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51
51
Review of Autumn Interlude  
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (4.5)
This is it--this is autumn. You have captured it so well using the metaphor of a written piece. That is very clever, i think, to write about something being like something written about. Kind of like writing about a guy that's an author, and the things he writes.

The ONLY thing I'm not crazy about here is the word "foliage." It's too technical for the piece. I don't have a suggestion to replace it, off-hand, but it just doesn't..."fit."

Otherwise, I'm crazy about the whole thing! Thanks for this poem, this morning. Lovely way to start a day and start to close a season.

--Jeff Meyer
52
52
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 13+ | (3.0)
KV,

I was very skeptical about things beyond our physical perception until my own mother passed away. For a brief period of time--a space of weeks, no more--my own psychic door was opened. Those who have passed do come back to visit, guide, and guard us. That being said, your story rang very true to me.

I would like to point out several mechanical issues. I will start by suggesting a closer proofread. There is an instance of the wrong "to" being used and a conspicuously missing hyphen. Proofreading is boring. And when you proof your own work, you often miss things. At least, I know I do. Still, it's part of the craft.

More importantly, though, is your sentence structure. Many of your sentences are quite awkwardly constructed. I'll offer two examples--not to beat you over the head with it, but hopefully to help:
  • "My ears were ringing with the sound of a runaway train beating the tracks to death that must have been my heartbeat."
    While the metaphor of the runaway train is apt and descriptive, you have left a dangling clause. The way your sentence reads, literally is: "My heart was a set of train tracks that was being beaten to death by a runaway train, and my ears were ringing with the sound." You see, then, the importance of sentence structure. I will offer an edit that might fix this sentence: "My ears rang with the hammering of my heart: a runaway train beating the tracks to death."

  • "And I do know that darkness itself visits, you are drawn to look closer at the shadows you see in the dark."
    The mechanical problem here is that the two halves of this compound sentence are not related to one another with a conjunction or with punctuation. Perhaps this edit would help: "I do know that when you are visited by a darkness from beyond your understanding, you will always be drawn to look more closely at the shadows in the dark."


  • I know those are some pretty blunt notes. I offer them only because I think your writing deserves the attention--not to be cruel. This post is important, I think. Many people are still afraid to recount such un-understandable occurrences. If "brave" is not the right word to use for your decision to offer this to the public eye, it certainly comes close.

    If you choose to rework this piece, I would be delighted to see the results.

    In any case, I wish you the best with your writing.

    --Jeff Meyer
    53
    53
    In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
    Rated: ASR | (5.0)
    Wow. That gave me chills. That was so perfect. Your interweaving of a dreamy sense of nostalgia with a positive turn on alone-ness made me want to be there. And I HATE the beach!

    Peeking in the windows moved me. You used real details as opposed to similes, and that made the difference for me. The soup steaming on the stove--wow, it but me there. The sand in the arches of your toes, ditto.

    But it was not just the concrete imagery with which I identified. The beach itself dreaming of the summer people was poetic perfection.

    One tiny item tripped me ever-so-slightly. The term "beach bums" seemed to break your rhythm just by a syllable, and for some reason the term jangled against the rest of the vocabulary. But such a small thing.

    Overall, I am delighted I found this piece this morning. Absolutely a gem.

    Quite sincerely,
    --Jeff Meyer
    54
    54
    Review of Reality  
    In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
    Rated: 18+ | (4.0)
    It's hard to keep such a powerful topic to eight short lines. I applaud your work with brevity.

    I was struck, early on in the poem, by "life's blanc edged frame." Now, this COULD have been a misprint, with "blank" being the intended word. But I hope not, because as it reads, I translate blanc to white, fresh, unwritten. It helps the rest of the poem by implying life starts with a freedom that reality steals.

    I read a book that captured the concept well: from one point there are infinite futures; but the instant one of those futures is chosen, the possibilities shrink exponentially; that, with every decision, you eliminate your own freedoms, anchoring yourself to the slavery of the everyday.

    "Composing in addiction" hit me well, also. What else do we writers do? We can't stop, even when we grow weary of our own craft. Well-crafted phrase.

    I think you misspelled "colorful," but it might be another instance of poetic license, emphasizing not just the presence of many colors but a richness and fullness to each of those colors.

    The last line is a little bit awkward. I think you could rearrange it just a little to get it to flow better. Maybe read it out loud to yourself and see how it sounds.

    I enjoyed this short poem. Good writing.
    55
    55
    Review of Miguel's Duty  
    In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
    Rated: 18+ | (4.0)
    Hey, Bob.

    I'm flattered my opinions matter to you. Now, since time is short, right to the heart of the matter.

    Most importantly is that the "Special Agents" would be "Secret Service Agents." The Secret Service is a special corps of bodyguards that guard the President. Special Agents are merely FBI, CIA, and all the rest of the alphabet soup. If they were all playing cards, FBI/CIA would trump State Police, and Secret Service would trump FBI/CIA.

    You have some commas out of place, and a misspelling or two, but I don't think you are looking to me to point out little things like that.

    GREAT point about swearing an oath the the Constitution, not the President. There is a saying in our military ranks: "We salute the rank; not the man." That was a great detail.

    As a reader, I was confused about how I was supposed to feel about Garcia's attitude toward the president. I rather feel that that is EXACTLY the point you were trying to make, though--that duty has some fairly blurry lines.

    A couple items I didn't care for--but they were not incorrect, just personal idiosyncrasies, perhaps. A sidearm is a sidearm is a sidearm. Glok, SIG-Sauer, Smith & Wesson: it's a sidearm. It bugs me when authors pay such close attention to the make and model when the focus is on the firefight. I don't give a ***k if I'm using a slingshot! Th point is that I'm still shooting. Like I said, that might be personal preference rather than something actually wrong, but I figured you'd want to know.

    Otherwise, this is a strong piece that shows how duty is divided between work, patriotism, God, family, pride, etc. Good job.

    --Jeff Meyer
    56
    56
    In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
    Rated: 13+ | (3.5)
    Hello Author Ed Anderson

    Here's my disclaimer: I'm just one reader--one of many, hopefully. My opinions are my own, and I offer them to you by way of encouragement and support. Please feel free to take any of these observations and suggestions, or none of them at all. And bear in mind that I hope to see you improve your writing to your standards, not mine. If this review helps toward that goal, I am rewarded also.

    Approaching your writing, I'm searching for specific elements that I will address under separate headers. (Otherwise I just kind of ramble, as though we were sitting together in a bar swapping notes *Bigsmile*!)



    Introduction (Hook) — Did the beginning of your story stop me from putting down your story? Was I compelled to read on?
    *Star**Star**Star*
    Not reeeaallly...but it didn't make me immediately want to find a new link to read, either. My notes about your introduction are: a) it's too sudden; b) it's too telly. I LIKE the idea of arguing over Christmas. This past year, some good friends of mine were almost at the divorce level--because one of them bought presents for someone and the other disapproved. They were fighting over generosity! I also relate to "whose family this year?" One note here, BTW, you would attend Mass with his parents, unless the live in the actual church. My final note for the intro (and I promise this is not going to a sentence-by-sentence report on your story) is how sudden the mention of the brother's death is. The accident and its ramifications seem matter-of-fact, not horrific. Don't be afraid fill the page up with words to show us this scene.




    Characters — Do they fit the story (Are they well rounded, or appropriately vague?)
    *Star**Star**Star**HalfStar*
    The characters seemed to only serve the purpose of illustrating the point of the story: some things are fate, and some aren't. They weren't terribly in-depth, though. The brother is probably the most fleshed-out character--and that's ironic because he's dead! However, all that being said, the characters had enough definition to carry the story adequately through to its end.

    Oh, one note on Brian--Big Bro said he is already dating a girl from his church; but the Brian comes up and hits on the main character at the end of the story. You might want to, maybe, say he has just left a dating situation with a girl from his church. Just a thought, there.




    Plot — Does your story contain a clear plot with a strong resolution, or hook if it's a chapter or serial?
    *Star**Star**Star**Star**Star*
    Yeah, it did. Almost too much so, if you can dig that. I would suggest a little subtlety at the beginning. I know--how subtle you can really get with this theme? Well, just be careful you're not so predictable that your reader automatically says: "I've read this before;" and moves on without another look.




    Pace — Does your story feel like it's going somewhere?
    Was I able to follow the cadence of your story?

    *Star**Star**Star**HalfStar*
    Yup--but it went too quick. I felt like I had just watched he previews to a Hallmark Channel Christmas movie (hey, I watch those things every year!), but not the movie itself. Like I said before: slow down, and enjoy the story while you're telling it--or better yet, LIVE the story while you're telling it.



    Language and Voice — Was I able to 'feel' the story, to experience it through one or more of the characters?
    *Star**Star*
    Erm...no. It went too quickly and too summarily. See above.


    Dialogue — Are your characters' voices distinct, and do they add to character building? Was the dialog stiff or stilted, or did it flow naturally?
    *Star**Star**Star**Star**Star*
    Dialog's a beast. It's almost as hard to rate as poetry. I think you did fine here, but there is always room for improvement. Read the dialog out loud. If it sounds corny, it is. If it sounds like something you'd say, then hey--you got it! It worked for me, though.



    Settings — Was I able to really embed myself in a scene, really see and feel the surroundings as written?
    *Star**Star**Star**Star**HalfStar*
    I'm only snatching a half-star from this one. But actually, I wasn't able to put myself into the story until the supermarket. I really did feel those people talking behind my back, though. Good job there.



    Themes — Was I knocked out by mind-blowing philosophy or originality?
    *Star**Star**Star*
    Well, no... But come on--there's only so many themes and story lines. (One book I recently read put forth that there are truly only seven story lines anywhere, ever. It was pretty interesting.) Still, you didn't go all Wonderful Life, nor did you obligingly plop the character back into her own reality. The end was original enough for me to enjoy it.




    Mechanics — Was the grammar and structure such that I did not have to re-read portions, or stumble over certain phrases? Were there conspicuous punctuation errors?
    *Star**Star*
    Ouch. Commas were not your friend throughout this story. Here's just one instance, from the beginning of the story:
    This time though it was different because my brother had just been killed in a horrific accident and I needed to be with my parents.

    Because this is a compound sentence, there MUST be a comma after "accident." Also, since it can be removed without damaging the integrity of the sentence, "though" should be set off with commas before and after. And so on throughout the story. Grammar wasn't so bad, but punctuation left a lot of room for improvement.



    Suggestions — A few ideas for possible improvement.
    Like I wrote: slow down and give me details. Imagine you're telling this to a jury and they HAVE to see it and feel it like you do, or your toenails are going to be removed.

    Also, work on that punctuation. It really paces the story for the reader.

    Other than that, though, it was a solid story.





    Conclusion — A summary of how I personally felt about your story.
    It reminded my of "The Vow," by Nicholas Sparks, but that is neither a plus nor a minus.
    Just an odd connection. I'd certainly recommend this story to another reader, and that IS a plus. I'm glad I had the opportunity to stop by and read it.




    Thank you for sharing your story with me, and for inviting my feedback. Good luck with your writing!

    Regards,

    Jeff Meyer



    57
    57
    Rated: E | (4.0)
    Once upon a time there was a country of impossible description, of which not even a boy of limitless imagination could conceive; for this land was filled smokes and smogs, and stone and metal towers rising hundreds of feet into the air, and busy with the scuttlings and racings of a vast people who felt nonetheless alone--each of them--in their hard, claustrophobic world. Everyday, this vast, impossible mass of humanity tuned one another out as they sat together on speeding trains, and cramped, smelly buses; hid their eyes and hearts from one another during meals; ignored each other during conversations, having forsaken the skill of listening to the opportunity to talk--for there is nothing that makes one feel less alone than one's own voice...even when talking to someone who hears nary a word. One day, a man came among them and told them they were not alone at all, that in fact they were all one, and each was a part of the other; that each must speak to and listen to and love the other; that their history of willful ignorance and refusal to accept the grace of their neighbors would soon bring about such ruin as they could not possibly imagine. Because of that, this sea of humanity DID draw together, and held the man aloft, and carried him away to a holy gallows where they mocked him, and beat him, and assured him that he was cherished among them--for they had found the target for which they had collectively been searching for over two thousand years. Until finally, their lust for aimless vengeance was sated, and they grew bored with the abuse of the Man; whereupon they strung Him in the noose and charged Him with the crime of forgiveness, of which no one can repent, and He watched them all with dying eyes and whispered with His final breath: "You still know not what you do…" Therefore let us rejoice that such a land cannot exist as in this horrible mockery of a story, and that each of us DOES take time to love and hear and hold one another--because WE have learned; and we now know EXACTLY what we do…don't we?
    58
    58
    In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
    Rated: E | (4.5)
    Neva:

    Your poem of personal transformation, quite skillfully formatted visually to represent a butterfly, is powerful in its brevity. With an economy of words, you have nonetheless reminded us that in order to soar far above where we are now, we must have faith in ourselves to progress through change into something greater.

    Nicely done.

    --Jeff Meyer
    59
    59
    Review of being dusky  
    In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
    Rated: E | (1.5)
    Diksha,

    While I could not agree more with the sentiment, I would very much like to know the impetus behind this reminder.

    Don't be afraid to expound on your opinions and assertions. Writing.com is a safe space for submitting your writing, even if it is personal, or seems biased to one particular point of view--be it race, religion, creed, or sexual orientation.

    Being dusky is not a crime; and neither is being a writer. Hope to see some more expansive prose from you in the future!

    --Jeff Meyer
    60
    60
    In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
    Rated: 13+ | (5.0)
    Hello {huser:

    Here's my disclaimer: I'm just one reader--one of many, hopefully. My opinions are my own, and I offer them to you by way of encouragement and support. Please feel free to take any of these observations and suggestions, or none of them at all. And bear in mind that I hope to see you improve your writing to your standards, not mine. If this review helps toward that goal, I am rewarded also.

    Approaching your writing, I'm searching for specific elements that I will address under separate headers. (Otherwise I just kind of ramble, as though we were sitting together in a bar swapping notes *Bigsmile*!)


    Characters — Do they fit the story (Are they well rounded, or appropriately vague?)
    *Star**Star**Star**Star**Star*

    Bearing in mind that I am jumping in in the middle of a story, I felt the characters WERE well-rounded. Tyollis is portrayed particularly well. I was in the service myself, and I have seen the senior NCOs as tired as us men, but still in charge, and still needing to keep going and keep US going.

    Tyollis' strength in the face of exhaustion is the detail that weaves this chapter together so tightly. His momentary lapse of concentration in the end that allows the prisoner to escape is an essential contrast and a very natural and realistic scene.


    Pace — Does your story feel like it's going somewhere?
    Was I able to follow the cadence of your story?

    *Star**Star**Star**Star*

    This chapter portrays an army unit that is close to being stuck somewhere. As such, the story itself is slowed down, with fitful starts and stops. That is important, as it keeps the reader immersed in the frustrations of the men and leaders, but after a few paragraphs of it, I found my eye wanting to skim ahead. Had I been a casual reader, instead of reading to provide detailed feedback, I probably would have skimmed a bit, missed some details, and had to come back to re-read. Now, that's not observed in a negative light: like I said, I understand that's how the chapter has to be. But I think it is worth you knowing about it.



    Language and Voice — Was I able to 'feel' the story, to experience it through one or more of the characters?
    *Star**Star**Star**Star**Star*

    Tyollis was dead-on, as previously mentioned. Branston, on the other hand, was not. I can tell he is a prisoner, and a proud man, but beyond that, he seems more of a device to drive the story than he does an actual character.

    The other soldiers who have brief interactions have equally brief descriptions, but enough to set them apart from the throng. The young soldier with the scruffy beard; the soldier with one eye; and Athern, of the grey hair. (I originally wrote in this review that the characters did not stand out. Going back to check for specific examples of dialog issues, I found these little details did exist, and was pleased. The fact that I didn't grab on them the first time around is probably evidence that I did some skimming after all. Hmm...)

    Humorously, our Medical Officer, when I was in the service, did that for real. I almost broke my shoulder, and as I was waiting to be seen, he first asked to see "Knee-Guy."
    Then: "Who's next? Oh. Send in Stitches-Guy." Finally it was my turn, and he said, "Okay, now send in Shoulder-Guy."

    It's a funny little anecdote, but it does demonstrate how a person (a reader in your case) can keep track of characters by the smallest of details, and how you kept the "extras" in your story from being cardboard cutouts.


    Dialogue — Are your characters' voices distinct, and do they add to character building? Was the dialog stiff or stilted, or did it flow naturally?
    *Star**Star**Star**Star* *HalfStar*

    Again, Tyollis carried the chapter. Branston's speech was not quite contrived, but... I don't know. Not hostile enough? I mean the guy is a prisoner. Reading the first eight chapters might help me more there.

    Regarding actual dialog, there is an instance where you use the same word too much too close together. It's just a few paragraphs in, when the soldier with the scruffy beard (good detail, by the way) is telling Tyollis of the sick men. Scruffy uses the words "They say," and then then next time he speaks, he uses "I'd say." It's not egregious, but it stood out.

    Faldashir's speech did not flow as smoothly as Tyollis'. I could hear Tyollis in my head; but I was aware that I was reading Faldashir.


    Settings — Was I able to really embed myself in a scene, really see and feel the surroundings as written?
    *Star**Star**Star**Star**Star*

    Actually, I was TOTALLY able to put myself there. The stalled column, the cold ground the sick soldiers. The weary progress and tired halt at the river. The spooky trees. I think brevity was your strength here. You told us what the setting was like, rather than describing each leaf and twig. Each reader is now able to build the scene around his or her experience. Great job with Setting.


    Themes — Was I knocked out by mind-blowing philosophy or originality?
    N/A

    It's only one chapter. The overall theme is still hinted at: Defeating the Monster. In this case, defeating the Wraith. But as for philosophical arc and journey, it would be unfair to judge one chapter outside the context of the overall story.


    Mechanics — Was the grammar and structure such that I did not have to re-read portions, or stumble over certain phrases? Were there conspicuous punctuation errors?
    *Star**Star**Star**Star**Star*

    Actually, the only mistake I found was that you spelled "Each" as "Eack" when Tyollis goes back to survey the sick men. Stellar job with mechanics.


    Conclusion — A summary of how I personally felt about your story.
    *Star**Star**Star**Star**HalfStar*

    I want to read the other 8 chapters! That's how I feel. I was interested in the variables--the sickness, the unseen monster(s). I was immersed in the setting. I was identifying with the characters. Hell yeah!

    One other element of this story that really broke through to me was the humane treatment of the prisoners. That really broke the stereotype of this genre, and was rather fascinating to me. I want to find out more about the little details like this.

    The only reason I stole that half-a-star was the familiarity I felt to Game of Thrones--specifically the Wraith and the Breach Wardens. The political subtext also lent to that feeling. Now, in no way am I suggesting this is a rip-off. No way. But the little similarities were enough that I had to pull my mental imagery out of Thrones from time to time.

    Overall, I thought it was a great chapter in what promises to be a very interesting book. As I read the other chapters, I'll leave some thoughts on them, as well.


    Thank you for sharing your story with me, and for inviting my feedback. Good luck with your writing!

    Regards,

    Jeff Meyer



    61
    61
    In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
    Rated: 18+ | (5.0)
    This is a bit of sad irony, Bob. Well done, to be sure.

    First, let me congratulate you on your use of Police 10-codes. I checked them, and you got them all right! It's important when a writer takes the time to do a little research.

    There were a couple of devices you used that kind of disappeared in the middle of the story. The donuts, for instance, seemed very extraneous.

    The plot turn was very well-handled, with McCall realizing that he couldn't keep hating, and realizing that his prejudice was based on false assumptions.

    The twist at the end was a painful example of how our moments of weakness can undo a lifetime of strength and success. Bitter.

    I will comment that the dialog was occasional stiff, and the action too quick and dry at times--almost like a movie director telling the actors where to go and what to do. I understand the word-count constraint, and feel the story suffered a bit for it.

    Overall, Bob, this is a fantastic, sad piece of writing that is simply too topical to call fiction. Well done.

    --Jeff Meyer
    62
    62
    In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
    Rated: E | (4.0)
    Mary Ann:

    The last thing I will be able to do is live in a nursing home. Those things are waiting-to-die bins. I can't take them. So I identified strongly with your sweet poem.

    There was a hint of good humor here that I can't really put my finger on. The poem is a serious prayer, I can tell, but there is a twinkle in the pen of the writer. Not being able to explain exactly why I feel that way is a sign, I think, of some very good writing on your part.

    You have a couple of mechanical issues you might want to address:
  • Last stanza, second line: I think you meant "chair," not "char." ...Unless you are hoping to be cremated? *Wink*

  • Last stanza, last two lines: what happened to rhyme scheme?AABB, CCDD, EEFF, GG...QZ?

    This was a nice part of my morning. Well done.

    --Jeff Meyer
  • 63
    63
    Review of Shiny Blue Bike  
    In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
    Rated: E | (5.0)
    Pat:

    First, let me tell you: that's pretty much how it was when I learned to ride, too. Everybody else took to it like fish to water. I took to it like... Well, like a fish to a bicycle. But once I got it, man, I rode my legs off. A sad note to the story is that I tended to ride the bikes to death, because I have always been as gentle and graceful as an ill-tempered jackhammer. *Frown*

    Okay, back to your writing. The fact that this recalled to me those summer days behind Marlon's house trying to get the hang of riding his sister's bike shows the strength of the writing. You did more than just show me, too--you put me inside your head and inside your heart. That is so important for the writer to do, because I can be a part of the story now.

    Your final line about how much of a bargain the bike turned out to be in comparison with the financial hardship was such a perfect ending. Endings can be hard, at least for me, trying to tie everything up with a nice neat bow. You did it perfectly.

    I thoroughly enjoyed this glimpse into your past and reflection into my own. Thanks for posting this.

    --Jeff Meyer

    64
    64
    Review of Late  
    In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
    Rated: E | (4.5)
    (Pssst...make it so the bus was speeding because it was late!)

    This was nice, John. I wonder how many non-writers realize that a joke is nothing but a short story. Short stories--hell, even poems, I think--have the same elements as a joke or a magic trick: pledge, turn, and prestige. (Don't I sound all intelligible and stuff?! *Wink*)

    From the introduction, you had me hooked. "He almost made it." Fantastic. Once into the story, you played this one perfectly. I would suggest breaking the punchline off as its own paragraph, that's about my only (other) suggestion.

    Now, you DO have some mechanical issues. Commas are buggery little buggers, and trip up the greatest of authors from time to time. You have a few where you don't need them, and need a few where you don't have them. And it's "altar," not "alter."

    See? Pretty gentle this time! *Wink*

    Here's a Writing.com-specific note. Consider two things: first, put a blank line between paragraphs. Studies have actually shown this addition of white space increases the perception of reader-friendliness, making it more likely for people to stop and read your work. Also, consider using WDC's formatting tools to increase the size of your font.

    Really liked this one, John.

    Gotta run, now. I'm running late for the bus...

    --Jeff Meyer
    65
    65
    In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
    Rated: E | (3.5)
    John,

    First off, I only review honestly. If something I read sucks, I don't review it at all--I'm not here to be mean. But if something is almost great, I'll say that in a review.

    This story wanted to be great--yet I was let down. I know, I should go paddle my boat through some mine-infested waters myself: this is a pretty rough way to start a review. But I want to be honest and (hopefully) helpful.

    So here's why I felt this way. The story, as presented, is like a fleshy outline. It's got a great backbone, and some great supporting writing. But it's missing a lot, too. (You've got some mechanical issues, but let's ignore those for now.) Here are my observations of the construction of this story (in which I have used the color red to denote an area where I think you have an opportunity to improve the story and green for areas where I think you are already very strong):

  • OPENING/SETTING: The first three paragraphs are great, especially for a short story: an introduction in the present that defines the character and setting, then a brief dip into the past to provide some back-story and exposition. I usually get bogged down in the back-story/exposition phase, and I wear my readers out; so I applaud you for this opening gambit.

  • CONSISTENCY/DEPTH: In the beginning of the story, the main character is in a situation that is described with good depth: the drunken Germans comprise a good scene, giving an external view AND a view from inside the main character's mind. But I found that the story kind of skimmed the surface after that, until the main character started thinking, in the hospital, how clannish the other fishermen were. Everything was outside the main character, and I wanted more glimpses at things from inside his mind, more thoughts, more feelings. Or, perhaps, just less setup. It's a hard balance, I know--you have to get the guy in the position to have his conflict, and you can't do it too fast or too slow. It's very hard. There were some really good bits, though. Bits that showed us the character's plight AND gave us an insight to his internal involvement in the situation--like this one: "Bulls***, he slapped the water and kicked his legs until he was exhausted." What an exquisite detail! This really lets us inside the character, rather than leaving us on the outside just watching him flounder.

  • CONFLICT: It is unclear if the main conflict is survival or an internal struggle against the urge for revenge. Based on the end of the story, I want to say it is the internal struggle of good over evil, resisting the temptation to seek revenge. If this is the case, you may want to consider condensing the trial at sea;
    right now, that takes up a lot more of the story than the eventual growth and triumph of the character.

  • RESOLUTION: There was a crucial connection I thought you failed to make here at the end. Returning home is more than geographic for this character. He is also returning home to "good," perhaps even to "God." He has decided against revenge and has taken the high road of fulfilling his promise that he made out at sea (good job, by the way, setting this up when he is floating out in the deep blue). I thought working on the docks instead of fishing (as was his passion), and freezing his butt off was an excellent metaphor for penance of having strayed from God in the first place. The missing connection, the crucial point that is never brought up when he gets home, though, is exactly that--God. To just go back to Rhode Island shows nothing but a change of venue. To go back and live a penitent life and connect/reconnect with God (one short sentence is all it would take) shows the growth of the character, and completes his arc--gives the story a reason.


  • That's a lot of red items. You might think I'm a jerk by now. But let me finish with this: I would not go to this effort if I didn't like the story. This is a good story! And everything I have noted are observations from just one reader--a reader who hopes to be constructive and encouraging.

    Please take from this review anything you feel is helpful; as for anything with which you disagree, hey--dump it overboard and let the sharks enjoy it!

    Look forward to more of your work, John.

    --Jeff Meyer
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    Review of Solid Ice  
    In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
    Rated: E | (3.0)
    Change sucks.

    I used to handle it fairly well--roll with the punches and all that, thank you very much Randy Newman, sir. Now it terrifies me and brings me to the brink of emotional breakdown, literally.

    I share this to demonstrate how much I can identify with your writing here. I'd like to be so bold as to offer some ideas, too.

    1) Take a breath. And let me breathe a little, too. Separate this into paragraphs. Paragraphs represent individual, complete thoughts, inception to conclusion. If you take the time to separate your journaling into real paragraphs, you might just identify an answer amid your own questions. In any case, it allows the reader to pause for a second or two between your thoughts to identify and ponder.

    2) Give us some context. Mostly WHAT is changing? It helps your audience identify with you not just on a basic level, but a more personal level.

    3) Give us some examples or parallels. Metaphors, similes. Sure, I'm talking about waxing poetic! But I have found that using dramatic, poetic prose does more than just add texture and flourish to writing: it accomplishes the same thing as catastrophizing in Rational Emotive Therapy--whereby one envisions the absolute worst case and then plots his or her own position currently relative to that vision. So, by waxing poetic, you can actually tell for yourself how far down the hole you are...or close you are to really reaching the stars.

    I admire you for sharing such a personal post, and hope you take my comments for the positivity they intend.

    See you around, I hope!

    --Jeff Meyer
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    Review of Emitt <3  
    In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
    Rated: 13+ | (3.5)
    'Writer:

    Mechanics first. Ditch the rhyme or tighten up the meter. I understand omitting rhythm helps communicate the feeling of the inability to get your balance about a subject; I just feel like the rhyme either needs rhythm to give it strength. The rhyme itself is inconsistent, and weak. Commas--too many of them. For instance:

    maybe I'm the one,
    that left you behind


    No need for the comma here, because this is all one though, not different segments of a thought. Commas tell the reader to pause a little bit, and when I paused at each comma, reading this out loud, the cadence was impacted badly.

    Now the poem itself. Excellent. The tribute to your friend and the confusion and grief left behind by suicide are clearly portrayed here. The survivor-guilt, the "I-should-have-done-more..." Most of all the fact that even four years later, although life has gone on, the pain remains.

    I think this poem deserves some more work from you, as the message it carries is true and important.

    REMEMBER: These are the thoughts and observations of one guy on WDC, and my comments are intended to encourage you and make you want to write more. If anything I have said has offended, it was unintentional (so please, no voodoo dolls).

    --Jeff Meyer
    68
    68
    In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
    Rated: 18+ | (4.0)
    This was excellent, Bob. Although, I am more inclined to believe Trump IS an alien--it explains a lot. *Wink*

    Overall, I was amused by the prospect, and enjoyed the read. But let's talk technicals:
    --"capitol" should be capitalized. No pun intended.
    --The concept of a person not being believed about alien abduction then being proven right--especially a farce of a man--has been done before, in Independence Day.

    That's it for critique, Bob. It help together nicely and wouldn't surprise me one bit if it all comes true.

    I will say, I was particularly fond of the suggestion that the "president" might have romantic intentions for Mr. Burke...whatever passes for romance where the air is rarefied, that is.

    Thanks for sharing this with me!

    --Jeff Meyer
    69
    69
    In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
    Rated: E | (4.0)
    How disconnected we all really are in this age of infinite virtual connectivity.

    You state this paradox well, in terms the reader can understand and interpret.

    I would suggest that the first two lines are unnecessary; but the rest is painted with masterful, spare brushstrokes, sketching in microcosm the separation we all tend to feel.

    Very nice.

    --Jeff Meyer
    70
    70
    In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
    Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
    Melikes!

    I had the vision that, in the end, we would see from a widened perspective, that the giants were two children, one younger, the other his bolder bully of a brother, perhaps. That the faerie were seen by the boys as lightning bugs, trapped in a jar. That the younger wanted to set them free, and take joy in their light and flight, but the elder was cruel and wanted make their light his own by shaking the jar and forcing the glimmers from their death.

    Maybe you had that in mind, maybe not. But that's what I got out of it. And i enjoyed that little scene quite a bit. Thanks for posting this!

    --Jeff Meyer
    71
    71
    In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
    Rated: E | (4.0)
    Harry,

    I was captivated by the natural flow of dialog constrained to this rhyme and meter. It was interesting, and worked quite well.

    However, I was very confused at the end. As best I can tell, the daughter is better at identifying her own grief than realizing her mother's; and the mother classifies only her own lost lave as true. But this has to be a guess on my part, because the "turn," if you will, was very unclear.

    I have re-read it several times, and enjoy it each time. The metaphor of the graffiti is quite well-done, intimating that perhaps the "true love" that both women felt was truly nothing but vandalism to their hearts. Still, the ending remains abrupt and confusing to me.

    Just one fella's thoughts, understand.

    --Jeff Meyer
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    Review of Red Wine  
    In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
    Rated: ASR | (5.0)
    Victoria,

    Those are three strong lines, there. Wow. Such exquisite wording. I can only applaud this short, incredibly strong submission.

    --Jeff Meyer
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    Review of Veron  
    In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
    Rated: E | (4.5)
    Here's a short review, but perhaps the strongest praise one writer can offer another: you have inspired to me to read this book, because it sounds like it could help me find my way to being a better person.

    Actually, this writing deserves more than that, and I do have a couple notes here that might be useful:
  • Tell me the name of the book before the middle of the essay; and when you DO tell me the name of the book, don't preface it with "at the finale of." This might sound weird, but that carried the sense that you had only skimmed to the back of the book, which is not the case. Just a small observation.

  • Excellent use of the 5 (or so) paragraph essay: tell em what you're gonna tell em; tell em; tell em what you told em. It's a rare skill, so don't lose the knack.


  • Thank you for posting this essay and revealing this story to me.

    --Jeff Meyer

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    Review of Let Go, All of It  
    In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
    Rated: E | (4.0)
    Austin:

    I'm exhausted. I'm staring at the computer thinking: "God, can I provide anything of value to any of these wonderful authors? I can barely pay attention."

    Then I read your poem. It opened my eyes and brought me fully alert (for how long, I can't say; better hurry with your review *Wink*). When writing grabs the audience and resets their focus, that's the first sign that there's something special going on.

    Let me offer my views on your use of poetic mechanics.

  • The repetition of "let go/now" is important and well-used here. It bookends the piece, and it reminds the reader that this is not (just) a glimpse at the writer, but a call to action.

  • On a critical note, I think you could have increased the impact of the main portion of this poem by OMITTING "let go of" in at least 6 of the 8 lines where it's used. Here's a way I think of it: in poetry, each word written costs me money, so I need to use them sparingly; but each word read brings money in, so I have to be sure I'm choosing exactly the right words. Brevity makes poetry stronger, in other words.

  • The third-to-last line is actually repetitive--you've already said the same thing in those main 8 lines.

  • Your use of lower-case throughout is interesting. To this reader, I am interpreting a subliminal message: the writing of the message is not as important as the message itself. I like it; but it could have a dark half. Read below...


  • As uplifting as the message is intended to be--there are a few key words here that indicate this is a positive message--the lower-case writing and repetition of "let go" also brings a bleak feel to the writing: "nothing is worth it. let it go. love. hate. life. let it go. now..." See what I mean? It's actually this apparently-unintentional contrast that sparked my attention, so I don't know if it's something you want to change. I just wanted you to be aware of it.

    Good work; thanks for a wake up call today. I'm going back to zombie-hood now.

    --Jeff Meyer
    75
    75
    In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
    Rated: E | (4.0)
    This was nicely positive. Double points for using "onerous."

    Your meter was consistent, and your rhyme accurate; the narrative flowed, and did not loop back on itself or repeat. Good job with the mechanics.

    I know this is part comedy, but the funniest thing I found was that you can "sing" it to Young MC's "Bust a Move." Try it; it's kinda hilarious!

    --Jeff Meyer
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