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1
1
Review of Killing Cupid  
Review by Freelanceink
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: 13+ | (3.0)
Hi E.J. Apostrophe

I am reviewing "Killing Cupid as part of The PDG Newbie 2 Newbie Reviews. Please understand that these are my own opinions, comments and suggestions and you should by no means feel compelled to accept, adopt, or embrace them. Any changes that you make to your work should be due to the careful considerations of yourself, the writer.

The Good

I think that you do a good job of getting into the narrator's character, and that the frenetic running around scene montage is well done. I'd almost like to see more of that.

Suggestions and Impressions

As I said, I'd like to see more of the running around--in truth, I don't think that you really get into your flow and the story until Nat starts shopping--the introductory opening, complete with direct addresses to the reader, and the getting out of work scene feel like you finding your way into your story.

It seems to me that this is, more or less, a comedy writing, and that all the heavy stuff about dead fathers and husbands, really goes against that grain--there's no humor in it, and no effort made to twist it for humor, so really, better out than in. I'd replace the whole scene with a simple, 'Nat had begged off work early, and now here she was, mall hopping at mach two...'

The central focus of your writing, and the heart of the comedy can be summed up as: Stu won't forget Valentine's Day again. So... why not open with that? Then Nat can give a little monologue about the foibles of husbands memories, but not directly to the reader, just let her rant to herself about it. Get to the mad shop-a-thon as quick as you can, and sustain it. Build in obstacles where ever you can: hold ups in stores, slow cash register people or customers, essential items that cannot be sourced easily, forgotten wallets, what have you--the comedy is in the obstructions. Make sure to return to the 'not letting Stu forget Valentine's Day' line a couple of more times during this--it's Nat's motivation to rise up against these seemingly insurmountable obstacles (and ultimately sets up your punch line).

That's right, your punch line is your opening, only with surety: instead of trying to ensure that Stu does not forget Valentine's Day again, the close is Stu will never forget Valentine's Day again, only it's twisted by the completely unromantic turn you give it. Right now, I'd say your final two lines are backwards. "My bail is set at $400,000--Stu will never forget Valentine's Day again," is a stronger punch.

Cheers,

Free

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2
2
Review of Lakan  
Review by Freelanceink
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: E | (3.5)
Hi Kuting

I am reviewing "Lakan as part of The PDG Newbie 2 Newbie Reviews. Please understand that these are my own opinions, comments and suggestions and you should by no means feel compelled to accept, adopt, or embrace them. Any changes that you make to your work should be due to the careful considerations of yourself, the writer.

The Good

I like the concept: Using an outside perspective to describe the growth of humanity and its effects on the world. It allows for some interesting freedoms of expression for the writer, and in this case provides an opportunity to compress vast expanses of time into a rather short writing with ease.

Suggestions and Impressions

Right off, I'm left wondering if you intend Lakan to be a God figure, or simply the psyche of a volcano? I ask because if a God, then there is a moral element--as view of how the world should be, of what is right--that must be integrated into the voice of your narrator, along with a sense of caring and love. It will then be an anger of justice and disappointment born of transgressions that outweigh this God's natural purpose to protect and foster its followers, and those transgressions should be made clear. If a volcano, then I think we need some more description of how a volcano feels (especially within), and how that manifests physically--as anger builds, warning steam and rumbles ignored, the molten heat growing in his bowels surging beyond control, that sort of thing. Giving voice to an object provides an opportunity to have the object be self-aware, and that lets you write about its parts from within, and you should.

I was left wondering what Lakan held dear on his Terrace? It might be good to know.

Where did the woman come from--who, or what is she? Lakan never indicates that it is art of a pantheon, or if she is another personified part of the landscape, some added description would help. If their is a relationship here, that has developed over time, then it should be woven into the time line--her comments should be mentioned by Lakan. She could be calm wisdom and he brute force and passion, and they could balance each other.

Give the reader a little more about who or what the narrator is, and this will really stand out.

Cheers,

Free

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3
3
Review by Freelanceink
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: E | (3.0)
Hi Liam

I am reviewing "Memoirs of a Baby Boomer as part of The PDG Newbie 2 Newbie Reviews. Please understand that these are my own opinions, comments and suggestions and you should by no means feel compelled to accept, adopt, or embrace them. Any changes that you make to your work should be due to the careful considerations of yourself, the writer.

The Good

You start off strong, taking a cliche topic and turning it on its ear, and providing a very clear thesis statement.

You cover a lot of ground through the body of your essay and make several interesting points about life when you were young, and its benefits.

Suggestions and Impressions

I understand from your log line that this was written for a creative writing class. I am unclear what the exercise was exactly, but I am going to guess that it was not an academic essay and was instead a personal essay. While they are different in terms of allowable content, the two forms are similar in structure: they both require the writer to present a thesis and follow an argument to a conclusion.

Structurally, I think that your essay has some issues:

Your thesis (paraphrased),I was born in the right place at the right time and this is a good thing and your conclusion,"I'm not trying to convince you that these were "the best of times" or even "the good old days." I just hope that for some this prompts fond remembrance, and for others it portrays an interesting glimpse of a gone by era," do not connect. This suggests that somewhere in the body of your essay, you lose track of your thesis.However, after examining the body of the essay, I note that none of your paragraphs ever makes a point that relates directly to your thesis--they appear to be missing their linkage--and the same is true when looking for their relation to the conclusion. There are three unrelated sections to this essay: the introduction, the argument, and the conclusion--and an essay cannot function that way.

I would suggest that you add some more meat to your introduction. Explain what you intend to examine that will support why you believe you were born in the right time, and how you might debunk some of the notions others have regarding being born out of their time. Then include a concluding sentence in each paragraph that points to supporting your thesis, and possibly provides a smooth transition to the next topic of your exploration (as it stands your paragraphs stand alone and have no transitions). Be sure to discuss only topics that relate to your chosen subject and eliminate all others (they will confuse your objective for the reader).

Now that is all about underlying structure, but you should also consider exploiting some of the pleasures of the personal essay. It is by nature, autobiographical and short scenes and personal anecdotes are allowed (and expected). Currently, you speak in very general 'social' terms, but you might find personalizing the piece will strengthen it. Try dropping in a vignette to support or introduce a point you wish to make (for example: if you wish to make a point about adults taking more responsibility for ensuring the well-being of children, start the point with a short scene in which an adult saves you from a bad situation, and move to the issue as it would play out today).

You can work that both ways--from past to present, or from present to past: perhaps you are eating in a mall food court surrounded by many obese shoppers, and recall that in your youth exercise was the norm.

With some work to tie your parts together this could become a very interesting discussion of how a person is a product of their time and what that means.

Cheers,

Free

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4
4
Review of Snow Drifts  
Review by Freelanceink
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: ASR | (3.5)
Hi A.T.B: It'sWhatWeDo

I am reviewing "Snow Drifts for "Gang's Monthly Review Board /TEMP CLOSED Please understand that these are my own opinions, comments and suggestions and you should by no means feel compelled to accept, adopt, or embrace them. Any changes that you make to your work should be due to the careful considerations of yourself, the writer.

The Good

I get where this song is coming from: what it's about, and how it wants to make me feel. That is the challenge for lyricists: finding a moment to write about that can carry through to the listener easily and carry good emotional strength; that allows for catharsis. Generally, songs are either stories, or evocations, and this is the latter. Anyone that has ever curled up by a fire with their baby when it's cold outside, it right there with you.

Some Things to Ponder

I appreciate that this is a song, so it is meant to work with music, and that presents certain challenges for the writer. However, explaining music beyond stating genre, verse, chorus, bridge and possible basic tempo reference, is pointless--the reader of these lyrics cannot hear what is in your head. Trust me on this one, I too am a songwriter, and no one that I have handed a sheet of lyrics to has ever heard the song in my head, no matter how hard I tried to explain it in writing. There are only a few possible solutions for this: I suggest a known song with a familiar structure, melody, or rhythm; pull out my trusty guitar and play it for them so they can hear it, or have lyrics that are so perfectly structured that the melody is impossible to miss (this almost never happens, even with great songs). So when presenting lyrics, keep it to the poetry, and label the song sections, but no more ("layered build" or "soaring chorus break" could mean anything to any one).

You've made a couple of typographical choices that I do not understand: the introduction is italicized, and the whole set of lyrics is centered. The first is unnecessary, the second actually makes it harder both for yourself and the reader to take stock of the flow of the lines; their measure, beats rhythms. These presentation techniques are distracting.

The intro is pretty clear to me, both in lyrical structure and image. I picture each line is two measures with a monosyllabic word held for each measure. My only question surrounds "bare streets." This image does not make sense with a snowy night (yes, you may mean bare of people, but "bare" is not specific in this case and the ambiguity leaves you open to misinterpretation).

The rest of my suggestions will necessarily have to be hit and miss (as I don't know the music), but I feel a lot of extra words in the lines and wonder if you could leave more space for held notes, and the music.

In your first verse:

I know December seemed
Like the year would never end.
And January's moving fast, but the -
Snow's coming back again...


I think the "I know," "and," and the "but the" are not needed. I think there is a better word choice for what December is doing than "seemed" that would transition more effectively into the next line--something like "held on."

The chorus should have a solid hook. My feeling about good hooks is that the best ones don't start with "and." This is because the chorus should be a stand alone section of song that encompasses the theme--not a tacked on piece that needs the verse to give it meaning. The narrator sounds rather like he's pleading with the "maybe we should" and "we could" constructions. Make the narrator a little stronger. Also identify the "bad weather," it's is a stronger lyric for being specific:

It's a long night tonight,
Why not stay awake?
Play charades,
parlor games
Until the [blizzard] breaks

I think you should shorten up these lines (this could then reflect back on the intro two measure bit):

Or you'll hold me -
In the moonlight -
By the window -
Or the fireside -

The next stanza is a bit confusing--not in message, but in the order of it, and when it is delivered in the song. This is the conclusion (you even reprise it at the end), but it lands smack in the middle of the song, so I'm thinking it should just happen at the close. It starts with another of those pesky unnecessary "Ands," (this may be a bit of a writer's tic that you should watch for), and again uses that optional language ("we can"). You need it to be certain to set up the next lines, so "will" is better than "can." Since the remembering is triggered by the weather, your last lines feel backwards. Perhaps something like this will preserve your title phrase while delivering the idea with strength:

Tomorrow when the sun comes out
We will forget all about it.
Until the wind blows,
And the snow drifts
Remind us once again.

As I said, I think the above should close the song, the two verses that follow should come sooner. Perhaps verse one ("December seemed") and two ("somewhere the sun") should come one after the other prior to hitting the chorus and bridge? There looks to be a problem with verse two's rhyme scheme as "warm" and "shore" are a stretch. Meter may be an issue in lines two and four of verse too as well, as they seem a bit short compared to the same lines in verse one.

Verse three would actually be a nice natural transition following the "hold me/in the moonlight" bridge section as it relates to being a "constancy... everything/in the space between your hands." So you go from holding to the broadened significance of this coming together--very nice.

In Summary

This is a solid effort, that really does have all the right bits (and bits that work together nicely). However, right now, they are cluttered with some needless words, and feel out of order. Some of this may be because I haven't heard the music (at least in terms of meter), but the ordering will still feel wrong even if all those words are needed.

I see a lot of potential with this song--but only some rewriting and tinkering will max it out.

Have fun with it--that's where the all the pleasure in songwriting is.

Cheers,

Free
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5
5
Review of Poisoned Words  
Review by Freelanceink
Rated: E | (3.5)
Hi Captain Carousel,

There are times that I wish we could make two ratings--one for the worth of the concept, and a second for execution. This is one of those times. I would gladly give you a five for the former--the celebrity industry disgusts me, and I whole-heartedly agree with your sentiment. However, your passion and anger have quite run away with you, and your execution suffers for it.

There seems to be little in the content, that considers the insidious, nasty, hurtful nature of gossip: I'd like to see that personified. A nod to the unrequired truth might be good too, and certainly a more blunt expression of the irony and hypocrisy of people getting rich from (and even becoming celebrities themselves) vilifying the rich. The worship of gods they choose to eat.

The Celebrity Industry is a three-headed dog: there are the celebrities that feed the gossip with their behavior to the point of pretending that they can manipulate the media to further their fame, the media that report the gossip and raise fame to a level that equals virtue, and the audience that spends vast sums of money to get the gossip and both worship and tear down their famous objects. It seems to me that this poem touches upon only the middle head and leaves the other two relatively unscathed. Hercules, my brave friend, you must slay the whole beast!

As for the technical aspects of the poem: you maintain the meter well and your stanzas are of consistent length, but each stanza should really be focused around a point (this poem is, after all, an argument), and they do not appear to be. This means that the form you have chosen is more or less arbitrary and i believe that in terms of structure it should be integral to the meaning of the poem: each stanza should examine an aspect of your argument--perhaps one for the fame seeking celebrities, one for the media, one for the audience, and one a call to reason, truth, and salvation from hypocrisy--but that is really up to you.

I have tried to keep this in the general realm because I think a new approach is required (and I want to see you try it)--and parsing the lines or images as I suggest a significant rewrite seems pointless. I will, however, make one suggestion: be careful where you place the blame. Blame not the typewriter: "Such keys have sung away before, / Though yours don't sing but spit and cough;" or the hands: "Poisoned words spat vile in print, / From dirty hands that bashed away, / And put to page whatever hints... / Unstrangling hands but twisted still, / Judging but not taking lives," but the mind behind the words. To blame the hands or typewriter, relieves the writer from the burden of responsibility via dissociation. Better, to have the typewriter or hands ache in protest to the injustice of what they are forced to make real by their despotic master--to have them blame the writer as you do; to make them innocent victims.

Good luck with this--it's time someone made art of this ugly industry (for that reason alone, I love that you chose to approach this with an elegant poetic form, not an essay). Now go get 'em!

Cheers,

Free
6
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Review of Home Sweet Home  
Review by Freelanceink
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
Solid writing. Excellent job weaving through the character's transformation as he journeys home. The internal battle reflected by the physical war in his body is well done. Nice piece of action at the end and a very cinematic image to close. I don't read a lot of horror any more: too often "horror" is equal to "slasher movie" in today's writers. I was happy to be kept in suspense, reading a story that drew me into a horrible struggle in a person's life without resorting to ultra violence.

I have little of use to suggestother than the following couple of tidbits:

First, in Parapgraph five: "His eyes were hollow and flagrant with fatigue." Great alliteration aside, flagrant with fatigue does not work: flagrant is misused. Flagrant is about offense. Can his eyes really be offended by fatigue? You may want to search for another word and/or image here.

Second, Paragraph nine:

Home, he thought. Home Sweet Home.

and Paragraph eleven:

Dad’ll know what to do, he thought.

While adding the "he thought" in the first to indicate that the italics are the character's thoughts is helpful (since it is the first time this device is used in the story), once this is done, you have established for the reader that italics equal character thoughts, and thus the second "he thought" is unnecessary.
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Review of A journey  
Review by Freelanceink
Rated: 13+ | (2.0)
Qilin, I rate this piece low because it disappoints me. I know that sounds harsh, and given the general four-star rating you've received, surprising, but if you will read on, I shall explain, and hopefully, you will see the silver lining.

You have managed to identify a story that may be worth the telling, that covers important themes--a surprising number of themes: isolation, social casts, parental indifference, sex and exploitation, incest (?), abuse, suicide, and abortion are all eluded to in a piece that is a mere sixty-five lines long (and many of those lines are only one word). My guess would be less than five hundred words total. It might be possible to adequately explore one of these issues in five hundred words, but all eight is impossible. This means that you will need to make a choice: either focus your theme to one issue, or expand the length and scope of your piece.

This reads in a very list-y way (yes I know that list-y is not a real word): you provide a list of reasons for taking the stairs (pure exposition and clunky--find ways to show why, just telling the reader is boring), the ascent of the stairs provides a list of horrors spliced with the numbers of the steps (this could be a nice device but following the first list is tiring for the reader--in other words: lists should be used sparingly and, if possible, be better disguised), and finally you provide a list of exceptions to the list of horrors (this final list leaves me feeling like I've read a character backstory in the form of a ledger). This list of lists leads directly into an abrupt, though positive, ending.

There is simply too much expressed in too little (lists are an efficient way to make this happen, but this is not a good thing). However, that said, you do have a lot of good information here to use to write a good piece of fiction. These listed images and hinted at horrors, the glimmers of happy moments, the life-long shallow interactions with staff: these are the building blocks for a real story. You will need to make many choices about what you want to show and what theme you really want to focus upon, but there are many scenes here that would be fascinating to read, if only you would show them to us.

Choose some scenes and plot a story through them, let the scenes and the character's actions show us what she is going through, and how the outside perception of her is wrong. Fiction is not about telling: it is about revealing--about allowing the audience to realize, to figure out. You have the basis of a good piece of fiction--the groundwork, if you will--now you must begin to write it.
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