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1
1
Review by emerin-liseli
Rated: 13+ | (2.5)
Hi Light,

Coming around to take a peek at your first chapter ...




Style/Voice: This came up in the LP earlier discussion of Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games -- however, I'm not sure if you followed the discussion. Collins' book is written in first person present tense. Some people were mixed as to whether or not that works; however, the general consensus is that third person present tense nearly never works.

Why not?

First person, present tense brings an immediacy between the reader and the characters -- not only do we get it directly from their heads, we get it as it occurs. The reason present tense works with first person is that the POV and the verb immediacy serve a purpose; therefore, the deviation from the norm is not simply distracting, but rather stylistic. What you want to avoid, however, is a present tense, third person omniscient -- because in that case, the sudden switches between POVs will simply be compounded and blurred by the present tense. Take, for example, this statement:

As they come into the room, they are too busy running to notice the upright line glowing softly in a corner.

If they are too busy running to notice, then WHO is noticing? A random narrator floating in space? If we're from the POV of these two small children, and they didn't notice the line, then we shouldn't, either. You need to choose a POV to stick with, and stick with it, because without POV consistency, the characters remain distant -- I didn't feel an emotional connection to any of them. This problem is simply compounded by the present tense, which highlights the POV discrepancies.

Just remember that with third person, the narrative distance has been already established, making the present tense frankly unnecessary. In this piece, I don't really see how the present tense serves any purpose at all, except to trip you up grammatically.

And here's the thing -- if you know you have issues with tense and grammar, it's best to first master the "basic" third person, past tense form before experimenting with others.

Characterization: This quibbling might better fit in the "Voice/Style" section, but I will include it under this subheading: dialogue.

The dialogue in this piece is stilted and unnecessarily formal. Take, for example, this line:

“Well, I am I'm scared you are going to you'll break something again. There's plenty is lots of room outside of the house, and there's no reason why you shouldn't be in the yard. It is cold only in the Kappa plane today Everywhere's warm except the Kappa plane.”

Or this:

“You lost the bag, Danny.”

“No, George, I did it on purpose to slow you down.”

Real small children would never talk like this. Consider this instead:

"Danny, you dropped your bag!"

"No!" Danny wheeled around. "You fell for it."

George frowned, confused. "What do you --"

Danny smirked. "I gotta explain everything to you." He adopted a mocking voice. "I dropped it, Georgie, on purpose. To slow you down." He popped back into Kappa, and George bit his lip, irritated at his brother. However, he followed a moment later.

Because your dialogue is so stilted and colorless, you lose two important facets of narrative:

1. The opportunity to use dialogue to color characters and to bring them to life, thereby creating characters the reader will actually care about, and
2. The opportunity to use dialogue as setting, i.e. using dialect and other distinctions in dialogue in order to show us things like socioeconomic status, fantasy v. science fiction worlds, futuristic v. historical settings, etc.

As it is now, I had a really hard time telling Danny and George apart; I know one is younger and more dominant (not "dominate," by the way), but the way they talk and, more importantly, the way their point of view should color their perceptions are 100% the same. Everyone perceives the world in the same way; there are no distinctions in reaction; the story reads flat and colorless. Work on injecting some life into the story, piece by piece. Remember, this is fiction, not an instruction manual. *Smile*

Okay, so now to go into specifics on how to improve:

1. Change this piece into past tense. The present tense is really detracting.
2. Work on the dialogue. Dialogue does NOT have to be 100% grammatically correct. Work on "hearing" the way people REALLY talk -- and since the vast majority of this chapter is dialogue, you want to work on injecting life into it. How to inject life? I hope that my examples help, but remember, contractions are your friends, especially when family members talk to each other (I'm v. I am). Instead of having straight dialogue for, oh, half the chapter, break the dialogue up with character actions -- tucking hair behind an ear, shifting uncomfortably, scratching a scab, etc.
3. Work on reducing wordiness. Wordiness sounds stilted and awkward; it prevents your writing from sounding natural. These will be little changes. However, they are 100% crucial in improving your craft. Take, for example:

Julie bends down to pick up some knick-knacks that have been knocked off onto the floor and hears the familiar sound of her two playful sons, Danny and George, approachingchildren getting closer.

Okay, so I added in a few words -- but that was because there's no reason NOT to have more specific information in that sentence about the children; it cuts down on wordiness later. (Like when you say "her son Danny.")

You have good ideas, and frankly, I can't really comment on the science aspects about the story. The most I can do is shake my finger at you about the craft -- that is, the way you write and shape the narrative. Take a hard, long look at this story; remember again that you're working to mimic the flows of real life, even within the machine of the story.

Hope this helps -- let me know if you have any further questions.

Cheers,

Em


2
2
Review by emerin-liseli
In affiliation with Let's Publish!  
Rated: 13+ | (2.0)
Hi Light,

Coming around to drop off a review of your alternative prologue ...


Frankly, I must admit that I don't quite see the point of this prologue. Here are the reasons why:

1. For either a novel or a novella, you cannot include a "prelude" like this that simply states backstory without incorporating it into the text of your story.

2. Publishing norms today move against prologues in general; many editors, ESPECIALLY for general fiction, shy away from prologues because they feel like they usually only contain backstory and are not necessary. Because your prologue only contains backstory and really isn't necessary, reading this short bit would really turn editors off from the rest of your story, no matter how good it is. A prologue like this might turn off an editor from reading on altogether.

3. A prologue like this violates the very basic rule of writing: SHOW, don't tell. This is an info-dump, one of the most egregious forms of telling.

So what's the solution? I would get rid of this prologue and somehow weave the information presented here into your actual story. Make a list of the important details the reader must know. How could you "show" this information instead of simply stating it? Then, I would begin to bring that information into the text of the actual story. Also remember that readers don't need every single detail about your world before they start; world-building should be consistent, revealing details all the way throughout the story instead of appearing at the beginning, only to never appear again.

I hope this helps -- I realize that this might be a tad harsh, but I promise that this advice is totally well-intentioned. *Smile* Hope this helps!

Cheers,

emerin-liseli

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3
3
Review of Forgive me God!  
Review by emerin-liseli
In affiliation with Let's Publish!  
Rated: 18+ | (3.0)
Hello!

My name is emerin-liseli , and I am reviewing your story as a judge for "Short Shots: Official WDC Contest. Thanks for entering!



What I Liked:

This is a poignant situation that reminds me strongly of a short story by Jhumpa Lahiri at Interpreter of Maladies -- are you familiar with it? *Smile*

Suggestions for Improvement:

The main issues in this story are coming from the grammatical and mechanical errors. However, before I delve into that, let me also make a suggestion about the ending.

At the end, it is suggested that a supernatural event occurs to Martha, and she is spoken to directly by God. If that is the case, then I think that scene needs to be developed a tad more, and with care. If Martha has been approached by angels or gods or other spiritual beings, I want to know her reactions. And finally, I want some sense of resolution -- how Martha feels about the forgiveness, and how it will effect change in her life. As-is, this story feels unfinished and unfulfilling.

Grammar, grammar, grammar. This piece is difficult to read because of the number of grammatical errors. I would recommend refreshing yourself on commas with this handy reference  , because it really is a shame that your writing is made so difficult to read and enjoy because of something as easy to fix as grammatical mistakes. Here are just a few examples to get you started:

Martha stood by the window, watching the gathering twilight.

Her hair, turning a premature gray, dry and disheveled hung down her drooping shoulders.

Word order. As-is, the modifiers aren't working correctly. "Turning" should be a past tense verb, unless the hair is currently at the moment turning gray in front of the reader's eyes. Consider instead:

Her hair, which had turned a premature gray, hung dry and disheveled past her drooping shoulders.


Hot and feverish, she started sobbing uncontrollably with tears falling unabated while tears fell unabated as she remembered her three-month-old fetus, limp and lifeless in the nurse’s hands.

Again, be careful about verb choice and conjugation, as well as using those commas correctly.

Final Notes:


Not a bad start. I believe the ending does need a bit of reworking, and the piece should be proofread. But I definitely think you have a story here that is worthwhile.

Thank you for your consideration!

emerin-liseli


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4
4
Review by emerin-liseli
In affiliation with Let's Publish!  
Rated: E | (1.5)
Hello!

My name is emerin-liseli , and I am reviewing your story as a judge for "Short Shots: Official WDC Contest. Thanks for entering!



What I Liked:

An intense piece filled with aching emotion.

Suggestions for Improvement:

This piece, unfortunately, is not a short story. There is much to be said about the classic plot diagram  . There is exposition, rising action and a climax. However, the falling action and resolution are more or less nonexistent. What does Jess learn from her situation? How does she confront it?

This is the major issue in the piece. But consider also these points:

-The fact that we don't know how her family died, or the circumstances in which they died, makes it difficult to really feel bad about her death. Consider expanding that paragraph into a true scene that actually might be able to elicit a response from the reader.

-The overuse of melodramatic language. For example, "A terrible day that flipped my life upside down" is more likely to receive an eyeroll than sympathy.

-Characterization. We don't know anything about Jess, except for the fact her parents are dead. There's no characterization; we don't even get an age. It would be nice if we could get to "know" the family members too, because that would make the reader feel bad for their death. As of now, it reads more like a vague newspaper clipping that strikes the reader as vaguely tragic -- but only for a moment.

-Grammar, spelling, punctuation and mechanics. This piece is nearly unreadable because of the overwhelming number of errors. Consider "Invalid Item for a more lighthearted approach to fixing a raw piece.

Final Notes:


Thank you for your consideration, and please let me know if there are any points I can clarify.

emerin-liseli


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5
5
Review of The kingdom  
Review by emerin-liseli
In affiliation with Let's Publish!  
Rated: 13+ | (2.0)
Hello!

My name is emerin-liseli , and I am reviewing your story as a judge for "Short Shots: Official WDC Contest. Thanks for entering!



What I Liked:

This story has a mythic quality reminiscent of some of the oldest fables and stories. I enjoyed this approach to the prompt.

Suggestions for Improvement:

To be perfectly blunt, this piece was nearly unreadable because of the grammatical issues. No one will take you seriously if, as a writer, you cannot utilize the most basic tools of the trade -- grammar and mechanics. I'll go a little more in-depth about that later; for now, however, consider these "larger" issues.

Stilted, unrealistic and boring dialogue.

“He is my brother, yet I was forced to banish him due to his treason. I’ve had enough,” said the King. (Missing a period here.)

Consider the realism of the first exchange between the king and the queen. Why would the king tell the queen this information -- wouldn't the queen already know this?

This thinly veiled attempt to sneak information to the reader really should be avoided. I think such instances look even more childish than the dreaded information dumps, where you simply state such requisite knowledge up front.

The best way to do it, then, would be to have the attendant read out loud a letter from Seth that might go something like this:

Dearest brother,

You are despicable scum who has banished his only brother to the hinterlands. In righteous furor, I have declared war against your kingdom, etc etc etc.


In response, the queen might exclaim something like, "That brother Seth of yours is absolutely ridiculous! Death would not be good enough for his crime. If anyone else had tried to murder you, he would have received death."

This is just one way you could weave in the information without making it so incredibly obvious what you're doing.

Logic. There are elements in this piece that simply just don't make sense. For example, you might be able to prepare for a one-man assassination secretly, or even plan a coup among a dozen leaders secretly. However, there is absolutely no way that an army, which consists of thousands of men, could be assembled secretly. Those words coming out of Arbela's mouth sounded simply ridiculous.

Another point of logic -- if the king snuck out on foot in a technological age (i.e., people have tanks, so they therefore must have cars), and the queen would logically be looking for him (after 24 hours of him missing, wouldn't she start to worry?), I can't imagine that the king, traveling on foot, would never be spotted. The king would be a highly public figure that ANYONE would recognize on sight. The logic of this section again does not make any sense. If he was driving in a car, he snuck out at 2 A.M. and it only took him an hour to reach the border then ... maybe.

General storytelling. The vagueness of the piece prevents it from really achieving anything. Take, for example, this passage:

Arbela sneaked into the palace and stole her husband’s head, she looked for his body all over the Kingdom until she found all of his body parts. She brought him in front of the tree and assembled him in front of the tree.

These two sentences are stories within themselves, and this summarization is more appropriate for the kind of synopsis you might find through a quick google search, but NOT for fiction, which is all about elaborating; creating scenes and bringing such simple descriptions to life. That basic rule -- "Show, don't tell" -- still applies.

Grammar and mechanics. It's impossible to point out every single error, but here are a few to get you started.

Please refresh yourself on how to use punctuation in dialogue. This reference   might come in handy. A few examples on how to fix your grammar:

The guard entered the throne room, stood in front of the King and Queen and bowed his head.[,] “Your Majesty, Seth is planning a war against your Kingdom.” Bowing one's head is NOT a dialogue tag. Bowing your head does not describe the quality of the guard's voice. Therefore, there should be a period instead of a comma used here.

She gazed at the King and [,] turned back to the guard.[,] “Dismissed.” Again, turning back to the guard is NOT a dialogue tag. A period should be used.

“The King looked towards the ground.[,] “I know, but can you think of any other way than war?” Sorrow filled the King’s voice. The same rules are applying here.

Final Notes:


To be quite frank, this piece needs a serious amount of work before one can even begin to approach the more subtle approaches of fiction -- transition, crafting good dialogue, or even creating characters that the reader likes. There is, however, a lot of potential in the quality of the arc of the piece, and I encourage to keep working on the craft in one way or the other. Please let me know if there is anything I can do to either clarify or illustrate further my points, or if you have any questions. I am always willing to come back and re-review and re-rate.


Thank you for your consideration!

emerin-liseli


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6
6
Review of The Tree  
Review by emerin-liseli
In affiliation with Let's Publish!  
Rated: E | (4.5)
Hello!

My name is emerin-liseli , and I am reviewing your story as a judge for "Short Shots: Official WDC Contest. Thanks for entering!



What I Liked:

An accomplished, well-written piece that has the intimacy of a tale told by a close friend and the highly intelligent writing evident of someone who loves the craft. This piece was a pleasure to read.

Suggestions for Improvement:

I have only the most minor comments; they may be just matters of personal choice.

I loved the anecdote about Benji, but I would have liked to see a little more time taken with explaining how he was so spoiled and loved. Just maybe another sentence describing how close the narrator and Benji were, so that the loss felt even more severe. (I do understand, of course, that you were pushing a heavy word count.)

At times, the language felt a little wordy. For example:

Looking back, I almost laugh because I’m sure the words I spoke to God were not the prayers we are taught. "Almost" is unnecessary -- the image of the narrator actually laughing at herself is more powerful. "I'm sure" is equally unnecessary; this is her memoir; she should know what she's talking about.

Going along opposite lines, at times, there were passive verb moments I thought might be better animated. (In general, passive verbs sound weaker and slow down the story, although I'm not in that camp that 100% wants to stamp out every single one.)

For example:

My thoughts were of revenge. could be: Revenge filled my thoughts.

Final Notes:


A wonderful piece -- thanks for sharing! Best of luck in the contest.

Thank you for your consideration!

emerin-liseli


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7
7
Review of Not Without Sight  
Review by emerin-liseli
In affiliation with Let's Publish!  
Rated: E | (4.0)
Hello!

My name is emerin-liseli , and I am reviewing your story as a judge for "Short Shots: Official WDC Contest. Thanks for entering!



What I Liked:

What a wonderfully written story -- I love the way this story progresses, and how patient you were with developing Wendy as a full character so that the ending really carried weight and resonance. Thanks for the gorgeous read.

Suggestions for Improvement:

I would love it if the diary entries could be dated to give us a more concrete idea of when this is taking place.

Also, in the last diary entry, when Grandmother has fallen -- consider "animating" that scene and writing out exact lines in order to heighten the drama just a tad.

I thought the way you used the picture prompt in this piece was absolutely awesome. But telling us about the one tree on the farm and why it was special at the beginning of the piece would make it feel less contrived than telling us the story at the end of the piece when Wendy arrives at star-catching tree. I think there's potential to make both instances with the tree doubly-meaningful in that way, if I'm making any sense. *Laugh*

And that's it -- the rest are grammatical nitpickings.

People tell me it is ‘dark’ or ‘black.”

Being consistent with quotation marks -- I would use double quotation marks for both words. The same goes for "tree" later on in the first entry.

Grandmother is soft and silken like the wheat is when it gets ground into flour. Unnecessary word that detracts from the flow of this sentence.

Otherwise, Grandmother says, “I look like a rag-a-muffin.”[.] Period should go inside the quotation mark. This associated content link   is always helpful for me when I forget the rules of dialogue grammar.

One was a play by Shakespeare called King Lear. The title should be italicized.

We live outside of town. Missing a period.

Final Notes:


Wonderful piece -- I hope that my suggestions can be helpful, and best of luck in the contest!

Thank you for your consideration!

emerin-liseli


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8
8
Review of Noah's Ark  
Review by emerin-liseli
In affiliation with Let's Publish!  
Rated: 18+ | (4.5)
Hello!

My name is emerin-liseli , and I am reviewing your story as a judge for "Short Shots: Official WDC Contest. Thanks for entering!



What I Liked:

This story is a breath of fresh air. I absolutely adore the opening, and I love the way you brought reflection to life, and animated what could be a boring, trite list of feelings into a story that maintained an emotional bond between narrator and reader.

The narrator's bold proclamation that she killed her child immediately raises the stakes -- clever choices like this created a heightened drama that further amplified the emotional resonance. Very nice work.

Suggestions for Improvement:

I have only small, nitpicky comments; feel free to ignore anything I say. It really just comes down to personal choice.

I had to laugh when you called Despair a "stealthy old bitch," but that instance really takes the wind out of Mother-Nature-As-Bitch later on in the piece. In my opinion, the Mother Nature line is better, so I might consider losing the first instance. Plus the combination of anthropomorphism and language might be a bit too much.

I've replayed that day over and over in my mind.

This line is a bit of a clunky transition to the day of Noah's death, in my opinion. (You have several transitions that are much better -- the Baby on Board stuff is just brilliant.) It's a cliche, yes, but it also comes off melodramatic. The story itself is, of course, a tad melodramatic, but I certainly didn't feel that way until this line. I think you have the right idea, but I'd love to see it animated in a different way. This idea of constant replaying is a good way to move into the actual death, but I think it could be said in a more beautiful or less cliched way.

Err, to go the opposite direction, I would have liked to see a tad more drama when Jim lets go of Noah's ark on the balloon. Specifically, I think it might work better if you stated flat-out that they'd would never see the ark again. (The P.S. would be, "Just like they'd never see their son again." Cue the melodrama.)

A couple line-by-line nitpickings:

"They'll cut down on the mud," he said.
New paragraph for a new character's lines.
"But what if Noah falls?" I said.

I've noticed their accusatory glances and overheard their whispered accusations . . . This particular bit of melodrama didn't quite work for me.

I don't have to imagine anymore:[,] and there isn't a point really.

This comes down to personal style, but this is such a great line that I would have liked to see it more emphatic and direct.

Final Notes:


Overall, this is a well-written and well-conceived piece. Thank you for the great read! Best of luck with the contest and your future writing pursuits.

Thank you for your consideration!

emerin-liseli


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9
9
Review of The Frozen Land  
Review by emerin-liseli
In affiliation with Let's Publish!  
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
Hello!

My name is emerin-liseli , and I wandered upon your piece in one way or another, and would like to drop you a few quick thoughts.



Seems like the start to a very intriguing story. You write well -- fluidly and with a knack for quick, believable dialogue.

I'm a sucker for post-apocalyptic writing, and I like the dynamic you've created between the two characters. My only qualm with the piece is that it doesn't seem to be finished quite yet. Is this the beginning to a longer piece?

I'll be editing an Action/Adventure newsletter (to be released this Wednesday), and your piece will be featured. Hopefully, this will help expose this piece to more reviewers. *Smile*


Thank you for your consideration!

emerin-liseli


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10
10
Review of Sweet Freebie  
Review by emerin-liseli
In affiliation with Let's Publish!  
Rated: E | (4.5)
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Hello, and thank you for entering "Invalid Item. Your entry is appreciated. Thank you for your patience with the judging delay. I am so sorry to have kept you waiting!



What I Liked:

As always, your poetry is inspiring -- expressive, specific, and full of such voice and charm. I love the corsage for Ruth Ann and the Mardi Gras beads "leftovers." I had to laugh at the cheery blasphemy that makes this poem immediately likable.

Suggestions for Improvement:

Just two little suggestions.

The last line resonates so well and really adds the cherry on the icing. It loses some of its punch as the title. Maybe something like "Free Grace" or even just "Grace" might work better.

I am unconfessed
and not Catholic.

The "not Catholic" is a little clunky, and not as specific as it could be. Consider putting in its place "atheist" or "humanist", or another appropriate description.

Final Notes:


Incredibly poem -- loved it. I could never figure out how WCW managed to accomplish all he did; it's absolutely incredible.

Thanks for sticking by this contest even when I wasn't quite able to, and I'm so glad to finally be able to read through all the entries.


Thank you for your consideration, and I look forward to your future entries!

emerin-liseli


11
11
Review of The Reader  
Review by emerin-liseli
In affiliation with Let's Publish!  
Rated: E | (4.5)
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Hello, and thank you for entering "Invalid Item. Your entry is appreciated.



What I Liked:

I've always loved that "wicked deck of cards" as well. You've made lots of smart decisions in this poem -- the short phrases, the breathless nature of this poem, the attention to detail ("waits for a female Pope" -- great!).

Suggestions for Improvement:

A few very nitpicky things:

Here is your card, The World ,

Unnecessary comma after "World".

I never read reversals, she says,

Missing a comma.

The last card, ah, The Star ,

Unnecessary comma after "Star".

I resisted the two lines that both ended in "light".

Final Notes:


This is an enchanting, whimsical poem that both channels Eliot and expands on him -- a dash of femininity, perhaps? Always a pleasure to read your work!


Thank you for your consideration, and I look forward to your future entries!

emerin-liseli


12
12
Review of In my dreams  
Review by emerin-liseli
In affiliation with Let's Publish!  
Rated: E | (4.5)
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Hello, and thank you for entering "Invalid Item. Your entry is appreciated.



What I Liked:

A beautiful tribute that utilizes beautiful language. There's a sense of accomplishment to your piece, an obvious attention to detail and to immediate and sensuous imagery. Lovely job grounding the piece in details and in transcending the tired cliches of love poetry.

Suggestions for Improvement:

The repetition on "in my dreams" didn't work for me. The phrase didn't gain resonance with each repetition, and I think just titling the piece "in my dreams" is adequate. If you're trying to remind the reader of loss, this piece might be more effective if you allow the reader to be entranced by your description of this girl before realizing the futility of the vision.

A few minor nitpickings:

And with your frail arms you've aimed
those little stones at the stars.

Because of the preceding semicolon, you don't need "and". I'd stay away from the past perfect as much as possible, since it takes away from the immediacy of the piece.

In my dreams, I've seen you[,] Unnecessary comma.

Their buck-toothed laughter wrapped
in your dog-toothed smile,
Their faces glistening in your eyes.


I don't know why the t in "Their" is capitalized both times. I'd lowercase both letters. I didn't quite know what to make with this stanza, since the "dog-toothed smile" is certainly not an attractive image.

Wet sands between naked toes, Unnecessary plural.

I could hear three sounds resonate:[,] Colon, not a comma.

Awesome last line, by the way.

Final Notes:


A good poem that needs a few minor adjustments. I hope this helps! Thank you for the awesome read.


Thank you for your consideration, and I look forward to your future entries!

emerin-liseli


13
13
Review by emerin-liseli
In affiliation with Let's Publish!  
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
Hi Ben,

Swinging through to drop off a review. *Smile*


To be honest, I might never recognize this as a variation on 'The Road Not Taken' if not for your handy note (guess I'm not too sharp-eyed. *Laugh*).

There's a lot of great stuff going on in this poem, and a lot of interesting images that you've juxtaposed together. You use alliteration effectively to punctuate the piece and heighten discordance despite the tight rhyme & rhythmic scheme, and there's something about this poem that seems almost collage-like in manner: the strangeness, I suppose, of plopping Lovecraft into the Frost universe.

On the assumption that you know better than I do about the rhyme/rhythm stuff, I'm not going to touch it. In fact, I have only two suggestions about this piece in general.

1. The overuse of adjectives. There are a few moments in this piece where the adjectives feel too unwieldy, where the language loses impact. I'm thinking particularly of the first two lines, and Skeletal yellow dead leaves (I'd lose the "dead", since "skeletal" connotates "dead") and "ravenous rank insect hordes". Another moment of adjective overload occurred with "slimy wretched unfortunate creature".

2. The resonance of Frost's poem is due partially to his philosophical overtones. I'd love to see your poem have a deeper, more interesting meaning. I'm intrigued by the idea of an apathetic and unobservant giant lumbering through the forest, causing destruction while completely unaware that he's doing so. There's something tragic and also pointed in that idea, especially as a social critique of humanity's impact on the environment.

Consider adding a final paragraph, a sort of "summing up" that extends this idea of "unknowing, uncaring": perhaps a statement that reminds us that sometimes "indifference and neglect often do more damage than outright dislike" (okay, quoting Harry Potter here, but ... you get the drift *Laugh*).

Two small nitpickings: overall, I think that you've done an excellent job with this poem, and it could do well in a speculative fiction magazine, or even one of the poetry literary magazines out there.

Hope this helps!

Cheers,

emerin-liseli

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14
14
Review of Defining Poetry  
for entry "walk with two suns
Review by emerin-liseli
In affiliation with Let's Publish!  
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
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Hello, and thank you for entering "Invalid Item. Your entry is appreciated.



What I Liked:

A declarative, celebratory poem inspired by Baudelaire. He was quite the character, and I love how you've channeled his usage of sensuous, immediate descriptions.

Suggestions for Improvement:

I think that the repetition of "walk with two suns" gets a little heavy, especially by the last line. In general, I'm wary of titling a piece after the last line, and think that this piece would do fine with "For Winter Solstice" as a title.

Compared to the more interesting images in this piece, I found these two to be weaker:

Kindle the flame of your internal heat.

I disliked the phrase "kindle the flame", because I feel like it's been used plenty of times in this same way. The phrase "internal heat" didn't have the same musical ring as other phrases in your piece.

Demand solar powers.

I couldn't think of anything except solar powered cars or panels from this phrase -- perhaps a rephrasing or a more specific image?


Final Notes:


Overall an effective poem -- I have only minor nitpickings. *Smile*

I really enjoyed getting to know you via your poetry -- thank you so much for your dedication to the contest and for allowing me to share my thoughts about your pieces.


Thank you for your consideration, and I hope that you will participate (if and when) I decide to run this contest for a second time.

emerin-liseli


15
15
Review of Defining Poetry  
for entry "Grace After Grace
Review by emerin-liseli
In affiliation with Let's Publish!  
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
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What I Liked:

I agree -- this is a breathtaking poem -- and I'm so glad to see that you liked it. You have some absolutely lovely moments in this piece -- I love the placement of the word "nanosecond" and the interesting parallel between the words "fallen" and "felled". In a short poem, it is so important that every word counts -- and you've chosen words that particularly resonate within the context of this piece.

Suggestions for Improvement:

As commented above, the difficulty in writing short poems is to capture essence, is to make every. single. darn. word. count.

You've done a good job with this enterprise overall; however, there are a few vague moments that don't quite achieve the same level of finesse.

in your own heart,
the source of original grace


Here, it is unclear whether the "secret gift" is this source of original grace, or if the heart itself is the source. I like the idea of original grace -- it parallels original sin, which ties in nicely with the first stanza.

unfurl your wings,
Fly.


A little too reminiscent of R. Kelly's "I Believe I Can Fly". On a related note, one of the strengths of this piece is that it advocates sitting still, introspection. I'd like to see that image carried through instead.

Final Notes:


Minor nitpickings for a short but effective poem. Thanks for sharing, and sorry that this review came so late. *Blush*


Thank you for your consideration, and I look forward to your future entries!

emerin-liseli


16
16
Review of Constellation  
Review by emerin-liseli
In affiliation with Let's Publish!  
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
Hi Lorien,

Coming around to review your latest offering to Let's Publish. *Smile*


The writing in this piece is absolutely lovely -- I really enjoyed it. There's a really nice chemistry between Laura and Paul that you capture exquisitely: angsty, a little melodramatic, ultimately tragic and touching.

That said, the sudden strength and conviction of Paul at the end of the piece didn't quite match up. I think what didn't strike the right chord was this exchange:

“It’s going to be okay,” Paul whispered again. “I promise. It’s going to be okay.”
I shook my head and found my voice. “I don’t believe you.”
“I know.” He sighed. “I know you don’t believe me. Nobody thinks it’s going to be okay.


There's just something strange about him comforting her about the fact that he had to go away; something strange about their dramatically shifting relationship in which they alternate between being the "strong one". I know people (and relationships) are like that in real life -- yet in short stories, there's that necessity almost to stereotype your characters so that their actions make logical sense, even when in the real world most people's actions don't.

Likewise, when Paul turns to the constellations, it's a little jarring to me because I never felt that they were that important. I would have liked to see it emphasized a bit more earlier.

Another relationship which confused me was the one between Laura and her mother. She obviously has some issues with her mom; however, I would have liked that to be clearly drawn from the beginning. For instance, in the first section, perhaps have her worry about what her mother would say before she runs off with Paul.

In any case, I'm not really sure how the relationship with the mother contributes to the overall story, or how that's important, unless you're trying to make Laura embody some sort of rebellious teenage movement.

One line-by-line thing:

It was hot, even for July, and drier than usual.

I'm not sure about the rest of Washington state, but in Seattle it rained all. the. time, especially in the summer. I guess I didn't buy the sudden "drier than usual" with the wetness of the rain forest.

Thanks for sharing -- hope this helps!



Cheers,

emerin-liseli

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17
17
Review of Defining Poetry  
for entry "Mama Song
Review by emerin-liseli
In affiliation with Let's Publish!  
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
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Hello, and thank you for entering "Invalid Item. Your entry is appreciated.



What I Liked:

Excellent poem. You've made the (difficult) choice to ground this poem in images, in startling fragments, and it's paid off. Likewise, there are moments of repetition (I'm thinking of the section that begins "I've passed the age") that are absolutely haunting. Lovely piece -- I really enjoyed it.

Suggestions for Improvement:

Two concerns:

1. While I absolutely LOVE the images you provoke, e.g. "thin white scars", "breathe ten thousand times", there are moments when adjectives overpower the economy, the sparseness of this piece. There are moments where two adjectives in a row work nicely, e.g. "sweet woodsy smoke"; however, other times, the description becomes too heavy or too vague. Examples:

The rotten parts of memory
scoured by nature and time
leave a bleached, beautiful carcass.

Here's a moment -- an absolutely beautiful moment, by the way -- that becomes simultaneously too heavy and too vague. That second line is heavy -- too much personification -- and that "beautiful" is a vague idea that isn't really necessary considering the perfume that floats around this piece.

Likewise:

all painful sharp edges removed

The phrase "painful edges" elicits the idea of sharpness without it being explicitly stated. Therefore, "sharp" becomes unnecessary.

2. Repetition. I LOVE the "I've passed ..." I like the "magic" in stanzas two and four. In stanzas one and three, I'm not so sure. Maybe in stanza one if "like" became "as if by" ...

I'm not sure what to do with the "with magic" in stanza three, which to me sounds really forced.

Final Notes:


Small nitpickings for an overall incredible poem. Have you ever considered publication? I definitely think your pieces have the potential to be.

Keep working and keep honing -- you have some incredible dynamic material here.


Thank you for your consideration, and I look forward to your future entries!

emerin-liseli


18
18
Review of Defining Poetry  
for entry "Cups
Review by emerin-liseli
In affiliation with Let's Publish!  
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
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What I Liked:

Absolutely incredible! Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful poem. I love how you captured that Stein impulse with the repetition of the word "cup" -- just enough to be noticeable, but not enough to be irritating.

Have you ever written a prose poem before? If you haven't, I'm incredibly impressed by how quickly you captured their essence -- their dependence on prose and its structure, yet the poetic quality, the emphasis on language and its acrobatics. There are so many things in this poem I absolutely love, from emphatic use of first person to the haunting last line.

Suggestions for Improvement:

A few very small nitpickings that I think could improve this piece:

We played with her paper dolls and sipped Red Rose tea in delicate china cups as light and fragile as rice paper.

I resisted the two adjectives "light and fragile" -- a little too much. I would choose one or the other, and I currently lean toward "light". I also didn't like the possessive "her".

Sometimes she served the tea loose and we read the remains, claiming our futures as pirate queens and movie stars.

Too explicit to fit within the realm of this particular piece, in my opinion, and unnecessary -- a bit of out of tone.

Sundays:[,] I tremble and take the bread and cup

I wanted a colon instead of a comma.


I was a tad confused in the transition from the second-to-last sentence to the last sentence -- why was she sweeping up the shards? Did she break her cup?

Final Notes:


Overall, an absolutely haunting and lovely poem. I really enjoyed this one and can see that you were truly inspired by the piece at hand. Thank you for sharing!


Thank you for your consideration, and I look forward to your future entries!

emerin-liseli


19
19
Review of Defining Poetry  
Review by emerin-liseli
In affiliation with Let's Publish!  
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
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What I Liked:

Sestinas are so difficult to manage, and I applaud your determination and creativity! I love Ashbery's sestina, although Miller Williams' "The Shrinking Lonely Sestina" is most likely my favorite: http://properlylost.blogspot.com/2009/07/shrinking...

You do a lovely job with the form, and it's great how each stanza tells a story. You've brought to life some really nice images, wrapped in a clever format.

Suggestions for Improvement:

A few comma nitpickings:

Rahab the harlot[,] was called
by Yaweh[,] to dangle a red thread

No commas necessary here.

Tamar, to her father-in-law called,
and bared everything to him:[;] all.
Her first born firstborn had a red thread

I would use a colon, not a semicolon. "first born" should be all one word. That first line was a little clunky. Try something like:

Tamar saw her father-in-law and called
him, baring everything to him: all.

Err. I'm sure you could come up with something better, since this was a spur of the moment thing. But that first line really made me pause.

she offerred offered a ball of red fleece thread

Misspelling.

While awaiting His birth,she worked a spindle of red thread,

You're missing a space between the first comma and "she".

who choose to be joined

"Joined" isn't one of your ending words -- should that be "called"?

in the deep muscle of earth and heaven., and We are called.

A suggestion: I think this line might be cool with two separate sentences -- a short, declarative sentence to end this poem.


Final Notes:


I enjoyed this poem -- the red thread binds not just us, but this poem together. It's exceedingly difficult to not sound repetitive in a sestina, but you do an awesome job of keeping the words fresh and original. I think this poem would benefit from a quick edit, but it has a lot of potential.


Thank you for your consideration, and I look forward to your future entries!

emerin-liseli


20
20
Review of Defining Poetry  
for entry "Veteran's Day 2009
Review by emerin-liseli
In affiliation with Let's Publish!  
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
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What I Liked:

"Easter, 1916" is one of my favorite Yeats poem. The "terrible beauty" is an evocative phrase, and you did a nice job capturing that sense of quietness within your piece. The beginning of the second stanza is particularly poignant -- I can't forget the image of "bees and mist". Lovely writing!

Suggestions for Improvement:

Your piece shines when you offer concrete images, exemplified within the second stanza. Yet the first and the third stanzas lack this kind of vividity. Phrases like "slices the throats" are less unsettling than the disembodied hand that "proffers a flashlight" (really nice, by the way). I'd love to see closer attention to detailed images that cement this overarching idea of "no interbellum".

I resisted the repetition of "The story goes on"; it was a little too banal for a poem like this. What I do like about the idea of this line is that it reminds me of newscasts and the constant flow of growingly sensational stories. Perhaps something more specific, with more active language: "The stories roll by" as an example.

Final Notes:


Wow! I'm impressed by your use of language and your obvious talent. You've really hit onto a topic that's increasingly important for today's fragmented and "sound-bite" world, and I love how your poetry responds not only to the prompt, but to the problems around us. Great use of the prompt, and with a little tweaking, I think this poem will really shine.

As always, please let me know if you have any questions, or if I should clarify a point. I'm not always coherent. *Smile*


Thank you for your consideration, and I look forward to your future entries!

emerin-liseli


21
21
Review of The Burning  
Review by emerin-liseli
In affiliation with Let's Publish!  
Rated: ASR | (4.5)
Hey Fadz,

Just lurking through your portfolio ... *Smile* and this particular piece caught my attention!

Can I say ... woah!? I really liked the set up of this piece (I'm a sucker for section breaks) and the ending which remains vague enough to pique interest but powerful enough to let the reader know what will happen. Perhaps one additional line that brings us back to Caitlyn: "Her fingertips tingled" or "She smiled" would cement things.

Overall, this is a cool piece -- I really liked the progression, and would love to see the Midday scene expanded into a high chase with Caitlyn trying desperately for some sort of Power -- that would be a fun scene to both write and read, right? *Wink*

Lovely writing, and keep up the good work!

Hugs,

Em
22
22
Review of Par Excellence  
Review by emerin-liseli
In affiliation with Circle of Sisters  
Rated: E | (4.5)


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Hello,

My name is emerin-liseli and I am a judge for "Rising Stars Shining Brighter.

Thank you for entering!



What I Liked:

A lovely poem with many beautiful images. I especially loved the second to last stanza -- absolutely lovely. Nice usage of alliteration. I enjoyed this poem!

Suggestions for Improvement:

Just a few minor nitpickings:

water fall should be one word: waterfall

The heard melody again at noon[,] is tireless

the Koyal, finally[,] in patches, pauses, out of sight

Unnecessary commas in brackets.


when it someone mimics
more insistently,

These two lines don't make sense as-is: a suggestion to improve the lines.



Final Notes:


Hope this helps -- I really liked this poem! There are a few bumps in the beginning, but the two last stanzas are quite well constructed.


Thank you for your consideration!

Hugs,

Em



23
23
Review of Dare To Be  
Review by emerin-liseli
In affiliation with Circle of Sisters  
Rated: E | (5.0)


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Hello,

My name is emerin-liseli and I am a judge for "Rising Stars Shining Brighter.

Thank you for entering!



What I Liked:

Lovely use of rhyme and rhythm to create a tribute for your daughter & young women everywhere. This poem offers gentle advice without being preachy. The reader can feel the deeply personal roots of this work.

Suggestions for Improvement:

None -- nice work!

Final Notes:


Thank you for sharing this poem, and best of luck in the contest!


Thank you for your consideration!

Hugs,

Em



24
24
Review of Missing you  
Review by emerin-liseli
In affiliation with Let's Publish!  
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
Hi Ben,

Don't you just love us? *Smirk* You ask, and three reviews, comin' right up ... *Smile*


I've already read Raven and Vampyr's reviews, and I'm going to take a drastically different stance from them.

First, I want to point you to this interesting plot entry by an Every Day Fiction editor: http://www.everydayfiction.com/flashfictionblog/th...

I think that Jordan Lapp makes a really good point. Although your plot is contained within the dialogue itself, and while I think your story functions without the setting, description could indeed better the piece.

I think one of the main issues from the get-go is that we don't know whether the narrator is truly hearing Barb's voice or if it's just a figment of his imagination. And while it isn't important to have a cut-and-dry answer to which it is, we need more clues in either direction. [As an aside: I personally would be more intrigued by a story in which the wife's voice is imagined.]

This issue could be easily cleared up through description of the scene. Consider adapting a Hemingway-esque style in which description is minimal yet still there. Ground the story within scene and within a specific moment.

This is a pretty drastic change -- on the other hand, if you want to keep the white space and maintain the dialogue-only, the last "Hissss" needs to go. Actually, I'd argue that it needs to go regardless. It's a little too melodramatic.

Hope this helps -- good luck on this story, and at ChiZine, which is an excellent venue.


Cheers,

emerin-liseli

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25
25
Review of Autumn Playground  
Review by emerin-liseli
In affiliation with Circle of Sisters  
Rated: E | (4.0)


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Hello,

My name is emerin-liseli and I am a judge for "Rising Stars Shining Brighter.

Thank you for entering!



What I Liked:

A lovely poem full of simple, evocative images that explore childhood joy. I liked the title as well *Smile*.

Suggestions for Improvement:

While I enjoyed the immersion back into childhood, I resisted the moments that took me out from the experience. For example:

Feeling the chill of the water,
I was alive and happy!

In the context of stronger, concrete images, the "telling" moments like this fall flat. Your poem is about what it means to be alive and happy; there's no need to state it.

Likewise, the framing of an older narrator looking back on childhood events strikes me as a tad cliche -- we've all read poems reminiscing about youth. More interesting, in my opinion, is a poem told from the point of view of the child herself, caught in a simple moment that will certainly resonate for the rest of her life.

Final Notes:


I hope this helps -- thank you for sharing your comments and allowing me offer my opinions.


Thank you for your consideration!

Hugs,

Em



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