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1
1
Review of Average  
Review by NickiD89
Rated: ASR | (4.0)
I like your style, Haillee *Smile* The narrator's voice is present throughout this piece, which helps me picture her as vividly as the others she described. Well done!

As you work through this piece, look for places you can tighten up the sentences by correcting dialogue tag errors and connecting fragments.

(Ex: "What is for breakfast." Says a tired-eyed eight-year-old. *Right* "What is for breakfast?" says a tired-eyed eight-year-old.

He stops scream and stares at me. Then gets reall upset and shout "SODA." *Right* He stops screaming and stares at me, then gets real upset and shouts, "SODA!")

Thanks for sharing your story with us. Write on!
Best,
Nicki
2
2
Review of Words unspoken  
Review by NickiD89
Rated: E | (4.0)
L.M.,

I really enjoyed your poem. I felt the emotional impact from the first line, and anger, frustration, and pain was prevalent in all ten lines. I also liked how the punctuation led me down the emotional pathway, guiding the tempo as I read and heightening the impact of your words.

I get why you chose to begin each verse with the same word pattern: Words unspoken... Words treacherous... Repetition is often a great poetic technique. However, here I wonder if the impact would be greater if you put treacherous first in verse two? "Treacherous words" seems to deliver greater bang for the buck, because it suggests the misery the speaker would feel from the words, whether they'd been spoken or not, does that make sense? When you give someone a piece of your mind in an angry moment, there's always an element of regret.

Thanks for sharing your beautiful work!

Best,
Nicki
3
3
Review of Three Little Pigs  
Review by NickiD89
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
Hi Peacelovexc! In the spirit of writers helping each other hone their craft, I offer the following comments for "Three Little Pigs.

[The comments following purple check marks are based on my observations and opinions. Please use only what you find helpful and disregard the rest *Smile*.]


*Flower4* Initial Reaction:

*BulletG* How fun that you put a fanfic twist on a children's classic tale! This was a lot of fun to read, and it left me with a healthy dose of pathos for the Big Bad Wolf.


*Exclaim* What I liked:

*Bulletr* Nice job with the introductory paragraph. Not only did it introduce the voice of the Wolf as the story's narrator, but it pulled me right into his camp of supporters. There was injustice done to him? He wasn't the villain we all believed he was? I had to read on!


*Idea* Suggestions:

*CheckV* I suggest only dragging the editor's comb through this story a time or two, to tighten up its mechanics. Keep your eye out for noun-verb-modifier agreements and missing commas, in particular. I've included a couple examples below, to get you started.

*CheckV* The only other thing I noted was a few instances where you have unnecessary adverbs, such as in these sentence: I approached the houses at a brisk run. ~And~ The fat pig silently raised his eyebrows. I would consider removing the adverbs from these sentences because they feel redundant. If you think about it, a run is always brisk, and raising one's eyebrow never makes a sound. *Smile*


*Question* Grammar/Spelling Oops:

*CheckV* While passing the brick house, a swish of the curtains caught my eye but I thought nothing of it. -- Remember that you need a comma before a conjunctive in compound complex sentences with two independent clauses. So, in this sentence you need a comma after "eye": While passing the brick house, a swish of the curtains caught my eye, but I thought nothing of it.

*CheckV* Frantically, I ran around both houses in search of a safe entrance, but found nothing. -- "in search of safe entrances" agrees better with "both houses."

*CheckV* A few seconds later, he reappeared with a fork and knife and made his way over to the poor little pigs that had died in the terrible fire with a cannibalistic grin. -- The last prepositional phrase in this sentence is misplaced and therefore modifying the wrong action. I suggest this rewrite: A few seconds later, he reappeared with a fork, a knife and a cannibalistic grin, and made his way over to the poor little pigs that had * died * in the terrible fire.

* An Idea: Maybe try "perished" in place of "died" here? The alliteration is really nice when it follows "poor little pigs," don't you think?

*Star* I really enjoyed reading your story today! Write on!!




*Flower3* Nicki

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*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
4
4
Review of Trayvon Martin  
Review by NickiD89
Rated: 13+ | (5.0)
Beautiful poem, Kiya. You said with such eloquence and passion what I feel, have felt, since the night Trayvon died. So much is broken in our country, including our justice system. But most broken is how society sees itself, the sum of its parts and the parts it comprises.

*Peace* Nicki
5
5
Review of The mirror image.  
Review by NickiD89
Rated: E | (4.5)
Hello Inkwell! Welcome to WDC. I hope you're enjoying the site and all it has to offer writers! After reading your poem "The mirror image., I offer you this humble review.

[Please only consider remarks that heighten or enhance your artistic vision for this piece, and disregard the rest. *Smile*]



*Note1* Emotional Impact:

There is a wonderful, haunting quality to this poem that I absolutely loved. As I pictured the narrator staring at herself in the mirror I felt the disconnect between her thinking self and her reflected self. You really captured the emotions resulting in that dynamic, and it took me to a place in my memory when I too felt the person inside me was not represented by, or in sync with my thoughts and feelings. I think a lot of your readers will relate to this piece.


*Note4* Effectiveness of Form:

You created a lovely flow with regular syllabic meter and ABCB rhyme scheme. The lines flowed off my tongue effortlessly and so allowed my full concentration to stay with the words. Well done.

I liked that the mirror was both a literal character (of sorts) in the poem and a metaphor for reality. The images of the crack and the idea that it separated both the actual mirror and the two faces were brilliant.

*Note3* Punctuation/Spelling:

Just a couple notes:

*BulletR* I'm shattered and im broken / but you dont seem to care. -- *Right* I'm shattered and I'm broken / but you don't seem to care.

*BulletR* with a face thats so like mine. -- *Right* with a face that's so like mine.


*Star* Lasting Impressions: Brilliant work from a talented young poet. I look forward to reading more from you! In the meantime, if you have any questions as you navigate the many halls of WDC, please don't hesitate to ask.



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*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
6
6
Review by NickiD89
Rated: E | (3.5)
S.T.,

I enjoyed your piece very much. It reminded me a bit of Harold and the Purple Crayon, a cartoon my kids loved despite its simple lines and total lack of fancy graphics. I was in love with the character from the first lines. His "voice" came through clearly, and I loved his adventurous heart. I hope you develop him -- what a fun muse to work with!

As for suggestions for improvement, here are a couple to play around with. (Remember, only embrace what feels right within your artistic vision for this piece, and disregard the rest! *Smile*)

Readers will have an easier time getting lost in your wonderful words if you capitalize the first words in sentences and use more punctuation. For example, in the opening section you have:

slowly our hero wakes up from he's sleep he groggily paws for his glasses finally managing to knock them to the ground with a grumble and a sigh of resignation he sits up in bed.

See how this becomes more fluid for readers like this:

Slowly, our hero wakes up from his sleep. He groggily paws for his glasses, finally managing to knock them to the ground. With a grumble and a sigh of resignation he sits up in bed.

Other ways you can increase readability is to separate the piece into paragraphs. When writing online, it's recommended to double space (also called 'hard return') between paragraphs. And when you have spoken lines of dialogue, give those their own paragraph. For example, in this section:

... just for a moment he could swear he saw an angel. Edwin the angel spoke in a voice soft as a whisper but as clear as a bell, Edwin get up this is no time to be laying around startled that the angel knew his name he slowly climbs to his feet

Try this:

... just for a moment he could swear he saw an angel.

"Edwin." The angel spoke in a voice soft as a whisper but as clear as a bell. "Edwin, get up. This is no time to be lying around."

Startled that the angel knew his name, he slowly climbs to his feet


I really enjoyed Edwin's vivid imagination. I hope you work more with him!

Thanks for sharing your writing with us.
*Peace* Nicki



*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
7
7
Review by NickiD89
In affiliation with Circle of Sisters  
Rated: E | (4.5)
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Hello Turtle! It's my pleasure to review your entry for "Rising Stars Shining Brighter's North Star Contest.


*Star* What I Liked:
Wonderful message in this passionate piece. I find your words engaging and relevant, especially in this time of politically charged discourse forcing an ever polarized society. Nice use of imagery, including your take on the old adage, "See the wood through the trees," or however it goes! Well done!



*Idea* Suggestions: I have no suggestions to offer -- I really enjoyed this!



Thanks for sharing your talent and creativity with us. Best of luck to you in the contest!



~Nicki~
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*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
8
8
Review of Satellite Images  
Review by NickiD89
Rated: E | (5.0)
Hello Merrijane! After reading your poem "Satellite Images, I offer you this humble review.



*Note1* Emotional Impact: I was drawn into your introspective piece, shoulder to shoulder with the narrator, enjoying every moment as the perspective narrowed and the possibilities grew. And the narrator's resignation in the final stanza, to pass on the stories she can to her children, a perfect audience no matter how small, filled my heart. As a storyteller, love the idea that our immortality lies in the stories we tell our children.


*Note4* Effectiveness of Form: Excellent flow and cadence in this free form poem. Your use of internal and slant rhymes, scattered without fixed position, took this piece to the next level. My favorite stanza, where I felt this use of rhyme lent the greatest impact, was stanza three. Bravo!


*Note3* Punctuation/Spelling: I didn't spot any mistakes *Cool**Thumbsup*. The em dash at the end of every stanza's line two added drama and emphasis. Well done!


*Star* Lasting Impressions: I thoroughly enjoyed reading your work today! Thanks so much for sharing your talent with us. *Smile*



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*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
9
9
Review of poem  
Review by NickiD89
Rated: E | (3.5)
Hello Dana! Welcome to WDC. It's a pleasure to know you've joined our community. If you have any questions while navigating around, please feel free to ask!

Reviewing is an integral part of a writer's journey. And so in the spirit of one writer helping another writer hone her craft, I offer you this humble review.




*Note1* Emotional Impact: I felt the narrator's pain in every line of this piece. Loneliness is an emotion everyone can relate to, but those of us who have experienced the deep sorrow I interpreted from this poem will feel a special kinship to the narrator -- and perhaps knowing you've touched those people will lighten your heart, too.


*Note4* Effectiveness of Form: This free verse poem flowed nicely. It was a literal piece; all the emphasis seemed to rest with the actual words, rather than on the poetry. I did enjoy the metaphor in the "darkness," and assigning my own personal interpretations based on my life experiences, etc. I encourage you to play with each line, inviting imagery into the piece that will show the narrator's story with pictures instead of telling so much with words. It may be an exciting experiment that yields surprising and inspiring results!


*Note3* Punctuation/Spelling: Punctuation in poetry has no hard fast rules. In this piece, you end every line with a period. This is another aspect of the piece you could play around with, trying it without punctuation or by forcing line breaks in unexpected places. Just for example sake, see how the first line -- I am afraid of the darkness that longs so deep inside me. -- changes when broken up:

I am afraid
of the darkness that longs so
deep inside me


Just food for thought! *Smile*


*Star* Lasting Impressions: I enjoyed reading your work today! I hope you post more of your poetry. Thanks so much for sharing your talent with us!



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*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
10
10
Review of The Kid  
Review by NickiD89
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
Hi RJ! Let me first welcome you to WDC. It's wonderful to have you join our community!

Reviewing is an integral part of growth for a writer. And it is in the spirit of writers helping each other hone their craft that I offer the following comments for "The Kid.


[The comments following purple check marks are based on my observations and opinions. Please use only what you find helpful and disregard the rest *Smile*.]


*Flower4* Initial Reaction: What a fun read! As someone who grew up during that same time, and along with your engaging descriptions, I felt like I could "see" this story in my mind's eye as it unfolded.


*Exclaim* What I liked:

*BulletG* Your voice lends itself perfectly to the genres of nonfiction and creative nonfiction. It has a conversational, slice-of-life quality that made me feel like we could be across from one another, sharing a drink, me listening to you reminisce about days gone by.

*BulletB* The descriptive qualities of this piece heightened my reading experience. It wasn't just the way you described the bikes, or the ramp, or the boys from the neighborhood. It was in your specific word choices: high impact verbs and colorful adjectives. This story came to life as I read.


*Idea* Suggestions:

*CheckV* The easiest way to help readers keep track of who is saying what is to put each speaker's line of dialogue in its own paragraph. This could mean a paragraph contains only one sentence. For example: The Kid was taller than any of us, and skinny, but he didn’t look much older than we were. None of us knew who he was, or where he came from, but that didn’t stop him from riding right up and asking that question, “Can I jump?” “On that bike?” I asked. “Sure, why not?” he answered. Matt walked back from the ramp. “It’s ready” he said. The ramp consisted of a plywood board leaned up against an assortment of bricks and cinder blocks collected from a nearby alley.

Try it this way:

The Kid was taller than any of us and skinny, but he didn't look much older than we were. None of us knew who he was or where he came from, but that didn't stop him from riding right up and asking that question, “Can I jump?”

“On that bike?” I asked.

“Sure, why not?” he answered.

Matt walked back from the ramp. “It’s ready,” he said. The ramp consisted of a plywood board leaned up against an assortment of bricks and cinder blocks collected from a nearby alley.



*CheckV* A typical technique for expressing a direct, internal thought is to use italics. For example: He’ll swerve around the ramp I thought. *Right* He’ll swerve around the ramp, I thought.

*CheckV* Although I really enjoyed the flashback moments in this piece, when Kenny jumped into the telephone pole hole and when you rolled down the hill in the pipe, I thought they slowed the pace of the story. I was reading faster and faster as the Kid began racing down the hill toward the ramp, and then that momentum was interrupted with each back story. I think both serve purposes in the tale: to show how you alerted parents of accidents and how you understood making a decision that could get you hurt. But maybe shorten each to just a sentence or two, recapping or mentioning the important stuff without launching into detailed memories, would solve the pacing problem.


*Question* Grammar/Spelling Oops:

*CheckR* Remember with punctuation in dialogue, you use a comma, exclamation point or question mark, and never a period, inside the closing quotation marks when a dialogue tag follows. For example: “It’s ready” he said. *Right* “It’s ready,” he said.

And, when a line of dialogue appears in the middle of a sentence, the last word before the opening quotation marks must end with a comma. For example: Matt ran into the middle of the street and yelled “No cars!” to let the Kid know that the coast was clear. *Right* Matt ran into the middle of the street and yelled, “No cars!” to let the Kid know that the coast was clear.


*Star* I really enjoyed reading your piece today! Thanks so much for sharing your work with us. And if you have any questions while navigating the great halls of WDC, please don't hesitate to ask!




*Flower3* Nicki

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*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
11
11
Review by NickiD89
Rated: E | (4.5)
Hi Noir Morello! First let me welcome you to WDC. It's exciting to get have a writer of your obvious talent join our community. If you have any questions while navigating around, please don't hesitate to ask!

Reviewing is an integral part of growth as a writer. And so it is in the spirit of writers helping each other hone their craft that I offer the following comments for "I Find Myself So Often Dreaming.


[The comments following purple check marks are based on my observations and opinions. Please use only what you find helpful and disregard the rest *Smile*.]


*Flower4* Initial Reaction: I was mesmerized by this piece, from the first sentence to the last. Bravo!


*Exclaim* What I liked:

*BulletB* The dreamlike quality in the voice of this piece drew me right in. The narrator doesn't tell a story to an external audience; instead, he or she invites the reader to enter an inner world of reflection. That made for an unique and interesting experience.

*BulletG* The imagery you use throughout this piece is gorgeous and is surely metaphorical. I love that although I may never know what you intended the sea, the sun, the moon, etc. to mean, it doesn't matter. Each reader will interpret meaning based on the life experiences they carry to the reading. And, each subsequent reading will allow a reader to understand the piece on a deeper level. Brilliant!

*BulletV* The descriptions you used blew me away. My favorite beautifully-crafted sentences were: Pools too shallow to wade, but deep in their own way; deep, in that I could spend a lifetime swimming through the thought of them. -- And -- We promise to do so many great things (at night), because there isn't the noise of daylight to distract us.


*Idea* Suggestions:

*CheckV* Your writing is tight and engaging. Everything flows well, and so a sentence like this one with a minor repetition issue jumps off the page:

Standing on the top branches, I start growing taller. Stepping off, my spindly legs land in the coarse sand, and I start to make my way up the massive mountain, the plants and rocks of the island now being dwarfed by my feet.

These consecutive sentences have identical constructions, both beginning with introductory gerund phrases, and both ending with an independent clause whose predicate uses the word "start." I suggest editing one or both, so that these repetitions are resolved. Also, words like "start to" and "now," ("now being dwarfed" and also in a line further down: ... She sings only for me now, and I know it. Rising up, I now tower above the island...) are words that drag down the pace of a sentence more than they lend descriptive significance. I'd consider cutting them.


*Question* Grammar/Spelling Oops:

*CheckV* The sun needs no such love, it finds that through our actions, it feels it by watching us learn to love each other. -- The comma after "love" should be a semi-colon.


*Star* I can't tell you how much I enjoyed reading this piece. Your talent as a wordsmith was evident in every paragraph, and the voice and tone of the story were spot on. Thanks for sharing your work with us, and I look forward to reading more from you!




*Flower3* Nicki

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*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
12
12
Review of The Phoebe Effect  
Review by NickiD89
Rated: E | (4.5)
Hi Alonzo! In the spirit of writers helping each other hone their craft, I offer the following comments for "The Phoebe Effect.

[The comments following purple check marks are based on my observations and opinions. Please use only what you find helpful and disregard the rest *Smile*.]


*Flower4* Initial Reaction: A lovely piece full of character and intrigue.


*Exclaim* What I liked:

*Bullet* You did a phenomenal job capturing the voice of the narrator. The lines of actual dialog were seeped in country accents and rang true with the peal of authenticity. But it was the rest of the story, the non-dialog parts, that allowed me to "hear" Harlan. For me, this was a pitch-perfect first person narration.

*Bullet* Great elements of humor, subtle and infused with the characterizations. Really added dimension to this piece.



*Idea* Suggestions:

*CheckV* I was a little confused by the choice to include an epilogue. Before the piece begins, you explain the evolution of The Phoebe Effect from 600-word magazine contest entry to the the longer version we read here. This is presented as the forward and is not part of the fictional story. The epilogue, however, is part of the story, as Harlan goes on to explain what became of Ruby. I would suggest either re-naming the forward, perhaps labeling it as "Author's Note" or something of that nature, or consider removing the heading "Epilogue," and simply including that section as the last paragraph in the story.

*CheckV* A spectral late bathed her. -- Should "late" be "light" in this sentence?


*Question* Grammar/Spelling Oops:

*CheckV* ...she was baked as brown as brown as a burnt biscuit... -- "as brown" repeats twice here; this happens to me all the time after a thorough edit phase! *Smile*




*Star* I enjoyed your piece very much. I will feature this story in the upcoming Drama Newsletter, on Wed. January 23 *Smile*.

Congrats on the publication! Best of luck with all your present and future works.



*Flower3* Nicki

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*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
13
13
Review of The Victims  
Review by NickiD89
In affiliation with  
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
Hello Bonnie! After our lovely conversation yesterday, I knew which Rising Stars portfolio I'd visit first for my October M2M reviews! I read a few items from your port and got to know your writing style a little better. I wanted you to know how much I enjoyed "The Victims.


*Reading* Initial Reaction: The first time through this story offered emotion, intrigue and the kind of climactic scene writers really enjoy sinking their teeth into. I was reminded of the Richard Gere / Diane Lane movie Unfaithful.


*Star* What I liked:

*LeafG* This is the kind of story that would have produced drastically different versions if you'd let Isabel or Grieg narrate. (And what a fun character exercise to write all three versions!) I thought it was a good call to use Luke as the POV, since he was the deceived party in the story line. Introducing him in the moment when he becomes aware of what's been going on behind his back allowed me to feel immediate sympathy for him. But how clever of you to slip in lines by Isabel like: "You've been working much too hard."; and "I know that Luke, I love you too. But sometimes you forget to show us that.” These sentiments are clues for readers indicating Luke may well be a bit unreliable as the narrator. At the very least, he hasn't realized how his actions have contributed to his marital problems. Not only did this intrigue me, but it allowed me a glimpse into Isabel's perspective which served as an invitation to participate more in the story, to make guesses and predictions that kept me engaged until the end.

*LeafO* Your ending was deliciously ambiguous! The enormous stress Luke felt from the beginning, and certainly after leaving Stanton's apartment, became exasperated when the police came to call. His flu-like symptoms could have been a direct result of that duress, but I got to the end of the story and realized they could have been something more, something worse. The wording of the last paragraph put a spin on everything -- I loved that! And bravo to you for not spelling it all out. Spoon-fed endings on a story like this one spoil all the fun for the reader. *ThumbsupR**Delight*


*Idea* Suggestions: The following comments reflect just one opinion. Please disregard anything that doesn't work with your inspiration for this piece. *Smile*

To me, this reads like one of the story's tight, but early drafts. It has all the emotion and creativity produced when a writer sits down with a great idea and writes furiously, fingers hardly leaving the keyboard. At that stage, character movement within the scene is less important, typos don't matter and punctuation isn't so vital; it's all about getting that story out and on paper. Now that you've done so, I suggest working through edits that will tighten up the characterizations and mechanics of the story.

For example, this line appears in the second paragraph: He looked at the package again then picked up his letter opener, took the envelope, and made a swift clean cut along the top, and tipped the contents onto the desk. This is a perfect example of a draft sentence which can be taken to the next level with simple edits and wordsmithing. First thing I notice is the long length. There are five verbs in this sentence, so I would think about breaking it up into at least two smaller chunks and streamlining the action. This is just for illustration sake, but something along these lines: He looked at the package again then picked up his letter opener. He took the envelope, made a swift clean cut along the top, and tipped the contents onto the desk.

Next, I'd suggest replacing the more commonplace verbs (looked at; picked up; took; made; tipped) with more interesting verbs, ones with higher emotional impact on the reader. Again, the following example is only to get the gears turning: He forced his gaze on the package, before snatching up his letter opener. With one swift clean cut along the envelope's top, the contents spilled onto the desk.

Applying these types of revisions throughout will polish an already great story and heighten the overall impact it will have on readers.



*Question* Grammar/Spelling Oops!: As I said above, early drafts aren't as concerned with typos or punctuation as are those later in the process. Some areas on which you can focus grammatical edits are:

*CheckV* Commas -- I know I had to brush up on the comma usage rules, since I started writing long after I left school. A great site to bookmark is http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/commas.htm.... Look for these kinds of mistakes:

*BulletV* Silent tears ran down his face; mixing with the bitter tasting saliva. -- Offset phrases beginning with a gerund with a comma, not a semi-colon. *Right* Silent tears ran down his face, mixing with the bitter tasting saliva.

*BulletV* "I will see you later.” said Isabel. -- When spoken dialogue is followed by a dialogue tag, use a comma (or question mark, or exclamation point -- but never a period), inside the closed quotation marks. *Right* "I will see you later,” said Isabel.

*BulletV* One of those interior designers you were interested in hiring, died in an accident the other day. -- Never place a comma right before the verb, unless it is the second of a pair of commas offsetting a nonessential modifying phrase. *Right* One of those interior designers you were interested in hiring died in an accident the other day.

*CheckG* Semi-colons -- I reference this site all the time: http://www.grammarbook.com/punctuation/semicolons.... A few examples:

*BulletG* When he reached the fourth floor he was breathless, he stood for a minute before waking up the hallway to Stanton's apartment. -- Though the rule states you use a semi-colon, not a comma, to join two independent clauses when there is no conjunctive, I think a sentence like this is better as two separate sentences. When the two sentences are closely related, they can go together. But in this case, each sentence stands well alone. (Also, waking should be walking.) *Right* When he reached the fourth floor he was breathless. He stood for a minute before walking up the hallway to Stanton's apartment.

*BulletG* They showed different locations; restaurants, a park, bars, a few photos revealed them entering an apartment building, and then more of his wife leaving alone. -- Here, the phrases following the semi-colon represent a list, so I'd use a colon in place of the semi-colon.

*CheckR* -- Will nodded and climbed back into bed, his energy spent having a shower. -- I'm betting Luke's name was Will in an earlier draft? *Smile* If I had a quarter for every time one of these missed changes got past me in my own work...!



*Pawprints* I've often described myself not as a writer, but as a re-writer. My first drafts are messy, full of typos and blatant verbiage, and virtually lacking in proper punctuation and capitalization. For me, the fun part is reworking those early drafts, building on the creative foundation achieved when the story first poured out. If you decide to shape and hone this story, I believe it will become a true work of art. Best of luck with it and all your writing projects!


All my best,
Nicki

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14
14
Review by NickiD89
Rated: E | (4.0)
Hi Chris! In the spirit of writers helping each other hone their craft, I offer the following comments for "The internal conflicts of Issac Indigo.

[The comments following purple check marks are based on my observations and opinions. Please use only what you find helpful and disregard the rest *Smile*.]


*Flower4* Initial Reaction: The scenario that plays out in this short is one that brought back painful memories. Anyone who has been left by a lover for someone else will surely relate to Isaac.


*Exclaim* What I liked:

*Thumbsup* Through his narration, I got a solid sense of Isaac's character. His "voice," combined with his internal thoughts and hints at his troubled life, allowed me to see him clearly in my mind's eye. Well done!

*Thumbsup* This line was my favorite from the story. It's so graphic and emotional! -- My body was stuck in the command of move away, while my heart was still sitting on the couch, and my mind was still trying to figure out why I let her keep the apartment.


*Idea* Suggestions:

*CheckV* Just a general comment: To increase readability online, you may consider double spacing between paragraphs and indenting new paragraphs.

*CheckV* Sometimes, streamlining a sentence by eliminating unnecessary words, or by saying something in a more direct fashion, increases the flow and pacing of the line. For example, you may agree that editing this sentence: She stopped talking and started trying to look into my eyes. -- along these lines, tightens is up a tad: She stopped talking and looked into my eyes.

*CheckV* I really liked that in this first person story, you let me know the narrator's name in the first sentence (and in the title). So many times, a narrating character in first person refers to him/herself with "I," and we never learn his or her name. Personally, I think the characters' names allow readers to more easily form mental images of them in their minds. So bravo to you! Now, you identify the other person in this story right at the outset as "my girlfriend," and it isn't until this line in paragraph 15: But Lexi said herself, there was someone else... -- that we learn the girlfriend's name. I suggest revising the first sentence in paragraph 3 to read: I sat across from Lexi, my girlfriend of eight months. -- so we know Lexi's name right away.


*Question* Grammar/Spelling Oops: You have some typographical and punctuation issues to resolve in this piece. To help you with edits, here are a couple examples:

"I'm not sure if I'm coming with you Issac." -- Need a comma after "you": "I'm not sure if I'm coming with you, Issac."

"I get it." I said as I got off the couch. -- Remember, when you use a dialogue tag, a comma, question mark, or exclamation point goes inside the closing quotation marks, but never a period: "I get it," I said as I got off the couch.

Now, I know your probably asking yourself, "Why?". -- In a sentence like this that ends with a quote, the punctuation inside the quotation marks also serves as the line-ending punctuation. Also, your is a pesky typo *Bigsmile*. Here's an edited version of this sentence: Now, I know you're probably asking yourself, "Why?"


*Star* I enjoyed reading your story today! Thanks so much for sharing your work with me. Best of luck with all your present and future projects!




*Flower3* Nicki

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15
15
Review by NickiD89
Rated: 18+ | (4.0)
Hi Sue! In the spirit of writers helping each other hone their craft, I offer the following comments for "Rules Of The Street.

[The comments following purple check marks are based on my observations and opinions. Please use only what you find helpful and disregard the rest *Smile*.]


*Flower4* Initial Reaction: Great emotional impact as we see a gangster's world through the eyes of a retired gangster.


*Exclaim* What I liked: You did a phenomenal job with the narrator's voice in this piece. It sounded raw and authentic, to my ear. His trepidation and fear, as well as his innate compassion and humanity, came through and allowed me to "see" him for who he was.


*Idea* Suggestions: The first three and a half paragraphs are written in present tense, which I liked because it gave this short story a sense of immediacy that worked well. However, with this line: The brick of the building was hot and rough against my skin. -- the narration shifts to past tense. I suggest deciding on one tense, (although personally I think present tense is the way to go *Smile*), and maintaining it through to the end.


*Question* Grammar/Spelling Oops:

*CheckV* You have several compound sentences in this piece with incorrect punctuation. Remember, when two independent clauses are combined in one sentence, and there is not a conjunctive connecting them (ie: and, yet, or, so, etc.), you need to separate the clauses with a semi-colon. Two examples are:

I study and assess every derelict I see long before I pass them, not everyone is what they appear to be out here. -- The comma after "them" should be a semi-colon.

My T-shirt is damp with sweat, it is hot in the city this august night. -- The comma after "sweat" needs to be a semi-colon.

*CheckV* Several times I noticed it's (contraction of it + is) in places where its (possessive) should have been used. Two examples are:

My headache throbs to it’s rhythm.

I blended into it’s shadow, studying the shape stretched out before me.

*Star* Though I never learned his name, I found this character extremely engaging. Ever think about writing his story? It may be an interesting project! At any rate, thanks for sharing your work with me. *Smile*




*Flower3* Nicki

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16
16
Review of Vineyard of Love  
Review by NickiD89
In affiliation with Rising Stars of WdC  
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
Hello Julie! I visited your port and wanted you to know how much I enjoyed "Vineyard of Love.

Comments following check marks reflect just one opinion. Please disregard anything that doesn't work with your inspiration for this piece. *Smile*


*Note1* Emotional Impact: I found this poem light-hearted and whimsical, with the narrative tone of one who is in the delicious throes of new love rather than one looking back on a magical time, years later.


*Note4* Effectiveness of Form: I liked the sprinkling of poetic devices that heightened the sound of the lines where they occurred. In particular, I enjoyed the second stanza with its consonance [lengthy/history/tragedy/story] and the internal slant rhyme [disowned/unknown]

*CheckV* In general, I thought the lines were a little long, and perhaps playing with line breaks may positively affect the pacing and lyrical flow of the piece.

*CheckV* The poem's first person narrator seems to address several different "off-stage" characters in this piece. Early on, she uses "we" to refer to the other people in her tour group. In stanza three, to speaks (still to her fellow tour members, or perhaps to the reader?) of meeting her future fiance whom she refers to in the third person ( I roamed the grounds/and walked right into him.). Then in stanza's four and five she again uses "we," but this time it seems she's speaking directly to her fiance. The piece may have a stronger emotional impact if you decide who the narrator's audience is (tour group, fiance, or the reader) and streamline the narration accordingly.


*Note3* Grammar/Punctuation/Spelling:

*CheckV* The verb tenses bounce around a bit throughout this piece. The first and second stanzas are in present tense; stanza three is in past tense; lines one and two of stanza four continue in past tense but lines three and four are in present; and all of stanza five is in past tense. I wondered how shifting all the verbs into one tense would strengthen the poem's overall impact. Something to play with, should you decide to revise. *Smile*

*CheckV* Our tour guide tells us other “things we should know”, -- I suggest removing the comma since it isn't needed for the natural flow down to the next line. If you decide to keep it, it would be more grammatically correct to place the comma inside the closing double quotation marks.


*Star* Lasting Impressions: I spent time in Tuscany last summer. Such a magical place! Your poem brought up such lovely memories -- thank you!! *Smile*


All my best,
Nicki
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17
17
Review of Paper Mache Hats  
Review by NickiD89
In affiliation with Circle of Sisters  
Rated: E | (5.0)
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Hello Keaton! It's my pleasure to review your entry for "Rising Stars Shining Brighter's North Star Contest.


*Star* What I Liked:
I absolutely love the metaphor of paper mache hats representing the mishmash of ideas that run through a writer's head as he creates a story. And you did a brilliant job bringing that imagery to life. I thought the tone was perfect -- 'van Gogh-esque' -- and completely relatable, for me!

I also enjoyed the poetic devices you employed in this piece. The sprinkling of alliteration, internal and slant rhymes, and consonance heightened the poem's rhythmic sound and emotional impact. Bravo!



*Idea* Suggestions: None -- I thought this was perfect!



Thanks for sharing your talent and creativity with us. Best of luck to you in the contest!



~Nicki~
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18
18
Review of The Dread  
Review by NickiD89
In affiliation with Circle of Sisters  
Rated: E | (4.5)
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Hello Krysha! It's my pleasure to review your entry for "Rising Stars Shining Brighter's North Star Contest.


*Star* What I Liked:
-- Lovely sonnet that expresses fears I'm sure many would-be public speakers will relate to. I'm a big fan of iambic pentameter, and I know the challenges one faces while crafting it. I thought you did a wonderful job with this poem. I recognized the meter immediately and fell easily into its lyrical song as I read it through the first time. Each of the unstressed and stressed syllables are in the right places. Also, the thoughts expressed in each line flowed nicely, which is sometimes hard to achieve while concentrating so hard on the meter. Well done!



*Idea* Suggestions: The mixture of word lengths can have a powerful effect on the rhythmic sound of iambic pentameter. When ten one-syllable words comprise a line, the meter requirement has been met, but the flow tends to be choppier than a line with several words worked in with two or more syllables. In this 120-word piece, you have 103 single-syllable words. It's a wonderful poem, and the sentiments it expresses are not overpowered by the meter -- which sometimes happens with this form. (Sometimes, the rhythmic flow takes center stage and readers have to go through the piece several times to get past the meter and hear what messages the poet was trying to convey. That wasn't the case with this very successful poem.) As you hone this craft, I encourage you to challenge yourself to work with longer words, piecing them like a puzzle so their stressed syllables land in the right places in each iamb while building imagery and emotion. It's not easy to achieve, but when you get it right the words flow off the tongue like water over the falls. Best of luck with your future works!



Thanks for sharing your talent and creativity with us. Best of luck to you in the contest!



~Nicki~
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19
19
Review of Devotion  
Review by NickiD89
In affiliation with Rising Stars of WdC  
Rated: E | (4.0)
Hello Michael! I visited your port and wanted you to know how much I enjoyed "Devotion.


*Reading* Initial Reaction: I was totally engaged in the musings presented in this piece.


*Star* What I liked:

*Thumbsup* As the narrator shared this moment of contemplation, I sensed the crossroads he faced in his life. He spoke of no longer having a career, and since he refers to himself as a "graying old man," I interpreted this to mean he was recently retired. I felt his humanity while he talked about the things he knew were important in his life, his family and his God, while he struggled to see what projects to pursue and where happiness lay in his future.

*Thumbsup* I thought the opening line of this piece was fantastic. It drew me into the story and immediately set the tone of the narration.


*Idea* Suggestions: The following comments reflect just one opinion. Please disregard anything that doesn't work with your inspiration for this piece. *Smile*

*NoteV* I hope you expand this piece. I found myself wondering about the specifics cloaked beneath abstract phrasings, like: "He should be more, but he was not." (More what?) "There weren’t any real options and the damage they could do was beyond measuring." (What damage could the family members do?) "He had added things to be a part of." (What things had he begun to pursue?) As I read, I was interested to know more *Smile*.

*NoteG* And if you decide to grow this piece, I suggest deciding whether you want it to be autobiographical, or if you want to invent a character to represent this narrator. Either way, naming the narrator will heighten the impact of the essay's message, because readers become more invested in a character (fictional or nonfictional) when they can form a picture in their mind's eye of him.


*Question* Grammar/Spelling Oops!: Just a couple notes *Smile*:

*Bullet* He thought, he could be more. -- There are two directions you can go with this line. Worded as it is, I suggest removing the unnecessary comma so that it is a standard (telling) sentence *Right* He thought he could be more. Or, you could edit it so that it is a line of internal dialogue *Right* He thought, I could be more.

*Bullet* “Nobody read anymore,” he quipped to himself, but he did. -- Nobody read should be Nobody reads. Also, I think "but he did" means the narrator did read, correct? The flow of thoughts may be more clear if that stood alone as an independence clause. *Right* “Nobody reads anymore,” he quipped to himself. But he did.

*Bullet* ...you have to see what is left. Maybe what are left are the important things. -- This is a tricky case of agreement, and I may not be correct here. But to my ear, this sounds better: ...you have to see what is left. Maybe what's left are the important things. You may consider revising this section altogether to avoid any awkwardness, though. Perhaps something along these lines: ...you have to see what is left. Maybe you find the truly important things remain.

*Bullet* You are what you think about, even if you thinking has some wholes in it. -- Suggestions *Right* You are what you think about, even if your thinking has some holes in it.


*Pawprints* I really enjoyed your work today! Thanks so much for sharing your writing with us. *Smile*


All my best,
Nicki

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20
20
Review of Trick or Tweet  
Review by NickiD89
In affiliation with Teen Writers Info-Sharing Team...  
Rated: 13+ | (5.0)
Hello Tom! I visited your port and wanted you to know how much I enjoyed "Trick or Tweet.


*Reading* Initial Reaction: Tom, when I saw you'd only been a WDC member since February but this story had already been rated/reviewed 174 times, I had to take a peek. Now I understand why you've had such a large readership. It's a brilliant story! I couldn't stop reading until I'd reached the end.


*Star* What I liked:

*Thumbsup* You have an extraordinary authorial voice. It incorporates a rare combination of description, tension, humor and emotion that is fully engaging and wholly entertaining. I was hooked from the first sentence.

*Thumbsup* The dialogue was witty and believable, particularly in the early scenes when John, Carolyn and Courtney first meet. All three characters became immediately life-like in my mind's eye.

*Thumbsup* The story itself fascinated me. Each plot point upped the tension in the story, which flowed seamlessly through the timeline. You thought of everything while contemplating the disasters that played out, and you presented them to me in a way that had my real world falling away and your catastrophic world taking its place.

*Thumbsup* Masterful execution of the story's pace. Bravo!

*Thumbsup* LOVED these lines! Just after seven o'clock, the President came on TV. She stood in front of a large control panel. *Smile**Thumbsup*


*Idea* Suggestions: The following comments reflect just one opinion. Please disregard anything that doesn't work with your inspiration for this piece. *Smile*

*Target* Various style guides recommend different ways to express numbers and numerals. Personally, I adhere to the Chicago Manual of Style   guidelines because it is the go-to style guide for literature. The CMS recommends numerals up to one hundred be spelled out.

If you follow the rules in the Associated Press Stylebook  , you are only advised to write out numerals up to ten. But then you come into trouble with sentences like this one in Chapter 9:

Updates on the program became hard to come by, but it was eventually reported that of the 20 patients, 16 were dead, 2 were in comas, and the other 2 were “hospitalized.”

Here in the same sentence, you would have 20 patients and 16 dead, but two in comas and two in hospital. It would streamline your story to follow the Chicago Manual of Style guidelines. For this reason, I suggest combing the entire story for numerals under one hundred and writing them out.


*Question* Grammar/Spelling Oops!: For a manuscript of this length, you did a fabulous job self-editing. With regard to mechanics, it is a near perfect story. I noted just one point:

*CheckV* Small typo early in Chapter 9: “Yes, but It’s scary.”

~~~~~~~~



*Star* After reading this story and seeing the extraordinary response you've received for it here, I sincerely hope you'll begin sending it to publishers. You probably realize this already, but posting a story here (or anywhere on the Internet) means it is already "published."

Before you work through final edits and begin querying/submitting it to literary magazines or anthologies, be sure to set it as a private item with a passkey. It's a large gray area, for sure, but if it remains visible in your online portfolio, you will not be able to submit it as an unpublished story. This is important since a large majority of literary markets solicit previously unpublished work. I definitely think you can sell this story. It is fantastic!! Best of luck with it!


All my best,
Nicki

21
21
Review by NickiD89
Rated: E | (5.0)
This is great, Fyn! I saw the film in my mind's eye as I read, -- the best film ever made! -- which made each paragraph extra fun. Clever having the Wicked Witch be the culprit in the theft that left the tale missing a letter. I liked the paragraph's changing bright hues, as well.

Challenge succeeded, again!

*Heart* Nicki

Psst...That letter didn't make its way in this review, either! *Bigsmile* Fun!!!



22
22
Review by NickiD89
In affiliation with Circle of Sisters  
Rated: E | (4.5)
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Hello Julie! It's my pleasure to review your entry for "Rising Stars Shining Brighter.


*Star* What I Liked:
You did a fine job with the prompt, producing a poem with gentle cadence and a lovely message. Well done!



*Idea* Suggestions: The emotional impact was light-hearted, though the message seemed stronger. Perhaps adding shades of tension with modifiers or removing the exclamation point in the middle stanza would lend emotional weight to the piece.



Thanks for sharing your talent and creativity with us. Best of luck to you in the contest!



~Nicki~
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23
23
Review of Vox Dei  
Review by NickiD89
In affiliation with Circle of Sisters  
Rated: E | (5.0)
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Hello Ken! It's my pleasure to review your entry for "Rising Stars Shining Brighter.


*Star* What I Liked:
Everything about this piece was perfect! It impacted me emotionally as I pictured the narrator receiving a message from God, and the effect His words had on him upon waking. Your lyrical cadence was exquisite, and the syllabic meter and rhyme scheme heightened the poem's flow. Loved it!!



*Idea* Suggestions: One tiny typo: by letting them make thier their mistakes and while you are concerned



Thanks for sharing your talent and creativity with us. Best of luck to you in the contest!



~Nicki~
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24
24
Review of Burqa  
Review by NickiD89
In affiliation with Circle of Sisters  
Rated: E | (5.0)
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Hello Marc! It's my pleasure to review your entry for "Rising Stars Shining Brighter.


*Star* What I Liked:
Wow, I feel so sad after reading this. I'm glad you included the author's note at the outset of the poem, so that I know the narrator is a fictional character based, I understand, on women discussed on an NPR program. Still, every stanza screamed of the very reasons the burqa should be eliminated from Islamic culture. Anything that serves as a wall, a shield from humanity, does more harm to a human soul than good. The burqa, as explained by this narrator, is nothing more than alcohol to an alcoholic, food to one who is morbidly obese, the walls of her home to an agoraphobic.

Still, your poem's message continues to resonate with me. Thanks for sharing this perspective, and giving me something to contemplate today.



*Idea* Suggestions: None *Cool*



Thanks for sharing your talent and creativity with us. Best of luck to you in the contest!



~Nicki~
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25
25
Review by NickiD89
In affiliation with Circle of Sisters  
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
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Hello Christina! It's my pleasure to review your entry for "Rising Stars Shining Brighter.


*Star* What I Liked:
This story represents an interesting, mythological explanation for the evils in the world's history. I thought it was clever to have not one devil, but a band of evil brothers who come up with the disasters and plagues and ideologies challenging humankind. Very clever!



*Idea* Suggestions: I noticed a few problems with punctuation in and around dialogue, and thought I'd offer these tips:

*Bullet* “Who will rule them after The Book is introduced?”, Satan asked. -- When you use a question mark or an exclamation point in dialogue that is followed by a dialogue tag (he said, Satan asked, etc.), you don't need a comma too: “Who will rule them after The Book is introduced?” Satan asked. Another example:

“Father... cannot be serious!”, Belial cried. -- *Right* “Father... cannot be serious!” Belial cried.

*Bullet* “Less than six months”, Leviathan replied. -- When a dialogue tag follows spoken words, a comma, question mark, or exclamation point -- but never a period -- goes inside the closing quotation marks: “Less than six months,” Leviathan replied.

*Bullet* However, if there is not a dialogue tag, then a period goes inside the closed quotation marks: “Yes”, Leviathan smiled. -- *Right* “Yes.” Leviathan smiled. -- (You can't 'smile' words, so 'Leviathan smiled.' is a separate sentence.)



Thanks for sharing your talent and creativity with us. Best of luck to you in the contest!



~Nicki~
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