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51
51
Review of STEPS  
Review by Ben Langhinrichs
Rated: E | (4.5)
I am reviewing your story as a judge for Short Shots: Official WDC Contest  for May 2018. Thanks for entering!


Overall impression
An intriguing view of the afterlife, presumably, and how the main character deals with it.

What I liked most
The story took a little while to grow on me, but I liked the imagery of the different people, and how scared they were to take action. You have built an interesting 'world', for lack of a better word.

My general suggestions and technical concerns
There are some issues with tense shifting around, and incorrect capitalization (e.g., "why me"?, but they honestly don't detract much. I mention them only because after the contest, you might want to check it all over carefully to make it as strong as you can.

Rating and Rationale
I gave this 4.5 stars as it is very well done, but has a few small technical issues. Write on!
52
52
Review by Ben Langhinrichs
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
I am reviewing your story as a judge for Short Shots: Official WDC Contest  for May 2018. Thanks for entering!


Overall impression
A whimsical story about a family scattering a beloved family member's ashes, and how both children and adults deal with it.

What I liked most
The title is excellent, and the theme it represents is woven throughout the story in a creative way. I very much liked how we get to know the characters by their dialogue back and forth.

My general suggestions and technical concerns
While it was fun getting to know the family through its interactions, there may have been a few too many for the length of the story. At some point, it was hard to follow the number of different names and relationships. You might consider framing a couple of the named characters solely in terms of their relationship, or perhaps of reminding us of the relationship when we had encountered others.

Rating and Rationale
This is very well written and enjoyable. I gave it 4.5 stars because I liked it very much, but there is some room for tightening the number of characters or reinforcing their relationships. But overall, an excellent story. Write on!
53
53
Review of Flight 657  
Review by Ben Langhinrichs
Rated: 18+ | (4.5)
I am reviewing your story as a judge for Short Shots: Official WDC Contest  for May 2018. Thanks for entering!


Overall impression
Very clever story with some twists, which I love to see in a short story

What I liked most
You drew very vivid pictures with your words, but managed to economize so that they did not overwhelm the plot. I liked the ending, even if it was a bit campy.

My general suggestions and technical concerns
I didn't see any particular technical issues, except that the switch in point of view felt a little jarring. I'm not sure you wouldn't have been better off sticking with Mandy, though I understand why you didn't.

Rating and Rationale
Overall, a fun, well written story that worked well within the parameters. I give it 4.5 stars. Write on!
54
54
Review of The Close Call  
Review by Ben Langhinrichs
Rated: E | (4.0)
I am reviewing your story as a judge for Short Shots: Official WDC Contest  for May 2018. Thanks for entering!


Overall impression
A fun adventure with the plushie toys.

What I liked most
I thought it was a fun, creative way to use the prompt to take the toys on an adventure. The interaction between the plushies helped us get to know their personalities (such as "I was in Amelie's classroom for a whole week of first grade, you know")

My general suggestions and technical concerns
While the setup and story worked reasonably well, the story fell a little flat when it actually came to the bridge. You may have run into the issue of how short the story had to be, but everything just resolved itself quite quickly without a lot of initiative on the part of the plushies. I think you could strengthen that part by having them solve the puzzle posed by the bridge rather than avoiding it.

Rating and Rationale
This was a fun, light story which has potential. I gave it four stars, as I think it is good, but could be improved and made to shine. Write on!
55
55
Review by Ben Langhinrichs
Rated: 18+ | (3.5)
I am reviewing your story as a judge for Short Shots: Official WDC Contest  for May 2018. Thanks for entering!


Overall impression
A somewhat tricky story where the mundane turns mystical.

What I liked most
I liked the way you shifted the ground under our feet by starting with what seemed like one kind of story (about divvying up an inheritance), but gradually revealed itself as another kind altogether.

My general suggestions and technical concerns
While I enjoyed the shift in the story, it left some unresolved questions about what the sisters knew when, and why the one sister seemed so much less aware then the others given that they appear to be raised together. There may be a good reason, possibly hinted at by the question of faaith at the beginning, but it left the first part looking more like we'd been tricked rather than our not being in on the mystery. I think you could strengthen that by drawing clearer lines (after the switch) to what everybody knew, and also a stronger sense of why Faye would act as she does at the end.

Rating and Rationale
I gave this 3.5 stars as it is a good story that could use some more polish, not so much for technical issues as for clarifying intent. Write on!
56
56
Review of A Happy Place  
Review by Ben Langhinrichs
Rated: E | (3.5)
I am reviewing your story as a judge for Short Shots: Official WDC Contest  for May 2018. Thanks for entering!


Overall impression
An intriguing story of what happens when the animals don't just roll over.

What I liked most
I liked the setup, and how we are left wondering what happened. I also like the kind of story where there is a switch in point-of-view to show where the horror really comes from.

My general suggestions and technical concerns
While I liked the setup and point-of-view, it felt like the story left an unresolved (and distracting) hole when it came to why the animals originally responded the way they did. You came up with a plausible-enough-for-horror reason why they reacted as they did after the attempt to exterminate them, but that left a less plausible scenario about whet the attempt was necessary. I think you could strengthen this if you could build a timeline/set of events which led to that without the animals already being so active in their own defense.

Rating and Rationale
I gave this 3.5 stars as it is a good story with strong elements that could be polished and strengthened to be even better by focusing on the inciting incident. Write on!
57
57
Review of Shini  
Review by Ben Langhinrichs
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
Overall impression
A dark gripping story of a man unsure of his future who figures out what really matters... but is it in time?

What I liked most
You did a really good job with setting the scene, and with the pursuit. I loved the tension as he tries to get back, and the open question of whether he will or not. The scene with the child near the end is great.

My general suggestions and technical concerns
I think the beginning could be stronger if there were some sense about why the employer who had never had a problem with him in nine years suddenly did. It seems like the story would be better with either less of that or more of it. You could start by saying he'd lost his job and was worried, or you could say why but it is a little odd doing half of it.

Rating and Rationale
I gave this four stars as it is well written and gripping, but starts less strongly than it finishes. Write on!
58
58
Review of Dare To Be  
Review by Ben Langhinrichs
Rated: E | (5.0)
Ken, I found your poem through Read & Review, and when I do that, I try not to look at the author until I have read and evaluated the story or poem. About halfway through this, I had to peek as the quality and style are far above most of the Read & Review entries I see. I should have known it would be you!

This is a lovely poem, and very well written. I hesitated for a moment over the length of the stanzas changing, but I think it works great the way it is. Write on!


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
59
59
Review by Ben Langhinrichs
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
This review is offered in the spirit of encouragement and assistance. I appreciate your sharing your work, and am simply sharing my opinion in return. I hope it can be of use.

Overall impression
A story about the flying high and crashing lows of being a rock musician.

What I liked most
I enjoyed the way you described Jimmy and his rise and fall (and more). The ending was bittersweet and a little cynical, but fit this piece well.

My general suggestions
I don't have a lot of suggestions. I'm not quite sure of the context for this pieces, given its title, but it stands alone well.

Technical issues
I didn't notice any, except very small issues such as lacking a hyphen in silicon-infused. Certainly nothing that detracted.

Conclusion
This was a good, descriptive piece. I enjoyed it. Write on!


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
60
60
Review by Ben Langhinrichs
Rated: E | N/A (Review only item.)
This review is offered in the spirit of encouragement and assistance. I appreciate your sharing your work, and am simply sharing my opinion in return. I hope it can be of use.

Overall impression
I enjoyed this example of personification.

What I liked most
I really liked the way you showed the castle recognizing her, and how she felt it back. It was also fun to think of a old, stone ruin of a castle trying to cradle and comfort her.

My general suggestions
I'm not sure what the word count requirements of the original contest were, but this felt like it could be expanded some, perhaps by adding a more specific incident with tourists or movie producer, or by adding a more specific scene with the lady.

Technical issues
There are only very small formatting issues, and they don't really detract from the story.

Conclusion
I was glad to come across this in the Read & Review. Write on!


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
61
61
Review by Ben Langhinrichs
Rated: 13+ | (2.5)
Thanks for sharing your story. I think you have potential with this story, potential to show how a kind heart and listening ear can help set someone on a better path. I think your concept is good, but you need to step back and work through how to make the story easier for somebody else to read. There are numerous technical issues, and places where your emotion seems to have overtaken your writing. That is okay, but don't be afraid to come back and edit and make the piece stronger.

As an example, your story about the landscape and the red purse sounds like a powerful one, but stop and read the actual words you've written:

But one that sticks to my mind is this: I was gifted a red purse by a friend of my dad for drawing a beautiful landscape. I hung it on the wall besides the land scape. "
She pulled out the picture and threw it in the fire and wanted me to hand over my red purse.Dad promised me another one which I never got.

There are several small errors which make this hard to read, and you don't really say who burned the picture, though we know it is the sister. Here it is with some technical fixes:

But one that sticks toin my mind is this: I was giftedgiven a red purse by a friend of my dad for drawing a beautiful landscape. I hung it on the wall besides the land scape. landscape."
SheMy sister pulled out the picture off the wall and threw it in the fire and wanted me to hand over my red purse.Dad promised me another one which I never got.

I am giving this two and a half stars because I like the core of the story but struggled with the errors and with the formatting and punctuation. If you decide to clean it up some, I'd be happy to re-read and re-rate it, and perhaps give you more advice when it is closer to being what it could be. Don't be discouraged, as we are all improving so long as we keep trying. Write on!








*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
62
62
Review by Ben Langhinrichs
Rated: E | (5.0)
This is very thoughtful, evocative of the many mixed and semi-contradictory feelings about serving in the military. How can something be so important at times, so trite at others, and so ambiguous as to which it is as it goes on? The twist narrows this down and amplifies it. Sometimes you don't have the option of understanding, just the option of doing your duty as best you can and hoping it was worth it.

Well done.


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
63
63
Review of On Deforestation  
Review by Ben Langhinrichs
Rated: E | (4.5)
I found this through Read & Review.

I'm always fond of a good Villanelle, and you did well with this. The meter is fairly consistent, and it sounds good read aloud. The topic is, of course, an important one, and I liked how you shifted back and forth between the more lyrical poetic side (e.g., ravaging trees and Mother Earth crying) and the scientific parts (e.g., oxygen link and carbon dioxide sink).

Nice work. Write on!


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
64
64
Review by Ben Langhinrichs
Rated: E | (5.0)
I found your poem through the Read & Review.

Ha! I laughed at your wonderful, wacky tale. You have a great sense of humor, and it shows in this poem. Nice work.

From a purely technical point of view, some of your word choices and rhymes are lamentable, but in the context of this kind of poem, they are delightful.

Write on!


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
65
65
Review by Ben Langhinrichs
Rated: E | (4.0)
I found your poem through the Read & Review. This is a lot of fun, and I like the bouncy rhythm as well as the sentiment. Creating is wonderful, whatever your particular art or craft.

Not sure what your intentions are for the poem, but the one way I can see that would make it even better is to focus a bit more on the meter. You do a fantastic job in the first few stanzas, and then slip up a bit. For example, "Designing new blueprints or new dresses to wear." doesn't fit the meter, where "Designing new blueprints or dresses to wear." does. Try reading aloud and I think you'll see what I mean.

But that is only if you care about the technical side of things. If you're just writing for fun (an admirable pursuit), you've done a terrific job. Write on!


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
66
66
Review by Ben Langhinrichs
Rated: ASR | (4.0)
I found this using the Read & Review feature. I don't know which contest thiss is for, but the writing is excellent and the pacing kept me on my toes. I like the back-and-forth between Bill and Jack Harley is well done. I certainly am left wanting to know what happened next.

One minor thing you might improve are Jack's first response where he responds to "Mr. Harley?" with "Monin' Jack." which could be interpreted as "Morning, Jack" like a greeting to Jack or as an ambiguous sort of nickname. He could say "Call me Jack" or even "They call me Monin' Jack" or something that makes it more clear.

I was also left a little unclear how Bill could have received an offer but be unknown in those parts. That felt off somehow.

Very good work. Write on!


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
67
67
Review of Lost Kisses  
Review by Ben Langhinrichs
Rated: E | (5.0)
I found this through Read & Review. What a charming little poem! I like the idea of the kisses blowing through the air, perhaps brushing gently, perhaps missing entirely. Then you go on to the idea of a land of lost kisses, which I think is great. It's sad to see that this poem has gotten so little love, so I am sending some your way.


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
68
68
Review by Ben Langhinrichs
Rated: E | (5.0)
I found this through Read & Review. Writing a letter to yourself is challenging, as it is easy to be one's one toughest critic. You, on the other hand, do a lovely job of facing your life, admitting to its hardships yet embracing its possibilities. With 60 only a few years away for me, I can relate to that realization that more of life is behind than in front, and yet there is still plenty in front. (My mother-in-law is 95, which is both inspiring and daunting.)

Well written with a lovely, positive finish. Write on!


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
69
69
Review of Stroking My Beard  
Review by Ben Langhinrichs
Rated: 18+ | (4.5)
I found this through Read & Review. I had to laugh at your funny but reflective essay. You have an entertaining way of writing about one of those things we all go through, not the beard part, the not-totally-liking-our-own-reaction part. (Inquiring minds do want to know whether he eventually grew it back or whether you got used to it off.)

Overall, a good, conversational essay that draws the reader in. Nicely done. Write on!


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
70
70
Review of Snow  
Review by Ben Langhinrichs
Rated: 18+ | (4.0)
I found this through Read & Review. Well, that is dark. Sort of like the idea that no good deed goes unpunished. Well written, though, and you use good sensory details.

There are a few tweaks I might suggest, but it's all up to you, of course. For example, given the categories, I read sticking to the ground below as indicating that the character was either flying or up high somewhere. You might remove the word 'below' or try something like sticking to the ground beneath my feet.

Another might be Her eyes were an evil color. If a color is distinguishable enough to be called evil, you could add what color it is. Fiery red or sickly yellow or something. I don't have any idea what color would be automatically evil in the character's mind.

Other than these kinds of things which you would likely get if you polished more anyway, it's a well done story. Write on!


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
71
71
Review of The Rain Came  
Review by Ben Langhinrichs
Rated: E | (4.5)
I found this via the Read & Review. I enjoyed your poem very much, having grown up in a seafaring community with lots of tales about those lost in storms gone by. Your rhythm and tone are good throughout.

There are a couple of places where the wording might be better, such as:

They sailed with backs against the wind
as the eye of the storm would grow.


Those last two words feel awkward and forced. I know how hard it is to get the rhyme in the right place, but I'd see if you could make this tighter.

Overall, a fine effort and I'm not surprised you won the contest. Write on!


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
72
72
Review by Ben Langhinrichs
Rated: 18+ | (4.5)
I found this on the Read & Review. This is a delightful, if slightly unusual, description of love growing in two who have known each other since childhood. I love the playful juxtaposition. I especially like the little details like "Comparing a dent to a bump", and how the moonlight pours into...

Lots of fun. Write on!


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
73
73
Review of The Four Seasons  
Review by Ben Langhinrichs
Rated: E | (3.5)
I found your poem through Read & review. I like the senses you evoke with your descriptions of the seasons, though I think you could add a sense of the smells which also help delineate them as well. I like best the verse stanza, with the vivid:

Thunder loudly booms
while lightening dances in the sky
and falling rain pelts the ground.


I'd urge you to add a little more of that richness to then second and third stanzas, which are descriptive but not evocative. Also, note that you use the word "come" three times, and you might be able to mix up the verb and find something more active, such as Cold clouds blow in rather than Cold cloud come through.

Overall, a good job. Write on!


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
74
74
Review of Little Monster  
Review by Ben Langhinrichs
Rated: E | (4.0)
I found your poem through the Read & Review. This made me laugh. You do a good job describing the little monsters we let live in our houses, in spite of their clever and destructive habits.

I thought the last two lines were a little weak, and could be stronger as "on the attack" or something other than the vague "there" (though it does circle back to the beginning).

Overall, lots of fun. Write on!


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
75
75
Review by Ben Langhinrichs
Rated: 18+ | (3.5)
I found your story through the Read & Review. Well, that started grim but it turned dark. It was well written, and I thought you did a good job of engaging us and making us care about Stacey. On the other hand, I thought the advice scene was somewhat overdone and unrealistic. The end may have been a good twist of sorts, but it lost me in terms of my suspension of disbelief, and that seems critical. I wish this were a longer piece and you could explore the dilemma of the advice-less advice-line more, but I understand that isn't the story you were writing.

Overall, you have a good ability, but I think you could write a better story. Use your strengths in character and story telling for more than service of a twist. (Said as someone who spent too many years going for the twist.)

Write on!


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
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