the bed, and when she fires, the recoil could dislocate her arm. Also, one shot would blow the guy’s head completely away, and she’d be covered in brains and skull and blood – there would be no firing three slugs into him – his head would be gone after the first shot. A couple alternative weapons: maybe a Walther PPK or a .25 Beretta might be more realistic. Oh – and a bit of explanation about how the gun got there would be good – did it belong to Octavius, or was it planted earlier?

In the scene where Paradise and Octavius get busy, the part where he sees her naked and “Octavius’ eyes widen as his mouth gaped open,” – this just seems out of character for him – he’s a smooth number, a Mafia Don – I can see him being appreciative, but not slack-jawed with awe.

You might want to re-think the names of the teams on the job. Even though it’s not a gov’t task force, it’s unlikely that any “professional” operation would have both a “Bravo” and a “Beta” team – since “Bravo” is the military/law enforcement term, I’d stick with that one and rename “Beta” – maybe “Delta”? That’s pretty close, and it keeps with the phonetic alphabet.

I’m not quite sure about the ending, where Paradise gets to keep the estates, land, and cars. That would involve titles and deeds and taxes, payola…way complicated, too traceable. Not sure that works. Oh yeah – did she really come downstairs naked after the murder, or did I mis-read?

Ok, that should do it for my input. Please don’t get discouraged by such a long review – this is definitely a story worth re-writing. You mentioned submitting this in the future - with some careful editing and polish, I’m sure it’ll catch the right editor’s eye.

Hope you found something helpful in here, and good luck with your submissions!

Sheila

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Review of The Laundromat  
Review by badvoudou
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
Working with dialogue only must have been a challenge - but I think you did a good job of it. I was able to hear the tone of voice of each character, formed a picture of what they looked like, what they were doing while they were talking.

A couple suggestions -

The punctuation could use a careful edit - there are lots of missing periods, some missing apostrophes, some random question marks, that kind of thing.

The ending didn't ring as true as the rest of the story - the story takes place "in the heart of a major city", but when the cops showed up, it was almost a one-horse town sort of vibe - the cops say that they would have been there sooner, but they had that other situation, as if there aren't any other officers in the whole city. Maybe a more realistic excuse would be that they had to come from across town because all officers in the area had been called to the hostage scene.

Overall, a good read, dialogue is tricky enough to get a grip on even when it isn't standing alone.

Sheila
13
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Review of Flashbulbs  
Review by badvoudou
Rated: 18+ | (5.0)
Hey Dillon -

I absolutely loved this story. I love the writing style, love the dark imagery, love the narrator’s twisted field of vision. The opening line hooked me right away:

Wednesday morning means straight razors and game shows.

Your writing is solid and gorgeous – before I knew it, I was sucked right into the seedy life of Brian Elias. Incredible read.

There were a couple hitches, though, mostly minor:

The scene where the zoning contractor gets hit by fireworks is a bit confusing – he’s introduced as Michael Linklatter but when the accident happens, the line reads, When the smoke clears, Clint is down—hit by a firework. He’s also referred to as Clint in a later line, I believe.

How did Pat the Editor know about the explosion almost as soon as it had happened – did he have another photog there, or did he have a hand in the accident?

Unless porn stars are more flammable your average citizen, I’m not sure that hundreds and hundreds of them could be incinerated during a 2 minute conversation –a few of them would go up, sure, but wouldn’t it take some sort of explosion to char-broil a couple hundred people in such a short time? There is freon on the floor – isn’t freon a gas? I’m not an expert on pyrotechnics or anything, so I could be dead wrong, but this part did raise a few questions in my mind.

Overall, excellent job – I have to give this a 5. Looking forward to visiting your port.

Sheila
14
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Review by badvoudou
Rated: E | (5.0)
Susannah -

Taking a stroll through your port, and this one caught my attention.

“The Season of Giving” is a bittersweet snapshot of a single mom struggling both financially and spiritually. I could identify with Christina as a parent torn between wanting to give her children everything and her reluctance to accept charity. I liked the way the story is told: straight up, no corny, gushing sentiment. And it still made me cry, dang it. :) This is well-written and very real – excellent job. No suggestions for improvement.

Sheila
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Review of Mr. Apologetic  
Review by badvoudou
Rated: E | (4.5)
Hey Djinn,

Really liked the lyrics, puts me in mind of old Bad Religion. Would have given a 5, but the last verse lost me - maybe I missed something, but the "burning with Ghandi" and "holding hands with Dahmer" lines threw me, as Ghandi would generally be considered the good guy. But like I said, maybe I missed something - otherwise, great job.

Sheila
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Review of Viscera  
Review by badvoudou
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
I liked this a lot, especially the final two stanzas. You blended colors and emotions, damage and healing beautifully. But I do have to admit that I cannot remember what color "puce" is. Maybe there's something earthier you could throw in for the color-knowledge challenged in your audience?

Well done.

Sheila
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Review of Weathervane  
Review by badvoudou
Rated: E | (4.0)
I love the premise: a woman buys a weathervane on an impulse, and when it arrives realizes why she did. It was a good story - great premise, was well written, had flawless grammar and punctuation (to my eye, anyway!). The reason I only gave it a 3.5 was that I think it wasn't as satisfying as it could have been. It seemed to lack something. The main thing that seemed to be missing was her reason her subconcious told her to buy the weathervane - we were TOLD that she is ignored and lonely, but we're only SHOWN once, when her husband doesn't answer her. I know that with flash fiction, it's vital that every word is absolutely necessary. Maybe I can help weed out some uneeded words to allow space to fill out some skinny parts. As much as the word count will allow, anyway.

"“Honey, the package arrived!” I called to my husband. There was no pause in the typing coming from his study. Irritated, I turned my attention to the package before me." Showing us through the sound of his typing that he's ignoring her works well - but what if the story started out with her in his den with the open box, wanting to show him the weathervane but being waved away or ignored - or something like this that will show us her uncaring husband and eliminate the unimportant box itself and its arrival? This allows you to cut "Turning back the four rectangles of cardboard, I peered inside.", and might give different opportunities to show more about how unhappy she is, or let us see more into her head, or whatever element you want to expand upon.

"Lifting it out, the light played along the polished copper, each detail dazzling me. The winged horse, Pegasus, appeared to be in flight, mighty wings lifted, powerful legs galloping." I think this description of the weathervane could be shortened a great deal, something along the lines of "It was a dazzling copper sculpture of Pegasus in flight.". All we need is a general description, because what the weathervane actually looks like isn't as important as what it means to her.

"As a girl, I'd loved horses and unicorns, but I still wasn't sure why this weathervane had jumped out at me weeks earlier while looking through a catalogue. Surrendering to the impulse, I had ordered the weathervane." If you cut "As a girl, I'd loved horses and unicorns", which is not central to the story, you probably could sum up the rest of this paragraph in a single sentence, explaining that she'd seen a weathervane in a catalogue and ordered it on a whim.

"Looking at it now, a sadness filled me. I shook my head at my foolishness, wondering what on earth I was going to do with it. I couldn't get it on the roof myself, and obviously my husband wouldn't be moved to do it for me." I think this paragraph is great - very effective; it shows us how she feels, and it shows in just a few words how her mind is starting to turn toward the real reason the weathervane caught her attention. I do think, though, that "I shook my head at my foolishness," could be cut, and if you wanted you could join "wondering what..." by putting an "and" after "sadness" and changing "wondering" to "wondered" - "Looking at it now, a sadness filled me, and I wondered what on earth I was going to do with it."

"Why did one need a weathervane, anyway? Did it really matter what way the wind blew? And if the wind's direction changed, then what? There was some saying, something about the winds of change. What did that mean?" I really like this paragraph too, especially the first three sentences. "There was some..." could probably be shortened a little, though. "There was that saying: The winds of change are blowing." You could probably cut "What did that mean?".

"c:green}"Change. Change was a good thing, they said. It had been a long time since there had been any change in my life. A bored housewife, a lonely house, an absent husband. Now a weathervane, with no wind to turn it." I think this was a great paragraph too, very effective. Especially the last sentence - awesome. It might pop even more if you let it stand alone as its own paragraph.

"Looking down at the Pegasus, I decided to make my own wind, my own change. I set it down gently in the box and stood up resolutely. I strode to my husband's study and knocked smartly on the door jam before entering the room." Again, good paragraph. You could probably shorten "Looking down...", to "Looking at it,..." because in the line directly above it is specified that we are still talking about the weathervane. Keep in mind,though, that you already used "Looking at it..." in the 4th paragraph, so you may want to rework it. You could probably cut "before entering the room.". If you did, it might make a cleaner path for the last line to stand out.

Flash fiction is extremely difficult for me to write, and I amire those who can stay within the word cout limits - like I said, I think you did it well. I hope I was helpful - your writing is excellent, I just felt that there wasn't enough of it in this story! I know that with a little more substance it would really shine.

Sheila





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