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23 Public Reviews Given
Review Style
I write this in almost every review I write: "Forget the errors and focus on the problems." I think that is the most important thing! You could spend five minutes looking for all the comma, misplacements or speeling eroors . . . but does that really make a piece of writing that much better? The hard part about writing--and thus the hard part about reviewing--is creating a work that is relatable, that is enjoyable, or suspenseful, tear-jerking or hilarious, all within the confines of the right words, of the right sentences, of the right dialogue and narration. That's what I like to review. The problems.
I'm good at...
I'm really good at offering suggestions. I can offer suggestions, alternative ways of looking at or writing about things until, if someone took everything I said to heart, you would have a completely different story. I think the beauty about writing and editing is the fact that while you create a world of its own, you can change that world just as easily. So by all means, take what I say with many, many grains of salt. But salt does make some things taste better, right?
Favorite Genres
For the most part, as long as there are words, I'll like it . . .
Least Favorite Genres
. . . unless those words deal with erotica or supernatural teen romance.
Favorite Item Types
Give me a short story or a novel any day!
Least Favorite Item Types
I still don't know what interactives are. . . .
I will not review...
. . . anything I either do not feel qualified to review or uncomfortable reviewing. And by "not qualified", I'm talking about "why are you not published?" I think everyone is qualified to review anything!
Public Reviews
1
1
In affiliation with Showering Acts of Joy Group  
Rated: E | (5.0)
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Hello Bren!

I was attempting to find a poem by you that was lesser-known or had fewer ratings than most, but that proved extremely difficult! I clicked here and there on some of your poems, read through them, kept reading, continued reading . . . I eventually became lost in your sea of poetry! And I love them! They are told so whimsically, so innocently and effortlessly as though this is what you were meant to do: to evoke the emotions you feel through the beautiful prose of poetry. I am in awe of not only the quality of these pieces but also the quantity. I love them, and I can see myself reading them to my (someday) children. They're beautiful, simple and yet thought-inspiring, introspective, and so much more.

I hope that by now, you understand that I really loved reading your poetry. *Smile*

So now I was faced with a problem. Can I review all of them? Well, maybe eventually, but it might get a little obnoxious for you to receive dozens of reviews all saying the same thing. "This one was great!" "So was this one!" "I liked this one too!" "I can't see how to make this one any better!" So . . . I thought better of that.

I solved this problem by finding one of my favorites: This one. It caught my eye for several reasons: 1) In the middle of summer, I can't help but be drawn to a writing about Christmastime and winter; and 2) I love common tales told from a slightly different vantage point. The perspective shift from one character to another can draw out entirely different emotions and thoughts. Especially biblical stories! How much occurred between verse 7 and verse 8? We can only imagine (as you have done). So, here I found myself reading this poem again.

Here are a couple of things I loved about this poem upon reading it: The rhythm. The iambic pentameter in this poem seemed so effortless and seamless throughout! It was sing-songy, easy to read, and it flowed without interruption. The rhymes. While I do not usually like the ABAB pattern in a rhythm as this, I found myself almost unconsciously being drawn to it. It gave the poem a feel as though it was being told by the innkeeper's wife, natural rhymes that were not forced and were not utilizing inappropriate words to the context just because they rhymed. The insight. With a perspective change as this, you had to include what the wife thought, and you did it, in my opinion, so masterfully. I can only imagine what I would feel if I was in her shoes (or perhaps her husband's in my case!). The only comment I could make in regards to any change to this poem would be a further elucidation on the woman's thoughts, feelings, emotions, and actions following this. Don't get me wrong--it's perfect the way it is and leaves the reader in a thoughtful attitude. But I'm always curious to see the afters of things and would be interested in how you might portray her returning to her husband, how this circumstance would change her thoughts, etc. But that's just my curiosity *Smile*

So, I leave you now with nothing but praise for this poem, though one question: When does the picture book come out? *Wink*

God bless, and you can be sure I will be back again to read some more poetry!
Chris
2
2
Review of Never Got Away  
In affiliation with Showering Acts of Joy Group  
Rated: 13+ | (3.5)
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Hey there, Stephen!

Intriguing story you have here. I really enjoyed the extremely-first-hand elements of the tale, from vivid descriptions of H's thoughts to the imagery of his surroundings. The doppelganger creeps me out to no end, and you kept the reader interested throughout the story, only just revealing enough to keep the story moving, but not enough to destroy what was causing the suspense. It seems you have a knack for horror.

I would like to share with you a couple of thoughts I had while reading the story. First of all, in the bedroom scene, H faces an extremely horrifying experience. I'm sitting in bed right now, in fact, and I might have trouble going to bed for fear of opening my eyes and staring into my own face. While I sincerely hope that never happens to me, I can only guess what I might do in response: Remain paralyzed in fear, whereupon his/my hand grips my throat, following which he/I dissolve, leading to an inevitable scream from my lips and a panic fleeing from my bedroom. I don't know what H had been drinking, but he's got a pretty strong stomach to be able to sleep that event off! You mention that H's double "was gone", immediately followed by H "heading out early" as though nothing very significant had occurred. I would suggest connecting those two a little more with the direct aftermath of the visitation. How did H respond to the entire scene? What did he end up doing that night? If he did shrug it off, what was his reasoning? Answering those questions will fill a nice gap in the story.

A little before that, in the midst of the first paragraph, you have written something that confused me slightly. You mention that the double's hand turns from flesh to putty to liquid, yet the rest of his body cracks into ash. Is this what I am supposed to envision, or perhaps should there be a little more consistency in the doppelganger's . . . umm . . . dissolution?

Another suggestion I would have regards the chase. You mention that "miles and hours had slipped by" before they finally reached that oak. I'm a fairly athletic guy, playing football (the real kind, not the American one) on a regular basis. And I cannot imagine running straight on for an hour let alone hours This guy should sign up for a marathon! Maybe I'm missing some supernatural involvement (which, if there is, it should be mentioned fairly clearly), but either H is actually Usain Bolt or something's up with the story.

Now, a final thought I had that might be a little difficult to get out. I came to a conclusion at the end of what the creepy doppelganger meant concerning the fact that H had "never gotten away", but I am terribly unsure as to whether or not this is the correct conclusion to come to. In my mind, his failure to escape (somehow) from the foul grip of his double that previous night meant he was unable to enter that oak freely. The other guy who stabbed the woman, therefore, must have experienced the same deal previously but had fought his captor off, meaning he had "gotten away". That was the first conclusion I made, followed by another one that perhaps H had to have committed a crime and escaped before being allowed entry. In either case, there is some clarification I think needed to ensure the reader does fully understand the climax of the story (unless I'm just being very daft and cannot see an obvious meaning right there in front of my nose). I know it's difficult to balance the thrill and mystery of a horror climax with just thre right amount of knowledge for the reader, but here, I think a little more knowledge can be handed out without ruining anything.



Those are all I could think of regarding significant modifications to the story to make it just that much better. Again, it is already very good (if creepy, thrilling, and macabre could ever be considered "good"), but everything can do with a little revision here and there.

I did notice a few grammar/punctuation errors that just detracted slightly from the reading. What follows is a comprehensive list of all that I found. Nothing is too serious, but it would be profitable to make some corrections. *Smile*



The ceiling above him dominated his line of vision and its grey paint intermittently punctuated his incessant blinking.

*Bullet*This is a compound sentence, so a comma is needed before the and.


In a final, resigned and irate manoeuvre he rolled swiftly over onto his other side.

*Bullet*This one is optional: In introductory prepositional phrases longer than four words, it is common to separate it from the rest of the sentence with a comma to aid the reader a little. I think this would be a perfect example of where a comma would greatly benefit the initial understanding of the sentence.


For a period of time the pair's respective eyes

*Bullet*Same as above *Wink*


H's pupils reflecting in white nothingness

*Bullet*I think a definite article the before white would be helpful in clarifying exactly what you mean. It was reflecting in the white nothingness, not reflecting white nothingness which this can be confused with without the definite article in place.


save for a couple sat enjoying a breakfast picnic together.

*Bullet*Wong verb tense of sat. You are describing the couple as being seated, so the past participle should be used.


The noise levels rose and rose, until the man

*Bullet*No comma is needed since the dependent clause, starting with until, follows the independent one.


on their picnic spread, and plunged it into the woman's arm.

*Bullet*You’re a little comma-happy, aren’t you! No comma is needed here either because this is only a compound predicate, not a compound sentence.


and was leaning, breathing heavily, against it, did he feel himself

*Bullet*The separation of leaning and its adverbial modifier against it is a tad confusing to read. I would move the interfering adjectival phrase (breathing heavily to directly after the and, joining the verb and its modifier: and, breathing heavily, was leaning agaist it (no comma) did he feel himself.


against the wet inner trunk of the tree

*Bullet*You have two adjectives describing the trunk, so they should be separated by a comma: the wet, inner trunk.




That's all! I can't say anything else about this story. It is already well-written and will be nearly impeccable after a few edits. I hope you take my suggestions under consideration, and keep me posted on the developments of this story as you revise it. I would love to peek in and see the finished product in due time.

All the best,
Chris

PS. I see you are a "Scottish fellow"? I will be going to Edinburgh in a few weeks to visit a friend at the University of Edinburgh. I have yet to see Scotland and am very excited to say the least!
3
3
Review of Teenagers  
In affiliation with Showering Acts of Joy Group  
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
Hey Tala,

I saw this on the Read a Newbie column to the side of the window and just had to click on it to see what this was about. A little background on myself and why I was interested: I have one final week of being a teenager left, and I have spent some time considering the last seven years of my life. Thirteen is hardly recognizable anymore amidst the awkward height-to-weight ratios, the beginnings of acne, the real start to crushes--how juvenile! And reading the poetry I had written from that time period--so full of angst! Anyway, all that to say that I was interested in what you had to say about it.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that this was in dialogue format, reminiscent of ancient Greece. That is a really neat ability to have, to be able to incorporate philosophy into plot (although cooling down tea is hardly a plot, but you catch my drift). I feel almost as though this is an excerpt from a larger work that could exist as a stand-alone, like "The Grand Inquisitor" from The Brothers Karamazov. If there is anything else out there from this, let me know!

What you have here is brilliant! It was fun to read, comedic with that darned tea, and thought-provoking with your conversation. And probably most importantly (and most astounding), the dialogue was natural! It's funny how one, myself included, can have such a hard time writing in a form of speech that we use every day. But this was extremely natural, it flowed well, and your dialogue tags were nicely hidden when they were present at all.

I also really enjoyed the nameless narrator's thoughts on the conversation throughout the story, his pseudo-nonchalance and lack of interest that this following sentence really makes clear: "He smiled a bright, knowing 25-year-old smile, that I knew in five years he wouldn’t understand anymore." That was the first clue, and then the zinger at the end made it perfect.

I can honestly in no way suggest any major modifications to this dialogue besides include it within a larger work. Your characters, merely worldviews in a sense, vessels to carry the thought, were described just enough, and, as I said earlier multiple times, the dialogue was brilliant. There were three minor things I saw that might do with a fix:

*Bullet*“Hmm?” Darren was watching me.

I might just be a little slow, but it took me a short while to discern who said the "Hmm?" and who said the "It's crazy, right?" The Darren was watching me could make sense with either quotation, and I had originally placed it with the "Hmm?" and the first person narrator with the "It's crazy, right?" That is, until the next sentence, which would only make sense the other way. I think a simple tag, like "I mumbled", or something along the lines of that, would help clarify a little.


*Bullet*hoodies that wrapped their hands in their pockets like an ugly grey monster might,

The multitude of theirs is a little disconcerting when reading this sentence. Is it the hoodie's pockets, or the hands, and where are the hands going, and what exactly do monsters have to do with pockets and hoodie sleeves and missing hands? (Slight excerpt of my mental process.) I actually don't know what image I am supposed to be imagining. It's probably very simple and I am just over-complicating it, but I think a little revision here might settle a few scores.


*Bullet*He smiled a bright, knowing 25-year-old smile, that I knew

This sentence again. No comma is needed after smile. Don't ask me for the exact grammatical reason--I haven't taken a grammar class in years. But I do know that it doesn't belong, and that's good enough for me!


Besides those three minor things, this piece is golden. I really liked your third-to-last paragraph, the narrator's response to Darren. Thinking about it now, even ten years is a massive amount of time! I am going into my junior year of college, and I am currently living with two incoming freshmen, and it's hard to believe that I was once one of them! Their seemingly petty problems, their dramas that I am "so far beyond because of my maturity level"--and that is just a two-years difference. But the use of a decade as a divider point is very poignant nevertheless--it provides an even greater variance to see.

And as a final comment, I really am glad you correctly formatted your dashes. That made my night. *Smile*


All the best,
Chris
4
4
Review of Child's Play  
In affiliation with Showering Acts of Joy Group  
Rated: E | (3.5)
Hello Lisa!

Mr. Rosenberg does not sound like an individual I would ever like to meet! You made that more than clear! I guess he got what was coming to him.

This was a very fun short story to read. I'm guessing the "Daily Slice" presses a 1000-word limit to short stories which you were able to fit nicely. It wasn't crunched in the end and there was more than enough background for everything to make sense. I do wonder, though, what you might be able to do with this if there was an additional 1000 words available to you. Maybe a preface with Jessie talking to Nora about the dancing statue-children to give dialogue context to Nora's knowledge. Or even something between Andrew's hanging and Mr. Rosenberg's episode. Just some possibilities if you ever want to think about lengthening it. But it is fine just the way it is now!

I like searching for problems in people's writing. Errors are easily fixable and will no doubt be noticed by the author in due time, but it often takes an outside opinion to notice the problems in a story. The only problem I see isn't really a problem, and it is what I mentioned above. More of a thoughtful suggestion than anything else. So I guess I can focus on the errors for now! Errors just slow the reader down and momentarily break the flow of reading as one has to mentally sort out "Okay, that's not how it should be, this is," and it simply interrupts the flow. Here's the list of errors I found:



She thought maybe tonight she would go to them.

*Bullet*I would suggest a that after "thought". Since it's not a direct quotation, it should be a subordinate clause.


Nora opened her charges door,

*Bullet*Simple apostrophe abduction. The door is the charge's door.


and threw open the door?

*Bullet*Umm, are you asking me? Hopefully the narrator knows and doesn't have to ask whether or not Nora threw open the door! *Wink*


garden at night…”

*Bullet*This is a little picky, but it's worth doing right since everything else is done right. When an ellipsis exists at the end of a sentence as a sort of "trailing off" of words, the formatting is a normal period, followed by a regular ellipsis: space-dot-space-dot-space-dot. So the above would look like: garden at night. . . ." Just for good measure.


but then stopped, not relishing being scolded by her employers.

*Bullet*The use of two gerundial words consecutively is generally frowned upon. It looks, sounds, and feels a little awkward. I would suggest adding the transition "as she did not relish to avoid this awkwardness.


children that came to play... maybe she wasn’t imagining it.”

*Bullet*Me and my ellipses. Internal ellipses should be formatted previousword-space-dot-space-dot-space-dot-space-nextword, like so: play . . . maybe. Most people don't find it very important, but I think it looks a little . . . cleaner. *Smile*


body.
“I don’t know where she is!”


*Bullet*You just forgot to add a paragraph break here.

look her way.
“Good bye,


*Bullet*Same thing here!


the look in her eyes, she knew

*Bullet*I would suggest a colon here instead of a comma. You say that Mr. Rosenberg knew the look in Nora's eyes and then proceeded to describe what that look was. I think this description would feel a little more welcome if it followed a proper colon instead of just a hackneyed comma. *Smile*


The other’s touched him

*Bullet*There is no possessive here, only pluralization, so it should be the others.


Some that speculated that the loss of his daughter had been too much

*Bullet*By adding in that first that (the second one is fine), you are implying that there is an awaiting verb for the subject some that never comes. Instead, the some are speculating. So a simple deletion of the first "that" would fix the error.


there had only been four… and one of them

*Bullet*You guessed it! Now say it with me, "space-dot-space-dot--" you get it. *Wink*


Those were everything I could find. Overall, I very much enjoyed reading this. It had definite elements of horror, suspense, gore, etc, but it was quirky and fun despite the darkness. I could suggest nothing other than, if you so wish to, adding more substance to it!

All the best,
Chris
5
5
In affiliation with Showering Acts of Joy Group  
Rated: E | (4.0)
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Hey there, Fran,

I remember, so long ago in middle school, one of my math teachers would always say that "Hindsight is always 20/20". I was shocked to find out later that he had not come up with that maxim, but it has nevertheless stuck in my mind. I could not help but think of that while reading your poem, and I think that maybe those wise words need a little clarification: "Hindsight is always 20/20, but that doesn't mean you didn't go anywhere." Your poem offered quite an interesting take on hindsight, a way of looking back and seeing not just went wrong, or how difficult it was, or how frustrating or stressful an episode in your life was, but ultimately where you have come to and how you have grown. I think this is a terribly pertinent message, especially today with an age of people (myself included!) who would prefer comfort and stagnancy over growth through struggles.

All that to say: Your poem did a wonderful job conveying the above to me, the reader. I really love the repeating first and fourth lines of each stanza with the slight revision in the final one. It provided an ebb and flow to each portion, pulling the reader to the end of one and pushing him forward again to the next. Also, the juxtaposition of the past in the second line of each stanza (what sacrifice you had made) against the present in the third lines (what sacrifices or responses you still do) is very poignant in expressing how continuous this process is--it is long and arduous, and there will no doubt be consequences, both painful and beneficial, a long ways down the road. So I applaud you in that.

A minor modification to this poem that I think would enhance the readability of it is in reference to capitalization. While this poem is not a traditional ABAB poem, and most of formatting in poetry is up to the discretion of the composer, I think that capitalizing each starting letter of each line would make the read a little easier. Here's the main reason why: In the first four stanzas especially, it is slightly distracting to see a single lowercase letter at the start of the lines, the "w" in the second line of each. When I saw the first one, I made a note to let you know that you had forgotten to capitalize one of your words . . . but I noticed later that it happened each time! I see now that you were only capitalizing after each full stop / question mark, but I think you might save your readers a momentary confusion by just making them all capitalized. It would also be a little more visually aesthetic if you want to go that way. *Smile*

The only other thing I would say is completely my own opinion and is simply based on my own style of poetry and writing. This poem is very simple in a nice way. It says what it says straight out without much need for interpretation or further reflection on the subtleties of the words used. In one way, this is very nice because it gives the reader a break from the Robert Frosts and Emily Dickinsons of the world! And I can tell that this is a very autobiographical poem and must have a lot of meaning for you. However, for the reader, the one you are trying to connect to and convey your emotions and thoughts to might not relate to the images you have provided in the same way. For example, the line "Would I still say no to all those invites?" does not ring true with me (I don't get invited anywhere!) and caused me to fall out of tune with the poem. I simply cannot relate to that. I would be saying yes to every invite I received right now! *Smile* But obviously, this is not the same with you. This gets you into dealing with the delicate balance of reader-relatability and personal-reflection. In this poem, I do see a much larger emphasis overall in the latter which would naturally preclude any bold attempt at the former, which affects the poem in no harmful way. Just something to think about.


Well, that's all I have to say! I really enjoyed reading this poem, and it has given me something to think about. The struggles I go through now, the times I just want to bow out . . . Through everything lessons are learnt, / Knowledge and confidence are surely won. / Life can be tough. / Be sure before you take that final bow!

All the best,
Chris
6
6
In affiliation with Showering Acts of Joy Group  
Rated: 18+ | (4.5)
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Hey Drew!

This review is going to start out positive, but then in the middle, it's going to stay positive, and at the end, you might notice some undertones of positivity. All that to say: I almost feel silly reviewing this because all I will be able to do is affirm what you have here. Encouragement and positivity!

First of all, let me say that even though this is just a "simple" geographical sketch, an envisioning of landscape and environment, it is definitely teetering at the top of the list of my favorite items I have read on WDC. I started falling in love with the section on "Sounds." And it continued from there. Your word choices, your imagery, your metaphors and anthropomorphisms and . . . everything else is so brilliant! You have a beautiful way with words that I wish I could capture, and my mind could just savor each phrase, but it always craves more and naturally leads me on to the next. There is no story, only the hint of one, and yet it is magnificent, illustrious prose! In fact, the only real suggestion I can give is that in your sentence, "The dread permeates the air- there is nothing to do, nowhere to go." the hyphen after air should be written as two hyphens together without spaces between the words surrounding it, like . . . air--there . . . But that is hardly enough to get my knickers in a knot (I think that's an expression, right?)

You have obviously taken seriously the optional mandate to writers to formally plan out and consider plot, characters, and setting in order to have a fully functional cast. I find myself now wondering why this world is the way it is, why this dark, foreboding, ominous monolith exists in an expanse of despair and utter loss. Not to mention how anyone manages to survive in such a formidable place as this. I'm interested already, and I don't even know the plot or the characters. That's a good sign for you, my friend!

The only possible revision that I could suggest after racking my brain for several minutes is to group together the exterior descriptions and the black tower depictions and separate them spacially. This is definitely a weak suggestion, but here's why: While there does exist a definite tension in describing the outside world juxtaposed to this keep, it was slightly repetitive to jump back and forth. Keeping the environmental depictions together, in my opinion, would flow nicely, keeping the tone of desolation and loneliness without jumping back and forth in between the mystery and enigmas surrounding the tower. The way it is now is perfectly fine, but it might be something to look into, possibly even making a chiasmus out of it with the tower being the focal point.

And now that I've reread the item again, there is one more. Again, I know that this is just a setting . . . but after several paragraphs of beautiful prose, it just ends. Unexpectedly. And anticlimactically. Honestly, even though there is no plot to climax, I think you can end a little nicer than with a side-comment on solar flares. A simple wrap up. You started by zooming into the setting, why not end by zooming back out of this desolate, lonely scene?

There we go, that's all I can say. Again, I really love your writing style, your word choices, and the thought that you have put into this. Incredible, that's all I can say, and I will have to come back to your port and read something with a plot in it!



All the best,
Chris
7
7
In affiliation with Showering Acts of Joy Group  
Rated: 13+ | (2.0)
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*Yes, there are a lot of words here, but they're all pretty important! Please don't dismiss this because of its length--I really want to help you out in any way I can!*

Hey there Cailean!

Beefyre seems to have had a pretty sucky life until now. You portrayed him fairly well in context to his extremely unfortunate circumstances. Fantasy seems to be your thing, and you've created a very realistic start to a potential story. It was fun to read, and now that I'm done, I find myself wondering just what Geralt has in mind for his new apprentice.

But while the concept is well done, the execution still needs a bit of work. I'm not sure if this is a story you want to keep up with, but even if it isn't, there is some good practice involved with editing and revising works that may never lead to anything further. Think of it as scratch paper for an artist sketching out concepts. The more time you take editing and revising and rereading and perfecting, the better you will become at it naturally the first time around--though you'll always need at least a dozen edits in the end.

My mantra in reviewing is "forget the errors and focus on the problems," meaning, of course, that the author is more or less responsible for picking up the small mishaps that are inevitable in writing--the forgotten comma, the misspelled word, the fragment or run-on, etc. But I have to say, one of the biggest problems in this short story is the abundance of errors *Shock*. Errors, while they do not reflect on the content of the story, serve as a hindrance to the reader who has to mentally work through what is written and envision how it instead should be written, which messes with the flow of the story. I would strongly suggest starting out your editing process by carefully reading through each word and sentence, reading them each at least twice before moving on, to ensure that the word order is the easiest for the reader to understand, that there are sufficient sentence parts before every period, etc. (If you want, I would be more than happy to send you a detailed copy of the errors I found and explain why each of them is listed.) And enjoy it while you can, because this is by far the easiest part of revising your own work.

This next part will be a little more painful. It deals with changing the content. Now trust me, I know that this is the hardest thing to do: When you've written something for the first time, you want to believe with all your heart that you included everything you wanted to and everything the reader needs to know, and just the mere thought of changing a single sentence's content can bring you to tears. But in order to improve, it has to be done. General Lewis B Puller said that "Pain is weakness leaving the body", and I say that it is the same in revising. It's painful, but you're removing your writing "weaknesses" and putting in something stronger.

Here are some examples as to what I mean.

There are a couple questions you need to ask yourself when looking at a short story, especially a fantasy one. First of all, probably the most blatantly obvious, is "who is this story about?" Well, it's in the title: Beefyre. Easy answer. Correct. But what about the connotations? This story is about Beefyre, so everything you write should directly tie into the relationship between the author and Beefyre. By the end of the first few paragraphs (earlier in this case because it is so short), your reader should be emotionally and mentally attached to your protagonist. He should feel his pain as he's bullied, feel rejected when his father rejects him, and feel the responsibility of caring for his mother. According to Keith Oatley, a cognitive psychologist and novelist, fiction is “a simulation that runs on the software of our minds. And it is a particularly useful simulation because negotiating the social world effectively is extremely tricky, requiring us to weigh up myriad interacting instances of cause and effect.” Basically, reading a novel is the melding of the reader's brain with the protagonist's, allowing him to essentially live the same life, to know the underlying subtleties that only the protagonist would know. I think that this is one of the most important things to know in creating a good main character, and this article explains perfectly what I mean: http://writerunboxed.com/2013/07/11/6-ways-to-make... --I would really suggest you read it!

So what does that mean for your story? The reader is unfamiliar with the background of Beefyre. He doesn't know what the Shimmering Castle is, nor how the nobility works, nor what social customs are for children and if there are any consequences for bullying, or anything! The reader's not an idiot . . . but we're always a little stupid. *Smile* While you've provided a context for his very unfortunate situation in life, you have not supplied anything for the rest of his life! (See number three in that article for a further and much better explanation than I can do). Make the reader care for what happens to him, otherwise we're just reading words on a page.

Which evidently leads me to the next major point I want to make: The climax. The scene where the reader's fingernails inevitably shorten because they're worried. If you have successfully created a protagonist that the reader will care about, this can become the most powerful moment in the story. The climax you have here is the trial. Here's this poor little boy, trying to fend for himself in a world full of hostility (much like Aladin), and he is very likely to be put in a most unfortunate situation. While you do have some wonderful internal dialogue, the effect of this climax is shot by its sudden onset and quick conclusion. Draw it out, make the reader wonder what is going to happen. First, he's caught. Oh no! What's going to happen? He has no parents to claim him. Oh no! What's going to happen? There's going to be trial, but it's going to take a long time. Oh no! What's going to happen? He's probably going to be ostracized from the capitol--you get the point. This is your big point of conflict, so make it hurt real good! (A good place to start might be to grab a whiteboard and bullet point out several main markers in this climax and fill in between these marks with Beefyre's thoughts and emotions along with what goes on around him, all the while being sure to provide the context that the reader needs!)



Okay, that's it for the major revisions that I think would send this short story up many rungs of greatness. I do just have one final follow-up comment. Geralt mentions that he had been watching Beefyre for some time and had noticed his natural abilities. When I read that, I thought that maybe Geralt was lying, because I didn't notice any natural abilities Beefyre had in stealing. I knew that in order to provide for himself, he started stealing and selling the silver in the black market, and then he got a little bolder which eventually got him caught--but that doesn't sound like Thief Lord material to me! Make the reader think that he's a natural thief before he gets to where Geralt says it. Let it be mulling in the back of the reader's mind, "Wow, that's a pretty sneaky kid." For example, you mention that Geralt noticed how Beefyre used the moon's shadows to mask himself. Well, why not tell the full story of that expedition, maybe even including Beefyre's notice of a masked man watching him from a distance. This would also help solve some issues with the context part for the reader as you would no doubt have to describe the city or the layout of the palaces, etc. At the same time, it would get the reader invested more in Beefyre. Then you could even follow it up with how he does get caught--maybe it's a clumsy mistake since he is a rookie, or maybe it's a set-up. Really, these are all just suggestions. You can go anywhere with this, do anything you want. Just make it believable. Otherwise, your reader just thinks Geralt doesn't know what he's talking about.



So, there are my thoughts on this. I truly hope these thoughts are encouraging you to take a look at this short story with fresh eyes and see all the amazing potential that is awaiting you. And remember as I said in the beginning: Even if this is not something you want to continue, it's no doubt worth practicing on and honing your skills as a writer. I doubt Crime and Punishment was written in one draft, and I think we can all agree that Dostoevsky was a much smarter man than most of us. Don't be discouraged either. I noticed from your bio that you are fairly new to writing and that this is the first time that you've opened yourself up for others to see your work. Trust me, this is what you want! While it might feel awful at first, someone coming at you suggesting one thing or another, know that your reviewers' only goal is to help you polish your story to perfection. Heck, were I to listen to half of the advice I'm giving you, my own stuff would be a lot better! It's a long, hard process, but it is doable, and the end result is amazing! *Bigsmile*

If you have any questions or want me to clarify anything or give some examples, let me know, and I would be more than happy to. I hope you take these words to mind and let them muddle through. And when you do go through an edit, let me know, and I would love to read it again and see what you've done with it. My rating now might seem fairly harsh, but it only shows how much this can improve!



All the best,
Chris


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8
8
Review of Down At The Local  
Rated: 18+ | (4.0)
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Hello Elle!

I must say that my first reaction to seeing what the "dire text" said made me a little cynical about what followed. It just seemed a little too cliche, a little too dire. It got a little better when you said that it "was overly dramatic." So I was really surprised when I got chills reading the last two sentences. So I take back any cynical thought I might have had. Though a very short story, you told it really well!

Here are a couple of things I especially liked about this short story: First of all, I appreciate the fact that you did not act as though the only thing going through "your" mind simply pertained to the text, to the meeting, to the imperative and unexpected. No. She's been waiting in a bar for over an hour, and if I had the mental concentration to do that, I would get so much more done! So I love the sidetracked thoughts, which though only entail about 2 paragraphs make up more than a third of the story. It's real, and I like that. The other main characteristic of this story that I enjoyed was how the climax was led up to. Of course, it was extremely quick because this is a short story, but it was still drawn out enough to make the reader wonder about its import. Until the stinking end!

I only have three minor suggestions. The first deals with a comma in the second-to-last paragraph: I sighed, and was just sitting straighter . . .". The comma can be exterminated. You don't have another subject besides I, so this is simply a compound predicate.

The second was a little higher up: Somewhere beneath one of the wooden tables . . . Reading this provides the connotations of "underneath", as in "sitting on the floor below the table". This is a little picky, but I did have to check myself while reading this. I think a better word choice would be: Somewhere on the underside of one of the wooden tables . . . . I think that provides a better descriptor for where someone would scratch their name into a table.

The final comment is really up to you, and it might just be because the way I learned language as a child. The text says, "Meet me", meaning (obviously) one. Now, the reader isn't stupid, so when you write that "it was doubtful they were coming," the reader obviously knows there's only one person involved. But grammatically speaking, it should be that she "was doubtful he was coming at all, whoever "he" was." And, of course, the "he" is understood to be a neuter pronoun, so it could have been a "she" no problem. But again, that does pertain more specifically to an analytical writing style and may not be extremely pertinent in creative writing.


I wish I could offer some more suggestions, but I really cannot find a way to make this any better, any more poignant. Unless you really took a dare and made it several hundred words longer, starting from when she got the text, what that changed in her regular routine, and maybe even some thoughts afterwards. But it's fine, as Bruno Mars would say, "just the way she is."

Thanks for the read, and all the best to you!
Chris
9
9
In affiliation with Showering Acts of Joy Group  
Rated: 13+ | (2.5)
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Kam,

What I see here is a great backstory, so kudos to you! You've created a context for this character, Pepper (or I guess I should say Iridia), and formulated a backdrop for how she views the world, her life, her family. It was very interesting to read, especially concerning her parents' initial meeting. Incredible how some thing you could never imagine end up . . . well, happening! And I do like the spice names. That's clever!

I would, however, have to suggest that you read through this with an active eye to catch a lot of errors that were a little distracting as a reader. There are many places where there are too large of gaps between words that, well, distract a little from the story you are telling and cause the reader to lose his (or I guess your) train of thought. There are also several spelling errors (like bussiness), an i that was not capitalized, an is was, and a "I like to uses spices", just to name a few. I would strongly suggest reading through this with a fine-tooth comb to catch these little bumps and bruises. I was not keeping track of them as I read, but if you want some more examples, I would be more than happy to send you a list of what I can find.

But errors are easily fixable. Now let's talk about content.

First of all, let me say that I really liked it as it is. It is in no way a poorly written story--quite the opposite, in fact. I honestly wish I could write as fluidly as this! But I do believe there are several elements that can be added to support the backdrop to Iridia.

For example, you mention in the first sentence a supposed "wicked little heart". However, by the time I got to the end of the story, I had completely forgotten about this statement and was a little shocked when you mentioned her as a "black sheep" and as having a "twisted nature". I really think you could accent this about Iridia throughout her life's context. It is her thoughts narrating anyway, right? So why not add in a sly comment or two from solely her perspective. You do something like this a couple of times with your parenthetical comments (which I think should not be in parenthesis. They give a personality to Iridia), but, like I mentioned in my own parenthesis, this could provide an opportunity to give Iridia a three-dimensional personality. Right now, I have no idea what to think of Iridia. Is she just a naturally twisted person, like Cathy Ames in East of Eden, or is more of a defense mechanism? Does she intend harm with her twistedness (although the title having the word "Killer" might settle matters), or does she merely wish for mischief? You can explain a lot about her character through this narration, and I think you should take full advantage of it! This story is about Iridia in the first place, even though this specific prologue is discussing her heritage.

That is the main suggestion I have for you in making this story even better. I'll quickly bullet-point a few other thoughts I had:

*Bullet*You mention warring city-states at the beginning, and then they disappear without any real explanation as to their ferocity before bringing it up again in regard to the "runaway incident". It might be helpful to add a sentence or two clarifying what the goal of these wars was and why Iridia's family was caught in its blows.

*Bullet*It would be helpful to the reader to mention the age of Ceylon when she was apprenticed. I pictured her much older until you informed the reader that they were 19 and 22 after seven years. 19 is a whole lot different than 23 (which is what I pictured).

*Bullet*It might also be beneficial to clarify how Iridia's parents "warmed up" to each other after the, um, party. Was it a "Well, looks like we'll have to be civil to each other since we have a kid" or more like "Wow, I never really noticed how intelligent she is until I started listening to what she was saying." Then Iridia can put in a sly comment concerning her parents' relationship for some comedic break and character insight.


Please remember: You have a wonderful start to this, but nothing will ever be perfect the first time you write it. There will always have to be additions and deletions, and trust me, I know how painful it is to look at a paragraph you so cleverly crafted and having to highlight and delete it. But sometimes, it is necessary to change a "short story" into a "masterpiece". It will take hard work and patience and many angrily tossed crumpled pieces of paper, but it can be done and it will make your story so much better! I only hope that you will take some of my suggestions to heart, ponder them, and either consider them or discard them (for good reasons of course!). I'm rating it really harshly because I'm leaving room for significant improvement! *Smile*

When you do feel like you've made it through a good edit, I would love to know and read through what you changed. Then I can tell you how it's perfect and nothing else can be done to make it any better *Bigsmile*

Until then, all the best!
Chris
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