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26
26
Review by CeruleanSon
In affiliation with The Steampunk Authors' Gui...  
Rated: 18+ | (4.5)
Hi, Missus Miranda

I'm reviewing your story as a part of my judging process for "The Pressure Valve - closed for now.. Since I am only one of the judges, this review has no bearing on where your piece places in the contest. It's just my own thoughts and suggestions with regard to your story. I hope you find some of it helpful.

THESE ARE A FEW OF MY FAVORITE THINGS:

I do believe I am in love with Vivian McGee! *Smile* You've created a wonderful Steampunk piece here, Miranda. It has all the earmarks of an action-packed adventure story worthy of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I enjoyed reading it very much.

SOME SUGGESTIONS:

MECHANICS: These comments refer to typos, grammar, word usage, etc.

I broke away from the crowd at continued my walk down Wall Street, several buggies and steam carriages whizzing past. TYPO: This should probably be "and".

I climbed into a taxi carriage and rode it to the Hotel Astor at Times Square, where I would be staying. A comma should be used to separate the prepositional phrase from the first part of the sentence.

"As I said, I am here to find my sister, Zheva. I arrived earlier today from Gold City. An acquaintance of my father claims to have seen here in New York." This is either a simple typo, in which you've inadvertently added an "e" to "her", in which case it should read "her in New York", or you've omitted the pronoun by accident, in which case it should read "her here in New York".

Through the window, I could see him tinkering once more with the Waldorf's egg beater, carefully leading a new spring to it's latch. I think you want "its" here, the possessive form of "it", rather than "it's", the contraction for "it is". There are other instances of these two being used in each other's place, but, in the interest of space, I won't list them here. You can easily search them out. *Smile*

Dinges stood a few yards away, talking to an older man that appeared to be his superior. This is a pet peeve of mine. It is becoming more and more common for writers to use the impersonal pronoun "that" when referring to a person, but I think "who" is more proper and scans far better.

"Are coachmen always so rude here!?" I squawked in exacerbation. The verbs "exacerbate" and "exasperate" are often confused. "Exacerbate" means "to make worse", or "to increase the bitterness or severity of", while "exasperate" means "to irritate or annoy to an extreme degree". I think the latter is the word you need here.

These mechanical issues are easily corrected, and minor in comparison with the fine story you've written, Miss Miranda. Now, on to the fun part of the review! *Bigsmile*

STYLE: These comments refer to narrative voice, plot, conflict, characterization, setting, etc.

Your narrative voice is cultured and intelligent, perfectly appropriate for the Steampunk genre. I like the way you handled the first-person, past-tense point of view; it all reads quite well and feels natural. Very impressive!

Your main character's personality is strong, yet her behavior is still very much in alignment with Victorian-era standards, to my mind. The situation you've set up, with her searching for her missing sister, and stumbling upon a murder scene, and the connection with her father's very Steampunk medical technology is exquisite.

The ending, while not an action-packed, life-threatening situation for the protagonist, as many of the classic serials invariably were, still qualifies as a cliff-hanger, to my way of thinking. It leaves the reader with urgent, unanswered questions that instill the desire to get right into the next chapter.


OVERALL IMPRESSION:

As I've said, the ending of this piece has left me with a strong desire to read the next chapter. I hope that chapter will be forthcoming very soon! Good luck with it, and thanks so much for entering this round of The Pressure Valve!

These comments are made with respect and the best intentions. Please accept them in the spirit with which I offer them. Embrace what you find useful, and allow the rest to trickle off into the void....

Best regards,
*Peace* CeruleanSon *Peace*

Port Raid from zeppelins, for The Boiler Room affiliated reviews.
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27
27
Review by CeruleanSon
In affiliation with The Steampunk Authors' Gui...  
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
Hi, gigi

I'm reviewing your story as a part of my judging process for "The Pressure Valve - closed for now.. Since I am only one of the judges, this review has no bearing on where your piece places in the contest. It's just my own thoughts and suggestions with regard to your story. I hope you find some of it helpful.

THESE ARE A FEW OF MY FAVORITE THINGS:

This is a fun detective story, GiGi. The two detectives, Artemus and Illarion, are interesting and well-suited to the task you've set them. The murder described in the first part of the tale is certainly reminiscent of Jack the Ripper, and you've left us dangling with a cliffhanger ending. You've satisfied the prompt quite well.

SOME SUGGESTIONS:

MECHANICS: These comments refer to typos, grammar, word usage, etc.

There are several issues with verb tense agreement, where you slip into the present tense from the general past tense of the rest of the story. Here are a couple of examples:

Unfortunately, her coquettish charm will forever be marred by the sight of her missing breasts; intestines strewn about the alleyway and the sickening smell of charred flesh. This sentence occurs in the middle of a paragraph written in past tense. "Will" should be "would", in order to stay consistent.

In New York City, the moneymen ran everything and they rarely paid for their crimes. Stick your nose in the wrong person’s business and get your whole head chopped off. The sentence in red is in present tense. It seems to me that you slipped into a sort internal-monologue kind of thing, where Artemus is thinking this in the present tense. This is usually done by distinguishing the thought from the narrative with italics, or by using the sort of attribution used in dialogue, for example: Stick your nose in the wrong person's business, Artemus thought, and get your whole head chopped off.

There are a few other similar verb tense items, which i won't list here. I suggest you do some editing/proofreading of this piece to find them and the other sorts of issues, like inconsistent indents, extra paragraph breaks in the middle of paragraphs, multiple verbs (Illarion walked joined his partner with a shaken Dolly in his arms.) and other things that are easily found and corrected. This sort of thing should really be done before submitting to contests or other review/publication venues, because it detracts from the reader's enjoyment of your tale. *Smile*

STYLE: These comments refer to narrative voice, plot, conflict, characterization, setting, etc.

You've created a really nice story, here, GiGi. There are many strong features: your detectives are well-considered, the love interest, Dolly is a good addition, and provides, not only a romantic element, but a possible victim that the detectives know, making it a more personal and emotionally-charged situation when the killer strikes at the morgue. The tech you've described, with its laser component, might not be strictly Steampunk in the eyes of a purist, but it's well within my own tolerance level for such things.

There are a couple if things I'd like to point out to you.

Your narrative voice slips from a formal, appropriately Victorian-sounding voice into a more modern mode from time to time. I suggest you try reading the piece aloud, in order to hear the flow of the prose. I find that often helps me to pick out the places where my narrator goes out of tune, so to speak.

Also, you might want to check out some New York City geography. The distance from Penn Station (34th St. & 8th Ave.) to New York University (West 8th St. & 5th Ave. and thereabouts) can be walked in considerably less than the hour you describe as the length of the train ride. This may seem like nit-picking, but I assure you that readers who are familiar with NYC will be jolted out of their involvement with the story by such things. Research is very important. I found a great resource with historical maps of NYC and other places at www.davidrumsey.com. You might want to check it out for further development of this very worthy story.


OVERALL IMPRESSION:

This is a good effort, GiGi. Thank you so much for entering it into the Pressure Valve. Good luck with it and with all your other endeavors!

These comments are made with respect and the best intentions. Please accept them in the spirit with which I offer them. Embrace what you find useful, and allow the rest to trickle off into the void....

Best regards,
*Peace* CeruleanSon *Peace*

Port Raid from zeppelins, for The Boiler Room affiliated reviews.
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28
28
Review of House of Wax  
Review by CeruleanSon
In affiliation with The Steampunk Authors' Gui...  
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
Hi, Lynn McKenzie

Here's a review, just for you. I hope you find some of it helpful.

THESE ARE A FEW OF MY FAVORITE THINGS:

This bit of 19th-century alternate history of the "Allied States of America", seasoned with a generous dollop of the occult fits quite nicely into the SteamPunk sub-genre. The stirrings of a strange Civil War provide an ominous setting for the gathering of poets in Poe's hometown of Baltimore two months after his death.

Rufus Griswold, Poe's heir and the executor of his will, is an interesting character, who is driven by the very understandable desire to share with the world (and profit from) the unpublished work of his deceased friend.

The story of Poe's struggle to destroy or otherwise suppress the title poem, "The House of Wax", is eerie and frightening. The idea that the piece is somehow the mechanism of the world's destruction, and that it refuses to be denied its publication, almost as if it had a will of its own, or is being foisted upon an unwilling mouthpiece by some unseen evil force is so cool, it's chilling.

Then, the shift to London in 2006(you might want to change this to "the present day" or some such thing, to preserve the feeling of immediacy), and the musician, presumably Paul McCartney or some alternate-dimensional version of him, being struck with the same inspiration, brings the story full circle.


SOME SUGGESTIONS:

MECHANICS: These comments refer to typos, grammar, word usage, etc.

This piece has been very well edited. Nice work!

STYLE: These comments refer to narrative voice, plot, conflict, characterization, setting, etc.

The narrative voice of the piece is very appropriate; articulate and erudite. The use of idiom was true to the subject matter.

The box that Poe buried beneath the garden wall has me a bit puzzled, however. I'd like to see more of a direct connection between this box, the devouring blackness it contains, and the poem itself.

All through the story, you hint that the poem itself is the catalyst for destruction, that its publication would lead to some awful event, yet, though the lightning storm and the invasion coincide with its reading to the crowd of poets, it is Griswold's unearthing and opening the box that unleashes what seems to be the total erasure of that particular reality. This, I think, lessens the impact of the poem itself, shifting the crux of the story away from it.

I think the box and its contents should (a) be associated directly to the poem, in a way that publicly reciting the one invokes the other, or (b) the box should be eliminated completely, and the poem's reciting to the public itself be the invocation of the all-consuming darkness.


OVERALL IMPRESSION:

This is an excellent story, Lynn. I checked out the McCartney tune after I read your note, just to try and commune with your inspiration. It's quite a spooky piece; I can see how it might have brought you into the proper frame of mind to write this. I'm a fan of McCartney's, but that particular disk had escaped my notice. I'll have to pay it some more attention.

Thanks very much for offering up this fine tale for my reading pleasure, for a pleasure it surely was. I hope to hear more from you in the future.


These comments are made with respect and the best intentions. Please accept them in the spirit with which I offer them. Embrace what you find useful, and allow the rest to trickle off into the void....

Best regards,
*Peace* CeruleanSon *Peace*

Port Raid from zeppelins, for The Boiler Room affiliated reviews.
Officially approved Writing.Com Preferred Author logo.
29
29
Review by CeruleanSon
In affiliation with The Coffee Shop for the Fantas...  
Rated: E | (4.0)
Hi, Hopeful Writer ,

Here's a CSFS Anniversary Raid review for you. I hope you find it helpful.

THESE ARE A FEW OF MY FAVORITE THINGS:

This is a nice little flash piece about a boy's imaginative play with his stuffed animals. The characters are cute, the action is just about as believable as a little boy's imagination would create it. Very nice!

SOME SUGGESTIONS:

I think that this piece works just fine as a piece of flash fiction, but it might be appropriate to think in terms of a longer piece of short fiction, maybe one in which the boy places himself into the action with his beloved stuffed animals. It could be a superhero story a la Winnie the Pooh, with a complete adventure, instead of this vignette, which, like much of the flash stuff I've read, feels like a teaser, rather than a complete story.

OVERALL IMPRESSION:

Very nice work. Write on!

These comments are made with respect and the best intentions. Please accept them in the spirit with which I offer them. Embrace what you find useful, and allow the rest to trickle off into the void....

Best regards,
CeruleanSon

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Review of The Wise Knight  
Review by CeruleanSon
In affiliation with Rising Stars of WdC  
Rated: E | (4.5)
Hi, BScholl ,

This is a Rising Stars Member to Member review, just for you. I hope you find it helpful.

THESE ARE A FEW OF MY FAVORITE THINGS:

I love flash fiction. It forces a writer to say something real, something important, in very few words. You've said something important, here, a statement about life that is universal. Sir Braunwin found the greatest treasure of all: the knowledge of his time's value.

SOME SUGGESTIONS REGARDING MECHANICS:

Several skeleton’s lay on the floor with dusty cobwebs seemingly cementing them in place.

The apostrophe is unnecessary.

It’s lines and colorful threads hypnotized him.

Again, no apostrophe; that makes it the contraction "it is", when you want the possessive form of "it".

OVERALL IMPRESSION:

A couple of typos are small change, of course.

This story has spoken to me, BScholl , and I thank you for the good read.


These comments are made with respect and the best intentions. Please accept them in the spirit with which I offer them. Embrace what you find useful, and allow the rest to trickle off into the void....

Best regards,
*Peace* CeruleanSon *Peace*

** Image ID #1779557 Unavailable **
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Review of Chosen by DaShire  
Review by CeruleanSon
In affiliation with The Coffee Shop for the Fantas...  
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
Hi, Ducttape Knight

I'm reviewing your story as a part of my judging process for "Invalid Item. Since I am only one of the judges, this review has no bearing on where your piece places in the contest. It's just my own thoughts and suggestions with regard to your story. I hope you find some of it helpful.

THESE ARE A FEW OF MY FAVORITE THINGS:

This is a simple tale of soldiers sent to fetch the object of their ruler's whim. Many have met a similar fate in stories and, no doubt, in reality, as well. These guys at least have a hypnotically beautiful queen to serve; they have the memory of her beauty to carry along with them. Others have done the same for rulers far less inspirational, I'm sure. It's a nice little vignette.

SOME SUGGESTIONS:

MECHANICS: These comments refer to typos, grammar, word usage, etc.

Not much to say here, so... onward!

STYLE: These comments refer to narrative voice, plot, conflict, characterization, setting, etc.

The story reads well, DTS, but it seems to me to be a bit shallow, with regard to the characters. We really learn nothing about anyone except the most superficial information. For example:

The only motivation the queen seems to have for wanting the flower is whim; there is no deeper reason stipulated. Her hypnotic beauty is very intriguing, and the fact that she has a hell hound choose her three representatives implies that the beast has interesting qualities, as well.

The reader might want to know a bit more about the hound's abilities and the queen's motives. Why does she send her soldiers - two of whom to certain death - to feed the dragon and harvest a single flower?

The dragon, Claw, is an interesting chatracter, too. Why the heck does he dwell in such a restrictive environment, and how does it cultivate its golden flowers? Why does it do so? What are the flower's properties? Why is it so desirable?

Ladew Vizer, the jester who speaks in rhymed couplets, promises to be interesting, but he, too, is left in an undeveloped, two-dimensional state.


Even the POV character, John, is as undeveloped as the others, with little internal monologue beyond dealing with the moment's events. In a first-person narrative, this is a desirable thing, to an extent, but during the course of events, the reader wants to learn about the person through whose eyes they are experiencing the story. We learn very little about John.

OVERALL IMPRESSION:

So, DTS, I guess the bottom line is, this is a cool concept, withn intersting situation and cool characters, but it is still rather sketchy, in my opinion. With added texture, color and detail, it could become so much more than it is in this state. At 2,764 words, even for the purposes of this contest, there was plenty of room left for development before you had to worry about the word count ceiling.

I hope you'll take this piece and develop the characters and the conflicts about which you've hinted. I think the result could be quite stunning. In any case, good luck with the contest, and with all of your endeavors!


These comments are made with respect and the best intentions. Please accept them in the spirit with which I offer them. Embrace what you find useful, and allow the rest to trickle off into the void....

Best regards,
CeruleanSon

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32
32
Review by CeruleanSon
In affiliation with The Coffee Shop for the Fantas...  
Rated: ASR | (4.0)
Hi, Jakrebs

I'm reviewing your story as a part of my judging process for "Invalid Item. Since I am only one of the judges, this review has no bearing on where your piece places in the contest. It's just my own thoughts and suggestions with regard to your story. I hope you find some of it helpful.

THESE ARE A FEW OF MY FAVORITE THINGS:

This is a fun tale! From Yorlan's pratfalls, to his hellhound-rent pantaloons, to his terrible dragon jokes, and at last to his magnificently hypnotic juggling prowess, he is an unlikely hero, to say the least. Very original and imaginative take on the prompt. Bravo!

SOME SUGGESTIONS:

MECHANICS: These comments refer to typos, grammar, word usage, etc.

Not much here that can't be cleaned p with a proofread/editing session.

STYLE: These comments refer to narrative voice, plot, conflict, characterization, setting, etc.

This story is very well written, Jakrebs. I applaud your effort. There are a couple of things I'd like to say however, about motivation.

I think that anyone would agree that love is a very powerful motivator. What I failed to see here in your story was any real evidence of it, until the very end. To be comfortable in the belief that Yorlan would accept a mission so dangerous that even the formidable persons in the King's court quail at the thought of it, the reader needs to understand his motivation. Some scene with him performing for her, perhaps, or admiring her from afar in some other way, either before she falls unconscious (this is my preference) or in flashbacks during Yorlan's journey, would serve to provide the reader with this most necessary element.

The curse itself, too, is left largely unexplained. Who cast this spell upon her? What motive would this person have for doing so? Such an attack implies an enemy, yet no enemy is forthcoming. This is a loose end that needs tidying up.


OVERALL IMPRESSION:

As I've said, overall, this is a fun story, with so much positive going for it. With the generous word count limit of the Dragon's Keep contest, you had lots of room to take care of these missing elements. I really hope you'll do the work necessary to fill in the blanks, because I'd really like to see this story go out into the wider world, a-questing for publication!

These comments are made with respect and the best intentions. Please accept them in the spirit with which I offer them. Embrace what you find useful, and allow the rest to trickle off into the void....

Best regards,
CeruleanSon

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33
33
Review of Taking a Stand  
Review by CeruleanSon
In affiliation with The Steampunk Authors' Gui...  
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
Hi, Jeff

I'm reviewing your story as a part of my judging process for "The Pressure Valve - closed for now.. Since I am only one of the judges, this review has no bearing on where your piece places in the contest. It's just my own thoughts and suggestions with regard to your story. I hope you find some of it helpful.

THESE ARE A FEW OF MY FAVORITE THINGS:

Ellington Claven. What a great name for a little girl who also happens to be a compulsive explorer. Her meeting with her pulp-fiction hero, Josiah Jessup, and her decision to take a stand against Governor Vernon Rourk and his clockwork Constructs, sets up the framework for a very exciting SteamPunk story.

SOME SUGGESTIONS:

MECHANICS: These comments refer to typos, grammar, word usage, etc.

Nothing much, here, so, on to the fun stuff!

STYLE: These comments refer to narrative voice, plot, conflict, characterization, setting, etc.

Your narrative voice is clear and the action moves swiftly and smoothly. My comments have to do with the conflict, plot and the characters' motivations for doing the things that they do.

First:

Vernon Rourke has usurped control of Capitol City from its rightful Governing Council, but I see little evidence of tyrannical behavior, beyond the arbitrary (and rather goofy) rules and regulations he has imposed. Ellie is treated well enough by the constable who catches her breaking into the tunnels. In fact, his own thoughts reflect that the citation he would write her for trespassing would be less severe than the punishment her parents would mete out to her. That being the case, what is the motivation for the heroes' mission to assassinate him? With no real cruelty toward innocents by Rourke, how is the reader to identify with the protagonists' desire to kill him?

Second, a small issue of continuity:

Ellie would use her portable oil lantern when she was down here; by far the best gift her parents had ever given her. It was a clear, cylindrical tube about the size of a flashlight, with a reserve of kerosene. Ellie would probably not compare her torch to an item that presumably does not exist in her milieu.

Third, and last, a comment about resolution:

This piece is very good, and the work you've done creating the characters and their situation is quite evident. It feels to me like the first chapter of a longer work. The plot moves forward, in that Ellie meets Jessup and make her decision to take a stand, but there is no confrontation with Rourk, the antagonist, and no real use of the clockwork Constructs. The protagonists undergo no ordeal, and consequently there is no resulting change in the characters' lives.

In my opinion, a story needs to have some kind of resolution, or at least confrontation, between the protagonists and the antagonists, to give it a feel of completeness. Otherwise, the reader is left dangling among loose ends, with nowhere to look for the closure that brings satisfaction.


OVERALL IMPRESSION:

I really like these characters, and their situation is an interesting one. I think that they need more motivation to undertake the task they have begun, and more obstacles in the way of their achieving their goals. I hope you'll take on the task of providing those things, and the closure that your readers will need and demand of your tale. Good luck with this piece, the contest, and with all of your endeavors.

These comments are made with respect and the best intentions. Please accept them in the spirit with which I offer them. Embrace what you find useful, and allow the rest to trickle off into the void....

Best regards,
*Peace* CeruleanSon *Peace*

Port Raid from zeppelins, for The Boiler Room affiliated reviews.
Officially approved Writing.Com Preferred Author logo.
34
34
Review by CeruleanSon
In affiliation with The Steampunk Authors' Gui...  
Rated: | (4.0)
Hi, GiGi

I'm reviewing your story as a part of my judging process for "The Pressure Valve - closed for now.. Since I am only one of the judges, this review has no bearing on where your piece places in the contest. It's just my own thoughts and suggestions with regard to your story. I hope you find some of it helpful.

THESE ARE A FEW OF MY FAVORITE THINGS:

Daniel Flaherty is a very cool character, GiGi. He is the archetypal lower-class man who is more capable then the aristocrats who look down their noses at him and all his kind. His efforts to better himself, and to become worthy of the love of the girl he dreams about make him a very easy character with whom to identify. You give him a loving family and real objectives for which to strive. His accidental discovery of the danger to his way of life, and his decision to do something about it, give him an added dimension that the reader can admire.

SOME SUGGESTIONS:

MECHANICS: These comments refer to typos, grammar, word usage, etc.

There seems to be some problem with paragraph indentation that is a little distracting, but other than that, there's not much to talk about here. On to the fun stuff!

STYLE: These comments refer to narrative voice, plot, conflict, characterization, setting, etc.

Your narrative voice is clear and the action flows smoothly, with no obvious glitches to distract the reader from the imaginary world you've created.

I have some comments about the plot and the action:


You set up several plot lines: Daniel's exam, his relationship with Phoebe, and his seeming mixture of admiration for Dr. Osborne and determination to oppose his plans for conquest. You also give hints that Osborne himself has plans for Daniel. You've shown the elaborate "Dr. Who-like" clockwork minions (I love the "By your Leave, Doctor" line! *Smile*), which are way scary, but really, you've not resolved any of the plot lines, nor have you used the robots to actually do anything. All the clocks are very interesting, too, but again, you've not used them to move the story forward. I feel as though you've got the beginning of a very cool SteamPunk novel here, but not a complete short story.

OVERALL IMPRESSION:

As I said above, I think your piece is very cool, and that the story lines you've begun are interesting. I want to know what happens to Daniel, Phoebe, and Dr. Osborne. I just feel rather frustrated at the lack of any satisfactory resolution of the story. I hope you'll continue with it, and develop the great work you've begun here. I'll buy the novel when it comes out! *Bigsmile*

These comments are made with respect and the best intentions. Please accept them in the spirit with which I offer them. Embrace what you find useful, and allow the rest to trickle off into the void....

Best regards,
*Peace* CeruleanSon *Peace*

~~Image ID# 1777407's Content Rating Exceeds Item Content Rating~~
~~Image ID# 4000's Content Rating Exceeds Item Content Rating~~
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Review of Nettie's Tale  
Review by CeruleanSon
In affiliation with The Steampunk Authors' Gui...  
Rated: E | (4.0)
Hi, jpsmtl

I'm reviewing your story as a part of my judging process for "The Pressure Valve - closed for now.. Since I am only one of the judges, this review has no bearing on where your piece places in the contest. It's just my own thoughts and suggestions with regard to your story. I hope you find some of it helpful.

THESE ARE A FEW OF MY FAVORITE THINGS:

The post-Civil War setting is very appropriate for a SteamPunk tale, and Nettie Slater is a Civil War woman to rival, in her courage and determination, the likes of Clara Barton and Harriet Tubman. The plan of the evil genius, Edmund Howells, to take over the Americas with his army of mechanical soldiers and his fleet of airships, is absolutely on target for the sub-genre. Your telling of Nettie's Tale is well thought-out and the action is fast-paced and interesting. Well done!

SOME SUGGESTIONS:

MECHANICS: These comments refer to typos, grammar, word usage, etc.

There are a few issues, such as missing commas and apostrophes, that you can quite easily deal with in a proofreading session. I have commented on one other thing below.

The musty smell of mold caused her to cough, the dust swirling as John lead her to a small wooden wagon. I think you want the past tense, "led", here.

STYLE: These comments refer to narrative voice, plot, conflict, characterization, setting, etc.

There are a few questions I have regarding the story's plot.

First:


If John knows where the gold is, why does he need to come after Nettie? Couldn't have simply gone to the abbey and either tricked or forced Sister Agatha to give it to him?

Second:

If the plan to take over America is set for a month from the time of the story, then the entire army and fleet of airships must already be built and ready, so, why does he suddenly need the Confederate gold at all?

Third:

Shouldn't the clockwork soldiers be a bit more difficult to disable? If these automatons are going to attack the United States of America, it seems to me that a wild shot from a small-caliber derringer should not be able to even slow one down, much less disable five of them.

Fourth:

Why would the death of Edmund Howells immediately stop the automatons from functioning? Obviously, from the first encounter, when Nettie shoots - what? An antenna? - off the shoulder of one of the machines and stops all of them, one must assume that some sort of wireless control device must run them, with a main until controlling the rest in a kind of network hierarchy, but why would the death of Howells shut them all down? It doesn't seem to be a very wise decision to wire the entire army to one's own heart beat, or brainwave, or whatever, unless Howells is actually directing the entire army with his mind. That would seem to be a bit unmanageable, even for a genius.

OVERALL IMPRESSION:

I like this story, jpsmtl . After the contest ends, I'd like to see it developed further. Maybe have an actual Pinkerton detective come for Nettie at the same time as John, putting her on the spot, confusing her about whom to trust. Then, they can race for the gold, and John could betray her and take it. Then, Nettie and the Pinkerton guy could team up to try and stop the attack. Nettie's quandary would be the fact that she is forced by circumstances to help the former enemies of her beloved Confederacy to stop the plot of her former allies.

Heck, this could become a killer novel!


These comments are made with respect and the best intentions. Please accept them in the spirit with which I offer them. Embrace what you find useful, and allow the rest to trickle off into the void....

Best regards,
*Peace* CeruleanSon *Peace*

Port Raid from zeppelins, for The Boiler Room affiliated reviews.
Officially approved Writing.Com Preferred Author logo.
36
36
Review by CeruleanSon
In affiliation with The Steampunk Authors' Gui...  
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
Hi, Kotaro

I'm reviewing your story as a part of my judging process for "The Pressure Valve - closed for now.. Since I am only one of the judges, this review has no bearing on where your piece places in the contest. It's just my own thoughts and suggestions with regard to your story. I hope you find some of it helpful.

THESE ARE A FEW OF MY FAVORITE THINGS:

As a fan of the Sherlock Holmes tales, I was delighted with your entry. This tale has captured the flavor of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's masterpieces, and it's a fine example of SteamPunk fiction. The plot moves forward quickly, with pertinent information largely delivered in the course of the action, without resorting to the info-dump. The characters are well-detailed, and their mannerisms and interactions all ring true. The conflict is quite thrilling and managed very well. Its resolution is accomplished fully and without dangling loose ends.

SOME SUGGESTIONS:

MECHANICS: These comments refer to typos, grammar, word usage, etc.

Very few issues, mostly of a typographical, rather than a grammatical, nature. One possible issue I will note is the following:

It was the army of clockwork soldiers, that he had crafted, marching through the streets. That had convinced him Maxwell was a danger to London, perhaps even, to Great Britain. The first comma is not necessary; also, the period after "streets" could be changed to a comma, so that this flows as a single sentence. It was the army of clockwork soldiers that he had crafted, marching through the streets, that had convinced him Maxwell was a danger to London, perhaps even, to Great Britain. This could simply be a product of my own scanning of the passage; it no doubt works as you have it, but I thought that I would offer the alternative. *Smile*

STYLE: These comments refer to narrative voice, plot, conflict, characterization, setting, etc.

This is a fine story, but there are a few things I noticed for which I hope to provide helpful suggestions.

First:


I think it is unclear who actually created the laboratory-made diamonds. At first, Faraday seems to be their creator. Later, though, the ruminations of Maxwell make it seem that he was their creator. This vagueness makes me question the usefulness of Faraday, and I think it should be made more clear.

Second:

The rank of clockwork soldiers were, I think, much too easily dispatched, even without the use of dynamite. Such an army would hardly have been able to withstand a determined force of well-armed British soldiers, so any attempt to usurp London would obviously be destined for failure, even had Holmes not divined the existence of the secret city. This, I think is an issue that needs attention, for the sake of the drama.

Third:

Rasputin - if this individual is indeed the infamous Grigori Rasputin of Russian history, who was poisoned, shot several times, and finally tossed from a bridge in to the Neva River in Petrograd - was also too easily dispatched. The scene at the end when Watson shoots him in the forehead, is a bit too neat and glib to be truly satisfying. Really, there was no time in the story when I feared for Holmes's and Watson's well-being. Their extremely capable natures aside, the story's tension level suffers for the antagonists' inability to truly threaten two lone men, much less an entire city, or the British Empire itself.

OVERALL IMPRESSION:

I like this story very much, Kotaro. I hope my suggestions give you some food for thought, so that, when the contest is over, you can revise it for sharing in other venues. You are a talented writer; I wish you the best of luck in the contest and in all your other endeavors.

These comments are made with respect and the best intentions. Please accept them in the spirit with which I offer them. Embrace what you find useful, and allow the rest to trickle off into the void....

Best regards,
*Peace* CeruleanSon *Peace*

Port Raid from zeppelins, for The Boiler Room affiliated reviews.
Officially approved Writing.Com Preferred Author logo.
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Review by CeruleanSon
In affiliation with The Steampunk Authors' Gui...  
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
Hi, Esh Edgie

I'm reviewing your story as a part of my judging process for "The Pressure Valve - closed for now.. Since I am only one of the judges, this review has no bearing on where your piece places in the contest. It's just my own thoughts and suggestions with regard to your story. I hope you find some of it helpful.

THESE ARE A FEW OF MY FAVORITE THINGS:

This was a really fun read. The SSPs are a wonderful creation, and this, the story that tells of the defeat of the evil Dr. Blanch, should be surrounded by prequels and sequels. This is a tale in the spirit of the old pulp magazine and movie serials. Your protagonists are diverse and exciting, and you describe the clash of technologies as only an engineer (or a well-researched fiction writer) could do. Bravo, sir!

SOME SUGGESTIONS:

MECHANICS: These comments refer to typos, grammar, word usage, etc.

There are, indeed, numerous issues with grammar, usage and punctuation, but I won't enumerate them here. If you'd like to have an editing session at some point, I would be happy to help you clean up the linguistic loose ends. For the purpose of this review, however, I want to talk about the story.

STYLE: These comments refer to narrative voice, plot, conflict, characterization, setting, etc.

The SteamPunk genre includes a wide range of subject matter and styles, from the Victorian to the futuristic dystopia. The way you conceived a reason - the mad genius Dr. Blanch's EMP - for a return to steam technology from the age of electronics is ingenious and well executed. The inclusion of the underground installation on Kristan X fulfills that part of the prompt, and the army of mechanical dragonflies rounds out the prompt specs.

Your protagonist characters interact very realistically, with the kind of conflict that only makes the camaraderie seem stronger. The narrative voice is straightforward and clear, though perhaps without the stylish turn of phrase that might have given it a more SteamPunk flavor. Still, the tale moves fast and furious from Jamie's first scream to Duke's embrace with his long-lost sister.

The only thing that I feel is lacking is the strength of presence of the infamous Dr. Blanch. The build-up leads the reader to believe that this is a formidable man, but when we actually meet him, he seems far less than formidable. there are not enough deadly hazards between Duke and him, and the scene where he shields himself with Duke's sister is surprising only because we think she was killed long before. What should have been the doctor's last-ditch effort to escape seems to come far too quickly for such an evil genius.

I realize that you came very close to the contest's prescribed word count as it is, but there are places where you might have done some trimming, so as to make this climactic confrontation live up to its press. After the contest has concluded, I encourage you to do so.


OVERALL IMPRESSION:

You say you're an engineer, and while that is no doubt true, you are also a fiction writer - a storyteller with real potential. I thank you heartily for the effort you've put forth with this story, and I wish you the best of luck with it, in the contest, and beyond.

These comments are made with respect and the best intentions. Please accept them in the spirit with which I offer them. Embrace what you find useful, and allow the rest to trickle off into the void....

Best regards,
*Peace* CeruleanSon *Peace*

Port Raid from zeppelins, for The Boiler Room affiliated reviews.
Officially approved Writing.Com Preferred Author logo.
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Review of Thumbalinas  
Review by CeruleanSon
In affiliation with The Coffee Shop for the Fantas...  
Rated: E | (4.5)
Oh, my gosh! Whatever will happen to Little? This is definitely a cliffhanger ending, Raiden. I need to know the outcome!

Seriously, this story is very reminiscent of "The Borrowers", which my son happens to be reading right now. An updated version of such a tale might well be worth developing. It is certainly one of the most enduringly popular children's stories. Yours might lean toward a more comedic style, which could only help its chances with the kids of today. I encourage you to go with this; who knows where it might take you?

Best regards,
*Peace* CeruleanSon *Peace*
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Review by CeruleanSon
In affiliation with Rising Stars of WdC  
Rated: E | (5.0)
Hi, Beck NaNo prepping ,

This is a Rising Stars Member to Member review, just for you. I hope you find it helpful.

Kate is a wonderful character, and you have brought her and the setting in which she lives to life in a very few words. Bravo! She reminds me of my own mother, who lives by herself, though she is not far away from me, and my brother is even closer to her. The way Kate tries to hide her disappointment when her son says he can't make it is so true to life, and the way she paces, worrying about their safety when the cell phone signal gets lost just rings so true to my imagination. This is nicely written, Beck, and I commend you for your skill with flash fiction. It's not an easy form to pull off, and you seem to manage it quite nicely.

These comments are made with respect and the best intentions. Please accept them in the spirit with which I offer them. Embrace what you find useful, and allow the rest to trickle off into the void....

Best regards,
*Peace* CeruleanSon *Peace*

** Image ID #1779557 Unavailable **
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Review by CeruleanSon
Rated: ASR | (5.0)
Hi, Beck NaNo prepping ,

This is a Rising Stars Member to Member review, just for you. I hope you find it helpful.

I love flash fiction! This is a nice little slice of a writer's life. I've participated in NaNoWriMo for the past two years, and I know exactly what the writer MC in your story is going through. Probably, anyone who writes fiction knows this situation viscerally. The solution to the plot problem is feasible, and expressed in a believable fashion: two buddies, out on a bender, one cries in his beer, and the other can't bear the guilty secret any longer. Works for me!

All I really want to know is... why did Sharon shoot her boyfriend's poor brother? *Cry*

Well told, and with six words to spare!


These comments are made with respect and the best intentions. Please accept them in the spirit with which I offer them. Embrace what you find useful, and allow the rest to trickle off into the void....

Best regards,
*Peace* CeruleanSon *Peace*

** Image ID #1779557 Unavailable **
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Review by CeruleanSon
In affiliation with The Coffee Shop for the Fantas...  
Rated: 18+ | (4.5)
Hi, Hyperiongate

Here's a review for you, as a part of the Coffee Shop for the Fantasy Society's Dragon Raid. I hope you find it helpful.

THESE ARE A FEW OF MY FAVORITE THINGS:

As usual, you've done a wonderful job telling this tale. The futuristic milieu is well-conceived and believable, the main character is quite interesting, and the mystery is compelling. This is a fine bit of work.

SOME SUGGESTIONS:

I found a couple of places where you used present-tense verbs, while the rest is past-tense. Here they are:

It turns out that the cut had been made from inside the body.

If the removal of the data-trace has been a ruse, what was it hiding?

The only other comment I have would be about the Temporal database.

Engineered varietals don’t have shelf lives so this could have been implanted at any point in Julia 934’s twenty-five years of life. Another huge database was built containing the names of all humans at least twenty-five years old. In all probability, he could have tightened this up a bit since it was unlikely that an infant planted the varietal, but for now he would cast a broad net.

Would it not be possible that the killer was someone younger than Julia 934? A sociopathic teenager with a penchant for tech and a grudge against her, perhaps? Just a thought.

OVERALL IMPRESSION:

As with all of your work that I've read, Hyperiongate, this tale is well-told and very entertaining. I am a fan of yours, and I wish you the best of luck in your writing endeavors. As they say in the groovier parts of WdC: Write on!

These comments are made with respect and the best intentions. Please accept them in the spirit with which I offer them. Embrace what you find useful, and allow the rest to trickle off into the void....

Best regards,
CeruleanSon

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Review of Tin Star  
Review by CeruleanSon
In affiliation with The Coffee Shop for the Fantas...  
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
Hi, Kotaro

Here's a review for you, as a part of the Coffee Shop for the Fantasy Society's Dragon Raid. I hope you find it helpful.

THESE ARE A FEW OF MY FAVORITE THINGS:

Well, I must say right off the bat, that I am a big fan of Asimov, and especially of his Robot stories. Your tale of a world populated by robots left behind by the extinction of humanity (at least on that particular world) is a pleasing exercise in what might happen to such beings, as they carry out leftover programming and wrestle with the logic of the Laws of Robotics in a world without human beings. Your detective would be a worthy associate of R. Daneel Olivaw.

SOME SUGGESTIONS:

Since you created this tale several years ago, I think it's safe to assume that you're not restricted by some contest's word count limit. That being the probable case, I wonder if you might elaborate some more on the attacker's motivation for attempting to take our detective's life? The motivations for a character's actions are very important, to me, at least, and without them, the story seems a bit thin.

Maybe the conflict would be heightened if the attacker's motivations, though leftover from the designs of a dead master (not long dead, perhaps?), has real repercussions for the nascent robotic civilization that, to my mind, would no doubt begin to take shape after the departure of human masters. Since they no doubt span every level of their former society, they are well-placed to become a self-perpetuating civilization. These are sentient beings, after all, and I think they would resist stagnation. Our detective, as a protector of society, would be perfectly suited to continue his duties, only transferring his loyalties to the society of his peers.


OVERALL IMPRESSION:

As you can see, I'm very intrigued by the implications of your story, and I encourage you to elaborate upon it. You obviously know the Asimov stories well (your reference to the Caves of Steel was not lost on me). Beside being an homage to Asimov, this could well be a nice offshoot of that work. Write on!

These comments are made with respect and the best intentions. Please accept them in the spirit with which I offer them. Embrace what you find useful, and allow the rest to trickle off into the void....

Best regards,
CeruleanSon

** Image ID #1776706 Unavailable **
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Review of Fools Gold  
Review by CeruleanSon
Rated: 13+ | (3.5)
Hi, dangal

I'm reviewing your story as a part of my judging process for "Invalid Item. Since I am only one of the judges, this review has no bearing on where your piece places in the contest. It's just my own thoughts and suggestions with regard to your story. I hope you find some of it helpful.

THESE ARE A FEW OF MY FAVORITE THINGS:

Rik Raid is a very cool name, and the footloose adventurer is a fantasy archetype that has lots of fabulous role models to draw upon for inspiration. I think this story has a lot going for it. I enjoyed reading it.

SOME SUGGESTIONS:

MECHANICS: These comments refer to typos, grammar, word usage, etc.

A man's soul is a delicate thing. If it doesn't receive it's nourishing needs it quells like a forgotten flower in a pot. I like the description of a man's soul here, but there are a couple of issues. First, you probably want the possessive pronoun "its" rather than the contraction "it's" (it is). Second, the word "quell", which means to put an end to something, like rebellion or disorder, usually by violent means, or to subdue or silence someone, or to suppress a feeling, doesn't really fit the metaphor. Maybe "wilts" or "withers" or even "dessicates" would be better.

I notice that there are several places where proper names are not capitalized (like "Rover Town" and Elders Forest", and where common nouns are capitalized (like "Village") I suggest that you go over your story with an eye toward correcting these simple errors, as well as misspellings and other such things. They don't seem like much, admittedly, but their presence tends to throw the reader out of the story, and makes it difficult to maintain the suspension of disbelief necessary to really enjoy fiction. A good resource for you might be "Invalid Item.

STYLE: These comments refer to narrative voice, plot, conflict, characterization, setting, etc.

I think Rik Raid is a cool character, but he might be a bit gullible for a seasoned adventurer. Maybe it would improve the story if he were a bit more ready to question the truth of the beings like Azazel, whose orders he's taking.

An interchange of dialogue would be more effective than a monologue followed by a narrator's statement of Rik's unspoken feelings. If, that is, he really has scruples enough to make him a protagonist with whom most readers can identify. If not, than showing his willingness to comply through actions and dialogue is still more effective than explaining them through narration.

The plot itself is good; it has a couple of layers to be peeled away, and that's plenty for a story of this length. It's how things are revealed that is important.

Things should be revealed through action, not explanation. Show, don't tell, as the writing books all say. The action must be thought out and executed believably, however.

For example, since Azazel and Rik were both entranced by the mermaid's song, the unicorn's swift reaction and ability to swipe a bottle from Rik's hand and spray its contents into his mouth, presumably using its own mouth to do it, is a stretch for me to believe. Easier to believe would be the unicorn skewering him with its horn while attempting to swipe the bottle and spray the stuff into Rik's mouth.

Even though its fantasy, its all still got to make real, logical sense.


OVERALL IMPRESSION:

This is a cool adventure tale that has the potential to be very good, if you're willing to put some effort into revising. The mechanical stuff should be a piece of cake to fix. The storytelling will take a bit more thought and imagination, but I have no doubt that you are up to the challenge. The story is worth the effort.

These comments are made with respect and the best intentions. Please accept them in the spirit with which I offer them. Embrace what you find useful, and allow the rest to trickle off into the void....

Best regards,
CeruleanSon

** Image ID #1772693 Unavailable **
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Review by CeruleanSon
In affiliation with The Coffee Shop for the Fantas...  
Rated: E | (4.0)
Hi, Mrs. Populatery

Thanks for asking me to check out your work! Here's a review of "Galaxy Guardians Chapter 1&2 for you. I hope you find it helpful.

THESE ARE A FEW OF MY FAVORITE THINGS:

This story has a whole lot going for it. Your main character is likable, bursting with positive energy, and she has enough personal foibles to make her interesting. Her best friend Kyle is the kind of nerdy guy that so many awkward 13-year-old boys would identify with (or at least recognize). Your futuristic, year 3000 milieu needs a bit more development, but it has the potential to be very interesting, as well. All in all, this is a good start for a young-adult SF adventure.

SOME SUGGESTIONS:


First off, I'd like to suggest that you proofread the manuscript carefully, with an eye toward finding the numerous typographical, grammatical and usage issues. Mistakes like these can make even the most engaging tale look sloppy and less than professional. Your attention to such details shows the reader (and any prospective publisher) that you take your writing seriously.

These are the sorts of things that I would address in an editing session, rather than in a review, where the main thrust is an assessment of and suggestions for improving the storytelling. If you'd like, I would be happy to help you with the grammatical nuts and bolts separately. *Smile*

For now, onward!


“Ah! Will this ever be over?” I screamed. I'm assuming Serrony only screams this inside her head; perhaps it would be appropriate to let the reader know this. Maybe joining this line with the next two and adding a bit of description might work. Something like:"Ah! When will this be over?" I screamed silently as I sat at my desk gazing out the school window. "I can't wait to get to good ole' G.H.S!"

“That’s it! Two weeks detention!” “Wahoo! School's out!” I shouted.Would Ms. Sims actually assign two weeks' detention on the last day of school? This kind of toothless gesture seems like an error that only the most incompetent teacher would make. You comment on her fashion sense, but make no reference to her classroom management skills (or lack thereof). Unless you establish that Ms. Sims is the type to do such things beforehand, this seems like an error in continuity.

Tears started to fall from my big blue eyes. In a first-person narrative like this one, everything needs to sound like the thoughts of the character from whose point-of-view the story is being told. This sort of self-description doesn't sound like the way a person would think of herself in passing. To get a description of the POV character that sounds natural, the writer needs to create a situation where she is either assessing herself in a mirror, perhaps as she's getting ready for some important event, or through conversation with another character (as in the scene with Princess at the end of Chapter 1), or some other mechanism that provides a natural opportunity for such a description.


I stopped at my front door and looked around to examine my surroundings, even though it's the year 3,000 earth hasn't changed much sense the 2000s. Sure we have flying cars but come on who doesn't? Earth doesn't really like to communicate with the outside galaxies their still trying to get use to the thought of other planets. If yah think about it, it's only been fifty years since we found out there were more planets besides earth. There's also a lot of discrimination and fear against people like me with magical powers for instance non-humans are not allowed to use their powers against humans. I won't miss all these rules I guess.

I think your setting needs a bit of thought, here. The time frame you set for the story is a thousand years in the future, but you say that it has only been about fifty years since we found other planets besides Earth. Since astronomers have already found planets circling stars other than our own, this seems a bit strange to me. In addition, you say that Earth doesn't like to communicate with the outside galaxies. Does this mean that there is interaction between intelligent species in other galaxies besides the Milky Way? If so, then the scope of your story is vast and far more difficult to encompass than if it were situated on worlds in our own galaxy alone.

These issues may seem less than important in the lives of some teeners, but if they are to be Galactic Guardians, then they will be dealing with larger issues than what to wear on the first day of school. Regardless of the focus, though, your readers will demand that your story take place in a setting that makes sense.

I suggest that you ask yourself some important questions, like: Is Earth a part of some galactic community? If so, what is that community like? Is Earth active in dealing with the other intelligent species, or is it closed off and xenophobic? If the latter, have there been incidents that gave Earth cause for this fear? Is there faster-than-light space travel? If so, how are relativity problems like time dilation (the theotertical phenomenon that objects (and people) traveling at or near the speed of light age more slowly than those left behind) dealt with?

These questions and others that will no doubt occur to you as you work out your milieu, need to be answered, even if only in your own mind, so that the world you create for your characters to live in has an internal consistency that will make it seem reasonable to a reader, and therefore believable. It doesn't have to be real science that would work in our universe, though it can be based on real theory if you wish. What it does have to do is adhere to its own set of logical principles. Even in fantasy, where magic is real, the way the magic works needs to have a logic that seems reasonable to the reader.


OVERALL IMPRESSION:

I hope that I haven't overwhelmed you with this, because, though you do have some work to do, and the process of creating such a complex story is gigantic and probably daunting, you do have some great things going on, here. Your characters are coming to life, and they deserve to live in a place that is every bit as real as they are. I have no doubt that you are equal to the challenge. After all, this is the stuff that makes writing fiction so much fun! *Bigsmile*

These comments are made with respect and the best intentions. Please accept them in the spirit with which I offer them. Embrace what you find useful, and allow the rest to trickle off into the void....

Best regards,
CeruleanSon

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Review by CeruleanSon
In affiliation with The Coffee Shop for the Fantas...  
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
Hi, Kleo

Here's a review for you. I hope you find it helpful.

THESE ARE A FEW OF MY FAVORITE THINGS:

This is good stuff, Kleo. Very exciting, and the situation is perplexing enough that I want to know what happens next, which is a very good quality for a prologue to have.

SOME SUGGESTIONS:

"My mind, it seemed, couldn’t grasp this situation. My thoughts became flighty and unintelligible,"

"I could handle pain. What I couldn’t handle was my own lack of understanding, my sheer ignorance as to what was happening."

The two passages above are the only places in this part of the narrative where I feel as if you've separated the description from your character's voice and intruded with your own. Again, the need is for your character to experience these things directly, without trying to describe them as if from a vantage point outside herself, where she is observing her reactions without really feeling them.

For example, instead of the first passage, maybe something like: "I was stunned, confused; I couldn't grasp this situation, and my thoughts kept darting from place to place, flighty and unintelligible."

And in the second instance, maybe: "I could handle pain. What I couldn't handle was ignorance. I had no idea what was happening, and that was unacceptable."

Or, something like that. You'll come up with something, I'm sure. The rest of the narrative is so well-wrought, I know these little tweaks, should you decide my advice has any merit, will be child's play for you.


OVERALL IMPRESSION:

Keep going, Kleo; I can't wait to see what happens next!

These comments are made with respect and the best intentions. Please accept them in the spirit with which I offer them. Embrace what you find useful, and allow the rest to trickle off into the void....

Best regards,
CeruleanSon

** Image ID #1753278 Unavailable **
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Review by CeruleanSon
In affiliation with The Coffee Shop for the Fantas...  
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
Hi, Kleo !

Here is a CSFS Elf Raid Review to celebrate You!

THESE ARE A FEW OF MY FAVORITE THINGS:

This is, as you say in your subtitle, a thrilling beginning to what I am sure will be a grand adventure. Your POV character is most engaging, and the action of the scene is well-structured. The descriptions are both original and highly evocative; the sights, sounds and smells of the battle on the beach come vividly to life in the reader's imagination. Well done!

SOME SUGGESTIONS:

"​I was intoxicated with energy, drunken with adrenaline"
"Drunken", to me, at least, suggests a person who is habitually intoxicated. For a description like this, where the character is talking about the thrill of a current experience, I think "drunk with adrenaline" would read better.

"...and felt strangely as if I’d swallowed lightening"You probably want the noun "lightning" here, rather than the verb "lightening".

"It flashed like fire through my veins, prickling rapidly along the underside of my skin like tiny, needle legged spiders." Nice!

"...my muscles sprang and darted lithely, and with deft precision; my thoughts became circumspect, my vision crystalline, my instincts unearthly and omnipotent..." This description is nicely written, but it seems more appropriate for a third-person narration. From a first-person perspective, it seems to me to be a bit of an unnatural way for a person to describe herself, almost as if her viewpoint had somehow risen above her and she was describing herself from a distance. In this context, at least, it seems to me a bit odd and contrived. You might want to try making the same description in more experiential terms, using the sort of metaphors that a person might employ in seeking to describe such feelings. For example: "I was a remorseless predator, my muscles lithe, springing and darting with effortless precision." "Circumspect" which means "wary and unwilling to take risks", doesn't seem to work in this context. To continue with the predator metaphor (for purposes of my example only, of course; you will no doubt come up with something better and more appropriate to your story), maybe something like, "My vision became crystalline, attention honed to a sharp focus on my prey, with the unearthly and seemingly omnipotent instincts only a hunting animal possessed." You get the idea... *Smile*


The descriptions of the battle itself and her actions within it are quite good, and the encounter with the behemoth is both exciting and funny. The buildup to the encounter with the king and the ultimate cliff-hanger both work well for me.

OVERALL IMPRESSION:

I want to congratulate you on your facility with scene-craft, Kleo. This is an excellent effort, and with a few tweaks will stand up and beckon the reader on into the rest of the work. It is one of the best pieces I've read by a young author in recent memory. Great work!

These comments are made with respect and the best intentions. Please accept them in the spirit with which I offer them. Embrace what you find useful, and allow the rest to trickle off into the void....

Best regards,
CeruleanSon

** Image ID #1759081 Unavailable **
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Review by CeruleanSon
In affiliation with The Coffee Shop for the Fantas...  
Rated: E | (4.0)
Hi, Arosis

Here is a CSFS Elf Raid Review to celebrate You!

THESE ARE A FEW OF MY FAVORITE THINGS:

This is a very well-written fairy tale, with a voice that sounds as if an old-time story-teller from an oral tradition is sitting beside a campfire, speaking to the reader. It is charming and one hopes the phoenix will find its kin and that all will end well.

SOME SUGGESTIONS:

The story flows well and it is beautifully written, with the exception of a few minor spelling errors ("lightening" instead of "lightning") and a pronoun-agreement issue "A young phoenix, like all phoenix before him, would leave the garden for a time, and return wiser and ready to make their first nest in the World Tree with a mate and chicks." here and there.

What I think is missing is focus. You seem to be trying to painting the humans as the reason for the loss of the world's magic, but without ill intent.
"Man, who had so eagerly and innocently explored their worlds and imaginations, now no longer looked up." [i}Perhaps this is a bit naive. It certainly provides little reason for the phoenix to blame Man for the death of magic. Maybe substituting "ignorance" for "innocence" might fuel a slightly different way of thinking about it, and give you a way to build the phoenix's wrath some before he actually encounters the boy and his kin.

As things stand, I really see little motivation for the phoenix to take the boy away from his father. Really the only crime the men have committed is to try and put out a fire in a shed. Nature itself is the only force that has actually harmed the phoenix.

In addition, there is no reason provided for the failure of the other phoenix to return to the World Tree. His discovery of them at the end seems to come from nowhere and explain nothing, though the whole star analogy is quite nice.


OVERALL IMPRESSION:


I think this story has the potential to be even better than it is now, Arosis, if you can just focus in a bit and find the conflict that is central to the tale. In the conflict is the interest of the story. What prevented the other phoenix from returning? Why has the magic been leached from the world? Is someone at fault? Is there evil intent, or only willful ignorance of the harm being done?

What, really, is this story about?

Answer these questions, and the may others tht will no doubt spring to your mind once you have done so, and this tale will grow in the telling.


These comments are made with respect and the best intentions. Please accept them in the spirit with which I offer them. Embrace what you find useful, and allow the rest to trickle off into the void....

Best regards,
CeruleanSon

** Image ID #1759081 Unavailable **
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Review by CeruleanSon
In affiliation with The Coffee Shop for the Fantas...  
Rated: 13+ | (3.0)
Hi, Finn O'Flaherty
I'm here to review your piece, "Hidden Imperfection, as a member of the Coffee Shop for the Fantasy Society, and one of this month's judges for "Invalid Item. This review has no bearing on whether or not you win the contest, for I am only one of the judges. It's just my thoughts on your piece, offered in the spirit of camaraderie. That said, onward!

THESE ARE A FEW OF MY FAVORITE THINGS:

This short piece is quite whimsical. It's funny and, I suspect, politically charged, as well. I'm not certain I understand the subtext, or, frankly, even the text, but it's amusing nonetheless. The odd descriptions of the "fake" sky, "brittle" sand and of Law himself are unusual and interesting. Two of my favorite quotes: "Frack Narnia!" and "He looked like Bob Geldofs mutant brother on acid, three times removed."

SOME SUGGESTIONS:

There are a few minor mechanical issues: Bob Geldofs needs an apostrophe to indicate the possessive.his laughter spluttered a weak flame and singed his knee."His" needs to be capitalized.c:black}The sea sharpened it's holdThe "its" needs no apostrophe, since it indicates the possessive pronoun, and not the contraction "it is".

Okay, enough of typos/grammatical stuff. Now, on to the real meat of the story. What you've written is intriguing, but I find myself wondering whether you've written enough to give it whatever thematic meaning you were striving to achieve. The idea that Law is the thorn of imperfection in the pristine society's side is a wonderful theme, and the bizarre description of law begs the question,

"If this is the thorn of imperfection, what must the 'pristine society' be like?" As a reader, I'd like at least some hints about the answer.

Law kicks aside a set of wooden doors in some wall, and apparently emerges onto the beach of brittle sand. Where was he before that?

Is he, or is he not, free of the cigarettes he chain smoked to distract himself from his burning desire? What is that burning desire? Is it simply lusting after dragons, or are they, too, a distraction from something deeper?

I gather that his mutation is symbolic of how Law has been corrupted, so is his exile upon this - what? Deserted island? - a clue that the society has replaced him with something more perfect, more pristine? Or is the society simply in anarchy without Law, as imperfect as he is?

If he himself is Law, what then are the ancient texts he'd never bothered reading, but which now demand his attention?

Lastly, though you do make use of all of the words in the prompt, you sort of split up the crystal mirror prop and use its component words as an adjective and action verb, respectively. This use eliminates the crystal mirror as a prop (short for "property" an item used by a character - or an actor playing a character - in the course of a scene), and in my opinion does not really fulfill the intent of the prompt, which is to use the four props in a story.


OVERALL IMPRESSION:

Okay, enough. I've already written ten times the words in your story. *Smile*

Lots of questions come to mind, and I'm sure that you can think of many more. With the contest's word count limit roughly ten times the size of your entry, you could have done a whole lot more with this cool kernel of an idea. This is what I would call the sketch, a note or two describing a story, but not yet the story itself. When you write it, I would love to read it. I'm sure it will be a worthy piece of socio-political satire.


These comments are made with respect and the best intentions. Please accept them in the spirit with which I offer them. Embrace what you find useful, and allow the rest to trickle off into the void....

Best regards,
CeruleanSon

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Review by CeruleanSon
Rated: ASR | (4.5)
Hi, Duchess Laughing Lemurs
I'm here to review your piece, "Half-Breed, Half-Free, as a member of the Coffee Shop for the Fantasy Society, and one of this month's judges for "Invalid Item. This review has no bearing on whether or not you win the contest, for I am only one of the judges. It's just my thoughts on your piece, offered in the spirit of camaraderie. That said, onward!

THESE ARE A FEW OF MY FAVORITE THINGS:

This piece is very well-written, and includes all of the props in the prompt, used and made integral to the story's through-line. Riyana is a strong main character, whose self-image and world-view jibe with the stated social structures of her society. The supporting cast is strong and well-motivated. The action follows a logical progression and the setting is appropriate and well-described. The threat to Riyana from Lady Margareta is well imagined and executed. The happy ending for Riyana and Master Kaeleb, though it may not be so happy for the empire, is, to this reader, a satisfying one.

SOME SUGGESTIONS:

I have no comments on grammar/spelling/usage; as far as I can tell, the text is quite clean.


My one comment with regard to the story is that the actual attack on Riyana could have been drawn out a bit more, in order to build the suspense. After the fine spinning of the tale up to that point, the fact that she is so quickly rescued is rather anti-climactic. I know that you were constrained by the word count limit, but I hope that, after the contest is over, you'll do some more with this story, perhaps even go on to tell the tale of the prophesied twins and the fall of the empire. I am one of those readers who, when they find a good tale, want it to go on for a good, long while. *Smile*

OVERALL IMPRESSION:

This is a fine story, Mary. I enjoyed it immensely.

These comments are made with respect and the best intentions. Please accept them in the spirit with which I offer them. Embrace what you find useful, and allow the rest to trickle off into the void....

Best regards,
CeruleanSon

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Review by CeruleanSon
In affiliation with The Coffee Shop for the Fantas...  
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
Hi, Benjamin J. Shaw
Per your request, I'm here to review your piece, "Prologue: Adrift in the Void as a member of the Coffee Shop for the Fantasy Society.

THESE ARE A FEW OF MY FAVORITE THINGS:

Dreams within dreams, or is it the true reality that Yeulid finds couched deep in the somnolent universe of his mind? The description of the way Yeulid slowly gains awareness of the island of dreams, where his spirit lies asleep at the foot of the tree-like god-being is ethereal and quite beautiful. The up-dripping of the dream waters is interesting, too.

SOME SUGGESTIONS:

Since we are in dreamland, the normal conventions of reality are most likely suspended, but the fact that you describe Yeulid's bare feet touching down when he first arrives on the island of the tree, and then shortly later, have him dressed in his whole outfit with boots and sword, might perhaps come as something of a surprise to him, so that the reader understands this to be a conscious choice, and not a continuity error. Or not, depending on the level of ambiguity with which you feel comfortable.

the description of Yeulid's sleeping form having "buxom, striking blonde curls" is also quite ambiguous. "Buxom" conjures the image of a plump, large-bosomed woman, and though you describes Yeulid as having a feminine look, the large breast reference, even when applied to his hair, might be a bit too much ambiguity, at least without something masculine with which to couterbalance it. Though his love of his sword might be a step in that direction. *Smile*



OVERALL IMPRESSION:

This is a very nicely-painted prelude to what promises to be an interesting story. The dream-like quality of the tale so far is pleasant, but there is little sense of real urgency to it. The clock is ticking with each drop of dream-fluid from the pool and each trickle of blood from the sleeping Yeulid's side, but the reader is given no idea what this means in mission time, and therefore the level of urgency is low. Yeulid himself seems unconcerned, and the reader needs something more, I think, to push him or her onward into the next chapter.

These comments are made with respect and the best intentions. Please accept them in the spirit with which I offer them. Embrace what you find useful, and allow the rest to trickle off into the void....

Best regards,
CeruleanSon

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