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Review Requests: ON
1,009 Public Reviews Given
1,010 Total Reviews Given
Review Style
I have a review template that is only used for in depth reviews, usually those that are specifically requested. These will be as comprehensive as I can manage, including everything I have noticed in reading the piece. Most of my reviews, however, are more in the nature of reactions to the piece with brief notes on things I find particularly good and suggestions on dealing with any obvious flaws in the writing.
I'm good at...
Reviews of stuff I particularly like. If I think the writing is good and the ideas original and inventive, I will say so and become enthusiastic about it. I will point out flaws, particularly where I feel that they interfere with a positive reaction to the piece, but I will also offer suggestions for fixing such problems.
Favorite Genres
I have a broad spectrum of genres I'll review. It's easier for me to list the genres I won't touch.
Least Favorite Genres
Romance, erotica, overly dark subjects without a good reason for existence.
Favorite Item Types
I'm unsure what is meant by this - I would have thought the genres sections covered this.
Least Favorite Item Types
See previous section.
I will not review...
Again, see the genres section that lists the genres I won't review.
Public Reviews
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1
1
Review of Shift  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 13+ | (5.0)
Some people classify stories of less than 500 words as flash fiction. I think you ought to put that as one of the genres, as many readers only have the time or inclination to deal with very short pieces. You should attract more readers that way.

On the same subject, it's best to increase the font size from the WDC default. Many older members find it difficult to read and, again, you don't want to drive any potential readers away.

Otherwise, it's well presented, with plenty of space between paragraphs and is attractive to the reader as a result. The title is good, too, with its enigmatic one word that could mean many things. Nothing like a bit of mystery to pull readers in. But you have to deliver in that case. And I've spent some time wondering at the connection between the title and the text. Do you mean the young, uniformed girls are on a shift? Or maybe the narrator was on a shift when he discovered the abused girl. Some clarification is needed, I think.

And so to the story itself. You're asking the reader to do a lot of work, aren't you? Presuming that the girl he rescued is the same girl he now watches as she crosses the carpark, the reader has to make the connection. And it's quite a jump for a reader who may only be partly invested in the story. I'm not saying it's too high a jump, but I think you might lose a few that are unprepared for such mental gymnastics. Personally, I love that you've made me work for this conclusion, but I'm still not sure that it's the right explanation. What makes me go for it is that, without it, there's no story in the piece - it's just a vignette. But you claim it as a story so the parts must all be related in some way to make a plot. I can't think of any other way to do this.

So I'm left really loving your story but unsure how many other readers will feel the same. It's up to you whether you're prepared to risk it or not. I know I would as it's the kind of thing I've done myself at times. I don't mind if readers are left guessing. It's pointed out merely because you may want to make it a bit more obvious. Entirely up to you.

There was one sentence that is desperate for a few commas to separate the items in a list:

"A pile of beer bottles used needles and cigarette butts had spilled onto the floor and offered a view to how the dead man lived his life."

Overall, it's a very competent piece of writing. In so few words, you establish atmosphere, tell us all we need to know about the narrator's history and character, and give us a neat little story that took years to unfold but only 365 words to relate. All this and no errors or grammatic whoopsies for me to point out. Well done indeed.


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Beholden
Nominated for Quills Best Reviewer, 2023
2023 Quill Nominee


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
2
2
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (3.0)
This is a fair attempt at a short horror story that falls short thanks to a few minor errors. The conversation at the beginning is confusing because we're not told who is talking. This means that, once we reach the introduction to the characters, we have to read the opening lines again to make sense of them. Never a good idea to force the reader to go back to read again.

Then there are familiar or near-familiar names scattered through the text. The most glaring of these is Barney Fife and you risk being accused of plagiarism or fan fiction by using the name. Far better to invent names that you can then flesh out with character if necessary. In a short story, it's probably more than is needed anyway - Barney's fear of the house tells us all we need to know about his character without borrowing a character from another writer.

The piece is written mainly in the past tense but sometimes switches, for no apparent reason, to the present. This is something that should only be done to give sudden urgency to the action and it should be used sparingly even then. To switch so many times in a short piece like this is only going to distract the reader.

Finally, your last sentence weakens the impact of the denouement. If it's merely a film set, that's fine, it's a reasonable ending. But to then try to throw the reader back into the world of real horror is a step too far. Let it be real or fake - never try to get the best of both worlds. It's unclear anyway whether the scream is real or just another movie effect.

So there are a few things that need fixing but they're all easily attended to. Otherwise it's a competently told tale that could succeed with a little polishing. You building of tension is good throughout the piece and the surprise at the end well timed. Just needs those little errors to be mended.


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Beholden
Nominated for Quills Best Reviewer, 2023
2023 Quill Nominee


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
3
3
Review by Beholden
Rated: 13+ | N/A (Review only item.)
I'm a great believer in the modern fairytale. And, in this piece, you have written a great one. The original tales were intended as instructional and this story takes the same path, if a bit more obviously. Perhaps that's because we are closer to the lessons it tries to teach. They deal with a modern problem and suggest a modern solution.

It's a delightful tale, a clever turning of the original Hansel and Gretel story to serve in a different way. The single weakness, in my opinion, is that there is no explanation of how the witch catches and imprisons the children. One moment they're chewing on the house, the next their parents are rescuing them. I know it's easily inferred from our knowledge of the original tale, but the sudden skip in the text is still somewhat disconcerting. Just a sentence or two to describe the children's capture would make all the difference.

Otherwise it's a fine tale, well told and with a sound lesson to be learned. I found no errors or typos. Altogether, a very enjoyable story. Well done!

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Beholden
Nominated for Quills Best Reviewer, 2023
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4
4
Review of "Lipstick"  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (4.0)
I almost don't know where to start with this one. Perhaps it would be best to start at the beginning and finish at the end. And that brings me to the title. Why the quotation marks? If it's to indicate that it is a title, just embolden it and we'll understand. Otherwise it looks like a quotation and gets us wondering how a single word can be such a thing.

Then there's a little surprise in the dates. Your details (yes, I do read those if it's going to help in the review) maintain you joined WDC on February 29 2024. Yesterday, in fact. But I see you already have four reviews on this piece. I find that almost unbelievable. If I garnered reviews that quickly, I'd be kinda pleased with myself. But it's a minor point and not really for the likes of me to wonder at.

So then I come to the piece itself. And this is where it gets really difficult. You have such a wonderful way of looking at things and then expressing them on the page. Your attention to detail injects a vividness into the prose that really makes it sing. This is the closest thing to prose poetry that I've seen in a long time and I wish that were all I have to say. But it isn't.

Your grammatical errors are spoiling the piece. A few here and there I can forgive but so many are scattered through the text that they overpower the soaring impression your writing makes. I think I must list them all so that you can attend to them.

"She comes up out of nowhere, somehow danced across the floor to you." Starts in the present, ends in the past.

"Echoing thoughts race across your head" Across? "Through" is better.

"When after doing the best you can," You can't have both "when" and "after." Choose one and it'll make sense.

"we both realized that we're both beyond sex" Repeat of "both" in the sentence. Just one will do.

"But looking at us...you seem to live each other higher," "Us" or "you" - which is it to be? Also, "live each other higher is unclear - better is to "lift each other."

"The mere mention of sex between us to each other" Again, "each other" is unnecessary since that's already been established by "between us."

"something more deeper" Just "deeper" is enough. "More" is what we call redundant.

"we both complimented each other," "Complimented" means that you said nice things about each other. I don't think you mean that - I think you meant to say "complemented," meaning adding to and improving.

"whispering song across up in the sky" "Across" and "up" - one of them is redundant. Later in the same sentence you repeat "letting us know." Better to change one of them to something else meaning the same - ""telling us" for instance.

"as if the gods was just going to..." If it's "gods," it has to be "were," not "was."

" she spoken into my chest" "Spoke," not "spoken."

"I just remain quiet" The paragraph is in the past tense, so "remain" should be "remained."

"just to hear her out to hold her keep her calm to let her vent to just be herself." Desperately needs some commas to separate those actions.

And that's it. Believe me, I don't do that for everyone but your writing is so expressive that I had to help you get rid of the errors in grammar. Apart from those, I have only a comment about the function of the piece. You describe it as Fiction, which tells me that you're not telling us about something in your own life (or, if you are, you'd rather not let it be known). Which is fine - but then I wonder about your intent with the piece. It's not a story because there's no plot, it just describes. It's what we call a vignette and I think you should label it as such so that people looking for a story are not disappointed.

I have to be severe in awarding a rating because of those errors. But do not be downhearted - fix them and it'll definitely be a five star piece. Well done!


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Beholden
Nominated for Quills Best Reviewer, 2023
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*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
5
5
Review of Cat Politics  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (5.0)
I like this. It's very neat in its rounding up of things that seem incidental and turn out to be crucial to the story. One form of cat politics to another kind of cat in the end - it has a balance quite rare in other stories.

The story-telling, too, is quite masterful. It proceeds at a gentle pace, adding details as it goes, but nothing too dramatic happening. One wonders where it's heading. In fact, I found myself noticing the end in sight and thinking that there wasn't much left for a decent punchline. Oh, don't let it fizzle after all this, I thought.

And it didn't. Saving the best for last, it delivered the surprise denouement in the very last sentence. You can't ask for snappier than that - I love it!

Of course, I knew there was something about that cat. A ceramic cat delivering a static electricity shock, indeed. But you gave nothing away with that, merely spicing things up for the final flourish. It's really well done, a little tour de force of good writing.

I see that your lone previous reviewer gave it one star short of a full house, and I wonder what was found wrong in the piece. Perhaps they didn't like being left not knowing everything about the cat and its powers. But, to me, that's the glory of the piece, that the cat retains its aura of mystery. What matters is that it is powerful and has arranged for its transfer to a new owner by some unknown power. Why dilute the taste of that delicious ending with an unnecessary explanation of how it was done? Let the reader season it to taste.

Wonderful little tale, most enjoyable.


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Beholden
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*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
6
6
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: ASR | (5.0)
This is so refreshing, so simple and yet so profound, a breath of delightfully cool air upon the fevered brow of the modern reader trapped in a land of overheated opinion and guess. It hides nothing, being quite open about the meaning of the picture it paints, holding the hand of the reader so that misunderstanding cannot result. And it's in no hurry, proceeding with calm assurance to its beautiful destination.

As a metaphor, it is so effective, the concept of cup and saucer being made for each other true in both example and conclusion. But what I really love is the recognition it gives to the chips and flaws of daily life being just as important to the message as the set itself. This is how the Creator intended it to be, even down to the smallest hairline crack, perfection resulting from unity of purpose in the end.

The writing is clear and direct, even presentation being enhanced by the emboldened font of each section. Both subject and execution combine to make a disarmingly simple but effective picture of how things are meant to be. It's wonderful stuff.


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Beholden
Nominated for Quills Best Reviewer, 2023
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*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
7
7
Review of We the People  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (4.0)
This is a reasoned piece summarising freedom and its importance to all people, but looking especially at those states where it has been tried in the form of democracy. I think more stress needs to be placed on the definition of the word, since it is best understood by a study of its opposites, such as slavery, the feudal system, and totalitarianism. This would show how the concept of freedom became so attractive to mankind in the first place, while highlighting the fact that it does not mean licence to do exactly as we please. All actions need to be considered in the light of how they affect others as well as the individual.

The piece hints at this weakness in pure freedom but does not go into detail on how a line may be drawn between freedom and licence. Law is mentioned, as is the problem of who decides that a law is good or bad, but there is room for deeper investigation on this point. The plain fact is that we are human and carry the seeds of destruction within us therefore. Just as we are imperfect, there is no perfect system that cannot be corrupted by our own failings and the best we can do is to opt for what offers the least harmful way of governing ourselves. It's a matter of the best of a bad lot.

So there is much more to be said on the subject but this piece does make a good start on it. The argument is presented clearly and without serious or obvious flaws. It's just that I feel it impossible to deal with so vast a subject in so few words. A brave attempt!


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Beholden
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*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
8
8
Review of FERNTALON  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
I puzzled over this for a while, wondering what it was intended to be. It wasn't until I found the lone clue, the word "novella," in the heading, that it made sense. Of course, it was fairly obvious that the piece is part of a much greater whole, but the description "CavernClan nursery, 20 Moons before Arc 1" has no meaning to anyone stumbling across it in Read & Review. The point of a description is to prepare the reader for what is to follow, not to refer to something that he has no knowledge of. So you need to be a bit more explicit in the description.

And that's my major quibble with the work. Once I settled to read it (in spite of the small font and compressed look without space between the paragraphs - some attention to presentation needed there), I began to appreciate the vivid description, the careful, measured and accurate prose, most especially, the freshness and originality of the concept. It really is a wonderful new world, a society and culture of cats with a different view of life than our own. You have brought anthropomorphism beyond its usual bounds and, in the process, created something that is more for adults than children. The names, too, are a delight and a relief from the usual Tiddles and Snowball suffered in feline literature. In the end, I have to offer my applause for a job well done.

Explain in the description that the piece is an exerpt, enlarge the font by one step, and allow some air into the text by either putting an extra return between paragraphs or indenting their beginning, and you will have a jewel of a piece.


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Beholden
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*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
9
9
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 18+ | (4.0)
Good grief, this was a surprise. Such a long list of disappointments and frustrations, disillusions and disgust! And I have to admire the determination and stamina to keep going through all those verses. Sure, I can understand how the thing was written in an outburst of long-contained and emotional despair at the state of the world, but it's dreadfully one-sided. And, if it's as biographical as claimed, it speaks of a terribly disastrous life.

All of which is a reaction to the content and speaks nothing of the writing or technique. But I can't help being affected by such a prolonged outburst of unrelieved doom and gloom. Has humanity no saving graces? You know it does. I've read enough of your work to know that this is hardly characteristic of you. It must have been a pretty awful day.

As for form, technique and style, you've done better. But I suppose we all have our off days - I know I do. I'll be kind and give it four stars because I know the wonderful stuff you're capable of.


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Beholden
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*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
10
10
Review of Trust  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 18+ | (4.5)
This is a very well written horror story, full of engaging and original turns of phrase ("...hair was just starting to pull back from his forehead, like a hesitant tide," "...panic fluttering dry wings in her mind"), and the accurate use of an obviously full vocabulary. You can write, that's for certain.

The story, too, is compelling as the reader waits to hear the terrible secret she is about to tell her paramour. And the denouement works well, although it's rather as expected.

The single weakness in the tale is the boyfriend's instant reaction to her secret. It seems too sudden a change from his previously caring attitude to her. And this is because the telling of the secret is done so sketchily. It's over in one short paragraph and the reader is not granted any time to absorb the enormity of her deeds as a result. I think, if more detail of each crimes, or at least a couple of them, were supplied, it would be easier to believe the boyfriend's disgust and revulsion.

It's a small point but an important one to the plot. And, since it takes some of the steam out of what is such an expertly told tale, it should be amended if you want the piece to reach its full potential.

Otherwise, I can't fault it. Beautifully written and an enjoyable read.


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Beholden
Nominated for Quills Best Reviewer, 2023
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*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
11
11
Review of Worth Saving  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: ASR | (4.0)
This is a sound tale of a man's revelation of what it is to be the caring friend that Christians are called to be. I do wonder how much interest a non-Christian will find in it, although I can see little in it to offend against most non-believers' assessment of what a Christian should be. Matt does become very close to a stereotypical legalist at times, for instance. But there are people like that out there, I know.

Ultimately, the story stands boldly for its message and it's a universal truth that anyone would find hard to argue against. In a crisis, it's right to assist even your enemy.

If the telling of the story has a weakness, it is in the sudden contrasts it recounts. It is hard to believe in Matt's sudden breakdown to tears in the truck, when only seconds before he has been railing in his mind against homosexuals. And Jarret's switch from friendliness to anger, when he realises he's being preached at, is also a little too sudden. People usually put up more avoidance of conflict before throwing an antagonist out of their property. It just needs a little more time and subtlety to smooth over these transformations.

The piece also needs one more careful edit - I found two technical errors:

"I'm looking forward to the next few months being Heaven on Earth." I don't think he had ambitions of being heaven - more that he wanted to live in it.

"He pushed his way through the cloudy home in a hurry" - probably better to say "smokey" or "smoke-filled" rather than "cloudy." I can see what you were trying for but "cloudy" is a bit more friendly than smoke.

Other than that, it's a well written, engaging story with few flaws. And I do like a good story with a moral at the end.


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Beholden
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*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
12
12
Review of Mr. Green Eyes  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (4.0)
Clearly this is autobiographical and not a fictional story. But it contains an account of your first love and what followed. As a story, I think it may be a bridge too far. You see, most of the piece is devoted to the first romance and ultimate betrayal. The details of what happened afterwards is tacked on as though it was necessary just to end the tale.

I think the ending weakens what is both a charming and deeply tragic story. Told just for itself, without reference to the twists and turns of later life, it's quite a powerful description of young love and the highs and lows it can bring. It's an old tale, witness Romeo and Juliet, but an undying one. It doesn't need the addendum of what happened in the rest of your life. It can stand alone as a touching romance and ultimate failure.

The progression from there straight into meeting your ultimate marriage partner deflates the emotion built in the main part of the story. It's its own story, really, and deserves to be written as such in a completely different piece. I would even dare to suggest, having experienced it myself, that love in later life is deeper, stronger and lasts longer. And that makes it just as affecting a tale as any teenage affair.

Both have their attraction, one through passion and dreams, the other through friendship and steady care for another. Anyway, that's what I think about the story. As regards the writing, it's fine, there are no errors in the grammar or editing, and it flows without lumps and bumps, and at the right pace. You write well, if with a little too much control - a bit of poetic nonsense would draw the reader in even more effectively. And, for that, we need details, odd little things that the two of you shared, even silly things that made you laugh. Give us a glimpse of the memories you have. And don't forget the huge ache that was caused by his treachery. You pass over it a little too lightly with your brief description of a dear John letter. We need to see and feel the despair that preceded the decision to let him off so lightly.

Of course, you may not have intended to open your life to the reader in such a manner. The piece may have been written just to stop holding it to yourself. And that would be fine. But I'm a writer and I write to make people think and feel - so I can't help assuming every writer is the same.

And I'll bet you are. *Wink*


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Beholden
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*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
13
13
Review of PrepMo 2020 Day 6  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 13+ | (2.0)
I'm not sure this was intended to be read and reviewed. At a guess, I'd say it was a first draft that you meant to go back to and extend into a story but never did. It is openly unsure about itself right from the beginning until the end.

But it's here in the Read & Review section so I must presume that it's open to both, especially as it was written in 2020 and that seems too long ago for it to be left incomplete. And I have to start by saying that its first impression is that it's dense. The small font and paragraphs crushed together so that the whole seems a solid cube of text make it daunting to read at best. It desperately needs spreading out with greater space between paragraphs, and a larger font chosen for ease of reading.

Actual reading of the text only makes it more dense. Characters wander in and disappear without reason, they soon become so numerous that all hope of keeping them in order is gone, and the reader is left in the flow of the writer's thoughts on what he has to tell, without a hint of what actually constitutes the story. I have to presume that it's experimental and attempting to demonstrate the story forming in the author's mind. And the reason I assume that is because the writing itself is good. The names and relationships are interesting in spite of being thrown into such a jumble and it becomes frustrating that the story stutters and fails to begin. There is so much interesting material to work with in what is recorded.

That is the greatest weakness in the piece - that there is no story in it. Or that it is so effectively hidden that the reader has no hope of finding it. If the thing is an experiment, it should not really be out there where reviewers can stumble on it. And if it is intentionally unfinished as yet, you should continue to work on it because it has the potential to be very good. I am sure that you intended something to happen in the scenario. The annoying thing is that it doesn't.

Finally, it requires a good editing, at least if you ever finish it. Lines like "There is a bit of drama in whether or not be could procure that," and "him eventually becoming a murder" don't make any sense, because either words are left out or left uncompleted. It's the kind of thing that a decent editor should pick up on first reading.

I know I've been hard on the piece. But, if it is intended to be read, it is surely worth getting right. And there are some things holding it back that are easily fixed. Tell us a little about the characters before introducing the next one. Do the same with any actions - they form the backbone of the story and, if it's left in unconnected pieces, the reader can't make head or tail of it (in more ways than one).


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Beholden
Nominated for Quills Best Reviewer, 2023
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*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
14
14
Review of No Home to leave  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 13+ | (3.0)
This is an intense description of being a part of a family with high stress and difficult problems. It's not a matter of abuse, as such, but nevertheless the narrator finds it so oppressive that the only alternative seems to be escape. And yet that's not easy.

It appears to be written almost as a thought experiment, perhaps in an effort to come to a conclusion on action to be taken. In the end it fails in this but may have eased the building despair in the writer. For the reader, it seems a bit too personal to be accessible. Since the problems in the relationships are never detailed, they cannot be fully grasped and appreciated, therefore. The reader feels the pain but not the reasons for it.

So I think it fails in the business of communicating, but that may not have been intended anyway. There are a couple of minor faults that would improve it, even so. The font needs to a be a bit larger as, for anyone without perfect eyesight, it's difficult to read such small print. And the word "breath" is a noun meaning the air sucked into the lungs. The verb is "breathe" and I think this is what you mean.

Apart from that the piece is competently written but I'm unsure of its intent. Keep writing but decide on your target audience - is it a group of readers or just yourself? My advice would be to aim at others.


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Beholden
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*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
15
15
Review of Jim's Chair  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (5.0)
You have discovered one of life's important principles. The inanimate servant that is loved becomes ragged and worn with use, precisely because it is always the chosen one. Far from being despised and replaced with something new, it deserves to continue in service, like an old retainer who is too loyal to be let go. Some things, even the inanimate, are lifelong companions.

This is a charming little piece, certainly true in my experience, and most readers will recall similar things that they have loved. But the important point is how the old chair speaks most eloquently of your love for your husband. That the chair now serves you too is surely the proper ending to the heartwarming tale.

In summary, it's a well written, simple but affecting tale that echoes in the memory of reader. And it's without grammatical error or typo - what more could we want?


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Beholden
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*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
16
16
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 13+ | (5.0)
This is a very powerful piece, made the more affecting by the fact that it is truth. None of us now lived in those far off days when transport meant horse drawn buggies and the internal combustion engine was more a gamble than a serious attempt to get humanity moving. But you have captured the very essence of what it must be like, to be entrusted with others' lives in the teeth of a hard winter in a hard country.

The writing is beautiful, spare and economical yet so direct in its communication of emotion. You paint the scene with a word here, a phrase there, and nothing is superfluous, everything so carefully chosen to let the reader understand the true depth of the story.

There is just no way I am going to make any suggestions for improvement. One does not pick at perfect. Wonderful stuff.


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Beholden
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17
17
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 13+ | (5.0)
This is a very fine tale well told. I particularly like the atmosphere it sets, a worldly wise attitude of having seen it all before. That this is then gradually changed as the doppelganger takes over the protagonist's life, to lead ultimately to paranoia and death, is expertly handled and never clumsily done. It all leads to a sense of impending doom that is entirely appropriate for the genre.

Characterisation is also well done, each character being named appropriately and without lengthy introduction, so that the reader understands very quickly the roles assumed by those in Gloria's life. Everything fits together so neatly and efficiently, as it must in so short a story.

In fact, the story is so well written that I am left with little to say apart from, "Bravo!" It's clear that you should continue to write and provide us with such excellent reads.


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Beholden
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18
18
Review of Space Holder  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: ASR | (5.0)
Surprised I haven't come across this before. I suppose it's different for everyone, dependent entirely on luck or fate as to when in our WDC careers we chance upon this archaeological artefact of great importance. For that is what it is, of course. With your explanation of the need for such a document in the depths of time, we begin to understand at least a little of how it all works and the struggles of its creator. So let's not belittle its place in the scheme of things. I've often wondered about the numbers and whether they reflect the true total of items stored in the WDC vaults. And now I know - we're not quite that productive.

So thank you for all that you've done and this quiet and unassuming reminder of your creativity. Hundreds have benefited from it.

But there is one thing that amuses me. It seems I'm not the only one to have reviewed this precious document. Ninety-six (seven now, I suppose) is a fair indication of how it is appreciated. And that's without even considering the four stars awarded (why not five, I ask myself).


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Beholden
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19
19
Review of Bounty  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
This is an entertaining little piece, if a bit short on story. You describe things well, not overstating anything but allowing enough detail for the reader to feel present in what is happening. Your control over pace and development of the story is good, too, without lag or or haste.

I am presuming that the contest limited you to 300 words which explains the lack of a really gripping story. It does need some form of drama if it is going to maintain interest, however. Having chased the android through the universe, it's reasonable to hope for a bit more struggle from the narrator in achieving his goal in the end. Merely crushing the robot with the vehicle seems an anticlimax as a result.

It's flash fiction and requires a snappy ending, therefore. I would suggest a chase, a struggle in which the narrator loses, the android stepping back in triumph only to be mown down by a passing hover-car. It has irony at least which could supply the sting in the tail. It's just a suggestion of the kind of thing the story needs to provide a little spice.

Apart from that, the writing's fine, you're quite competent in that department, and you've edited well, so that there are no grammatical or typing errors. You also handle the science fiction side very well, refusing to get lost in long explanations of the technology and how it works. It's always best just to mention these things and let the reader imagine how it all functions.

Just needs that extra little twist to make it worth the reader's time.


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Beholden
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20
20
Review of A Plea  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (5.0)
Love the image of the moments stumbling past. Peeling back curtains ain't bad either. You have a way with words.

This is a tight little poem, sparing with words, but carefully choosing the right ones. It says so much with so little. It's a wonderful concept, likening the experience of mourning to the opening of a house to the breeze to allow the last remnants of the beloved to return. I would hope that, when I die, someone would write a poem that speaks so eloquently of my being missed.

There's more to it as well, since the poet mentions that the one she mourns wasn't resident there - that somehow her love was unrequited. She attempts to capture something of what may never have happened.

It's an aching, longing piece that fully deserves the title of poem. It's been a while since I read anything so effective in drawing emotion from the reader. Certainly, I can offer no improvements to such a perfect piece. You should keep writing.


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Beholden
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21
21
Review of I’m scared  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (3.0)
You describe this as a monologue and that's exactly what it is. If you want it to be more than that, you're going to have to present it in a more digestible fashion. Put yourself in the reader's position and look at the piece. Don't try to read it yet, just look.

It's a massive block of text, isn't it? Hard to imagine a more daunting and uninviting offering for a prospective reader. So that's the first thing you need to do - to break it up into smaller paragraphs that are easier to read.

That's when you're going to find that it's not easy to do because you haven't organised your thoughts. There's no easy way to classify parts of the text as having a common theme or purpose. So where do we put the paragraph breaks? It's something you need to work on, getting thought in order before writing it down, but there's time for that. Right now it's going to help if you just introduce paragraph breaks, even if arbitrarily.

The next thing that needs tackling is text size, the font chosen. It's too small. Make it one or two sizes larger and immediately the piece becomes more legible.

Now it becomes possible for someone to read it and tell you what they think of it. And at this point, I have to consider what you've written. It's a long tale of indecision and uncertainty, isn't it? But you have some things going for you. For one, you've decided to write it down. That's a first step to getting things in perspective. And it displays motivation - the very thing you've been wondering about. The very fact of writing means that you, in some way, wish to communicate. It also puts you in the present. You're recording how you feel at the moment of writing.

And that is, perhaps, the most important point of all. Never mind the future - it takes care of itself. And let go the past - it's done now and need have no further hold on you. It's what you're doing now that is important. All this wishing you were something and could do certain things, and then finding that you aren't and can't. It's wasted effort. Best to start from what you are and work with what you have.

This is all life advice and beyond my remit really. The place where I can help you is in the writing (and you could start that by making things more readable, as suggested) and you've made a start on that. All you need do now is remember that you write to be read. Everyone does, whether they admit it to themselves or not. So always write for others to read and understand. Even if you don't really understand yourself.

It's a noble undertaking and will open the way into a fuller life. But you still have to choose to do it.


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Beholden
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22
22
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 13+ | (3.0)
This is a difficult one to review. It has moments of bright brilliance and others of dark confusion, and I'm unsure just how intended it all is. This, for instance is pure poetry:

"Imagine a leaf floating endlessly in a tunnel
A tunnel leading to a bank of light
Light leading to other doors
Doors opening to patches of sky and a beach in uproar"

But then consider this sentence:

"I could be older or it could still be that night charged with electric ghosts and chilling voices and reptilian hiss at the bus station I could feel of an ugly creature with bloodshot eyes."

What does it mean? I feel as if there are words and phrases left out that would otherwise bring everything together. This occasional descent into words thrown together without apparent intent destroys the sense and emotion built so effectively in other parts of the narrative. Although the piece is interesting and contains some marvellous imagery, in the end it leaves the reader with no idea of what it's about.

And that's annoying. The writer obviously has a rich vocabulary and learning to draw on but needs to connect things in a more logical way so that the reader doesn't get lost. Just because a word or phrase is beautiful doesn't mean that it has to go in. If the piece claims to be a story, then a story it must be and things must follow in some sort of logical order. Otherwise it's just a fevered dream of flashes of unrelated sights.

My only advice has to be, "Think thread." Decide where your starting point must be and then spin the tale as a connected thread that weaves the scenes and events together into a coherent tale. In this piece you have Medusa as a thread that connects beginning and ending but it's not clear just how the legend bears any resemblance or meaning for what you describe. A snake-haired lady whose face turns people to stone - has she turned you to stone or is there some other connection that you're aiming at? It needs to be much more obvious if the reader is to get the point.

Wonderful descriptions, even so. Just a minor quibble about detail - the word "lightening" means the process of making something lighter. I think you mean "lightning," which is the electrical discharge from a thunderstorm.

It's clear you have considerable ability as a writer. All you need is a little disipline to bring everything into order so that it communicates to the reader.


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Beholden
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*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
23
23
Review of DUET  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (5.0)
I sometimes wonder whether a review of something written many years ago can be relevant to the author. There are even times when I decide against reviewing a piece because too many years have passed under the bridge. But then I remember that I am happy to receive comments on things that I wrote as long ago as the sixties and seventies. And maybe there are other weirdoes just like me out there.

As it happens, I didn't go through that long process before deciding to review this poem. It's so good that I just had to say, at the very least, Bravo! What a wonderful little poem, saying so much in so few words, so precisely. How expressive of a relationship in its likening the interaction to collaboration over a song, one writing the music, the other the lyrics. Yes, art is like a birth and the baby is the artist's forever.

Interesting rhyme scheme too - ababbcc. And so unobtrusive, clearly the result of careful word choice.

It really is a beautiful poem. Applause.


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Beholden
Nominated for Quills Best Reviewer, 2023
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*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
24
24
Review of Reclamation  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 13+ | (5.0)
This is a very complete poem, a recital of one side versus another, a recollection of impressions and a painting of place. It contains struggle, the quiet reclamation of ground by nature or by city, and a considered statement of the poet's relation to his world.

The language is simple and direct, creating instant pictures and flashes of insight to communicate the feeling of place and time, then using this to show how things change and occupy other positions. Repeated themes reinforce the impression of constant movement and give & take, first the city taking what is its own, and then nature reclaiming what belongs to it. It's the very simplicity that gives the poem its power. Images are so stark and follow each other in such quick progression that the reader is drawn into the scene and rides the wave of experience with the poet. And this is done so easily and yet carefully, each word chosen for its effect and its reaction with those around it.

Is it also about the after effects of Katrina? Let's see now - Katrina was in 2005, the poem written in 2007. Entirely possible then and the poem is given extra significance as a result. Whether this is intended or not, the poem is very powerful and emotive, drawing those who may never have experienced the south into an understanding of the viewpoint of one who knows it so well.

A wonderful poem of great depth and insight.

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Beholden
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25
25
Review of Aunt Rhonda's  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 18+ | (5.0)
This is an interesting little piece, produced for a flash fiction contest and deceptively simple as a result, but surprisingly thoughtful in its intent.

I confess that my eye caught the two instances of capital letters as it swept across the text before reading, and it proved an exercise in self discipline to refuse to read them until come upon naturally in the reading of the whole. That I was successful indicates that my one minor quibble with the work - that the impact may be lessened by the capitals being read first - is negated to some extent. Not every reader is going to be as motivated as I was to leave the capitals until they were intended to be read. But the fact that some are going jump the gun is enough for me to suggest that the capitals be changed to italics, a far less noticeable variance from the rest of the text.

The story itself is delightful, straightforward and honest, but with considerable depth in the background painted so skillfully. There are reasons for Billy's attitude, of course, and they are not forgotten in the conclusion to the story. Moralistic it may be but reality shines through any disdain of the postmodernist. Billy is a fine hero, especially lovable for his willingness to poke fun at himself even in succumbing to his better nature.

The writing is excellent, ideally suited to its subject in its directness and simplicity. Altogether a fine piece marred only slightly by those capitals. My congratulations.


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Beholden
Nominated for Quills Best Reviewer, 2023
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*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
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