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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/profile/reviews/laurengm
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48 Public Reviews Given
Public Reviews
1
1
Review of Louis  
Review by Lauren Gale
Rated: 13+ | (3.0)
I so enjoyed the humor of this piece. You’ve got a knack for the fun dialogue and first person POV. What I really wanted was more of the characters. I just got to become really interested in them and their idiosyncrasies, when the story ended.

I have a few observations:


It drove him crazy though, being cooped up. He had gotten on his motorcycle one day and was driving it down the road looking at Seraphina Jenkins. You’ve made quite a leap between sentences in this paragraph. Introducing the idea of him getting on his motorcycle in the way you did, makes it seem as if, sick of being cooped up, Louis got on his bike. You might want to think about creating a smooth transition to this flashback.

He found out he couldn't look and drive at the same time, though. This time it cost him two legs The “this time” threw me. Was there another time we don’t know about? And why, if there was, would he only now be learning he couldn’t look and drive at the same time?

He was lucky, at that, that he only lost his legs - he still had his girlfriend, Sheila. A little awkward, the double “that”s.


Mrs. Frangoli would still be muttering, if you could call it that since everybody could hear it, when Sheila came out of the apartment house a couple of hours later. What did they do all that time, I have no idea, as old as Louis was. There was no way Sheila could help hearing. The second sentence in this paragraph divides the continuation of thought and doesn’t really belong in this place.


You use phrases like this: she would pull her knife out --- Sheila would come in---She'd be all glaring --- Mrs. Frangoli would still be muttering which make the action ongoing over time, telling us these were events that were repeated. Then you say:
She would just cut her eyes over, and skedaddle.

          Then Louis got to where he couldn't get his breath.
Did Louis have this reaction every time Sheila left, or is this a one time event? Keeping your time and sequence consistent is important. I was also left to wonder when, in time, Mrs. Frangoli came over to commiserate.

The sentence beginning, Sheila looked up blankly at the screeching screaming woman is awfully long.


I loved this:

That used to give me the heebie-jeebies, him kissing her right on that old toothless mouth. Then she would pull her knife out and start to work on the corns on her feet. I wanted to bust up laughing at that scene.

This story has huge promise. You might have fun playing with it and messing with sequencing of events, keeping transitions smooth so your reader never has to guess as to what’s happening when.

So much happened between Louis’ encounter with Seraphina and the final paragraph, that I lost sight of her as she related to him. When I first read the final sentence I wondered why you connected Louis and Seraphina in the final moment. Looking back over, I understood, but I think you might be able to make that association stronger at the end, or you may think about reworking the ending and coming up with something different that you like.

Play with it and experiment. Have fun molding this and learning in the process.
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Review of The House Keepers  
Review by Lauren Gale
Rated: 13+ | (5.0)
This was so creatively written. I had no clue about what was going on until you wanted me to. Just as I was getting confused, trying to figure out what was going on, you gave away the secret.

I don’t know if you intended it to be a horror item, but the end makes it feel like one. I got shivers, thinking about that vacuum hanging around.

I thoroughly enjoyed this. It reflects excellent story telling and writing. I’m glad I found it in Erik’s contest forum.

Good luck with the contest!

Lauren
3
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Review by Lauren Gale
Rated: 18+ | (4.0)
This is a fun story, very reminiscent of the Family Feud of the seventies. You did a good job recreating that game show, and I especially liked the present tense POV. The use of that tense enhanced the mood and action of the story.

The irritating repetition of the question is well used, as is the host’s forced dialogue with the family members. And, I found myself wondering, “what are the right answers? Theirs sound good to me!” So, you drew me in well.

Here are a few of my personal observations:

See how nervous they are, how difficult it is for them to hold it together, especially the really hyper woman who is dressed like a teenager. Watch the cheerleader moves, trying to make this look like a team, filled with team spirit. Notice how some members of each group have not responded well to coaching I presumed the cheerleader moves were those of the family members, sandwiched as the comment is between observations about the families. But later on, you refer to the stage cheerleaders, so I wasn’t sure anymore about this. Also, as I read about the contestants, I wondered which was the hyper woman. She is introduced here, but not identified within the story.

He puts his hand briefly on Stan’s shoulder, then proceeds along the rest of the booth. I thought this sentence would read neater without “the rest of.” It’s just a matter of my preference for tightness.

Veronica throws her arms around him and plants a big one on his face.” You accidentally left quotation marks at the end of this.

“Well, isn’t that dangerous? I mean, if someone calls you by your last name, they yell “Shoot!” right?” The marks around Shoot should be ‘, not “.

There are occasionally some strange consequences, but they aren’t dangerous.” This phrasing rang a little unnatural for the dad. Perhaps he’s a character who would speak in this manner, but I wonder if he wouldn’t more likely say something like, “Sometimes strange things happen, but….”

Lily looks blank at first, and then aghast, as if he’d just implied that she was pregnant first, or that she was so ugly she must have had trouble finding someone to marry her. She stands there with her mouth open. Here again, just my preference, but I would have had no problem if you’d left out everything after, “aghast.” I got why she’d react that way – I did too!!!

The buzzer rings its bleeping sound, and Sherry’s chin sinks to her chest. The phrase, “chin sinks to her chest” pulled me from the action of the story because it’s a clichéd image interjected into your otherwise carefully crafted fictional reality.

“Kevin, I think the answer is: Go shopping in the air conditioned mall!” Georgene looks pleased with her answer. Oh, I wanted to read of the other family members yelling their agreement and giving high fives and shouting, “good answer!, good answer!”

Lily appears to have written down some good answers, and she tries to show them to Joseph, Here is another place I got dropped, this time because the narrator is suddenly giving me more information than I as a reader think he should have. Lily can be seen to have written a list, but the quality of the answers – good or bad – wouldn’t be known.

Lily’s expression, once again, goes blank If I’m missing something, please correct me, but I can’t find where Lily’s expression went blank the first time.

She looks frantically for her list, which, in her nervousness she had crumpled into a ball. It’s not there.----- I thought ‘Go Fishing’ would win and the game would be over. I balled it up and threw it away. First you imply she lost the list, then she says she threw it away.

I thought you took a creative approach to this prompt and you wrote quite skillfully. You did a good job painting the different families – one working together, the other not quite cooperating. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this, and I wish you good luck on the contest!
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Review of First Contact ~  
Review by Lauren Gale
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
Kate,
I always enjoy a story that plays with ideas, like your Lattice Theory. I think it’s fun when an opportunity comes along to write a story around something I’ve heard or learned. Takes things out of the ordinary, a bit, doesn’t it?

I loved this phrasing:

His feet traced the route they had walked together so many times before, the grass beneath his feet a carpet of sorrow, each blade weeping a glimmering tear, lining his path This expresses Mark’s sadness without ascribing it directly to him. I love this kind of creative approach to showing emotions.

I have a few observations. I understand you were working within a word restriction, so these are mainly thoughts you might want to take into consideration if you think of letting the limit go, now that the contest is over.


the sibilant beckoning sound of the tide lapping against the break wall, I always appreciate descriptive language and enjoyed the rhythm of “sibilant beckoning.” But, I had a problem with the choice of the word, “sibilant.” I have never heard a lapping tide that hissed in a sibilant way, so this word choice threw me a little.

to sail in the lake that his dad so loved. Do lakes have tides? I live near the ocean, so the idea of tides is familiar to me, but I can’t recall if a lake also experiences tides. I’d like to know if it is so – perhaps a very large lake, like one of the Great Lakes, do. I’d like to learn, if you have particular knowledge on this.

The figure stepped forward and drew the cloak tight against the growing wind, and Mark realized he hadn’t been sitting at all, but was as small in stature as he. Here is where you tell us part of what makes Mark different. But I was taken aback and had to return to re-read the beginning. Your reference to his being different is buried in a beautiful paragraph sketching the relationship between father and son, so it’s easy to miss. I wonder if, in the earlier paragraph, you might find a way to offer a more concrete hint so that when the reader gets here, he says, “aha!” instead of, “what?”

The figure led him through a tangle of brush with an opening just barely four feet high, admitting the two of them without bending The way this is grammatically arranged, you’re stating that it’s the opening in the brush that doesn’t have to bend.

I’m used to it, but why today, this is cruel.” Perhaps a question mark after, “today.”

the sibilant beckoning sound of the tide

his eyes were captured and were held in thrall

He was simply transfixed by the beautiful doll sized fingers reaching for his.
You might want to go through and take out words that aren’t really needed, such as: “sound,” the second “were,” and “simply.” This is a nit-picky kind of thing, but makes for a tighter story.

Looking up the gangplank, his eyes were captured and were held in thrall by the most vivid violet orbs with dancing gold flecks framed by cascading golden curls I don’t know if there is anything to edit here or not, but I’ll offer you my impression of it, in case my simple thoughts may happen to trigger some creative idea in you.

When I read this, knowing by this point that we’re dealing with other-worldly beings, my mind took your words literally and I envisioned two purple spheres topped by blonde wigs. OK, you can stop laughing now. *Bigsmile* When I read the next sentence I understood you were talking about a human-looking being, but in the fraction of a second it took me to read that sentence and advance to the next, my mind was whirling.

If you’re thinking of playing with it more, you might consider playing up Mark’s feeling of ostracism, due to his differences (which clearly entail more than his stature) so that the final line has more meaning.

This is a charming story and, as I said you did a great job creating the emotion of Mark’s loss without getting maudlin, and with the flair of bringing it to your reader through a side door. If you want to have fun with this, there’s lots of room for further character development – you have a find foundation to build from.

And, you’re right: Who’s to say your idea isn’t the correct one?
5
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Review by Lauren Gale
Rated: ASR | (3.5)
I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to get back to offering you a return review. I dipped into your port and ran across this story. It’s a touching tale of sadness, that ends in encouragement, that is an inspiration.

I have a few observations:

After 5 years of not really wanting to know me (one phone call lasting about 5 minutes per month), he suddenly wants me to leave England and come to live with him. The object is a bit vague here. Is the “he” referring to the father, or the doctor? I’m assuming it’s the father, but perhaps it would be good for you to clarify that. Also, note the shift to present tense

I didn’t have to explain things to him as my Grandma had done it for me. First he tells me about the doctor, then he starts offering me money, to send me to college over there, and a flash car if I will just go flush the baby out. A few ambiguous references here created murk for me. What “things,” exactly are being referred to, and I’m not clear about the reference to Grandma. And where is “over there?” I think you mean America, but here again it would be a good thing to name it.

He says that I’ve got to take responsibility for my actions, that abortion is the only responsible thing to do, and that if I don’t do it, once I’ve made my bed, I’ll have to lie in it, before descending to obscenities. The way this is arranged grammatically, the reference to descending to obscenities refers back to you, not your father.

I place the phone on the side, and calmly walk away. This may be a British phrase. Did you hang up the phone or set the receiver down? And again, you’ve moved into present tense.

seems he earned something, but it weren’t respect. s/b “wasn’t”

I had help from one of the biker’s whose respect bad boy was so keen for. s/b “bikers”

Check for the other places where your tense shifts.

I loved this bit at the end:

Ok, ok, this isn’t a fairy tale. We do play tug of war with the quilt sometimes, but we are very happy together, and while I can’t claim a ‘happy ever after’, it has definitely been a ‘happy so far.’

The story of your coming through is inspiring, especially since you have that daughter, whom you don’t want following in the footsteps of falling into an abusive relationship. I hope one day your father makes amends with you, and the two of you can have a meaningful relationship.

Thank you for posting this.

Lauren


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Review of Partner  
Review by Lauren Gale
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
I’m a bit tardy returning the review you offered me earlier. I picked this up from the Short Stories newsletter. I’m glad I read it – it’s a delightful tale, with beautiful detail and good descriptions.

I have a few nit-picky observations, if you are interested:


A smooth hand grasped the withered and took the small white square. It might make things just a bit more clear if you add one word: “…grasped the withered one.”

Unfolding it, Kenji was surprised to find a command; bring the box in the cave. I believe the most accurate punctuation for this would be, “…command: “Bring the box in the cave.”

He bent down to less than half his height and entered. The phrasing of this is awkward and doesn’t fit the fine narrative style of the rest of the story. Maybe just saying he stooped to enter the small opening is all you need.

Your description of the dragon is very well done, and gives depth and life to the creature.

Simply put, we were partners as, I’m sure, he intended us to be one day.” I think for clarity’s sake it might be best as, “…he intended you and I to be one day.”

“And you will do as I say?”

“Of course. I won’t do anything that you don’t desire.”
This was the one hole in the story. Up until now there’s been no hint that the dragon will do the bidding of his partner, so how has the boy deduced this?

This is very well written and I enjoyed the places you took me and the colorful things you showed me. Congratulations on being highlighted in the newsletter

Lauren
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Review by Lauren Gale
Rated: 13+ | (5.0)
I can’t help giving this a five star rating. I noticed no mistakes and laughed the whole way through. I must have needed a good laugh, and you provided the perfect vehicle.

Your delivery and timing and asides worked flawlessly. I’m going to be watching my butt from now on, I assure you of that!

Lauren
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Review of Checking In  
Review by Lauren Gale
Rated: 13+ | (3.0)
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This was a nice story – I enjoyed a glimpse into teenage life minus angst and fighting.
A few observations:

“I’ll be up soon, I have to check in and change.” Nick said. A comma, not a period belongs after, “change.”

Finding a change of clothes he ran back downstairs and told his mom he was heading up Bo’s. Comma after, “clothes.”

He sprung outside and jogged up the street to Bo’s house. s/b sprang. Sprung belongs with “had.”

Seeing Bo and Nick the driver slammed on his brakes. Comma after, “Nick.”

As he walked towards his mom he pet rubbed his dog’s soft fur. I think you can see what’s wrong with this.

I’d recommend that you read through this carefully and find the places where words are missing. Also, for the sake of your readers, perhaps you would consider formatting it with space breaks between paragraphs and lines of dialogue.

The ending was predictible, which did minimize the scare factor.

This is a decent short, non-conflict story.

Thank you for offering this, and good luck in the contest
Lauren
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Review of Stomach Ache  
Review by Lauren Gale
Rated: 18+ | (4.5)
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This is truly gruesome and gross. You made me sick to my stomach and I wanted to quit reading, but kept on. Good Job. I appreciated the brevity, I’m not sure I could have taken much more!

I wish I had more to say, but you did a good job with this.

Good Luck in the contest.

Lauren
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Review of The Hunting Arrow  
Review by Lauren Gale
Rated: 18+ | (4.0)
Thank you for entering
The first thing I noticed was your skill at vivid description. You gave me a good look at the place and its surroundings while providing a sense of serenity that you would later destroy. It was a good set up.

The action sequences are pretty well constructed, and gave my pulse a quickening, but there are places, such as: “He laughed wickedly just before his boots went over a tree root and he fell,” and your use of ellipses, where you drew me away from the story. You might think about looking through for such unnecessary words, like “wickedly” that interrupt the suspense. Also, in this phrase you bring the reader out of the action of the scene by introducing passive wording: “His boots went over…” could be replaced by some strong action, such as stumbling or falling face first, or crashing.

I’m wondering how it would be if you connected the dialogue more closely. The conversation between the siblings is usually separated by sentenced or paragraphs of narrative that disconnect the dialogue. Re-organizing may enable you to allow them to speak uninterrupted and still tell your story, so the reader isn’t left looking back to see what he or she is responding to.

You may even be able to eliminate some of the narrative by demonstrating Rick’s affection for his sister through patient demonstration of shooting an arrow and dialogue between them during that scene.

You wrote this using quite a bit of the past perfect tense, requiring the use of “had.” There are a few places where this is appropriate and even necessary for emphasizing the order of events, but for the most part, I think your story would be enhanced if you changed much of the tense to regular past.

The ending left me a little let down. What would happen if you took out the last paragraph and left us with a little tension?


I truly enjoyed your descriptive passages, they were a delight to read. I have a feeling this was originally written for another contest and if so, you did a good job with the prompt, creating an evil, threatening arrow.

The story is good and a little fine tuning can make it even better.
Keep on and give us more. Good luck in the contest
Lauren
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Review of Mark and Leon  
Review by Lauren Gale
Rated: E | (4.0)
My skin crawled. My stomach clenched. The only thing saving me was you telling me the barbs didn’t set.

One of your phrases I really liked. I don’t know why, but I just loved reading it:

++++my family, as Arkansas hillbillies are generally inclined, remained very connected with each other,++++

I do have a few comments.

To my ear, your first paragraph is confusingly worded. First of all, how about leaving the statement about your father coming home from the service and joining the family for the end? Also, the reference to the younger half of the family creates questions. Perhaps using a few more sentences to flesh this part out just a bit will help. Being more specific than “the younger half” will clarify your meaning, if you decide this information is important for the movement of your story.

++++Since I was lucky enough to be growing up with my grandparents in the New Mexico contingent of the family and since my family, as Arkansas hillbillies are generally inclined,++++ Here is another place you tease me with information that raises questions. Why were you lucky to be living in NM? Unless you want to develop that further, maybe it would be better to leave out that bit. Also, settling for, “…..grandparent in the New Mexico contingent, and since my family…” will eliminate the doubling up of the word, “family.”

++++a couple of times each year, we would host family reunions when the rest of the family would make the trek to New Mexico.++++ this would be better phrased with a semi colon: “…..reunions; the rest of the family….”

++++Those people, men and women alike, could sure spin a tale. I am sure this is where I acquired my own lifelong love of a good story.++++ the double, “sure” creates a stutter

++++Uncle Leon always had some great tales to tell while sitting on the porch and whittling amazing works of art from scraps of wood and Mark always gave him plenty of fuel for his stories.++++ this compound sentence could use a comma after, “wood.”

++++Mark was a serious boy, suffering terribly from a bad case of asthma which was always very bad when they first arrived, but almost disappeared after a few days of breathing the dry New Mexico air++++ here again you are doubling up on a word, in this case, “bad.” Omitting “a bad case” wouldn’t harm your story.

++++and even better at becoming entangled with other lures of the same type while jostling around in the tackle box.++++ this is interesting information, but doesn’t contribute to your story since tangled tackle isn’t part of the climax. It would be better to leave this bit out. I have a long list of phrases and paragraphs saved at the end of each of my own stories, which are bits I have removed because they don’t move the story forward. I keep them, but don’t use them. It hurts, sometimes, but is a valuable tool – learning to weigh your words and paring out the unnecessary. I’m still learning, myself.

++++My father dropped his pole, grabbed Mark’s arm, disarmed him from his weapon++++ I think this should be, “disarmed him of his weapon,” but I’m not sure. I only know that the way it’s phrased here doesn’t sound right to me.

I love this story and think you have a mine of material to draw from, with a large family, spread across the US, enjoying family reunions. Your memories, and the memories of your parents, of life in Arkansas and New Mexico should be full of stories. I hope you write more, it enriches those of us who haven’t experienced life in those places.

Thank you for sharing this tale with us.

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Review of The Vegetarian  
Review by Lauren Gale
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
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This is a chilling take on a harmless way of life. Great imagination, and good writing, too. I especially loved these phrases:

The sun was harassing so he pulled his jacket up over his head,

The smoke traveled up and wrapped itself around his arm like a mystical python

Your first paragraph is keenly written and grabs the reader right off the bat. The only thing that felt like a bump was:

---(there are after all, no mirrors in the desert)---- this parenthetical interrupted the drama of your introduction. If you leave it out I don’t think the story will suffer. But then, you’d also have to remember to remove:

----Probably a good thing there was no mirror.----

----As his outward appearance began to deteriorate, it didn’t seem to be depleting in the least.----here, it would be effective to replace the “it” with a reference to the man’s strength. As the sentence is phrased here, the reference actually refers back to the appearance.

-----Wonder what you’re having for diner? He though before crunching it underfoot. Well if I can’t feed, neither will you.----Consider putting the man’s thoughts in italics, here, and in the other places where we hear his direct thoughts.

----His small time ritual was interrupted by another gust of wind----is this supposed to be a small ritual of time, or a small-time ritual?

----His survival senses heightened and the beating in his chest picked up it’s pace.----s/b “its”

----Perhaps and airplane or helicopter might have been able to guess where they started----you can see the oops here, I’m sure

----As use to the sores as he had become, they still hurt from time to time.---I believe this should read, “used to the sores”

----He struck a match and brought it to the tip of the butt. He stared past it and his eyes grew with shock; almost horror.----with this sentence you pulled me out of your story. The statement that he looked with shock and horror sucked me away from the experience I’d been having as I traveled with this man. The story is so full of engaging description that the introduction of these much used terms halts the drama.

-----His heart beat with the intensity if a thousand drums as newfound adrenaline pumped through his veins. ----Here again, you can see the miss.

-----Then, unexpectedly, a vine or a root or something punched through the bottom of his foot and tried to bury itself in the ground.-----after he gets re-nourished I sort of understood this, but I spent a lot of time trying to figure it out. I still don’t fully understand the implication of this. That doesn’t matter all that much, but you might want to consider leaving it out. For me, as a reader, it doesn’t increase my understanding or appreciation of the story and if I’d never read it, wouldn’t have missed it. This is one of those author calls.

This is really well done and eerie as the man is so unconcerned about his fate while his skin is falling off and he's wandering in the desert with oozing sores. I enjoyed the read, I hope you do more.

Good work, and good luck in the contest.

Lauren
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Review by Lauren Gale
Rated: E | (3.5)
I enjoyed your tale of a serpent misunderstood. You gave me a nice picture of him; I especially liked this bit:

When visible, its scales glistened in the light of the sun. All other times, it was shrouded in darkness. Fish, sensing it, backed away, fearful of the monster's presence.

The use of the boy as a man to bring conclusion to the story was a good choice.

I do have a few observations:

-----The serpent was everyone’s enemy, and sailors feared it more then any storm.----first, it should be, “than.”

The problem I have with this is the statement of fact that the monster was an enemy. This implies he has behaved in such a way as to merit that reputation, which as your story progresses, we learn isn’t true. It would make what transpires later in your tale more believable if we are told here that the monster is perceived as an enemy out of ignorant fear of the unknown. Otherwise his confused thoughts about why humans hate him don’t make sense.

This applies to this statement as well: “no one doubted that because of its size and ferocity it ruled the seas.” By stating his ferocity as fact, rather than assumption, you set yourself up as an unreliable narrator.

You toggle back and forth between the pronouns “it” and “he.” It might be better to choose one or the other.

------It opened its mouth wide, to reveal a hundred shining teeth. There were as sharp as knives- when they were used as knives.------I should think the teeth were sharp as knives whether or not they were being used as knives. The telling would be helped by omitting that caveat and simply stating “it opened it’s mouth wide, revealing hundreds of shining teeth, sharp as knives,” or something similar.

----The sea serpent put the boy down on the deck, as he quivered, sniffling.----the phrasing here leaves some doubt as to who is quivering and sniffling, the boy or the serpent.

----The water goes on down forever, he thought.-----you might want to consider putting the thoughts in intaliacs

----They looked into each others eyes, and remembered. Remembered the little boy so long ago.---s/b “other’s.”

Your announcement of the passage of time takes a little of the punch out of the end of the story. It wouldn’t suffer, in my opinion, if you leave out the “Sixty-Five years later” part. Your reader can figure it out when he needs to, and will enjoy it more if you don’t announce to him what’s ahead.


I felt sympathetic toward the serpent, but that would have been enhanced if you’d made it clear from the beginning that he’d never done anything to merit being feared. However, even so, the fact that I still understood his plight is a credit to your story.

A little polishing and clarifying will make this charming tale shine. Thank you for offering it to us.
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Review by Lauren Gale
Rated: 18+ | (4.0)
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Well, I think I’ll just close the flu and dump a few bags of cement down the chimney before next Christmas rolls around! Now I know why the local orthodontists are always so busy, especially at the first of the year.

You did a great job weaving a creepy, unconventional tale of Christmas. I have a few observations, which you may take or leave:


----If you were dreaming of a white Christmas, I wouldn’t hold my breath.------This, to me, is an unsatisfying opening, particularly with the jarring of transfer from second to first person.

-----I don’t believe it has ever been different though, and that Christmas has always been this colour, slate skies hanging over the forced air of goodwill.-----it’s the “and that” that make me stumble when I read this and make me question your conviction. If you replaced those words with a semi colon, your statement would be more emphatic and I’d be clued in on the fact that you are about to relate something you believe.

-----There were crumbs on his shirt, confessing their guilt.-----the combination of the singular and plural pronouns in the same phrase is off. How about “….a confession of guilt?”

-----Then it took a step back, reached into the bag at its hip, and pulled out a small book. Then it turned toward the door,-----It’s better not to begin two consecutive sentences with the same word.

-----The fat jolly Santa bringing presents to the nice kids was there to make sure we didn’t make the other list,----the words “was there” imply the myth just happened, rather than it being a deliberate deception, which is what your paragraph hints at. Perhaps if you chose to use, “was contrived” or “was invented,” or something to show us it’s no accident that we have the jolly fellow in all our stories.

----Nobody even knows now where it all came from, why we give each other presents, why the Christmas spirit is important – not to encourage Father Christmas to come in, we do this to keep him at bay, keep him away, keep us safe from harm.----Here’s another place I missed your conviction and belief. Even though no one remembers the origination of the falsehood, you know the fact of it. You’ve told me the story, make me believe you believe it.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. Your descriptions of the Santa are well done and make me truly not wish to encounter this creature. Ever.
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Review of The Farm  
Review by Lauren Gale
Rated: 13+ | (3.0)
Jesse,
Thanks for entering
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#1033445 by Not Available.


You’ve woven a nice little love story / mystery. Some of your phrasing I really enjoyed. One of them is:

A deck wrapped around the house like a moat around a castle;


Because I know you value help and look for specific feedback, here are a few suggestions:

-----A breeze blew through the tall grass causing it to dance in the golden light of the early morning sun.-----This is written in a passive voice. You could make it more interesting and active by re-phrasing it so that “the flowers danced,” instead of being caused to dance. This will give life to this first paragraph. Check for other places in your story where the objects of your sentences are having things done to them or being caused to do something and think if you can rephrase to make them active. Even if you don’t like the results, the exercise will be valuable.

-----The flowers of summer opened their petals and stretched out sending droplets of dew crashing to the ground below.----- the word, “crashing” jars in this description of a quiet, serene scene.

----Samantha was beautiful in every sense of the word. Her hair, dirty blonde and straight as straight can be, fell across her shoulders like a waterfall of gold. She had a smile that could melt a snowman on the coldest day of the year----You tell us she was beautiful in every sense of the word, then only speak of two features of her beauty. I’d almost rather not be told that she is beautiful. If you describe her well, I’ll see it. “Straight as straight can be” isn’t the most creative way to talk about her hair, and a smile that can melt a snowman is a little cliché. They do communicate your vision of her, but not in an arresting way

----The front yard was surrounded by, you guessed it, a white picket fence; it was your typical turn of the century house.----moving into the second person here is a distraction.

-----“It’s me mom, I got the water, well one bucket anyways” Sam’s happiness showed through in her voice.----OK, here, you’re telling me something, but as a reader I’m not seeing or hearing the happiness.

-----Things had been tough at first; but Sam and her mother, Helen, had adjusted to not having Stephen around anymore. Sam’s father’s horse went wild while out on one of the many trails in the mountains around them.-----this seems a bit convoluted to me. Something simpler, such as, “..had adjusted to not having Sam’s father around any more. His horse went wild…..” We don’t really need to know what his name was, anyway, especially if you cut the paragraph so we’re left with the death of the father and not the details, which don’t move the story forward, but bog it down.

----Helen made her way down the two steps at the front of the house and walked around to the wood pile. She was a tall lady, brown hair.----how about putting a “with” after, “lady?”

-----Why don’t you come join my daughter and I for a cup of tea and you can tell us what brings you way up here to our little farm-----s/b “my daughter and me”

-----Gavin was her age, and definitely not ugly You see I left home when I was young, now I travel.-----you create a little confusion for me here, since Sam is only seventeen or eighteen. How young was this fellow when he set out on his own?

-----They don’t even have electricity, how can it be this hot he thought to himself. It almost feels like the place is on fire.-----Gavin’s thoughts should be in quotation marks, or italics. Check for this error occurring later in the story, too.

----Gavin placed a fifty on the counter, more than enough to cover the expense,-----I just wonder how he came to possess so much money.

Go through carefully to check for punctuation misses, especially missing commas. If you have this on a Word document look for the red and green lines. There are corrections you can make that Word should alert you to.

This is a bright story with lots of light and joy in it. It is a pleasing read and has lots of potential. Polishing and editing will help it. Don’t be afraid to cut. It’s easy to do and you never have to lose your original. That’s what ‘s so wonderful about our computers. Experiment with losing a full third, and see what you end up with. You might like it better. Sometimes less is more.

Good Luck in the contest
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16
16
Review of One-Eleven  
Review by Lauren Gale
Rated: 13+ | (3.0)
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#1033445 by Not Available.



You have a good idea for a story here, and have clearly made an effort at including details to bring it to life. It was difficult to read due to the formatting. You may have written it in a Word document with tabbed indents, which don’t translate over when you copy onto WDC. It would be helpful if you went back and double spaced between your paragraphs and dialogue.

Here are some observations:

-----above a convenience store on thirty-first Street----s/b Thirty-First

-----He loved his job, and he loved the small town feel of the big city.------ this reads as a dichotomy: small town feel of the big city. Perhaps specifying the uniqueness of this by using the words “this big city,” would clarify.

----Although they worried about him, the knew that he was more than capable-----s/b “….they knew….”

------Adam had even less luck with women then he did with friends------s/b, “than” Check for other misuses of “then” – there are a few in this story

-----Between his acne and being slightly over weight Adam-----s/b “overweight”

-----Other times, more often then not Adam took the long way-----here’s another wrongly placed “then”, and you should add a comma after, “not”

-----Up and down the streets and avenue’s in and out of what little traffic there was on the roads-----no apostrophe in, “avenues,” since it’s a plural

------Memorial drive being one of the cities main roads was often busy right through the night, particularly on the weekends------commas after, “Memorial” and, “roads”

------Still several blocks down the road, however the shop was on the corner of a bend which could easily be seen from the intersection.------ the comma should go after, “however.” Also this sentence doesn’t make sense to me. Perhaps something got missed in editing.

------The store having remained Rob’s Convenience Store through four owners, one of which, the original, was the only Rob, and the only proprietor to have actually lived above the establishment.----this is a very long sentence fragment.

------people who couldn’t fit in, couldn’t find there place in the world.-----s/b “their”

-----She had lived on her own in the house that she grew up in----I read the word, “parents” four times in the first three sentences of this paragraph. It would be a good idea to think about some rephrasing to avoid the quick repetitions.

-----The contact with the restaurant patrons was basically been her only social life------if you read this as a stand alone, here, you will see what’s wrong with it. Another editing miss, I expect.

----After taking two buses home she arrived a block from the apartment building that she lived in.------This confuses me since a few paragraphs earlier you tell me, “She had lived on her own in the house that she grew up in since the plane crash that killed her parents five years before.”

-----perhaps due to his frightening encounter with his superstitious friend------Actually, the cat isn’t superstitious. If you want to use this word, perhaps, “his friend of superstition.”

-----Hey you, I know your on your way to work right now which is why I am leaving you this message-----s/b “….you’re on your way…”

------Adam flew out of the parking in fear that Mary would already ------should this be “park?”


I’d suggest that you take some time to read through this carefully. Several paragraphs and sentences could use re-phrasing for smoothness and clarity. Also, check for possessives missing their apostrophes.

This story has potential and promise, and some careful editing and tightening will help it bloom.
Editing a story is the best way to grow as a writer; it provides the greatest lessons *Smile*

I wish you luck in your writing venture, do a lot more and sharpen you skills. You are on the right track, keep it up.

Thank you for entering the contest, and good luck in the contest.
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17
17
Review of Thanks Dad  
Review by Lauren Gale
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
You have written a moving story here, full of emotion with a sorrowfully encouraging ending.

I do have a few observations, since you requested them:

-------His attempts at having some privacy with me was a series of abductions; two or three, I’m not sure the exact number.------- s/b “…with me were a series….” to agree with “attempts”. Also, it seems to need the word “of” after, “sure.”

-----but it was recommended (in the way only a mother can) that I talk to him-----this would have more impact as an active statement, rather than a passive one, where mother is demanding or insisting that you talk to your dad. “it was recommended” is passive. “my mother insisted” is active.

------But due to my repeated acts of cerebral self-defense, the summer I spent in Eugene, Oregon with my dad, I consider to be the first time I ever met him.-----This sentence could use some rearranging for smoothness. “…I consider the summer I spent…..to be the first time I met my dad,” or some such would make this a bit easier to read.

------As my sophomore year of high-school ended------this entire paragraph is one long sentence.

------They were all good to me, as good as they could under the circumstances-----s/b “….as good as they could be, under…”.

-----A child’s heart doesn’t want much though, I was happy my transportation problems were solved-----a semi colon is a better punctuation choice for this compound sentence.

------There were less big trucks, but after two intense football practices in ninety-----“fewer” is the correct choice for this application, where trucks are counted as individual items.

------What happened next was surprising------another run-on sentence paragraph

-----My dad taught me two things during my trip, what a right front quarter panel-----a colon should go before your list.

Your story is written and organized well, it just needs a little polishing up to shine its best. I’m gratified that you managed to learn lessons instead of passing on the badness. Thank you for sharing your story with us.

Keep On
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18
Review of Desolation  
Review by Lauren Gale
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
Wow. Quite the illustration of a cross between nihilism and fatalism. I haven’t read a philosophical piece such as this for a long time.

Here are some phrases I especially liked:

Up in the clear sky, the hanging sun shines bitterly upon me

My sanity is often confronted by the meaningless memories that crawl inside my mind



Here are a few observations:

------- I am utterly alone. I used to believe that such a fact was not entirely impossible to achieve, for one was at least surrounded by the mists of existence and of space.---------The way this is phrased confounds me. You are stating that aloneness is something you believed possible (not entirely impossible), yet it makes more sense to say, it is impossible since one is at least surrounded by the mists of existence…..

------yet many days had passed, and those to years, and those thoughts of denial began to lose their wondrous hold upon me.-----Should it be, “…and those years?”

------I am only able to pick out strings emotions that deal with depression, hatred, and fear.-----And, “strings of emotions?”

------And it is not just the environment that varies, but the actual happenings are not constant, but I know each of them hold no opposition-------A re-phrasing that eliminates one of these “but”s will be helpful.

--------that everything about us was an merely interpretation and projection of our wills------A reversal of words, “merely an…..”


You put a lot of thought into this piece, and it shows. Some imaginative images and complicated ideas. You did a good job.

Good Luck in the contest

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19
19
Review by Lauren Gale
Rated: E | (4.0)
You’ve written an interesting story that engaged me. I enjoy a mystery with a cast of characters who can get all tangled up in each other.

These are a few examples of phrases I really liked:


Images kept swirling in my head so rapidly that words could not attend them.

My mind was at last stopped by one emphatic image

a small silent flower opening to the first stretch of dawn.

Three wheels of thought took turns riding the curves of my mind, each spinning out of control and crashing into another



Here are a few observations:

------Three years in the mountains teaching elementary school children had convinced me that as much as I grown to care for them,------“…as much as I had grown to care…”

-------he was wearing gray, neatly pressed, dress slacks and a navy jacket.------Changing this to, “neatly pressed, gray dress slacks…” will improve the cadence of the sentence.

------We were at Irwins until it closed, going over and over the same story. It never changed. There never new details.------“There were never new details.”

------According to the paper, Packard was “off duty yesterday.”------I don’t believe the quotes are necessary, and they created a stutter when I read this.

------I waited all morning by the phone hoping one of them would call.------Most of this paragraph is written in short sentences. That’s OK, except the rhythm of staccato sentences doesn’t fit the rest of the writing in this story.

------Now that the dance had stopped, the music with it.-------“the music (stopped, ended, ???) with it”

The only other comment I have to make is that some of your descriptions seem exaggerated, to me. For example:

As I opened the bun, the bread squawked like a wounded jay

I know a dry bun will make a noise, but to my mind it would never resemble the cry of a wounded jay.

You did a good job getting into the mystery and setting the scene for us. You slowed down the pace and gave me room to breath with the interlude of memory and teaching. Now I want to know what happened to Addie!

Good job, and I hope you post the rest of this story.

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