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Printed from http://www.writing.com/main/profile/reviews/jdbenabides
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18 Public Reviews Given
Review Style
Above all things, I believe reviews should be honest. I think that one brutally honest review can do more good than 100 coddling, everything-is-perfect reviews. I will never be mean (it’s unprofessional) but if you’re really serious about making your work better, I’ll be happy to help.
I'm good at...
I'm a published author, been writing since I was 6, I've done and seen a lot in the ways of writing. I'm good at most things
Favorite Genres
I've dabbled in everything from sci-fi, to military, to erotica, to plays. I'll love anything that is interesting, that doesn't waste words on needless description, and isn't overly self-indulgent of the author.
Least Favorite Genres
Fantasy / sci-fi that spends 18 paragraphs telling me about the countryside of the kingdom. Vampires / werewolves. Some religious stuff (I was Jesuit educated, so I can be overly critical of religious writings, lol)
Public Reviews
1
1
Review by JulianBenabides
Rated: E | (4.0)
This was so good! As a person who struggles with depression, this really spoke to me. I like how you mention the countless mini-battles that people with depression have to face.

I really like that the source of this character's strength comes from within. There is no outside help or magic fix. The character just summons up the strength and gets through another day.

I would recommend that you italicize the character's inner voice, that motivation to endure. I think it would make it a little easier to read.

I think it would also be really useful to cut up this story by time of day. So we can get the sense of how the character goes through the day. Almost like a journal. Something like...

7:04 am
Where am I?
You’re in bed. You’re safe.
It is safe. Maybe I can stay here?

2:58 pm
I hate hiding in the bathroom stall.
It’s alright. You needed the break, or you would’ve cried in front of everyone.
I don’t want to go back out there.


I found a few places that need fixing.

Can I cry to? - Can I cry too?

Come on put on a smile. - Come on, put on a smile.

Yes you are. - Yes, you are.

that one yelled at me a couple of days ago. - that one yelled at me a couple days ago.

Overall, a wonderful story. Please keep working on it. Also, just on a personal note- one thing that your character didn't do, which I recommend that people with depression do- reach out to family members, friends, support groups. Talk about it with people you care about.

Keep writing : )
2
2
Review of Damien  
Review by JulianBenabides
Rated: E | (3.5)
Oh, this was so creepy. In a good way.

What I liked
I liked the creeping feeling of dread I got as I sensed the worry in Cain's voice. I liked the simplicity of the ending.

What I feel needs work
I feel the story is a little confusing. Damien is dead? So then he's a ghost, talking to Cain? What does his death have to do with the woman in the hospital? Were they in a car crash together or something? What did he die of?

I didn't find the dialogue at the beginning very compelling, and so I actually skipped ahead to see where the story was going, and then skimmed to the end. I found the end intriguing and jarring (in a good way), and so I went back and read it more closely.

The story starts interesting me by about the mid-way point, but the beginning just doesn't do it for me. I might recommend editing down the beginning to get through it more quickly, or adding something to make the read more compelling.

It might also be nice to have the way that Damien died somehow be affecting him during the call. For example, if he froze to death in a blizzard, have him mention that he can't get warm.

One grammatical error.

“You know, I try to be very active in joining writing contests recently.”
I'd recommend making it simpler. Like this:
"You know, I to be very active in writing contests."

General impression
Overall, this was a fun, creepy story to read. I think it has a lot of potential, and can be a truly great horror story.
3
3
Review of Bones  
Review by JulianBenabides
Rated: 18+ | (4.0)

A great read. Did you use Rich Neville as a reference to I Am Legend's protagonist, Robert Neville? I just ask because i see a few small similarities.

The pacing and build up of tension was masterful. Great stuff there.

I was sad to see the cat die, but it connected well with the dream.

Descriptions were good. Not too much. Not too little.

I found the ending unsatisfying though. It just felt tacked on. You introduced his insecurity and fear of judgment toward the end, then had that be the ending. It would have felt better if his insecurity had been a running concept through the story. Because it just feels disconnected from the larger piece, like you couldn't figure out how to end it so you just made up something random.

It also bugged me having so many unanswered questions. I know some people dig that, but I just wanted a little more.

One small issue. You never introduced the radio. You just had Neville wondering if the cat could hear a rodent over the radio. What radio? You never mentioned there was one on, and it interrupts your flow to just toss it in.

I noticed a few sentences that were uncomfortable or possibly incorrect.

he emptied the syrupy residue it into the stainless stee
- take out 'it'

sat and considered as the yellowing machine hissed and sputtered to li
- you mean 'contemplated' ? Because you have to consider something. I don't think you can just consider.

He remained on the floor for what seemed like hours, but was in reality only about thirty minutes
-feels weird and unnecessary. Just leave it at 'seemed like hours.'

ef he experienced as he shone the light inside and peered inside the nearly empty crawlspace
- you use 'inside' two times right next to one another. Pick a different word.

Overall, a really good story. I'd like to see more.

Do you publish you stuff online, through Amazon or smashwords?

I ask because I'm trying to connect with other indie published authors and i like your style.
4
4
Review of Reflections  
Review by JulianBenabides
Rated: E | (4.0)

I really liked this. Some thoughts:


Typos:

and the prospects of selling seem insurmountable-
change seem to seemed

out to the sidewalk to survey if there was anything-
Change survey to see

window in front and putting in some colorful flowers- Change putting to put

and adding newer awnings gave-
change adding to added, Change gave to which gave

I don't understand what's happening when Mrs D is talking to the neighbor. Is she imagining the dialogue? Why is there a predator mentioned here? I just didn't get it.

Also, add an extra space when you start dialogue.

Questions:
1. What are the kids like? What does Mrs D think of them?
2. What's the neighborhood like? Ghetto? White suburb? Working class?
3. How does the neighborhood feel about Mrs D' s run-down dwelling and the fact that she's leaving.

You mentioned having trouble with the use of background characters. These ancillary characters exist to illuminate the depths of our main characters. They are the flashlights with which we will get to see Mrs D.

Use them more.

So let's say that a neighbor is beating their child in the street because the child stole something. How does Mrs D react? Does she save the child? Does she laugh? Does she lecture the child? Does she turn to her own child and say something deep?

The way she reacts will show the reader what kind of person she is. This is much more effective than just telling.

If you're looking for an example of how to use some of this stuff, check out the sample of my book, The first boy who was broken. Look at chapter 3. I introduce a character, and then i show him talking to another character to show how he behaves, rather than telling.

Also, i don't understand the challenge and idea part at the beginning.

But over all i really liked your story. I liked the writing style. I liked the pacing. I think this is going to turn out well.
5
5
Review of The Pack  
Review by JulianBenabides
Rated: 18+ | (3.0)
Sorry it took so long to get back to you. Like I said, work's been kinda nuts.

But here are my thoughts.

A few typos. I capitalized what I changed.

Soon he was stRoking and squeezing her breasts,

He saw Johnson STOP thirty feet in front of him

His fear for her was as great now as it had been for himSELF when he was in the forest.



Ok, so I like the progress of the relationship between Eddie and Miranda. But to be honest, this chapter left me confused more than anything.

How did Eddie have any notion that he and Miranda were together? How did he know to ask? It seemed way to bold for his character.

Also, I don’t think you mentioned Eddie’s job before- so him suddenly having a job seemed a bit odd.

And the genre seemed to change suddenly. From gore and action to erotica. I have no problem with erotica, but I think maybe just work on how you do it.

I think it would have been more effective if you had given hints that you were going to move in the erotica direction. Show Eddie having a dirty fantasy about Miranda, and then have Eddie losing his mind because his fantasy is coming true. The fact that the genre just changed spontaneously drew me out of the story. Little hints or some foreshadowing would really help a lot.

Also, you spend a good amount of time describing Miranda and her body. But what I’m much more interested in is the emotional aspect between the two. Show Eddie reacting to the situation. Show Miranda shuddering when she feels Eddie’s touch against her. Show Eddie breathing Miranda in when he takes a break from kissing her. Writing in this style (erotica) is just as much about how the characters respond to each other, as it is about describing the action. And right now you’re kinda only describing the action, instead of what’s going on in their heads, and how they react to one another.

I would consider whether or not you really want the erotic thing in there, because it feels a little bit forced right now. I would either cut most of it out, or spend more time building up the emotional aspect between the two characters.

Also, when Eddie is flattering Miranda it’s waaaaaay too awkward and unnatural. Example:

“I’m not saying this as a way of flattering you, even though no matter how much I tried, I could never come halfway to praising you as much as you should be. I am trying to state an absolute fact. You have to know how fantastic you are. Every mirror in the world would want to have your reflection in it. There has never been a man born that would not want you as his woman. You could have anyone, and I mean anyone at all. Any movie star, any celebrity, any sports legend, anyone you would ever imagine. Why would you, a woman perfect in every way imaginable, lower yourself to be with me? It is not logical.”

It just feels very unnatural. More like a staged monologue than a dialogue between characters. I would focus more on making him seem natural, and cut it down in length.

But I liked how you used the detectives. The scenes with them were good. The description of the aftermath of the kill was good too.

So those are my general thoughts. I feel like I enjoyed the previous chapter a bit more, and think maybe you do better with the action than the erotica. If you want to keep moving in this direction, maybe consider entering some erotica contests on WDC to see how others do it, and get some direction and feedback.

Anyway, take care!

6
6
Review of The Pack  
Review by JulianBenabides
Rated: 18+ | (3.5)
Ok, thoughts.

*Things I liked.*

I like this one better than the first because you focus more on the characters I care about- Eddie and Miranda. Brad was used well- enough to show that Eddie gets tormented, but not so much that he gets in the way of the story.

I like your pacing. You have a bit of repetition that gets in the way, but overall your pacing is good here.

I like Miranda, and how she likes to play with her prey. I also like that she’s heartless- sounds weird, but it gives more credibility to her character.

I like the emotions going through Eddie’s mind, and the change of heart he has while staring death in the face in the woods.

I like that you’re using the *** to separate sections now, but maybe consider centering them. Try one of these
***


*Things that need work*

You have a lot of short, simple sentences that start with ‘he’ or ‘she.’

Example
She was barefoot as she ran out of her house again. She paid no attention to the rocks cutting into her feet. She did not feel any pain. She ran a full mile in forty seconds and skidded to a halt. She ripped her clothes off and ran naked into the woods. The branches cutting into her skin did not bother her in the least. She raced another mile and stopped at a creek, dropping to her hands and knees to lap the water like a cougar.
7 sentences starting with ‘she’ in one paragraph, WAY too much. Try combining them into longer sentences so you don’t have to repeat ‘he’ or ‘she’ so much.

Example- She was barefoot as she ran out of the house but paid no attention to the tiny stones jabbing at her feet, there was no pain.

I liked the part about the woman’s tormenting ex-husband and Miranda wanting to ‘play’ with her- but I feel like you need to introduce backstory organically. Instead of just telling us this info about her, have her show it by talking.

Example
She hears the scary sounds.
“Is… Is that you Gary? Look, I don’t know how you found me but the restraining order says 500 yards- you come near me and I’ll call the cops, I swear I will!”
Miranda plays with her some more, and the lady can say.
“Look, I- I’m sorry, Gary- Ok, I’m sorry. I’ll move back in, Jesus, I’ll bring the kids back to you, and everything you asked for-
She’s cut short in her tracks as she sees the werewolf, then cue the death scene.

This makes the story flow better, the reader will appreciate it because you’re showing and not telling, and it adds to the intensity of the scene. Try playing around with the idea of using character’s pleas for mercy as use of backstory, instead of you just spoon-feeding us.

Next, you might want to consider cutting this down- I feel like you waste a lot of words, either with repeating things, or saying things that don’t need to be said, or telling instead of showing. I think you have whole paragraphs that could just be wiped clean, example:

Miranda woke late that day. It was past three in the afternoon when she rose. She was nude as she walked outside and looked to the sky. It was cloudy, with a glimpse of blue sky every few moments. She was again feeling restless. Her agitation was much greater than the day before. She scratched at her skin, leaving bleeding trails where nails scraped across her shoulder. She paid no attention to the wound and continued her survey of the sky. Her hair was not as smooth as when Eddie had seen it. It was matted and tangled in spots. She walked back inside and set down on her couch.

This paragraph really doesn’t add anything to the story, it just gets in the way and slows my reading down. And you have many paragraphs like this, which is a bit frustrating because I want to read your story, but these things are kind of like speed bumps that I have to wait for.

My policy is that when in doubt, cut, cut, and cut some more. I’d say you could easily cut 20-30% to make it a much tighter, smoother read with fewer speed bumps.


Here are some sentences where I changed things- I capitalized any words that I changed.

She ran AFTER him until he had no more strength,

He was scared he might get lost, but THE fear THAT Miranda could be in danger kept him moving.

He did not worry about being pulled over for DRUNK driving

Before his father deserted him and his mother, THE MAN told him IF HE FOUGHT BACK, BULLIES would leave him alone.

HE NEVER HAD the courage to stand up to anyone.

When AT last sated, Miranda threw the remains of her feast away

There were groups of students hurrying to some destination Eddie THAT would never be invited TO.

After a MOMENT’S hesitation, she turned and raced into the

It was a wolf howl, BUT lower, longer, and louder than any wolf could produce.

taking in the least bit of light and SPARKLING like green emeralds.

her body was so huge, they appeared SLENDER in comparison


Her nails were three inches and came to a needle sharp POINTS that were hard as steel.

She walked back inside and SAT down on her couch.

By the time she was home, she HAD spent most of her excess energy.

Ten seconds later, Brad held his shoulder and he was pushed hard enough that his glasses almost fell off his face.
---This sentence makes it seem like Brad was pushed, not Eddie

“Eddie, I’m sorry about that paper throwing incident. Brad is a heel sometimes.”
---maybe consider use of ‘heel,’ since this is supposed to be a college age girl. Maybe use ‘idiot,’ ‘asshole,’ or ‘jerk’


*overall thoughts*
I like the way the story is moving, and you’ve got me invested in your characters. I empathize with Eddie and I want to see him do well. I want to see Brad get his come uppins. I want to see Miranda open up Eddie’s world. And I want to see how Eddie will fare as he gets sucked into Miranda’s morally lacking animal world.

I honestly think your biggest issue is that you need to cut out A LOT. There are other, smaller issues, such as telling and not showing, but I think your story will get so much better if you start cutting away. Find and cut the repetition. Cut out anything that isn’t useful or necessary. Merge those short sentences into longer ones so you’re not repeating ‘he’ or ‘she’ so much, and you’ll be looking at a much better read.
7
7
Review by JulianBenabides
Rated: 18+ | (3.0)
This is a style that I’m unfamiliar with, but the concept of a play/novel style seems intriguing to me. I’ll look for more of the style.

You seem to have some grammar issues. Mostly with verb tense, apostrophe usage, and consistency with periods- some sentences have periods and others don’t. I brought up a few issues that I saw below.

bothered by fading away? Its going to (Its should be It’s)

She looks at me as if I were garbage and exits the room. (Verb consistency- 'were' is past tense but your story seems to be in present tense- should be ‘am’)

I look in the mirror beside my bed and I to see garbage. (to should be too)

After getting on I found the empty seat closest (tense inconsistency. Your story has been in present, but here you use past)

??? - "Um please? Its for the school paper." (Its should be It’s)

"Find me after school then I might answer you questions." (You should be your)

Well whatever I guess its not a problem. (Its should be It’s)

"Your interfering with my free time." (Your should be You’re)

The rest of the ride I couldn't rest because of the holes (Tense consistency- your story has been present but here you use past)

There's not really much to your story here (it's kinda short) but I'm definitely curious as to why this dude is so depressed, why he's in such a toxic home environment, and why this person on the bus is bugging him. I'm looking forward to finding out in the next installment.

And I do like the voice of the character. It's a little depressing for my taste, but I like the sincerity the character speaks with.

I also like the simplicity of your story and your dialogue- there's not a lot of unnecessary filler, and that can be difficult for a lot of writers to achieve.

Good luck with the writing, I hope your character finds some happiness in his life : )
8
8
Review of The Pack  
Review by JulianBenabides
Rated: 18+ | (3.0)
So, this is a bit tough for me to review because it’s a genre I would not normally read. But I figured I was up for a challenge, and I always like helping a fellow writer out. Anyway, here we go.

The good:
I like your pacing, a lot, actually. Pacing can be difficult and yours was pretty good.

There are almost no typos, only found one: All she would fill would be bones – fill should be feel

Also, I like the part about mosquitoes not biting Miranda, that was kinda cool.

The stuff that needs work:

I feel like your main problem here is not knowing what to cut from your story. You have WAY too much unnecessary information and it stifles the stuff I want to hear about. Eddie and Miranda seem like the main characters; I want to read about them, a lot of the other stuff just kinda feels like filler.

Example 1: You spend paragraphs detailing this old guy at the beginning, only to kill him off- why was all the back story necessary if you were just going to kill him off? I would cut out the scene and character, then open the book with the detectives examining a body.

Example 2: You introduce the bully and his girlfriend before introducing Eddie. If Eddie is the main guy, introduce him first, make me care about him before getting bullies involved. Also, I would cut Brad and his girl from the book- it’s fine to have someone antagonize Eddie to show that he gets bullied, but I wouldn’t waste time detailing Brad and going into who he is.

Example 3: You have these detectives investigating this crime. But I already
know what happened, and I’m left to assume that it was a werewolf who did the killing, so all this talk of hearing them reason it out just kinda leaves me bored.

Minor things.

You might want to consider using more contractions. ‘Didn’t,’ instead of ‘did not.’ ‘Can’t,’ instead of ‘can not.’ People talk in contractions- it feels natural to us. So when you never use them it makes the writing feel robotic and unnatural.

Example – “Hey honey, how was your day?
“Ugh, it has been such a crappy day. I did not have time to study for my exam, and I could not sleep last night so I was not ready for today at all.”

Vs

Example – “Hey honey, how was your day?
“Ugh, it’s been such a crappy day. I didn’t have time to study for my exam, and I couldn’t sleep last night so I wasn’t ready for today at all.”

Also, you need something to separate the different parts of your story. You suddenly change to a different setting and characters, and you need something to make it seem less jarring. I like to use one of these

When the beast pulled the lungs from the body, blood flew across the room and drenched her face. Sally did the only other thing she could do. She screamed and screamed.

* * *

Captain Brent Wilson of the Missoula County Sheriff’s Department stepped aside as the coroner rolled Mr. Decker’s body to the van that would take it to the morgue.


And, you can be a little bit repetitive- how many times do I need to hear about what a loser Eddie is? You can stop after like 2 or 3 examples.
It’s the same with Miranda- you keep giving examples of how mysterious she is again and again, and it feels frustrating. Just 2 or 3 examples is fine- enough to make me feel intrigued, but not hit over the head with it.

There’s often great value in what’s not said. Allude to it, tantalize a person with it- but don’t make it too obvious. You make it way too obvious that Miranda is mystical, you might want to tone that down a little.

Anyway, these are just a few thoughts to consider. If you have any questions or need any clarification, go ahead and ask!

Good luck with your work : )
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