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1
1
Review of The Journey  
Review by Graywriter
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
"Pip pip and toodle-oo!" I remember my mom, who came from Yorkshire as a war bride, saying that.

My entry to the official contest this month. Did it flow well? Could you empathise with the character? Are there any typos I might have missed?


Yes, it flows well enough. I did think that the child sounded more like two than four, but that's based on my own three kids who all started talking before they were a year old.

The characters, both the narrator and the traveller, are sympathetic and engaging. I thought it might be nice to know the little girl's name.

No mechanical errors that I noted, though I did think there were far too many pips in there (10 to be exact) and I'd suggest replacing at least one or two "pip pip"s with an alternate phrase.

Best of luck in the contest.

GW

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2
2
Review by Graywriter
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 18+ | (4.0)
Hi, dragonlad60.

Thank you for this pleasant and warm little tale. There's lots of auditory imagery that elaborates the central idea and provides the strong cohesion needed for such a short piece

I have the impression that you've taken a class or been part of a group that suggested using dynamic dialogue tags--"piped up", "announced", "vowed", "shouted". They tend to jump out at a reader and IMO should be used in moderation.   Also, you wrote "vowed" and I think the word is "avowed" (which would jump out even more!)

Further on this topic, your management of dialog mechanics is excellent. This is either a strength or something you've worked on with good result.

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3
3
Review of The Quills Group  
Review by Graywriter
Rated: E | (5.0)
Donation
4
4
Review by Graywriter
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (3.0)
Too many lines for a traditional sonnet, but the lines scan fairly well, the rhymes are not too forced, and above all--the sentiments are meaningful.

My favorite lines:
A poet’s heart, a troubled mind,
A past that hasn’t been so kind.

This sense of loss; as old as time,
A vintage[d] grief detailed in rhyme.

Not sure you need the [d] there.

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5
5
Review by Graywriter
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 18+ | (4.5)
Thanks for a fun read, and the variety of poetry forms revealing a young woman's incredibly active social life. Not just weekend dates for this girl!

All the forms seem well done (I'll forgive the half rhyme in "o'er me") and my favorite is Tuesday with Ray.


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6
6
Review by Graywriter
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (3.5)
I got a smile from this, which I suspect was your main purpose since one genre is Comedy.

The punctuation in verse 1 is odd, and perhaps unnecessary; you've no punctuation in V2 and it reads well.

Take a little more time to proofread this. For example, Perhaps he needs his on own red mat seems to have an extra word.

A couple of lines seem to be stuck in just to make the rhyme, like two about headgear (and I note they both occur at the same spot in the stanza--planning or luck?)

My favorite line is
Huggie will lie on top of covers yet sometime wrap
His paws around things he ought not to but tap


There is a French folksong, "Il était une bergère" with a verse that I give you here in English (the ron, ron lines are nonsense filler. Petite patapon means roughly little rascal). The shepherdess has made a cheese and tells her kitty to keep his paws off it.

He didn't put his paw in
Hey ron, ron, ron,
Petite patapon
He didn't put his paw in
He put in his whole chin
Ron, ron
He put in his whole chin!

Reminds me so much of your huggie kitty!


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7
7
Review of Crossing Over  
Review by Graywriter
In affiliation with Fantasy and Science Fiction So...  
Rated: ASR | (4.0)
This is an interesting entry to the Grim Reaper contest.

Since horror isn't my genre, I did some research to help me with the review. From various sources, I learned that a good horror story has these elements:

1. Surprise: a plot twist or deviance from the usual startles an unsuspecting reader. The appearance of the spectre provides the twist, with the ghost murdering her murderer and extra twist. (Despite being "just a shade with no substance" she is somehow able to handle the gun; I thought this a bit of a plot hole.)

2. Foreshadowing: hints that something nasty is coming builds reader unease. I couldn't identify any specific foreshadowing. Perhaps the opening sentence. There are almost two stories here, the first with the detectives and the second with Peter and his ghost-wife.

3. Familiarity: The more the reader can relate to the early parts of the story, the harder the twist hits. The police/murder scene is relatively familiar.

4. Tone or Mood: This is a hard one for me. IMO the first sentence could be dropped without affecting the story; the second paragraph is still an effective hook. The first few paragraphs struck me as wordy, especially compared to the straight-forward tone of the balance, though I suspect this was a deliberate attempt to mimic some period literature.

5. Emotion: the essence of horror fiction is the ability to arouse in the reader a negative emotion--fear, unease, guilt--the "ick" factor. The gory ending definitely produced an "Oh, ick" from me.

BTW -- If you can find Balkan Sobranie pipe tobacco today, please let me know where. AFAIK it is no longer in production, though there are some low-quality imitations and decent replicas. https://www.cupojoes.com/sutliff-balkan-sobranie-o...


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8
8
Review of Jewel’s Kids  
Review by Graywriter
In affiliation with Fantasy and Science Fiction So...  
Rated: 13+ | (5.0)
This is my favorite entry to the Grim Reaper contest.

Since horror isn't my genre, I did some research to help me with the review. From various sources, I learned that a good horror story has these elements:

1. Surprise: a plot twist or deviance from the usual startles an unsuspecting reader. Certainly Jewel's pregnancy--and then the narrator's!--is a twist.

2. Foreshadowing: hints that something nasty is coming builds reader unease. You have the lack of weight gain, squirming instead of kicking, weight loss, lack of morning sickness. Lots of hints.

3. Familiarity: The more the reader can relate to the early parts of the story, the harder the twist hits. Your opening and second scene are quite relatable.

4. Tone or Mood: Your light and almost cheery tone at the beginning sets a nice contrast to the ending.

5. Emotion: the essence of horror fiction is the ability to arouse in the reader a negative emotion--fear, unease, guilt--the "ick" factor. "Oh, ick!" was definitely my response at the end. That you were able to do this without gore or the clichés found in some other entries (including mine; is the fresh grave not a cliché?) makes the story a standout.


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9
9
Review by Graywriter
In affiliation with Fantasy and Science Fiction So...  
Rated: 18+ | (4.0)
Well, that's something different...

They crave a jack-o’-lantern, Are you sure you wrote what you meant?

I gather that somehow the alien plant(?) has turned everyone human into plants(?) except for Jeter. Guess he's exempt because he watered the original alien.

Thanks for a creepy read!


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10
10
Review of Smoke Night  
for entry "Just don't get caught
Review by Graywriter
Rated: 18+ | (4.0)
I am looking for feedback on the first chapter of my book. I'm most curious to know how good a "hook" it is. And because this is a translation, I would like your opinion on the quality of the English text.

While on the face of it the English is good enough, it appears to be a transliteration rather than a translation into idiomatic English.

Without a sound, she** sneaked like a ghost in the twilight. Only the mere flicker of her eyes told of her whereabouts as she scanned the cobwebbed warehouse. At a faint rustle, the young snow leopard craned her head towards a dark corner. With airy movements, she scrambled up the shelves to the top of the row of cupboards, then flattened herself and headed in the direction of the sound.


**At this point, the reader has no idea who "she" is. Better to say, "Without a sound, the young snow leopard sneaked like a ghost..."

It is confusingly apparent that these animals walk upright, wear clothes, and have prehensile paws that can carry things or take another's arm. Nothing of this was mentioned in the earlier synopsis.

The English is good, but I think the story could use a little work. As a hook, it works for me; you have some sympathetic main characters (Deborah/Debra, Betty, Tom, the Mayor) and it is clear that there is mischief to come.
11
11
Review of Smoke Night  
Review by Graywriter
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 18+ | (4.5)
I am looking for feedback on the first chapter of my book. I'm most curious to know how good a "hook" it is. And because this is a translation, I would like your opinion on the quality of the English text.

This is an overview, the kind of thing one might find on the back cover of the novel.

in a pagan monastery I'm not sure you need the 'pagan' at this point. A monastery is "a house or place of residence occupied by a community of persons, typically monks, living in seclusion under religious vows". Monks are "men living under vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience". There is nothing in these definitions that specifies any particular religion.


becoming increasingly intolerant of the dwindling number of non-believers.
If the number is dwindling, why should the townfolk be concerned? I could see their becoming increasingly intolerant of an INCREASING number of unbelievers...

The English here is excellent.


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12
12
Review of A Petulant Life  
Review by Graywriter
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (3.5)
I confess, Teresa, that I found this hard to get into.

At the beginning, the tense bounces from present to past. Please make up your mind and use one or the other.

It takes five paragraphs before you hint that the old woman might be named Violet. I'd like to know up front who this character is.

Violet's breathing became less laborious, and the younger woman in the room to -- sorry, this is the first reference to the younger woman and it comes out of left field. She is never heard from or of again, so why is she even there?

Okay, once we get away from the woman dying and jump to the past, it gets more interesting. What would you lose if you started out "It was 1932 in Bellingham..." IMO, if you lost everything before that, your story would start at a more natural beginning.

Just from curiosity, where is Bellingham? A country would help me with the setting.

At one point you describe a character as 3.2 feet tall. Who on earth uses decimals with feet?

Your style reminds me of novels written in the 40s, with longer sentences and more extensive descriptions than are common in today's prose; this is quite apt for the time period of your story. Makes for an interesting mood.

You generally show a good command of grammar, syntax, and structure. There is the occasional slip, such as As they approached the storefront Leo yelled, “Hey!” as he spied his siblings. He was carrying a load of longboards through the yard towards an old truck, dropping his load he began tying it down. which is a comma fault and need a period after truck.

Some opinions on plot.

First, a main character needs a goal, something she wants or needs. It's not clear to me what Charlotte wants that would drive the story further. There are hints that she wants her mother's love but she seems to get over that quickly. I'm wondering why the mother is estranged from the family and evidently sleeping around, but that doesn't seem to be a central issue.

Second, the father is a cardboard character with little interaction with the family or the story. Maybe develop him a bit more?

Third, what's with all the descriptions of food at the end? Strikes me as excessive and irrelevant detail.

Fourth, why should I read on? This seems to be complete, leaves no unanswered questions. If you left the family without food and on the verge of starvation, I'd want to know what happens next.

BTW Congratulations on your book. I hope it sells well.


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13
13
Review of The Last Miracle  
Review by Graywriter
In affiliation with Fantasy and Science Fiction So...  
Rated: ASR | (4.0)
I've read this through twice and something doesn't scan. The girl is a witch and can do real magic--disappearing/reappearing, heating the coffee--so I can't quite grasp the reason she needs Henry the Mediocre. It appears she sees something in him that he cannot see in himself, or that he has lost over time.
Strengths here include some vivid word choices -- rain pelting down the windows, eyes like an Arctic wind
I suspect you might have wanted to develop this a bit more but were up hard against the word limit.


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14
14
Review by Graywriter
In affiliation with Fantasy and Science Fiction So...  
Rated: E | (5.0)
A nice little bit of fun, with believable and enjoyable non-human characters developed remarkably well in few words, especially through dialogue. I did kind of wonder where the conversation was taking place; a brief phrase for setting might have been nice. Tight story arc that swings around to a punchline ending. Kind of story that makes me happy to be your fan.


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15
15
Review by Graywriter
In affiliation with Fantasy and Science Fiction So...  
Rated: E | (3.0)
I'm reading this because you misspelled the main word in your title. I thought "This does not augur well for the rest of her writing." The rest is actually reasonably good. But the title -- ICK! I hope that's just a typo, not that you were too lazy to actually look up how to spell the word.

SUGGESTIONS:
Turn on spell-check in whatever word processor you use to write (I use LibreOffice Write).
Get the free version of Grammarly.
Read some online tutorials about paragraphing.

Write on


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16
16
Review by Graywriter
Rated: E | (2.5)
Honest opinions. Whatever you thought, tell me. I just thank you for reading it! [Essay]

The title appears provocative, mysterious, intriguing, or even arrogant.

It does. The title is why I chose to read the essay.

"Humanity's Question of Existence", I'm 25 years old, why am I writing about this? I don't know.


It was a question that very much concerned me and my more intellectual sophomore friends in high school. By 25 I was married and more concerned with "Humanity's Question of Putting Food on the Table and Paying the Rent."

But I find myself typing nonetheless, so if you want to keep reading then great, if not, that's fine too.

Thank you for giving me the out. You're rambling, and don't seem to have a point, so I chose to stop reading here.

On the plus side, your mechanics (spelling, grammar, punctuation etc.) are excellent, so I plan to hunt down some of your other writing.


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17
17
Review of The Coin  
Review by Graywriter
In affiliation with Fantasy and Science Fiction So...  
Rated: E | (4.0)
It makes me feel dense to admit it, but I read this twice and still don't get what happened to 'kill' the AI masters. At times I thought this must be Chapter 2 and that I'd missed Chapter 1, as when Herschel tries "to remember what he had seen in the shiny, hemispherical building in much earlier times." Presumably pre-AI, I'm guessing, but for all I know, in his childhood.

In terms of story arc, this begins with a strong hook with Herschel's desperation to complete some secret and mysterious task in total darkness. It seems that humanity has been overwhelmed by a ranked society of AI-run machines, with Walkers being top dogs. Something (inexplicable) happens to kill all the AIs and Herschel decides they need to flee (to where??) to escape another bunch of AIs that may have killed the first set (why? how?). This is a deus-ex-machina plot resolution; nothing Herschel or the humans have done has enabled them to escape. Again, the story has no real ending,instead pausing as though ready to launch into Chapter 3.

flying creature! No need for the exclamation mark, IMO.

It emerged, Huh? It had already emerged; it was right there in the tent.

floating on four discs. The machine was bathed in a sickly aura of green light from the discs. I had trouble picturing this. If the discs are on the bottom pointed down, like anti-gravity boosters, then wouldn't the tent have been bathed in light reflecting up from the ground, leaving the machine to be lit by light from the tent walls?

And later you have one of these discs rotating to face Herschel et al.; wouldn't they have been repelled by the AG effect of the disc? Wouldn't the reduced lift have wobbled the machine?

I thought that maybe this green machine was what killed the other AIs, having been sent from the rival faction, but the Masters ignore it and just go on to confer and decide to freeze-dry two breeding humans. So much for that idea.

He fumbled for the watch in his vest pocket. Seriously? I'm sure this was done for characterization, but the anachronism of it raised my eyebrows

The white area on the dome vanished. So what? Why is this important? If you can remove a part from the story without changing the story, does that part need to be there?

In terms of mechanics (grammar, punctuation, spelling), this rates five stars, and reflects a mastery of craft.


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18
18
Review by Graywriter
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (4.5)
A delightful bit of doggerel.

The first three stanzas start out strongly, with regular rhythm and the second/fourth line rhyming with 'app.

By stanza four, you've a repetition of the second line (try "You can fill in the gap"), and in subsequent stanzas the rhyme scheme established in the first four verses breaks down. Not a real problem, but move the apparently random gap between verses 6 and 7 to separate 4 from 5 and indicate the shift in rhyming. I'm also not sure what the gap between 10 and 11 is for.

I liked the British flavor of Costa and Greggs...Oh, surely there's an app for my neighbourhood chippy?...and the cleverness of sleep-app-nia.

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19
19
Review of Ashes to ashes  
Review by Graywriter
In affiliation with The Sci-fi Writers Guild  
Rated: 18+ | (4.0)
Clear, clean prose kept this from being draggy. Excellent mechanics, with full command of speling, grammer, and word use. *BigSmile*

Title is catchy, with a twist.

SUGGESTIONS

1. Although it is classified as a short story (fiction), this reads like non-fiction, composed of vignettes and complete with references, even. A story needs a coherent narrative arc, with one or more main characters, a central conflict, rising action to a climax...all that good stuff. I thought I was going to get that with Randy, but...nope. Maybe pick Randy or Ed and tell the story from their POV with the exposition woven in.

2. Is capitalizing 'Nation' standard American English? It's not really a proper noun--as in for example 'Cherokee Nation'--so strikes my Canadian eyes as odd.

CONCLUSION

A solid, readable piece by a competent writer; it met the contest requirements.

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20
20
Review by Graywriter
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 13+ | (5.0)
Well, drat. Every time I think I've written a really good entry for a contest, along comes somebody like you to show me how it's done. Bloody near perfect, this is. There must be a mistake somewhere in here (mumble, mumble...).

I seldom rate anything five stars but here I have no choice. So take that, darn you.

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21
21
Review by Graywriter
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (3.5)
Hi, Scotty

Quite vivid imagery here.

This seems more a senryu   than a haiku as it lacks the seasonal reference; it does not follow the ukiah   format as there are no rhymes.

Was the last line meant to be "voices can nor sing nor fly", i.e., they can neither sing nor fly?

Write on.

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22
22
Review by Graywriter
In affiliation with The Sci-fi Writers Guild  
Rated: 18+ | (2.5)
I wanted to read your story (I like sci-fi) but for some reason it's formatted so that I can only see part of it, even after adjusting my screen size many times. Please reduce the font size to 3 or 3.5. I managed the first few paragraphs by shifting left and right to read them.

There is no problem with using correct terminology to avoid unnecessary descriptions. The "pointed metal stick on his left foot" is called a tree gaff or a climbing spur; arborists and electric linemen use them. You can say "He drove the climbing spur on his left foot--a metal spike attached to his boot--into the trunk". Likewise, please call the "beam of light" a laser cutter and everyone will get it fine. BTW, when removing a branch, the arborist does an undercut first; otherwise the falling branch rips bark off as it falls, which damages the tree and exposes it to infection and insects. I think he'd do this even with a laser cutter. Or he could cut from bottom up, as a laser has no blade to bind from this cut.

a faint scream can be heard by Beanik. Use active case, please - "Beanik heard a faint scream".

At one point, it looks like Vintian is talking to himself. Review your speech tags to be sure they say what you think they say.

Also, you repeat that name Beanik a lot. I can tell just from skimming that by the end of your story I'll wince every time I see it. Is it a surname or a given name? Does he have a title? These can vary your usage. You can also use the simple pronoun "he" when it's clear that you mean Beanik.

You may have some good ideas and plot in your story and once I can read it more easily I'll come back to read the whole thing.


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23
23
Review of Birthday Candles  
Review by Graywriter
In affiliation with Fantasy and Science Fiction So...  
Rated: ASR | (4.5)
Creepy little story, for sure. I'm guessing that you write a lot in the horror genre.

The birthday boy with the power to destroy sat alone I'd suggest removing "with the power to destroy" here. You don't need to tell us, because you show us in the story. Also, I found the rhyme a bit distracting, too reminiscent of "Little Miss Muffet / Sat on a tuffet".

And with each expired flame, more of the world had disappeared. I think it needs the past perfect here. Google it if you're not sure why.

I'm of two minds about repeated use of "the birthday boy" throughout, but I think for sure you should use it in the closing line: And so did the birthday boy. Why? It's a parenthesis or bracket -- you use the phrase in the opening sentence; using it in the final sentence closes the parentheses. It's also rhythmic when read aloud.

Best of luck in the horror contest!
GW


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24
24
Review by Graywriter
Rated: E | (5.0)
I like this format because it's like submitting for publication. You don't know who else has entered. You don't know how many submissions there are. You don't know the result until you hear from the editor.
25
25
Review of Feral  
Review by Graywriter
In affiliation with The Sci-fi Writers Guild  
Rated: 18+ | (4.5)
A nice little horror story of a dystopian future (also entered in Dystopian Scrawlings?). Well-written, in my opinion.

Your main conflicts are MC vs the world and MC vs herself. A E Wilcox has criticized similar stories of mine for "not having an antagonist". I hope she and K Hawthorne are more charitable for this contest.

You might review your paragraphing. In some places you've missed the space between paragraphs. Easy to fix.

I’d had to abandon the car streets away I know what you're saying but this still bumped me out of the story because I didn't catch it at first. Maybe I’d had to abandon the car several streets away

Story arc. Beginning, middle, end -- check.
Speculative fiction element -- check.
Based on one of the prompts -- check.
Between 1000 and 5000 words -- check.

I think you've got a potential winner here: best of luck.

My entry is not in final draft, but I'd appreciate your taking a look at it as it stands now. Thanks in advance.
STATIC
Nutcracker in Hell  (18+)
A dancer/musician caught in the destruction of climate change is betrayed by a neighbor
#2278990 by Graywriter


GW


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