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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/profile/reviews/jc_spider
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37 Public Reviews Given
Public Reviews
1
1
Review of The Gatekeeper  
Review by Simple Spider
Rated: 13+ | (5.0)
Your writing is very descriptive and engaging without slowing down the narrative. Thanks for the read. If you expand this into a larger story I’d love to read it!
2
2
Review of Sunday Afternoon  
Review by Simple Spider
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
I really enjoyed this little story. The writing is well done and makes for detailed, easy reading. The story is interesting and comes off as very original, mostly due to the great character development of Frank.

I liked the ending. The ambiguity of whether or not the event was supernatural or simply in his mind is great because it brings the reader back to the point of the story: dealing with grief.

Nicely done! The only thing I wanted to know more about was the wife. Perhaps a quick flashback paragraph about her personality?

Thanks for the read,

SS.
3
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Review of Two Lovebirds  
Review by Simple Spider
Rated: E | (3.5)
I actually liked the metaphor. Of course I have heard the phrase "two love birds" before, but you managed to give it enough emotional weight to avoid my usual cringing at cliched phrases. I also enjoyed your use of language.

Matrimony. Blissful harmony. Spiritual ascent. Each of these brings to mind emotions of romanticized love, the type that poets talk about, a sort of purity. I think this is why I like the metaphor of the birds. This is a sort of innocent, almost holy, love. It was nicely conveyed.

In this poem it is the language and phrasing that conveys the emotions best. But I also think that you have fallen too in love with the sound of the poem and that clarity has suffered for it.

In the first stanza the "ocean and sky" reference, while it sounds lovely, it doesn't put a concrete image in my head. If anything it makes me wonder about exactly where these "lovers" are and what exactly are they in "close proximity" to?

In fact, in both the second and third stanzas the same sort of thing happens. "Distances," "grand designs," "tranquility and radiance," "saintly and gifted truth," all of these descriptions are abstractions. Abstractions are not necessarily bad, but they don't provide the reader with an image or feeling on which to focus.

It isn't as if I can't understand the feelings that you are trying to describe, but at the same time it doesn't quite ring true because the references are too general. Don't say "distances" when you could say "craggy peaks and wind swept deserts." Don't say "grand designs" when you could talk about the "circular motion of the stars" or the "persistent march of seasons." Don't say "saintly and gifted truth," when you can write about "two hearts beating in a perfect rhythm" or "two strings on a harp, vibrating at a perfectly resonating frequency."

It's a lovely poem that attempts to tackle a difficult subject. Just make it more personal, more specific, more real, and the content will rise to the level of the language. You have given us a canvas of language, but now it's time to paint the real picture in startling, life-like clarity.

Write on,

SS

4
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Review by Simple Spider
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
The emotions in this piece are deeply felt and articulated well. Love is so often a cliche topic to write about, but in this case it rings true. I could feel the loss and understand the grief. I also thought the tangent at the end was fitting and gave a further, somewhat philosophical depth that was greatly appreciated.

As far as criticism I could have used a description of what he looked like and perhaps a more descriptive anecdote or two. But overall the writing was well done.

Overall, this piece hits with the intended emotional impact, giving me a lasting impression and making me think.

Thanks for sharing,
SS
5
5
Review of A Miss at Bliss  
Review by Simple Spider
Rated: E | (4.5)
Intriguing, descriptive, and well written! Considering the constraints you were required to write this in it reads very naturally. I liked the tone through the piece and the little descriptions of the main character; everything from the way she sits, the clothing she was wearing, her thoughts, and even the situation lend itself to making her seem real.

This could very easily be turned into a great story. I already like the main character and the groundwork has been laid for a pursuit story.

Nice,
SS

6
6
Review of Shoes  
Review by Simple Spider
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
Loved the poem! It hit with great emotional impact! But so sad...

Anyway, I do have one suggestion:

"Her leather shoes
Her walking shoes
Her empty shoes

She cried."

For some reason this phrasing hits harder for me.

Well done! I really enjoyed it (well, you know what I mean),

SS

7
7
Review by Simple Spider
Rated: E | (3.0)
This poem has a lot of potential. I like the somber tone and the way you connect memory to physical sensations. The first line was very promising, "Here I sit in the cold and lonely dark." It hits with wonderful impact. In fact, the poem is full of several wonderful phrases and carries in it an appropriate sense of melancholy.

However, as a whole, the poem has a lot of redundant phrases and needlessly repeated words that tend to bury the emotional impact of the best lines. You repeated the words cold, dark, warm, love, soul and lonely several times. I get the idea of motif on some level (I actually like the "house that was their home" repetition), but too often it seemed like you used these words in places where concrete or unique description would have been better. Try to vary your word choice unless you have a very specific reason for doing so.

I also think the poem either needs to be lengthened or focused on a specific person. You introduce a lot of the family, but there isn't sufficient description to really make me feel their loss. The last line, "I miss my own remembered love," took me completely out of the narrative. I wanted to know more about each of these people, especially the "love" mentioned at the very end. As it reads now, we don't have enough information to feel the pain the character is experiencing.

Overall, I think this poem shows several bright spots but could benefit from more concrete imagery and more selective word choice.

Thanks for sharing,
SS
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Review of The Ticket  
Review by Simple Spider
Rated: 13+ | N/A (Review only item.)
I liked the oppressive tone that hangs over the woman throughout this story. I thought you did a good job of creating her character and I liked how consistent she was. The motifs of the ticket and her routine are the real strength of this story and her husband's constant shouts of "beer!". I think the story has great potential and I liked your writing style!

I would suggest more back story about the couple and how they met. Right now there is a vague allusion to her bad taste in men, but I would like to know specifically how this relationship and the ticket pattern manifested. Their situation is a little strange and it was the pattern and her willingness to put up with it that really interested me. Also I wanted more concrete descriptions; what does her house, her husband, even the paper the numbers are scrawled on look like. I don't think you need to add everything I just suggested, but little flourishes of concrete description alongside your exposition can go a long way in adding a harder hitting emotional impact.

One of the first things I noticed as I read were a lot of run-on sentences. One example is the first paragraph:"He was on his fourth, four was lethargy, and six was belligerence." " He was on his fourth" is a complete sentence by itself. "Four was lethargy" and "six was belligerence" can also be considered a complete sentences. I understand you trying to achieve a certain flow, but after reading this I was immediately thrown out of the story and into edit mode. I would try something like: He was on his forth and a familiar lethargy had taken hold. After six he was belligerent.

There were also a few places where the ideas you were trying to convey tended to get in each other's way. The end of the second paragraph is a good example: "Was it her fault that the beer was warm because he had failed to give her money for the electric bill, or the food cold because he failed to tell her he would be late, or the numbers wrong because he failed to marry a sufficiently lucky woman?" This sentence should either be at the beginning of the paragraph or starting another of its own. Its placement right now takes me out of the story because the rest of the paragraph is about describing the importance of the ticket and the pattern of how she gets it. Suddenly throwing in a quick line about warm beer and cold food take me away from the real importance of the paragraph: the ticket! In fact, I would try to devote another paragraph to describing the pattern in the house or simply cut the information about dinner and beer altogether. I think the real conflict is caused by the husband's obsession with the ticket. For a short story this is enough to focus on.

Also, I was not really clear on exactly who the husband was making all the calls to. What exactly is "friendship and position?"

Overall, its a pretty good story. Considering the word limit I would focus the story on the pattern of the ticket and start at the moment she decides to leave. I like your writing style and think you have already captured the feeling you intended to give the reader. Story-wise I just need a few more specifics. I thought you made good use of the required words (I actually had to look up "Bricolage") and for only 973 words it definitely has a beginning middle and end.

Keep writing!

SS
9
9
Review by Simple Spider
Rated: 18+ | (3.5)
I liked the beginning of this chapter and really felt you were starting to hit your groove! The writing was smoother and it seemed like you had a better understanding of the characters! I liked the explanation of what these "agents" are and it is different enough from what is already out there to be interesting.

Because this is a first draft I'm not going to be too picky about run-ons and grammar, but it does need to be addressed in the edit. I enjoyed the interaction between the main character and Ashley, but her sudden pang of emotion seemed a bit too fast and I just don't see one of these "hard" agents being that easy to hurt, especially if they have had training to dull their feelings. Also, I would have liked a more vivid description of the training. I couldn't get a sense of what they were doing exactly.

Another suggestion is the second half of the chapter. While it is exciting, I don't understand how it ties in with the rest of the story. I get that it might simply be a tangent. However, I was anticipating a tension filled conversation with Jean Reno and felt a little let down when we obviously aren't going to meet him until the next chapter.

Overall it is intriguing and I will definitely check out more chapters as you write them!

SS
10
10
Review by Simple Spider
Rated: 18+ | (3.5)
It's funny! I like the fact that it is over the top and that it knows it's over the top. This is simple entertainment fiction and I'm proud to say I like it!

Writing wise it could used some editing: sentences are sometimes hard to follow, rife with unintentional cliche lines (sad as it sounds, I must admit, truth be told), and the action was not always clear. But, despite all that, and much like good pizza, I didn't mind it as much as I usually do.

One observation I would make is to really go for originality in the following chapters. It bares a striking resemblance to Chuck and I will lose interest should it start to follow too similar a pattern.

That said I thought this was fun, entertaining, and I liked the main character's views!

I'll be checking out the next chapter,

SS
11
11
Review of Sam  
Review by Simple Spider
Rated: 18+ | (3.5)
I loved the gore! I also thought the little tangents where she fantasizes about killing were very well done. The best parts of this story are in the imagery and the actions. The end is especially, ahem, graphic!

As far as the writing I think things can be broken down into smaller paragraphs that are more manageable for the reader. Also the first paragraph is somewhat long winded in its explanations; meaning you can tell us that Sam is vile, evil, and a "beastie" much faster. I'm not saying you can't write long paragraphs, but there should be a specific reason when you reiterate similar information. If you were trying to make things more tense or building hatred for Sam I didn't feel it.

This leads me to my second point. While the descriptions of the actual murder and mayhem are unsettlingly lovely other places could benefit from more description. What does Sam look like? What does the little girl look like? What is the back-story of both him and the character? I didn't get enough details about either one. Also we are told but not shown Sam behaving badly, just as the main character's background is alluded to, but again, not shown.

I like this story and think it has some very Dexter like qualities. It was not difficult to understand and it reads fairly well. Although I would simply say "Sam was pure evil!" Mostly I think as a short story the characters need to be fleshed out more and you need to take the time to give each situation the same attention that is given to Sam's satisfying end.

Oh yeah, I liked the last line as well!

Write on,
SS
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Review of CALL ME MAGGIE  
Review by Simple Spider
Rated: E | (4.0)
I really enjoyed this, it's a great character sketch and you have taken the time to develop a likable and realistic character. Her response to Colette, "Yeah, you got some?" was well done and made me crack a smile. I also liked the character's name, her personality, and how they messed well with the setting. Everything from her back-story to her actions was believable and interesting.

As far as the writing goes I think it can be trimmed a bit. I thought the description of her mother and father was longer than it needed to be. You have a lot of great information there, but I would pick perhaps the two most important bits and move on the with story. In fact the whole section in the forth paragraph that starts with "Pesty little details..." I would probably cut. I would start the next paragraph with her walking past him.

That leads me to my other suggestion. I realize this is just a sketch, but don't get so bogged down in description (though it is wonderful) that it stifles the forward momentum. In the first paragraph you describe Colette and then cut back to the first meeting between them in the second paragraph. Why not just start with the meeting: "She smiled at me from across the gym and said, 'hey new girl, wanna smoke a joint?'" I think this will capture the reader's attention more quickly. And in one line it reveals quite a bit of information about the character's personality.

Also, the way it reads now it is hard to tell exactly what point in time we are in as the meeting with Colette is a flashback and so is her description of her father and mother. Basically, you have three different time frames going in only six paragraphs. I got a little confused.

Overall, I thought you have a great writing style. You have great descriptions, measured character development, and your images are original and well thought out. This could certainly develop into a great story and I think you should definitely continue with it!

Thanks for the story,

SS
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Review of Home Again  
Review by Simple Spider
Rated: E | (4.0)
I like the structure as well as the the repetition of lines one and three in each stanza. I think this is great at not only establishing a wonderful cadence to the poem, but also in helping to highlight the over arching theme you are trying to invoke. In fact the message of the poem still comes across if you only read those lines! Very nice.

There are some things I would do to improve it.

The second line of the first stanza, "That's what the adage tells," seems to be in the poem for rhythm purposes and did little for me in terms of enhancing emotion or evoking an image in my mind. I think this line could be replaced with something stronger that justifies why you can't go home again. I was a little curious myself, as to what exactly this "adage" was.

I understand that you a trying to maintain the rhyme scheme, but don't sacrifice imagery or originality simply for the sake of flow. While the poem is nice and gets its point across it could be stronger with more concrete images and more personal references. You mention things like heartache, true loves, and memories, but these are all broad strokes. I want to feel the heartache, see the past loves, and bask in reliving the memories. Right now you are doing a lot of telling, but not a lot of showing.

The strength in the poem right now is that its structure and rhythm help to build the sentiment you are trying to convey. I simply think it would be more complete if it were a little more specific.

Thanks for the poem and the nice read,

SS
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Review of Saved by the bell  
Review by Simple Spider
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
Very vivid and realistic. I can feel the tension and the overbearing weight of the situation. The writing is honest and real, and the descriptions and observations of the main character ring true. I thought this piece did exactly what it set out to do: it makes me want to root for this girl!

As far as the writing I would suggest breaking the text into clearly defined paragraphs. This will make it easier on the reader.

Also try shortening some of the sentences - "Wait, I can feel that familiar presence I get when Mr X is near, the dread, the fear and the certainty that whatever is going to be happening is going to be excruciatingly embarrassing. " -

I would try something like: "Wait! I can feel presence of Mr. X. Familiar feelings of dread and fear well up inside me. Excruciating embarrassment, unavoidable, is moments away."

By varying the rhythm and length of your sentences you can make a greater impact on the reader.

Thanks for sharing,

SS

15
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Review by Simple Spider
Rated: 18+ | (4.5)
I love your writing style! You have nice variation in sentence length, original descriptions, and a rhythm to your prose that makes each word flow easily into the next. Not only was this easy to read as a story, but it is very well paced and complete to boot!

You take the time to really explain your character and in doing so you take a topic (jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge) that screams cliche and manage to make it original and entertaining. Perhaps the best thing about this story is the sense of tension. You know the main character is going to jump and you don't want it to happen! This is built up wonderfully with an assortment of introspection and flash backs balanced by sharp and specific bridge suicide facts. These facts, in fact, made the story for me. They present such a stark contrast to the more emotional narration weaving the story.

I loved the description of the shrimp at the very beginning. It sets a nice tone for the rest of the story and the imagery itself is very well done. Reminded me a little of Tobias Wolff. I also enjoyed the way you use punctuation to make impact: "Just. One. Person." that was very nice.

There are a couple of lines I might cut such as "The zipper's been broken for as long as I can remember. " For as long as I can remember is cliche and stopped me dead in my tracks as I read (perhaps this is personal preference but take it for what it is).

Also "I accept the camera from her outstretched hand" - this is a little overboard as I think this can be implied. When I read this it took me out of the story.

Overall I wouldn't change too much. The writing is well done.

As far as the story goes I would try and do more with the interaction between the main character and the Chinese woman. Her sudden appearance at the end seems just a little too convenient. Perhaps in the picture scene he holds the camera a little too long, walks away a little too fast, or does something that might tip her off.

Anyway, I really enjoyed the story and felt you did an excellent job with a minimum of space. Well done!
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Review of The Victrola  
Review by Simple Spider
Rated: E | (4.0)
I really enjoyed the writing style and felt you had a very good command of the first person voice. Your variation of sentence length and your vocabulary helped to create a good rhythm that allowed the story to unfold easily.

Your use of short description and observation painted a wonderful picture of the Master and his family without slowing things down too much. I also thought that the use of a music player as a main character and the exploration of how an inanimate object might form a relationship with a human being to be a compelling dynamic.

As far as the story itself is concerned I would have liked to see more introspection from the phonograph. First person allows for the exploration of the internal landscape and I wanted to know more about our main character. I would have liked more elaborate description of what compels it to play and why fulfilling its purpose is so important.

Basically, I want to see it grow and change as a character. Focus more on the moments when it is playing music and the dynamics that form as people interact with it. You are great at describing large spans of time, but don't forget to slow down at key moments and delve a little deeper. Don't simply say that it played music. I want to know the little emotions evoked by the music and how they play on our main character. I want to know the emotions evoked by touch of the master, the sound of his voice, the vibrations from notes (both perfect and off key). In other words; really bring me into the moment when the characters are interacting.

Right now, while the family is described well, our main character is a static observer. For a truly fantastic story we need something more to either be lost or gained by the main character.

Overall, a nice read.



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