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Review Requests: ON
796 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 Stuck  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (5.0)
You are so right - being stuck is sometimes the best thing to be. I was wondering at first how long you could keep up the flow of similes. When I try that kind of thing, I always end up with fewer than I'd hoped for. But you managed it to mid-second stanza, an impressive list and all of them eloquent of stickiness.

I think this poem is a resounding paean of praise for something that the modern world is losing: the long-lasting relationship. It's not an easy thing to express, this feeling of being joined in common existence and loving it. You have succeeded in this, thereby enabling you to end on a great shout of determination to be together to the end.

The power of the poem comes from the down to earth recognition of the fact of your situation, the description of it in ordinary terms that yet will be understood by all. Who has not experienced those sticking things, after all? There's no romantic prettification of the matter, no wild promises of eternal devotion, just this simple statement of fact that gives reality and solidity to your subject. It's a clear view through an honest eye.

Even so, I have a quibble. It's a bit of a hobby horse of mine but why is the whole thing centred? To my mind, this merely makes it more difficult to read, the eye having to adjust to a different starting point with every line. And there is no compensation of some shape being revealed (although it's arguable about how relevant this is to a poem anyway), the length of the lines being so variable as to create a shape that wobbles about indecisively. I think you're far too good a poet to worry about how a poem looks from the other side of the room.

If I'm wrong in this, you're going to have to explain it to me. I've thought about this business of shaped poetry for a long time and it still just looks like a clever trick invented by Lewis Carroll. And a trick that was only clever the first time.

The good thing is, it gives me a suggestion I can make to satisfy Schnujo's review requirements! As if I would ever dare to make suggestions for improvement to your perfect poetry otherwise!


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2
2
Review of Writing In Images  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (5.0)
And yet we are more than painters. The painter presents us with an image frozen in time which may be connected to a story but, if it's to mean anything, that story must already be known to the viewer. The writer works in images but they're a series that connect together to create story. A reader can come to it knowing nothing of the story and it's our job to let them become a part of it.

Which is why your reference to the movies is so apt. Writing and movies are inextricably linked - without a story, there's no movie. And someone had to write that story.

Now they tell us to leave out adjectives (description, in other words). Apparently, just the bare name of something is sufficient for the modern reader. Yet it's good description that creates the pictures that are remembered.

Totally agree with your premise. Well written too (but you could correct the apparent typo in "Your directing a movie on a plain piece of paper." I think you meant "you're.")


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3
3
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
Review of Bullets and Bandages: Bond of Brothers by Robert J. Saniscalchi

Initial Impression:

Much longer than anything I have reviewed before, I am unsure whether this is intended to be a finished product or a work in progress. You mentioned something about this being a second edition, as though it were already published in a previous form. My comments are given, however, as entirely separate from the fact or otherwise of publication. A review is intended to give my impression of a work and to offer any suggestions for improvement that I can muster.

The piece reads like what it is: a memoir. It will inevitably be compared with some of the many other books written about the Viet Nam war, and I believe you have still to decide which way to go with it. As a memoir, it is restricted in interest to family members and friends and, possibly, those researching to write their own books on the war. You have already fictionalised it to some extent but, if you wish it to be a broad view of the war, you have a mountain of research to do.

All depends upon how many you would want to read the book. I shall take it that you want it purely as a memorial to your brother and are not interested in an assault on the best seller lists.

Title:

Not ideal, I think. You have two reasonable titles - either would do but using both is overkill. I must admit to preferring the second one.

Content:

It's a blow by blow account of the protagonist's first few days as a medic in service in the Viet Nam war. As such, it is probably realistic in its portrayal but becomes too repetitive and detailed to hold a reader's attention. The army is supposed to be a matter of hurry up and wait, and this catches that perfectly. The trouble is, it makes poor reading. To the writer falls the task of cutting out the repetition, allowing the reader to assume some of the steps to get where the action is going, and to spice up each incident, to find differences in each one, so that they take on their own character and remain memorable as a result.

I'm not saying it's easy. War tends to be a series of very similar, terror-filled incidents interspersed with long periods of inactivity. If that means that some events have to be removed from their actual occurrence and inserted into another, or even invented, to make things more vivid for the reader, then so be it. The alternative is to have something that reads like a statement to the police. It has all the facts in the correct order and they tend to induce sleep.

Think of it as your artistic licence. You're not a camera but a painter and you move things around, add colour where there isn't any, make light glow as it seldom does in real life - all to tell a story that, because it affects the reader strongly, is more true than a straight record of events.

Style:

I understand the need to be honest in your account. That is natural, given that this is a memoir. But, if yours is to stand out amongst many others, it needs more light and colour. Conversations, for instance, do not need to be repeated word for word (I know they're not - you can't remember conversations your brother had). Cut out the long, boring interchanges about very little and reduce the spoken word to brief, meaning-filled utterances.

I don't believe the characters as painted, anyway. They're just too good and unspoiled. It's not the Christianity - that's fine and I bet they really did do a lot of praying in their circumstances. It's their sweetness and light conversations. These are men deep in the most shocking experiences and traumas of their lives. You can bet their words will be a lot harsher and profane than they would under normal circumstances. They are going to swear, whatever their beliefs. And that's what makes it real for the reader.

Believing in the characters is enormously important for the reader. If we don't believe in them, we won't care what happens to them. So they have to be real.

You are obviously in command of the English language. Your writing is devoid of errors and you understand about plot and point of view. All the piece needs is for you to rewrite with a view to making it more exciting. Throw in tiny details, linger over moments of pure terror, let the reader feel what your brother felt, describe it, don't just state that it was like this or that. For instance, the guy who had the lower half of his body blown off, describe it, try to make the reader feel as sick as your brother did (you won't succeed in this - it's almost impossible to describe something so vividly that it induces nausea - but you can get close).

Flow/Pace:

Step by step by step - variation in flow and pace is what maintains interest in the reader. And a book on war is ideal for this, containing long periods in which nothing much is happening, thereby allowing digressions into thoughts and a slower pace, and times when all hell breaks loose and the pace has to speed up to reflect this. Long sentences for the quiet periods, short, sharp ones for the action scenes.

Suggestions:

I think I've made a few.

Favourite line or part:

I liked this as the first bit of humour I came across:

"Sam, also from Jersey, asked me: “So, Rob, why are you here?”

I looked at him with a straight face and answered: “You know, Sam, I really don’t know. Can I go home now?” We both laughed, and it helped ease the tension."

Overall Impression:

Just because it's a memoir doesn't mean it has to be ordinary. Lawrence of Arabia's Seven Pillars of Wisdom is both a memoir and a rollicking good story.



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Beholden


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4
4
Review of Evergreens  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (5.0)
I like this poem a great deal because it shows a knowledge of the growth and lifespan of forests. The first stanza deals with the trees already grown, standing tall and straight with very little foliage below their crowns. They are dispersed, too, not forced together, which would explain their drive towards the light amongst many others doing the same. The conclusion must be that this forest has been thinned, that the best trees have been taken and the rest left to encourage the new saplings to strive towards the sunlight.

The stanza contains all this but also allows the reader to feel the magnificence of these tall trees. The words "soaring upward," "towering remnants" and "old growth" speak of the age and beauty of these trees, and "hypnagogues" reminds of their hypnotic power as we stare upward at their crowns. Very subtly and prettily done.

Then the second stanza turns our gaze to the new growth at the foot of the older trees. We are reminded that these sprigs, struggling from the mist and undergrowth, will one day stand as tall and straight as those few around them. It's a lesson in forest management as well as a beautiful picture of a forest in renewal in the morning. Excellent stuff.


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5
5
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 13+ | (3.0)
Review of Mars Colony by Andrew W

Initial Impression:

The whole thing is a bit wooden and emotionless. I don't think the reader is given time to become concerned about the fate of the protagonists. There is too much concentration on the logical, step-by-step progression of the story. Much of the mechanical reporting of events could be sacrificed for more time spent getting to know Aaron and Eric.

Title:

Adequate but a bit unimaginative and unexciting. There must be thousands of Sci-fi stories about a Mars colony and this needs something a bit more precise and tantalising. Something like Last Day on Mars would be more intriguing and promise more action.

Content:

The story is a bit thin. We are presented with a few signals to justify the label of Sci-fi (the driverless taxi, spaceships) but really need more detail for the setting to feel real. What does Mars look like, for instance, and what does it feel like to be much lighter than on Earth?

The journey to the spaceship includes many obstacles, none of which seem to affect our heroes greatly. While all around people are falling into chasms and being sucked up by tornadoes, the protagonists sail through undaunted and reach the spaceship. If we're going to believe in the devastation around them, we need to see more of Aaron's and Eric's involvement and desperation to get through. There's too much reportage of events and not enough drama.

The two instances of self sacrifice (Aaron falling down and telling Eric to go on without him, and Eric pushing Aaron on to the ship) are of little concern because the two are almost unknown to the reader. I found it impossible to differentiate between them and gave up trying to remember who said what. You need to write more description of them, both visually and their character, if the reader is to care what happens to them. It is very important, too, to have some differences between them. In any relationship, one will be the stronger and the other more amenable to going with the flow. This needs to be shown somehow in the course of the story. Show us them at home, before the decision to go out, let them interact to indicate how their realtionship works. Otherwise, when it comes to the point, the reader won't care about the struggle to let the other survive. If they seem identical, it doesn't really matter who wins the struggle, does it?

Style:

Very bare. This stems from a complete lack of description. It is not sufficient to tell us that "the ground opened up." What did that look like, feel like, and how close did it come to swallowing them? What did the tornado sound like? And look like? Make us feel the teror of it all. Don't expect the sequence of events to involve us in the story. We need to know much more than each step in the progression. In fact, many steps can be omitted if they can be inferred. What matters is that the reader can feel what's going on. We need to feel urgency when there is urgency, lethargy when that takes over, the full range of the story's effect on the protagonists.

Flow/Pace:

The story rushes on from beginning to end, without allowing the reader to take stock and become involved. If it's to work, you should slow down, take a few moments to imagine yourself in that situation, and then describe it. Flow and pace will automatically fix themselves if you do that.

Suggestions:

I think the essential problem with the story is that you're trying to make a point rather than tell us a story. What matters to you is the self sacrifice at the end and the story is just a vehicle to bring us to that point. There's nothing wrong with writing to express something you feel strongly about but, if you're going to use fiction as the vehicle, the fiction must become the overriding goal. The story matters more than how you feel. Get it right and you'll communicate your feeling far better than by merely stating it.

So you need to rewrite the story paying attention to its needs, rather than your own. Let us get to know your protagonists, make us like them, perhaps even take sides with one or the other in any differences they may have, show us how terrifying and difficult the flight to the spaceport is, and, most importantly, save the final struggle for self sacrifice for the very last, as a final, shocking twist that hurts the reader as well as the survivor.

Overall Impression:

Needs a considerable amount of work (which is why I can only give it three stars). But you can do it if it matters enough to you. Make us care as much as you do.



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6
6
for entry "Passion Tanka
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 13+ | (5.0)
Review of Ned's tanka, Passion Tanka.

Follows the tanka form precisely and has that clipped appearance that western minds make of oriental forms. This one has a wonderful rolling effect as it leads the reader through the experience - a touch of ignition, passion blazing up and finally rest as the fire dies down. The picture it builds is accurate, a true representation of passion coursing through our veins, and not a word is wasted or lacking in precision. The best of both approaches to poetry.

Wonderful work!


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7
7
Review of Hope  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (5.0)
This is a good evocation of how important hope is to humanity. It considers what we would be like without hope and uses simple and direct terms to describe such a state. Hope, indeed, is not for naught, for there are times when it is the only thing keeping us alive.

The rhyme scheme of second line with fourth of each stanza is simple and clear with well chosen rhymes that do not interfere with the flow of the poem. It is easy to read but repays repeated readings, with a greater depth of meaning than may appear at first.

A fine and concise little poem.


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8
8
Review of Urban myth  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (5.0)
There is something about Australian outlaws that makes them seem more swashbuckling and fun than criminals of other nationalities. Ned Kelly is the most famous, of course, but this feller, Moondyne Joe (makes me wonder what Moondyne means), sounds even more of a character. Even the Wikipedia maintains his real fame stems from his escapes from custody, rather than any crimes he committed (yeah, I googled him).

You have captured well these aspects of the urban legend, which is quite an achievement within only 100 words. It's an exciting and merry tale, even though he is caught again in the end. At least he had the pleasure of sampling the local wines before that, however.

A well constructed story that communicates the charm of the actual legend.


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9
9
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 18+ | (5.0)
Interesting form, adhered to with extra rhymes thrown in. I like it a great deal, especially since it communicates very well the desolation of losing a lover. It's a tight, well thought out and organised poem that tells a story as well.

My one quibble would be the transfer of the third line's rhyme to the fourth line. This is actually very clever, because it doesn't mess with the flow and, when speaking the poem, it chimes pefectly with the rest of the lines. But it may offend against a rule that isn't part of the form but you have chosen to adopt - that the rhymes come at the end of the lines.

In the end it makes me like the poem even more, it being so elegant a solution to the problem of finding a rhyme for the third line. That it demonstrates that a poem can be more important than sticking to a rigid rule is delight indeed. Add to that the fact that the word "hide" can be taken in two ways, and the line becomes the very crux of the poem.

Powerful stuff.


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10
10
Review of A COLORFUL RITUAL  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (5.0)
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Review of A Colorful Ritual by celticsea

Initial Impression:

Loved it. I recognise the emotion felt by someone as fascinated with the natural world as I am. Anthropormism never allowed to descend into mawkishness! We should have much more of this.

Title:

Tells us enough for us to know more without being obscure or deliberately evasive. The poem delivers exactly what this title promises.

Content: I have a vague memory of learning that blue-footed boobies behave like this so I was captured from your very first line. And to explain it all in verse! That really is an achievement. It's so strange to us that courtship be based upon the colour of one's feet but there are even stranger things in this world. No doubt the boobies have their reasons. Who could deny such a beautiful bird that right?

Style:

I think it's a brave choice to choose the limerick as the basis for your poem. The form is so often associated with comic fantasy that it does not stand out as a vehicle for more serious matters. Yet you tame the beast and it seems totally appropriate to the subject as we read. It's your passion for nature that no doubt gives you this ability. Both accurate and a joy to read.

Flow/Pace:

Perfect for the job in hand.

Suggestions:

None at all. As I said, I love it.

Favourite line or part:

"The bluer the better they say." An elegant summation of the complete poem.

Overall Impression:

I still love it!



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11
11
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (5.0)
*Cupcakev**Balloonr* Here is a review for you as a part of our
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Review of Showers of Blessings by Snow Werewolf .

Initial Impression:

A fine nature poem pointing out the delights of April. The mood is upbeat and optimistic, entirely in keeping with the season.

Title:

Factual in both of its assertions. April is certainly about showers and it is right to view these as a blessing.

Content:

Not only did I enjoy walking in the garden of this poem, I also learned a few things, having to google the word "Ridvan." This added immensely to my enjoyment of the poem and gave its delights more depth.

The poem makes the important point that, without the rain, there could be no flowers or plants to create the beauty that is the garden. While not exactly revolutionary, we need to be reminded often of this fact, complaining so ceaselessly at the weather, as we do.

All the required words are included in such a way that they seem natural and not inserted purely to follow instructions. It's a point that isn't made often enough, seeing how many of our efforts are the result of contest entries.

Style:

Simple and effective. Gets its message across clearly and succinctly.

Flow/Pace:

The writing flows smoothly without undue interruption or hiccup, while the pace is entirely appropriate to the subject matter.

Suggestions:

Can't think of any. If it ain't broke, don't fix it, they say. *Wink*

Favourite line or part:

Definitely "spring,
wafting from the Garden of Ridvan,
where the nightingales of paradise sing." I learn something new every day.

Overall Impression:

Bright, uncomplicated writing that will reach a wide variety of readers. Great work!



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12
12
Review of Elemental  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: ASR | (4.0)
Review of Elemental by BrokenPen

Initial Impression:

The beginning of what would appear to be a fairly typical fantasy. The imagined world is vaguely medieval and idyllic, peopled by innocent humans spending much of their time in learning minor magic spells. Then their world is disrupted by a barn fire followed by news of a great storm to come. This supplies the tension and interest to persuade the reader to continue to later chapters.

It's early to say this, but I think the later story is going to have to be strong if it is to overcome the feeling that this will be much like so many fantasies that have gone before. Thus far, it needs some outstanding differences and new aspects if it is to stand out from the rest.

Title:

The title doesn't really tell us much. In this context we can take it that the story will be concerned with basic forces affecting life in the imagined world but little else. It's not clear whether this title is intended for the chapter or the book and this has some bearing on the matter. If it's intended for the chapter, that's fair enough - it deals with fire and storm after all. But, as a title for the book, I think it would need a bit more clarification before it would attract readers.

Content:

The opening scene, with Calandra and Barud practising plant spells, introduces us to two characters that are going to be fairly central to the story, I think. As such, it's right that we should spend a little time getting to know them.

In their return to the village, the barn fire is noted and they are unable to assist in its control. This has to be left to those more versed in higher magic. Once the two return home, we meet their uncle, Amrud, who was involved in the battle against the fire. Then the mysterious Salara appears in a puff of smoke to warn them of the coming storm and disappear back into the smoke. So we have some tension set up and are aware that the Tunnelers are probably responsible for this.

It's certainly enough to increase interest and entice the reader further into the later chapters. Personally, I feel a little sorry for the Tunnelers, forced to live underground and immediately suspected of starting the fire, but I'm sure this would be sorted out in subsequent chapters.

The net result is a solid first chapter that does its job of creating interest and the will to continue. I can't help feeling that the imagined world needs some arresting differences to set it apart from the majority of works in the fantasy genre, however.

Style:

You can write, that's clear. There are no errors (obviously you can edit too) and the story takes us easily from its idyllic introduction to the beginning of troubles for the future. All flows apparently effortlessly from your pen (in spite of its claimed brokenness) in everyday language that we can all get along with. The chapter is a finely produced work of art.

Flow/Pace:

Nothing wrong here, either. Starts slowly and appropriately in the fields, speeds up with the realisation of the threat of the fire and maintains the tension as news of the storm arrives with Salara. Excellent stuff.

Suggestions:

As part of making the story stand out from so many others, consider your name creating. Calandra, Barud, Amrud, Salara, they could come from any number of similar stories. Yes, they help create the slightly fairy/medieval setting but the next great fantasy is going to be the one that breaks that mould. This is just a suggestion, remember. You may not be aiming that high.

Overall Impression:

It's a good first chapter and I've probably been a little too hard on it. That comes of being a writer of fantasy myself and my longing for something different in the genre. Take what you want from what I've said and ignore the rest. It's only my opinion in the end.



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13
13
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 18+ | (4.0)
This is a heartwarming little poem, taking few words (but well chosen ones) to convey a sense of the importance of your wedding day. I've not heard before of the unpronounceable (it could only be Welsh) form it follows, but I appreciate the care that has gone into your following of it.

What really matters with rhyme in poetry is that the words chosen do not seem forced or inexact. You have achieved this admirably. Reading the poem flows quite naturally without snags or awkward pauses caused by words that don't fit. Word order is unusual at times but this serves merely to make the reader concentrate to grasp the full meaning of the words. That can't be bad, surely.

Altogether, it's a fitting tribute to the one who changed your life. May you never have to plod through an unreal life!


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14
14
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 18+ | (2.5)
Review of The Collision - Chapter 1 by amateur40

Initial Impression:

Seems very long for a first chapter. On reading through, I feel that there are several points at which this chapter could be ended and subsequent events left for later chapters. As it is, I think most readers are going to miss the opportunity to pause and reflect (which is the point of chapter breaks - they are convenient places in the story to take a rest). The story itself has some promise but I think it could do with some editing of superfluous information.

Title:

This encapsulates the essence of the story briefly and very well. It is quite clear that the collision is the hinge point of the story and the driving force behind whatever is going to happen.

Content:

There's too much of it for a first chapter. I felt overwhelmed with unnecessary detail during my reading. As an instance, the use of brand names is fine if used as an indication of social position but, when we go to the length of being advised of the measurements of a display monitor, it's a few steps too far. Such irrelevant detail slows the action too much. Do I really need to know about Gloria's black suit wardrobe? If it doesn't add to the impetus of the story, it's not required.

Your second paragraph is an info dump that would be better handled by revealing character in conversations scattered through the chapter. You would find that much of the info in the summaries you have provided is not really necessary and can be dispensed with. Concentrate on those few characters that are going to influence the story. Let most of them just blend into the general atmosphere of the office in that they provide an aura of tension and competition.

After the first few paragraphs, we have become aware that Gloria is an ambitious young executive whose life has suddenly become more complicated by the hit and run accident she's been involved with. The guilt lies hewavily on her and she begins to lose touch with reality as a result. And that's really enough to be going on with for a first chapter. Her kidnapping and subsequent events really belong to later chapters Let them wait while we flesh out the central character a bit more.

The problem is that a hit and run accident is a hard one to forgive. Yes, you've made excuses for her but we need more if we're going to root for her. If the first chapter is cut down as suggested, there is room to spend more time for the reader getting to get to know Gloria and coming to an understanding of her actions.

I have to consider whether the chapter as it is would make me want to continue reading. To be brutally honest, I doubt this. It seems to me that you need to devote the chapter to Gloria and what she's like, before moving on into the action that you save for the rest of the book. Give us a more appealing side to her nature than the fact that she's a successful, high-powered businesswoman who can afford the finer things in life. Rich people are never the most popular people in the world so Gloria needs some weaknesses and endearing flaws to redeem her. Is she really a small town girl who has always been a little out of her depth in the big city and the corporate environment? Maybe she's always had her doubts that she can be as hard and unfeeling as she sees others in the office being. And when the accident happens, make it clearly not her fault. Certainly don't let her be driving after drinking. The panic and running from the scene becomes more forgivable if we already like her.

Style:

You have a habit of switching from past tense to future for no apparent reason. This can be done to make certain events more vivid and affecting for the reader but, when used too often and apparently without reason, it becomes distracting. Use it sparingly and only when something happens that needs urgency and impact. In fact, for the purposes of writing contests and the like, I'd suggest you limit yourself to past tense. It's easiest and flows much better than the sudden jerks introduced by departures into the present tense.

Conversation is important for transmitting information to the reader but don't overdo it. Much of the dialogue you report is to emphasise Gloria's feelings and concern. Make your point once and then move on; don't repeat info and don't reduce things to questions about coffee or doughnuts. The story and its forward motion is what counts; anything else is likely to deflect from your purpose.

Flow/Pace:

As I have mentioned, swapping from one tense to another, if done often, ruins flow and pace. Changes in pace are inevitable when action speeds up and becomes more intense. But, when indulged in too often or without reason, the narrative suffers. Otherwise, you write well and have a good grasp on how to pace your writing.

Suggestions:

As usual, I think I've already made all the suggestion that I have in the other sections.

Overall Impression:

I think you've taken on quite a difficult subject, purely because most readers are going to find it hard to forgive Gloria the hit and run. Paint her in a kinder light and I think the story will be stronger.



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15
15
Review of Niffery's Notion  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (5.0)
Review of Nifery's Notion by jdennis

Initial Impression:

This is just delightful, a wonderful fantasy of amusing attempts to catch a flying speck that may or may not be a fairy. It's a beautifully told tale that unselfconsciously creates a way for a jaded and jaundiced modern age to write for innocents as well as adults that yearn for childhood days.

Title:

Nicely alliterative title that prepares us for the magic we're about to experience. At first, I did wonder about it being Nifery's notion, since it was Jimmery who tried to organise their efforts. But a swift check reassured me that it was Nifery who realised that Bait had to be something that Time would desire. This was the notion that ultimately led to Time's capture.

Content:

A simple tale told with humour, a light touch and a depth that elevates the piece beyond the work of many a children's author. There is mystery added to the mix, since we are never advised what manner of creatures are Time, Nifery and Jimmery. They all appear to be winged and can fly (bringing fairies to mind) but Nifery and Jimmery are clearly much larger than Time, being able to catch the mite in their fingers. I think this refusal to commit to specific creatures is the right way to go, allowing, as it does, the reader's imagination to participate to a much greater extent than would otherwise be possible.

Then there is the matter of Queen Darella and the ominous Granreil. The Queen would appear to confirm the likelihood of fairies but Granreil remains a shadowy figure at the edge of the story. Once again, I feel that this veil of mystery is preferable to any description and identification. Never limit the child to our time-worn understanding of magical beings.

Your dialogue is excellent, a delightful insight into the world of these creatures and their understanding. The age and character of Nifery and Jimmery is conveyed easily through their speech and the reader is transported to a time and place where life was an adventure to be seized with enthusiasm. Wonderful stuff.

I can think of only one writer who produces a similar feeling of a magical and innocent world peopled by amusing and beautiful creatures. Enid Blyton was the giant of such worlds when my generation was just discovering the wonders of reading and she had the same facility for making childhood worlds real and captivating. I don't think she was ever discovered in America but, in Britain and her colonies, her books were treasured and, I have no doubt, are still fondly remembered by old fogies like me. You, sir, have that same sure and gentle touch.

You wanted me to be brutal but, as you can see, I'm having difficulty with that. This piece is so perfect that I would not advise changing anything in it. If you must have a quibble, I could mention the name of Nifery. My natural inclination is to pronounce it as Niff-er-ee, but it may be that you would prefer Knife-er-ee. That would be too sharp for this wonderful story, I think, and, if you're set on the former, you could perhaps give the name another F.

Style:

Simple, straightforward and disdainful of complication, your style is ideal for the tale. This is your world and you guide the readers through it quite easily whilst preserving the deeper things for their later reflection.

Flow/Pace:

Flows like a summer stream, takes its time yet never bores. Don't change a thing.

Suggestions:

You mentioned thinking of extending the piece. That would be cool but don't spoil it! If it were up to me, I'd be thinking in terms of writing further adventures of these two. They deserve a whole book shelf of stories!

Overall Impression:

Marvellous, magnificent, magical, and with a fine moral at the end. What more could a reader possibly ask for? It has been an honour to review it.


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16
16
Review of Holder  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (4.0)
Review of Holder: Chapter 1 by Haunted Sox

Initial Impression:

You have identified the genre as Action/Adventure and that definitely sums up my first impression of this chapter. It is all action from the first paragraph and proceeds at a rollicking pace from there onwards. I found this to be a pleasant change from much of my previous reading (I haven't really looked closely at this genre before). Descriptions are short and limited to the most essential, which gives them no chance to interfere with the progression of the story. At the same time, the scene is adequately painted so that the reader does not feel lost in the environment. It's a good start to a novel.

Title:

The title is quite intriguing; it begs immediately the question, "Who or what is this Holder?" Obviously, the only way to find out is to read the book and that's a good thing. I say "book" because the question is not answered in this first chapter. I must presume, therefore, that this will be answered as the book progresses.

Content:

To be honest, the chapter is a little short and much is expected of it in so few words. Most importantly, it has to induce the reader to continue into later chapters. I think it succeeds in this, but only just. The wild ride down the slide is exciting and intense but it's over now. All that remains is to find out how Jacob deals with the problem of being trapped in the cave. Do we care enough about him to read on? We have spent so little time with him, after all, and much of that has been spent watching him run from werewolves and ride the slide.

There seems little care in him about the fate of his twin, Howard. His apparent abandonment of him to the wolves reveals a darker side to Jacob's character than you might wish. Unless there is more bad blood between them than is hinted at in this chapter, it might be an idea to allow Jacob a few thoughts of regret and shame about the way he left Howard to his fate.

The intent may have been to do this in later chapters but, in this first chapter, we are primarily concerned with getting the reader to keep reading. And Jacob has to be the principal mover in this - the reader has to care what happens to him. So the more we know about him, the better (provided, of course, that it's good stuff).

Style:

You are very sparing with your commas. There are times when the meaning of a sentence is subtly altered or made ambiguous by the absence of commas. For instance, in this extract from the text, I have inserted a few commas to ease understanding and flow: "The slide moved out from the wall of the canyon, turning to aim toward it. Jacop gasped, sure he was about to smack face-first into the wall. Then his eyes adjusted to the dim light of the canyon. Ahead, as in the slid (sic) was aimed right at it, there was a large opening of a cavern. He tried to slow his descent but, for all the slide looked like a rusty death trap, it was smooth."

Apart from this, you have a style ideally suited to the genre. The action progresses at a pace that does not allow the reader to become bored and you keep things simple and uncomplicated.

Flow/Pace:

Well suited to a first chapter, this piece throws us into the action without getting bogged down in descriptions or explanations. It may be a bit hectic if it continues for the whole book, but that is not our concern here. I take it that you can control things like pace and flow when suitable to the story.

Suggestions:

Just that minor matter of the commas. Try reading it aloud and noticing when you pause to take a breath or because the meaning demands it.

Overall Impression:

A very competent first chapter that grabs the readers quickly and hurries them through the action. I liked it.


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17
17
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: ASR | (4.0)
Review of Just a Group of Guys in the Apocolypse (sic): Chapter One by Writin'WitchO'TheSouth

Initial Impression:

I must admit that my first thought was, "Oh goodie, a zombie apocalypse." While there's a certain cynicism in that outcry, it is also a reaction to other apochryphal stories that don't have zombies. It actually makes a change to read another take on that particular scenario.

Title:

To be honest, it's a crap title. My initial comment was a bit cynical but no more so than your title. Even if you're aiming at comedy or parody (and you don't mention these as a genre), this is too tired and world weary to attract a huge readership. Generally, the shorter the title, the better, in that you need to create a question in the potential reader's mind - a question that can only be answered by starting to read. As a wild suggestion after brief thought, how about the title, "Wasted." The world is certainly wasted in this scenario and the protagonists are too. But the reader must begin to turn the pages to learn that.

Content:

It's a fairly short chapter but you achieve quite a lot with it. The scene is set, while also allowing the reader to supply plenty of what is generally understood by the term "apocalypse." We also meet the characters in your little band and begin to get to know them through their banter. Plus you have placed the prompt photograph squarely in the centre of story, thereby meeting all requirements of the contest. Well done.

The only remaining question is, "Is there enough here to induce the reader to continue?" And this is where I do have a minor doubt. Dropping the zombies into the end of the chapter is certainly bait to continue reading but, as we both know, it's a fairly tired item these days. So we must turn to the highway or the protagonists to see whether there's reason enough there. The highway is certainly tantalising in that we'd like to know where it leads. But it seems to be blocked by the zombies "right ahead" so our heroes may be deflected and never find out more about destinations.

As for the cast itself, they seem a bit argumentative and very young (remember, I am ancient so I probably don't understand these things). I need to know them better to care enough to proceed to the next chapter.

So it's a finely balanced thing.Your chosen audience may not experience my doubts but can you rely on that? We should discuss this further in the next section.

Style:

You can write and everything flows smoothly at a semnsible pace. If you have a problem, it is that you keep trying to be clever and wry and witty. It may well be a generational thing (in which case, ignore me) but there are plenty of writers who write this way and it begins to wear thin. I don't need to know how good you are at designing snappy new ways to describe things - just give me an idea and let's get on with the story.

As an example, there is this: "Corroded flesh meets dried gore and shiny bone, in some cases broken bone, leaking secretions like a faucet." Really? A bit over the top in a world inured to zombies through the creativity of the movie make-up department. Turn down the volume - we'll get the idea.

Flow/Pace:

No problems here.

Suggestions:

Hmm, I think I've made a few already. Let's leave it at that.

Overall impression:

As I said, you can write. This is a chapter that, with just a little polishing, could easily be the beginning of a highly entertaining book. I look forward to reading more of your output in the future.



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18
18
Review of Times Loss  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: ASR | (3.5)
Review of Times Loss by Jason

Initial Impression:

I must admit that my first impression was that I have no idea what you're trying to say. First impressions are important since they decide the reader whether to continue reading or to give up. If the reader gives up, there is no second impression.

Title:

Bit of a mystery, this. Did you mean "the loss belonging to Time?" In which case it should be "Time's Loss." "Times" can be either the plural of "time" or it can function as a verb. Neither helps the title to mean anything to me. This becomes important, as we shall in my later comments.

Content:

Your big problem with the poem is that its meaning is obscure. The title gives no help in this. As it is, the reader has to attempt to find his way without any idea of what you're writing about. Unfortunately, it doesn't become any clearer as we read on. The net result is that we have a series of apparently unconnected statements and words that may convey some sense of feeling (although even that is very confused), but leave us without a hold on any meaning. In other words, the poem fails to communicate.

Communication has to be the aim in all writing or the writer might just as well keep what he writes to himself. And that means that, no matter how painful it becomes, the writer must allow the reader to know what the piece is about. It's not wrong to expect a bit of work from the reader, but some indication is necessary or the reader will stop reading. For instance, if you had titled the poem "Society Rejects," that would give the reader a basic foundation, a pointer to the meaning of the lines that follow.

Understand that I speak from experience. My first attempts at poetry were so obscure that even I had difficulty in understanding them at times. Time taight me that the best writing is done when it costs the writer something in vulnerability. This is especially true in poetry. Poetry is forged in pain, tempered by anguish and shines with power as a result.

To demonstrate what I mean, let's have a look at your first stanza. "Just hatred brings them on" immediately raises the question, "Who are they?" I have no indication of that so must press on in the hope of an answer later in the poem. "Deciphering what's lost," makes me wonder who is doing the deciphering. No one has been mentioned so far apart from the mysterious "them." Again, I have to continue to see if elucidation follows.

"Knowing what's gone." You may know but I certainly don't. I don't see why I'm kept in the dark about all this. Then "Life's time pass loss," is, apart from being ungrammatical, meaningless to me. What does it mean and how does it relate to what has gone before? You must surely see my problem here. I have no doubt you are talking about something that you feel deeply and passionately but I am left without any idea of what is causing you such feelings.

"Most of us grew." I'll take your word for it, although I haven't a clue how this relates to the rest of the poem. "s*** you bring I toss" makes me wonder if this a poem about a broken relationship. The problem with that is that the rest of the poem doesn't appear to have anything to do with such a thing. Towards the end of the piece, it seems to be shouting at society but, again, that's only a guess. And finally, "You already knew," which gives some support to the relationship theory but, unfortunately, I don't think I did know.

When we are young, many of us write poetry as a way to express the powerful emotions running through our lives. This is a cathartic experience for us but does nothing for anyone reading what is produced. It's not designed to communicate but is purely a release valve. Later in life, when we have passions more under control and communication becomes more important than release, that is when real poetry is written, words that take the reader by the hand or the scruff of the neck and lift them to experiences they did not expect. If you can aim for that now, imagine how good you'll be when you're old!

Style:

You're seeking the words and phrases that begin to express the feelings you have and then stringing them together without a great deal of concern for the reader. This results in a series of brief, explosive utterances that seem to have very little connection to the lines before and after them. You understand because you've done the thinking in between these lines but you must understand that the reader hasn't. He's missing the connections. Help him through from one thought to the next by showing how you arrived at the next statement.

There are a few errors in the poem and I'll point out the most obvious:

"Over comes" should be one word - "overcomes." Unless you really meant that "our meterial" (should be "material") comes over something, rather than beating it.

"Fore-being" is not a word. It has some sort of meaning to me but that may be a very different meaning from the one you intended. It is fine to invent words (poets do it quite often) but you should be sure that the meaning is obvious and cannot be taken another way.

It is a mistake to do away with punctuation entirely. You rob the piece of accuracy by leaving out punctuation and increase the possibility of misunderstanding.

Flow/Pace:

Rather jerky, thanks to the short lines and thoughts. I think the effort to rhyme does not help either. Several times you have had to use words that I'm sure are not exactly what you mean but they're in because they rhyme with something else. It's my opinion that you would do much better with free verse at this stage. Allow yourself the freedom to use the right word rather than the convenient rhyme.

Suggestions:

Just about everything I've written seems to have been suggestions. I'm sure you've had enough for the moment.

Overall Impression:

A wonderful reminder of some of my early poems. I'm not saying you should give up on poetry. It is a wonderful release and you will produce some really good things amongst all the catharsis. But remember, practice may not make perfect but it certainly makes better. Keep writing!



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19
19
Review of Chapter 1: Bart  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (4.0)
Review of Chapter 1: Bart

Initial Impression:

I am certainly no expert on the Romance genre, although I admit to having attempted it once with a short story. So my comments may, at times, be wide of the mark, for which I must beg your pardon.

From which you will gather that I have assigned your chapter to the Romance category. There may be some development into Fantasy (as you have classified it) at a later stage of the book (if it were written), but that is not apparent from this first chapter. So my impression is that this is the opening of a grand romance. As such it is a fair enough introduction but needs a little more action, interaction or conflict to really hold the reader.

Title:

We have two titles. The first is Sunsets In The Beginning, which I presume refers to the book. Chapter 1 is named Bart, however. This is fine as a title; it tells us that our initial focus will be upon the character, Bart. It's a good idea to fix the name of the protagonist in the mind of the reader in this way. Too often I find that, in reading a story or a book, I have to look back to see which character is named what.

Content:

As I have mentioned, I think this first chapter needs more interest if it is going to capture readers. The only cloud in the sky of the protagonists is the character named Charles Wellington III. He presents little problem, however, since our two lovers are already kissing and cuddling. To increase the tension, it may be necessary to leave the romance as still undecided at the end of the chapter. Give us a reason to continue reading: is the lady going to return, who will she choose and will Bart's hopes be dashed?

You could make Charles more of an antagonist by decreasing his obviously weak points. He could be devastatingly handsome, for instance, and his creepy self assurance dialed back several notches. Make him a worthy adversary to Bart and we will be desperate to know who wins and how.

These changes would also mean that Sara's note to Bart at the end of the chapter would have to be disappeared. It deflates the tension and, although it leads on into the next chapters, it also decreases our interest in reading them. It looks as though Bart has this won even before it gets going so why do we need to continue reading? Keep some things from us so that the need to know makes us keep on reading.

Writing the chapter from Bart's point of view has helped us in getting on his side and this is important. We need to be rooting for someone and Bart is the obvious candidate. It requires only a more formidable antagonist and some doubt hanging over the future and the chapter is great.

Style:

You have an easy and competent style, without complication or distraction into blind alleys. I found the chapter a pleasure to read.

Flow/Pace:

No problems here. Everything keeps up a steady and readable pace and we are neither hurried along or bogged down in too much description.

Suggestions:

I think I've made enough of these already.

Overall Impression:

A sound beginning that, with a bit of work, could be turned into a very enjoyable read.



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20
20
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 13+ | (5.0)
Interesting name, Adherennium. So much so that I enlisted Google's help in learning more. And you're certainly correct in pointing out the irony in the name. But I was drawn to your portfolio and having a tendency to start at the beginning, I read this piece first.

It is sheer delight. Comedy in the written word is excruciatingly hard to get right but, in this account, you have succeeded magnificently. I love the gentle and quiet way you present the engaging character of Father Ignatius Hepplethwaite and relaxed list of sayings that follows. Subtlety is exactly what is required in this sort of thing and you have achieved it with apparent ease.

I read every newsfeed post about Comedy in the hope of finding something worthwhile. Sadly, this has been a forlorn hope so far. Why has nobody mentioned that the great comedy killer is trying too hard? Clearly, you're way beyond that. Applause.


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21
21
Review of This Man  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (5.0)
Probably I shouldn't review this one (it's not as if it needs another after all those 28). I am such a sucker for this kind of thing, where the words roll off a smooth conveyor belt of sound and feeling, drowning me in their deliciousness. It's why Dylan Thomas is my favourite poet, the inevitable result of my being incapable of writing similar stuff.

So I can go ooh and ah while applauding, but you must take it with a pinch of salt, remembering that we always love most the things we cannot aspire to. I can only tell you how beautiful this poem (and the other two I read) is, what it makes me feel without really understanding why or how, envying that cascade of words that mocks my need for solid meaning.

As an old man myself, I recognise so much of myself in this poem but, if you were to ask me what, which verse affects me so, I could only make vague motions at a word here or a phrase there. And all I can do is wonder at the reasons for so many of your 28 previous reviewers denying you that final half star. Obviously, I am too in awe to be a good reviewer for you.

Oh and happy account anniversary, by the way.


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22
22
Review of Claimed  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 18+ | (4.5)
A vivid, detailed depiction of emotion in physical form, marred slightly by minor errors. For instance, the dog describing the size of the creature in the fifth paragraph is a German Shepherd, not Shepard, and, in the paragraph that follows, "a wide, gaping mouth full ragged, dagger-like teeth" it should be "full of ragged..." I mention these only because both interrupted the flow of reading the piece.

Otherwise, this is a powerful and gripping story that achieves exactly its object - to give the reader some idea of the effect depression can have on its victims. The descriptions are particularly effective through the avoidance of the usual clichés in favour of arresting and original comparisons. Horror may be the genre, but there is more to the intent of the author, the understanding of depression being as important in the motivation for the piece.

An excellent piece, thoroughly enjoyable.


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23
23
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (4.5)
"A man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest." Paul Simon

And so does a woman, it seems. I love the picture chosen to illustrate the poem (although it illustrates a problem opposite to the one in the piece). You could definitely fit a thousand words in that one.

The poem makes a fine job of outlining the dilemma of so many husbands - how to answer the question "Does my butt look big in this?" In this case it's a mirror but the looming problem is the same in both instances.

There are one or two problems with meter but the poem flows well enough. The important thing is to lead toward the denouement and this it does very well. And the final line of advice is clearly the voice of experience. An amusing tale of a universal situation but still with an effective ending.


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24
24
Review of Just a Farmer  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 13+ | (5.0)
I like this. The lines flow like a woodland stream, the rhymes roll forth in perfect order and the tale itself trundles happily towards its conclusion. In my experience, the problem with rhyming poetry is that far too much of it contains rhymes that strain and struggle to accommodate themselves in the poem but really don't belong. "Exemplary" for example, is not a word that lives happily with "Mary." From the evidence of this poem, however, you have the knack of finding words that happily join the community of your meaning. They work and, in doing so, they do not jar and interrupt the reader, preferring to work with the others towards a pleasant experience.

The result is a poem that is clear, enjoyable and polished to a gemlike brilliance. The last line is, of course, the whole point, yet the entire poem works steadily towards the goal, preventing the tale from becoming a shaggy dog story. And it's funny.

Perhaps the funniest thing, however, is that I feel this way about most things I write. Far too often, I finish one thing and think I'll never manage anything that good again. And your poem makes me realise that I'm not alone in thinking this. Thank you.


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Review of The Cage  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: ASR | (5.0)
And the pun is mightier than the word. This is just the kind of joke that I love and the world hates me for. It matters not. A good pun is as clever as the funniest joke and a good deal less harmful. And, if you can spin out the build-up for a while, it can even qualify as a shaggy dog story.

Which reminds me... No, I'd better not tell that one. It's got me thrown out of enough places already.

But your story. It's the very epitome of the great rib ticklers, keeping its ammo for the very last line, as it does. When that comes with the brief pause as the brain goes, "Huh? I don't see...", it's the real pay dirt. Very well done - a gem of its kind.

I notice from the Note that others have suggested you write more of the setting of the story. Personally, I think that would be a mistake. As you said, the whole point of the story is the punch line and the rest is backdrop. Spend much more on that and the tale becomes a shaggy dog story. And we all know the reception those get.
*Wink*

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