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Printed from http://www.writing.com/main/profile/reviews/dragoon362
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26 Public Reviews Given
Review Style
If I review you, I will help you. I will be there throughout the revision process and am happy to enter a dialogue with you. I write in depth, constructive criticism. I look at the various layers of a text - from the surface level of spelling, grammar and sentence structure, to the deeper layers of diction, imagery, symbolism, structure. Depending on the review or on the request, I might focus more on some areas over others. As I've been an editorial intern at British publishing houses and have worked in PR and media, my reviews put your work on par with professional and published work. Thus, I am very thorough and receiving a three-star review from me means a great deal because it means that your poem, story or chapter is a solid piece of work. Receiving a higher star-rating is impressive. I rarely give five-stars so don't come here looking for a perfect score. I prefer to give public reviews as I encourage others to discuss them with me.
Favorite Genres
Urban fantasy, literary fiction, classics, post-modernism, poetry. I can and will review pretty much anything though I have more experience in these genres.
Least Favorite Genres
High Sci-Fi (aliens, spaceships). Smut.
I will not review...
Plotless erotica (not all erotica is plotless). Fanfiction. I will tell a person who requests a review if I feel I am unable to review them based on inexperience or schedule.
Public Reviews
1
1
Rated: 18+ | (5.0)

Little genius you. I would write more but I think that sentence, which isn't really a full sentence, more or less sums it up. This is very clever and I enjoyed it. Ignore the hate-raters and keep thinking like this. It's awesome. You're awesome. And you write a hellalot better than a bunch of people I could name and shame.

DJV


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
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2
Review of The Confession  
Rated: 18+ | (5.0)
An image for my reviews now the blog is complete.



Dearest Professor Q

So you said you hadn’t any reviews for 'The Confession', your submission for the Official WDC 'What A Character!' Competition, and I wanted to rectify that – partly because you rated and reviewed me and partly because you’re my friend and partly because I have quite a lot to say. I first want to say that I enjoyed it – it’s not my usual read from you as so much of our experiences together have had elements of magical realism, sci-fi, Gaiman-esque-ness (you know what I mean) so this was a pleasant surprise as a piece of pure historical fiction.

So to begin I want you to know that there were a large number of elements that I thought worked really well, especially the narrative voice that drives this piece. It’s strong and it captures the attention of the reader quickly. I also thought that you successfully made a Nazi somewhat sympathetic – an achievement in itself and I know that’s one of the aims you had in mind when you wrote this.

Generally a good read with few mistakes and little to critique. I don’t see any obvious spelling errors so congrats on that – no grammar errors either which is a nice change from some of the stuff I’ve been reading lately. Firstly however there were a couple of odd word choices and repetition in your diction:

*PointRight* ‘desiccated limbs’ – now it might be because I’ve been making honeymoon slices, but desiccated means literally dried out, or more metaphorically – devoid of energy. I’m not sure that’s what you mean in this sentence.


*PointRight* ‘My Lord Jesus’ – you use this phrase a lot. I wonder if you might find less repetition more effective, especially in the beginning when your character appears to be looking for redemption. Consider: My Saviour, Oh Redeemer etc.


Everything in the next few sections is therefore just personal thoughts and suggestions if you were going to rewrite this. Thus, for the remainder of this review I’m mainly going to focus on character and voice then I’m going to briefly talk about the structure of the story.

*Fleurdelis*


CHARACTER & VOICE


Usually I would start with a more focused section on diction but since this story is focused on the character of Friedrich, I think it necessary to begin with him as man of the story’s later criticisms return to the issues surrounding him and his voice-driven narrative.

Voice

Friedrich seems intelligent – his language is sophisticated. This is suggested by words such as ‘odious’ and ‘depravity’, phrases such as ‘abcessed profusion’ and ‘desiccated limbs’, the detailed understanding of post-WWI reparations and politics. Moreover, the fact that you title the story ‘The Confession’ as well his frequent ‘Oh Jesus’ makes it evident that he is a Christian.

Thus, the points I’m going to make are slightly pernickety as the Nazi regime was something we had to study in detail in my final year of the International Baccalaureate Diploma. The first is that the vast majority of SS officers posted to the camps had very little education. Only about 70% had an elementary education, 21.5% secondary and and only 5.5% had higher education. You’re an intelligent girl with a lot more education than a lot of the SS and therefore I think your voice somewhat bleeds into the voice of your character. The tasks such as herding the detainees to the chambers/prison barracks, turning on the gas chambers etc were mostly performed by very low ranking officers who lacked an education and therefore it seems a little anomalous to have a very high-brow voice here. Of course, there were the 5.5% you might say – but most of them were like Doctor Mengele and the camp architects.

Other examples of where you might want to consider the depth of education that your character has received are in the allusion to ‘Frankenstein’ – written in English. And: ‘I saw only a bacchanal of fear and degradation, fevered arousal and pitched repletion’ – a very sophisticated metaphor but potentially too sophisticated for one of the SS.

As I said very pernickety but could be worth considering if you rewrote it.

The other thing is that the ‘Oh Jesus’ – admittedly, when I first read this I simply read it as a sort of ‘Oh Jeez mister’ kind of attitude. This might be a British thing of course so do ignore if you like, but most prayers tend to have longer titles for the Christ figure – ‘My Lord Jesus Christ, Saviour, Redeemer’ is one that might actually also fit into your story. The other thing is that ‘Confession’ is a primarily Catholic element and there definitely were Catholic SS at Auschwitz. However, from my understanding of Catholicism, most confessions begin: "In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit...” – I’m actually going to come back to your opening when I talk about structure, but I just thought it might be more effectively ‘prayer’ & ‘confession’-like if the language of Christianity was more self-evident.

Now those are the only two real inconsistencies that I thought worth mentioning, although they are up to you to play with . Therefore I think it’s time to make a few suggestions on how you might make his character even more interesting and evocative. I mean, I do recognise that you wanted to make him sympathetic. But I wonder if the story might have been more effective if there was some doubt as to his sincerity? After all, it would be a great thing to do something like Nabokov, making your Nazi both sympathetic and still inherently the bad guy. Nabokov does this frequently – think of Lolita or Despair. In both of these you have men who we should despise – a paedophile and a greedy, self-pitying killer – but we also admire them for their cleverness, sympathise with their humanity. They also both take the form of confession-like narratives driven by strong first-person narrators. I would recommend them if you haven’t read them.

An example for how you might do this could be that you allude to how he graduated and thought it an honour to join, won over by propaganda rather than as you say ‘ignoring’ the problem. Maybe he was a part of the first generation of Hitler Youth and graduated into the SS. Maybe he’s a coward and he’s making excuses? Maybe he was in love with a girl who wanted a soldier for a husband. The list goes on. I do think considering making him unreliable would add depth to the story – particularly because it’s so focused on the character and currently that character is quite 2-D.

Does that all make sense???

Character Development

Yes I’m now going to say a little bit more about the 2-D comment. Don’t worry Q, I wouldn’t leave you hanging.

First, I think that I wanted more about WHY he changes his mind one day. There seems to be a very sudden ‘and then I woke up’ type moment that’s never really clarified. There’s the great moment when he realises he DID choose to become who he become and he takes blame away from Hitler and Germany, realises their follies. But I wondered – what exactly changed him, what opened his mind?

I think that detail might make the whole story come together, make Friedrich a much stronger character and deepen his tangibility.

The other thing would be perhaps changing the way he refers to Christ/the God figure in the story to show his development through the confession. Perhaps he starts appealing for forgiveness and salvation but then changes to ask for aid as the saviour and redeemer of them physically rather than just spiritually. A shift in a motif like that might make the story more cohesive. Maybe he even refers to his thoughts about God after WWI (abandonment??? Was Germany to become the next Sodom or Gomorrah?) or during Kristellnacht (God as vengeful upon the dregs of society?). By using a motif like Friedrich’s faith, you’d thus subtly render his character changes without being overly explicit.

*Fleurdelis*


STRUCTURE


Yes. We’ve made it to structure. There are just a few suggestions, and mostly things that really are up to you to judge their worth because I’m being fussy haha. But I think the main criticism I had was that the story lacked actual action – it was all implied/past-tense. Moreover, the ending, which was the first hint of real true action, was cut off before the action could occur. The suggestions I’m going to make focus on these things to try and make a way for you to have more action in your story without destroying the great great foundation you have here.

The first thing I thought when I read the line ‘I did not mean to be a murderer. But it seems I have become one.’ Was that this should be where your story starts. It throws you straight into the central problem that the character is trying to resolve, it is much more eye catching than your current first line and it’s evocative. Incredibly so. You could attach the first line AFTER these two sentences but my first instinct would be to change that so these opened the story for the reader.

The other thing that immediately sprang into my mind after finishing the story was that I wondered if you had considered writing it from the third person? Maybe even starting as close to the end as possible, like Vonnegut implored of writers, and starting it with his hand on the pistol or the gas chamber lock, waiting to run. Or maybe not having the story as a written confession but as an interior monologue with God – perhaps referencing a written confession but not actually enacting it within the story?

Why do I suggest these things? Well partly because nothing really happens in this story – there’s no real action, there’s only self-reflection. Using the third person or restructuring the story so it begins with the great height of tension that is attempting to break out of Auschwitz (ie. your implied ending), would place the reader right at the ‘by why is he doing this moment’. You could even make it artfully ambiguous – will he lock the door on them, or will he release them, thus giving the story an effective circular structure.

Part of the reason I bring structure up, or at least why it stuck out to me so much is because, currently, the middle sections slows the momentum slightly or as my teacher would say ‘it sags in the middle’ because of the heavy use of reported action and analepsis. By restructuring the story with some more ‘present’/ ‘current’ action and/or problems, you might then give more punch to the past, to the build up to his eventual turn-coat. The historical accuracy is great, but I think this way you’d also be able to include Friedrich’s role in the build up to the camps, more about him as an individual, which currently he almost lacks but which we’ve pretty much covered.

*Fleurdelis*


FINAL WORDS


Ok so I hope we’re still friends now haha. And that you found some of these points useful, if not for this story but for any other future short stories.

I think the voice is great and the character is interesting, though he could definitely be more well-rounded just with a few touches here and there. Moreover, I think that the structure with just a few tweaks could really make the story doubly emphatic because you could do loads to heighten the tension.


Thank you for reading all of this and I hope it helps.

GOOD LUCK IN THE COMPETITION & HAPPY WRITING.

Matt


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
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3
Review of Damaged Goods  
Rated: E | (3.5)
T H E A G E O F K I N G S
The Minstral’s Tale
Part One



Hello there! It’s been a very long time since I owed you these reviews but I hope you’ll forgive me for my lateness and that despite the delay they may be of some use to you.

To begin with, the first poem I have chosen to review is ‘Damaged Goods’ so here I am, ready to see if I can give you advice. I chose it because when I was about 13 I was told that my strange mood swings were to do with cyclothymic disorder which is expected to develop and worsen as I get older. I found your poem incredibly poignant and emotional and I am really glad that I’ve had the chance to read it.

What I'm first going to say is please please please don’t take offence to anything I say, I'm going to try and give you constructive criticism so that you can develop this poem of yours. And let me just add that what I think is great about what you've written is that
a) it’s a very emotional poem
b) the narrative voice is very involved

So what shall I talk about first? And just remember these are only my suggestions; you may use them at your own discretion or throw them out entirely.
Thank you for this opportunity to give you my suggestions. Please enjoy!

*Pthb**Pthb**Pthb*


CONSTRUCTIVE POINTS

General Points for Consideration

As I said above, one of the things which is so great about this poem is that the narrative voice is genuine and emotive and involved in the writing. This makes it personal and the appeal is undeniable. On the one hand you’re talking about defending your son, keeping him safe, making sure that the world isn’t going to destroy the rest of him – on the other you’re being highly emotional and personal... Yet it seems as if the emotions themselves are slightly distracted, distanced from the actual words you’ve put to paper. It seems that you’re trying to appeal to a sense of positive desperation: a distressed hope which leaves you, as a mother, fearful and distraught and yet clinging onto the rational, less emotional part of yourself.

For me, it felt that through out ‘Damaged Goods’ you were not quite fulfilling what you’d set out to do. This is because whilst you’re trying to convey the fear, concern and trust that you feel towards your son, you’re not reflecting the extremity of the emotions. I feel that at times you need to show a little more ‘passion in extremis’, after all bipolar is a disease of extremes and it makes sense that your writing might also reflect that. I think that by considering the structure, lexis and dramatic placing of your words this poem can become considerably more powerful, perhaps even crushingly so.

Thus I am going to try and show you how I feel that you can truly make this poem into the poignant and expressive piece of writing that we all know that you are capable of.


*Pthb**Pthb**Pthb*


Structure

*Thumbsup*What a lot of writers find difficult and of course what can really make a poem striking is often the structure of the poem, the syntax and metre of the phrasing.

What I like about the way that you’ve constructed your poem is the fact that your use of free verse reflects many of the nuances you might have if you were saying it aloud. This is particularly effective in the final stanza where you dedicate a whole line to phrases such as ‘I love you’ and ‘broken or not’ which, when emphasised in this way, draws out the way that the narrator is trying to encompass her subject in the positive by removing it from the negative, setting it apart as it were. It also reflects on some of the key themes of this poem, particularly those of unconditional love and inevitable struggle; thus the fact that many of your lines are of similar lengths and your sentences are never particularly long means that each phrase seems lined with tension and desperation, as if the narrator is struggling to keep things in perspective, to remain in control and thus contain the strength of the emotions at work.


However, I did find that structurally there was something slightly lacking. To me, it seems that the ‘control’ that I mentioned above is disproportionate to the emotion. This is because so much of the structure of your poem is the same: it has become stilted and staccato and never diverges.

         *Note1* It feels very rigid. Each sentence is very short and very simple. Whilst simplicity is often used by writers to make a particular point especially poignant and can draw emphasis to an image or idea should you wish to, by using it so often, by having such stiff sentences, the whole scene feels clinical and rather than becoming more emotionally charged, the similarity between phrases becomes dull and the ‘broken mirror’ and ‘love’ and ‘will’ becomes boringly mundane.
         *Note1*Your poem is not only about the ‘work to be done’, it's also about love and anguish from what I see. The shortness of lines could be well used if you perhaps used more florid sentences in places to emphasise the difference between the rational woman seeing the need to ‘work’ to protect a child and a mothers desire to defend her son.

         *Note1* Consider poets such as TS Eliot. In various poems, including ‘Preludes’ and ‘Rhapsody on a Windy Night’ he relates passionate and yet disparate scenes. Particularly in these two poems he uses end-stopped lines and clipped sentences to emphasise the world’s desperate need to uphold a façade of calm despite their true inner turmoil. Likewise poets such as classical love poets such as Catullus or Horace would show the intensity of their love by having juxtaposing lines of intensity and stilted which makes their writing relevant even today. I think you could similarly ‘let go’ a little more with your structure, perhaps use enjambment to connect two stanzas or have a stanza of longer lines to show how the emotions are more powerful than can really be expressed.

         *Note1* You frequently start your lines with either the first person ‘I’ or the second person ‘you’. Varying your first words in both sentences and lines makes poetry, and indeed most writing, more interesting. Unless it’s anaphora or deliberate repetition then it simply makes the writing feel rather insipid. Try using verbs at the beginning of lines or adjectives just to spice things up a little. I will pick up on this when we come to diction later.

Overall I thought that for the most part the structure was highly effective albeit stilted which, to a limited extent, I think is very effective. Your second and third stanzas feel staccato and unemotional and ineffective when I feel that actually these should be the most poignant with the exception of the last lines. Why? Because it feels like you’ve too many lines of similar length. Whereas in several instances you’ve used your structure to emphasise important words or phrases, these stanzas have whole lines where there seems to be no point of interest. I think you should try and revise this area.

*Pthb*


Imagery

*Thumbsup* As I said before: I love the idea that your narrative is very personal and I feel that you have two key images within this poem. The first is that of the ‘soul’, the religious connotation of this image are particularly poignant as they deliberately draw out ideas such as devotion as well as eternal, immortal love. The second is that of ‘damaged goods’, your poem’s namesake. You talk of how your son may be considered ‘broken’, ‘damaged’, incomplete and I felt that it was this contrast between the soul, a metaphysical perfection, and this interpretation of bipolar, an imperfection, that really makes the poem evocative.

         *Note1* You start off with the line ‘You came from my soul’ and repeat this idea with the phrase ‘You are a part of my soul’. These lines are particularly moving due to the fact that in the first instance you are reflecting a sense of separation through your use of the word ‘came’ – your son is a separate piece of you. Your clever manipulation of this image by using the verb ‘are’ in the repeated phrase in the fourth stanza shows that though he is different you still recognise him as an indelible aspect within you; the immortal and immutable part which sees past any imperfections. I really like this image and the repetition is highly effective. I think you could definitely build more on it.
         *Note1* Damaged Goods. Interesting title. Interesting imagery. I think my main criticism is the use of the word ‘goods’. It doesn’t work for me; for the most part this is because it makes me think of china plates that come in the post with cracks or chairs which have been nibbled by mice in storage or food that’s gone rotten before the sell-by date. It makes him sound like a product. It also detracts from the emotional impact.

Many of your images are incredibly clichéd and whilst I will most likely mention this again when considering your diction, I think it’s important to discuss here. There’s a reason why every writer states that the most important thing to avoid is excessive use of clichés. And that’s because it feels used, it feels clumsy and unoriginal and false. You use ‘damaged goods’ a stock phrase, ‘so much work to be done’ – a stock phrase, ‘light the way’ – a stock phrase, ‘dark and dirty road’ – a stock phrase. Your imagery in your second stanza especially, is trite and hackneyed. And the reference to a ‘mirror’ being ‘broken’ seems obscurely passé. Try thinking of original phrases to really explore these ideas and draw forth the emotion you desire.

Similarly in your third stanza you appeal directly to the religious imagery which you also evoke with the word ‘soul’. It sort of sounds like the missing verse from ‘Shine Jesus Shine’ or a cliché.

         *Note1* Your language is very blunt. If you’re trying to be emotive I think you really need to try and develop images to be less simple and less clichéd. More on this below.

I think you either need to reconsider your imagery or edit this poem and play with the language more. If you want to truly show the deep and unbreakable care that is so obviously close to the centre of this piece then you need to develop your diction, remove clichés, build up a more applicable lexis which is what I will now go on to discuss.

*Pthb*


Diction

*Thumbsup* I have to say I loved the first few lines and the way that your language is so intensely personal in terms of the narrator’s emotion. It made everything seem much more poignant as it emphasised the idea that the narrator is trying to convince the audience of her recognition of this ‘damaged’ figure as something innocent and salvageable. Your use of language is simple but effective. The lack of imagery means that the maternal idealism we associate with this kind of love is very much the focus and on top of this it exaggerates the way that the narrator herself is involved.

My main criticism in this area isn't so much about your choice in language because this poem is deliberately not explicit in order, perhaps, to reflect your own strength, but in the fact that your words, like your structure, remains bland throughout.

         *Note1*Phrases such as ‘I will not let you walk that dark and dirty road’ are meant to be poignant but because it’s a fairly clichéd phrase it feels worn. Either, this could be deliberate and therefore conveying the apparent lack of effort of the narrator in speaking thus, which I don’t think you intended or you it may be better if you used different phrasing.

Your use of the future tense is very passionate but the cliché detracts from the intensity.

         *Note1*Remember V E R B S are our friends. Why do you think politicians avoid them so keenly? It’s because verbs add meaning and your verbs are boring. You use the future tense brilliantly but your ultimate choice in verb lacks the same fervour. Try using more sensitive verbs such as ‘fail’ or ‘disappoint’, instead of ‘let down’ or ‘shattered’ instead of ‘broken’. Try using more verbs. Put them in dramatic places.
For example your third stanza reads: I will cover you with light./ I will shine my love/ on you. / God will help us!

Perhaps:
Embracing you within the light,
I will love you,
I will shine for you.
God will help us.


What I’ve tried to do, with your words here, is create an anaphoric repetition of the future ‘I will…I will… God will...’ in order to emphasise the determination you feel towards protecting your son. On top of this I used a more descriptive verb ‘embracing’ to further accentuate the maternal love as well as evoking the sense of security that is commonly associated with the word ‘embrace’. Plus it sounds more present, as if you’re embracing him as we read which makes it seem more active.

Although I think what your primary focus is relies upon simple but passionate language not the stilted, opaque language that comes across here. I also think that, as with the structure, there is so much which you could expand upon with your diction.*Exclaim* Play around with the words more, let go with the emotions a little at some point, even if it’s only enough to show the true passion which is driving them. In terms of imagery I think you could use some to illustrate a more personal side to these words, a touch of the mother who is battling rather than just this worn-out woman that we are shown here.

*Pthb*


Spelling/Grammer

*Thumbsup* I can't see any major spelling mistakes. Congrats on that.

*Note1* There are a few punctuation points to mention.
                    You don’t need the comma after ‘So much work to be done’. By adding this comma you’re separating ‘to light the way’ from the rest of the sentence unnecessarily. This is the same on ‘You are so much more, than damaged goods’ – you don’t need the comma it’s all one phrase. What you’ve done, placing ‘than damaged goods’ means that the pause you’re aiming for is already in the structure which is much more effective anyway.
                    Exclamation points are a massive NO in my book. If your words don’t but the exclamation there for you and it’s not speech then this lauded piece of punctuation simply looks clumsy, not to mention ugly. Let your words do the talking.


*Pthb*


CONCLUSION

*Thumbsup* I do love this poem. I think it’s passionate and has so much potential because it addresses such a uniquely personal response to an equally unique disease. I think it needs a lot of work to really fulfil its potential but I know that you’re completely capable of doing so.

WELL DONE and keep writing and let me know if you write any more or edit and want another opinion.

THANK YOU FOR GIVING ME THIS CHANCE TO REVIEW YOUR WORK.

- Matt
4
4
Review of Crimson  
Rated: 13+ | (3.5)


CONGRATULATIONS!!!!

I've been reading and rereading this to see how I can review this accurately a second time because this is leaps and bounds better than your original. What you have here is a really good working draft for the beginning of a story. Yes I think there are still things you can improve, almost undeniably but this is a far cry from what you had before which was almost a stream of ideas all grouped into two paragraphs.

So The AMAZING Points

         *Bigsmile*You’ve definitely improved your introduction and I can see that you’ve put some real thought into your diction which is wonderful. Words such as ‘splattering’, ‘lunged’ and ‘streaming’ are much more active and interesting as they’re also much more visual which is a vast improvement.

         *Bigsmile* Your realisation of ideas is much more complete. You explain things more interestingly (ie with the Katerva, with their reason for being such a small clan etc). You also develop the significance of his robes which is nice because we begin to see how they may have value.

         *Bigsmile* Your characters are much more in depth than before. They’ve got personality, you introduce them in a much more interesting manner and it’s much less restrictive.

         *Bigsmile* You develop Auret so you know, in a way, that he’s the good guy. You see that he’s a killer but you also see that he has compassion and is not solely about destruction. He cares about his comrades which is reflected through your choice of description for each wolf which last time I felt was lacking and therefore he too felt cold. Therefore your narrative voice is much more effective.

WELL DONE!!!

Some Constructive Points

*Note1*Your introduction is MUCH better but here are a few tips:

*Bigsmile**Bigsmile**Bigsmile**Bigsmile*


         e:thumpsup}The word ‘bashing’ is much more effective because you start in media res and therefore you have a much greater sense of the action transpiring. It also is a shorter word which emphasises the fact that it’s a short blow.
         *thumpsdown* BUT I feel that this word sounds almost too thuggish and due to its onomatopoeic connotations thus it feels out of place or slightly childish.                    *Idea* Perhaps a phrase which is fronted by a similar word such as ‘raking his nails across the face of the Katerva’ or ‘launching one desperate blow to the face of the Katerva’ would be more effective as it’ll give a more aggressive image to dwell on plus it’ll draw out the fact that he’s still human at this point albeit with superhuman strength.
                   *Idea* That first sentence isn’t the greatest grammatically which does mean that the reader instantly has something negative to dwell on. What you mean in your sentence is that ‘Bashing the face of this Kavera, before morphing into Wolf , Auret rolled into a defensive stance’ or that ‘Bashing the face of this Kavera, Auret morphed into Wolf’. In the first example I’ve given you I’ve had to treat your latter part of your original phrase as a part of a subclause where as in the latter I’ve changed it so you have a subject of the sentence. In your original, this is lacking so you have entirely objects and verbs involved without anyone doing them. You need to make sure that your sentences make grammatical sense.

*Bigsmile**Bigsmile**Bigsmile**Bigsmile*


         *Thumbsup* I love your second sentence. It’s so much more descriptive than your original and contains some much greater images to emphasise the action such as the ‘blood splattering on the stone floor…’
         *Thumbsdown* The only problem is that you ruin it by using the wrong spelling of ‘bear’ which means ‘to tolerate’ or ‘to stand’ where you mean ‘bare’ which means ‘naked’ or ‘exposed’.
                   *Idea*The phrase ‘growling and teeth’ seems a little clumsy. Either you could rephrase it to mean something along the lines of‘growling and snarling with glittering teeth’ (the added words there to make it more vivid’ or maybe move the comma which seperates this phrase from the one about ‘bared in the moonlight’. Thus the sentence could more logically read ‘growling with teeth bared in the moonlight’. At the moment it’s just a little clumsy.

                   *Idea* PLEASE change the word ‘disengaged’ it’s still too military and cold for this scene. What you want is aggressive and vicious not sterile and emotionless. Especially if you want his ‘sorry brother’ bit to seem fitting to the scene.

                   *Idea* I don’t think you need to say ‘he then grabbed his robes, which were made of Crimson, White, and Black cloth.’, rather it might be more effective to say he ‘grabbed his robes of fine crimson, white and black cloth’ which would just make the sentence flow a little better…

*Bigsmile**Bigsmile**Bigsmile**Bigsmile*


         *Thumbsup* Your language is so much more improved in so many areas compared to your original! It’s a really foridable change and I’m so proud to see that you took some of my points to heart and that this story is developed through language.
         *Thumbsdown*However your language appears to lack sophistication because you repeat things unnecessarily and without apparently thinking. It’s like when you’re having a conversation and you say things like ‘ummm’ and ‘errr’: you put in fillers which you can do without.
                   *Idea* You use the word ‘then’ a lot through out. My old English teacher used to berate me the whole time for using ‘and then this happened and then this happened and then this happened as this happened’ structures in my short stories. Since it lends a childish quality to the writing if used in abundance you really want to use different conjunctions. The main thing to remember about ‘then’ is to use it for dramatic effect, not because that’s the way you talk. Try and separate your voice from the narrative voice.
                   *Idea* In your second paragraph you repeat the word ‘as’ at the front of the sentences. Don’t. ‘As Auret returned to the camp he shouted orders’ is FINE. But then in the line ‘as he walked he abdmired the camp’ CHANGE the ‘as’ to another word such as ‘whilst’. Otherwise it’s a little repetitive (especially because of the ‘thens’).
                   *Idea* You often use ‘Auret’ when it would be better to use the pronoun ‘he’. Using a characters name repeatedly when it’s not necessary creates a cloying atmosphere as it clutters a sentence. For example ‘Joe knew that no one agreed with him, but Joe refused to dwell on it. Joe sat heavily in a chair. Joe saw Jess and so Joe didn’t turn on the TV but called out to Jess.’ Do you see what I mean? Too many cooks spoil the broth and too many proper nouns make the sentence sound like a greenhouse in midsummer. Just cut out a few and try not to put as many proper nouns at the beginning of sentences. Try varying it with verbs, adverbs, adjectives and pronouns. It’ll be a lot less factual and much more interesting.

*Bigsmile**Bigsmile**Bigsmile**Bigsmile*


         *Thumbsup* Your use of speech is much more effective as a way of introducing your characters. Especially Otomo. You introduce him THROUGH an interaction which is much, much better than your list of names and attributes before! I think also it’s a great improvement that you’re considering redoing the part where you introduce Christophe/Grace because you’ve identified that part yourself which means you’re showing that you can be self critical. So many people can’t do that. WELL DONE.
         *Thumbsdown*The characters after Otomo (including Kia’tis) have descriptives attached which are written in the present tense where you’ve been using the im/perfect for most of your piece. This is something you need to watch as it weakens your writing dramatically.
                   *Idea*I’m going to rework one of your paragraphs and show you what’s GOOD in green and what needs work in red then give you an example of how you can change it to make what you’ve got already work.

Auret was again interrupted by no other than Kia’tis, one of the two female Wolfs in the Clan. Her specialties in recon and healing; her Wolf form isn’t a common one more like a natural wolf, walking on all fours yet she has impassive speed. She was lean and quick on her feet, some say she could see farther than the hawks of the Quidrei Forests. She had just returned from a recon trip.

Auret saw Kia’tis, one of two female wolves in the Clan, trotting over to him in her wolf form... her shape wasn’t like most werewolves instead looking like a normal wolf… he’d always wondered about that. She paused in her step; sniffing then morphing in to the lean woman she also embodied, a concerned expression filtering onto her face. He noted her eyes flickering over him, searching his body for injuries and he smiled, knowing it was in her nature as a Healer to be worried over his health. With impressive speed, that was only a fraction of the pace she could go when not in her human shape, she was at his side.

She smelt of forest, having just returned from a recon trip but he guessed he wouldn’t here anything about that until she knew that it wasn’t his blood that she could smell.


I’m not saying you have to use anything from what I’ve written but you can see how I’ve blended what you’ve written with some of the points I’ve made before. I used only one tense, not a blurring of two or three, instead of stating a list of facts I tried to included descriptions of the character with the narrative.

If you do something like that with the rest of your piece you’ll really have to rewrite very little because you’ll be simply editing the phrasing of sentences rather than coming up with new ones.


*Bigsmile**Bigsmile**Bigsmile**Bigsmile*


Overall this is SO MUCH BETTER than your first draft and although you do have some things which can be changed and made better these changes are really only going to have to be subtle for the most part because the first half of this draft is really much more impressive than the three paragraphs I reviewed last time.

I hope you’re well and that everything goes well for you this February.
If you want me to go through anything else then let me know and when you redraft your second part of this story I’d love to read it again because I’m sure you can make this as brilliant as any real werewolf novel.

Congratulations on the massive improvement.

Matt – A Power Reviewer

A sig because I'm not a pencil... or a case...

5
5
Rated: 13+ | (3.5)

WAHEY! *Delight*Hello, I'm Matt and YOU just became my second ever Reviewee now that I'm a Power Reviewer! You might be excited by that but maybe it's only exciting to me... I'm not sure. *grins*

Anyway, you asked for your short story 'Bonum and Turpificatus' to be reviewed so here I am, ready to give you advice. What I'm first going to say is please please please don’t take offence to anything I say, I'm going to try and give you constructive criticism so that you can develop this story of yours. And let me just add that what I think is great about what you've written is that
a) you use LATIN do you have any idea how happy that made me? Yeah I'm a Latin student lol…
b) you have a GREAT story here
c) your characters are quite possibly some of my favourites
d) you use ideas of madness, love, remorse etc so well even I felt moved *Bigsmile*

So what shall I talk about first? And just remember these are only my suggestions; you may use them at your own discretion or throw them out entirely. Thank you for this opportunity to give you my suggestions. Please enjoy!

*Pthb*


CONSTRUCTIVE POINTS

General Points for Consideration

How do you want your story to be read? How do you want your characters to come across? One of the things I found was that particularly with the character of Amator/Turpificatus was that at the beginning you really conveyed the madness of his character well. That his sentances were shorter, fractured and thus dramatically very effective since it fully emphasised the difference between the old and the new. You seemed to lose that different tone of voice in Turpificatus towards the end. I'm not sure if that was deliberate or not. But it's something you could consider. *Reading*


*Pthb*
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I

*Thumbsup* I love the opening because it's so deliberately paced as if emphasising the rationality of Bonum's actions. All the sentences are even and primarily factual which really evokes the sense of this person as a hunter. There's no pity, no anxiety of hunting a man which I think is perfect for that sense of the practised huntsman.

However some of your phrases slightly grated.
         *Note1* The excessive use of tautology from 'this day I follow another prey' to 'my neighbours those killed' undermines what you so wonderfully create in the first part of your first paragraph. I know what you're trying to do because I do it too sometimes but what you need to realise is that although you're trying to emphasise the fact that this 'madman' is essentially bestial, the repetition of 'this day… this day' 'a city, my city' 'my people… my neighbours' detracts from the fact that this person is a hunter. Yes Bonum does have a personal connection to the city but your phrasing doesn't evoke any emotion because the sentences are still measured.
         *Note1*Similarly the idea of 'my city' made my cliché radar go into over drive. It's a lie when people say that they like them.
         *Note1*Try using different language to negate this. So instead of 'this day' being used twice, create a deeper sense of atmosphere by saying something like 'this day I follow another prey. In the dappled shadows of the forest I hunt a man…' or something like that. Similarly there are SO many words for 'seen' (eg. Witnessed which would make a nice sonorous effect with 'wounds')

*Pthb*


II

*Thumbsup* I have nothing but praise for this paragraph, in it's entirety. I love the fractured sentances and I envy the way that you convey his madness just by giving him his own idiolect. Awesome stuff. WELL DONE

*Pthb*


III

*Thumbsup* Beautiful opening imagery. Really, really pretty. I think your choice of names here really lends itself to the piece because those names alone convey a sense of ironic beauty. Because it's so beautiful it makes her admission of her lack of love for him all the more poignant which is lovely. The conversation is slightly cliché but because it's speech it's ok because that's what people do. Nice.

BUT I found that his reply was too… excessive. He may well get to his feet and 'stumble like a drunk man' but I felt that the immediacy of his response was incongruous to the setting.
         *Note1* The capitalisation of “SHUT UP!" seems too emphatic for the scene, yes you're building up to the fact that he's going to go mad but what would be more effective at creating this would be something along the lines of a quieter "Why?" and then a "Shut up!" Him THEN staggering away and thinking TO HIMSELF that she was 'just like everyone else, just were better at pretending.' Etc. that way you're creating the idea that his mind is the thing fracturing along with his heart.
         *Note1* CLICHÉ: 'Confused and alone', But I do like the descripstion of 'his ashy cheeks'. It reminds me of Dido… But I think that if his mother abandoned him you could build on that idea that he returns to this isolated, unloved hole in his world and leave him maybe not in the clichéd position of crying himself to sleep but maybe you could instead emphasise his loneliness and have him muttering/murmuring to himself in his grief. Or simply becoming silent and rocking like a neglected child. After all there is nothing so suffocating as silence when you've been hurt.

*Pthb*


IV

*Thumbsup* You're very good at creating scenes which contrast. This is an active scene juxtaposed against the previous one. Its very good. I love the chiasmic line of 'I have none of that, none of that have I' SUPERB emphasis on loss of power over words.

But you see, as I'm so fond of saying a writer's diction, their choice of lexis is vital in creating a vivid and interesting scene.
         *Note1* Your first sentence is a cliché 'fighting for your life' is used so often it's sort of lost it's vivacity. You want the dramatic conflict of scene so use more potent verbs and describe the pain not just the blood.
         *Note1* Sight is not the only sense available to us and to make an action scene as striking as possible you should try to use the other four senses at a writers disposable. You already mentioned his smell of 'death and madness' and you go on to use it later when they kiss. Why not use it here as well. If his 'emaciated weight' is on her for even a moment then she'll be filled with the rotten smell of unwashed flesh and the blood of the dead.
         *Note1*You use the word 'staggered' in this scene as you did in the last scene where he 'staggered' to bed. Use a different word to emphasise the difference between his wounded state and his heart broken one. Maybe make one more extreme.

*Pthb*


V

*Thumbsup*FANTASTIC. You change all the 'yes's of his previous scenes into 'nos' and it's very well created. You DO have one typo: 'I have n9o mind' You might want to get rid of the nine…. *grins*

*Pthb*


VI

*Thumbsup* I like the fact that he acts stalker esq because it just builds up to the fact that he's still in love with her but is broken by her lack of love for him. I think what you might want to do is reconsider how you describe her.

You say in their last scene where she dumps him that she 'still cares' just 'cant lie to his face anymore' But here you have her shouting and screaming and telling him that she hates him. This is very confusing so maybe think about:
*Question* Could she show some expression in the window to suggest that she's initially upset then confused then scared then angry???
*Question* Does he do anything other than stand there?

As readers we only know his perspective in these scenes so you really need to try and convey how he sees her rather how he just speaks to her. It's very easy to do a lot in speech but I think here that sort of undermines the scene. The fact that he says to her 'your words cut me like knives' is nice but it might be more effective to suggest that his face contorted and his heart seemed to be gripped in a cage of tiny knives rather than just saying another clichéd phrase.

*Pthb*


VII

*Thumbsup*I like this paragraph so much. *Heart* It's so dramatic and so revealing. WELL DONE YET AGAIN. It's just so powerful the way she realises who he is and then he discovers her. Your last descriptive bit is a little confusing but you can just tweak that a little I think and it'll be fine.

*Pthb*


VIII

*Thumbsup* Why do I like this one… well… I like that fact that you appeal to a sense of culture and show that he didn't immediately lose all hope but had it dashed by everything including fate. It's like Meursault in 'L'estrange' you genuinely feel like he deserves a second chance and that the gods are cruel needlessly.

It seems very Japanese anime. Or Chinese/Mulan inspired. But mostly a very good image. I might suggest that you find more ways of saying 'candle' since you use it four times in one line.

*Pthb*


IX

*Thumbsup* Great IDEA.

Not so lovely in practise… It's another one of those moments when the speechs seems really really awkwardly written and uncomfortable.
         *Note1*Perhaps his first set of speech could be what she thinks he's thinking. The idea reflected in his eyes rather than this rather sticky, cringe worthy speech. He suddenly gets back his ability to speak here which is my point from the beginning. It's this paragraph which I rally mark you down for I'm afraid…
         *Note1*I think that if speech here was minimal and there was more consideration of thought. Perhaps the only thing spoken is 'Release me'. I think that would be more effective because the words spoken here are the sort of romantic thing that seem inappropriate to say properly. It grates.

*Pthb*


X

*Thumbsup* THE ENDING is interesting… I'm not sure it's very satisfying as it is… A little… Kill Bill. You finish with the idea that she kills her old lover, kills her boss and then decides to hang up her weapons. It's too much of a basic plot to not sound like a bad fairytale ending. I think the fact that she's become a hunter could be something which you use here. Perhaps keep what you've written but describe how that's not really what she does, instead she smiles and leaves, the powerful female in control of her emotions rather than acting more like Turpificatus. You need to decide if Bonum is going to remain a protagonists or if she is an antagonist.

You have SO MANY IDEAS running here and so many which can be developed and pushed further. I would love to read this again when you've written more and gone back and edited because I genuinely think that this could have a great amount of potential. It's not perfect and in my opinion it definitely needs work but as a concept it's fantastic and you have done really well to come up with this idea.

WELL DONE and keep writing and let me know if you write any more or edit and want another opinion.

THANK YOU FOR BEING MY SECOND REVIEW VICTIM!!!

- Matt

This 'fire' sig is much smaller than our other review sigs
6
6
Review of Crimson  
Rated: 13+ | (2.0)
WAHEY! *Delight*Hello, I'm Matt and YOU just became my first ever Reviewee now that I'm a Power Reviewer! You might be excited by that but maybe it's only exciting to me... I'm not sure. *grins*

Anyway, you asked for your werewolf 'intro-of-a-short-story' to be reviewed so here I am, ready to give you advice. What I'm first going to say is please please please don’t take offence to anything I say, I'm going to try and give you constructive criticism so that you can develop this story of yours. And let me just add that what I think is great about what you've written is that
a) you have lots of ideas
b) you have lots of potential and
c) you're developing your own idea of a traditional werewolf story which is awesome. *Bigsmile*

So what shall I talk about first? And just remember these are only my suggestions; you may use them at your own discretion or throw them out entirely. Thank you for this opportunity to give you my suggestions. Please enjoy!

*Pthb*


CONSTRUCTIVE POINTS

What do you look for in the first pages of a book?

Did you know that 90% of people decide by the end of the first page whether or not they want to read a book? *Reading*

I want you to think for a moment about the opening scenes of your favourite novel or short story or any other form of fiction. They're usually hard hitting, they draw you in with some powerful feeling or set into your mind such curiosity that you cannot ignore the fact that you WANT to know more. In fantasy this is something which is crucial to the novel because in a fantasy you not only have to appeal to peoples curiosity and desires but the readership is also going to be comparing you to the other fantasy tales they have encountered.

*Pthb*
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PARAGRAPH ONE

*Thumbsup*Your first paragraph really tries to do this. You appeal the genre from your very first sentence when Auret 'metamorphoses' into a wolf and the action you are depicting, the fight is exactly the sort of thing which would draw a reader in. This is a great start because it instantly creates for you the sense of wolfishness within the werewolf.

But at the same time there is so much which you could expand upon in the first paragraph.*Exclaim* Firstly, the opening phrase 'he threw another blow' whilst clever because it launches us straight into the fight and also because we are caught 'in media res', loses it drama and power because the words themselves are slightly cliché and not striking enough.

         *Note1*Try thinking about a way to speed that phrase up, perhaps starting with the verb (eg. 'throwing a second blow at the wolf, he…')

         *Note1*Change the verb to a more powerful one, one which is more violent/expressive (eg. strike, crashing into, smashing, clout, punch, attack). That along will make the sentence more potent.

*Pthb*


Similarly your use of the word 'metamorphosing' whilst emphasising the loss of humanity, due to the connatations created by works like Kafka's and Ovid's, lacks description.

         *Note1*Describe the way that he changes.

         *Note1*Describe his wolf form. The way he twists and the way bones break and reform as he changes. Remember just because the werewolf is a common image in the horror/fantasy genre, there are a thousand different ways to imagine one. My werewolf would be an actual wolf, sleek and black but yours might be one which stands on two legs, more like the minotaur but wolf not bull.

         *Note1*You need to consider what you're trying to describe and vivify it so that your readers know what you have in mind because we can't see into your head.

*Pthb*


You see the writer's diction, their choice of lexis is vital in creating a vivid and interesting scene. Describe what his opponent looks like 'already changed' and instead of leaving us with the words 'they went at each other', describe HOW.

*Question*Was it a mass of snarling limbs and snapping teeth? Or was it a precise, predatory competition?

         *Note1*Compound verbs such as 'counter-attacked' are also very military and even conjure up images of video games. So whilst you're delivering a clear sense of the purpose of his action, it feels quite clinical.

         *Note1*Try finding words which are more potent. For example, when you wrote he 'got up, fast and tackled Auret to the ground' we know what he's done but it's not very vivid. Make it more emphatic by describing how 'his opponent rolled over onto his paws within seconds, flashing fangs as he snarled and tackled Auret to the blood-stained earth'. That's just an example of what you might right to convey the same thing but perhaps with more power. Little things like that really help to accentuate the action as it creates a stronger atmosphere.

*Pthb*


*Thumbsup*Also I felt that although the title of 'Master Wolf' sounds very impressive and that I was curious as to this station, I had no idea what it was and you didn't elaborate. You assume we know the same things you do when as readers we just don’t.

*Question* Why does he call his opponent 'brother'?

*Question* Is it really his brother or is it a member of his clan?

*Question* Why will they meet again?

*Question* Do they believe in a paradise?

*Question* What is the significance of his robes and their colours?

*Question* Why was he fighting in a temple?

*Question* And most importantly WHY was he fighting him at all?
As readers we know none of this and yes, some of that can be used to propel the story forwards but if it was his brother/member of the clan surely someone else would ask him about it and he could mention that whatever business caused this opening fight was finished.

*Pthb*
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PARAGRAPH TWO

*Thumbsup*I like your second paragraph in it's entirety. It's short and to the point, describing a little about their clan and the nature of their lifestyle. I'm just curious are they like Sami Tribes? Or more like the werewolves of 'Twilight'? I love the fact that you draw attention to the moon.*Heart* So many stories tend to negate the moon as an important factor which is slightly bizarre since that's a key part of traditional lycanthropy. What you could develop is this idea of paying respect to the moon as some kind of religion. But that's the sort of thing which you could incorporate into your story as you write more rather than editing this lovely paragraph.

*Pthb*
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PARAGRAPH THREE

Your third paragraph is very very long. Try breaking it up a little and making it less… fact after fact. It reads a little like a text book here which is TRAGIC because I think it's this paragraph which contains so many great ideas!

         *Note1* You start with him returning to camp from the temple. You know what I'm going to say: describe it.

                   *Question* What is this camp like?

                   *Question* Did they deliberately go to a temple?

                   *Question* And what are people doing before he commands them into action?

         *Note1* There's so few they much know about the wolf he just killed. Develop that.

         *Note1* Direct speech - grammar here. Since you need to break up this paragraph anyway (to make it more fluid if not anything else), use the correct grammar, put his speech on a new line and separate it from the rest of the paragraph. It'll simply make it easier to read.

         *Note1* You move from the objective author here to the narrator. In other word you start writing much more colloquially, as if you're talking through the paragraph from here on out. This really didn't work for me. I'm sorry to say that so bluntly but because you had not been writing in that style previously, it read very awkwardly when this change took place and it felt much more as if you'd simply decided to start noting an idea rather than creating a story. As I said before, you're giving us a history but no emotion. By writing as if speaking to your reader you're trying to identify with them but not giving them anything to connect to.

*Pthb*


*Thumbsup* I love the idea that Auret's clan had split from a larger one. I love the idea that Clans work in Symbols, maybe you could consider what each symbol means to the wolves. And I love the fact that each of the character's you describe have skills which make them valuable. But you're giving us a synopsis not a story. So here are a few ideas you could use to get away from that and also which could lead to some character development so that your can find inspiration to continue this story.

*Idea* The Narrative Voice - go back to being the omniscient author rather than narrator and instead of writing in your own speaking voice, write as if you're able to see into Auret's thoughts and feelings. You've already turn him into your protagonist so take it a little further and have HIM consider the fact that they're nomadic, preparing to go North and have so few people because of the fact that they're runaways from their original clan. Perhaps even expand him a little further and describe how he feels about the fact that their symbol is different now. Perhaps he feels saddened by the fact that he lost the company of so many others or is reminiscent of a time when his symbol was more powerful.

*Idea* The Symbols - really awesome idea. You talk about it early in the paragraph then randomly have 'The Clan’s symbol is three intertwining infinity symbols, forming a triangle.' much, much later on in the paragraph. It seems like it's just a side addition to some notes as it is but if you explain the symbolism of this image and move that to earlier on you could create a much clearer sense of the clan as an entity of it's own.

*Idea* The Clan - great characters. I think they're great though perhaps a little too perfect in some ways, I think it works because we're reminded that these are werewolves, not just normal humans. But if you describe like Auret would describe them then you'll have a much more poignant, emotive, scene. So how he catches sight of Grace and can't help but admire how beautiful she is etc. Or how he sees Otomo packing away his tools and smiles fondly at how carefully he stows them away. Little things like that are often much more effective and build up much more affection with the reader for your characters than giving us al list or semi-bioblock on them and their history.

As for Auret, he can consider himself. It'll give him a more personal edge.

THE ENDING is interesting by the way. You finish with the idea that Auret's power is 'to destroy…'. You need to decide if Auret and his clan are going to remain the protagonists, the 'good' side or whether they are the antagonists.

You have SO MANY IDEAS running here and so many which can be developed and pushed further. I would love to read this again when you've written more and gone back and edited because I genuinely think that this could have a great amount of potential. It's not perfect and in my opinion it definitely needs work but as a concept it's fantastic and you have done really well to come up with this idea.

WELL DONE and keep writing and let me know if you write any more or edit and want another opinion.

THANK YOU FOR BEING MY FIRST REVIEW VICTIM!!!

- Matt
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