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Review Style
I believe in constructive criticism and honesty. I can adapt my review style to fit the kind of feedback an author is looking for (e.g., developmental suggestions, fine-tuning, proofreading, etc.), but will always try to be as encouraging and helpful as possible.
I'm good at...
Plotting, characterization, dialogue, structure/pacing, and professional considerations. I can also do serviceable technical editing/proofreading, but I'm much better with developmental/creative feedback.
Favorite Genres
I read almost everything. I particularly love genre fiction (mystery/thriller and science fiction/fantasy especially) and nonfiction of all kinds.
Public Reviews
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1
1
Review of Autumn's Approach  
Review by Jeff
In affiliation with I Write  
Rated: E | (3.0)
X


Hello Detective

I'm sending this review in connection with "I Write: Enter the Second Decade.


*Penw* Positives

I really loved the imagery of this piece. My favorite season is autumn, and this poem evoked a lot of the things I love best about this season, from the sights to the smells to the feelings. You did a great job of using a lot of sensory input in this poem to make it come alive on the page (or screen, as the case may be).


*Penw* Suggestions

The stanza with the apples felt a bit repetitive, having used the word "apples" in all three lines. Even taking the word "apple" out of the second line (so that it reads "for homemade pie and cider") would go a long way toward helping avoid some of the most repetitive parts of this poem.

The first stanza also threw me for a bit because it includes both a description of morning and evening simultaneously. The other stanzas paint a moment in time while this one (and the line "the days grow shorter, and the nights grow longer") describe a span of time. The juxtaposition of those two sentiments caused me to pause as I was reading, and I wonder if it might be more effective to keep all the stanzas in the same "moment in time" style to paint a clearer picture.


*Penw* Overall

Overall, I really enjoyed this poem and all the feelings and emotions it evoked. It made me look forward to the season change coming up! *Smile*


I hope you've found this review helpful. If so, please consider paying it forward by reviewing the work of another WDC author!

Respectfully,

Jeff | "Rating & Reviewing Philosophy


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
2
2
Review of At Any Time  
Review by Jeff
In affiliation with I Write  
Rated: 13+ | (3.0)
X


Hello whiskerslearningtoplot

I'm sending this review in connection with "I Write: Enter the Second Decade.


*Penw* Positives

I really enjoyed the sentiment of the piece. After having lost my mother unexpectedly two years ago, I can really relate with this sentiment that life always seems fleeting, and one never knows when a health issue or something else is going to come up and cut short your time with loved ones. I thought you did a good job establishing the family concerns you're struggling with, and put that in great context against the larger argument for making the most of the time you have.


*Penw* Suggestions

In the first paragraph I think you may have meant to say "Delayed effects from his fall" (rather than "thus fall").

I think the piece would also be stronger if you started with a bit of background about your current situation and outlook (before the health scare with your brother JG, of course). Normally I advocate for jumping right into the main content of the piece, but since you're making a case for not squandering the chances that remain to spend time with family, I think this piece might be a bit more effective if you show the reader what your life was like before that important revelation.


*Penw* Overall

Overall, I really enjoyed this piece and thought you did a good job with it. The sentiment definitely stuck with me. Nice work!


I hope you've found this review helpful. If so, please consider paying it forward by reviewing the work of another WDC author!

Respectfully,

Jeff | "Rating & Reviewing Philosophy


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
3
3
Review by Jeff
Rated: E | (3.5)

Hello Rhymer Reisen

Enclosed please find the following review, for your consideration. This is my first experience with "The '5-Day Prompt Challenge' Contest (which seems like a fun contest!) so I'm going to try to separate out my feedback for both the individual entries as well as the story as a whole.


*Penw* Premise

One. I really like your take on the prompt. What could have been a really generic premise turned into something way more intriguing by the way you structured this first entry.

Two. The way this entry dovetailed with the first one was a pleasant surprise and a really great way to keep the reader interested while presenting them with two different, seemingly unrelated at first, storylines. Nice work!

Three. I absolutely loved your take on the prompt here. Using the word prompts as a source for character development is a really inspired choice. Also, the decision to include some significant action elements after the prior two entries being smaller in scope is a smart decision to change things up for your reader and keep them on their toes.

Four. Good use of the coffee shop prompt. Whereas prior prompts were used for different effects (general setting, backstory, character identity), this one focuses on the prompt as a primary location of the story. Your use of the prompts in different ways really stands out and makes this entry unique.

Five. The prompt in this entry was a bit of a throwaway prop in the context of the scene. I know that contests like these, with multiple varying prompts, can be challenging to continue to find ways to weave together, and this was the first one that felt like a bit of an afterthought.

Overall. Overall, I think your use of the prompts you were tasked with was excellent. You incorporated them into your entries in a variety of different ways, some of which were quite memorable. That said, I'm not sure that the premise of the story across all five installments as a whole is quite clear.


*Penw* Story

One. While there isn't much narrative to evaluate at this point, you instead used the first entry to great effect in teasing what's to come later. It's a smart tactic to use for a contest where you know you have more space to play with, and the time to set the stage for something interesting.

Two. This section was very reminiscent of the first, where there's not really an internal narrative to evaluate within this section, but it's clearly building toward something more. I'm still invested.

Three. There's definitely some story to dig into with this entry, and you do a great job of creating some interesting conflict, particularly the juxtaposition of what Cakey is seeing as compared to everyone else.

Four. While the narrative continues to be interesting, you're starting to lose me here because I'm still waiting to see how the earlier installments of the story are going to pay off, and at this point it doesn't seem like they're going to. Cakey continues to be a vibrant and interesting character, but I'm 80% of the way through the story at this point and not sure how it all ties together.

Five. The description of events in this entry is great, but I'm a little confused about what's actually going on and how this narrative is meant to resolve.

Overall. For me, the narrative across all five installments needs some work. A challenge where you have to respond to five different prompts and write five different stories that are all interconnected is definitely a challenging one, and there are definitely parts of this entry that read like it's five different tangentially-related vignettes rather than a cohesive story. In particular, I think readers need to be able to answer the question "what was this story about?" and I'm not sure there's a clear answer here.


*Penw* Characters

One. You did a good job of giving the reader just a few key details to get a sense of Kellen's personality and, combined with the twist at the end, it really keeps the reader engaged and leaves them wanting to know more.

Two. Starting a piece then immediately transitioning to a new set of characters and a different (ish) setting can be challenging, but I think you handled it well by creating echoes of the first installment in this one.

Three. Cakey is a unique and really engaging character. With just a few lines of description and a brief interaction with a few other characters, you've managed to create a compelling individual that the reader sympathizes with. This is a very difficult thing to do in fiction writing and your character development in the few hundred words of this specific entry is truly exceptional.

Four. Cakey continues to be an interesting character and point of view while witnesses events unfold, but there isn't much new character development in this specific entry.

Five. Based on the pink and gray color references, I'm assuming the gray man is Kellen and Pinkie is Isiqalo from the first two installments of this story, but there's really nothing in this entry to connect those dots or explain what/who Kellen and Isiqalo are and what their connection is here.

Overall. Your characters are one of the strongest elements of this piece. From point of view characters all the way down to incidental characters that are only there to serve the plot, you managed to find a way to make each and every one of them memorable and unique. This is a very difficult skill to learn to do well as a writer, and you should be really proud of your ability to make a lasting impression on your readers with your characters.


*Penw* Dialogue

One. The dialogue was minimal in this first entry, but I think that works to the piece's advantage, keeping the reader focused on establishing the setting and the character.

Two. Like with the first installment, the dialogue here is minimal, and I think that's to the advantage of the narrative right now.

Three. The dialogue in this entry was great, particularly the interaction with the "tan-and-blonde perfect twink" and "his equally stereotyped partner." The realistic dialogue, paired with the savvy use of description and characterization really made this entry stand out.

Four. There's no dialogue in this piece, except for Cakey's inner thoughts which are effective at moving the story along.

Five. The dialogue between Pinkie and Cakey at the end feels a little unearned, because the reader still doesn't really understand how all of this is meant to fit together. Using a technique where there's very little dialogue in a piece as a whole until the very end can have tremendous effect in emphasizing the importance of that dialogue... but the flaw here for me is that the dialogue isn't very resonant because it feels a bit random based on what's been established in the story so far.

Overall. Your use of dialogue was very good. The actual words came across as realistic and, more importantly, you know when to have your characters say something and when it's better for them to remain silent and let actions speak. A lot of authors have a tendency to pad scenes and chapters with excess dialogue and you definitely don't have that problem in this piece!


*Penw* Structure

One. There wasn't any internal structure to this entry per se, but as part of a larger narrative it worked just fine to set the stage for what's to come. The pacing was excellent and the narrative moved along nicely, ending with a great teaser about what is going on and encouraging the reader to continue on.

Two. I liked the echoes of the first installment here. You set the scene, moved things along quickly, and created an intriguing mystery by the end of these few hundred words. You're off to a great start in terms of a larger narrative!

Three. I'm still not entirely sure where this story is going because you've now introduced three different sets of characters in three different settings in and around New York, each of whom experience different things... but you've managed to make each of them individually interesting and well-paced, so I'm not sure that really matters that much. Although I will say that, from a personal standpoint, I'm starting to wonder how (or even if) all of this narrative will come together knowing that there's only two installments left.

Four. This entry was fast-paced and full of action. You made good use of your description and kept the imagery vivid while also moving the story along at a brisk pace.

Five. I would suggest a little something to break up the two sections of this piece. The fantasy element and the real-world element at the very end when Cakey finds herself in the shop as if nothing happened kind of run together.

Overall. From a structural standpoint, each individual entry works well internally, but I think there's room for improvement in terms of how they relate to one another. The first two installments introduce us to characters that aren't mentioned again in the story (although there's an assumption that they make an appearance). It's unclear how the middle installments build to a cohesive conclusion. Some of that is clearly due to the unique circumstances of the contest and only having a day to write to an unrelated prompt without having the option of going back and editing, but for future challenges like this, my advice would be to put a little more energy into developing a cohesive narrative where the things you set up in prior installments have a chance to more fully pay off.


*Penw* Technical

One. In the fourth paragraph, when the description says, "The paradox of safety in numbers while alone in a crowd was something he'd argued internally (eternally?), but..." really threw me off as I was reading. I can't tell if it's because this is the first (and only) time that the narration is treated directly like Kellen having an inner monologue with himself, or if it's the juxtaposition of internally/eternally which isn't the usual pairing of similar concepts that one uses when trying to discern the right word to use. It almost felt like Kellen was trying to figure out if he used the right-sounding word, but that language difficulty isn't on display anywhere else in this piece so it makes it stand out as odd.

Two. I think I may have mentioned this in a prior review, but there are a couple of points in this installment of the story where it feels like you're trying a little too hard to be unique in your word choice, and it tends to make the piece read a little awkward and overwrought. In particular, phrasing like, "something bloated and oppressive as it embossed her olfactory system" and "What was enslaving her focus?" read as a bit stilted because you're trying to convey simple information in a more-complex-than-it-needs-to-be kind of way. On the plus side, your turns of phrase are excellent. "The Big Apple's big apples" and "realizing his fruit-bearers would bear him no financial fruit" are fun turns of phrase that I particularly enjoyed.

Three. No criticism here, but I did want to point out, as a callback to my note in the first entry, the line where you say "They scampered through the terminal tunnel (escaping, Miz Cakey thought)..." is exactly how this particular device is used to the utmost effect, where you have the thoughts of the character clearly elaborating and refining the information that came before it. I would recommend looking at how you used the device here and seeing if you can apply the same principle to the part in the first entry.

Four. I think the "What did it mean?" line was a weaker sentence to end this piece on than if you removed it and ended with, "Was it a dance, or was it a fight?" The latter leaves the reader with something much more specific and dynamic to contemplate. Adding a more generic question after the specific one leaves the reader finishing out the entry on a less impactful note.

Five. Assuming Pinkie and the gray man are actually Isiqalo and Kellen, what threads are there to connect this final scene to the first two? It feels like there's a missing piece here, and the reader isn't seeing the full picture about how the disparate parts of this story are meant to work together.

Overall. On a personal note, I loved the humorous little notes in the word count of each entry. *Bigsmile* Overall, your technical writing is quite good. Your use of detail and description is vivid but restrained, you know how to keep the story moving along, etc. But I'd recommend taking a note from Elmore Leonard (Jayne told me you're currently reading Out of Sight which is a personal favorite of mine) or Stephen King and figuring out a way to tell your story more simply. Word choice is an immensely powerful tool in a writer's toolkit and there's no question that there are times when sophisticated, highly specific language is the right way to go. But there are also times when you don't need to overthink it and can sometimes just say "the scent of something bloated and oppressive hit her" or "she huffed while she climbed up among the branches." Sometimes, just saying the thing you want to say plainly is the most effective way to go (particularly when you're in the middle of describing action and trying to keep the pacing tight).


*Penw* Overall

Overall, I think this is a quality story and I can easily see why you won Third Place in the "The '5-Day Prompt Challenge' Contest with it. Given the particulars of that contest (the daily prompt, the word limit, the no editing, etc. while still trying to tell a cohesive story), I think you did very well with the framework you were given.

I do think there are a number of opportunities for improvement which hopefully this (very long, sorry about that!) review goes into in some detail. Some of them are related to very specific, minor things such as word choice or description or tying things together. Some of them are "bigger picture" type things, and there's one more bigger-picture type suggestion I wanted to make before I close out this review.

In my experience, these types of challenges are a lot of fun because they really stretch you to work within a confined space to create something unique. I think it's always beneficial to look at the entire challenge as you're working on your entries, with an eye on the bigger picture. I'm not sure how you conceptualized this story you were telling (i.e., if you just kind of winged it every round or if you knew where you were going from the very beginning), but for my own writing I try to leave myself a lot of openings to draw from later in the activity. Sometimes just a couple of small throughlines from entry to entry can help really pull the thing together, and I thin this entry would have benefitted from that as well. For example, just knowing for certain that Pinkie and the gray man at the end of the story were Kellen and Isiqalo would have worked wonders for the cohesiveness and unity of the entry as a whole.

Ultimately, I think you've done really good work in this piece. There's a ton of potential here if you should choose to revisit the piece, and some parts are truly exceptional already. There's room for improvement (isn't there always? *Wink*) but I think you did an excellent job given the constraints of the contest and that you should be proud of what you've written here.


I hope you've found this review helpful. If so, please consider paying it forward by reviewing the work of another WDC author!

Respectfully,

Jeff | "Rating & Reviewing Philosophy


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
4
4
Review by Jeff
Rated: E | (3.0)
2012 Anniversary Reviews Banner


Hello Dhammika Weerasingha

Congratulations on your Writing.com account anniversary this month! I'm sending this review in honor of the occasion, courtesy of the "Anniversary Reviews activity.


*Penw* Positives

I really enjoyed this item. In my childhood, I also watched a television series (and a number of movies) about parallel worlds and they've fascinated me ever since. I like the way you took that initial premise and found a way to expand it into a philosophical/psychological journey for yourself.


*Penw* Suggestions

The only small suggestion I have is to consider expanding this piece a big. I rarely give general commentary like, "I think it should be longer" because I tend to defer to authors making their writing as brief or as long as they see fit, but in this case the subject matter that you're describing (i.e., the concept of parallel worlds), as well as the breadth of subject matter (i.e., your own travels and the argument that everyone is a time traveler that doesn't need a time machine to do so), I think the structure of the piece almost requires a bit more context in order to fully explore and connect the dots between the different parts of this article.


*Penw* Overall

I really enjoyed reading this piece. I think you're off to a great start and there's a ton of potential here. A bit of revision and fleshing out has the potential to make this a truly exceptional piece.


I hope you've found this review helpful. If so, please consider paying it forward by reviewing the work of another WDC author!

Respectfully,

Jeff | "Rating & Reviewing Philosophy


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
5
5
Review by Jeff
Rated: ASR | (3.0)
2012 Anniversary Reviews Banner


Hello Yeetaway

Congratulations on your Writing.com account anniversary this month! I'm sending this review in honor of the occasion, courtesy of the "Anniversary Reviews activity.


*Penw* Positives

I really enjoyed the level of detail and description you infused into this piece. You created a lot of vivid imagery in comparatively few words. I also thought you did a great job with the character development and casting the narrator's mother in a tragic yet sympathetic light after the passing of Jonathan.


*Penw* Suggestions

The ending, for me, created more problems than it solved. I'm all for a twist ending, or a surprise ending, or an ending that raises some questions, but having the narrator suddenly pivot from a story about his/her mother's untimely death after another death in the family, to asking someone about their engagement, was a real jolt. I think the story needs some sort of connection to that ending throughout the story so that the ending doesn't quite feel like it's coming out of nowhere. At the very least, I think it would be helpful to have some context as to why the narrator is relaying this anecdote against the backdrop of someone visiting to tell of their engagement.


*Penw* Overall

I think there's a lot of potential in this story. It's atmospheric and dramatic and has an emotional resonance to it, but a little work is needed to refine the piece and really make sure the ending pays off for the reader.


I hope you've found this review helpful. If so, please consider paying it forward by reviewing the work of another WDC author!

Respectfully,

Jeff | "Rating & Reviewing Philosophy


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
6
6
Review by Jeff
Rated: E | (3.0)
2012 Anniversary Reviews Banner


Hello DAtmospheres

Congratulations on your Writing.com account anniversary this month! I'm sending this review in honor of the occasion, courtesy of the "Anniversary Reviews activity.


*Penw* Positives

The worldbuilding was well established in relatively few words. With flash fiction stories of this length it's critical to get right into the story quickly while still being able to engage the audience and you managed to accomplish that effectively. The three characters carrying the alien (plus Dr. Boris) were engaging and I was invested in their plight.


*Penw* Suggestions

The story felt like it was missing some conflict in the middle, as the three crew members and the doctor were just going through routine procedures. The ending felt a little random as well, because there wasn't really anything to foreshadow the sudden animation of the alien. With really short, quick stories like this, I find it helpful in my own writing to build everything toward the payoff. If the payoff is going to be that the alien they thought was dead actually isn't, every action they take should somehow put them more and more at a disadvantage for when that moment inevitably happens.

Taking off all their clothes for decontamination was amusing, but it lacks the tension that you would create by them leaving their weapons outside the room (or handing them off earlier for decontamination). Being focused on the slime that was on them was fine, but it could be even more effective if the slime somehow contributed to their predicament, like making it too slippery for them to handle defending themselves. I'd recommend playing with the setup in the story so that the payoff is just a little stronger and more rewarding for the reader.


*Penw* Overall

I think you have a solid start to a really compelling flash fiction sci-fi story here. I think some work could be done to hone it further and really capitalize on all the opportunities you've set up, but you're off to a good start. *Smile*


I hope you've found this review helpful. If so, please consider paying it forward by reviewing the work of another WDC author!

Respectfully,

Jeff | "Rating & Reviewing Philosophy


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
7
7
Review by Jeff
Rated: E | (2.5)
2012 Anniversary Reviews Banner


Hello Shawn C. Bailey (lunch/dinner)

Congratulations on your Writing.com account anniversary this month! I'm sending this review in honor of the occasion, courtesy of the "Anniversary Reviews activity.


*Penw* Positives

This essay is definitely full of passion, and has a strong point of view. I like the way you put the conflict in Ukraine in historical context, and tackle a variety of different aspects of both the Ukrainian conflict and the United States' current policies and political composition to make your point.


*Penw* Suggestions

There are quite a few points in the essay where I think a little more clarity would help make your points more effectively. For example, in the second paragraph you make the assertion that the USA "began a dramatic swing toward socialism" in 2021 and that the U.S. government began to "decree which products could/couldn't be manufactured/sold" and "The U.S. and state 'governments' began issuing royal proclamations and calling them 'mandates'." Both of those examples have nothing to do with socialism (defined as a political/economic theory where people/the community as a whole control the means of production, distribution, etc.).

Additionally, a lot of your arguments presuppose a particular point of view. Regarding the issue of leaving military equipment and supplies in Afghanistan upon withdrawal, you assert that can only be because of traitorous intent or incompetent management, and ask how an employee would be treated who left equipment behind at a job site. In truth, people leave equipment behind all the time when it's financially advantageous to do so (American companies routinely tell customers to keep refunded products because the cost to ship them back isn't worth it to them). And that's not to say that I'm arguing in favor of the decisions the current administration made in Afghanistan; I'm just pointing out that presupposing the worst or only allowing for negative assumptions limits the audience of this piece mostly just to people who are already inclined to agree with you.


*Penw* Overall

Overall, I think you've presented an impassioned argument, but I think there's room for improvement in how you make your case. For me, if you're going to argue that the whole Ukraine conflict is a set-up in order to draw in U.S. involvement and co-opt the weaponry and equipment being provided for the defense of the country, I think you'd be better off focusing on making the specific elements of that case and focusing less on the social commentary around the administration's domestic policies, which have the effect of detracting from the point you're making. I think there's some potential here to write a really convincing persuasive essay, but some work is needed to get it there.


I hope you've found this review helpful. If so, please consider paying it forward by reviewing the work of another WDC author!

Respectfully,

Jeff | "Rating & Reviewing Philosophy


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
8
8
Review of Faith-filled Days  
Review by Jeff
Rated: E | (3.5)
2012 Anniversary Reviews Banner


Hello L.A. Grawitch

Congratulations on your Writing.com account anniversary this month! I'm sending this review in honor of the occasion, courtesy of the "Anniversary Reviews activity.


*Penw* Positives

I was drawn to this piece because a friend of mine recently completed a solitude retreat where he spent three weeks at a remote cabin with just his Bible and very limited connection to the outside world. How strange to be back in a place where that kind of isolation is voluntary and not required by public health declaration!

You did a great job of capturing the feeling of those early days of the COVID-19 pandemic when isolation was a very real thing for a great many people. The way you set up your protagonist as having simple pleasures was a great way to introduce us to the character and set the stage for a very simple but effective story.


*Penw* Suggestions

One small suggestion for improvement would be to consider a different approach to the ability for the protagonist to watch his church service online. For me, it was a story about isolation and loneliness and the final moment of Sam's note was undercut by, just a few moments earlier, the protagonist having a major moment of not feeling so isolated. From a standpoint of pure narrative structure, the final gesture of the story was lessened in effectiveness by what happened just before that. If the protagonist were to receive news that his church's services would still be delayed for some time, or if the service itself were a bit of a disappointment, it would enhance the effect of Sam's kind gesture toward the protagonist.


*Penw* Overall

Overall, I thought this story was solid. There are a couple areas for improvement, but it would be improving on an already solid foundation and looking for ways to make it really stand out. Well done!


I hope you've found this review helpful. If so, please consider paying it forward by reviewing the work of another WDC author!

Respectfully,

Jeff | "Rating & Reviewing Philosophy


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
9
9
Review by Jeff
Rated: E | (3.0)
2012 Anniversary Reviews Banner


Hello Nwriter

Congratulations on your Writing.com account anniversary this month! I'm sending this review in honor of the occasion, courtesy of the "Anniversary Reviews activity.


*Penw* Positives

I really like the depth of thought in this piece. You clearly put a lot of thought into how to read something and contextualize it, and it definitely gives the reader a lot to contemplate. I also like that you drew from a variety of sources which made the piece feel much more well-rounded than if you had chosen solely religious or philosophical texts to reference in the piece.


*Penw* Suggestions

The piece feels a bit unfocused, as it starts and ends with symbolism. But the vast majority of the middle part of the essay focuses instead on sensory input and cognition. It felt a bit like I was reading two different essays rolled into one, rather than a cohesive piece that addressed one or the other, or a broader-scope piece that interwove the two concepts. I would recommend learning into one or the other so that it doesn't feel like the essay has two disparate parts.


*Penw* Overall

Overall, I really enjoyed the read. It was thought-provoking, and something that all critical readers can relate to at one time or another. It can be a real challenge not to overcomplicate our own analysis of a piece of art!


I hope you've found this review helpful. If so, please consider paying it forward by reviewing the work of another WDC author!

Respectfully,

Jeff | "Rating & Reviewing Philosophy


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
10
10
Review of A Dip in Darkness  
Review by Jeff
Rated: E | (3.0)
This was a compelling story. The setting was well established and the phenomena that occurs is instantly engaging as the reader tries to figure out what's going on. It was a great setup for a compelling story.

The middle of the story started to feel a little repetitive with person after person disappearing into the void. The story could have used some variety or increasing stakes in this second act to make it feel like the stakes were increasing rather than just staying the same as one person after another suffers the same fate.

I would recommend some kind of arc for either the story or the protagonist. I think you have have an ambiguous narrative with a character who changes, or a character who stays the same with a narrative that changes, but when both the story and the characters essentially end up right back where they started with nothing having changed, it's difficult to draw anything from the experience of reading the story. I'd recommend some sort of change or transformation take place on some front, as the result of this strange phenomena.


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
11
11
Review by Jeff
Rated: 13+ | (2.5)
This was an interesting mythological history of Quito. Like many myths, it does a great job of explaining a modern-day phenomenon (in this case, why Quito has such cold weather and is on the slopes of an active volcano).

There were a handful of points where the story got a little confusing and I think would have benefitted from a little editing and proofreading. For example, the father promises that, if his prayers are answered, he will come to the volcano "every night, every year end with a little of his blood." Does that mean the father will visit every night and then once a year he will come with his son's blood? The way the sentence was structured made it confusing what was being promised. Similarly, the ending of the story got a little confusing in terms of the sequence of events, and might benefit from some paragraph breaks, additional description, and fine-tuning to make sure the story reads well.

Overall, I thought this was an interesting myth and one I hadn't heard before, so I greatly enjoyed it from that perspective. It does need a fair bit of editing, but you're off to a good start.

Also, on a side note, you might want to consider listing this in "Mythology" for at least one of its genres so you can make sure it finds the right audience. *Smile*



*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
12
12
Review of What?  
Review by Jeff
Rated: E | (3.0)

I think you raise some really interesting questions in this article. Questions of how "well off" we are in our own society versus by comparison to others, if the reader can envision a future without having to work, if rich people are really rich if no one works for them... these are all intriguing questions that are worth exploring, but they all felt a little mashed together in a piece that's unclear about what it's asking of the reader. Is the piece arguing for the reader to see a certain point of view? To actually answer these specific questions? If it's the latter, what's the purpose of the very specific and varied series of questions being asked?

Overall, I think an article challenging the reader to examine the "false life" they live is an interesting exercise, but I'd encourage you to structure it a little differently in order to make it a more persuasive piece of writing for your audience. Matching the arguments with the questions and creating a little space for the reader to consider before jumping to the next one might be a more effective way to make your point.


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13
13
Review by Jeff
Rated: E | (3.0)

The first line of your story is great. It really grips the reader right away, intrigues them, and entices them to read more. I also really liked the message of this story, about the power of being a good listener and how that can be applied in different ways.

The line, "Listening spread good feeling!" appears to be missing some words or phrasing to make it a complete sentence. Either "listening spread a good feeling" or "listening spreads good feelings" or something along those lines.

It also felt like the balance of the story was a little off. With very short flash fiction like DFFC entries where you only have 300 words to work with, every single word and sentence matters. I think a little too much time was dedicated to the earlier part of the story where the narrator is providing the anecdote about him first trying to be a good listener with his mother, when the real heart of the story is the time spent with Jim and him encouraging the narrator to use his gift elsewhere. I would suggest finding a way to streamline that initial setup so that you can devote more of this story to the relationship with Jim and the narrator's subsequent decision to be a doctor, so those elements don't feel so rushed at the end.


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14
14
Review by Jeff
Rated: E | (2.5)

I enjoyed reading your item. It's important to reflect on the reasons why art makes us feel the way it does, and I don't think you're at all alone in finding that reading romance stories brings you feelings of excitement. Romance is, after all, one of the bestselling genres for a reason! *Smile*

There were quite a few points where the language needs work, from simple typos (the third sentence in the first paragraph should be "typical" not "typival") to awkwardly phrased sentences ("... I had forgotten him once awaring he may not crush any girl." I'm not 100% certain, but I think that might have meant to say something along the lines of, "... I had forgotten him once, aware that he may not crush on just any girl."). I would recommend a thorough edit and proofread to make sure that you're saying what you want to say in the clearest and most possible way.

At the end of the piece, I'm not quite sure what you want the reader to take away from it. You concede that sometimes people indulge in fictions for amusement (which is certainly true), but you end on a note implying that such a "temporary luxury" must be compensated for and that there has to be a "shift." What did you mean by that? I think you need to more fully elaborate on your thesis of what people who indulge in fantasy for entertainment purposes are needing to do to offset that pastime.

Overall, I thought your item was interesting and thought-provoking, but it does need a significant amount of work in order to make it clearer and more cohesive.


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15
15
Review by Jeff
In affiliation with I Write  
Rated: 13+ | (3.5)
X


Hello whiskerslearningtoplot

I'm sending this review in connection with "I Write: Enter the Second Decade.

I like the fact that this story uses an epistolary format where the language evolves as the main character evolves. It reminds me of Alice Walker's classic The Color Purple, and it was used to great effect here. I was all ready to say how there were a bunch of errors with spelling, word choice, etc. in the first paragraphs and then got to the part in the story later where Stoick's mother corrects him and it was a great payoff to your setup.

There were two things that I would suggest as possible improvements. The first is from the perspective of someone who isn't familiar at all with the How To Train Your Dragon franchise, and that is that there isn't a lot of conflict or a narrative hook to these stories. The epistolary tells us of a few days in Stoick's life, but they don't seem particularly formative. Stories like this, where you're using an epistolary format to fill in the backstory of a familiar character, are most effective when the anecdotes being told in the character's writing are significant events and not just "day in the life" kind of stuff. What events shaped Stoick into the man he would eventually become.

And that brings me to the second suggestion for improvement, from the perspective of someone who is very familiar with the franchise. Stoick is an integral character to the franchise, and while I love the idea of getting to know more about his own upbringing, I was hoping it would live up to his legend a little more. In the films, he is portrayed as one of the greatest leaders Berk has ever had, so I went into this story with the expectation that a "Young Stoick" fanfiction story would regale the reader with some of the events that happened prior to the first film to build his legendary status. There was a good parallel between Stoick trying to live up to his father's status just like Hiccup then has to do the same in the shadow of Stoick, but it would have been great to get more insight into what made Stoick so amazing.

I hope you've found this review helpful. If so, please consider paying it forward by reviewing the work of another WDC author!

Respectfully,

Jeff | "Rating & Reviewing Philosophy


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16
16
Review by Jeff
In affiliation with I Write  
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
X


Hello 💙 Carly - falling for Fall

I'm sending this review in connection with "I Write: Enter the Second Decade.

*Penv* Premise
I enjoyed your take on the prompt. Performing at a poetry reading is right up there with some of my worst nightmares, so I really appreciated the way the setting brought the prompt about fear of public speaking front and center.

*Penv* Story
The narrative moved along nicely. It was short, to the point, and felt like a fully-realized story.

*Penv* Characters
The one area of improvement I would suggest is to not make it such an "I'm all better!" ending. Phobias typically take more than just a single positive experience to recede fully. I know you only have a thousand words to work with for a Writer's Cramp story, but I would have loved for the story to end on a hopeful positive-trajectory note while still maintaining a little trepidation.

*Penv* Dialogue
The dialogue was effective at moving the story forward.

*Penv* Structure/Technical
"No they're not, you're just being...."

*Penv* Overall
Overall, I thought this was a good Writer's Cramp entry and a solid take on the prompt. Nice work!

I hope you've found this review helpful. If so, please consider paying it forward by reviewing the work of another WDC author!

Respectfully,

Jeff | "Rating & Reviewing Philosophy


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
17
17
Review of Chapter Five  
Review by Jeff
In affiliation with I Write  
Rated: 18+ | (3.5)
X


Hello Rhymer Reisen

I'm sending this review in connection with "I Write: Enter the Second Decade.

*Penv* Premise
Since this is Chapter Five and I haven't read the other four chapters, I don't have a lot to say on the general premise or the overall narrative that spans more than just this chapter. That said, in this chapter itself, having a character mistake a sex toy for a snake in the presence of a neighbor is a great setup for a chapter. *Laugh*

*Penv* Story
You did a great job of carrying the "snake" theme throughout the chapter so that the surprise in the mailbox didn't feel like a one-off gag, but was instead part of a larger narrative.

*Penv* Characters
Calanthe's reaction to discovering the Jesse was dead by listening to the news seemed a little muted. Given the connections to Jesse referenced earlier in the chapter (and presumably earlier in the story) - and from a snakebite no less - he seemed more perplexed than genuinely shocked. Perhaps there's something earlier in the story that I'm not aware of which justifies this specific reaction, but it read as a little understated within just the context of this chapter, knowing both Calanthe's connection to Jesse, and aversion to snakes.

*Penv* Dialogue
The dialogue in this chapter was great, especially between Calantha and his neighbor when the surprise delivery was discovered. It was clever, funny, and kept the story moving along nicely.

*Penv* Structure/Technical
There was a point in the early part of the chapter where the specific word choice was a bit of an impediment to the flow of the read. Specifically, "... the charcoal clouds ensured a gloomy landscape while petrichor invigorated his olfactory system." While I love specific, nuanced words as much as anyone, this particular sentence literally made me stop and re-read it multiple times because the way it was written felt overly formal and flowery compared to the rest of the paragraph.

I also noticed a handful of places where you referred to the same character by different identifiers in the same sentence or paragraph (e.g., "Calanthe" and "the writer," "Neighbor" and "redneck," etc.). I found the switch from one identifier to the other to be confusing at several points, reading almost as if they were different characters in the scene.

*Penv* Overall
Overall, I enjoyed this chapter. The events of the story were highly entertaining and well written. There are a couple areas for improvement and it's possible I don't fully appreciate the details in this chapter because I haven't read the four preceding chapters, but I think you're off to a great start here. Nice work!

I hope you've found this review helpful. If so, please consider paying it forward by reviewing the work of another WDC author!

Respectfully,

Jeff | "Rating & Reviewing Philosophy


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
18
18
Review by Jeff
In affiliation with I Write  
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
X


Hello 💙 Carly - falling for Fall

I'm sending this review in connection with "I Write: Enter the Second Decade.

I really thought you did a great job with the personification of time in this piece. It was well developed, and your vivid language helped create a clear image in the reader's mind. I thought the structure of the piece was excellent, especially with the last few stanzas laid out in a way that visually drew them out and added emphasis. Overall, I thought this was a solid piece and I really enjoyed the read. Nice work and I look forward to seeing more of your work in I Write! *Smile*

I hope you've found this review helpful. If so, please consider paying it forward by reviewing the work of another WDC author!

Respectfully,

Jeff | "Rating & Reviewing Philosophy


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
19
19
for entry "Trumpeting Success
Review by Jeff
In affiliation with I Write  
Rated: E | (3.5)
X


Hello KingsSideCastle

I'm sending this review in connection with "I Write: Enter the Second Decade.

*Penv* Premise
It's nice to run across a fellow Banana Bar entrant! I really enjoyed the idea of having Andre being a part of a band that involves other characters from the world of entertainment. That was a really clever twist!

*Penv* Story
There's not much of a narrative here, but that's somewhat by design due to the nature of the prompt. I enjoyed the fact that there are a lot of potential avenues to explore in future prompts.

*Penv* Characters
Great choice of other monkey characters from popular entertainment franchises!

*Penv* Dialogue
N/A

*Penv* Structure/Technical
At the beginning of the second paragraph, it should be "bugle monkey" rather than "bungle monkey."

*Penv* Overall
Overall, I thought this was a fun, creative take on the prompt. I'm excited to read more of your entries during the March Musical Monkey Madness activity! *Smile*

I hope you've found this review helpful. If so, please consider paying it forward by reviewing the work of another WDC author!

Respectfully,

Jeff | "Rating & Reviewing Philosophy


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
20
20
Review by Jeff
In affiliation with I Write  
Rated: E | (3.5)
X


Hello Sumojo

I'm sending this review in connection with "I Write: Enter the Second Decade.

*Penv* Premise
I enjoyed the concept of this story. An appliance-box time machine going back into prehistoric times reminds me so much of the comic strip Calvin & Hobbes and brought back a lot of imagery and nostalgia from those iconic panels. *Thumbsup*

*Penv* Story
The narrative was entertaining, although I was hoping for a little more conflict once they started time traveling. The encounter with the dinosaurs felt rather easily resolved, and they operated the time machine going back home without any hesitation even though their first trip was something of an anomaly. Overall, I was hoping for some more tension and suspense in their efforts to stay out of danger and get back home.

*Penv* Characters
Jedd and Jacob felt like realistic young boys going on an adventure, and Percy/Bollix was a fun sidekick for their adventure, which lent some entertainment value and a bit of a depth to the story.

*Penv* Dialogue
The dialogue was effective and kept the story moving along.

*Penv* Structure/Technical
As mentioned above, I think there's an opportunity for some more suspense and tension in the structuring of the end of the story. You have a good setup, but it gets resolved rather quickly and I think there's an opportunity to either shorten the setup, or expand the rising action and climax so the pacing works a little better.

*Penv* Overall
Overall, I thought this was a very entertaining story. I really enjoyed the premise, and I thought you did a pretty good job with the execution. There's room for a little improvement, but you're off to a great start.

I hope you've found this review helpful. If so, please consider paying it forward by reviewing the work of another WDC author!

Respectfully,

Jeff | "Rating & Reviewing Philosophy


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
21
21
Review of LeFou  
Review by Jeff
In affiliation with I Write  
Rated: E | (3.5)
X


Hello ridinghhood--p. boutilier

I'm sending this review in connection with "I Write: Enter the Second Decade.

*Penv* Overall
I enjoyed reading this piece, particularly because I'm not too familiar with the specifics of tarot decks, so it was fun to learn about some of the different cards and their imagery. I didn't even realize that there was a such thing as Children's Tarot! This item was clearly laid out, concise, and provided a lot of information with an entertaining, friendly approach. All in all, it was a quick, enjoyable read and I learned a little something in the process. *Smile*

I hope you've found this review helpful. If so, please consider paying it forward by reviewing the work of another WDC author!

Respectfully,

Jeff | "Rating & Reviewing Philosophy


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
22
22
Review of Old Saws  
Review by Jeff
In affiliation with I Write  
Rated: E | (4.0)
X


Hello Richard's Fall Cleanup!

I'm sending this review in connection with "I Write: Enter the Second Decade.

*Penv* Overall
I really enjoyed this piece. I thought the double-rhymed lines made it flow really well, the use of red text to highlight the three "old saws" was a great way to make them stand out, and your ending was both thought-provoking and entertaining. It was concise and engaging.

I'm not familiar with the "EXPRESS IT IN EIGHT activity, but this seems like it was a fun prompt and you had a great take on it. Looking forward to crossing paths with you again for I Write in the future!

I hope you've found this review helpful. If so, please consider paying it forward by reviewing the work of another WDC author!

Respectfully,

Jeff | "Rating & Reviewing Philosophy


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
23
23
Review by Jeff
In affiliation with I Write  
Rated: ASR | (4.0)
X


Hello Richard's Fall Cleanup!

I'm sending this review in connection with "I Write: Enter the Second Decade.

I don't have a lot of experience with Andre the Blog Monkey's Banana Bar, but I do from time to time enjoy these fun prompts where you include other members of the Writing.com community in your stories. *Smile*

I thought you did a great job with the detail and description in this piece; the imagery about your muse's tuxedo in particular was vivid and memorable (as Really Green tuxedoes should be!), and you did a nice job of working the other characters into the story.

On a personal level, I would have loved a little more context about the event (both the event in the story, and the nature of the prompt) to know whether this was an ongoing story, a standalone, etc. It seems like perhaps there was a little more to it for people who follow along with the activity, so it would have been great to know whether this was part of a larger world created for the activity, or a one-off.

Very enjoyable, though. It was a really fun read. *Bigsmile*

I hope you've found this review helpful. If so, please consider paying it forward by reviewing the work of another WDC author!

Respectfully,

Jeff | "Rating & Reviewing Philosophy


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
24
24
Review of Heavy Fog  
Review by Jeff
In affiliation with I Write  
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
X


Hello 💙 Carly - falling for Fall

I'm sending this review in connection with "I Write: Enter the Second Decade.

I really liked your take on the prompt and absolutely loved the glimpse into your process as you started with something and steadily honed it, narrowing it down to the requisite number of words to meet the challenge. I do something similar with syllables for structured poetry, so it's nice to know that I'm not alone in that! *Bigsmile*

Overall, very nice poem and good take on the prompt. Good luck in the contest!

I hope you've found this review helpful. If so, please consider paying it forward by reviewing the work of another WDC author!

Respectfully,

Jeff | "Rating & Reviewing Philosophy


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
25
25
Review by Jeff
Rated: E | (4.5)
*Shield1*   OFFICIAL CONTEST JUDGE'S REVIEW   *Shield1*


Hello Chris24

Thank you for taking the time to enter the August 2021 round of the "Short Shots: Official WDC Contest. Enclosed please find the following review, for your consideration.

         *Penw* Premise.

Great take on the prompt.

         *Penw* Story.

This was a wonderful story. You managed to pack so much narrative and atmosphere into a comparatively short story; I'm really impressed. Very few short stories are able to both tell a comprehensive, satisfying story while also hinting at a larger world, and you managed to do both easily.

         *Penw* Characters.

All three characters (Thomas, Abby, and Hatu) were well-developed and interesting.

         *Penw* Dialogue.

The dialogue was realistic and moved the story forward at a brisk pace.

         *Penw* Technical.

Just one typo that I could find: Another growl and shriek in the distance and Thomas brought his rifle up, scanning for any threat he could find.

         *Penw* Overall.

This was an outstanding story. I really enjoyed every moment of reading it. *Smile*

I hope you've found this review helpful. If so, please consider paying it forward by reviewing the work of another WDC author!

Respectfully,

Jeff | "Rating & Reviewing Philosophy


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
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