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Public Reviews
Review by Makeshift
In affiliation with Dream Team HQ  
Rated: 18+ | (2.0)
I wanted to simply send a review (general writing tips more than anything) without a rating, but as ratings are required to send a review (and mine was quite lengthy) I went back through and gave this a read. Don't get despaired about a "2", especially from me; my rating guidelines are very similar to those found on WDC's "Reviewing Tips" page, and I adhere strictly to them. I included my original "review" as a dropnote, labelled "Writing Tips", at the bottom of this. The reason I gave you a low rating was that this piece was lacking in the areas I mentioned. If you would like a more specific explanation of anything or how, specifically, this piece was lacking in any of the areas listed, feel free to message me. I apologize for not adding such info here, but I spent roughly an hour typing up the information in the dropnote below, so now it's late and I need sleep lol. Anyway, here it is:

{dropnote:"Writing Tips}I have to admit, FFVII fan-fiction was a guilty pleasure of mine many years ago, so I couldn't help but take a peek at this lol. Now, as you mentioned that this is an exercise to get your writing skills up to snuff before tackling your main project, I'll just throw a few pointers out about your writing in general (I'm sure you've heard them before, so don't get insulted by the way I explain the things below. And if you haven't heard them, please take them to heart; they're possibly the most vital principles in writing, fiction or non-fiction) Oh, and none of what I mention in my "definition" of things is directed at your story here; I'm just throwing things out to try and make my suggestion make sense:

1. To get the obvious out of the way, grammar is paramount. No matter what your story is about, no matter how good your plot or your characters are, you'll never put a good idea into words if you just can't write, at least not that anyone will want to read. Now, everyone's taught the basics: subjects, verbs, predicates, run-ons, etc. You have to know these things like the back of your hand, so if you have the slightest doubt, do yourself a favor and hit the proverbial books (or literal lol); just as when constructing anything else-- and writing is construction!-- you have to start with a solid foundation before you can build on it. If you really want to bring your writing to life and wow your readers, however, you'll need a lot more than the basics. Look into advanced grammar, punctuation in particular-- hyphens, semicolons, colons, etc-- and the proper use of it. Okay, let's move onto something a little less obvious:

2. Still a bit obvious is the Cardinal Rule of "show, don't tell!" Perhaps the best way to explain this rule is to make a metaphor: you're an artist, and your words are your paint. If you want to paint a sunset, you wouldn't just say, "I painted a sunset". What you want is to describe the different nuances that go into making that sunset; explain all the different shades and how they meld together, and let the reader come to the conclusion that it's a sunset. Simply put, you wan't to show them it's a sunset, not tell them. You're there to paint the reader a picture; it's their job to decipher it. Now, the third rule goes hand-in-hand with this one:

3. Flow is a term used to explain the way your work rolls off the reader's "tongue", so to speak. In order for people to like your work, it has to flow, and you do that through your use of grammar and your choice of words. Be very careful of long or overly complex words; these will kill your flow! Fancy words aren't always the right ones. In fact, the opposite is usually true. A thesaurus can be an author's best friend, but use it with caution. I can't give you any concrete rules when it comes to word choice; but keep in mind that each sentence should roll off the reader's tongue, and they should be able to get through each paragraph at a consistent pace without pausing or hesitating. Always quadruple-check to see that your paragraphs do this when you proof-read, and if you can, get someone else to give you their opinion on this very thing, because author's many times overlook their own mistakes as a result of knowing their work so intimately. My last "essential" tip is:

4. Once all those things are in order, characterization makes all the difference. Good characters can keep a weak plot afloat and turn a good plot into an incredible one. While coming up with an interesting plot and pacing it appropriately is important, at the end of the day, it's told/unfolded by your characters. Make damn sure they're quality. In order to do this, you need to ensure that your characters feel real and genuine, which will make them much easier for your reader to attach to. It's a good idea to model your characters (if loosely) around someone you know. That way, you can put a more personal touch on them-- writing is always more interesting when the author can make it or some aspect of it personal. Keep in mind that no one is perfect: they have flaws; they're not always the most beautiful, intelligent, or suave person in the universe; they have conflicts, some of which they can and should fail at to add character depth, and they also come to epiphanies at some point in their literary life-- known as "maturing" in the real world. Keep all this in mind when designing your characters.

5. Practice, practice, practice! In the end, there's just no substitute for practice, and no one can give you an estimate of how long it will take you to get to a "publishable" level; it's different for everyone. You need to write until the things I mentioned above become second-nature and you can write according to them without thinking. (To put it in the paraphrased words of Brandon Sanderson, "You need to practice until these things soak down into your subconscious.") Also, if you want to write short stories, write short stories; if you want to write novels, write novels. There are also several things you can do to increasing your rate of learning, such as reading-- books, newsletters, anything! just read!-- taking English/creative writing courses, attending conferences, and participating in collective efforts, such as campfires here on WDC (these are great because they not only allow you to get writing experience, but you can also get others' feedback in the process, which is also very important).

Well, those are the basics, long-winded as they may be. As simple as those rules are, however, they are at the heart of any of the best literature you can find, especially prose. There's a plethora of reference material you can turn to if you need help with any of these things. For instance, you can use http://www.dictionary.com as both a dictionary and a thesaurus. Also, if you're not subscribed to some of the newsletters on this site, I highly recommend it, regardless of your skill level. I consider myself a fairly developed prose writer, for instance but that doesn't mean I'm not subscribed to the "Newbies" newsletter! I recommend picking not only that one, but "For Authors", "Short Stories", and whatever genre newsletters may apply to your favored genres. They put out some great information, and they're constantly coming up with new ways to reiterate old ideas in ways you haven't thought of.

Good luck in your endeavors! :)
Review by Makeshift
Rated: E | (3.5)
(No, my review isn't just a play on the title lol)

On the whole, this was a cute story, and as a man I use that word very, very sparingly lol. The way you turned it upside-down at the end was clever, and you did a good job of developing your character with a relatively low word count, keeping it in the mindset of a child all the way.

I only have a couple of recommendations for this, and the first is to use a bit more description. It would have been nice to know a little bit more about Peter or the setting of the opening scene, as that's all left entirely to the imagination.

My only other major suggestion is in reference to the format/style of your paragraphs. There were quite a few sentences that ended rather abruptly-- some of them could have easily been attached to the following sentence with a comma or some other conjunction-- and starting with the word "You" became a bit repetitive. Experiment with different ways of saying the same thing, I suppose is the best way to put it.

Overall, good work :)
Review of I know that house  
Review by Makeshift
Rated: E | (4.0)
(I'm not stalking you, I swear lol. You just happen to be at the top of the request list)

This is a marked improvement from your last work I read. You kept it simple, and it paid dividends. I'll get to the small things that kept this from being a "5" rating first (and they're minor):

The first stanza is the only one that draws a negative light from me. First, it seems like your rhyme scheme is broken ever so slightly (unless sleep deprivation is keeping me from recalling one of the more exotic structures, which I won't count out seeing as you switched the rhyming lines to the second and third lines in the third stanza rather than the fourth and the fifth as with the previous two stanzas). Second, the word "tide" seems like it should have been "hide"; either it was a typo, or my brain is trying really hard to convert it mentally lol. Lastly, the third line has significantly more syllables than any other in the poem, which are otherwise pretty uniform; this hinders the flow in a small, almost subliminal way (might I suggest removing "my own world" from that line? That would leave it at about the right length, but that's your decision to make, of course.)

Anyway, on to the positives!

As I said before, you kept it simple and it paid. In your last work I reviewed, you seemed to be forcing the words and straining to fit them together whereas here you use a much lighter tone, and it flows so much more smoothly (more inspiration for this poem, perhaps?) Also-- and I can't stress this enough-- I love the feeling of nostalgia you've managed to capture here, which is no easy feat; I think that came as a result of the relaxed, simple wording and the natural flow (and inspiration?) it lends to the poem as a whole. As someone who has recently lost a grandfather and has incredibly fond (and nostalgic) memories him, this was a great read.

Excellent work :)
Review by Makeshift
Rated: 18+ | (4.5)
First of all, I have to say that your take on this is very original, and the satirical presentation is refreshing to say the least (and as a person who loves mythology and the like, I took quite an interest in this). Your prose is polished and flows smoothly. In fact, the only thing that kept me from giving this a "5" rating were just a couple tiny errors:

1. " He seriously considered this for a moment. Sometimes I worried about [b]our-sorry-his[/b] sanity." I've always been told (and forgive me if it's not an actual rule) to use two hyphens when writing some sort of break in thought. Otherwise, it reads as a hyphenated word and can create some confusion (which it did in my case for a split-second.)

2. "He needs me more than I need than I need him." I think that one speaks for itself :)

Overall, this was a great read, and I look forward to reading more of your work (provided you don't want to beat me off with a stick after this review lol)
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