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Review by Leah Flame
Rated: E | (3.5)
This is a lovely piece that was both fun and engaging to read, and if you don’t want to change it to how I’ve recommended below, I totally understand. This is all my opinion and you most definitely don’t have to use any of what I’ve written. When looking at the recommendations below, I must apologize, because I’m still learning how to format and structure edits. Especially on WdC I’m a little tentative to use things such as color or indentations for fear I’ve mucked something up, so I apologize in advance if the format is confusing. If the wording itself is confusing, don’t hesitate to reach out and ask me to clarify; I’d love to chat. Okay, introduction aside haha, here are my recommendations:

You might want to say on ‘his’ way, not on ‘the’ way in sentence two. I see what you’re going for by using ‘the’ as it connects to the second part of the sentence; it seems to me as though you’re trying to say that Reginald was on a specific ‘way’ or path when he decided to go a different way. I think, for the words to flow better, I personally would go with what I mentioned in my first sentence. However, given the second clause you present, I’d switch the word ‘way’ to something like ‘path.’ (not necessarily that word, just an example). I hope I understand what you’re trying to write and I hope this makes sense.

I believe the word ‘shortcut’ in your second sentence implies that Reginald knows what the shortcut is. For example, I’d say something like “Reginald decided to leave the way/path (if that was what you meant earlier), and cut through the Amazon Rainforest.” Personally I find the word shortcut implies one knows and understands what the shortcut in question is. But by saying you cut through something you’re not necessarily saying the person doing so understands the way. To know something is a shortcut you must understand that it cuts time off, and to do this I believe you must know the path because if not how would you know if it indeed is a shortcut? But to know that something could potentially cut time off, to say that you cut through something to shave off some minutes, that does not imply that you understand the path itself, rather the distance and general area. You do as you wish, of course, but I suggest changing the word shortcut. It’ll make more sense when he gets lost.

You wrote ‘he decided’ in sentence two. This isn’t terribly wrong, or even bad in any sense, but certainly I believe it can be improved. For example, you could say ‘he was excited to see his Uncle, and….” This shows how Reginald feels about his Uncle and why he decided to brave a trip into the rainforest. You could say he was anxious that he was late. Worried about his uncle’s health and wanted to speed up. You get the idea. It gives more depth than just ‘he decided.’ We the reader can see that he decided to make this decision because…well, because he did it lol. Telling the reader something they already know isn’t the best, and you could change this verb into something that adds to the story.

You specify “Amazon Rainforest” in the second sentence. Is there a particular reason you can’t just say rainforest? For example, when talking about the woods nearby my house, I don’t call them by their specific name–I just call them ‘the woods.’ It creates a sense of familiarity. If you aren’t going for familiarity, by all means stick with what you’ve got. But if Reginald knows this place, he might not think of it as the “Amazon Rainforest.” If this detail matters, keep it, if it’s just another rainforest, I wouldn’t bother.

First sentence of your second paragraph; “it wasn’t long before Reginald got lost.” Okay, this is me being picky and telling you what I think, your writing style is fantastic and your own and you can totally ignore what I’m about to say, but here it is anyway: I think the word ‘got’ gives Reginald too much agency. If I were you, I’d use a word like ‘became.’ This gives a sense that Reginald isn’t in control. If he was, he wouldn’t have gotten lost.

“All he could see were trees.” There’s a bit more to a rainforest than that, perhaps consider adding a bit more description? Vines, bright plants…even just ‘the sights of a rainforest.’ This leaves it up to the reader’s interpretation, leaning on their imagination.

“Reginald began to panic” is telling prose, which might’ve been what you were going for, but I’d recommend showing how he panicked. What were his physical responses? Mental? Paint an image in the reader’s mind.

Instead of “for the want of anything better to do,” personally I’d give Reginald a little bit more motivation to act in the way he does. Make his motivations stronger. Something like “in the hopes that….” or “out of desperation…”. Something along those lines makes the motivation and desire stronger. Your second sentence does indeed add to the motivation, but I feel as though a bit stronger still would be good. Once again, just a suggestion.

Side note, the idea of a house made from butternut squashes is hilarious and amazing and I love it.

“Reginald looked at the roof on the closest house and wondered if it would be rude to eat somebody else's chimney.” I love this line. Personally, I find the one that comes after it unnecessary, and even diminishes the humor present in the first one. I’d get other opinions on that if I were you though.

“The witch just shrugged.” Reading that feels a little off. I think because of the fact that she cackled and she stole his toy, and the way she acts in the following lines. She doesn’t seem to not care. She seems to enjoy the fact that he does care, meaning she feels something towards what goes on, and she seems to care about the toy. Shrugging generally shows someone doesn’t know or doesn’t care, and she doesn’t appear to feel either in any line but this one, which makes it feel a bit wonky and off.

Rather than “at least let him out of that cage,” I’d personally recommend for Reginald to repeat his first demand. This is his favorite toy, the one he goes to when he’s worried, and someone’s just taken it. At the very least I’d have him demand twice. Changing his offer so soon is odd, especially when he reinforces the first demand later with “Spike lives with me!” This one sentence (the one mentioned at the beginning of this paragraph) doesn’t feel to be in line with the rest of how he’s acting and what he’s feeling.

I’m just curious, is there a particular reason the aardvarks noticed Spike but not Reginald? Seems a bit odd reading it, odd and forced for plot reasons.

“Reginald watched, feeling very worried.” Oki doki, a few things with this sentence. I’m not too worried about the telling prose, but if you’d like to change it I believe it would strengthen the story. It’s more fun to read about characters who have agency, who do something about the situation they’re put in. This sentence felt a bit dull to read (personal opinion). If I were you, I’d have Reginald consider doing something right now. He has both a reason to do it, and I believe there’s a way you can give him a reason not to as well. Internal conflict always makes things more interesting. As he does end up acting later, having him consider it now would make his actions further down the line feel less out of the blue. Of course, we know he’s going to act, but seeing his mental responses rather than him just sitting there is always more engaging.

The repetition of phrases is a wonderful aspect that adds to the fairy-tale feeling, and I very much enjoy reading it. :)

The fact that the woodcutter convinces the witch to give Reginald a shot isn’t bad, but once again, I believe this is an area that can be improved. Especially since the witch submits so quickly and easily; it reads a bit strange. I’d have Reginald play a bigger part in convincing her if I were you. It shows Reginald taking control of the situation, and makes the woodcutter appear as less of a plot device.

Okay, I’m finding something a bit odd here. Reginald took a shortcut through the rainforest. When someone takes a shortcut, usually it’s because they want to get to their destination faster. Instead, he’s going to take all that time to cook each individual piece? Just consider these two separate things and try to make them fit together in a way that makes sense. I see the theme of patience you’re going for; when Reginald was impatient and took a shortcut he got lost but when he was patient he was rewarded. (in addition to the whole aardvark thing which reinforces the message) Just….maybe try and fit them together in a way that feels less contrived? Everything in a fiction story is contrived but you certainly don’t want it to feel that way haha. Let me know if you don’t understand this point or would like some help because of all the areas for improvement I’ve mentioned so far, I believe this is the biggest one as it regards the theme.

Nothing to comment on the ending except that I like it.
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