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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/profile/reviews/beholden
Review Requests: ON
700 Public 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 The Summoner  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 13+ | (5.0)
I found this while wandering through Read & Review. Although it's also true that I've noticed quite a few other pieces by you in the last few days. It must be Adherennium week or something.

Anyway. I notice you ascribe the genre Nonsense to this poem. Which immediately had me looking for meaning in it. And I think that's what is so attractive about the poem. There definitely is meaning in it but it lurks just out of reach, giving the reader fleeting glimpses that lure deeper into the maze. If this is deliberate, you have a devious mind, sir. If not, I must shrug and presume that it's the usual case of our identity being betrayed unwittingly whenever we set pen to paper or finger to keyboard.

As for the writing, it is very competent, the rhymes are natural and do not jar, the meter is ever present and free flowing. It's all extremely capable and leaves me nothing to carp or quibble about. A truly excellent and entertaining poem.


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2
2
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (5.0)
Very clever. I'm not a great one for rhymed poetry but you handle it with aplomb (rhymes with bomb but doesn't imitate it). Add to that your gift for smooth and effortless meter and you have a winner. I can see why you stick with what you know.

As for content, I must admit that I, too, have often pondered on the matter of "giving a person a piece of your mind." So I found the whole poem delightful to read, with your reflections on the squandering of a mind until there's nothing left. Perhaps that's the real cause of Alzheimer's. But the cherry on the cake is the pun at the end. And I'm a sucker for puns.

To sum up, it's a most enjoyable, light and humorous poem that deserves the five stars I'm going to give it. Great work!

Oh, I should mention that I came across it in Read & Review.


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3
3
Review of A Moving Day  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (5.0)
This is a clever little story with quite a sting in the tail. I wondered where you were going with it for quite a while, so the denouement was quite a surprise. Very nicely done.

The writing is smooth without errors and the tale progresses at a merry pace throughout. It's all described and detailed sufficiently for the reader to picture things quickly. The piece has all the signs of having been worked out carefully beforehand so that there are no anomalies to give the reader pause.

The only quibble I have is that I want to know what happened in the meeting of these two non-friends from high school days! Obviously, I have been dragged very successfully into the world you created.

Impressive stuff.


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4
4
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (4.5)
Review of A Very Important Meeting by Marvelous Friend for The Rising Stars

Initial Impression:

A brave subject to choose, I think. It's not easy to portray a person as well known but as distant for most as Jesus. It has to be a very personal portrait as a result and I like the way you have described Him. Your decision to withhold the name of the person until fairly deep into the piece enabled you to describe your surroundings and you took the opportunity well.

Title:

Does exactly what it says on the tin, as we say in England.

Content:

Considering the constraint of a word count of only 500, you have managed to get a considerable amount into so brief a meeting. The beginnings of theology indeed! It's in the simplicity and ordinariness of the conversation that you hit the target. Contrary to popular opinion, I do not think Jesus would talk in a pompous outdated form of English. He addresses us in the language we know and understand and this is exactly what you have done.

Style:

You have a simple and direct style that is well suited to the subject and how you have decided to tackle it. The one thing I have to point out is the old "show, don't tell" message. In other words, it is not necessary to tell me that the park was beautiful. You have told me enough for me to make up my own mind on that score.

Interestingly, you have not described how Jesus looked. I guess we all have our own opinions on that and it is probably the wisest course to dodge the issue. The important thing about Him is always the message.

Flow/Pace:

Always a difficult one to judge. I didn't notice any hiccups or huge variations in pace so we can take it that those aspects are fine. Remember that it can spice up a piece if the pace varies to indicate matters of greater interest or excitement, however.

Suggestions:

I'm sure Jesus wouldn't mind your appearance at the meeting in a jogging suit but I have my doubts that, given such an opportunity, you really would wear such a garment for it. Go on, admit it - you'd make more of an effort than that! It's a pointer to how important the meeting is to you and the reader will take their cue on this from what you wear (amongst other things). Let them know that this is the most important moment of your life.

Favourite line or part:

This only struck me on the second reading. Your sentence, "I looked at my watch." Cheeky! Was Jesus going to be late? Just joking but it is slightly incongruous. And that's why I love it.

Overall Impression:

A solidly competent essay on a subject that you obviously love. Being me, I would have liked a few surprises in the text. A few words from Jesus to allow us to see a fully rounded personality, for instance. He was anything but conventional while on earth and said some truly revolutionary things.

But that's just me - I like to see things progress beyond the every day.



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5
5
Review of The Soul Of India  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (5.0)
I find this to be very beautiful. Of course, as a westerner, I'm a sucker for anything exotic (which in itself reveals an insular attitude as though our own birthplace were to be the centre of the universe). Yet this piece provides a wonderful insight into another's culture and beliefs. Thank you for writing it.

I confess to reading biographies before tackling reviews and feel duty bound to answer a couple of points you raised in yours. In the matter of show and tell, and passive voice, as well as any current fashion in writing "rules," I am in agreement with you. What works, works, and it is silly to get pedantic over rules in that case.

As regards your style being typical of a writer whose first language is not English, this is definitely a compliment in your case. It is possible to see that you write from a very different perspective from those we are used to, but this is much more a result of subject matter than of language. The plain fact is that you write in an uncommonly high register for modern times and make no errors in usage (I could point at the position of the word "only" in the phrase "she continues to dote on them only as a mother can," might be better in "as only a mother can," but it's a fine point in the subtlety of meaning). It may well be that some struggle to keep up with you and ascribe this to your "foreignness" as a result. I find nothing to quibble with in your style.

Your essay is a gem of description, opening the vaults of understanding for other peoples. I am truly impressed.


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6
6
Review of SEBASTIAN'S GROVE  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (4.5)
Totally delightful and intriguing. This is a bright and cheerful tale of invention and imagination beyond the common run. I was fascinated from beginning to end.

It was a great idea to have the teaser advert at the outset. The reader's curiosity is piqued and from the moment we find the place and start exploring, it is impossible to put the tale down. The writing is flawless and without detour, proceeding at a merry pace that is ideal for the subject and comedic intent.

Just one point troubles me. It is impossible to reach the place by road, apparently, and requires a helicopter to gain access. Which leaves me wondering where the roadkill so important to the local fast food joint comes in. An odd trading system supported by helicopter transport, perhaps? It seems unlikely. I know it's churlish of me to raise so practical an objection to such a wonderful expedition into the imagination, but I suspect that I might not be the only one to notice. It would take a very minor edit to correct (or explain), after all.

Even so, I enjoyed the story immensely. Bravo!


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7
7
Review of Play Time  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (5.0)
This is a well written description of a fugitive evading and, ultimately, defeating his pursuers. The setting is some time in the future but revealed to be imaginative as the twist at the end allows us to see that it's all a children's game. I will admit that, from quite an early point in the story, I began to suspect that all was not as it seemed, but that may be the result of my having written something similar in the past. The quality of the writing is sufficient to overcome any disappointment in the denouement, at any rate.

I found it to be a solid account with a nostalgic element that will be echoed in the experience of many readers. Very enjoyable, even the notes at the end proving interesting.


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8
8
Review of Eternity  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 13+ | (5.0)
This made me laugh. Now there's a ghastly carousel to put one off eternal life forever! I should have seen it coming, having written a few stories around the idea of a fountain of youth or a return to life from death rescinded, but this little tale caught me napping. Nicely done indeed.

I found nothing wrong with the writing and would have nothing to say as a result, but I noticed a lone typo in this phrase: "when a glowing, shimmering pool caught out attention. " That errant T in "out" should be an R, of course. Otherwise the tale is told in a brisk, economic style ideal for short stories, and heads like an arrow for its denouement.

A most enjoyable read.


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9
9
Review of Spawn of Dagon  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: ASR | (5.0)
(Don't gush. Remember, no gushing!) That was a bit of a laugh.

But seriously, I've read some of your other stuff before (and not just the No Gushing rant) and there's no doubt you can write. Which saves me the hassle of pointing out grammatical or technical errors (although I have to point out that the word is "lying" when prone on top of the armour. "Laying" is something hens do). But you have to accept praise where praise is due and the fact is you write very well.

This particular piece sets out in the header that it is satire and intended to be funny therefore. So it's no surprise to find that it is indeed funny. Goal achieved, I'd say. And the twist at the end is excellent, thereby satisfying the rules of the contest for which it was written. It also doesn't surprise me that it didn't win that particular contest. Much depends on what the contest owner is looking for and the clue to that is in the prompts. If the prompts are pedestrian, that also is what is expected of entries.

Anyway, I liked the tale and it only remains to decide on a rating. I know - I'll annoy you by giving it five stars. *BigSmile*


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10
10
Review of Let Sparky Lead  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 13+ | (5.0)
Wonderful. I confess to being slightly biased in that I loved Zane Grey's short stories in my younger days and your prospector and burro reminded me of them instantly. And you do not suffer from the comparison - your story has the same atmosphere and feel for the relationship between an old westerner and his faithful burro. It's heart-warming stuff.

Your writing has excellent balance. It is simple, bare of fancy adornment, yet tells the reader all that he needs to know. This results in a clarity of style that is a joy to read. It is also a pleasure not to have to indicate grammatical or technical errors. My only problem is that you leave me with very little to say - you write a good story, sir.

I should mention that some might bemoan the lack of a dramatic twist in the ending. But I agree that this tale doesn't need one. It is sufficient to have travelled the trail with the two friends and been with them through their trials until safety is reached. A fine story, excellently told. Bravo!



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11
11
Review of Skywalker's Boots  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (4.5)
As a story, this one doesn't really feel complete. As an introduction to a series of stories or a book, this has tremendous potential. I don't think you can introduce such an original invention as interdimensional boots without doing something with it; readers want a story! To say that she travelled the universe is not sufficient. What adventures did she have? That's what really counts.

So I applaud the concept but encourage you to write the stories. You may have already done so but there's no indication of this one the page I'm looking at. And so, to style.

You have a tendency to deliver too much information too quickly. Your sentences often contain more than comfortably fits inside them, they begin to bulge and split their seams. I suffer from the same problem - I want the reader to know everything, to understand exactly what I'm talking about. But we run the risk of burying our audience's interest beneath the weight of facts. Slow it down a bit by breaking long sentences into shorter ones. Give little presents of the occasional tiny sentence for the reader to take a breath. Like this, for instance.

Take a long look at this sentence: "Though, she could recognize when objects did things they weren't typically expected to do, like the fact that her father's old, ratty, mismatched laced, boots were capable of carrying a person across dimensions rather than just the average back and forth across flat and rocky ground like average boots." It's a very lengthy way of telling the readers something they already know - that boots are for walking, not for zipping between dimensions. And beware repetition - "average" is fine once but use something like "ordinary" the second time.

Avoid discussions with yourself - decide what you want to say before you start writing. Here's an example: "Dominica's father had been a strange man, or so she'd been told, repeatedly. It wasn't like she'd ever noticed that about him though, but then again, people said the same thing about her, a lot." Better would be, "People said her father was a strange man. Her own reputation was similar." Let the reader decide whether she's strange - it draws them into the story by giving them something to do.

Try to avoid trendy clichés like "slapping someone upside the head." It may sound cool the first time your hear it but much cooler is to invent it yourself. Let others admire your way with words rather than give the impression you're trying to be "in."

The thing is, these are minor flaws in what otherwise is a very competent writing style for your age. If you sort them out, you'll be ahead of your contemporaries. You have very few grammatical or technical errors and it's quite clear that you know how to spin a yarn. Just be a little more restrained in your attack and you'll wow the editors.

As I've said before, it's a fantastic idea - now do something with it!



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12
12
Review of Solia's Revenge  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 13+ | (5.0)
This is a very competently written story set on a planet terra-formed for human habitation and resembling the old west in climate and occupation. That scenario has been imagined before (West World) but this story makes a fine job of it too.

I found it gripping enough and had no difficulty in following the lady as she returned from prison to the ranch and found it run down by a wastrel younger brother. It's finely paced and flows along well, never getting caught up in the thickets of the dreaded info dump, nor wandering off into some dead end canyon of the sidetrack. But I must admit that I wonder if the denouement is sufficient to justify the story. Not that I was hoping for a gunfight, but the ending is just a little too quiet for the expectations that have been built up.

Yes, it's a valuable lesson that there are some things more important than being a success in the ranching business and there's nothing wrong in pointing this out. I just worry that it might not be sufficient compensation for the reader's journey through space and the desert, growing involvement with both story and characters, only to be given a homespun lesson and the advice that "That's all, folks!"

Maybe I'm wrong. And it's certainly true that I enjoyed the read and the ending. It's only my opinion, after all. I'm giving it five stars because it's definitely worth more than the four it's earned so far.



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13
13
Review of The Liminal Space  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (4.0)
I'll be honest and admit that this is an odd little piece in so many ways. The first thing that strikes me is the layout. The short lines make it seem intended to be poetry but it quickly becomes obvious that it's not. I presume, then, that it's been written in some format that WdC doesn't fully understand and that the short line returns are the result of that. But editing after transfer into another format is just as important to decent writing so I have to point out how strange these truncated lines look.

The first paragraph is a gem, a really beautifully written piece, a tour de force of simple but effective description. Phrases such as "we...pulled our hot, sticky skin from the seats" are deliciously sensual.

And then we come to a sentence that, on first reading, seems to make no sense at all. "I was younger then, though I don't remember how young - too many things have altered my perception of time and space, but I remember feeling deathless and invincible to teenage years seem to be the appropriate estimate." I struggled to understand but have been unable to make sense of that last bit - "seem to be the appropriate estimate."

Things become somewhat confusing and vague in the final two paragraphs. The purple miasma seems to have transported the narrator and her mother into some form of paradise but I find it very difficult to discern just what is going on. I accept that it's hard to describe things in another state of being but we do need a few things of substance to hang on to. A bit more consideration of what this altered state is and why it is so would help, I think.

You have a very different vision from most other writers and, with a bit more leaning towards the readers, helping them to understand what you're saying, you should be able to produce outstanding work. This particular piece starts quite brilliantly but descends into rather vague statements of some undefined view of how things should be. My own opinion is that you should keep your feet on the earth and write from that perspective but, of course, I could be hopelessly wrong.

A highly enjoyable read, even so.



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14
14
Review of Running Away  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 13+ | (5.0)
I like this. It's short (no doubt thanks to the contest requirements), to the point and contains considerable depth in very few words. The last sentence says it all. Love is the reason for the need for forgiveness and it turns a fight into a race to apologise first. Truly wonderful!

It takes considerable talent to write a full story in so few words. But it's worth doing because it teaches us what is essential and what can be omitted without harming the plot. You have made a really good job of it in this piece. Applause.



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15
15
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (4.0)
Well, it's a much-pondered scenario, the death followed by a second chance idea, but you handled it well, finding a route both interesting (in that the return is at a split second after the departure - love the continuing flight through to the landing) and suitable to a story intended to be brief. I like the guy who walks up and says, "You're early," as well. He introduces a lighter vein than the introduction (which is a bit heavy with intimations of suicide amid a rather dark atmosphere). Not that there's anything wrong with "dark" but the heaviness is the result of your trying too hard to get the reader in the mood.

You throw an awful lot of wordy descriptions at the reader in that beginning. I have to resist that urge too, so I know it's better to go looking for the exactly right word, rather than use everything that occurs. They'll all get their moment in the sun in later pieces and definitely books. Think clarity rather than a demonstration of your ability. The important thing is communication and this can easily get lost if too many words clamour for attention.

Other than that, it's obvious that you can write. There are no grammatical errors worth mentioning and, once it gets going, the story hums along at an agreeable pace without hitches. You describe yourself as relatively new to writing and, I would suggest that, having started so well, you're bound to become a very good writer. All that's necessary is that you keep writing.



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16
16
Review of Father  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: ASR | (5.0)
A very beautiful story and I'm sure everyone who reads it will, like me, wish you the best through this difficult time. You had a father who was a real gem and you are who you are thanks to him. Remember the good times.

As to your writing, I am presuming that English is not your first language and, if I am correct in that, you have an astoundingly good grasp of it. In fact, you write better in it than far too many of those whose first language it is. I particularly like the way you do not load your words with too much weight of flowery description and unnecessary asides. Your style is very story-driven and you are not easily distracted into irrelevant side alleys. The history of your father and yourself is told accurately and without flourish. This allows the reader to share in your experiences, rather than being instructed in how they ought to feel. The piece is very moving as a result.

Well done and thank you for sharing these treasured experiences.



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17
17
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (5.0)
What a wonderful experience. And one that I can empathise with, having at one time in my life been an aspiring painter. Except I never sold anything - if someone liked what I'd done, I would give it to them.

But anyway, it's clear I'll not find any mistakes in your writing, in spite of your protestations of fallibility. I'm sure you weren't a proofreader for nothing. But I had to come a long way to find the prose I was looking for. Sure, I read a few poems along the way but I really wanted prose if I was going to review anything. And, on this piece's evidence, you know how to write, so I wonder why no fiction. Have you tried it at all?

But, if you really don't want to give it a go, you should write a few more pieces like this one - personal anecdotes and memories, in other words. I learned from a very good friend of a few years back that we old uns have a wealth of experience in our heads that others love to hear about. Certainly worth thinking about, you know.

Anyway, thanks for sharing that wonderful story. It is a pleasure to read.


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18
18
Review of April Fools  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 13+ | (5.0)
I like this. You had me waiting to hear about the joke on Todd and then there's all this stuff about their departments and the people who work in them. It's as though I fell for it as hard as did Clarice. But that's okay, I can take a joke.

The dialogue is very natural and believable. And that's about it, there being very little narrative or description in the piece. Thinking about it, however, I know exactly what you mean by a "pub-style burger and onion rings."

To sum up, it's an amusing and entertaining little tale and I have no hesitation in giving it five stars. But I would suggest you add to the single genre listed in its description. Many readers gather as much info as they can about a piece before deciding to read and the more we can give them, the more likely it is that we'll hook them.


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19
19
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 13+ | (5.0)
A fascinating tale. Stirs all sorts of undercurrents, not least those of Jesus' childhood. I had some trouble getting into the story (more on that in a moment) but then was hooked and drawn in until I couldn't escape. Which is a lot to happen to a reader in a piece as short as this but it's true. You have a way with words and know how to make something compelling.

Grey eyes are a part of that, I think. There are various shades in grey (not sure if there are fifty but there ya go) and I'm sure we imagine the most striking of them when reading. I see them as very light, impossible to ignore. A powerful image.

And so to my difficulty in getting into the story. It's the profusion of 'J' names. It takes a while to sort out who is who and the fact that all the names begin with J doesn't help. If this isn't a necessary part of the story that I've missed, I would definitely think about changing that.

Otherwise it's a well told, striking tale that is hard to put down. The Jesus connection occurred to me when the stranger identified Jasper as the future leader of the revolution and was confirmed when Jamie made it clear that she knew about that. It had me wondering whether Jesus had similar experiences. In fact, maybe that's the reason for the J names.

Anyway, I love the story. Wonderful tale!



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Beholden


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Review of The Triangle  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 13+ | (5.0)
Ah, good planning is so important, isn't it? Well written tale that goes along at a cracking pace, providing plenty of suspense and, in the end, a suitable twist.

You write well, in a very clear style and refusing all temptations to digress. There are no grammatical
errors or typos, so you leave me with very little to do except provide applause. Excellent stuff!


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Review of Rainbow Teardrops  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (5.0)
This is very good, Rhymer. It's a grim subject but when did art ever turn away from that? And you spread understanding (if not light) with your descriptive images. The piece occupies that no man's land between prose and poetry, too intense and emotive to be mere prose, not quite poetry in its disregard of form and meter. I like especially that it ignores all those worn clichés about conflict and denouement. It is sufficient unto itself.

Great turns of phrase:

"the sun dives from the sky"
"his face toughens into petrified leather"
"an edifice of a man"
"a crumbling devastation"

Just one word of advice - check meanings of less common words. It's a good habit to get into and sometimes surprises us with unexpected definitions. For instance, "deigning" may not be quite what you mean in the context.


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22
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Review of Images of Hope  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (5.0)
This was one of those things that remain in the memory forever. The horror and terror come rushing back at the slightest mention of the awful event. You have set down much of how the vast majority of the world felt on watching the television coverage, and each of us can supply our own feelings at the sight.

But you have also focused attention on the good things that arose in the wake of the tragedy. There was a unity both in America and beyond between people who had previously thought rarely of our common humanity. In many ways, the USA belongs to the world; there are cowboys in every nation, thanks to the power of the cinema and westerns. What happens in the States, unlike Las Vegas, does not stay there but resounds around the world and affects everyone, even those resident in the most remote of places. And this attack, the most naked expression of pure hatred to the point of death, is rightly followed by a widespread wish for such destruction to cease and for sanity to return to our ravaged humanity.

You have written a powerful appeal in troubled times, a hope that the best in us may triumph in the end.


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23
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Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (5.0)
Loved this, especially the accent. It's not easy to keep up a lengthy monologue in a given accent without becoming tedious, but you managed it with ease. A tour de force indeed.

The story is wonderful too, a delicious blend of the fanciful and a matter-of-fact tone that gives the tale an air of authenticity. If a rough old farm hand were to tell a tall tale, this is exactly how it would be delivered. I can remember many such accounts heard in my youth in Africa, except there the wildlife would probably have been veldskoens rather than rabbits. Southern hemisphere inhabitants do love to pull the legs of recent arrivals.

Which is not to say that I don't believe you. When a tale is told so well, how could I possibly say it nay? Cracking stuff, mate, and keep it up!


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Review of Winter Roses  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
Review of Winter Roses by Kare Enga

Initial Impression:

This is a very different take on the picture prompt. To have two ghosts (if that's what they are) as the central characters is a bit unusual and rivals the standalone door as the mystery that drives your chapter. And who are the visitors that seem to be able to see the ghosts? It's mystery piled upon mystery and the reader is going to be almost forced to read on to discover the answers. Which is exactly what a first chapter is supposed to achieve, of course.

Title:

A good title, in that it highlights the roses as important in the story but gives nothing away. And that's without mentioning that roses don't grow in the winter - another mystery!

Content:

Not a great deal happens in this chapter but there is plenty of interest, thanks to the mysteries and the almost dreamlike visits from people who may be connected to the deceased. The door has opened only once but we are not allowed much of a glimpse of whatever is on the other side. And this makes its easy surrender to the final visitor more intriguing. What is it about him that makes the door yield without difficulty?

So this first chapter is about setting up the mysteries that are going to be woven together and explained in the rest of the book.

Style:

The chapter is written in a simple, bare style that is entirely appropriate to its content. There is very little description and no explanation, and this heightens the air of mystery. This matter-of-fact style works very well in the chapter but may not do so well in the chapters that might follow one day. One can play one's cards close to the chest for a while but they have to be revealed eventually. If the minimalist style is followed for too long, the reader will become irritated and perhaps turn away.

There are no grammatical errors or typos evident and it's clear that you can write very well. The one quibble I might mention is that, in writing a book, you would have to bend a little in your attitude towards the reader. To remain obstinately obscure will put readers off in time. Obviously, I say this because I've read a lot of your work; it's not evident from this brief chapter.

Flow/Pace:

Nothing wrong here - everything flows along at a steady pace and there are no trip ups at all. You know where you're going and you get there on time and without detour.

Suggestions:

Only what I have already mentioned. It would make a very gripping book, I think.

Overall Impression:

Well, I'd really like to know how you'd bring all this together in the book that supposedly follows. Which means you've achieved the aim of a first chapter - to get the reader to carry on into the second chapter. An extremely competent and tantalising entry to the contest.


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25
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Review of The crypt  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
Review of The Crypt by Sumojo

Initial Impression:

I couldn't find any reference to the prompt in your chapter. No freestanding doors in a field. You may have thought the mausoleums were sufficient or perhaps the intention was to have a freestanding door in some later chapter, but that would not be including the prompt as required in the Chapter One contest. It is not up to me to decide on the eligibility of your entry, but I thought I should mention it since it was a part of my initial impression.

Title:

I am presuming that the title refers to this chapter only. The book, were it ever written, might have an entirely different name in that case. I take it that the crypt referred to is the mausoleum near which is the grave of the young woman. As such it serves well enough.

Content:

This is the tale of a young photographer who enters a cemetery in the evening with the intent of taking some atmospheric photos for her portfolio. Seems reasonable enough but then the spooky occurrences begin to mount, culminating in the appearance of the dead (presumably) girl with arms outstretched before her. She turns out to be a vampire and the photographer flees and has to climb the gates to escape.

It's a cliffhanger of an ending to the chapter, posing the question of her survival or otherwise. Is it sufficient to make a reader wish to continue reading? I am undecided. The chapter does seem a bit light in content and really needs more interaction amongst the mausoleums and gravestones to pique the reader's interest.

Am I saying it should be longer? Not necessarily. It would benefit from a little editing of unnecessary detail to provide the space for more detailed exploration of the graves. The destination of the empty Coke can seems a bit surplus to requirements, for instance.

Style:

You write competently, without grammatical error or missed typos, but I think your effort in description is going in the wrong direction. There's nothing wrong with us knowing a little of the appearance of the protagonist but it should not interfere with the action or atmosphere of the main thrust of the story. It would probably have been better to describe the photographer at the beginning, while she was still sitting in the car. That way, she doesn't interfere with the atmosphere you will need to build once the cemetery is entered. We need to feel the creepiness of the place as it gathers, ready to pounce on the unsuspecting lady. So tell us about increasing gloom as the sun goes down, describe the mausoleum and and the mossy, weathered gravestones. Build the tension before the girl appears.

Flow/Pace:

This is fine, apart from the point that the running scenes need to be speeded up somewhat. Short, sharp sentences can give the impression of hurried steps and don't interrupt the action with her thoughts. Let us feel the panic through her actions.

Suggestions:

I think I've preempted myself on this one. 'Nuff said.

Overall Impression:

It has potential for development with just a few tweaks and additions. Sound work that just needs a little injection of excitement.


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