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101
101
Review of Beautiful Fall  
Review by Ben Langhinrichs
Rated: E | (3.5)
It is always exciting to try a new form, and the Interlocking Rubaiyat is a great one for carrying you through the poem with rhythm that makes sense to your brain without quite registering on your senses.

You did a fairly good job with the format requirements, using aaba/bbcb/ccdc/dded as your four quatrains. In a form like this, I'd advise against even a slight variation in the rhyme like stones and moan/groan/alone. You can get away with that better in abab cdcd quatrains, but the key to interlocking (in my opinion) requires a perfect rhyme.

But other than that, the form is very good. Unfortunately, the poem suffers from a frequent problem with form based poetry, which is awkward phrasing and words plugged in just for the rhyme. When you find yourself using a phrase like "do fall" that doesn't sound like you would normally say it, stop and see if you can rework the line. In this case, instead of

the orange and red leaves do fall.

how about

orange and red leaves slowly fall.

That has a more natural sound. Later on, you have another forced sentences

Flannel and boots I will wear
And gaze at the great wildlife.


so why not play with it to get something like

In hopes I'll see a deer or bear
I'll wander and gaze at wildlife.


Mostly, don't be afraid to rework and rework you lines to make them smoother. If you have to stretch for a rhyme like loosestrife, either keep trying for a better rhyme or work in a reason why that is the right word. Poetry is not hard to write, but it can be hard (but worth it) to improve and improve.

Write on!






*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
102
102
Review of Tower for Two  
Review by Ben Langhinrichs
Rated: E | (4.0)
A very interesting and enjoyable read, though a little sad. You asked for feedback on the Shameless Plug page, so I thought I'd give you some.

You have some great moments where you use a surprising term to catch the reader. When you say I was always a very dull child, it grabs one's attention, because most people wouldn't admit that or view it that way. Similarly, Through my antisocial deviance, I learned to appreciate smaller things is a wonderful way of putting it.

Now, from a writing side, there are definite clues that this was written quickly or not carefully reviewed. Depending on your goals, they may matter more or less. For example, made me standout should be made me stand out, and sit alone reading and (once again) stared should be sit alone reading and (once again) staring. If this were a quick social media post, those would likely go unnoticed or unremarked. On the other hand, if this were the basis for a reminiscing article on your life for your high school reunion, you would want to clean those up.

A bit of advice for Writing.com (which few follow) is to be clear about the feedback you want, whether it be emotional reaction, line editing or something else. Sometimes, I just want to share something . Other times, I want to clean it up for publication. Either way, I try to let folks now.

Write on, and may you find your tower-mate!


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
103
103
Review of Frank's Diner  
Review by Ben Langhinrichs
Rated: 18+ | (4.0)
This story is fun as a sort of slice-of-life vignette about a somewhat dystopian future. It suffers a bit from an excess of narration rather than action. It might be improved with a flashback scene or two, so that rather than telling us what happens, we see and feel the protagonist's reactions as the new world unfolds.

It's interesting to read this in 2017 after it was written in 2004, especially faced with a new administration that is far more isolationist than could have been easily predicted back then. The author was prescient about different countries not trusting each other, even if it is not due to a war with aliens.

Anyway, a fun story, and I was glad to read it.


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
104
104
Review by Ben Langhinrichs
Rated: E | (3.0)
Satire about a poetic form such as a sonnet is an inspired idea, and I applaud your taking it on. Unfortunately, satire is also devilishly difficult to get right. Whether you play with the content while strictly abiding by the form, or play with the form while abiding by the content, somehow you must do more than simply make fun of that which is satirized.

There are parts where you seem to come close to this, but it feels at others as if you are simply breaking every rule simply to break it. Iambic pentameter - forget about. Fourteen lines - nonsense. Stanzas without the rhyme scheme - sure. Stanzas with the rhyme scheme - certainly.

The problem is, at some point you make the reader wish for some structure. Perhaps you really mean to make the reader long for the solace of a properly constructed sonnet, but even then, you must make the point, not jab the reader into finding it.

Perhaps I am too much or a purist. I have written satirical poems, even played with the forms (rhyming haiku, anapestic sonnet), but like Picasso understanding the art he sometimes satirized, you have to give it its due respect even as you poke fun at it.

You have the talent, I can tell. It shows through in places such as

Oft the meter changes
to add variety.
Can you see the changes?
No insobriety!


but this poem doesn't show it quite enough. Write on!


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
105
105
Review by Ben Langhinrichs
Rated: ASR | (3.0)
I like the poem, and think it has promise, but I'd advise against trying so hard to sound 'poetic'. Poetry is concise and incisive, not simply flowery-sounding. Take the first verse:

In their white machines they travel,
the men of violence do come,
yellow and black they wear,
jack booted and full of hate.


Anytime you find yourself using something like "do come", you know you are straining rather than making it flow freely. If the poem were form-based, you might be doing it to fit the rhyme of meter, but since it is not, just make it plain and simple and let the imagery do the work:

In their white machines,
the men of violence approach,
wearing yellow and black,
jack booted and full of hate.


Once you get over the poetic tangle, some of your verses are much stronger. The following is tight and clean, and you use the words well.

Once in, there's no way out,
They have no fear,
but you should fear them,
inequality is their game.


But near the bottom, you get back into the turmoil you will find, rather than just you will find turmoil, or perhaps turmoil will haunt you or something which makes the verb stronger but keeps turmoil as the active force.

If you decide to clean this up and would like me to take another look, don't hesitate to ask and I'll come back and re-rate.



*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
106
106
Review by Ben Langhinrichs
Rated: 18+ | (2.5)
I struggled to understand the poem. While I know that you tagged it as nonsense as well as erotica, there are good kinds of nonsense and other kinds. The word choices seem very odd, such as slobbering kitten when a more enticing image would be expected, or her neck and hands adorned with pearls, which is an odd thing to say even if you are going for erotic innuendo, since pearls don't generally belong on the hands.

Another problem is that your verses have things that look like you are trying to rhyme that don't rhyme, but other verses where they do rhyme. For example, fetchin' and catchin' rhyme, but searchin' and reachin' don't. Also, skipping the g on these looks like an affectation as opposed to having a purpose. If you were rhyming urchin with searchin', it would make sense, but why not just use fetching and catching?

Overall, it really feels like you wanted to throw a bunch of pseudo-innuendo at the wall and see if any of it stuck. It doesn't work as erotica or as nonsense or as poetry. Given that you wrote this a while ago, I'm not sure whether you plan on working on it, but if you do and want me to take another look and re-rate, let me know.


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
107
107
Review by Ben Langhinrichs
Rated: 13+ | (3.0)
It feels like you start out with a good premise, but don't seem to have a handle on how to build up the suspense, or a clear notion of how to spring the trap you have laid.

The beginning is good, though their bodies groaned against her parchment skin didn't sound right. What does it mean to have them groan against skin? But I like the idea that she wakes thinking she hasn't fed them.

You also do a reasonable job of setting the stage for her nervousness. What you are missing is thing that she must feel or touch to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it is her dog. Without that, you have to say she realized it was the corpses of her dogs, when you want the reader to feel it, not be told it.

I'd make it one dog instead of two, and perhaps make the rattle of the tags on its collar something that reassures her. Then, she could hear the rattle and think it was the dog, but reach over and have her hand brush the tags and the cold body. Don't tell us it is the dog, but make sure we realize it along with her.

Finally, don't have the think talk, but leave us in suspense about what it is. Instead, have her feel its teeth just after she (and we) realize it is not her dog. The unknown is usually scarier than the known.

Hope that helps, and good luck with the contest.


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
108
108
Review by Ben Langhinrichs
Rated: 18+ | (4.0)
I think you have a good start here. It's ribald and a little raw (and perhaps ought to be rated 18+), but it's fun. I beseech you to increase the font size so that those of us with eyes no longer young can read it better.

The one part that didn't quite make sense to me was when they got back to the inn and everybody had been driven away. Wouldn't everybody who'd been driven away from the Greasy Goblin be going to this inn instead? Somehow, I couldn't get my head around the way that turned out. The innkeeper would still be angry because of the condition of the rooms, etc., but I can't really see why/how people were driven away.

Cheers, and write on!


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
109
109
Review by Ben Langhinrichs
Rated: E | (3.5)
This is a really fun poem, and I enjoyed all the sweet images... so much that I am now very hungry.

When I review, I try to both let you know what I like and areas where I see room for improvement, especially with poetry. It is such fun to write poems, it is sometimes hard to tell where the reader might stumble and trip. Two of the easiest ways to put in those stumbling blocks are with inconsistent rhyming or with overly forced rhymes.

Most of your verses use an abcb pattern, where the second and fourth lines rhyme, but the first and third lines don't. You alternate those with an aa rhyming couplet. Another way of looking at it is that all the verses are really rhyming couplets, but broken onto different lines to accentuate the rhyme. It works quite well, and is pleasing to the ear, but then I stumble when I get to

From smoothies so delicious
To whipped cream mousse
All so creamy and scrumptious
Maybe not highly nutritious


No matter how I try to work with that in my mind, mousse doesn't rhyme with nutritious, but delicious does. So, my mind (or mouth if I read aloud) stumbles, and I find it hard to regain the rhythm.

The other small problem is a few of the near rhymes aren't quite near enough, at least the way I pronounce them. Given your travels and background, it is possible that your pronunciation is quite different. To me dessert and tart are close enough, but bidding and pudding or instead and salad are not. Not huge issues, but places to look to see if you could improve.

Overall, I enjoyed it very much, and I hope my words are not seen as criticism, but rather as encouragement to write the very best you can.


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
110
110
Review by Ben Langhinrichs
Rated: 18+ | (2.0)
I worried when I read the description offering a caveat before you even start, and I fear my worries were warranted. A poem is not just a bunch of big words cobbled together to vaguely say something. While there are poems designed for all sorts of reasons, one of the worst is to sound grandiose without purpose.

I don't know if you are just starting with poetry, or don't like it and are making fun of it. If the former, I suggest you start simpler, with words that suggest images and emotions, not simply that you have a dictionary. If you don't know how to use a word properly in a sentence, don't use it. Few will fault you for keeping your language simple and clean, so long as it feels true.

If you ever need help or suggestions on how to write poetry better, don't hesitate to ask. There are many of us here willing to help, and we all had to start somewhere as well.


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
111
111
Review of Art  
Review by Ben Langhinrichs
Rated: E | (5.0)
I enjoyed this poem a lot. I love the imagery and range. My favorite stanza was the child's:

One child's palette
is an assortment
of rainbow Crayolas
from which he selects the right yellow
with thoughtful deliberation
and then colors in a field of daisies
in his beloved coloring book.


While this was written many years ago, I'm glad to say it is still bring joys to new eyes.
112
112
Review of Brass & Coal  
Review by Ben Langhinrichs
Rated: 18+ | (4.0)
A very enjoyable story, with a couple of interesting characters. I can certainly see you writing more about these two, even though their first experience as P.I.'s may have left them a little nervous.

One thing which you might consider is adding some clarification about their names. I like the Brass & Coal nicknames, but it seems they are using the same names in New York that they did in London. If they are not, they should say something like, "We'll go by Braxton and Collier here. That will throw them off the scent if they come sniffing." or something along those lines.

One important note regarding Writing.com's policies is that the content rating of this should be rated as 13+ because it contains mentions of sex and alcohol. If you could change that, it would be appreciated. There are young children who use the site, and the staff try hard to protect them (and reassure their teachers).

Very enjoyable. Write on!


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
113
113
Review of Vocabulary  
Review by Ben Langhinrichs
Rated: E | (4.0)
This is a fun poem, and I heartily agree with the sentiment. There are a few places where the pattern feels a little strained, such as "thing" and "trying", but overall I like the way it sounds read aloud. I'd suggest avoiding a rhyme like "words" and "backwards", because it is really the same sound rather than a rhyme, though it is spelled differently. I do that myself sometimes, and have learned to go back and re-check, as it sounds wrong to the ear when you are waiting for a proper rhyme. Even a near rhyme works better than a repeated sound.

But aside from those, I enjoyed the poem. Well done, and write on!


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
114
114
Review of Finale  
Review by Ben Langhinrichs
Rated: 18+ | (4.0)
You have a very good, compelling way of describing the scene. A lot of writers get caught up in details that don't convey emotion, and not enough that do. You convey the emotion well without cluttering your prose with extraneous descriptions. Well done.

I understand that this was written for an activity/challenge, but it shows a lot of promise for your other writing. Write on!
115
115
Review by Ben Langhinrichs
Rated: 13+ | (3.5)
This review is offered in the spirit of encouragement and assistance (and because you bribed me, but I won't let that influence me. Now, if you'd offered brownies...) I appreciate your sharing your work, and am simply sharing my opinion in return. I hope it can be of use.


Overall impression
In general, I liked it. You did well showing what was going on inside Oliva's head, and then how Mark tried to be stoic but was sometimes overcome with fear.
I guess I am not entirely sure what you'd like to have happen with this (publication vs sharing for free vs putting in a larger work). The poetry works

What I liked most

I especially liked the ranting about the unfairness of losing Gary. Very well done and poignant. I also liked the dialogue between Olivia and her massage client, Janet, which added a bit of much needed levity by that point. My favorite bit was:

"Olivia, I gotta tell someone this or I'm goin burst!"

"Well, sweetie, you are laying down and mostly undressed so I think it better be me."

My general suggestions
I would read through it all aloud, and make notes to yourself anywhere you stumble, even slightly. That can be a good indicator that something might be better smoothed out.

Technical issues
The first section started out in 3rd person present tense (i.e., "Olivia loves", "She decorates"), which is awkward and stilted, and then switched to 3rd person past tense ("He came to eat", "Olivia believed"), which works much better. Be sure to be consistent throughout. The only except is the last paragraph, where it might make sense to switch to present tense the way you do.

"swirling in shades of brunt burnt orange"

The following could use a little editing. Between the feminine pronouns, it sounds possible that Kathleen is pregnant by Kathleen's brother, John, while I'm fairly sure you mean Susan's brother -> "Her partner, Kathleen, was pregnant. This was thanks to a turkey baster and her brother, John."

A judgment call, but I'd suggest "She watched him closely and his aura was seemed fainter."

Conclusion
This is good, though a little rough. Be careful with tenses and transitions between one person and another. Definitely seems worth polishing and making even better.
116
116
Review by Ben Langhinrichs
Rated: 13+ | (3.0)
An interesting start to the story. While Tess comes off as somewhat unpleasant, there are hints that maybe she is that way because school is too easy for her, and her family life is too hard. Finally, it appears that something is going to happen when the two strangers accost her on the path.

While this is a little rough so far, it is interesting. I'd suggest that you be careful about the line, "Our job is to make you happy and put you in a new world where everything is perfect." as it seems a little trite. She's not likely to believe it, and they don't seem likely to say it to someone like her, even if it is true. Instead, maybe they could hint at being from a special place, but not be too specific.

Keep on writing! (I gave this 3 stars because it feel like it is still a work in progress, but would be happy to re-review when you have written more.
117
117
Review of The Beast  
Review by Ben Langhinrichs
Rated: 13+ | (3.5)
I like it. Nice job of evoking the dread and fear, and the idea of "the beast within" is powerful even without more explanation.

There are a couple of small things you could do to tighten it up, but neither is exactly "wrong", so you should use your judgment.

The first is "takes to flight", which could be shortened to "takes flight". The latter is a more common way of expressing the phrase, as feel (to me) a little more in keeping with the spare nature of the poem.

The second is the phrase "it's teeth so bare", where bare doesn't really seem a thing that has relative levels. Something might be "so high" because there are different levels of height possible, but someone wouldn't usually be "so pregnant", because there aren't levels of being pregnant. Of course, you may not agree, but it seems like you could find another way to express this.

Write on, and thanks for sharing the poem.
118
118
Review of 'Digital Times'  
Review by Ben Langhinrichs
Rated: E | (2.5)
There are some things you do well in this essay, and one thing that is very problematic.

To start with, it is good procedure to cite your sources, and you have carefully done that. You have also managed the tone somewhere between folksy and business like which works well with these sorts of articles. You keep a balanced perspective, which is also key because outright advocacy of one position or another is too easily dismissed.

Now, on the downside, you badly misstated (probably misread) the first bit information you cited, which is both unacceptable and a signal to a reader that your research and thus your thesis are unreliable. If you go back to www.internetworldstats.com, you will see that you were reading the second column, which is total population, instead of the fourth column, which is estimated internet usage. (As a somewhat more minor point, you use a value for North America as if it were a value for the U.S., which might make Mexicans and Canadians a little grumpy.) The true figures are worldwide usage of under 3 billion, and North American usage of 300. I did not check the other sources, but I would suggest that you do.

I'm giving this 2.5 stars for now, but would happily re-rate if you fix it up some.
119
119
Review of First time essay  
Review by Ben Langhinrichs
Rated: E | (2.5)
There are obviously different kinds of essays with different goals, but it is important with any essay to make clear the purpose from the beginning and stick to it. It is a little unclear in the beginning whether you are writing a review of the article in question, "An analysis of Nuclear Energy," or a response to it. The way to be sure for yourself is by asking yourself what you want the reader to take away from the essay. Whatever that is, you then follow the classic essay pattern of starting with 1) explain what you are going to say in the essay, 2) say it with supporting evidence and arguments, and 3) conclude by reiterating what you have said.

In this regards, while the first paragraph is rough, it mostly serves the point. You should tighten up the introduction by avoiding language such as "I have decided to read you information on this topic" since the reader doesn't need the thought process you went through. Instead, focus on the part "I will discuss in detail the benefits and downfalls to nuclear energy" as the 1) explain what you are going to say in the essay introduction.

The middle part of the essay is muddled by being a combination of "what they said" which might belong in a review of the article, and "what I believe" which might belong in a response to the article. You need to choose which you want and focus on that more. Be especially wary of filler such as "I would like to move onto a new subject". Don't explain, just do it.

The conclusion is critical and needs to pull together the threads you present in the middle to show how they support your original argument, and sum them up with a strong statement. Remember that your thought process should not evolve during the essay, but rather should unfold. You could start with "I will show why..." and end with "I showed why". I also got lost in the use of proponents and opponents, because you didn't clarify which was which.

Keep working on this, as I think you have pieces which can go together to make a strong essay, but you need to work and rework until you have a compelling argument and a solid structure.

120
120
Review by Ben Langhinrichs
Rated: E | (3.0)
I like the feeling and energy behind the poem, and you make good use of alliteration. There are a few places where a little more work would make this stronger, mostly due to slight misuse of words. I encourage you to work on it further, and with that in mind, wanted to point out a few things:

Your mere presence is perplexing.

The word render isn't quite right for this phrase, although you could get away with it as poetic license. You might consider an alternative alliterative choice such as regard.

The word deject isn't right at all, as it should be reject. If you want to keep the alliteration, you might try another D word,such as detest or despise.

Best of luck, and keep writing.
121
121
Review by Ben Langhinrichs
Rated: E | (4.0)
Very nice job writing this story of childhood love, and the fear of being left behind and forgotten. I like the format, and enjoyed the ending.

I thought you handled the song titles well, both in foreshadowing and in resolution. Keep writing!
122
122
Review by Ben Langhinrichs
Rated: E | (3.0)
It's certainly an interesting start to the story, though I am a little unclear about your intent in posting it here. It appears that the book is already written, so there is little use in critiquing it. I wish you the best of luck with your writing, but hope you take the opportunity to post new things for people to read and comment on, and don't simply use it to promote.
123
123
Review by Ben Langhinrichs
Rated: E | (4.5)
A fun story of a clever plan by a boy to get what he wants. I enjoyed this very much (and it was an appropriate read as it is the the first day of school across the street, and I can see the kids pouring out of the building now).
124
124
Review of Coffee Shop  
Review by Ben Langhinrichs
Rated: E | (3.5)
You do a good job capturing the sinking feeling someone has when waiting for a date who doesn't show, especially when surrounded by others who seem far happier. I like the way everybody else seems happier and happier, thus emphasizing how down the narrator is. Good work.

I would suggest that you read through the poem out loud, as there are a few places where the rhymes or rhythm seem a little forced. I bet you can tweak these and make the poem even better. Also, when writing poetry, don't be afraid to streamline a little. For example, take the lines:

I look at the place around me,
Wide smiles and life is all I see.{/}

Try it as:

I look at the place around me,
Wide smiles and life all I see.{/}

and see how removing the single word is balances the two lines without losing any meaning.

Good work! Keep up the writing.
125
125
Review by Ben Langhinrichs
Rated: 18+ | (3.0)
By the end of your poem, I had a different opinion than I did in the beginning. I can sense your pain and frustration with both genders, and anger at a society which makes this so hard to even talk about.

That said, I have trouble with both the sentiments (especially in the first part) and with a structure that makes it hard to communicate your intent. I'm not sure whether there would be a way to mix in the positive and negative, but I am sure that the night and day difference you see between claw and scratch is not as clear to the reader as it could be.

Still, I applaud you for lifting the pen and trying. These are difficult topics to write about, and badly need writing about.
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