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Review Requests: OFF
210 Public Reviews Given
Review Style
I break down plot, character, style, and grammar. I'll tell you everything that didn't work by listing them as bullet-points.
I'm good at...
My forte is grammar, and I love unearthing a hidden hook.
Favorite Genres
Horror and science-fiction
Least Favorite Genres
I have beef with fantasy, but that usually makes it easier for me to tell what's wrong with it.
Favorite Item Types
Flashes to short fiction, novel chapters
Least Favorite Item Types
Poetry, Interactives
I will not review...
Anything where your main character is an anthropomorphic fuzzball.
Public Reviews
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1
1
Review of Vigil.  
Review by lotte
In affiliation with The Scribes  
Rated: 18+ | (2.5)

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Dear DanielTotum ,
Thank you for entering the February 2015 Round of "Tales of Terror, and good luck!


Prompt: “inside the walls”
I really loved your narration at the beginning of this piece, while the speaker’s inside the crypt; I just wish the final terrifying moment would have been tied in with the prompt more, but I couldn’t even say how you’d be able to do that. And well done on your descriptions!

Grammar & Style:
I noticed you have a bit of a comma problem, which is not uncommon. Comma splices seem to be the most frequent of them; if you’re interested, you might consider Winnie Kay's "So,,,Put A Comma Here,,,Or Not???. She really knows her stuff! If you’re the “Just tell me” type like me, though, I suggest you take a look at my "Invalid Item under the Comma Section. I hope it might help you through an edit or two.

*Bullet* “He closed the door with a hard bang, and then testing its resolve pulled on it with his bodyweight…all he succeeded in doing was testing mine.” This particular line needs just a minor edit, because it contains a misplaced modifier, and requires a semicolon and a pair of commas. Here’s how it could be grammatically sound: He closed the door with a hard bang, and then pulled on it with his bodyweight, testing its resolve; all he succeeded in doing was testing mine.”


Rating:
I gave your story 2.5 of 5 stars, because, although handsomely written, this story has been written before. The setting is superb, and your character has a very relatable attitude, which is rare (Thank you!). I’m assuming this story was adapted for this contest, because the ending is not related to the prompt. I know the real plot is kicked off by the narrator hearing something “inside the walls,” so that’s a redeeming feature; it’s just that several of the elements of the piece are mutually exclusive; for instance, the car accident has no relation to anything that happened beforehand. I can reasonably assume the narrator was driving to the castle to perform a vigil, but having this out-of-the-blue revelation be the tie-in for your entire piece falls a tad flat. With pieces like this, it’s a kinder service to your reader that you use something mentioned in the beginning as the tie-in. Since your narrator is a “paranormal hobbyist,” I’d have his death happen at the castle somehow, while he was doing one of his lone vigils. Perhaps he kept hearing voices “inside the walls” which could have tricked him into walking off a ledge. I don’t know, I’m not a writer, sorry! *Laugh* I’m confident you can find something much better than my dumb suggestion; it’s just a thought to stir the idea-maker in your head.

In addition, since this is a common theme with horror stories, I’d clip the big reveal to about half its current size. I really liked when one of the Ghostbuster-wannabes said that the spirit was “right in front of us.” I think that’d make a fantastic final line.

But I’ve taken up enough of your time. I’ll happily reread and re-rate after this piece is edited; just send me a line and the link, and, as always, Fright On!


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
2
2
Review by lotte
In affiliation with The Scribes  
Rated: 18+ | (1.0)

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Dear Life's a Beach... says Joey C ,
Thank you for entering the Halloween Round of "Tales of Terror! I’m sorry for the delay, and I wish you luck. *Smile*


Prompt:
I’d like to give you some props for making your protagonist an “old man.” However, the jump in the point of view from Thanatos to Jasper and back again was jarring and very unnecessary. The story might be more compelling if told from Jasper’s perspective, but you would ultimately lose the final image of Thanatos giving the barmaid a gold coin instead of a copper one. Jasper could perhaps hear Thanatos talking to someone, and the otherworldly noises of the demon could just barely reach Jasper’s ears. If there is no way for you to make the story work from Jasper’s point of view, I suggest cutting his half of the story completely.

Though I allow old and awarded stories in "Tales of Terror, your story seems to have been inspired by a trick or an image, and all you did to fit it to this round in my contest was to highlight the moments in which your narrator uses sound to describe the scene. I really thought you’d do more with Thanatos listening for a follower, which would have been great for the prompt.

Let me also dispense some advice you didn’t ask for: pictures are very distracting in a piece—especially these photoshopped stock images. Even if they were beautiful photographs, they have no place in a short story and are very distracting.

Grammar & Style:
*Bullet* “The door creaked and he walked in, his dirty white tunic hung loose over his thin body as he moved to the bar without saying a word.” Typo: hanging. If you keep this as-is, your sentence contains a comma splice.”
*Bullet* “"Good evening Thanatos," said the bartender as he retrieved an earthen carafe and poured a wooden cup half-full of a dark liquor.” This all sounds a bit formal; if he comes there often, shouldn’t he have a nickname? “Evening, Than.”
*Bullet* “Thanatos paid no heed to their tomfoolery; after all, he had something to do, and the lustful antics of miscreants made little difference in the world.” First of all, if Thanatos pays no heed to the tomfoolery of the miscreants, why was it mentioned? Perhaps you meant that he tried to ignore it. In addition, I would reconsider the prepositional phrase I’ve underlined; it requires something relating to Thanatos for it to be natural. “made little difference to him.” Sounds much better.
*Bullet* “A half kilometer from the Inn, a limestone fence grew up beside the road and Thanatos moved beside it, he dimmed his lantern, and watched the road.”
*Bullet* There are a few typos within your piece, so it could do with a proofread. Two words are pushed together somewhere, and one opening quotation mark is a single instead of a double. Spots with missing commas abound.


Rating:
I gave your story 1 of 5 stars, because the pictures and typos were awfully distracting, there was no need for the POV-jump to Jasper and Knuckles (which read to me a lot like Cruella deVil’s henchmen), and the prompt was not used to its potential. Even the scene which is described in the most detail is a bit cloudy, almost confusing. An edit will sharpen the images better than any stock photo could; I felt they were cop-outs so you wouldn’t have to fully detail the scene. I would be happy to reread and re-rate once my notes are taken into consideration. Thank you for sharing, and Fright On!


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
3
3
Review by lotte
In affiliation with The Scribes  
Rated: 13+ | (2.0)

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Dear Volpone ,
Thank you for entering the Halloween Round of "Tales of Terror! I’m sorry for the delay, and I wish you luck.


Prompt:
Because the characters’ problems didn’t arise from the “mysterious sound,” the use of the prompt in this piece was a bit forced, as if it had been edited in. The finale, though exciting and rightfully scary, did not help in this; the mysterious sound is never explained, and since the main conflict of the story was already in place before the sound ever occurs, it feels unnatural and rushed.

Grammar & Style:
*Bullet* “She remembered the first time they exchanged words; a fleeting memory that returned to her more and more these days.” The semicolon is incorrect here, as they are used to separate independent clauses. Replace with an em-dash.
*Bullet* “It had been a dark spring night.” Be wary of redundant words; night is by definition dark, unless your story takes place in one of the polar extremes. What are you trying to convey by using “dark”? That there was no moon? Or that there was a general feeling of hopelessness? Whatever you come up with, use that as part of your line, here.
*Bullet* “The cold only just beginning to bleach out of the weather in time for what turned out to be a short lived summer.” Typo: began. If you use “beginning,” your line is an awkward fragment. Consider also your use of the bleaching metaphor: How does bleached weather feel? I assume you’re referring to snow making the land white. If so, maybe instead of the weather, the cold can bleach the countryside.
*Bullet* “They only went out together, ‘dated’, for two months.” The comma is to go inside the quotations in this case. In addition, the quotations should be double, as in dialogue. The singles are used only when quoting within dialogue.
*Bullet* “And why else remember the past if you’re not going to give it the good grace of being seen for what it was.” Despite this being a rhetorical question, it needs a question mark instead of a period.
*Bullet* “Like in a movie; or something like one at any rate.” The semicolon cannot be used in this context, because the second clause is dependent (read: not a complete sentence). Use a comma, em-dash, or ellipsis instead.
*Bullet* “She'd seen him sitting on his own, peeling the label from his beer bottle with tiny picking motions and she'd done what she'd done on five other occasions since her husband had died[.] Approached some single guy in a bar.” Replace period with a colon or an em-dash.
*Bullet* “’You look lonely[.]’ She'd said.” This is an example of an incorrectly tagged line of dialogue. Replace the period in question with a comma, and make the S lowercase.
*Bullet*Just like the last time, they went out, dated, for almost two months. But this time, before the two months were finished, they were married.”
*Bullet* ‘It's what every good marriage needs.’ These quotations need to be double instead of singular.
*Bullet* “She'd thought to herself, maybe naively, '[h]ere's a man with hidden depths. He isn't going to give up all his secrets in one great wave. This is a man you can spend a lifetime with. Because it's going to take a lifetime to figure him out.'” Since this is her first word of dialogue, the H in question must be capitalized.
*Bullet* Forgive me, but it was about here that I decided not to point out the repetitive grammar issues with your piece. Just because I have not mentioned them below does not mean they aren’t there. You have a decent grasp of elementary grammar, but an intermediate-level course would improve your writing greatly. Writing.com has many such classes to offer at competitive (gift-point) prices.
*Bullet* “Maybe she lacked the patience. Or the skills it took to get someone like him to open up.” Most of your fragments have flowed pretty well, but this one (starting with “or”) is awkward. I suggest combining these lines with a comma instead of that period.
*Bullet* “No [growing resentment] or [build-up of animosity].” These two elements are not parallel. To fix, change “build-up of animosity” to “built-up animosity.”
*Bullet* “What it might be that he did in the garage that consumed his concerns so avidly.” To improve the flow of this line, I suggest the following rewrite: What he might be doing in that garage that so consumed him.
*Bullet* “The noises didn’t return every night after that, but the disturbance to her sleep settled into a [fatigue ridden] routine.” Hyphenate.
*Bullet* “There she’d sit until dawn started to warm her up, flicking through silent news channels, local reports of the long missing, the freshly taken, looking and waiting for something to be shown by way of an answer.”
*Bullet* “This year she hadn’t even thought about__ where she wanted to go.” There are two spaces instead of one in the marked spot; delete one.
*Bullet* “Two weeks before she was due to leave she became convinced that the night time sounds had ceased altogether.” Typo: nighttime.
*Bullet* “She spent the day lying quietly on the bed watching fine wisps of [mare tail clouds] drift across the small span of sky she could see.” The Merriam-Webster Dictionary refers to these clouds as “mare’s tail clouds.”
*Bullet* “She heard him come in and make himself something to eat mid-afternoon.” Cut this line completely; it dampens the effect of the ending line of its paragraph.
*Bullet* "What are you doing(+comma) Sarah?"
*Bullet* “Her world suddenly became a blaze of harsh, fluorescent white as the [over head] strip lights flickered into life.” Typo: overhead.
*Bullet*Her hand grabbed something from the bench-top at her back and flung it at him without her brain seeming to engage in the action.” This is an example of incorrect personification; hands do not sprout hands to grab; people have hands to grab.


Rating:
I gave your story 2 of 5 stars, because while its elements are entertaining, there were many grammatical errors and stylistic irregularities that were distracting for a reader, and the “mysterious sound” prompt felt like an afterthought. I will be happy to reread and re-rate once this story is edited. Thank you for sharing. Fright On!



*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
4
4
Review of Tick Tock  
Review by lotte
In affiliation with The Scribes  
Rated: 13+ | (2.5)

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Dear Precinct Captain ,

Thank you for entering the Halloween Round of "Tales of Terror! I’m sorry for the delay, and I wish you luck. *Smile*


Prompt, Hook, and Plot:

Your use of the prompt was phenomenal, since “the sound” was more or less your antagonist. I love how widely applicable the terror of the clock’s different tones is. Well done!

Your Hook left much to be desired, for the real grip of the piece didn’t come until your protagonist thinks the last “tick” was louder than the “tock.” Perhaps if you’d opened with that, your reader would be more compelled to quickly finish the piece.
The best line of this piece is the following: “The sound from the clock just came from the wrong side of my room.”

I like the ambiguous ending; however, the darkness doesn’t make much sense. It seems to be trying to take over as the essence of terror in this story. I like that it’s the catalyst for your protagonist to focus on his ears, but I’m not sure that’s clear. If your protagonist were to awake wondering what’s up with his or her clock, we would get a good reason why the light needs to be on. As is, I’m wondering why anyone would want the light on in the middle of the night; the protagonist needs a reason to have to see.

I’d also like to see a bit of apprehension, either about staying in bed too close to the clock or about getting out of the safety of the covers to get to the door for an escape. Just some element to heighten the suspense.


Characters:

Due to the mild cursing done by your protagonist and the superhero merchandise dotting his or her room, I’m assuming the protagonist is a teenager. With that in mind, I’m trying to figure out how this particular character works in this particular piece.

The teen seems younger, about fourteen or so. Maybe he or she struggles with the parents, who think superheroes are for younger children; and with that, your character is insecure about his or her fear of the dark and the clock.

Maybe that’s what makes him or her try to leave the room; they could say only a child would’ve lay there, too scared to move.

This may not be how you envisioned the character at all; if so, then think about who your character is. How does this person relate to the story? Establishing some kind of personal element will make your reader identify more with your character, and so heighten the terror of your story.


Grammar & Style:

*Bullet* “I jolt awake to complete darkness and a silence only broken by the eternal ticking clock that sits across my room on my dresser.” Restack this sequence for proper grammar: a silence broken only by

*Bullet* “I fumble with the little switch on the base of the Iron Man lamp my mom got me, and finally hear the satisfying click that will brings glorious light to my miserable cramped bed room, but nothing happens.” This is a bit wordy, and “bedroom” is one word. The words “my mom got me,” though grammatically sound, are a bit forced. You would lose nothing by taken them out, as the age of the character could be further suggested by the insecurity suggested in the section above.

*Bullet* “Then I hear it.” This should begin a new paragraph, maybe be its own.

*Bullet* “tick. tock. tick. tock. tick. tock. tick. tock. tick. tock. tick. tock. tick. tock.” These may look funny capitalized, but they must be unless you change the periods to commas.

*Bullet* “I shatter the stillness that had gripped my body and lash out viciously in front of me and feel a gratifying smack as I knock the clock out of mid air in front of me and hear it smash into pieces on the floor.” This is very wordy, but allow me a few words: Typically, run-on sentences are bad. Sometimes, as here, they convey panic or a sudden series of actions without using words like “suddenly.” Consider the underlined part; how does stillness grip the body? Is there a better metaphor we can use? Must we use any at all? Then “midair” is one word. Let’s look at the flow of this line after an edit: I lash out in front of me and feel a gratifying smack as I knock the clock out of midair and hear it smash into pieces on the floor.


Rating:

I gave you 2.5 of 5 stars because you used the prompt just as it was intended, but your story suffered from a few developmental issues along with stylistic abnormalities and grammatical errors. Overall, I was pretty happy with this entry. I’m sorry if my review seems harsh, but I intend only to help you improve. I would be thrilled to reread and re-rate your piece should you choose to edit it. Thank you for sharing, and Fright On!


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
5
5
Review by lotte
In affiliation with Fans of Cicero Grade Editing  
Rated: E | (2.5)
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Dear Shepard ,

Thank you for your interest in Cicero Grade Editing! My reviews might look harsh, but they're opinions meant only to improve your work. I hope we can work together again soon!

I usually break these down by Hook, Plot & Character, Style & Grammar, and Rating, but since this is done in more a nursery rhyme style than prose, I will just stick to the last two bullet-points.


Style & Grammar:

*Bullet* It won't matter once you try to publish, but the title typo is bothering me, along with the tagline for the story. This is a "Children's" story; a "child's" story is for one particular child's life event. In addition, you're missing an apostrophe there, anyway.

*Bullet* If you have intentions of sending this piece to publishers, you'll want to change the privacy settings to at least "Members Only." They won't publish something that's free to see on the Internet.

*Bullet* "Who had one thing he most liked to eat" Add semicolon after "eat."

*Bullet* "Who had one thing he most liked to eat/While most kids like candy..." In these two lines, the word "most" pops up twice. It works for both sentences in different ways, and I can't think of another word that could replace it in either line that would be more effective, but I can't allow this to be unsaid. Children's books are meant to inspire reading, and repeating words, when not used for emphasis like in Dr. Seuss, is somewhat criminal. If anywhere, children's books are where you want to teach them more words. That didn't come out very articulately, but I think you'll understand.

*Bullet* "But Pete paid them no mind" Groove was thrown off.

*Bullet* "till their faces went blue" Add semicolon after "blue."

*Bullet* "and his father turned red" Add period after "red."

*Bullet* "And his parents_ heads hung/In their shame and disgrace" Add apostrophe to marked spot, and a period after "disgrace."

*Bullet* "'Till one day it happened..." Cut the apostrophe from "till," because it's only used with 'til. In addition, people tend to space out an ellipsis like so " . . . ".

*Bullet* "In that horrible pose_" Add period.

*Bullet* "Peter tugged and he pulled" I suggest a comma-splice here: Peter tugged, Peter pulled"

*Bullet* "And the kids gathered _round" Add apostrophe.

*Bullet* "to see what poor Pete needed" A bit clunky with "poor." I suggest nixing in favor of "Peter." Perhaps add "just" before "what": To see just what Peter needed.

*Bullet* "to the clinic on Main" That sounds a bit too mature for children; only adults clip the names of streets; children are new to such things, and say "Main Street" if they ever name a street at all. That's too "boring adult" for them, I think. I suggest rewriting this line.

*Bullet* Add periods after "prodded" and "nodded."

*Bullet* "I know just what you've got."" Replace punctuation with a colon, and don't add any quotation marks after it.

*Bullet* What is Rigorfield poisoning by snot? Is this meant to be Rigorfield--poisoning by snot!? I've never heard of "Rigorfield," so I don't know if this is a local joke or not. I couldn't find anything on Google, so if this is a name you made up, I suggest rethinking its presence.

*Bullet* ""Hold yourself still_/This will just take a bit_ _" After "still," you'll want either a semicolon or a period. A semicolon would work better, but I don't know how common it is in Children's fiction, and I don't like putting it in dialogue. In addition, you must add a period and end-quotations after "bit."

*Bullet* "And the doctor gave peter/a pretty big stick_" Capitalize "Peter" and add a period to the marked space.

*Bullet* "Well, Peter cried out/Then he heard a loud POP" The comma is correct, but I would either cut it or add one after "out."

*Bullet* Add a period after "snot," "rose," and "nose."

*Bullet* "Then he washed up his hands/And he dried them quite neatly/Then asked for some candy/and he did it quite sweetly." I suggest this minor rewrite: Peter washed up his hands/and he dried them quite neatly./Then he asked for some candy/and he did it quite sweetly."

*Bullet* Finally, the first letter in each of your stanzas should either be all capitalized or all lower-cased (except, of course, in the case of proper nouns).


Rating:

I gave you a 2.5 of 5 because of the typos mostly, but also because I'm not sure a children's story about boogers would be marketable. It's cute enough, but there's only one Everybody Poops, you know? Also, I was a bit confused about the stick. What was its purpose? How did it get him un-stuck? Not to mention the Rigorfield thing.

I'd be happy to reread and re-rate after an edit or two. Thanks for sharing, and write on.


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
6
6
Review by lotte
In affiliation with The Scribes  
Rated: 13+ | (2.5)
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Dear NicheNuance ,
I found your piece when I was scouring WDC for some short stories to feature in the review slots in the soon-to-be opened "Spaceport."


The Hook:
"It started as a pulse, feeling foreign in my chest."
I like this, but it might be better if you said "It started with a pulse, a foreign vibration in my chest." The word "feeling" is a distancing one for your reader.

"Minutes passed, and all I could do was feel my breaths dragged up through a sandpaper throat."
If you're going to keep this line, which I don't think you need, you should at least cut the part I've marked.

"I tried to comfort her, but no matter the force I put in, my voice remained silent. She couldn’t hear me anyway."

"For a moment I closed my eyes and let myself dwell in the unnatural silence. And dwell in the knowledge that in a few short minutes, both she and I would be no more. The thought felt unnatural, surreal in my mind, but it was true." I suggest combining these: I closed my eyes and let myself dwell in the silence--in the knowledge that in a few short minutes, she and I would be no more. It was surreal.


Grammar & Style:

*Bullet* "I put my palms to my eyes and held my breath in silent revolt. The foreign feeling was starting to spread." First, I don't understand why this future people needs no pulse, but requires breath. You might want to explain that. Second, you should replace "foreign feeling" with vibration or the like. Third, I have to point out that the remainder of this paragraph feels unnecessary, and kind of cheated me as a reader. I suggest heavy reworking of it; make it more about the hardship of seeing the daughter die. Yes, the protagonist was feeling it, but he should be appalled that his daughter was feeling it too, even if she was just an image in his mind. For that matter, perhaps it's better if, while you're under, your mind isn't right, so your protag thinks it's all real. That would heighten the drama at least, even it if does end on an "It was all a dream" note.

*Bullet* "The helmet clicked off, and I felt the air pass through my lungs, clean and fresh." Though I like this image, I have to point out the breath vs. pulse issue.

*Bullet* It may be a good idea to call the technician "Doctor" or some such thing. I was a bit lost about his character when I first read it.

*Bullet* "I regarded him, and felt a bitter smile on my lips." To cut the "felt" from this, I suggest wording it this way: I regarded him, a bitter smile on my lips.

*Bullet* "I took a deep breath, and tried my best to let the knowledge that wasn’t the case anymore suffuse me." With a breath, I let the knowledge that such wasn't the case anymore calm me.


Rating:

I gave you a 2.5 for the creativity of the idea and the several issues within that kept the images from being pristine. I think after an edit or two, you could have a fine piece! Thank you for sharing.


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
7
7
Review by lotte
In affiliation with The Scribes  
Rated: 13+ | (3.0)
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Dear Teguettler ,
I found your piece on the Auto-Rewards page and I was thrilled to find a gripping hook and a story that doesn't need much improvement.


The Hook:
"Under the cover of night, we maneuvered into position, and according to the plan, once the archers flew the fire arrows into the huts or anything flammable, we would spring into action."


Grammar & Style:

*Bullet* "Only villagers with rudimentary farm equipment rose in anything resembling a defense of the village." Instead of "anything," I suggest using "something."

*Bullet* "In the chaos of the battle, many figures are cut down without question." You've used "chaos" already. Perhaps try commotion or some such word.

*Bullet* "Only after the fighting was well under way did we realize that we were not destroying organized resistance, but common villagers." This line should be higher in its paragraph, replacing the lines "These were not organized forces; they had no armaments to speak of. Only villagers with rudimentary farm equipment rose in anything resembling a defense of the village."

*Bullet* "“It is not my place to question orders Commander[+COMMA] what the hell are we doing here?” I asked forgetting +FORGOT THAT other soldiers were within earshot." Since the commander basically repeats what your protagonist opens with, I'd delete it here, as it serves your story no purpose.

*Bullet* "We have our orders and they must be followed[,] you of all people should know that." Change the comma to a period and capitalize where necessary.

*Bullet* "The King is too far gone at this point to know what is going on, so it appears that +THE prince is exercising his ‘responsibilities’ to keep the realm safe."

*Bullet* "I could detect a hint of sarcasm in the Commander’s voice, but dared to not say anything." You must cut the part I've marked; otherwise, you're saying that the protagonist is being daring by not saying anything.

*Bullet* "The village was in ruin. Many of the old wooden buildings were easily combustible and the fire arrows spread flames to most parts of the village relatively quickly." This is tedious. I suggest replacing it with one streamlined sentence: The fire arrows left the village in ruin.

*Bullet* "Some of the dead and wounded were old men, probably once soldiers based on some of their antique equipment." Try "former" soldiers and "judging by" their equipment.

*Bullet* ""These men knew they had no chance, they tried to buy some time for their families,” said Commander Livingstone." I'd reword this thus: "These men knew they had no chance," said Commander Livingstone. "They tried to buy some time for their families. There are no rebels here. Their sacrifice was noble."

*Bullet* ""They probably served the Crown in the past. Look at his sword[,]” I gestured to the rusted sword that last saw combat decades before. “That was not made by any village blacksmith.” Commander was right, this was a waste. “They did not deserve this,” I sighed. The comma in question should be a period.

*Bullet* "I’ve heard about the prince from some of the others, but for the first time I felt disillusioned with everything." This line is too long for the effect you want. I suggest replacing it with something like "I see what he is, now."

*Bullet* "“Yes, Sir!” I saluted and went to gather some of men to carry out these orders." I really think you should cut this line, as it messes with the beautifully doomed note that the Commander's dialogue ended on. Also, with military orders, the reader assumes they are carried out as described in the dialogue; only provide the action of it being carried out if it isn't done the way the commanding officer requests.

Rating:

I gave you a 3, because this does need some work to shine. If you make these changes, I could reread and rate it higher for you. Thanks for sharing!


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
8
8
Review of Within  
Review by lotte
In affiliation with The Scribes  
Rated: ASR | (3.0)
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Dear ChrisDaltro-Chasing Moonbeams ,
Thank you for entering the fourth annual Monster March Round of "Tales of Terror! This story is much better than your past entries. You're really improving!


The Hook:
I looked and looked, but I don't think you have a hook! This would explain why I was bored for the first few paragraphs. There's nothing really set up for the ending besides the "leaving no trace of the spirit after invoking it" thing. To craft a hook, you can have Elizabeth repeat something in her head to keep from being overtaken by the spirit. Something like "The Good Spirits sent you here, and I'll send you Home." This sets up the ending and even invites more terror, as you could tweak the ending to imply that, once the overtaking happens, Elizabeth/Demon want to follow Marilda to the other side.


Plot & Character:
So, was the demonic spirit Milton? Maybe the kidnapper? The characterization of Marilda was done well, but what did this spirit want with her? Maybe it's too expected to make it be Milton. I think it's better for it to be expected than left unanswered.
The demon's diatribe is a bit of overkill. I'd appreciate the piece more if it were cut. Maybe instead, Elizabeth catches glimpses of the demon's motive while Tobias questions it, and she can feel her mouth and voice working, but she can't hear them. All she feels is that her throat is raw.



Rating:
I gave you a 3 because of the lack of a hook, the common punctuation issues, and too much of an ending. The prompt said that no man thinks of himself as evil; remember that every man considers himself justified. I'd like to point out that the suspense throughout the middle was superb minus the grammar boo-boos. If you'd ended with a distorted expression on her face, I think this would have been a "no-contest" winner. It may not be perfect, but it's an entertaining read. Thanks for sharing!

I'll send you your winner's Merit Badge and Gift Points, but before I give you the Tales of Terror Rosette Awardicon, I'd like to see this edited. I'll also re-rate. Thanks!
9
9
Review of Stolen  
Review by lotte
In affiliation with The Horror Community of Writin...  
Rated: 18+ | (2.0)
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Dear Jezri ,

Thank you for your support of "Invalid Item. I'm finally reviewing your entry for the Scrawler portion of the contest. Good luck!


Plot & Character:

I can't in good faith recommend you use the characters of another person. Beyond that, the majority of your piece is made of flashbacks that no fresh reader can keep straight. You have a lot of vivid images, and crafting your own characters and histories won't be difficult for you.


Grammar & Style:

*Bullet* "the sensation the void left in her[,] made the pain so much worse." This comma should be cut. Also, the wording is confusing because a void doesn't usually leave something. Maybe the void made the pain worse, instead.
*Bullet* "His anger and disdain for the Trill Symbiosis Commission bubbled to the surface_ and_ glancing in the mirror_ he stared back at dark eyes filled with hate and anger. In the three spots I've marked, add a comma.
*Bullet* "Finished cleaning the wounds, Enon looked around the room, smiling in satisfaction_" You are missing a period in the marked spot.
*Bullet* "His heart quickened with excitement, as he thought about the woman he’d invited to his home."
*Bullet* "“At the moment. Please, have a seat._" You are missing quotation marks in the space I've marked, and there's something funny happening with the formatting of paragraphs, starting here.
*Bullet* "That should have been the end of it, but it was not."
*Bullet* "He was unstable and therefor[,] unsuitable for joining." Typo: therefore. Delete comma. Finally, change "joining" to "membership."
*Bullet* "Vosh felt herself grow cold inside, at the mention of the Dax symbiont.
*Bullet* "His eyes bore into hers, trying to find something there." Typo: bored.
*Bullet* "Her voice stopped then[,] her jaw refused to move as her throat seized up, restricting her airway." Change the marked comma to a period, and don't forget to capitalize the next word.
*Bullet* "Something moved on it and_ horrified, Vosh recognized Kov." Add a comma to the spot indicated.
*Bullet* "Even though they were no longer joined, Vosh could feel the sharp edge[,] as though it were cutting into her." Cut the indicated comma.
*Bullet* "It was quite startling to me[,] I hadn’t thought of him in yeas." Change the comma to an em-dash (--). Then correct the typo: years.
*Bullet* "“Knowledge,” he said, taking another bite, “is a never(+hyphen)ending quest.”"
*Bullet* "Above her a cloud swirled in the air…_the spirits of the dead symbionts she wondered." Delete the space indicated and change the preceding ellipsis to a period, then work the thoughts this way: Above her a cloud swirled in the air. The spirits of the dead symbionts? she wondered.
*Bullet* "The last thing she heard was Enon humming as he finished his meal[.] the haunting tune of a song he and Joran had composed together." Change the period to an ellipsis (...), an em-dash (--), or a colon (:).


Rating:

I gave you a 2 of 5 stars because of the many flashbacks and typos. I'm sure if the point when Vosh and Enon became enemies was part of the story here, the tension between them would have been more gripping. I'll be happy to reread and rerate after an edit. Thank you!


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
10
10
Review by lotte
In affiliation with Fans of Cicero Grade Editing  
Rated: E | (3.0)
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Dear ChrisDaltro-Chasing Moonbeams ,

Thank you for performing the November 2012 Scrawler Ritual! I'm sorry for the delay in this review.


The Hook:
I feel that your first sentence makes for a weak hook. However, the last line in the first paragraph would make a perfectly gripping one. If you began your tale with "She needed to find a place to hide," your reader is instantly curious about the reason.


Plot & Character:

I think everyone has a legend like this somewhere around home. I can't say I didn't expect the ending, but there was still an alarming frightfulness about it. I think the best way to handle this would be to add more recent-trauma nerves to Edwina's character. You did right by making the reader think something -just- happened to send her walking along a dangerous road. Perhaps, instead of walking, she can sit or pace at a certain spot. That would make it look like she's angry and stubborn or just waiting for someone.

The characters are a bit shallow. I suggest giving Jonathan some quirks, maybe make him more ashamed when he looks down and admires her. He is a math teacher, after all.


Grammar & Style:
*Bullet* "She smiled when she felt the sun’s warmth on her body, and wrapped her arms around her waist[;] trying to keep the sun rays from escaping." This use of a semicolon is incorrect; a semicolon separates two complete sentences.
*Bullet* "She never felt so alone[,] she needed her family right now_ but you can’t have everything you want in life, right?" This comma should actually be a semicolon, and a comma is needed in the space I've marked.
*Bullet* "An owl hooted at the distance, like an omen."
*Bullet* "She stopped again, hesitated, and blinked her eyes. She looked up at the sky’s nightfall and immediately felt the cool breeze. She shivered." These lines could be combined to pack more of a punch: She hesitated, blinking up at the darkening sky and shivering at the breeze.
*Bullet* "She continued walking[;] nervous." Change to a comma.
*Bullet* "He thought to himself."
*Bullet* "She looked so frail; vulnerable." Comma.
*Bullet* "_Right there. Right there. That’s where I died.”" In the space provided, you are missing quotation marks.


Rating:
I gave you a 3 of 5 stars because of the comma-semicolon confusion and the common ending. Once you've tightened up your beginning, I'd be happy to reread and rerate! Good luck in the Scrawler contest!


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
11
11
Review of The Bitten  
Review by lotte
In affiliation with Fans of Cicero Grade Editing  
Rated: 13+ | (1.0)
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Dear Natalie.T ,

I stumbled upon your piece, "The Bitten," under the Requests page. After reading it a few times, I had to wonder at the purpose of the prologue, as it tells us very little about the character, except what we already assume (he's a narcissistic vampire).

I had to admit that the words "prologue" and "vampires" are what urged me to open the link, and I went into the reading with low expectations because of my general distaste for all things Twilight and, consequently, vampiric. That aside, I combed the writing to find what specifically did not work, and I've come up with quite a few things for such a short piece. For the sake of brevity, I'm going to assume your narrator is a male, and your vampire lore falls in line with the historic lore.

Please keep in mind that these comments are not meant to discourage you; I'm only trying to help!


Plot and Characters:
To open your prologue with a sentence fragment is unwise, especially if that fragment has nothing to do with the coming story. I dissected it for any hint of a metaphor, but I could find none in the tin-can bins or the empty bottles. Therefore, this line must be cut. It is not a hook.

Actually, keep cutting until you begin your novel with "I could smell her sweet perfume." That is instantly gripping, as the reader wants to know if he's seducing or stalking her. That is a line that is dangerously sexy, just like the mythology of the vampire.

Your narrator "stops" when he hears his victim's footsteps, but we never know what he was doing before that. Why was he lurking in an alleyway? Wouldn't a heartless killer just hunt someone down instead of waiting for them to waltz over to him? Another problem I had with this line, if you're going with traditional vampire lore, is that your narrator's "breathing" stopped. If he's a walking corpse, why was it going at all?

Despite the baseness of the narrator's actions, he could be charming if you polished a few things. Even if he is the intended antagonist, he should have some redeeming qualities. As it stands, all we see is a remorseless hunter, which is about as intriguing as when a little bug is eaten by a big bug. There is no depth, no fear, no urge to read on. If he is remorseful, we have a compelling question to answer in the coming pages: Will this person conquer his cravings, or will he stop being remorseful? Since he is not remorseful in this edit, I'd suggest offering a hint that he wasn't always this way, but that his instincts deafened his conscience ages ago.

One way or another, we have to have a reason to care about the narrator. (Note: When I say "care about the narrator," I don't mean we have to like him. We just have to be compelled to learn more about him. In "The Libertine," the opening line is a dare: "You will not like me," says Johnny Depp in full Enlightenment-era costume. He dares you to stick around, and with every misdeed, you are encouraged to wonder, "He can't get any worse than that, can he?")

I think the victim should be the heroine you will introduce later. Instead of killing her (that would make for a short and sad novel!), I suggest your narrator repeats to himself "Throw her against the wall. Make it bleed!" I don't know, something barbaric that shows us his instincts take over when he has to feed. That way, you can hint that he's done this so many times before: "She won't break as easily. Throw her at the wall first, and break her neck if she breathes after."

Please don't forget to note the body language of this woman. If she's peeking over her shoulder, she knows she's in trouble. Is she walking gingerly, to muffle her footsteps? Or is she walking briskly, to flee the potential danger? Is she clutching her coat lapels together? Why is she out so late, anyway? And why is she walking in an abandoned alley? Because of the cliched danger of "the alley," most women I know would stick to more populated streets. Is she avoiding the press, perhaps? Or is she more afraid of the populated areas because of gang violence? I know this isn't something your narrator can answer, but if he can't read minds, he shouldn't be able to tell what kind of woman is coming just by the echoes of her gait. That's very Napoleon from Aristocats.


Grammar & Style:
I can tell you've polished this very much. For the most part, your grammar is passable--mostly misused commas or sentence fragments...nothing an editor couldn't tweak. I noticed a lot of redundancies in your style, however: My eyes jerked around, looking. Sniffing, I could smell...Glancing around the corner, she appeared (this one is also a misplaced modifier if your narrator was the one glancing).


Rating:
I gave you 1 of 5 stars, because there is no hook, and so nothing to set your vampire apart from the millions of others. I understand that this is only a prologue, but since it offers your reader no necessary information, I suggest you cut it. The prologue as a literary device is outdated anyway, and literary agents tend to cringe when it's the first word they read. I help authors polish their pieces before they submit to agents and publishers. I'm eager to see how your vision unfolds, and I would be thrilled to glance over your first chapter.


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
12
12
Review by lotte
In affiliation with The Scribes  
Rated: E | (1.5)
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Dear ShiShad ,
Thank you for entering the October 2012 round of Tales of Terror! Let's get right down to business. Since your piece tells us the legend of the Hallows Phantom, that part of the title is unnecessary. As it is, the title is a bit too long. "The Phantom of the Hallows" rolls off the tongue much better, and it's still just as compelling.

Plot and Characters:
Unfortunately, the majority of your piece contained "telling" lines and not "showing" lines. Telling, to some extent, is required when the audience is unfamiliar with the setting of a story. I found myself waiting to be drawn into the life of the protagonist, but it never quite happened. The hook could have been the gavel slamming down, and Jack looking at the two traitors with angry eyes, or the castle's shadow looming over the gallows. Too much background is given.
On a related note, I noticed you used the Scottish vernacular for a few things, like "kirkyaird," but the names of the three characters seem neither Scottish nor Medieval. Because of this, I found myself questioning the validity of the courtroom scene in Medieval Scotland.

Grammar & Style:
I found a few grammatical errors, but I question whether they are worth mentioning, because one must learn to write in the active, showing voice before worrying about nuances. (For example, the semicolon in your first "sentence" is incorrect, as the line is a fragment. Also, the apostrophe in "1800's" is also incorrect; it should be simply "1800s.") I want to stress that stylistically, most of your sentences are weak. Take this line, for example:
"Just then a deafening crack was heard, the nostrils of the great beast flared in fright as he reared back, then bolted, snapping the neck of his rider and freeing the rope from it's wooden frame."
To improve it, I suggest making the first bit, "Just then a deafening crack was heard," its own sentence, but cut it down to "Thunder cracked." Then, "The nostrils of the great beast flared as he reared back, then bolted, snapping the neck of his rider and freeing the rope from ITS wooden frame." Note the "its." Possessive pronouns do not get an apostrophe s. Think "Yours, Mine, and Ours."
I'm a bit confused about why half of this reads like creative non-fiction, and the other half is narrative. It should all read like narrative to be eligible for publication in a horror magazine.

Rating:
I gave you a 1.5 because of the passive, telling sentences that make up this piece. I know that an edit could make this really shine. This line is the best: "Lightening streaked across the hilltop as the black beast and his slumped rider galloped off into the shadows of the night, never to be seen nor heard of again for centuries." Notice how this line doesn't say "Lightning was seen streaking across the hilltop as the slumped rider of the black beast was taking off into the shadows of the night." This is the most active line in your whole story, and it paints a terrifying picture. Well done! If all of your lines looked like this, this rating would have been a 4.5, instead. If you ever decide to edit this, I would be more than happy to re-rate it. Thank you again for entering the Tales of Terror Open October Round of 2012!

Become a Fan of the "Invalid Item and the "Tales of Terror to learn who won!


My review has been submitted for consideration in
"Good Deeds Go Noticed.
13
13
Review of Pumpkin Eater  
Review by lotte
In affiliation with I.N.K.E.D.  
Rated: E | (3.5)
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Dear leeflan ,
I was intrigued by your title, so I had to read your story. After determining who the actual "Eater" was, I'm a bit confused about the title. I guess if it gets someone's attention, it works, eh? On its own, I like the title, so I really don't have any suggestions for it.

Plot and Characters:
I feel that some parts of the story were out of order, but I've detailed them all below in Grammar and Style. I truly feel that moving a few of them will sharpen the effect of your frightening story. *Smirk* The children worked perfectly for this story, especially Steven at the end (though I have a suggestion about that below. See G&S, again.)

Grammar & Style:
*Bullet*"It has two eyes, a nose[+comma] and[+comma] depending on its disposition, a scowl or a smile."

*Bullet*"When the Danver boys, eleven-year-old Roger and nine-year-old Steven, found one sitting on the front patio wall of the Castle house[+comma] they found it rather odd."

*Bullet*"He tossed and turned." This is a cliche, and since you have already made it known that Roger couldn't sleep, it's not necessary. It should be cut.

*Bullet*"However, there was something different about the pumpkin now[+period] and it made Roger's eyes widen[ed] and a gasp escape[ed] his lips." We have to make this passive line active. Then, there's something weird about a gasp escaping, since the definition of it is a sharp intake of breath. Maybe a whimper or his breath could escape, instead.

*Bullet*"Roger lost hold of the drapes and he sunk back into bed."

*Bullet*"So he peeked through a sliver in the drapes and sure enough saw what had frightened him so. There was a glow coming from inside the pumpkin!" To heighten the drama, we should combine these lines by more or less cutting the first one: He peeked through a sliver in the drapes. Sure enough, there was a glow coming from inside the pumpkin!

*Bullet*"Even though he trembled with fear, his curiosity had gotten the better of him." This line contains a few cliches. To better involve the reader, make this more powerful: Despite his trembling, Roger felt the ache of curiosity's bite.

*Bullet*"Roger left the comfort of home and now stood about four feet from the Castle porch." I understand that you're going for a somewhat conversational tone, but when they're done masterfully, they do not include cliches that don't add anything to the story. If they use cliches, it's to ground the narrator in a specific time and place. Instead of saying the underlined portion above, try this: Roger left his bed, then his room, then his home, and
now stood..."

*Bullet*"The pumpkin glared at him. Why was he so afraid of this particular pumpkin? Every Halloween, he along with each member of his family would carve a pumpkin of their very own to sit outside. It was tradition. But now the sight of this pumpkin made him cringe. Should he attempt to get closer and have a look? Or should he run back home, jump into bed and pull the covers over his head?" These lines are a bit forced, maybe under-edited. I think the underlined bit should be the last line of this selection, as it invites something to happen. Now that your character is right at the brink of his finale, I'd shorten the sentences to better draw the reader into Roger's experience: He carved a pumpkin every year with his family, but this one made him cringe. What was so different about this particular pumpkin?

*Bullet*"His nostrils burned from the slight smell of decay." Make this more active: The smell of decay burned Roger's nostrils and brought tears to his eyes.

*Bullet*"As he looked into the pumpkin's eyes and mouth, a brilliant flash of light emanated out through the pumpkin's nose and illuminated half the block. The light was so bright it blinded Roger and swallowed him in whiteness." I think we can heighten the drama here by having Roger inch closer and closer to the face of the pumpkin--maybe to see how it's glowing. Then, without using the word "suddenly," (thank you for not using that, by the way) you slip in your line "A brilliant light flashed out of the pumpkin's eyes and blinded Roger, swallowing him in whiteness."

*Bullet*"The frantic family searched the house from top to bottom together.[+comma] But they did not find Roger."

*Bullet*"He thought he could hear a faint haunting laugh coming from the pumpkin. There was something else that caught his eye, the pumpkin was no longer aged but as new as one just plucked from the patch. And did it appear to be larger? Steven shivered, turned away and grabbed a little tighter onto his father’s arm." These lines should be moved to the very end of the story, as that is where their impact will be most powerful. I feel that Steven could simply shiver at the sight of the pumpkin and feel a sort of fear for it; the description of its renewal and laugh should be at the end of the story.

*Bullet*"In the hours that followed, Mr. and Mrs. Danver talked with neighbors and friends. No one knew of Roger's wherabouts. No one mentioned the bright light from the past night[+comma] either. The police were called and a search party sent out and yet nothing. Roger had vanished into thin air." Typo: whereabouts. Then I'd condense the underlined portion: The police were called and a search party was sent out, but Roger had vanished.

*Bullet*"There was however, a small but important detail that nobody had noticed. Had someone gotten close to the pumpkin, as Roger did that night, they might have seen it. There was blood on all four fangs. But what if someone did get that close? Would that bright light had engulfed them too?" This would be a great image to have some pair from the search party notice, but nonchalantly. "Ever see a pumpkin that big get carved? Blood on the teeth almost looks real."

Rating:
I gave you a 3.5 of 5 stars because, although you have a great set of story bones here, they could be polished into something more frightening. I would be thrilled to reread and re-rate after an edit per my suggestions...or someone else's. *Laugh*


My review has been submitted for consideration in
"Good Deeds Go Noticed.
14
14
Review of The Forrest  
Review by lotte
In affiliation with I.N.K.E.D.  
Rated: 13+ | (2.5)
Hi, turtlegreen !

Thanks in advance for the Gift Points!

Cut the first line--it's too clunky and weak to be a good hook. The second line is much more grabbing. Then cut the next sentence. Combine the next two that have the same subject--her eyes. "She picked up her red backpack and slid it over her shoulders, her brown, tear-filled eyes scanning the forrest." Finally, cut the last line of the first paragraph.

"It's" shouldn't have an apostrophe. Change to "its." Then, change "if her brother was here" to "if her brother were here." It's incorrect to use "was" for hypotheticals.

Taylor "rubbered" her nose? Do you mean rubbed?

Cut all of this: The bedroom wasn’t large; it was the smallest of all of the bedrooms and situated at the very back of the trailer. The only way in or out was the bedroom door or the windows that didn’t open all of the way. Past the bedroom door was a hallway with door to the backyard. Bean, her brother, stood behind her and starred. There was no way Taylor could grab her little sister and make it outside.

"Their step-father stood in the doorway, his massive frame blocking their escape route and much of the light coming from the hallway. No one could leave. They could only stand and watch."

"She silently screamed at her heart and told it to stop pounding, but it didn’t listen. Instead, (+but) the more she tried to make it stop, the harder it seemed to pound. The sound was so loud she thought her heart was no longer inside her body, but staring her in the face to get her attention, telling her to do something, anything. Taylor couldn’t decipher the beats. She hadn’t learned in school what it mean when heart beats stretched outside of her body. She made a mental note to ask her teacher the next time she saw her." This, too, is wordy. Much of it should be combined, like so: Taylor couldn't decipher the beats, and the more she tried to quiet it, the harder it pounded, until it was almost outside of its cage. You see the difference? Stronger writing means fewer words.

Since you've made this mistake twice now, I feel obligated to repeat the rule: its is possessive--she pressed her hand against its trunk. It's is a contraction for "it is" or "it has."

I can see why you're offering so much "money" for this story. Its beginning is stronger than the middle or ending. I think the best advice I can give you is to combine any lines that you can. Shorten your paragraphs so that every word is necessary. If you refer to the girl's eyes or heart in more than two lines, you're going too long, focusing too much on the writing and not the story. Don't let your fancy sentences get in the way of the character and her journey. Cut everything you can. If you must only hint at sequences of events, then hint; your readers are smart, and they can pick up on a lot of subtleties. Don't spell everything out. If you have any questions, please never hesitate to send me a line. Have a great day!
15
15
Review by lotte
In affiliation with Fans of Cicero Grade Editing  
Rated: 18+ | (4.5)
1. Get rid of the titled parts Archi, Mesi, and Telos; if you’re going to use something other than a pound sign or asterisk, use Roman numerals.
2. “ “There's a baby in her belly, Kostas. It won't be long before they're both dead, you know? This disease doesn't discriminate,” Tod breathed in his ear.” I’d end this at “discriminate.” Then, I’d move “Tod breathed in his ear” to after “You’re scared.” This way, the reader wants to find out who’s talking, and at first, he’s going to assume it’s all in Kostas’ head; when you present Tod, the reader will be taken aback and be driven to learn more about Tod.
3. “partially-drawn” cut hyphen
4. “Even her belly, the plumpest part of her, seemed swollen and sallow.” I’d move “swollen” since her belly –is- swollen. It doesn’t seem swollen. “Even her swollen belly, the plumpest part of her, seemed sallow.”
5. Tod offered a cheerless smile as she contorted unnaturally—a surge of pain bolted through her body seizing her.
6. “I'm alone. Where are my friends? My family?...”
7. “Total fear washed over Kostas' face.”
8. “was a blur, if not suppressed..” Try “maybe suppressed” instead. Also, delete one of the periods.
9. “anonymous sex with a stranger in an alley” You have to get rid of either “anonymous” or “with a stranger.” You can’t have both.
10. She tried to call for help but instead spat up black mucus.
11. “Kostas pulled back the curtain bathing him and his friend in the woman's sweeping dimness.” This is awkward because of “bathing.”
12. More black spit welled up in her mouth as she reached out for Kostas' fragile hands.
13. Tod laid his head on Kostas' shoulder(+comma) admiring the show(make the colon a period) “What are you going to do now?”
14. ““Shut up,” Kostas' voice cracked as he chastised the green imp.” Make that comma a period.
15. Kostas had dreaded placing the weekly unanswered phone calls to his mother.
16. Not that she didn't try to be cordial to her son—she did love him after all
17. “would have been better to have never +SHOULD NEVER HAVE left the Old Country.”
18. “This day, however, Kostas did not expect her to answer. He hoped she wouldn't.” Try: Kostas didn’t expect her to answer—even hoped she wouldn’t.
19. ““Oh, I know that, but you know she won't answer.” Also, this line is a bit farther to the right than it ought to be. Actually, looking through the entire thing, a lot of lines are off. Just don’t indent anything—it doesn’t translate well on an electronic publication anyway.
20. “ Kostas bounced the handset on the receiver as he pondered the answer.”
21. ““This is what I'm supposed to do.”” This should be up with the previous paragraph.
22. “When have you ever been the kind to do+DONE what you're supposed to?” Make sure to change the next sentence accordingly.
23. “Sarcasm flavored each word.” I feel that a smirk would be more showing and less telling.
24. “Despite knowing that she wouldn't answer, he feared that she might.” You mention this at the beginning of the scene. Why don’t you have him think “Please don’t answer, please don’t answer…”
25. “He closed his eyes—fleetingly, he rememberedsaw his mother hanging clean linen on the line at the top of the hill.”
26. “As quick as the memory had appeared, it disappeared leaving+LEFT WITH only the final tones to ring in his ear.”
27. “his voice tightened,” Make this its own sentence: His voice tightened. Adjust the next line.
28. “I was there when you were+THEY told you were going to die.”
29. “He was not accustomed to the fact that he was now bound to a wheelchair.” He was not +YET accustomed to being wheelchair-bound.
30. “the stench of vomit and shit hung around him like a cloud of flies on spoiled muscle+OVER HIM.”
31. “He didn't avert his eyes anymore…” I think you could have him avoid Tod’s eyes somewhere throughout the story before this.
32. “Wherever it is we end up will be fine by me.”
33. “I enjoy you more and more the closer you are to dying.” Either the closer you come to dying or the closer you are to death. I know it’s dialogue, but it sounds better one way or the other.
34. “A draft caught one of the sleeves on his johnny gown as they stepped over the threshold into the night.” Move “into the night” to the next sentence.
35. “lofty softwoods.” Sounds a little rhymey.
36. “This world isn't yours anymore, I'm afraid.”
37. “Grand fir” needn’t be capitalized; it’s jarring, anyway.
38. “At the other side, dark began fading to light.” Not sure “fading” is the right word, since only light fades.
39. “Now, please, take it off.”
40. “ Kostas sat in the wheelchair naked as cool air stung his skin.” The cool air stung Kostas’ naked skin.
16
16
Review of Night Terrors  
Review by lotte
Rated: 13+ | (2.0)
Hi, there!

I'm sorry about the delay; I've included some apologetic Gift Points ;].

Anyway, your story was bogged down with formatting issues, misused words, and some unnecessary prose. Checking the "Double Space Paragraphs" button in the edit screen of your piece will fix the first issue; the misused words I found were "breathe" for "breath," "it's" for "its," and "dogs" for "dog's." These were the most obvious offenders. As for your unnecessary prose, the best advice I can give you for that is to reread it and find where you can cut words (using the same image and similar wording for turning off the lights three times is a bit trying). I think with an edit, your piece could be very hair-raising; I hope you do it, and if you'd like me to reread and re-rate, just send me a line or two!

Thanks for entering the November round of "Tales of Terror, and please enter again upon our grand reopening on 1 April 2012. Thank you!

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17
17
Review by lotte
Rated: ASR | (3.0)
"Tom was suppose to be..." Typo: supposed.
"The illusions started to shatter that day. Started to shatter. He would hit her many more times before the illusion would be shattered beyond repair." I think that if they shattered in the first place, they'd already be shattered beyond repair. Maybe if you used a verb like "chip," instead, it would make the last sentence there more poignant. Also, I'm not sure why you repeat the phrase "Started to shatter." Maybe you should replace it with an elaboration on how the illusions were chipping and weakening.
"This time, she wasn't going to make the same mistake again." It's redundant to have "again" when you have "this time" at the beginning. Pulling out the redundancies makes for more powerful writing.
"Second rule: it takes AT LEAST six months to even BEGIN to know someone. Third rule: REMEMBER THAT!" I think italics would be more effective than the all-caps.
Good luck in the contest :]!
18
18
Review of Auronium  
Review by lotte
Rated: 18+ | (4.0)
"They displayed Illustrations of suns,..." Why is "illustrations" capitalized?
"The Gamma Colony University Scientific Expedition department would erupt..." Likewise, why isn't "Department" capitalized?
"She tore her head from the probe to the room again,..." I didn't want to comment on style, since it's a matter of opinion, but I thought you might like to know that this reminds me of Mortal Kombat and Saturday Night Live; maybe say she tore her eyes, instead.
"She scrambled the pixels with a simple button press and sent it. 'Images are on there. (')That's what..." There's an unexplained apostrophe here.
"On one side of the huge pillar, a fresco decorated with orange streaks circled (a) indent." Typo: an
"They could be weapons, or something."" That comma doesn't have to be there.
"She reached for Clive's hand, and grunted as he hauled her up." Delete that comma.
"Considering each egg could very well rack up (a) eight figure sum without a hitch, the vote was (unaminous)." Two typoes: an, and "unanimous."
"Sweat beaded her forehead as she steered past a patch of lethal(+dash)looking rock."
“Felicia, limbs flailing and hair flying, thudded heavily seven foot down a crevice.” I think, for clarity, you could rewrite the last bit this way: thudded heavily down a seven-foot crevice.
“…fallen red-head.” Typo: redhead is one word.
“She reached for the clasps, thought better and continued her frantic (scrabble) back to the ship.” Word choice: “scrabble” means to scratch or claw.
“She took deep ragged breaths, and eased the rucksack off her shoulders.” Delete that comma.
“Theresa sniffled, (tried) to rein in the confusion.” I know what you are doing here, but “trying” would work so much better instead.
“The holy grail of space-age…” If this “holy grail” is as old as space, this can remain as it is. However, I think it means “the” space age, in which case, you have to add “the” and subtract the dash.

Finally, I'm not sure when Clive died, because it isn't fully mentioned. Also, you state that there are five members who come out of the tunnel, but I saw only four. If Fran counts as the fifth, why was he up in the ship the whole time?
19
19
Review by lotte
In affiliation with I.N.K.E.D.  
Rated: E | (2.0)
Good evening!

"My mind drifted, I steered by old habit and the boat stayed true to her course." This is a run-on sentence. The first comma should be a semi-colon (;), and a comma should be added after "habit" to make the remaining text a compound sentence.

"Suddenly, I felt an unnatural tingling at my back." To evoke suddenness and unnaturalness, cut this sentence to say: My back tingled.

"My mind was playing tricks on me, it had to be." This is another run-on. To correct it, simply change the comma to an em-dash (--).

"But this had never happened before, I was an old hand, had traveled maybe a hundred thousand miles at sea." This is yet another run-on. The first comma must be an em-dash or a semicolon. Refer to my examples above if you don't know what those are.

"I couldn’t concentrate on steering, and the sails all took to shivering(,) I was luffing up in the wind, and risked being backed into a jibe." This line should be two; otherwise, it's incorrect, and not in that stylish way that e. e. cummings' writing is. The comma I've put parentheses around should become a period. The comma after "wind" should be deleted.

"My breath came so fast now, and I had to slam a fist in my mouth, to not shout out for the captain to get up here, now, it was an emergency!"

"Suddenly, an explosion at the surface, as far as I could see! My puny lights were overwhelmed with brilliant light(word choice) all around me, at the level of the sea, and flashing yards into the air." To eradicate the redundancies and clumsiness of these lines, you should combine them.

"Tens of thousands of fish were leaping into the air, and each added its flash in the night, its moment of phosphorescent fame and glory. Together, they lit up the sea in a rare-to-human-eyes spectacle of light and sound." These lines use repetition improperly. "Flash" you used in the previous sentence; then, the fish "lit" the sea in a spectacle of "light."

"Each individual splash was like a raindrop that, added to its thousands of brother raindrops, created a soothing music, like that of rain." Not only do you reference rain twice in one sentence, you manage to confuse your subject and completely ruin your image. Try this: Each splash created a soothing music. This is a clear and strong image.

"All of a sudden, I heard a gigantic splash..." You overuse "suddenly" already--why try to hide it in this cliched phrase?

"I must have shouted out,..." Contrary to MTV belief, you don't have to add "out" to "shout" for it to be legitimate.

"Then I saw it(,) an immense form lifted itself from the water, graceful as a ballet dancer, its delicate lower jaw open to let a river flood out of its long mouth." That first comma should become a colon ( : ). Generally, the lower jaw is the one that opens. Regardless, the term "delicate" hardly fits with something as guttural as "jaw." Not only that, the sentence is passive, like many others; to improve it, I suggest reworking it this way: its delicate mouth widening to unleash a mighty rush of water.

"How that would have caused raucous joy in the old days of the grease pots and ivory." This is a fragment, but it misses its mark. Delete "how."

"I liked my life, too(,) no, I loved it(,) and did not want to sink to my death, glorious but unspoken, in the trough of the ocean." Make the first comma an em-dash ( -- ). Delete the second comma I put parentheses around. The part that was struck through is very purple.

"The giant sperm whale splashed about(+comma) happy as a baby in a tub."

"Then he suddenly became still, and his head turned slowly toward me; he lifted his head above the surface and worked his tail, maneuvering to slip in beside my boat." Let's rewrite this for a better impact: He stilled. His head turned toward me and lifted above the surface, his tail maneuvering to slip beside my boat.

"He turned his head and gazed at me with one big, meltingly soft eye." I thought his head had already turned toward your narrator..?

"yes, it wasn’t so very polite to show so much delight in killing and eating."

"His intelligence sought mine(,) it shone through that long gaze, and then he blinked and slid under. I sighed and closed my eyes. Yet the fear remained." Make that first comma semicolon. You recycled a form of "slide" from just a couple of sentences ago (He let himself slide downstream...). If you're going to emphasize that the fear remained, take out "yet" for a stronger effect.

"No, it was something else, and it was still prowling about, I felt it."

"As the minutes passed, though, I felt less and less anxious, and suddenly it was gone, like a bubble that burst with a pop, like the last scene of a cartoon. I was living a cartoon, inside the reel with Bugs and Tweety and Jules Verne." By referencing Jules Verne, you're asking the writer to see similarities between your writing and his. Needless to say, this is very pompous, and it ought to be deleted.

"The skipper came up the companionway then, and stuck his tousled head out the hatch." Delete that comma.

" The next morning, just as I was about to go down below for my tour in dreamland, dog-tired, listless, the captain asks me, as he’s gazing astern,..." Your sudden jump to the present tense should be permanent if you want it to work, but you go right back to the past tense in the next line. Just make this past-tense, too. I know you're going for a conversational feel, but it doesn't work like that.

The action in this flash is exciting enough, but the way you execute it requires a rewrite. A piece of so few words shouldn't have this much trouble. I invite you to dispose of my stylistic comments as you will, but each note about a comma requires correcting; I've left some sentences that require a comma alone, as they work well against the rule. Keep writing, champ!
20
20
Review by lotte
In affiliation with The Scribes  
Rated: 13+ | (3.5)
Dear Dave ,
Thank you for entering the September round of "Tales of Terror! Once all the judging is completed, the winners will be posted in "Invalid Item. Good luck!

Your story, while full of ghastly images and mystery, is more an historical fiction with the goal of teaching. I especially loved to read about having to dismember the hallowed dead in order to get their bodies out--it's great inspiration for horror! The title, perhaps, gave too much away--the effect of a ghost story is in the revealing of the ghost. Since yours comes at the end, you should rename your story for maximum effect. Since the letter comes from someone who is absolutely certain about how things went for Lt. Dixon and his crew, the reader would think the person who sent it was a know-it-all. Imagine the effect once they find who signed it!
21
21
Review by lotte
In affiliation with The Scribes  
Rated: 18+ | (4.5)
Hi there.

* "My arm awoke from its dormant state(;) with a cobra’s speed(+,) it slammed into the touch screen of my Motorola Atrix(--)snooze, my faithful companion(,) for there is a hard day before us, and we shall need our rest.
* "They beseech me to stay, and within their gentle embrace(+,) I falter."
* "It is a soft and beautiful world(:) a world where I run hand in hand with a tender object of my affection."
* "We descend together gently, in slow(-)motion,..."
* "with the tip of my finger(+,) I brush..." (This one is more about personal taste. It is incorrect without a comma, but in this case, I'm afraid a comma would halt the dreaminess of the sentence.)
* "Her beautiful brown eyes meet mine(,) all the majesty of the universe seems to be held within them." You need to punctuate differently here, since a comma does not afford a long enough pause. A dash or colon would be best. You rely enough on semicolons.
* "The azure sky transforms into a canvas..." We already know it's blue.
* "A ghostly visage of Isaac Hayes materializes to serenade us..." Awesome.
* "That last spot, in particular, is very sexy, and oft(-)neglected." You wouldn't need a dash if it said "often neglected," but "oft" can't really stand on its own.
* "I nibble her earlobe, she..." The comma should be a period.


The most common mistake I found was in your prepositional phrases. When you begin a sentence with a prepositional phrase of more than four words (like here), you have to have a comma after it. Your other issue is with attaching an independent clause to another independent clause, without the necessary conjunction (that is, you put two sentences together without making the result a compound sentence). "Her eyes meet mine, [+and] all the majesty of the world is in them." This is an example modeled after your sentence.

Those were the only mistakes I found you repeating. If they had happened once apiece, I probably would not have mentioned them. Otherwise, I thought this was smart-ass-ery at its finest.
22
22
Review of Home Sweet Home  
Review by lotte
In affiliation with The Scribes  
Rated: 13+ | (3.5)
Dear billwilcox,
Thank you for entering the Monster March round of "Tales of Terror! Once all the judging is completed, the winners will be posted in "Invalid Item. Good luck!

As with all my reviews, I distinguish Stylistic Points and Mechanical Points: with Stylistic Points, it is only recommended you follow the advice, because much of style is based on opinion; I strongly urge you to follow the Mechanical Points, because this is where you have grammatical errors, and those are universal.

Style:
*Bullet* Charlie could only recall a fraction of what had happened: the long flight, the confusion, the soldiers sick and shouting at each other, the fighting . . . the killing, and then the plane went down. (This seems a little more than a fraction. Maybe say he could remember only a little of the flight, but mostly the fighting before the plane went down.)
*Bullet* But even as he grasped the thought the memory quickly tried to seep away again like spilt blood. (This is the second time you’ve made a bloody metaphor. The first one was better than this—here, it’s only adding three words to the sentence. I’d end it at “again.”)
*Bullet* As his self-command crumbled, the night filled him as though he were a vessel of darkness. (The independent clause kind of collapses on itself, at least logically—the night filled him like he was something that would hold the night, is what you’re saying. Another red flag, at least for me, is the word “darkness.” It’s one of those words, like “crimson,” that should just be avoided.)
*Bullet* But even the frozen air became an ache in his lungs, and the wind was like fingers of ice that tore through his tattered clothes, until only the darkness felt alive. (That word again! Does it mean the night, the vile creature-ness he’s become, or something else? It’s too vague.)
*Bullet* In the valley below sat a farm, and the lights blazed from the windows of the place like a beacon. (This can be shortened and clarified: In the valley below sat a farm, the blazing windows a beacon. The next sentence can even be tagged onto this one.)

Mechanics:
*Bullet* and even though everyone was immediately pulled out of harms way, (Typo: harm’s.)
*Bullet*Charlie could only recall a fraction of what had happened: (The word “only” should be moved to right before “a fraction.” Otherwise, he’s only –recalling- it; he’s not slurping it, poking it, sniffing it, etc.)
*Bullet* The dull pain helped sharpen his sense of purpose, kept him in focus. (Since the verb here is “helped,” the comma should be a dash, so that you can keep “kept” the way it is. Otherwise, you’d have to change it to “keeping,” even though it’s a separate idea from “sharpen his sense of purpose.”)
*Bullet* his need to locate his family and to rend flesh, became as one. (That comma should be deleted. If it’s there to put emphasis on those last three words, the sentence needs rewriting with a better way to emphasize them.)
*Bullet* Lowering his head, his face a smear of tears, his body shook with the effort of stifling his sobs, and he fought back the whimper that he was barely able to contain. (Because you begin the sentence with dependent clauses centering around him—he’s doing the lowering of the head, and it’s his face that’s smeared—you can’t the subject of the independent clause be anything but him…not even his body. So “he” shook.
*Bullet* He prayed to find his way, prayed for some unforeseen wonder, but realized he no longer believed in them.
*Bullet* He had nothing left for which he might sanely hope or strive, only a twisted thought of going home. (Kind of contradicting yourself with this. He had nothing—but he had something. Why wasn’t it enough? That’s what you’re striving for, but it fell off the track a little bit.)
*Bullet* Held upright and active only by the fierce pressure of his need, he walked numbly down the hill. (“Only” should be after “by.”)
*Bullet* The virus played havoc with his cell tissue as well as his with mind. (Typo.)
*Bullet* The door creaked, and then suddenly gave way. (Unnecessary comma.)
*Bullet* Then his lips drew taunt, and he bared his teeth. (Typo: taut.)
*Bullet* And in Charlie's dead eyes, the framed and hand-stitched message of 'Home Sweet Home'(,) gleamed brightly. (That comma should be deleted.)


Rating:
I gave you a 3.5, because although your plot was original, it was hindered by a lot of empty language. Here's an example:
The old man drew his son’s dead body to his chest and rocked him for several hours before the hurt went through him like a crack through stone, and followed its flaws to his heart.
It doesn't really mean anything, and if it does, it's very vague. Your images are bright and real and breathing, but there are too many instances of this empty writing--it doesn't add to the plot or picture, since it isn't really saying anything. It feels like filler.
Your last sentence was brilliant, however, and although I felt that sort of an ending coming, it still left me with chills. Well done!
23
23
Review by lotte
In affiliation with The Scribes  
Rated: 18+ | (2.5)
Dear designsbykris ,
Thank you for entering the February round of "Tales of Terror! Once all the judging is completed, the winners will be posted in "Invalid Item Good luck!

As with all my reviews, I distinguish Stylistic Points and Mechanical Points: with Stylistic Points, it is only recommended you follow the advice, because much of style is based on opinion; I strongly urge you to follow the Mechanical Points, because this is where you have grammatical errors, and those are universal.

Plot:
I love how you explained her reason for targeting virgins! I admit, I wasn’t expecting to see a story like yours, so that’s a pleasant surprise. I would have liked to see her argue for herself more, though; it doesn’t look like a real testimony. Make her the victim!

Characters:
You seem to change voice in the middle from Elizabeth Bathory to a modern teenage girl. I understand the Countess is psychotic, but there has to be some kind of consistency!

Style:
*Bullet* I found myself instantly fascinated with him. Drawn to his chiseled body, his intense blue eyes, and that smile of his—I stood no chance. (These could be combined, as they’re really saying the same thing; one just has more detail.)
*Bullet* He was checking me out too! (This would be fine if you hadn’t begun the story with a ceremonial voice; now it sounds like something said by one of the Olsen twins. I know she’s young in this flashback, but you’re negating your own voice, here.)
*Bullet* We talked for many hours and agreed to begin seeing each other. (Firstly, how did they talk for hours right there in the square if her mother was near them? Certainly she could have found Elizabeth within a few minutes of looking. Also, “seeing each other” is a relatively modern euphemism for courting. Voice comes to mind, again. You’re torn between the ceremonial voice of a Medieval noblewoman and the modern teen. Gotta choose one!)
*Bullet* A world with no Alfred would mean a world where daylight ceased to glow. (Awesome sentence!)
*Bullet* …nothing I did would shut them up. (Maybe “shut up” is too modern. Try “quiet them.”
*Bullet* She slept so peacefully, as I peered through the window. (Obviously she’s peering through the window, as it mentions as much in the previous sentence.)
*Bullet* Now, I’ve given you my testimony. (This would be a fine testimony if you’d attempted to make her explain herself. In the end, she says it’s an addiction. That’s not something a murderer would say if they wanted parole. She’d blame Alfred, or something out of her control. Maybe the addiction controls her, and she claims she wants it to stop—that would give your reader a chance to decide if she truly can’t control it or if she’s a monster asking to be released from a cage.)

Mechanics:
*Bullet* My name is Elizabeth Bathony, some know me as the “Blood Countess.” (Typo: Bathory.)
*Bullet* I have been resting in purgatory for many years, and now my case has come to trial. (Capitalize Purgatory.)
*Bullet* God isn’t making the verdict you are. (This needs a pause. Try a dash after “verdict.”)
*Bullet* They forbid me to see Alfred (that was his name) ever again. (Typo: forbade. Also, isn’t there a better way to show what his name is?)
*Bullet* Alfred became my soul purpose for living. (Typo: sole.)
*Bullet* They entered quiet at first, like rain before a storm. (Typo: quietly. Otherwise, great descriptive sentence!)
*Bullet* It belonged to the epitome of fear. (This doesn’t make much sense to me.)
*Bullet* I continued to swing the axe. She was dead after the first swing, but I countinued to let her have it until my arms were tired. (Typo: continued. Also, try using a different word since it’s used it the previous sentence. Also “represent” is becoming overused in this story.)


Rating:
I gave you a 2.5, because while your plot was original, your excessive typos and voice switchings and the like distracted me from the real meaning of the prose. It was also a tad comical imagining this elegant noblewoman climbing through a window. The other thing of note is the "testimony" of it all--I mentioned that she doesn't argue for the sake of herself; what kind of testimony is that? This really has potential with some cleanup and revision. Good luck!

24
24
Review of Kiss of Death  
Review by lotte
In affiliation with The Scribes  
Rated: E | (3.5)
Dear Persephone ,
Thank you for entering the January round of "Tales of Terror! Once all the judging is completed, the winners will be posted in "Invalid Item Good luck!

As with all my reviews, I distinguish Stylistic Points and Mechanical Points: with Stylistic Points, it is only recommended you follow the advice, because much of style is based on opinion; I strongly urge you to follow the Mechanical Points, because this is where you have grammatical errors, and those are universal.

I just want you to know that this sentence is my absolute favorite in a long time: She was not the first he sought to seduce, so when they found his broken form at the base of the tower, they assumed his guilt had driven him there.
Beautiful.

Plot:
The plot unfolded very nicely. It’s difficult to do stories where the bulk of the events happen in memory, but you managed to pull it off. The only thing that hindered the plot was the “begin” language. You’ll see what I mean. I’m not sure you used the prompt the best way you could, but the story was cute and effective.

Characters:
I loved your protagonist! Her optimism in the end is spot-on. You managed to make a virtue into a flaw. I found the Gothic music a little corny or unbelievable—if she’s a tormented optimist, would she listen to that?

Style:
*Bullet* The flames had died to glowing embers as she began to return to the now. (You seem to heavily depend on the word “begin.” If you put this on a “Forbidden Words” list and banned it from your prose, your writing would improve.)
*Bullet* As she set her glass down and rose to begin putting out the candles, she heard voices approaching from outside. (It’s in the very next sentence!)
*Bullet* Frantically, she began to go over everything in her mind of what she could have forgotten. (And the next! You have to take it out of your writing to make it more immediate. Look: “She rose to begin cleaning the dishes” doesn’t have near the effect of “She rose to clean the dishes.”)

Mechanics:
*Bullet*The black skeletal branches of the trees ___ reaching up to the sky as if to grab the last morsel of darkness before it was swept away. (This is a fragment of a sentence, which could be fixed by adding “were” in the space indicated, or changing “reaching” to “reached.”)
*Bullet*Their bare fingers strike deep within her, sister spirits to the barrenness of her soul. She takes a deep breath, then gets out of the car and goes inside. Eris looked about the room as she entered and took in what must be done. (You go from past tense through the beginning to present for two sentences, and then back to past. You have to make the present-tense sentences past-tense.)
*Bullet* Dark Gothic music fills the air, the instruments throwing Cathedral waves through the room pierced by the ethereal voice of the singer. (You did it again, here. Notice how changing “fills” to “filled” makes the sentence fine—you don’t have to touch “throwing” at all!)
*Bullet* She walked across the room and picked up the glasses and plates from the table, [took] them into the kitchen to wash out the evidence of the shared evening. (Now you have to change “took” somehow: add “and” before it, or change it to “taking.”)
*Bullet* The sun is well up by the time Eris finished and all memory of the night before wiped clean. (Change “is” to “was.”)
*Bullet* She drew the heavy curtains, lit the candles in the room and took a seat on the cushion in the center, a glass of liqueur in her hand (and lets) the music begin to carry her away. (Turn “and lets” to “letting,” and delete what I’ve marked.)
*Bullet* Each tale recounted itself in her mind with such clarity that she felt herself transported back [and reliving] every moment. (You have to do one of two things: change “and” to “to,” or “reliving” to “relived.”)
*Bullet* And the more time she spent with John, the easier it was to push it from her mind and believe she could have what she had been made to believe had been denied. (I’d like to help with this sentence, but it’s just too convoluted for me to even understand.)
*Bullet* And even when the tales proved true, still she hoped that maybe there was one who could rise after her kiss(. )One that didn’t grow cold after. (You’ll want to turn the period I marked into a dash, because the second sentence in this selection is a fragment.)
*Bullet* He watched every breath she took, every move she made, listened far beyond to words to everything she said. (This is another sentence I don’t understand.)


Rating:
I gave you a 3.5 because, although your tale was gripping, your many tense problems, along with a couple times when I had to re-read, pulled me out of the story. I particularly love the ending! Your unnamed creature and her accursed optimism make for an endearing impression. With the editing points I give, your story could really be a 5, so let it!

Also, because of the delay, I am giving each entrant 500 Gift Points for being patient. This is not a prize from the contest.
25
25
Review of Keep Doing  
Review by lotte
In affiliation with The Scribes  
Rated: ASR | (2.5)
Dear ,
Thank you for entering the January round of "Tales of Terror! Once all the judging is completed, the winners will be posted in "Invalid Item Good luck!

The beginning of your story was rife with a lot of names for people who just didn't matter. Your Addy should concentrate more on her husband's name than on anything else. The son and daughter can be mentioned in one line, and forgotten until the meeting with Jon and the end. Also, the talk with Mary, while necessary, should be compressed to make it less significant-looking than the Jon part. Basically, this story could be much shorter, and I'm convinced that it will shine once you take out 1/3 or so. The meeting with Jon is touching, but it's hindered by all the non-essential details before it.
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