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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/profile/reviews/barlock
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20 Public Reviews Given
Public Reviews
1
1
Review of A Soul's Bane  
Review by Sean
Rated: 18+ | (4.5)
Hello Paul J. Belanger

I just finished reading
 A Soul's Bane  (18+)
A short story about a series of cryptic, recurring nightmares I've been having.
#1665074 by Paul J. Belanger


I would like to offer you the following review. Please keep in mind that I am not a professional editor or publisher. Everything that I know about writing I have learned from WDC members through their honest and helpful reviews.

The suggestions that I offer in my review are intended only to assist in improving the piece, not as a blatant criticism of your skills. It is my hope that you take each of my comments in the spirit in which they were intended. *Smile*

First impressions:

A nicely done, well thought out, entertaining story.

Things that I thought worked particularly well:

I like the way you brought the surrealism of a nightmare to life--or death as the case may be.

The descriptions of the landscape were great and really served to place the character, Paul in a space, thereby setting up a great scene in which he could move around freely.

The dream sequence at the beginning, where Paul is being told that his wish has been granted really helped set the story up nicely.

I love how the house was farther away when he looked up rather than closer. This really gave a dream-loke impression. I kept thinking 'Quick, Paul! Run away from it so that you can bring it back to you!' A strange concept but true to the odd things that often happen in a nightmare/dream.

Opportunities for improvement:

Well, this is the section of my review template that I sort of dread. The comments that I will make in this section are intended only to share some of the things I have learned that I think you might be able to apply to this (and other) stories. Please don't assume that these remarks as coming from someone who thinks he knows more than you. The fact is, I don't. I am extremely new to writing and can only share with you what the good people at WDC have taught me over the past several months.

Become an adverb slayer! Adverbs are the tool of a lazy writer, which you are obviously not. If a writer has to explain the way a character performs a verb then there's a good chance that the description is lacking. Remove the adverbs (almost all of them and find a less lazy way of telling me how the character is behaving. I'll give you and example but I'm only as a means of trying to explain myself a little better.

Take a look at this line of your story:

My body aches as I painfully stand up, my bones cracking loudly.

This is great! I get it! But you could do better than using the two adverbs, "painfully" and "loudly." Show me that standing was painful for him rather than telling me. Show me that the cracking bones were audible rather than telling me that they were. Here's how you might rewrite this to bring more texture to this sentence:

My body aches and I can feel the pain shoot from my feet, traveling up my back and into my arms and hands as I stand, my bones cracking and popping in protest.

Now, I just through that together and I know it's not exactly what you're looking for. But I wasn't trying to rewrite it for you, only to give you and example of how one can (and almost always should) kill the adverbs in favor of more colorful language.




Line by line suggestions:
*Pencil*

Since I spent enough of your time on the whole Adverb Slayer bit, I'll make just one suggestion with respect to a particular line in the story.

Lost in my thoughts, I barely notice the hooded figure standing beside me. I scream and crawl away.

In my mind's eye, Paul was standing when he noticed the figure next to him. He should either drop to the ground before crawling or find some other way to move away from the scary guy.

Additional thoughts:

You do a great job with imagery in this piece! You have a wonderful narrative voice and you tell great story with it! I promise you that I learned more from reading your story than I attempt to teach with my suggestions. I hope you can take a few of the ideas that I mentioned and either use it ways that you think might improve this story, or incorporate the suggestions into the next one.

Great job wit this! Please keep writing! *Bigsmile*




Cheers!

-Barlock

Get there. Write away! ___*Pencil*

** Images For Use By Upgraded+ Only ** Dragon

2
2
Review by Sean
Rated: E | (4.5)
Hello BScholl

I just finished reading
STATIC
A Special Gift (3rd Place)  (E)
An elderly lady has a surprising revelation. (2 EDITOR'S CHOICE/3RD PLACE TWISTED TALES)
#1648628 by BScholl


I would like to offer you the following review. Please keep in mind that I am not a professional editor or publisher. Everything that I know about writing I have learned from WDC members through their honest and helpful reviews.

The suggestions that I offer in my review are intended only to assist in improving the piece, not as a blatant criticism of your skills. It is my hope that you take each of my comments in the spirit in which they were intended. *Smile*

First impressions:

This was a well thought out story with an actual ending that wrapped things up nicely.

Things that I thought worked particularly well:

I enjoyed the twist and could feel Hanks surprise when he found out what that Ruth was Maggie.

Opportunities for improvement:

I'll cover some of this in the line-by-line (below) but for the most part there are some things that I think would improve upon an already good story. I'll share what I've learned and you decide if it's worth applying t this piece. My suggestions will have a pencil *Pencil* next to them.

Line by line suggestions:

Finished with the count, he stood there to wait on his wife, Eve, coming out of the sanctuary.
*Pencil* This would flow better if he wasn't waiting on something that was already happening. You might think about something like this: Finished with the count, he waited on his wife, Eve to come out of the sanctuary.

Ms. Schwartz, a slight, white haired lady of 82 years, stood patiently in line when she broke away and toddled toward Hank.
*Pencil* Again, the character is sort of doing two contradictory things--she's standing patiently when she broke away. You may want to consider breaking this thought up a bit so that it has more continuity. Something like: Ms. Schwartz, a slight, white haired lady of 82 years, stood patiently in line. When she saw Frank, she broke away and toddled toward him.

“Hello, Hank.” Ruth stated in her usual elderly stutter. She had a slight speech impediment from a stroke a few years ago. Except for the stutter, she was not hard to understand.
*Pencil* I didn't hear her stutter. She clearly says, “Hello, Hank.” "H" is a hard letter to stutter. I had the same problem with a piece I wrote called "Liar" and had to change the dialog so that the stutter worked. This could be easily resolved by calling it a slur instead of a stutter.


Hank shook his head, and started back inside to meet up with his wife of twenty seven years.
*Pencil* I thought he was going to wait for her outside? No?


Hank truly enjoyed his job, and always treated the customers as people.
*Pencil* Hmmm...I think "treated people with respect" might work better here.


Knowing that the customer barrage was likely over...
*Pencil* barrage of customers would be more seamless (just an opinion)

Always showed up on time, and worked from the moment he clocked in until the job was complete.
*Pencil* Unless his name is Always, this sentence has no subject. Just add "He" at the beginning and you're set!


I hope you don't think I'm trying to rewrite the whole story! I just think those suggestions would help round off some of the rough edges.




Additional thoughts:

I'm going to share with you something that I have learned from the good people here at WDC. If you apply it to this story, or any story, you will take many strokes off your game. It's the "Show, don't tell" rule that you've probably heard about. You have a great voice so I wouldn't change a thing with respect to the way you tell a story. You're just really good at it. Where you can improve your writing is in the details. I'll give you one example from your piece and maybe invent one for you to ponder about.

He unlocked the back door with his old skeleton key, and carefully pulled the door open.

This is great imagery! But I bet you could do better! Instead of telling the readers that he opened the door, try showing them. Something like:

*Pencil*The deadbolt clicked as he twisted the old skeleton key. Hank pulled at the knob. The hinges creaked in protest.

Okay, so that might not be the best example but you get my point. By letting the reader assume what's happening through descriptions, the sentence plays more like a movie in the readers head and less like a grocery list of events.

If someone in one of my stories was cleaning a window, let's say, I could say:

Joanne cleaned the window.

Or I could say:

The window squeaked under the rag as Joanne's hand moved in small circles against the glass.

Again, not the best example but you get what I mean.

One last thing--and this is something I am currently struggling with:

Kill the adverbs! You should try to eliminate every adverb that you can. If you need an adverb, then you probably didn't do a good enough job "showing."

Example:
Frank walked laboriously to the den.

In this example, I've gotten lazy by using the adverb laboriously. It's a colorful word but by using it, I basically admit that I don't feel like taking the time to describe what's happening so I'm just going to tell you instead. Any time you see an adverb, take a second look and see if you can find a way to show, not tell.

Frank dragged himself to the den.

Simple, but much more effective.


Whew! This is a long review huh? I'll stop here before I bore you to tears but please know this...

I wouldn't have spent this much time reviewing the story if I didn't think you were worth it.

I hope that you find at least some of this useful! Good job with this story! Please keep writing!

Cheers!



Cheers!

-Barlock

Get there. Write away! ___*Pencil*
3
3
Review of The forest of now  
Review by Sean
Rated: ASR | (4.5)
Hello the Winter Wolf Warrior

I just finished reading
 The forest of now  (ASR)
what are the animals views on us?
#1663918 by the Winter Wolf Warrior


I would like to offer you the following review. Please keep in mind that I am not a professional editor or publisher. Everything that I know about writing I have learned from WDC members through their honest and helpful reviews.

The suggestions that I offer in my review are intended only to assist in improving the piece, not as a blatant criticism of your skills. It is my hope that you take each of my comments in the spirit in which they were intended. *Smile*

First impressions:

I think this is a great concept for a story! I found it interesting to see the world through the eyes of the fox.

Things that I thought worked particularly well:

The way that you inferred man's presence was great! I like that you only described the "creature" from the fox's perspective.

Opportunities for improvement:
I think this was a well thought-out story and at the risk of repeating myself I will say again that the concept is really great! I will share some of the things that I have learned from other WDC members that I think would improve not just this piece, but all of your writing. You have a good "voice" for storytelling and I wouldn't change the narration one bit. You could really breath life into your stories by losing almost all of your adverbs (this is something I'm learning to do with my work). Adverbs can show a writer's laziness, and I know you're not a lazy writer. Here's what I mean using an example from your story.

The fox tread slowly the rest of the way back to his den contemplating about the creatures.

This tells us how the fox walked back to his den--and that's great! But you could do better by showing the reader how the fox walked rather than telling the reader how the fox walked. This makes a connection in the readers brain that make the scene play more like a movie. Wherever you see an adverb, you can almost always do better. Taking the line that I quoted above, I might rewrite it like this:

The fox slugged back to his den with long, labored steps, his heart still pounding from the encounter with the strange creature.

Now, that's just one of many possible ways to kill the adverb and use more descriptive language in its place. Do that throughout the story if you can and you will automatically take many strokes off your game. Remember that the objective is "Show, don't tell" and you will vastly improve an already great story.

Additional thoughts:

I'm not exactly blown away by the last line. The first and lasts lines should really make the reader feel like the story was worth the time they invested in reading the story. Your last line feels like it falls just a tad shy of that.

He could no longer worry, for his pain had ceased.

It seems like you're saying that there is a direct relationship between someone's worry and someone's pain. And maybe there is but that's a whole other story! It's almost like saying: "Whew! Thank goodness I'm dead! Now I don't have to be bothered by that pesky worrying!"

Perhaps you would do better to say something like:

He looked behind him and saw one of the creatures running at him. There was nothing he could do. He closed his eyes and as his consciousness faded to black, the fox fell still.

Or something along those lines.


Keep in mind that I offer the above suggestions to improve upon a story that I think was very well done! It is no way a criticism of your work!

I hope you found some of my views on the piece to be helpful! There are some comma problems in the piece but I'll let someone else point them out. I just don't think punctuation is a problem with this story as most of the errors are hardly worth mentioning!

Great job with this! Keep up the good work!!!
*Bigsmile*


Cheers!

-Barlock

Get there. Write away! ___*Pencil*
4
4
Review by Sean
Rated: 13+ | (5.0)
Great job! I love the blog!
5
5
Review by Sean
Rated: E | N/A (Review only item.)
This was great, turtlemoon! This style really gets to my core emotions and I can't really explain why. There's a commercial for Liberty Mutual--The one where good Samaritans keep "paying it forward." The song that they use is from a band called HEM. The song is called Half Acre and the lyrics evoke the same feelings (for me anyway) as this beautifully written piece of yours. You really did a great job with it! Once again, turtlemoon delivers! Bravo!

Cheers!
-Barlock


Get there. Write away! ___*Pencil*
6
6
Review of A MANLY THING?  
Review by Sean
Rated: 13+ | (5.0)
This was great! I really got a kick out of this! I want more!
7
7
Review by Sean
Rated: E | (4.5)
Nice job! I like your... darkness! Wonderful piece! Keep up the great work!
8
8
Review of Mother Born  
Review by Sean
Rated: E | (5.0)
I love this!!!
9
9
Review by Sean
Rated: 13+ | (5.0)
I love it! This is a wonderfully clever piece! You did a great job with this! It's no wonder you won*Smile*

Cheers!

-Barlock

Get there. Write away! ___*Pencil*
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