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Printed from http://www.writing.com/main/profile/reviews/kijilinn
Review Requests: ON
11 Public Reviews Given
Review Style
I tend to be very forthright and analytical in my reviews, which sometimes comes across as harsh or unforgiving. I'm always willing to engage in discussion about what I've written in a review and may ask questions to encourage critical thinking and self-analysis. I'm willing to review multi-chapter works on a chapter-by-chapter basis.
I'm good at...
Thoughtful, in-depth constructive criticism and character development. I tend to focus on diverse viewpoints and balanced representation. I will review graphic and explicit material. Bonus points if it's LGBTQ+ positive, especially with positive representation of bisexual men and women. Polyamory is also a bonus.
Favorite Genres
Horror, science fiction, high fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal romance
Least Favorite Genres
technical non-fiction, children's books or juvenile literature, poetry
Favorite Item Types
Short stories between 1,500 and 10,000 words.
Least Favorite Item Types
Poems and poetry. Also, multi-chapter open-ended stories without a planned ending point. If I'm going to invest in multiple chapters, I need to know approximately when the story will end.
I will not review...
Poetry in any form: I don't know anything about it and you would get nothing useful from my review. I will not review fiction which glorifies rape, pedophilia or bestiality.
Public Reviews
1
1
for entry "Chapter 1
Review by Linn Browning
Rated: 18+ | (3.0)
This is in response to your review request. I'll do individual reviews as I work my way through, chapter by chapter. I enjoyed reading it and hope you find this feedback useful.

*Check2* Overall Impression:
This is a very promising story. I'm intrigued about the world and there is obviously a lot going on. There are also a lot of mechanical and stylistic errors, along with some factual and plot-based errors you may want to consider, but I look forward to reading more!

*Check2* Plot:
As a first chapter, the plot is solid with the exception of a few questions I had as I was reading. One of those is: are the slaves a nationality? A race? A type of creature? And regardless of who they are, why are they being allowed to train with wooden swords? Even a wooden sword can kill someone and I'm sure the guards would be aware of that fact. It's something to consider.

*Check2* Style and Voice:
There are a lot of mechanical and technical errors which make it hard to comment on the style of the story. Right now, the flow of narration needs work as it's stilted and feels overly wordy. There are a few places where it feels like you sat down with a thesaurus and pulled synonyms out without double-checking their usage, which you might want to check on. Example: the tents are described as both being lime green and "ruddy." I'm not sure what the intention was, but ruddy means red in color or flushed, like a ruddy complexion.

*Check2* Scene/Setting:
I feel like I've been dropped into the middle of a world without a guide book. You use references to the kinds of guards without describing how Drake and his grandmother would refer to themselves, so it's hard to tell if they are the same kinds of people or not. You may want to consider including some narration to explain how the slaves became slaves, as the grandmother's explanation of "people are hurting" isn't terribly clear nor compelling to an audience.

Speaking to setting-related details, you may want to consider how your characters are dressed. Slaves have full boots? In a desert? It seems more likely the guards would have boots and greaves while the slaves are relegated to far cheaper sandals.

*Check2* Characters:
Drake and his grandmother are a good focus for the beginning of this story, but I have trouble connecting to Drake as a character. We don't hear much of his inner monologue or what he thinks about his situation, only how he physically reacts to what's happening around him. Inner monologue would help the reader engage with the main character and sympathize with him more. We want to stay with him for the whole story, so getting his backstory in early helps a lot.

*Check2* Dialog:
Beware the cliche. A lot of your dialog, especially the guards' lines, sound overdrawn and cliche. Villains who narrate their actions tend to sound unrealistic. For example, when the general is yelling at Drake for being a slave, he says, "You’re a slave, they’re all slaves! Why should we allow you freedom simply because circumstances have changed? We planned on killing all of you anyway." Why is he telling Drake this? There's very little motivation to tell a slave (noted as being worthless and dead already) all about their plans in any level of detail. Something direct and to the point seems more likely: "You're slaves and you'll die like slaves." Or something similar.

*Check2* Grammar and Mechanics:
As I mentioned above, there are a lot of mechanical and technical errors ranging from improperly placed commas to a lot of sliding around with tenses. I'm leaving that awareness where it is, assuming you plan to edit it out later.

*Check2* Suggestions:
What follows is a checklist of some of the things that crossed my mind while I was reading that otherwise doesn't fit above.

* You mention that the guards have white metallic armor. Is it enameled armor? I'm greatly curious about the material involved in that armor.
* The process of dumping food on ravenous slaves isn't a sustainable practice for keeping slaves healthy. Obviously, there isn't much of that planned but I would assume this is a group of slaves that have existed for more than a few weeks. It seems more likely that some level of orderly distribution of food has been developed, even if it's just among the slaves themselves.
* You reference a stag as moving on from the death of a doe. Unless these are a species of deer I've never heard of, most deer are not monogamous. Herd animals seldom are, with one male working to fertilize an entire stock of females. You might want to consider a different animal for this analogy: wolves work well, as do birds of prey or swans.
* When Drake goes into his battle rage, you focus on describing the external signs of what's going on, rather than the internal. Drake himself would be unaware of what's happening to his pupils and taking things from his perspective would give the battle sequence a much more immediate, visceral feel.
* In a few places, you use modern terminology to make comparisons: holding the rock like a pitcher or the lightning coming down like guided missiles. You may want to avoid these anachronisms in favor of something more setting-based.
* You describe a "burlesque" guard. I got the giggles over this because burlesque is a kind of dancing, like can-can or otherwise erotic dancers. Maybe that was the intent, but I kind of doubt it. :)
* You may want to reconsider your description of the female warrior. Most female athletes are not going to have an hourglass figure. I recommend looking up pictures of soccer players or swimmers, for example. They tend to be muscular and appear stockier than what Western society considers "pretty" and "feminine." There are ways for a woman to be beautiful and striking without adhering to the Barbie-doll aesthetic.
* In field medicine, you would be better off leaving an arrow or bolt like this in place, as removing it could do massive amounts of damage (the heads are designed to rend flesh upon being pulled out). Maybe Drake is unaware of this and pulls it without thinking, but the warrior would know and might even fight him. It can cause incredible pain and excessive bleeding.

Thank you for sharing your story. I look forward to continuing on with the following chapters! You're doing great. :)
Linn Browning


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
2
2
Review of Last Words  
Review by Linn Browning
Rated: E | (3.5)
I found your story through "Please Review. I enjoyed reading it and hope you find this feedback useful.

*Check2* Overall Impression:
There are some mechanical issues, but overall, I enjoyed this perspective on breaking writer's block. It can use some work in flow and style.

*Check2* Plot:
The plot concept is great: a writer who uses the final words of the dying as inspiration for their next work. I find it mildly difficult to believe that he could get away with posing as a pastor frequently without getting asked to pray more than just the once and I suspect there are some medical ethics issues involved for the doctor, since he's calling someone outside of the family or beyond the family's request regarding an active patient.

*Check2* Style and Voice:
I love Wallace's voice. His uncertainty in his own acts, his awareness that what he's doing is more than a little creepy but it works for him, all of these add up to a well-developed character. There are some rhythmic aspects of the writing that could use some work (especially in the first paragraph) but otherwise, you've done very well.

*Check2* Scene/Setting:
The setting and scene are very limited. More physical description would help cement the characters in their time and place and would help to define the mood. In some cases, it was hard to tell if the story was aiming for a humorous mood or a macabre one. Don't get me wrong; some of my favorites are both but I thought you might like to focus on one or the other in this piece.

*Check2* Characters:
Wallace is the only character with any real definition. His friend Rob could use a little more fleshing out and the family member who chases him down afterward would benefit from more detail. You might want to consider explaining a little more about why the family member was so surprisingly comfortable with Wallace's explanation of his motives.

*Check2* Dialog:
Your dialog is well-balanced and realistic. You've got excellent rhythm for how people talk and I enjoyed reading it.

*Check2* Grammar and Mechanics:
Generally, there aren't many mechanical issues that I noticed, except that you tend to include commas outside of quotation marks. "Commas go inside," she said. "What about questions?" he asked. "No commas are needed since the question mark's the punctuation."

*Check2* Suggestions:
I really enjoyed reading this. My best suggestion is to work on your setting description and maybe balance out the story a little, since the ending kind of rambles into inner monologue. Otherwise, you've done a great job and I look forward to reading more!

Thank you for sharing your story. Write On!
Linn Browning


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
3
3
Review by Linn Browning
Rated: 18+ | (2.5)
This review is in response to your request. I hope you find this feedback useful. As per request, I will focus on character development, style, setting and general impressions rather than highlighting technical errors or mechanics. This review covers the prologue and first two chapters.

*Check2* Overall Impression:
This story stretches my ability to suspend my disbelief. Vampires, while trying to maintain a veil of secrecy, are allowing humans deep into their private rooms while openly drinking "dark wine" and showing their fangs. Since their human guest is obviously clued in to their nature, referencing dark wine seems unlikely: he wouldn't think it was anything but blood and neither would the reader.

*Check2* Plot:
I think the plot has a lot of potential. The idea of a pharmaceutical company with personal agents who double as salesmen is really interesting and intriguing. I'm curious about the world and the people who live here, how they are going to develop and what they're going to do next.

*Check2* Style and Voice:
Much of the style and voice I struggle with in this piece has to do with mechanical errors and believability, as related elsewhere in this review.

*Check2* Scene/Setting:
I have no idea when this is supposed to take place. The first chapter highlights vampires in a Victorian or Edwardian setting but later chapters indicate that it's a modern story, referencing email.

Additionally, you may want to consider how secret the vampire/werewolf society really is. Having Brass Pharma being the only company that acknowledges them seems very unlikely and hard to explain to a business loan officer.

*Check2* Characters:
In the first chapter, it's very difficult to tell what kind of character Richard is. He starts out seeming nervous and uncertain, then whips out a pistol and starts shooting his prospective clients. This seems very inconsistent with the timid man who enters the building.

*Check2* Dialog:
In chapter two, Richard literally demands to know his new partner's backstory and proceeds to info-dump his own. This doesn't sound natural or conducive to developing any kind of relationship between them. It might be in your best interest to give them more time to get to know each other before history and backstory come into the mix. Let them learn about each other more naturally.

The conversation where Debra and Richard argue about the weapons seems forced: Debra knows it's dangerous and that Richard is vulnerable. Since she isn't new to this dog-and-pony show, she would understand that some protections are necessary. At the very least, let them compromise and bring holy water or garlic, something that's largely defensive rather than offensive in nature.

Telling the main characters "It was all a clever ruse" is never a clever ruse; it ruins your chances of actually surprising them, gives them a chance to prepare to fight back or even run and generally makes you look like a mustache-twirling villain. At the very least, if the bad guys are going to spring a trap, make sure the good guys are all the way into the trap before letting the villain start to gloat.

*Check2* Grammar and Mechanics:
As per request, I'm not focusing on this aspect of the story but I would like to note that there are many tense slips, awkward sentences, and confusing subject-verb clauses through all chapters.

*Check2* Suggestions:
Most people would not use "parasol" in reference to a man's umbrella.

Mustangs are manufactured by the Ford company, not Chevrolet.

Being choked for several minutes is going to make anyone pass out or potentially die. Humans can't survive without oxygen very long: 30-180 seconds until passing out, at the one minute mark, you start dealing with brain damage.

Please. Never use the word "luscious" to describe a woman's body. Ever. At the very least, after engaging in that kind of battle, she is going to be spattered with gore and blood, potentially wounded herself and exhausted from shapeshifting. She is very unlikely to recline attractively and then scream demurely when discovered.

*Check* In Summary:
There's a lot here that needs work but the core of the story is fantastic! I'm very excited by the ideas of the plot and how the characters may expand on the world but your writing needs more practice mechanically and more research and world-building.

Thank you for sharing your story and I hope to read more from you! Write On!
Linn Browning


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
4
4
Review by Linn Browning
Rated: 18+ | (1.5)
This is in response to your requested review. I'll mention when I start that I don't know anything about the fandom, so I will be reviewing the characters on their own merits as opposed to how canon the character representations are. I hope you find this feedback useful.

*Check2* Overall Impression:

I found this very difficult to read. I struggled through the first three chapters, wondering when there was going to be something interesting happening. I've written and read a lot of fanfiction in the last five years but I think Yu-Gi-Oh is beyond me.

*Check2* Plot:

I felt that there was very little plot involved in the story since it seems to be centered on the professional interactions between the characters with little to no focus on personal interactions. There seems to be no notable conflict or tension to the plot: what Seto wants, he gets by throwing money or Roland at.

*Check2* Style and Voice:

Your style is very quick and clipped, which may be a benefit in some cases but didn't appeal to me, personally. In addition, while this is clearly intended to be a sex-positive story with a positive focus on open relationships, you indicated an intent to describe polyamory, literally loving more than one person. I felt that this story does a decent job of portraying poly-sexual relationships but I was left wanting in the area of love and affection.

In addition to the quick, clipped nature of your style, I find it very hard to read about a character who is described as falling "into his arms a quivering lump of woman." That's not even taking into consideration the description of Marc as a "tall, Filipino descendant of Genghis Khan." It seems overly dramatic unless Genghis Khan is going to play into the story at some point.

*Check2* Characters:

As noted in Style and Voice, the characters feel emotionally distant to me. I find little to no reason to care about Joan or any of her satellite system of friends and lovers and many of them feel one-dimensional and wooden. The only time I felt sparked to interest was listening to Roland talk to some of the secondary characters.

*Check2* Suggestions:

I really tried to read this as objectively as I could but I think there's a far larger fandom gap than I was able to overcome. I had a lot of trouble moving past the first chapter for lack of a compelling sense of dramatic tension.


Thank you for sharing your story. Write On!
Linn Browning


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
5
5
Review by Linn Browning
Rated: E | (4.5)
As someone who has named a copper dragon "Pfeffenpooper," I just couldn't resist reading this fairy tale involving Grundlebletch von Hoogenspit. Beyond the delight in the character's name, I found myself enchanted with the story itself, an origin tale for bridge trolls, the intellectuals of the troll community. I love the concept that trolls only move in straight lines and that other species use them to flush out ambushes for this reason, too. The story is charming and I think it would make a really good spoken-word piece for a storyteller.

On a technical note, the parts in parentheses threw me off occasionally but didn't distract from the story as a whole. Excellent work!

Can't wait to read more!
Linn Browning
6
6
Review of Illustrations  
Review by Linn Browning
Rated: E | (2.5)
--Story--

I found it very difficult to tell who this story is actually about, the creator or the subject. I felt like there was a lot of time spent—more than half of the story, in fact—focused on the story of the graphic novel without enough ties back to the real world and Abby’s motivations for illustrating. Additionally, I think most artists are aware that their day jobs will have to sustain them and they can’t expect a sudden flush of cash from their drawings and artistic passions. But maybe that’s just me being cynical.

Also, it’s stated that Abby will be paying her bills and raising her child on her own. Where is the child’s father? Did he die? Abandon her? Were they married? Does she even know who he is? Does she have any other family who would be standing up to help her with this or is she truly on her own?

--Characters--

Abby feels very 2-dimensional to me. In the first paragraph, she has just finished making a cappuccino and additional orders are coming in hard and fast, yet she has no emotional reaction to this, no sense of being overwhelmed or exhausted. She simply thinks of her child and all the bills she has to pay. As the only manifested character in the story, I need to care more about her than this little bit of information inspires.

--Mechanics--

The only major thing I caught is that the Avengers is usually pluralized. It’s also the title of a comic, which means it should be either italicized or in quotations (I’m not sure on the styling for that).

Also, Frankenstein was the doctor, not the monster. Personal sticking point. :)

--Setting--

The setting is clearly inside a coffee shop but we have no indication at all in what part of the country (assuming it’s American) that coffee shop is. It’s particularly relevant because $15 an hour goes a lot farther in the rural Midwest than it does in a big city like New York or L.A. I live in central Virginia near a moderately-sized college city working full-time as a paraprofessional library clerk and I’m not even making $13 an hour, for perspective.

--Additional Notes--

I think this story has a lot of potential to be a heroic story about a mother determined to give her child both the best life and the best understanding of what I assume is her son’s congenital condition. You have a good grasp of description and the narrative flows quickly but I feel like the story would be better served if you spent a little more time shaping the real world, the main character and her situation. Granted, if you’re aiming to keep the story under 1500 words, that might be difficult. Good luck and good writing!
7
7
Review of A Moment's Peace  
Review by Linn Browning
Rated: 18+ | (3.5)
Fantastic ending line! You've got good timing and an excellent balance between internal and external action. I did struggle to follow Angelo's reasoning surrounding the garbage can for a while until the point when he was actually talking about not killing his wife but just pushing her in. This actually has a lot of the qualities I enjoyed about James Thurber's "Secret Life of Walter Mitty," though Mitty was a more sympathetic character than Angelo. I felt bad that he was so miserable in his life but found him uncompelling as the main character. It seemed like he had drifted through his life up until this point without ever really thinking for himself. It did make me think back and hope none of my ex-boyfriends think about me like this. *grin*
8
8
Review by Linn Browning
Rated: 18+ | (3.5)
I think this is a great start to an interesting story! The characters are interesting and the question of "what's going on" really draws in the reader. I think it might go a little too long without answering anything, though. I found my attention drifting about two-thirds of the way through the chapter, wondering if we were going to get anything more than "something's off" and "everything is weird." I still want to know what happens and I'm eager to read more, but it moves a little slowly as currently written. Great job, though! I look forward to seeing more.
9
9
Review of Ted's Morning  
Review by Linn Browning
Rated: E | (3.5)
This short piece is beautiful and heartbreaking. You really do an excellent job of conveying emotion, but I have to admit that I struggle to see this as being from the perspective of a seven-year-old. While clearly, children are capable of great depths of emotion, I feel like the average seven-year-old wouldn't have this kind of clarity of introspection and self-awareness. I feel terrible for Ted and his family and this is a beautifully written, emotional short story with a lot of potential for conveying the inner life of a child. Well done.
10
10
Review of Making it Right  
Review by Linn Browning
Rated: E | (4.0)
This is delightful. I've always been fond of dialog-only stories and you've done a great job with this one. You get the story across in a minimum of words and the tone of the characters is great!
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