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Review of The Lucky Ones  
Review by Max Griffin ...
In affiliation with Novel Workshop Group  
Rated: 18+ | (4.0)
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*Smile* Hi. Thanks for asking me to read your story. I enjoyed it and wanted to share some thoughts with you.

Item Reviewed: "The Lucky Ones
Author John Yossarian
Reviewer: Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈

                                                             
As always, these are just one person's opinions. Always remember Only you know what is best for your story. I've read and commented on your work as I would try to read my own. I hope you find something here useful *Smile*, and that you will discard the rest with good cheer. *Heart*

                                                             
*FlagB*What I liked best
Well, this is certainly my kind of story! This was an entertaining and highly original tale. I don't want to give away any of the plot, in case anyone reading this review is drawn to the story, but it's a doozy!

                                                             
*FlagB*Plot
The plot builds nicely, with good foreshadowing and lots of tension.

I do have some reservations about the framing, though. I'm not a big fan of flashbacks, and most of this story is flashback framed by short interludes with the Sheriff. I get what you're doing, and I'm not suggesting you abandon this approach. However, I think the transitions from the here-and-now with the Sheriff to the friends on their bike ride need to be clearer. As it stands, they are kind of confusing. I'm also inclined to think the entire incident at the campsite should be shown, without the one short interlude back to the Sheriff's cruiser. I thought this broke the tension and the connection with the story.

                                                             
*FlagB*Style and Voice
Third person limited at the very start, in the Sheriff's head and in the related scenes where she appears. The flashbacks are first person, in Ben's head. No problems with this--indeed, it helps to keep clear which parts in the fictional present and which are in the fictional past. I still think the transitions need to be more strongly marked.

                                                             
*FlagB*Scene/Setting
Good job here, including building a sense of foreboding.

                                                             
*FlagB*Characters
Ben and Caitlin are clearly drawn, the other two guys a bit less so. Not sure that's a drawback, except that as things develop I kind of had a hard time differentiating them.

                                                             
*FlagB*Grammar
*Exclaim* Comma Splices.*Exclaim*
A comma splice occurs when you have two complete sentences joined by a comma where a period or semicolon should be used. I've marked one or more of these in the line-by-line comments below.

*Exclaim* Commas.*Exclaim*
I thought I saw some comma errors. I'm terrible with commas, so I won't try to point them out. Instead, here's a great reference:
http://owl.english.purdue.edu/handouts/grammar/g_c...
I've read it, and they're still a mystery to me. I hope it helps!

*Exclaim* Repeated words.*Exclaim* Be careful repeating words and phrases, as this runs the risk of making your prose feel monotone. I marked at least one instance of this in the line-by-line remarks below.

                                                             
*FlagB*Just my personal opinion
One way to think of telling a story is that it is a guided dream in which the author leads the readers through the events. In doing this, the author needs to engage the readers as active participants in the story, so that they become the author's partner in imagining the story. Elements of craft that engage the readers and immerse them in the story enhance this fictive dream. On the other hand, authors should avoid things that interrupt the dream and pull readers out of the story.

I've got several comments that relate to the above in the line-by-line remarks below. These almost all have to do with orienting the reader, so they are in the head of the POV character and stay inside the story rather than having to figure out where they are. So, when the story moves from the fictional present to the fictional past, there need to be visual cues, such as an extra line break or, better yet, three centered stars. Also, immediately after the transtions, it's like starting any new scene: you're first goal is to orient the reader on POV, time, and environment. If you do those things, flashbacks can work.

This is a really awesome story, with a chilling ending. I have mixed feelings about the framing, though. I wonder if this wouldn't be better if you just started with the start of the bike trip and continued, in Ben's POV, right up to the ending. I suspect it might sell better that way, too, since many editors will use a flashback as a heuristic for "do not read further." If they do, they will have missed a terrific tale.

Thanks for sharing! It's always a pleasure to read such creative and well-crafted fiction.

                                                             
*FlagB*Line-by-line remarks
*Bullet*Your text is in BLUE.
*Bullet*My comments are in GREEN.
*Bullet*If I suggest a re-wording, it's in GRAPE.
                                                             

*Cut*Describing how your two best friends died was tough enough. Revealing how you’d abandoned the third…Sheriff Gail Simmons shook her head. How would she ever get the kid to explain that?

Around her, the search party broke up, leaping into their trucks and racing off along the thin trail leading to Overlook camp; the spot the kid claimed all the trouble occurred.

“Why don’t you hop in?” Simmons waved towards a blue Tahoe with ‘Sheriff’ stenciled in reflective letters along the side. “We can talk on the way.”

The kid, Ben Daily, was only twenty-four according to his ID. God, had she ever been that young? He looked up gravely, his stare drifting lazily to the Tahoe.

“Sure, why not?”

Why was she so eager to hear this kid’s story? As he slid in beside her, and she keyed the ignition, she knew. There was something about him that just didn’t click, a certain lethargy, an emotional vagueness which she couldn’t put her finger on. *Cut*
*Exclaim*My Comment: I get what you are doing here. I really do. There’s a version of third person limited called free direct discourse in which the author directly relates the internal thoughts of the point-of-view character. No italics. No “she thought” tags. No “she wondered why she was so eager” reporting of what she was thinking. The thoughts are right there, embedded in the text. I like this style a lot, and try to use it myself, although I find it challenging in practice. See {item: 2181006} for a longer discussion of this approach.

So, in general I applaud what you’re doing. But here’s the thing. These opening paragraphs are kind of disorienting.

The first sentence shows Simmon’s thought before we even know she’s a character. We can back up and infer the first phrase was her thought after the ellipsis, but that already pulls the reader out of the here-and-now. Later, when Simmons speaks, we don’t know whom she is addressing. Again, we can infer this in the subsequent paragraph, but that once more requires the reader to back up and reframe what they just read.

The opening has to accomplish many things, but the primary job is to put the reader inside the fictional world. That almost always means orienting the reader on point-of-view, place, time, and possibly plot. These opening paragraphs ultimately do a good job of that orientation, but it’s kind of out of order. I’d first orient the reader on POV, so we don’t have a disembodied thought starting the story. Then, I’d proceed to place the kid and the other deputies at the scene. When she speaks, I’d make it clear that she’s speaking to the kid. These are minor tweaks, to be sure, but would go a long way to smoothing the opening and drawing the reader into the story.
*Exclaim*


*Cut*“If civilization collapsed, and it was your last trip to the Brew House,” Allan was in the front seat. Caitlin and I were in the back, while Daren was driving. “What would you get,? He asked.”*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: So here, we’ve left the here-and-now of the kid and Simmons in her cruiser and we’re now in a flashback, right? We’ve also changed the POV to first person, in the kid’s head. Just checking at this point, while reading…If this is accurate, you need a clearer transition from the inside of the cruiser to the past. At a minimum, you need extra space and probably three stars, centered, to denote the transition. *Exclaim*

*Cut*as we circled the park and drove ever deeper into the park.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: “park” repeats in this sentence. *Exclaim*

*Cut*For the next four hours, it was just like olden days, Darren set the pace with Allan close behind. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Comma splice *Exclaim*

*Cut*Hand in hand, Daren and Allan strolled across the clearing their bikes in a heap at the road’s edge. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: need a comma after “bikes.” *Exclaim*

*Cut*“An asteroid…wow! *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: An asteroid striking the earth would have catastrophic consequences, rather like the one that hit Chicxulub 65 million years ago. I think she means “meteor,” right? *Exclaim*

*Cut*forest mirk*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: It’s not wrong to spell it “mirk” instead of “murk,” just old-fashioned. Not sure why you made this choice. *Exclaim*

*Cut*Caitlin scrambled atop a fAllan log;*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: typo *Exclaim*

*Cut*I stepped*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: He “stepped” just a couple lines earlier. *Exclaim*

*Cut*“Hey, Sheriff,” the radio crackled over the Tahoe’s speakers, interrupting Ben’s tale. “We found the camp. No one’s here.” *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Back in the here-and-now of the cruiser. As before, you need a stronger marker for the transition. BTW, I found this one distracting *Exclaim*

*Cut*Try as I might, I couldn’t get to sleep.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: And now we’re back in the past, in their camp. *Exclaim*

*Cut*For a long while, neither of us spoke; the breeze nothing more than a gentle whisper through the leaves.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: I’d recommend a comma rather than semicolon here. *Exclaim*

*Cut*At Darren’s encouragement, we joined him in the crater where it was easier to make out the shattered orb embedded within the stone. Only fragments protruded as if it too had been shattered when the rock split.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: This description and sequence thus far kind of reminds me of the corresponding scene in The Blob. I don’t know if you want to make a reference to that or not, or even if anyone else would get it. *Exclaim*

*Cut* recording it from every angles.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: angle, singular. *Exclaim*

*Cut*Ben looked to Sheriff Simmons and smiled. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: another transition… *Exclaim*

*Cut*The mic had been ripped from the dash and lay coiled on the hood. He took a bite… *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: I think we need a bit more detail here. The way this is written, it sounded like he took a bite from the mic. I’d consider a touch more description, so we know something else is laying around for him to munch on. This is, after all, the punch line, so clarity is important!*Exclaim*

                                                             

I only review things I like, and I really liked this story. I'm a professor by day, and find awarding grades the least satisfying part of my job. *Frown* Since I'm reviewing in part for my own edification, I decided long ago to give a rating of "4" to everything I review, thus avoiding the necessity of "grading" things on WDC. So please don't assign any weight to my "grade" -- but know that I selected this story for review because I liked it and thought I could learn from studying it. *Smile*


Again, these are just one person's opinions. Only you know what is best for your story! The surest path to success is to keep writing and to be true to your muse!

Thanks again for sharing this item. Keep on writing!


Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈
http://MaxGriffin.net/
http://MaxGriffin.net/blog/
Check out
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Thoughts on Writing  (NPL)
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#1847273 by Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈




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2
2
Review by Max Griffin ...
In affiliation with Novel Workshop Group  
Rated: E | (4.0)
Review Spot Tag


Item Reviewed: "A Village With No Name / Chapter 9
Author kzn
Reviewer: Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈

                                                             
As always, these are just one person's opinions. Always remember Only you know what is best for your story. I've read and commented on your work as I would try to read my own. I hope you find something here useful *Smile*, and that you will discard the rest with good cheer. *Heart*

                                                             
*FlagB*What I liked best
A new point of view, and another good chapter. Plot advances and tension increases.

I'll dispense with most of my leads, as this is both well-craftec and I don't have much new to say.

                                                             
*FlagB*Plot
This adds to the basic plot by intensifying the inevitable threat to Gideon and his allies in the town. The five new scallawags that Kane just hired--despite the fact they shot his daughter--adds additional tension. Good job!

                                                             
*FlagB*Hook
As usual, I'd like a stronger hook. At a minimum, I think we need a reaction from either Kane or Scott to the final line.

                                                             
*FlagB*Style and Voice
This is mostly in Scott's point-of-view, but I found several little bumps into Kane's head.

                                                             
*FlagB*Scene/Setting
Pretty detailed, which is good, but sometimes the descriptions felt like a narrator, standing outside the story, telling the reader about the location or what the characters were wearing. Minor tweaks could make these more subjective, and put them more firmly in Scott's POV.

                                                             
*FlagB*Characters
Up to now, Scott has been a brutish bully. In this chapter he shows what appears to be genuine concern for his sister. His fear of his father is also obvious. Since we're in his head, a touch more clarity on his goals might be appropriate, along with the stakes.

                                                             
*FlagB*Grammar
*Exclaim* Comma Splices.*Exclaim*
A comma splice occurs when you have two complete sentences joined by a comma where a period or semicolon should be used. I've marked one or more of these in the line-by-line comments below.

                                                             
*FlagB*Just my personal opinion
Another excellent chapter. Minor twe4aks will enhance the POV and the hook. you've given Scott a lot more depth, but even more might be helpful. Overall, excellent work.

                                                             
*FlagB*Line-by-line remarks
*Bullet*Your text is in BLUE.
*Bullet*My comments are in GREEN.
*Bullet*If I suggest a re-wording, it's in GRAPE.
                                                             

*Cut*Scott had returned home late the night before, but he guessed that one of the ranch hands had beaten him home*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: "home" used twice in close proximity. *Exclaim*

*Cut*stood in the room beside a large redwood desk*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: This is second instance of "large." This is one of those adjectives that don't provide scale and hence are unhelpful in setting the scene. *Exclaim*

*Cut*Tom Kane sat behind that desk with a large impressive mule deer buck, *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: need a comma after "desk," since otherwise it reads as if the mule deer buck is sitting behind the next to him. Other than that, I love the description that follows. It not only sets the scene, it sets the mood and helps establish character. *Exclaim*

*Cut*Kane studied his son through thin slanted eyes,*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: This feels a bit like a POV shift, since we know what's in Kane's head--studying. If, on the other hand and for example, his gaze "imaled" Scott from his thin slanted eyes, it'd be Scott's subjective impression of what's happening and would reinforce POV. *Exclaim*

*Cut*His mood remained dark as if a cloud had crossed the sun.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: This is definitely in Kane's head and is thus a POV violation. *Exclaim* “And now this! Can I not trust you to do anything right?”

*Cut*angrily striking him hard across the face with the back of his hand.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: "angrily" as opposed to what? "Lovingly?" I'd drop the adverb as adding nothing. *Exclaim*

*Cut*He clamped his fingers tightly together with rile *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: "with rile" is in Kane's head, since we're told his emotional state. *Exclaim*

*Cut*Kane withered his son with a glance that told him the way he had handled the newcomer did not impress him.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: This is the way to stay in Scott's POV. *Exclaim*

*Cut*and lent in toward his Pa,*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: typo: leaned. In the UK, I think it would be "leant." *Exclaim*

*Cut*You came in late last night, where were you?*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: comma splice *Exclaim*

b}*Cut*“Is she still in the doctor's rooms,” Kane asked, *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: need question mark after "rooms." *Exclaim*




                                                             

I only review things I like, and I really liked this story. I'm a professor by day, and find awarding grades the least satisfying part of my job. *Frown* Since I'm reviewing in part for my own edification, I decided long ago to give a rating of "4" to everything I review, thus avoiding the necessity of "grading" things on WDC. So please don't assign any weight to my "grade" -- but know that I selected this story for review because I liked it and thought I could learn from studying it. *Smile*


Again, these are just one person's opinions. Only you know what is best for your story! The surest path to success is to keep writing and to be true to your muse!

Thanks again for sharing this item. Keep on writing!


Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈
http://MaxGriffin.net/
http://MaxGriffin.net/blog/
Check out
FOLDER
Thoughts on Writing  (NPL)
Short essays on the craft of fiction.
#1847273 by Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈



*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
3
3
Review of Alligator Resort  
Review by Max Griffin ...
In affiliation with Novel Workshop Group  
Rated: 18+ | (4.0)
Review Spot Tag


Item Reviewed: "Alligator Resort
Author N.Voro
Reviewer: Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈

                                                             
As always, these are just one person's opinions. Always remember Only you know what is best for your story. I've read and commented on your work as I would try to read my own. I hope you find something here useful *Smile*, and that you will discard the rest with good cheer. *Heart*

                                                             
*FlagB*What I liked best
There is much to like here. We've got an unreliable narrator, lots of weirdness, and great potential for tension. The sequencing of events lends itself naturally to risinng tension, with an ending that leaves the reader wanting more. I found the story itself remarkably creative. Weird, of course, but I like weird.

                                                             
*FlagB*Style and Voice
First person, with only one minor slip, as noted in the line-by-line remarks below. The--nameless--narrator is surely unreliable, a fact that becomes every more apparent as the story evolves.

First person is the perfect choice for this story. But here's the thing. First person is much harder to write well than third person. In first person, it's easy imagine your reader is sitting across from you in an easy chair--or on a bar stool--while you tell your story. Therein is the main problem--first person lures you into telling your story instead of showing it.

A second problem with first person is that has a tendency to pull away from the here-and-now of ongoing events as the narrator ruminates about what is happening around him. Instead, you should concentrate on how the narrator responds to events by showing him acting and sensing. This will increase the intimacy and immediacy of the events--even surreal events--and make the experience more vivid for the readers.

In the line-by-line remarks below, I've pulled some specific examples of missed opportunities to place--and keep--the reader in the here-and-now. I'd say tweaking the story in this manner would be my primary suggestion.

                                                             
*FlagB*Opening
Openings are critical in any work of fiction. Some editors and agents will decide whether or not to read your submission based only on your first sentence.

Your opening is your best opportunity to draw readers into your fictional world, to induce a dream-like state in which your words guide their imaginations. The readers become the author's active partners in imagining the fictional world, in a state of suspended disbelief. In crafting the opening of any story, it's the author's primary task to launch this fictional dream.

The other generic advice for an opening is to start in media res. Here, the entire first page--20% of the story--is narrated, and consists almost entirely of the narrator telling the reader things rather than showing any action. Certainly, we learn important things on this page, but, because they are told rather than shown, they lack the impact that they might otherwise have.

Moreover, the actual story doesn't start until the trip to the cabin starts, on page two. Again, the trip itself is narrated rather than shown. You tell us his mother humming Christian hymns rather than showing her doing so, in real time, and having him react in some way, even if it's just rolling his eyes. The same is true of his father's phone calls. Moreover, most, if not all, of the essential information on the first page, prior to the trip, could come out in dialogue in the van while they travel.

                                                             
*FlagB*Plot
The story starts with the trip to the cabin. The plot starts with the appearance of the masked invader. With this event, the protagonist has a goal: survival. The goal clear matters, so the stakes are high. Finally, there are obstacles in the form of both the invader and the increasingly weird alligators.

The conflict between goals and obstacles, together with the stakes, gives rise to tension, which is what propels the story forward. Tension increases as goals transform, stakes rise, and obstacles increase, and the events you create do a good job of this.

But, it would be good if some form of the goals were apparent at the outset. At one point late in the story, for example, the narrator says he wants to survive to "collect the life insurance" on his parents. It would be good if he ruminated on this during the drive to the cabin--that gives him a rudimentary form of the goal early in the story.

                                                             
*FlagB*Characters
There's lots of weirdness in this story. That's a good thing. You've got an unreliable narrator--another good thing, and one that's a challenge to pull off. Your narrator, besides being untrustworthy, seems pretty soulless. I'm sure that's by design, but it makes it harder for the readers to get into his head. Rather than softening him--say, by having him do a gratuitous good deed--you might make him more sympathetic by having his parents do something cruel to him on the trip. THe act of cruelty and his reaction could do much to enhance the characterization, and also to help readers get into his head.

There are apparent inconsistencies in what the narrator says is true and some of the reality he reports. For example, why did a fabulously wealth best-selling author go on vacation with his parents? Why are his multi-millionaire parents driving an 80s-vintage VW bus? Of course, the descriptions of the alligators and even the "cabin(s)" add to this surreal sense. For the most part, you do a good job of making these all surreal rather than inconsistent.

                                                             
*FlagB*Scene/Setting
I'd say this is a place where the story needs considerable attention. Indeed, it could help enhance the surreal nature of the plot. As an example, the "cabin" morphs to "cabins," then to apparently two-story structures with "cornices" on the covered walkway joining them. Finally, we learn that the "cabin" includes a barn with an old pickup, so it morphs again to a farm or estate. Because of the near-absence of scene setting, it's not clear if these are really changes, or maybe delusions, or maybe part of the surreal events. The disappearance and sudden re-appearance of the parents toward the end of the story is another anomaly, again most likely pointing to delusions or fantastical events.

I *liked* the above things. But all of this can be confusing to readers unless done with care. Setting the scene can help to ground the reader in the here-and-now as well as reveal information about character and plot. It can also help raise questions in the readers' minds about the reliability of the narrator.

                                                             
*FlagB*Grammar
*Exclaim* Comma Splices.*Exclaim*
A comma splice occurs when you have two complete sentences joined by a comma where a period or semicolon should be used. I've marked one or more of these in the line-by-line comments below.

*Exclaim* Parenthetic comments.*Exclaim*
Editors tend to deprecate parentheses in favor of the em-dash. Both tend to disrupt the natural flow, however, and therefore should be used sparingly.

                                                             
*FlagB*Just my personal opinion
One way to think of telling a story is that it is a guided dream in which the author leads the readers through the events. In doing this, the author needs to engage the readers as active participants in the story, so that they become the author's partner in imagining the story. Elements of craft that engage the readers and immerse them in the story enhance this fictive dream. On the other hand, authors should avoid things that interrupt the dream and pull readers out of the story.

All of my comments about reinforcing the here-and-now are part of the general idea of building the fictional dream.

As I said at the outset, there is much to love in this story. It's creative. It's unusual for the use of an unreliable narrator. It has a surreal plot. The ending is awesome, raising more questions than it answers and making the reader want more. While there are some embellishments that I think would improve the reader's connection to the narrator and the story, overall I liked this quite a lot. Thanks for sharing!!

                                                             
*FlagB*Line-by-line remarks
*Bullet*Your text is in BLUE.
*Bullet*My comments are in GREEN.
*Bullet*If I suggest a re-wording, it's in GRAPE.
                                                             
*Cut*So, he has no answers for me. No solutions for any of my problems.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: at this point, we still don't know what his problems, and hence goals, might be. THe sooner these are established, the better. *Exclaim*

.*Cut* He recommends heartily that I should take a vacation, which he announces to me that he is going to do soon himself with my hard-earned money. Probably sail around the world on his yacht.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: This is the only action so far, and it's narrated, as opposed to shown. Why not put the actual words in his mouth? *Exclaim*

*Cut*The most reoccurring imagery in my life is fluorescently lighted dens, where the next your-presence-is-required party is happening. Where glow sticks make up for a vital assembly-stic part of some probably underage girls’ latest Nicole Miller two-piece.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Context is everything, I suppose, but this is the narrator stating fact about his past rather than describing the here-and-now of the new scene. *Exclaim*

*Cut*I feel claustrophobic among the ancient giants,*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: telling us how he feels rather than showing. *Exclaim*

*Cut*So here I am trying to recollect the past evening*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: this mini-time reversal pulls the reader out of the here-and-now. *Exclaim*

*Cut*I shift my thoughts back to myself (how typical); my spinal cord is very sore, my vision is blurred, my fingers are cramping *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Tells us about his back, his vision, and his fingers rather than showing these things. *Exclaim*

*Cut*confronted a sight of swarming alligators, flourishing amidst the fresh water of this Bourgeois cabin-lake/resort-escape right below the ledge. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: So he's located near a swamp or bayou? These are important facts to learn midway through the story *Exclaim*

*Cut*Cloaked Concealed Figure lurking down the hallway.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: So the cloaked figure is in the same building with the narrator. *Exclaim*

*Cut*(hopefully, I haven’t forgotten to mention that I had my own cabin while my parents sojourned at a much swankier one a ways away), *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: you did forget. It would have been helpful to set the scene earlier. *Exclaim*

*Cut* if my feet slipped from that cornice.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: So his bathroom is on the 2nd floor? It seems so, from later descriptions, but this isn't clear. And what kind of "cabin" has a "cornice?" *Exclaim*

*Cut*Sheer adrenaline made the blood circulate twice its normal rate, my grip on the windowpane weakened, and I started to feel the effects of a forthcoming fatigue.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: comma splice. Also, at this point I'm uncertain if he's inside or outside, on a ledge of some kind. *Exclaim*

*Cut*Suddenly, something traveled past my left ear and embedded itself in the wood.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Again, where is the shooter and where is the narrator. We've been led to believe the ouside is concrete, but the bullet impacts wood. More scene-setting and description would help the reader visualize what's happening. Even if it's a delusion, the reader is in the narrator's head and thus needs to visualize what he thinks is happening. *Exclaim*

*Cut*I had a puzzled expression the whole time, *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: he can't see his expression, so this is a POV violation. *Exclaim*

*Cut*when a tail swiped the side of the vehicle.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: a tail of what? I assume an alligator and not Godzilla. Later, it becomes apparent that the alligators have morphed into giant-gators, but it would be helpful to have a touch of the description now to that effect. *Exclaim*




                                                             

I only review things I like, and I really liked this story. I'm a professor by day, and find awarding grades the least satisfying part of my job. *Frown* Since I'm reviewing in part for my own edification, I decided long ago to give a rating of "4" to everything I review, thus avoiding the necessity of "grading" things on WDC. So please don't assign any weight to my "grade" -- but know that I selected this story for review because I liked it and thought I could learn from studying it. *Smile*


Again, these are just one person's opinions. Only you know what is best for your story! The surest path to success is to keep writing and to be true to your muse!

Thanks again for sharing this item. Keep on writing!


Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈
http://MaxGriffin.net/
http://MaxGriffin.net/blog/
Check out
FOLDER
Thoughts on Writing  (NPL)
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#1847273 by Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈



*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
4
4
Review of The Hotel  
Review by Max Griffin ...
In affiliation with Novel Workshop Group  
Rated: E | (4.0)
Review Spot Tag


Item Reviewed: "The Hotel
Author N.Voro
Reviewer: Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈

                                                             
As always, these are just one person's opinions. Always remember Only you know what is best for your story. I've read and commented on your work as I would try to read my own. I hope you find something here useful *Smile*, and that you will discard the rest with good cheer. *Heart*

                                                             
*FlagB*What I liked best
I like stories where things are not what they seem, that end with a twist. This one falls in that category. I also like stories where the protagonist has goals that matter and faces obstacles. These elements inherently create tension, and this story twists those screws ably as well. So...there is much to like here.

                                                             
*FlagB*Plot
Timothy is a gambler who is out of luck. He's fleeing gangster debt collectors and winds up in a semi-abandoned--but still fully booked--hotel in the middle of the desert. A murderer is in the next room, but all is not quite as it first seems...

Without giving anything away, you do a good job with increasing the tension in this story. Of course, it's tension that keeps the pages turning, at least in part, so that's a strong point.

There are also some plot elements that felt tacked-on, or at least unfinished. For example, he seemed to be expecting to hear from a female, and the story spends some time showing him getting up the nerve to check with the manager to see if he has any messages. But this plot thread, once raised, just disappears. As an aside, why didn't he just call the front desk to ask about messages?

                                                             
*FlagB*Style and Voice
Mostly we stay in Timothy's point-of-view, except that it feels rather more like an omniscient narrator is telling the story. Of course, in the final page or two, the point-of-view shifts to the murderer in the adjacent room, so we don't stay strictly in Timothy's head.

When I say the story uses an omniscient narrator, I mean that the author stands outside the fictional events, looking in. The author knows the internal thoughts of all the characters; in fact, the author knows everything. In the line-by-line remarks below, I'll try to highlight some places from the text that illustrate this.

This narrative style--omniscient narration--dominated 19th century literature and continued well into the 20th. However, it has all but disappeared from commercial fiction today. About 30% of all contemporary fiction uses a first person narrator, while the overwhelming majority of the remainder uses third person limited.

Omniscient narration has many advantages, since it lets the author convey lots of information with minimal words. However, no one reads fiction to learn background information. People read fiction for the human connection with the characters: their sorrows and joys, triumphs and tragedies, loves and losses. Narration chills that connection, which is why it's so much stronger to reveal things through the words and deeds of your characters rather than by telling the readers stuff.

In third person limited, for each scene the author chooses one character to provide the point of view. The reader can know what that character sees, hears, smells, and otherwise senses. The reader can know what that character thinks, as well. But the reader has to infer these things about all the other characters through their words and deeds. The idea is that the author places the readers deep inside the head of one character, and then the readers encounter the fictional world through that character in a holistic manner, the same way we encounter the real world. That human connection, done well, will draw the reader into the story and thus into the fictional world.

A novel can--and usually does--have many point-of-view characters, but there should be only one for each scene. Each change in point-of-view risks pulling the reader out of the story, however. Thus, due to their shorter lenght, most short stories use only one point-of-view.

One of my primary suggestions for this story is to keep everything in Timothy's head. That means, for example, showing that Timothy is hot by have sweat burn his eyes and make his shirt cling to his body. Instead of telling the reader adrenalin races through him, describe the sensation. At the ending, I don't really see a purpose in switching the POV to the murderer, and I'd stay with Timothy throughout.

                                                             
*FlagB*Scene/Setting
I had some problems visualizing the scene in several instances. For example, while you describe the location as a "hotel," in some instances the descriptions make it seem like an older motel, where the doors open to the outside rather than to an interior hall or lobby.

Another problem I had was understanding Timothy's movements. He seemed to jump from one position to another without the narrative supporting the relocation. In retrospect, I wonder if this is intended to suggest that he's dreaming, where these kinds of dislocations are common. However, I'm uncertain that was the purpose and, in any case, I found this confusing.

                                                             
*FlagB*Grammar
This is clean copy. I found one or two typos--see the line-by-line remarks below. Beware, though, of passive voice. This puts your readers in a passive, receptive mood, when instead you want them to be your active partners in imagining your fictional world. For this reason, active verb forms are almost always better.

                                                             
*FlagB*Just my personal opinion
One way to think of telling a story is that it is a guided dream in which the author leads the readers through the events. In doing this, the author needs to engage the readers as active participants in the story, so that they become the author's partner in imagining the story. Elements of craft that engage the readers and immerse them in the story enhance this fictive dream. On the other hand, authors should avoid things that interrupt the dream and pull readers out of the story.

This story has great tension and a satisfactory plot, but I think it still needs some tweaking. I mentioned the point of view above, and you'll see below several places I've tagged on this. The final paragraphs suggest that a the story is a dream sequence, a possibility that I actually like, but it, too, needs some tweaking in my view. A good story is both metaphor and allegory. Your ending kind of devolves to philosophizing about these aspects of the story. Billy Wilder once said, "Let the audience add up two and two. They'll love you for it." So, in that vein, my advice is to stay in the here-and-now of the story, whether it's real or dream. Let the readers add up the story hints for the deeper meaning. They'll love you for it. Really.

I liked this story. Despite my extensive comments below, I think it's a good story that could be made even better with some relatively minor tweaks. Thanks for sharing, and keep writing!!!

                                                             
*FlagB*Line-by-line remarks
*Bullet*Your text is in BLUE.
*Bullet*My comments are in GREEN.
*Bullet*If I suggest a re-wording, it's in GRAPE.
                                                             
*Cut*Timothy was such a traveler. He was young, indecisive and always fumbling for an answer. While he wasn't bright, he also wasn't disillusioned about how he ended up here. He owed much money to the wrong type of people. When such things happen; the unwise solution is always to skip town especially after reviewing the more sensible solution of actually paying back the money, but quickly recalling to mind that the loan was appropriated due to a lack of finances in the first place.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Here, the story stops while the omniscient narrator tells the reader stuff about Timothy. It's almost always stronger to reveal information like this through the words and deeds of your characters--through action rather than narration. *Exclaim*

*Cut*He felt hot, irritated and utterly defeated*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Tells us how he feels instead of showing him swipe sweat from his browse, his shoulders slumped in despair, and a sigh heaving from his chest. *Exclaim*

*Cut*Even with his bloodshot eyes, irises obliterated by fear and with rapidly dilating pupils, *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Since he can't see his eyes, this is another example of an omniscient narrator intruding to describe things. *Exclaim*

*Cut*allowing him to identify the emerging dark apparition as a classic '72 Corvette.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Based on the earlier descriptions of a semi-abandoned hotel in the dunes, I pictured exactly that. Thus, a Corvette approaching on what is presumably a road was startling. This is one of several places where a slightly more detailed description at the start of the scene would help with continuity later. *Exclaim*

*Cut*His quivering lips dislodged the cigarette firmly held in place just seconds ago.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Is this when he dropped the cigarette? See below... *Exclaim*

*Cut*climbing the stairs two at a time.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: From the earlier descriptions, it felt like he was surveying the hotel from afar, but now we learn he must have been right there, just outside the building. *Exclaim*

*Cut*in a tiny room that lacked even the bare essentials like a peephole.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: is it a suite or a room? *Exclaim*

*Cut*Next to the stranger's feet was the burning cigarette he had forgotten to extinguish in his haste to hide inside his suite.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: At the last mention of the cigarette, he was downstairs and not outside his room. *Exclaim*

*Cut*All that was evil had manifested itself outside his door and was puffing on his cigarette which the stranger picked up*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Omniscient narrator again: he can't see the stranger puffing from his vantage point looking under the door. *Exclaim*

*Cut*The Manager's Office was the last door on the far left. He purposefully continued towards his goal, trying hard to ignore the distance, when something made him halt mid-step — the '72 Corvette. It was parked opposite the manager's office,*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Earlier, you said this was a "hotel," but this makes it sound more like a motel, with room and office doors opening directly to the parking lot rather than to a lobby. *Exclaim*

*Cut*He felt a surge of adrenaline, yanked the door open and darted inside the office. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Instead of telling the reader he felt a surge of adrenaline, describe what it felt like. Maybe "adrenalin sent pinpricks skittering down his back," for example. *Exclaim*

*Cut*The place was a mess.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Instead of telling the reader it's messy, describe it. Papers on the floor, dust piled in the corners, pizza boxes half-filled with uneaten crusts--set the scene. *Exclaim*

*Cut*But of course, the Hotel was known for its keen sense of secrecy. Tucking away murderers, gamblers and other vagrants. All cozily holed up together under one roof. Fate had a dark and twisted sense of humor. The only room that Timothy was able to book had the last minute cancellation. Cancellation by a much-wanted party by the personage situated right next door.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: How can he know this? Or is this the omniscient narrator again? *Exclaim*

*Cut*He was clearly dealing with a professional. His face grew paler with mortification. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: How can he know he's dealing with a professional? Maybe housekeeping checked his room. Also, he can't see the color of this face, so it's an omniscient narrator telling the reader it grew paler. *Exclaim*

b}*Cut*Almost instinctually, he got up from the bed and approached it, *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: He was standing outside the room, looking for the thread on the door, and now he's on the bed. You need to move him from one place to the other. *Exclaim*

*Cut*A listening device has been installed on the back of the photograph.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Tense changes from fictional past to fictional present...pick one and stick with it. Also, how does he know this? Or is he just concluding it must be true? *Exclaim*

*Cut*That being said, he knew exactly what this entailed,*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: He's acting like a listening device is a camera. I really don't get spending almost a whole page on this. *Exclaim*

*Cut*He hasn't thought so far ahead as to plan exactly what he would do the minute he would have it in his hands. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: "He hasn't...." changes tense from the fictional past to the fictional present. Stick with one or the other. *Exclaim*

b}*Cut*This is the exact moment that propels most degenerate gamblers to continue to gamble. The moment when a lousy streak briefly turns the tables around on the croupier and a glimmer of hope shines through. Brief as it may be.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: More omniscient narration... *Exclaim*

*Cut*How intrusive reality can be. Especially after an episode of deliberate forgetfulness. Such as can be caused by keeling over due to a fainting spell. A total eclipse. A blackout. And then the sudden stirrings; the eye-lid twitching’s and then the imminent return to the present. Ah, the infuriating agonies of the present.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: More omniscient narration... *Exclaim*

*Cut*The downstairs door slammed again, and the jingle of multiple keys on a key ring could be heard. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Timothy heard the jingle, so why use the passive voice? *Exclaim*

*Cut*all he could do was stand there*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: when did he stand up? *Exclaim*

*Cut*In his not knowing state he resulted to flattening himself out on the floor*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: I think you mean "resorted," not "resulted." *Exclaim*

*Cut*he completely missed the other footsteps.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Since he "completely missed" them, this is the omniscient narrator telling the reader things. *Exclaim*

*Cut*His grounded perspective would have never allowed him to see the brandished weapon or provide him with a chance to witness a gloved finger pulling back the trigger.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: describes more things Timothy can't see. *Exclaim*

*Cut*which is currently being dragged away by his next-door neighbor leaving only streaks of blood across the floor as a reminder.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: How does he know who is doing the dragging? *Exclaim*

*Cut*A deterministic glimmer shone in his eyes.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: He can't see his eyes, so this is the omniscient narrator intruding with a description. *Exclaim*

*Cut*its all a bit too late.”*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: missing apostrophe. See https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/usage/its-or-it-... *Exclaim*

*Cut*“I am a contract killer with very few morals.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Hard to believe he'd actually say this. More likely, he'd say something like, "What do I care?" or something to show he has no qualms about killing. *Exclaim*

*Cut*There is a single bullet in that gun. I am assigning you with two choices, Mr. Price. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: I have to say, it makes no sense why he'd do this. *Exclaim*

*Cut*Its an erasure of everything that has led up to this moment.”*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: missing apostrophe *Exclaim*

*Cut*“You disbelief me?”*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: disbelieve *Exclaim*

*Cut*“At the beginning of this story…*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment:...except he didn't... *Exclaim*

                                                             

I only review things I like, and I really liked this story. I'm a professor by day, and find awarding grades the least satisfying part of my job. *Frown* Since I'm reviewing in part for my own edification, I decided long ago to give a rating of "4" to everything I review, thus avoiding the necessity of "grading" things on WDC. So please don't assign any weight to my "grade" -- but know that I selected this story for review because I liked it and thought I could learn from studying it. *Smile*


Again, these are just one person's opinions. Only you know what is best for your story! The surest path to success is to keep writing and to be true to your muse!

Thanks again for sharing this item. Keep on writing!


Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈
http://MaxGriffin.net/
http://MaxGriffin.net/blog/
Check out
FOLDER
Thoughts on Writing  (NPL)
Short essays on the craft of fiction.
#1847273 by Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈



*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
5
5
Review of Jack's Solution  
Review by Max Griffin ...
In affiliation with Novel Workshop Group  
Rated: 18+ | (4.0)
Review Spot Tag


Item Reviewed: "Jack's Solution
Author Robert Edward Baker
Reviewer: Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈

                                                             
As always, these are just one person's opinions. Always remember Only you know what is best for your story. I've read and commented on your work as I would try to read my own. I hope you find something here useful *Smile*, and that you will discard the rest with good cheer. *Heart*

                                                             
*FlagB*What I liked best
I love time travel stories, and I'm gratified to see you incorporated some of my own thoughts about time travel also displacing the subject in space, "Time Travel .


                                                             
*FlagB*Opening
Openings are critical in any work of fiction. Some editors and agents will decide whether or not to read your submission based only on your first sentence.

Your opening is your best opportunity to draw readers into your fictional world, to induce a dream-like state in which your words guide their imaginations. The readers become the author's active partners in imagining the fictional world, in a state of suspended disbelief. In crafting the opening of any story, it's the author's primary task to launch this fictional dream.

Your first sentence tells the reader two facts, as opposed to showing them. The rest of the opening paragraph does a good job of putting the reader in Jack's head since you have him sensing and interacting with his environment. However, the first declamatory sentence doesn't really draw the readers in.

Secondly, he's "relishing" the "challenge." That's not the word I'd use under the circumstances. I think you need something in the opening that would foreshadow--in retrospect--what he's trying to do. We do get a direct indication that he's "the opposite" of an angel, but in fact what's motivating him is remorse over his past actions.

My suggestion would be to write this to *hint* that he's remorseful about his daughter's death and thus lead readers to suspect that he's wanting to change the past and bring her back to life. If you are careful about how to write this, it would lead to a better "aha" moment at the end.

                                                             
*FlagB*Plot
I love stories with twist endings, but they are a challenge to write. It's important to use misdirection, so that the story appears headed in one direction. Then, at the end, when you introduce the twist, all those semi-ambiguous hints from earlier suddenly flip around to a new orientation. That's why I'm suggesting you lead us to believe that he's blaming himself in some way for his daughter's death, so you show he's motivated by guilt. He could even have bloody images of dead female bodies, while thinking he was going to make things right and stop the killing. I am sure you could write this to make the twist a slam in the face as all the prior hints change direction in a single reveal.

                                                             
*FlagB*Style and Voice
THird person limited, in Jack's head. perfection.

                                                             
*FlagB*Referencing
Love the references to the last 60s.


                                                             
*FlagB*Grammar
Nothing to whine about.

                                                             
*FlagB*Just my personal opinion
Okay. I like the story. I like the plot. I even like the twist. I just think you need to tweak it to make the misdirection align better with the outcome. I've suggested one way above, but you're creative. I bet you can come up with a better one.

Thanks, as always, for sharing. Your stories never disappoint.

                                                             
*FlagB*Line-by-line remarks
*Bullet*Your text is in BLUE.
*Bullet*My comments are in GREEN.
*Bullet*If I suggest a re-wording, it's in GRAPE.
                                                             
*Cut*lamp lit surroundings. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: lamp-lit. Okay, I guess I did find something to whine about. *Exclaim*

*Cut*chatted to women with short dresses*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: chatted to or chatted with? *Exclaim*

*Cut*who looked like his grandfather*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: ears prick up. Here, the reference to "looking like his grandfather" made me suspect an even older Jack was showing up to foil his attempt to change the past. If you've not read Heinlein's "By His Bootstraps," it's a tour-de-force in time travel and Rashomon points of view. But, of course, it turned out this was just misdirection of another sort. *Exclaim*

                                                             

I only review things I like, and I really liked this story. I'm a professor by day, and find awarding grades the least satisfying part of my job. *Frown* Since I'm reviewing in part for my own edification, I decided long ago to give a rating of "4" to everything I review, thus avoiding the necessity of "grading" things on WDC. So please don't assign any weight to my "grade" -- but know that I selected this story for review because I liked it and thought I could learn from studying it. *Smile*


Again, these are just one person's opinions. Only you know what is best for your story! The surest path to success is to keep writing and to be true to your muse!

Thanks again for sharing this item. Keep on writing!


Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈
http://MaxGriffin.net/
http://MaxGriffin.net/blog/
Check out
FOLDER
Thoughts on Writing  (NPL)
Short essays on the craft of fiction.
#1847273 by Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈



*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
6
6
Review by Max Griffin ...
In affiliation with Novel Workshop Group  
Rated: 18+ | (4.0)
Need a review? Visit
Review Spot Glyph


*Smile* Hi. Max again. Thanks for inviting me to read another of yourstories. I enjoyed reading this one and wanted to share some thoughts with you about it.

Item Reviewed: "S'more good, clean, harmless fun.
Author SonofDrogo
Reviewer: Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈

                                                             
As always, these are just one person's opinions. Always remember Only you know what is best for your story. I've read and commented on your work as I would try to read my own. I hope you find something here useful *Smile*, and that you will discard the rest with good cheer. *Heart*

                                                             
*FlagB*What I liked best
I thoroughly enjoyed this humorous piece on the disastors fun of camping with children. In tone and style, it reminded me of the slices-of-life that make David Sedaris' tales so engaging. If you're unfamiliar with him, I can highly recommend his tongue-in-cheek reminiscences.

                                                             
*FlagB*Characters
Characters are the core of this story--as with all good stories. Kenny has a goal--to convince his girlfriend that kids are awesome. That clearly matters, since he seems to be serious about her and wanting a family. He's got a plan, too, involving his brother's kids and an overnight camping adventure. Mayhem ensues.

You mentioned Lord of the Flies in passing, but I admit that novel came to mind almost as soon as you established the plot. Victoria represents civilization--ironically she's "Piggy" in the novel. The children are, of course, innocent savages, and our narrator, Kenny, represents "Ralph," confident in the wisdom of adults. The plot devolves more into a Marx Brothers--or I Love Lucy sitcom--farce and less into the Heart of Darkness, but that's what makes it enjoyable. Indeed, I'd almost suggest retitling this "Lord of the S'mores."

                                                             
*FlagB*Style and Voice
First person, in Kenny's head. No slips. I do wish you'd found a way to name Kenny earlier--in the first sentence if possible. Naming him helps put readers in his head.

                                                             
*FlagB*Grammar
I won't bother you with whining about commas and related trivia. I found nothing here that was distracting.

                                                             
*FlagB*Just my personal opinion
One way to think of telling a story is that it is a guided dream in which the author leads the readers through the events. In doing this, the author needs to engage the readers as active participants in the story, so that they become the author's partner in imagining the story. Elements of craft that engage the readers and immerse them in the story enhance this fictive dream. On the other hand, authors should avoid things that interrupt the dream and pull readers out of the story.

You will see in the line-by-line comments that I found only one minor thing on which to remark. But...I've still got some bigger comments. Please bear with me as these are fairly lengthy if less consequential. This is a fine story, and my comments are relatively minor in the bigger scheme of things. They have to do with the basic idea of the fictional dream and the structural implications of this concept on putting a story together. There's nothing wrong with this story, but I think rearranging some of the elements could make it more powerful. So, here goes.

Structurally, the first paragraph frames the story, with hints of a warning from his brother Jack and conflict with Victoria. The three stars after this paragraph tell us there's a change in scene, and it's immediately apparent that there's a time-reversal, too, since Jack is now warning our (still nameless at this point) narrator.

I get that you are foreshadowing with the first paragraph, and that the first and final two paragraphs frame the story. But, as you might guess since I'm commenting on it, I have reservations about this strategy.

The first paragraph is the author's best opportunity to launch the fictional dream in the readers' imaginations. To do this, readers should be grounded in the POV character's head and in the here-and-now of ongoing events in the story. Instead, we've got what turns out to be an opening reflecting on events-about-to-be-told followed by a flashback to the conversation with Jack.

Don't get me wrong. Flashbacks can be an author's friend, especially in a novel. But they are extremely difficult to accomplish in a short story precisely because they break the connection with the here-and-now before it's fully formed in the readers' minds. Indeed, in the second paragraph we jump from the here-and-now to the here-and-then. This break makes it harder for the reader to stay engaged.

Further, just a few short paragraphs later, we have another break to a new place, time, and set of characters when Vickie rubs the stains on her pant-leg. We start with her disembodied voice, so we're not grounded in place or time. We're probably still in Kenny's head, especially since you used the subjective "whined" for a dialogue tag, but I'd recommend starting this scene with Kenny sensing or in some way interacting with his environment before Vickie speaks. that gives you an opportunity to firm up the point-of-view in the new scene, and to orient the readers in time and place, and other circumstances. I note in passing that the same comments apply to the earlier scene where Jack renders his warning.

The rest of the story is where the main action occurs, and the narrative is engaging and, in fact, quite funny. I think it would be even more effective without the flashback and with a touch more attention to orienting the readers to the here-and-now at the start of the story and the start of the main scene. I apologize for my over-wordy explanation of my reasoning.

Thanks for sharing this tale. I sympathize with Kenny, even though I've wisely never taken children on a camping trip. I admire the courageous folks who do so! It takes real talent to relate a story like this and make it fun to read, so I hope you continue writing this kind of thing!

                                                             
*FlagB*Line-by-line remarks
*Bullet*Your text is in BLUE.
*Bullet*My comments are in GREEN.
*Bullet*If I suggest a re-wording, it's in GRAPE.
                                                             
*Cut*but she’s gonna love your kids, and when she sees what a great uncle I am and how much fun kids can be, I’ll make her see that raising kids isn’t the huge dangerous risk she thinks it is.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Beware repeating words and phrases as it runs the risk of making your prose seem monotone. Here, "kids" repeats three times in close proximity. *Exclaim*

                                                             

I only review things I like, and I really liked this story. I'm a professor by day, and find awarding grades the least satisfying part of my job. *Frown* Since I'm reviewing in part for my own edification, I decided long ago to give a rating of "4" to everything I review, thus avoiding the necessity of "grading" things on WDC. So please don't assign any weight to my "grade" -- but know that I selected this story for review because I liked it and thought I could learn from studying it. *Smile*


Again, these are just one person's opinions. Only you know what is best for your story! The surest path to success is to keep writing and to be true to your muse!

Thanks again for sharing this item. Keep on writing!


Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈
http://MaxGriffin.net/
http://MaxGriffin.net/blog/
Check out my essay   on short stories.



*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
7
7
Review by Max Griffin ...
In affiliation with Novel Workshop Group  
Rated: 18+ | (4.0)
Review Spot Review


Item Reviewed: "When the Blood Moon Rises: Part 1
Author Dawnshade
Reviewer: Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈

                                                             
As always, these are just one person's opinions. Always remember Only you know what is best for your story. I've read and commented on your work as I would try to read my own. I hope you find something here useful *Smile*, and that you will discard the rest with good cheer. *Heart*

                                                             
*FlagB*What I liked best
There is certainly much to love here. First, the prose is lovely. It flows well, and I loved the use of language. Second, you clealy have a richly detailed and well-thought-out fictional world. Finally, you have a complex and detailed plot. All of these contribute to making a fine piece of work.

I confess that I stopped reading at the end of chapter one. This reviewing service has a 4000 word limit for a reason: critiquing is hard work, and my concentration flags after about 4000 words. I'd be happy to read more, but please submit in bite-sized chunks. Thanks!

                                                             
*FlagB*Style and Voice
This chapter uses an omniscient narrator, in which the author stands outside the fictional events, looking in. The author knows the internal thoughts of all the characters; in fact, the author knows everything.

This narrative style dominated 19th century literature and continued well into the 20th. However, it has all but disappeared from commercial fiction today. About 30% of all contemporary fiction uses a first person narrator, while the overwhelming majority of the remainder uses third person limited.

Omniscient narration has many advantages, since it lets the author convey lots of information with minimal words. However, no one reads fiction to learn background information. People read fiction for the human connection with the characters: their sorrows and joys, triumphs and tragedies, loves and losses. Narration chills that connection, which is why it's so much stronger to reveal things through the words and deeds of your characters rather than by telling the readers stuff.

In third person limited, for each scene the author chooses one character to provide the point of view. The reader can know what that character sees, hears, smells, and otherwise senses. The reader can know what that character thinks, as well. But the reader has to infer these things about all the other characters through their words and deeds. The idea is that the author places the readers deep inside the head of one character, and then the readers encounter the fictional world through that character in a holistic manner, the same way we encounter the real world. That human connection, done well, will draw the reader into the story and thus into the fictional world.

A novel can--and usually does--have many point-of-view characters, but there should be only one for each scene.

In the line-by-line remarks below, you'll several places where I've noted the point-of-view has changed by saying things like, "now we're in Casimir's head." Each little shift in point of view disrupts the fictional dream playing in the reader's head and thus disrupts the connection with the fictional world and the story.

My main suggestion is that for each scene you pick one character to provide the point of view and stick with it. In the throne room scene, we hop from one character to another, which also makes it hard to figure out what's happening. My guess is that Casimir might be the ideal POV character for this scene, since he can think (and "know") things about the other participants that will give context. Sticking with one character will give more unity and coherence to the scene as well.

In later scenes, you can use other characters to provide the POV, although I wouldn't over-do it. It takes readers a while to get comfortable with a new POV character and slip into their skin. Too many POV characters will disrupt your story.

                                                             
*FlagB*Characters
Hitchcock famously said that the audience cares about the characters. The plot, he continued, is there to give the characters something to care about. He was speaking of cinema, of course, but the same applies to the written word.

Characters need to want something--to have a goal. The goal has to matter. Bad things will happen if the characters fail--these are the stakes. Finally, there need to be obstacles. The conflict between goals, stakes, and obstacles produces tension and gives rise to plot. The author increases tension by adding goals, piling up obstacles, and raising the stakes. This produces drama, and leads to the ultimate resolution of the novel.

Your prologue gives Kyvan's goals. By the end of the first chapter, the stakes and his obstacles are clear. Similarly, we learn Astiroth's goals in chapter one. I get that he's the villain, but giving him goals makes him a more credible, fully dimensional character.

The other two primary characters, Casimir and Aneira, are not yet as clear. No doubt you know the goals, stakes, and obstacles for these characters. This is early in the novel, so not knowing them isn't critical. However, if you elect to use one of them as a POV character, then the relationship with the reader becomes much more intimate and revealing these deeper aspects of their characterization is critical.

At the beginning of a novel, all three elements--goals, stakes, and obstacles--should be present. These might not be the same throughout the novel, but they should still be there.

Finally, while the prologue reveals Kyvyn's goals, it does so in a letter. In other words, it's narrated--told--instead of shown through his actions. We don't really get to see him interacting with another character at all--I don't count being ensnared by Astiroth's whips as "interaction." Thus, it's hard for a reader to have an emotional connection with him.

Finally, the opening paragraphs with the little girl and her brother were too short to really make a conntection with either character and seemed disjoint from the rest of the action in the chapter. Again, I'm sure you have a connection all plotted out, but right now it just feels tacked on. It's not long enough for the readers to make a real emotional connection with the characters, and thus to care about what happens to them. By the end of the chapter, I fear readers will have forgotten all about them.

                                                             
*FlagB*Plot
I will say that this chapter launches what promises to be the primary conflict of the novel in vivid and exciting ways.

                                                             
*FlagB*Hook
Disaster is always a good hook--but whose disaster? Readers will need a reason to care what happens to Casimir, Aniera, Kyvyn, etc.

                                                             
*FlagB*Scene/Setting
As I said above, lovely prose that sets the scene and the mood with wonderful detail.

                                                             
*FlagB*Grammar
I don't read for grammar, although I usually find somethint to whine about. I think I found one typo. This is well done.

                                                             
*FlagB*Just my personal opinion
One way to think of telling a story is that it is a guided dream in which the author leads the readers through the events. In doing this, the author needs to engage the readers as active participants in the story, so that they become the author's partner in imagining the story. Elements of craft that engage the readers and immerse them in the story enhance this fictive dream. On the other hand, authors should avoid things that interrupt the dream and pull readers out of the story.

All of my comments above about point of view, plot, and characters are about launching and maintaining the fictional dream playing in the readers' heads. The best novels not only have exciting plots and strong characters, they are memorable precisely because the readers have formed an emotional connection to the events and the characters. It's the point of view that's the key to that connection. That's why I spent so much time on this aspect above. You've got all of the other aspects nailed. Thanks for sharing, and do keep on writing. This looks like it's going to be an awesome project!

                                                             
*FlagB*Line-by-line remarks
*Bullet*Your text is in BLUE.
*Bullet*My comments are in GREEN.
*Bullet*If I suggest a re-wording, it's in GRAPE.
                                                             
*Cut*He understood her trepidation.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: This suggests we are in the nameless young man's point of view... *Exclaim*

*Cut*her thoughts for a moment captured by the hopeful future Bleiz described. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: but here, we've hopped to the girl's point of view... *Exclaim*

*Cut*Draped over the window hung a pair of burgundy curtains.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Page three, and we have a new scene and--presumably--a new point of view. The descriptions here are strong, but there is no point of view at all. Who is seeing the curtains and man sleeping? Whenever you launch a new scene, it's important to establish the point-of-view in the first paragraph, or in the first sentence if at all possible. *Exclaim*

*Cut*A knock on the door broke him from his concentration *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: In this paragraph, it becomes apparent that we're supposed to be in the head of the man who was sleeping at the start of the scene... *Exclaim*

*Cut*How she hated this man and everything he represented; his lack of morals, formal etiquette, and cockiness racked at her core.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Here we've hopped into Aneira's head. *Exclaim*

*Cut*Astiroth bowed in apology before retreating to his chamber to dawn his armor of the royal guard. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: typo: I think you mean "don" his armor. *Exclaim*

*Cut*To obtain such authority was Astiroth's deepest desire. Every waking minute, the man craved power over the other pathetic weaklings in Etias. There was never enough for him; his lust for control unceasing. However, Astiroth hid this while in the Reaper's castle. He forced his deranged ideologies to the most posterior part of his mind to turn on the facade of 'weakness.'*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: This tells us about Astiroth's goals and desires. It's almost always more effective to reveal these things through the words and deeds of the characers, i.e., to show them. *Exclaim*

*Cut*Aneira always felt the eyes of the king could seep into one's thoughts.*Cut*
*Exclaim*My Comment: hops into Aneira's head. *Exclaim*


*Cut*He had seen firsthand what happens when one peers into that being's eyes. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: In Astiroth'shead. *Exclaim*

*Cut*He preferred not to be another statistic to that deadly glance.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Back in Astiroth's head. *Exclaim*

*Cut*Casimir's vision filled with white spots as he attempted to regain his footing.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: in Casimer's head. *Exclaim*

                                                             

I only review things I like, and I really liked this story. I'm a professor by day, and find awarding grades the least satisfying part of my job. *Frown* Since I'm reviewing in part for my own edification, I decided long ago to give a rating of "4" to everything I review, thus avoiding the necessity of "grading" things on WDC. So please don't assign any weight to my "grade" -- but know that I selected this story for review because I liked it and thought I could learn from studying it. *Smile*


Again, these are just one person's opinions. Only you know what is best for your story! The surest path to success is to keep writing and to be true to your muse!

Thanks again for sharing this item. Keep on writing!


Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈
http://MaxGriffin.net/
http://MaxGriffin.net/blog/
Check out my {x-link:http://maxgriffin.net/LongMusings.shtml}


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
8
8
Review by Max Griffin ...
Rated: E | (4.0)
Review Spot Review


Item Reviewed: "Maia and the Rhino
Author MichaelH
Reviewer: Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈

                                                             
As always, these are just one person's opinions. Always remember Only you know what is best for your story. I've read and commented on your work as I would try to read my own. I hope you find something here useful *Smile*, and that you will discard the rest with good cheer. *Heart*

I see that you just joined Writing.Com, so I'd like to welcome you to the site. This is a great place to post your work, and to learn and grow as an author. It's also a great place to make new friends, both professional and personal. As you explore the rich resources available here, don't hesitate to drop me a note if you have questions or would like advice.


                                                             
*FlagB*What I liked best
There is much to love here, but I think I'll choose your opening paragraph as my favorite thing. You name your point-of-view character, you put readers in her head through subjective sensations (shivering in the misty cold, the thumping of her heart), and you establish the basic elements of the plot. You also begin orienting the reader in time and place, although since Maia doesn't know where she is, the best you can do is describe what she sees, hears, smells, and otherwise senses.

Openings are among the hardest things to write, and you've done a great job!

                                                             
*FlagB*Opening
Openings are critical in any work of fiction. Some editors and agents will decide whether or not to read your submission based only on your first sentence.

Your opening is your best opportunity to draw readers into your fictional world, to induce a dream-like state in which your words guide their imaginations. The readers become the author's active partners in imagining the fictional world, in a state of suspended disbelief. In crafting the opening of any story, it's the author's primary task to launch this fictional dream.

                                                             
*FlagB*Characters
Characters have goals: something they strive to attain. The goals matter: something bad happens if they don't achieve their goals. Those are the stakes. Finally, there are obstacles to achieving those goals. Tension arises in the conflict between goals, stakes, and obstacles. Authors increase tension by deepening the goals, raising the stakes, or adding obstacles. Tension is the key to momentum in your novel and to keeping the pages turning.

Maia has a goal--figure where she is and how she got here. The problem is that there are no clues, and no one to talk to. While "going home" is a goal that probably matters, We don't know much about her, which makes it harder for readers to care about her problem. The obstacles are also pretty vague, since there are no clues.

We do have the mysterious rhinoceros charge, but the apparently threatening beast turns out to be friendly. Then, at the end, another mystery danger arises, again with no context.

Don't get me wrong. I like mystery. But readers need something handle they can grasp to pull them into the story. For example, Maia could do something endearing that establishes her bona fides as a character. "Saving the cat," i.e., doing a gratuitous good deed, is one way to do this. Standing her ground against the rhino charge might be another way to show gallantry in the face of hopeless odds. But we need some insight into who Maia is, what motivates her beyond her current circumstances, and why we should cheer for her success.

                                                             
*FlagB*Plot
The broader plot appears to be a variation of the "Hero's journey," or, in this case, teh "Heroine's journey." However, the traditional approach would be to first show Maia in her ordinary world, even if only briefly, and then follow that with the precipitating incident that launches her journey. Think of Luke in Star Wars prior to the Storm Troopers killing his aunt and uncle. That's also a way to give readers insight into who Maia is and what makes her tick.

In any case, the heroin's journey provides a great platform for an adventure, with endless possibilities for variation.

                                                             
*FlagB*Hook
Hooks are what keep the pages turning to the next chapter. Some are more effective than others. I've found that this short blog provides good insight into the various kinds of hooks: http://thebookdoctorbd.blogspot.com/2011/09/using-...

                                                             
*FlagB*Style and Voice
Third person limited, in Maia's head.

                                                             
*FlagB*Referencing
As noted above, i could use more context. Be careful, though, to keep the context in the here-and-now of the story and avoid narrating background or history. Tell the readers enough that they can understand what's going on in the unfolding events of the story, and reveal the information through the words and deeds of your characters.

                                                             
*FlagB*Scene/Setting
Sufficient for staging. However, I almost always want more, not because I want more description but because I want to see the POV character interacting with her environment. That interaction can reveal much about character and plot.

                                                             
*FlagB*Grammar
*Exclaim* Commas.*Exclaim*
I thought I saw some comma errors. I'm terrible with commas, so I won't try to point them out. Instead, here's a great reference:
http://owl.english.purdue.edu/handouts/grammar/g_c...
I've read it, and they're still a mystery to me. I hope it helps!

Be careful about repeating words and phrases, as this runs the risk of making your prose seem monotone. I've flagged a couple of places in the line-by-line remarks below.

                         
*FlagB*Just my personal opinion
One way to think of telling a story is that it is a guided dream in which the author leads the readers through the events. In doing this, the author needs to engage the readers as active participants in the story, so that they become the author's partner in imagining the story. Elements of craft that engage the readers and immerse them in the story enhance this fictive dream. On the other hand, authors should avoid things that interrupt the dream and pull readers out of the story.

For the most part, you've done a good job of putting the reader inside Maia's head and hence inside your fictional world. This chapter has lots of action and mystery, and provides a good start to what promises to be an exciting adventure. Thanks for sharing, and do keep writing!!

                                                             
*FlagB*Line-by-line remarks
*Bullet*Your text is in BLUE.
*Bullet*My comments are in GREEN.
*Bullet*If I suggest a re-wording, it's in GRAPE.
                                                             
*Cut*She breathed in the chilly air, and tried to convince herself that this could only be a dream.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: no comma *Exclaim*

*Cut*A tall mound of earth, more than 10 feet tall, rose from the floor. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: "tall" repeats. You could just eliminate the first instance. *Exclaim*

*Cut*She walked carefully towards it, looking both ways in a vein attempt to spot any dangers *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: vain attempt.... *Exclaim*

*Cut*Large insects scurried this way and that, carrying leaves down into the labyrinthine structure.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: "large" is a vague adjective that gives no sense of scale. Are they "large for ants," or are they a foot long? *Exclaim*

*Cut*Sitting on her grandfathers knee in his study, *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: missing apostrophe *Exclaim*

*Cut*She was helpless and scared. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: This tells us how she's feeling. Can you show it? Maybe her eyes dot this way and that, and her body quakes, or her knees turn to water. *Exclaim*

*Cut*as it ran and it bellowed a deafening roar. Maia ran, putting whatever distance she could *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: "ran" repeats... *Exclaim*

*Cut*Still sat beneath it, she held out her hand, *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Did you mean SHE sat? Also, in the prior sentence the rhino is a "he," while here you use "it." *Exclaim*

                                                             

I only review things I like, and I really liked this story. I'm a professor by day, and find awarding grades the least satisfying part of my job. *Frown* Since I'm reviewing in part for my own edification, I decided long ago to give a rating of "4" to everything I review, thus avoiding the necessity of "grading" things on WDC. So please don't assign any weight to my "grade" -- but know that I selected this story for review because I liked it and thought I could learn from studying it. *Smile*


Again, these are just one person's opinions. Only you know what is best for your story! The surest path to success is to keep writing and to be true to your muse!

Thanks again for sharing this item. Keep on writing!


Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈
http://MaxGriffin.net/
http://MaxGriffin.net/blog/
Check out my {x-link:http://maxgriffin.net/LongMusings.shtml}


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
9
9
Review by Max Griffin ...
In affiliation with Novel Workshop Group  
Rated: 18+ | (4.0)
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Hi! My name is Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈 , and I'm here to review your entry in the "Show, Don't Tell Contest

Item Reviewed: "A Day In The Life...
Author Carly - Happy Spring!
Reviewer: Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈

                                                             
As always, these are just one person's opinions. Our contest has multiple judges, and final rankings are always the result of a group process. Remember Only you know what is best for your story. I've read and commented on your work as I would try to read my own. I hope you find something here useful *Smile*, and that you will discard the rest with good cheer. *Heart*

                                                             
*FlagB*What I liked best
You did a great job building tension as Roscoe surveys the chaos in his home. The way you released that tension was awesome and unexpected! Nice job.

                                                             
*FlagB*Effective showing of the information in the prompt.
(25 points out of 30)
For the most part you did a good job here, except for a subtle point. There are several instances where Roscoe "felt," "took in" or otherwise "sensed" something. It's almost always more immediate and intimate for the readers to directly describe what he sensed. You've done a great job establishing Roscoe as the point-of-view character, so readers will readily infer that whatever you describe is something he "sensed." If you want to emphasize he sensed it, you can always have him react--which you do in several places. So, you'll see several places in the line-by-line remarks where I've tagged these "I felt..." phrases.

                                                             
*FlagB*First Paragraph
(15 points out of 20)
Starting in media res--in the middle of action--is almost always good advice. Your opening, however, starts with a mini-flashback: "I'd left at 5:30..." I think it would be stronger to place the morning's departure in the here-and-now, having him kiss her goodbye, and maybe even having her wake and tell him what she plans to do do for the day--information that appears a couple of paragraphs down in another mini-flashback. I think it would be stronger still to start your story with Roscoe's arrival home, discovering the mess. He can be anticipating the aromas of homemade bread and stew, only to be met with the noxious vomit stench.

Flashbacks can be an author's friend, but they disrupt the linear flow of events. That's especially challenging in a short story, where the readers are just becoming accustomed to your fictional world. I'd suggest rephrasing where possible to avoid disrupting the here-and-now, and especially to avoid narrating past events.


                                                             
*FlagB*Creativity and Originality
(15 points out of 15)
The messy house was part of the scenario. YOu used it to show the loving relationship between Ruby and Roscoe. That was unexpected and brilliant.

                                                             
*FlagB* Effective showing--as opposed to telling--for the whole story
(13 points out of 15)
Mostly did a great job here, but see above for "I felt/sensed" phrases.

                                                             
*FlagB*Plot and Pacing
(10 points out of 10)
Awesome here.

                                                             
*FlagB*Technical Proficiency (such as grammar, spelling, proof-reading, and following the contest rules)
(8 points out of 10)
A couple of minor typos--see the line-by-line remarks.

                                                             
*FlagB* Total Points
86 points out of 100

                                                             
*FlagB*Just my personal opinion
One way to think of telling a story is that it is a guided dream in which the author leads the readers through the events. In doing this, the author needs to engage the readers as active participants in the story, so that they become the author's partner in imagining the story. Elements of craft that engage the readers and immerse them in the story enhance this fictive dream. On the other hand, authors should avoid things that interrupt the dream and pull readers out of the story.

I liked your story, and especially liked the positive ending. Thanks for sharing!!!

                                                             
*FlagB*Line-by-line remarks
*Bullet*Your text is in BLUE.
*Bullet*My comments are in GREEN.
*Bullet*If I suggest a re-wording, it's in GRAPE.
                                                             
*Cut*I could already feel the heaviness of the day*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Phrases like "I felt" tell rather than show what he's feeling. If, instead, you'd said, "The heaviness of the day weighed on me," that shows "heaviness" acting on him--although I'm not sure what "heaviness" means in this case. Humidity? Or just general miasma from a bad night's sleep?

BTW, if you want to emphasize he "felt" it, you can have him react in some way--stretching, for example, or wiping sweat from his brow. *Exclaim*
.

*Cut*She had said that was one of her plans for today, *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: There's a mini-time-reversal here. A nonlinear time flow runs the risk of pulling readers out of the here-and-now of ongoing events. *Exclaim*

*Cut*But when I walked in the door, I was met with chaos. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Passive voice. Perhaps "chaos confronted me..." *Exclaim*

*Cut*A retched stench greeted me and I almost gagged as I came in the side door.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: I think you meant "wretched," but I'm uncertain. "Retch" is, of course, a verb meaning "vomit," and "retched" would be the past tense, so I think you might mean the "stench of vomit..." *Exclaim*

*Cut*The retched smell had not abated, *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Here, I'd suggest "retching" to make the verb "retch" into an adjective. *Exclaim*

*Cut*I could feel my nails biting into my flesh.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: "I could feel..." -- see above. *Exclaim*

*Cut*My eyes took in the dishes piled high in the sink, abandoned.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: I'd just describe directly what he sees. You've done a great job using subjective terms and sensations, so the reader is in his head. They will infer that whatever you describe is something he has seen. Instead of filtering what he sees, it's almost always more immediate and intimate for the readers to describe it directly. *Exclaim*

*Cut*Then stood a moment to drag in lungful's of fresh air. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: No apostrophe. *Exclaim*

*Cut*Hearing the television, I moved into the living room*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: This is another place where describing the sound directly is more immediate and intimate for the readers, followed by his reaction--moving to the living room. *Exclaim*

*Cut*Exhaustion seemed to drip off her*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: I'd consider directly describing how she looked--dark circles under her eyes, drooping eyelids, pinched mouth, weary eyes, straggly hair, etc. *Exclaim*

*Cut*I looked down at my usually pulled together wife and felt the anger drain out of me. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: another "felt." *Exclaim*

*Cut*"I'm sorry, Ruby." I wheezed out when I could finally catch my breath. "You win for worst day." I made my way over to the sofa and dropped down beside her as our chuckles mingled. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: The story is really over when they manage to laugh at what's happened--that dissipates the tension you'd done such a good job building. I'd suggest wrapping things up with a short statement--like the very last sentence of your story, which tells us all will be well.. We don't really need the details you put in--we know as soon as they both laugh all will be well. *Exclaim*


                                                             

I'm a professor by day, and find awarding grades the least satisfying part of my job. *Frown* Even though I'm scoring this for a contest, I'm also reviewing in part for my own edification. Thus, as is my usual policy, I have given a rating of "4" to all contest entries. So please don't assign any weight to my "grade." *Smile*


Again, these are just one person's opinions. The contest has more than one judge, so you shouldn't assign inordinate weight to any one review. Regardless, remember that only you know what is best for your story! The surest path to success is to keep writing and to be true to your muse!

Thanks again for our contest. We hope you found it to be fun and a learning experience. Keep on writing!


Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈
http://MaxGriffin.net/
http://MaxGriffin.net/blog/
Check out my {x-link:http://maxgriffin.net/LongMusings.shtml}


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
10
10
Review by Max Griffin ...
In affiliation with Novel Workshop Group  
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
Review Spot Review


Item Reviewed: "Ryuki's Rage chapter 4
Author JulianBenabides
Reviewer: Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈

                                                             
As always, these are just one person's opinions. Always remember Only you know what is best for your story. I've read and commented on your work as I would try to read my own. I hope you find something here useful *Smile*, and that you will discard the rest with good cheer. *Heart*

                                                             
*FlagB*What I liked best
This chapter does an awesome job of showing the gap between the impoverished populace and the wealthy tourists. You've also shown Ryuki is aware of the difference and, without rancor, yearns for the life the tourists. There's also a passage that reveals the sexist nature of the culture, and another the visceral homophobia. Many authors would be tempted to tell readers these things in an info-dump, but there's none of that here, just skillful showing information through having your characters interact with their environment. Readers get to experience this world holistically, through Ryuki. That's difficult to achieve, and you did an excellent job of it.

                                                             
*FlagB*Plot
As nearly as I can tell, this chapter only marginally advances plot and character. The major purpose seems to be to further the readers' understanding of the fictional world. Certainly the pervasive poverty, sexism, and homophobia are important features, as are the loving relationships between Ryuki and his mother. Even the relationship with Rajiana, while edgy, has an undertone of affection.

                                                             
*FlagB*Hook
THe god's accusing fingers are a pretty good hook. You might consider sharpening it by having him comment on the impressive physiques of the male gods...

                                                             
*FlagB*Style and Voice
First person, Ryuki, no slips.

                                                             
*FlagB*Referencing
See above. Awesome work here.

                                                             
*FlagB*Grammar
*Exclaim* Comma Splices.*Exclaim*
A comma splice occurs when you have two complete sentences joined by a comma where a period or semicolon should be used. I've marked one or more of these in the line-by-line comments below.

*Exclaim* Adverbs.*Exclaim* You don't overuse adverbs (well, there are over 40), but they show up enough to be worth a comment. You know what Stephen King says about adverbs . I think he is correct. Adverbs are often a shorthand in which the author falls into "telling" rather than "showing." I try to use zero adverbs, since otherwise I'd sprinkle them all over the place like fairy dust. *Rolleyes* I've marked one or more places in the line-by-line comments below where I think you might consider a more precise verb or a touch more description rather than an adverb.

There are, in fact, a lot of adverbs here. "Quickly" appears ten times, for example. I tried to mark many of them, again to give you sense of how noticeable these are.

*Exclaim* "I saw..." phrases*Exclaim*
As I've discussed before, places where the text reads "I saw...," or "I heard...," or any form of "I sensed..." are a form of telling. It's almost always more immediate and intimate for readers to directly describe what he sensed. Since you've put the reader in Ryuki's head, they will infer he "sensed" it. I tried to mark as many of these instances as I could in this chapter, just to give you a sense of how pervasive this is.

The "I saw..." phrase is one I *still* sometimes fight with in my own stories. I didn't realize it was a problem I needed to work on until one of my most perceptive critics and friends did to one of my chapters what I've just done to yours. I thought it wasn't a big deal until I saw all the places I'd inadvertently used this construction. So, I'm not trying to be obnoxious by pointing all of these out, just helpful in the same way TimM was to me.

                                                             
*FlagB*Just my personal opinion
One way to think of telling a story is that it is a guided dream in which the author leads the readers through the events. In doing this, the author needs to engage the readers as active participants in the story, so that they become the author's partner in imagining the story. Elements of craft that engage the readers and immerse them in the story enhance this fictive dream. On the other hand, authors should avoid things that interrupt the dream and pull readers out of the story.

You'll see below I made a lot of nit-picky comments on this chapter, but be assured that I think this is an *excellent* chapter. I wished for a slightly stronger connection to the plot (see goals, obstacles, and stakes), but you've covered that--just in ways that are pretty subtle. The actual comments I've made are all pretty much at the level of copy-editing rather craft. In any case, I hope you find them useful.

Good chapter and please keep them coming.

                                                             
*FlagB*Line-by-line remarks
*Bullet*Your text is in BLUE.
*Bullet*My comments are in GREEN.
*Bullet*If I suggest a re-wording, it's in GRAPE.
                                                             
*Cut*"Why do I have to wear shoes?" I grumbled.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: For reasons I've noted before, I recommend against starting a new chapter or new scene with a disembodied voice speaking. *Exclaim*

*Cut*She quickly went to her work bench, where unfinished shirts and pants lay in neat piles. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: One of ten instances of "quickly" *Exclaim*

*Cut*I could see my toes bulging out from the fabric.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: I could see.... *Exclaim*

*Cut*I saw taxis with rusted wheels and electric tape that held cardboard over broken windows. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Good to show poverty, but note the "I saw..." *Exclaim*

*Cut*The high pitched whine of a hover-bike filled the air- I looked and could see it coming toward me on the next block. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: "I looked" is like "I saw..." *Exclaim*

*Cut*It carried a tourist man with a beautiful tourist woman on the back. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Given what you've revealed to me about him, he'd be far more likely to focus on the man than the woman, no matter how beautiful she is. Having him focus on the man, even if he's ugly, is also foreshadowing. Maybe, for example, he's ugly despite his trim waist and lithe muscles. *Exclaim*

*Cut*when I felt something hit my ear, hard. I turned to see Rajiana, looking angry.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: "I felt" and "to see" *Exclaim*

*Cut*"Good," she growled and I saw the hint of a smile come through her angry fade.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: I saw... *Exclaim*

*Cut*I turned back to scowl at Rajiana. She glared at me with a victorious little scowl and then flicked the back of my head.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: "scowl" repeats. *Exclaim*

*Cut*The driver scowled, but said nothing. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: another instance of "scowl." *Exclaim*

*Cut*"What did I say," my mom growled, and quickly*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: One of ten instances of "quickly" *Exclaim*

*Cut*Only a few of the fans worked. The one above me slowly spun, but not quickly*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: One of ten instances of "quickly" *Exclaim*

*Cut*A large silver bus passed us,*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: "large" is one of those vague adjectives that doesn't provide scale. A more specific description would be preferable. *Exclaim*

*Cut*I wanted, so badly, to know what it was like inside that bus, but it was gone, quickly*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: I liked the sense of yearning here, and the further contrast between the wealthy tourists and the impoverished population. But...this is one of ten instances of "quickly" *Exclaim*

*Cut*On the god's left shoulder was Varus, the goddess of lust and greed. On the god's right shoulder was Rinton, the god of truth and hard decisions.

*Cut*
*Exclaim*My Comment: The main verb in both these sentences is "was," which isn't very dynamic writing. Perhaps they "perch," or "leer." *Exclaim*

*Cut*"Mom," I said, pulling gently*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Another weak verb/adverb combination. *Exclaim*

*Cut*I felt a large, sweaty hand on my shoulder and looked to see Mr. Demarco.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: "I felt" and "I looked"... *Exclaim*

*Cut*And if you live a bad life, then when you die, you come back as a woman."*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Nice job revealing their (despicably sexist) culture. *Exclaim*

*Cut*I felt a sudden sting in my ear then, and quickly*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: "I felt" followed by one of ten instances of "quickly" *Exclaim*

*Cut*I felt my face flush red with the insult. I reached out and quickly*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: "I felt" and another of the ten instances of "quickly" *Exclaim*

*Cut*"What is wrong with you today,"*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: missing question mark. *Exclaim*

*Cut*When my vision returned to normal I saw Rajiana's face, smiling in victory.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Missing comma after "normal." Also, note the "I saw." *Exclaim*
*Cut*"Don't think you're so smart either, Rajiana," my mom said and quickly*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: One of ten instances of "quickly" *Exclaim*

*Cut*"Ow..." Rajiana mutterred,*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: typo *Exclaim*

*Cut*"Ok," Rajiana and I said softly.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: "Said softly" is almost the canonical weak verb/adverb combo. Perhaps they muttered, or whispered, or murmured, for three more precise verbs. *Exclaim*

*Cut*I looked at Rajiana- the mischievous smile now gone, *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: "I looked..." *Exclaim*

*Cut*We all sat down on hard, metal pews. The temple filled quickly*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: One of ten instances of "quickly" *Exclaim*

*Cut* My mother quickly kissed the back of her wrist *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: One of ten instances of "quickly" *Exclaim*

*Cut*Others did it two or three times very quickly*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: One of ten instances of "quickly" *Exclaim*.

*Cut*but I felt Rajiana slide her hand across my lap and then take hold of my hand. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: "I felt..." *Exclaim*


                                                             

I only review things I like, and I really liked this story. I'm a professor by day, and find awarding grades the least satisfying part of my job. *Frown* Since I'm reviewing in part for my own edification, I decided long ago to give a rating of "4" to everything I review, thus avoiding the necessity of "grading" things on WDC. So please don't assign any weight to my "grade" -- but know that I selected this story for review because I liked it and thought I could learn from studying it. *Smile*


Again, these are just one person's opinions. Only you know what is best for your story! The surest path to success is to keep writing and to be true to your muse!

Thanks again for sharing this item. Keep on writing!


Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈
http://MaxGriffin.net/
http://MaxGriffin.net/blog/
Check out my {x-link:http://maxgriffin.net/LongMusings.shtml}


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
11
11
Review by Max Griffin ...
In affiliation with Novel Workshop Group  
Rated: E | (4.0)
Review Spot Review


Item Reviewed: "Audio-Visual Communication
Author Ezekiel Stephens
Reviewer: Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈

                                                             
As always, these are just one person's opinions. Always remember Only you know what is best for your story. I've read and commented on your work as I would try to read my own. I hope you find something here useful *Smile*, and that you will discard the rest with good cheer. *Heart*

                                                             
*FlagB*What I liked best
I loved the premise for this story, where people use digitally enhanced versions of their faces in all communications. It's a wonderful metaphor for the virtual world we live in today and has enormous potential for a powerful story.

                                                             
*FlagB*Characters
Calbiri is the only character in the story. We learn his name in the first paragraph, and that his job is to monitor faces for the government, but we don't know much more about him.

Effective fictional characters have goals, something to strive for. Something bad happens if they don't achieve their goals--these are the stakes. Finally, something stands in the way of achieving the goals, i.e., there are obstacles. Tension arises between the goals and the obstacles, and the reader cares about the results because of the stakes. Tension increases by increasing the obstacles, raising the stakes, or clarifying the goals. Goals, stakes, and obstacles are heart of tension, and tension is the engine that drives plot.

My main suggestion for this story is to figure out these things for Calibri. He doesn't have to know his goals--his lack of self-awareness might be the obstacle--but readers need to be able to figure them out.

                                                             
*FlagB*Plot
A story usually has a beginning, a middle, and an ending. You've got the basics of a beginning and a middle, but the story felt like it stopped rather than ended. I think that's partly because we don't know enough about Calibri to place what he sees in a context that's personal and relates to his situation. The ending should close a loop, even if it opens another, but there's not a loop to close here. There's an awesome premise, but I think it needs to be personalized to Calibri, his life, his needs and goals.

                                                             
*FlagB*Referencing
Great idea on face-enhancement technology and its implications for social interaction. I'd like to see this in action, in a here-and-now scene where the technology hides who someone--probably Calibri--really is.

It's also not clear why the government is monitoring faces. That's vaguely sinister, but without more information it just kind of hangs there. Is the exceptional face he sees in the story reportable to someone, for example?

                                                             
*FlagB*Scene/Setting
No information on setting, either. Is Calibri in a room crowded with other face-monitors, or is he at home? If the latter, what's his home like? Revealing the setting can advance both character and plot, if done with planning and insight. So, my advice is to have a light touch, but to give some information on where Calibri is located to orient the readers.

                                                             
*FlagB*Grammar
*Exclaim* Comma Splices.*Exclaim*
A comma splice occurs when you have two complete sentences joined by a comma where a period or semicolon should be used. I've marked one or more of these in the line-by-line comments below.

                                                             
*FlagB*Just my personal opinion
One way to think of telling a story is that it is a guided dream in which the author leads the readers through the events. In doing this, the author needs to engage the readers as active participants in the story, so that they become the author's partner in imagining the story. Elements of craft that engage the readers and immerse them in the story enhance this fictive dream. On the other hand, authors should avoid things that interrupt the dream and pull readers out of the story.

I really liked the idea of this story. The implication of face-enhancing technology on digital communications is fascinating, and could be the basis for dozens of stories. It's original and creative. This story, with its kind of melancholy tone, is one of several fictional representations of this idea. I liked the originality and detail you present, and encourage you to pursue this with more stories. Thanks for sharing, and keep writing!

                                                             
*FlagB*Line-by-line remarks
*Bullet*Your text is in BLUE.
*Bullet*My comments are in GREEN.
*Bullet*If I suggest a re-wording, it's in GRAPE.
                                                             
*Cut*The images had reached a height of perfection, they were like angels. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: comma splice *Exclaim*

*Cut*Audio-Visual Communication...that was what this was called. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: This launches several paragraphs of background information.

This is a fascinating idea, and surely these details are needed to understand the story. However, the challenge is that they are all told in narrative form, like an essay or encyclopedia article.

Editors and agents have a name for this kind narrative explanation: the "info-dump." It stops the story cold and breaks the fictional dream playing the readers' heads.

Instead, it's better to reveal this kind of detail through the words and deeds of your characters, by showing them interacting with their environment. *Exclaim*


*Cut*Calibri looked at another assortment of video feeds*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: here's where the story re-starts. *Exclaim*

                                                             

I only review things I like, and I really liked this story. I'm a professor by day, and find awarding grades the least satisfying part of my job. *Frown* Since I'm reviewing in part for my own edification, I decided long ago to give a rating of "4" to everything I review, thus avoiding the necessity of "grading" things on WDC. So please don't assign any weight to my "grade" -- but know that I selected this story for review because I liked it and thought I could learn from studying it. *Smile*


Again, these are just one person's opinions. Only you know what is best for your story! The surest path to success is to keep writing and to be true to your muse!

Thanks again for sharing this item. Keep on writing!


Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈
http://MaxGriffin.net/
http://MaxGriffin.net/blog/
Check out my {x-link:http://maxgriffin.net/LongMusings.shtml}


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
12
12
Review of Domino  
Review by Max Griffin ...
In affiliation with Novel Workshop Group  
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
Review Spot Review


Item Reviewed: "Domino
Author SherritheWriter
Reviewer: Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈

                                                             
As always, these are just one person's opinions. Always remember Only you know what is best for your story. I've read and commented on your work as I would try to read my own. I hope you find something here useful *Smile*, and that you will discard the rest with good cheer. *Heart*

                                                             
*FlagB*What I liked best
I liked the theme of the story. Bullying is an important topic that can have tragic consequences. Having the bullies pay a price for their covert actions provides a satisfying sense of justice.

                                                             
*FlagB*Plot
Addison has betrayed her best friend, and her bullying has had tragic consequences. She's anguished both over the deed itself and the terror of being caught. The resulting tension builds nicely, as her fear moves from speculation, to receiving threatening online messages, to her final panic at the ending. Good job on twisting the tension ever tighter through the story.

                                                             
*FlagB*Style and Voice
Third person, in Addison's head until the final paragraphs. See my comments in the line-by-line remarks below.

                                                             
*FlagB*Scene/Setting
We have almost no scene setting, especially at the outset. Later we learn Addison is in a dorm room, and later still that she's on a higher floor. You don't need a lot of detail on setting, but there should be enough to orient the reader. In addition, setting can contribute to advancing character and plot. For example, what's in her room can tell us about who Addison is. Is the room messy or neat? Does she have pictures of kittens on the wall, or slasher movie posters? The fact that her room is on an upper floor is important to the plot, so knowing that earlier, even in the opening paragraph, might be useful.

As I said, you don't need a lot, and what you include should advance character or plot in some fashion, but I think you need more than is currently present.

                                                             
*FlagB*Just my personal opinion
One way to think of telling a story is that it is a guided dream in which the author leads the readers through the events. In doing this, the author needs to engage the readers as active participants in the story, so that they become the author's partner in imagining the story. Elements of craft that engage the readers and immerse them in the story enhance this fictive dream. On the other hand, authors should avoid things that interrupt the dream and pull readers out of the story.

The above applies to my comments on setting and to some of the line-by-line comments below. This story has a powerful theme with awesome tension. I think you can make it even better with a few minor tweaks.

Thanks for sharing, and keep on writing!!

                                                             
*FlagB*Line-by-line remarks
*Bullet*Your text is in BLUE.
*Bullet*My comments are in GREEN.
*Bullet*If I suggest a re-wording, it's in GRAPE.
                                                             
*Cut*“What if they find us?” Addison asked.

“They won’t,” Brianna said crossly from the cell phone. “Stop worrying.”*Cut*
*Exclaim*My Comment: Openings are critical in any work of fiction. Some editors and agents will decide whether or not to read your submission based only on your first sentence.

Your opening is your best opportunity to draw readers into your fictional world, to induce a dream-like state in which your words guide their imaginations. The readers become the author's active partners in imagining the fictional world, in a state of suspended disbelief. In crafting the opening of any story, it's the author's primary task to launch this fictional dream.

On the plus side, you name your characters, we learn they are conversing on the phone, and learn something of the basic plot.

However, an opening should also orient the readers, answering at least some of the basic who, what, when, where, why, and how questions. For this reason, starting with disembodied voices speaking is not generally a good idea. It's usually better to start with your point-of-view character doing, sensing, or feeling. For this reason, I'd add a touch more about how Addison is feeling and where she is located prior to having anyone speak.
*Exclaim*


*Cut*“County police.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Usually, counties have "sheriffs" and municipalities have "police." *Exclaim*

*Cut*She heard voices murmering *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: typo: murmuring *Exclaim*

*Cut*Detective Grace Milone swore under her breath, grabbing the radio from her belt. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Here, the point of view changes to the Detective. The tension actually releases when Addison falls to what will clearly be her death, so I'm not sure you need this coda at the end. My suggestion is to leave the source of the messages open. Perhaps one of her other friends "knows what she did last week," to paraphrase the movie title, and now plans to expose them all. Or perhaps it was a delusion, due to Addison's guilty conscience. Or--least likely but most scary--maybe it was a ghost in the machine. If you subtly suggest all three possibilities and let readers reach their own conclusion, I think you'll have a stronger story. *Exclaim*


                                                             

I only review things I like, and I really liked this story. I'm a professor by day, and find awarding grades the least satisfying part of my job. *Frown* Since I'm reviewing in part for my own edification, I decided long ago to give a rating of "4" to everything I review, thus avoiding the necessity of "grading" things on WDC. So please don't assign any weight to my "grade" -- but know that I selected this story for review because I liked it and thought I could learn from studying it. *Smile*


Again, these are just one person's opinions. Only you know what is best for your story! The surest path to success is to keep writing and to be true to your muse!

Thanks again for sharing this item. Keep on writing!


Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈
http://MaxGriffin.net/
http://MaxGriffin.net/blog/
Check out my {x-link:http://maxgriffin.net/LongMusings.shtml}


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
13
13
Review of Agent  
Review by Max Griffin ...
In affiliation with Novel Workshop Group  
Rated: ASR | (4.0)
Review Spot Review


Item Reviewed: "Agent
Author Angustia
Reviewer: Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈

                                                             
As always, these are just one person's opinions. Always remember Only you know what is best for your story. I've read and commented on your work as I would try to read my own. I hope you find something here useful *Smile*, and that you will discard the rest with good cheer. *Heart*

                                                             
*FlagB*What I liked best
I really liked this quixotic little piece. There is more unsaid than said here, and the barest of hints as to meaning. Searching for self is, I think, at the heart of this piece, along with the snippet of e e cummings verse in your WDC biography.

I found this piece more akin to poetry than fiction, despite it's structure with dialogue and action. Every word counts, and understanding lurks in the shadows, along with the Agent.

                                                             
*FlagB*Plot
This story starts as an enigma--who are Peter and the agent? What brings them together? What are sources of the agent's wounds? But then hints percolate that the agent and Peter are the same, contradictory aspects of a single individual. Other hints point to the agent--or maybe Peter--being a psychotic delusion. Other hints point to a contrived universe, perhaps like that of The Matrix. At the end, though, I think this is an exploration of the aforementioned verse by cummings.

                                                             
*FlagB*Style and Voice
Third person limited, in Peter's head. No slips.

                                                             
*FlagB*Scene/Setting
This is pretty sparse. My preference would be for a touch more, but not much. Setting can advance character and plot if done correctly and with care--that's what I'm thinking of.

                                                             
*FlagB*Grammar
*Exclaim* Comma Splices.*Exclaim*
A comma splice occurs when you have two complete sentences joined by a comma where a period or semicolon should be used. I've marked one or more of these in the line-by-line comments below.

                                                             
*FlagB*Just my personal opinion
One way to think of telling a story is that it is a guided dream in which the author leads the readers through the events. In doing this, the author needs to engage the readers as active participants in the story, so that they become the author's partner in imagining the story. Elements of craft that engage the readers and immerse them in the story enhance this fictive dream. On the other hand, authors should avoid things that interrupt the dream and pull readers out of the story.

This story draws us into Peter's head and his world, while at the same time making us wonder if he's delusional and if his world has any connection to reality at all. I loved the enigmatic character, although it's a big departure from the hard-core realism I usually read. There's mystery here, and a conflicted soul.

I fear that my comments are pretty sparse: a minor suggestion on the opening and a few comma splices. This is well-written.

Thanks for sharing, and keep on writing. It takes talent to write a story like this one!

                                                             
*FlagB*Line-by-line remarks
*Bullet*Your text is in BLUE.
*Bullet*My comments are in GREEN.
*Bullet*If I suggest a re-wording, it's in GRAPE.
                                                             
*Cut*"How is Ellen?" The man sitting on his desk asks. He has delicate, pale hands; they curl nicely around a half-burnt cigarette. Peter just finished cleaning them; he was meticulous enough not to leave clogs of blood under the nails, and to rub the palms with enough alcohol to make them clean again. The agent might say he doesn't mind, that he's used to it, but dirty hands disturb Peter, and if he's going to stare at the agent all night, he better be looking good.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: This is a good opening. It starts in the middle of action--Peter is cleaning the agent's wounds while having a conversation with him. You name your point-of-view character, and orient the reader in space.

One minor suggestion is to begin with Peter as opposed to the agent. He's your POV character, so the sooner you establish that, the better. Having him act or, better yet, sense something internal will put readers in his head and launch the story. As another minor point, rather than "the man," I'd name him as the agent. *Exclaim*


*Cut*"Small-talk isn't your thing, what is it you expect to hear tonight?"*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: comma splice *Exclaim*

*Cut*Peter knows he should not be as used to this as he is. Knows what normal people fear to know. Knows he is alone in the room.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Revealing insight here... *Exclaim*

*Cut*"Don't be like that, are you going to tell me this isn't some kind of indulgence from your duties, Mr. Agent? *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: comma splice *Exclaim*

*Cut*The agent laughs, it's small, like everything about him.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: comma splice *Exclaim*

*Cut*His daughter will have to make do with it for the rest of the week, there's nothing else to buy out there.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: comma splice *Exclaim*

*Cut*The white mask covers half of Agent's face, it reflects Peter's face.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: another hint... *Exclaim*

*Cut*He smiles at the only real thing in the room.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: nice...given the earlier hints that the agent and Peter are the same person, this implies only Peter is real and the rest is delusion--or illusion. *Exclaim*

                                                             

I only review things I like, and I really liked this story. I'm a professor by day, and find awarding grades the least satisfying part of my job. *Frown* Since I'm reviewing in part for my own edification, I decided long ago to give a rating of "4" to everything I review, thus avoiding the necessity of "grading" things on WDC. So please don't assign any weight to my "grade" -- but know that I selected this story for review because I liked it and thought I could learn from studying it. *Smile*


Again, these are just one person's opinions. Only you know what is best for your story! The surest path to success is to keep writing and to be true to your muse!

Thanks again for sharing this item. Keep on writing!


Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈
http://MaxGriffin.net/
http://MaxGriffin.net/blog/
Check out my {x-link:http://maxgriffin.net/LongMusings.shtml}


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
14
14
Review by Max Griffin ...
In affiliation with Novel Workshop Group  
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
Review Spot Review


Item Reviewed: "Ryuki's Rage chapter 3
Author JulianBenabides
Reviewer: Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈

                                                             
As always, these are just one person's opinions. Always remember Only you know what is best for your story. I've read and commented on your work as I would try to read my own. I hope you find something here useful *Smile*, and that you will discard the rest with good cheer. *Heart*

                                                             
*FlagB*What I liked best
Great characterizations here. First, we see Rajiana doing a good deed, helping the hapless tourist find her lost son. That's a "save the cat" moment which establishes her as good person by have her do a random good deed.

Then there's the "kick the dog" meme with Itrim and Venir, when they bully her, followed by the good-hearted Mr. Chen. Finally, Ryuki appears from the shadows to help Rajiana gather her books and escorts her home.

Excellent work.

                                                             
*FlagB*Opening
Great opening paragraph, estabilishing a new POV and orienting the reader in time and place.

                                                             
*FlagB*Plot
This doesn't advance the plot much, although you've slipped in some of Rajiana's family history, including her abusive father. This chapter is rather more character building.

Since we're in Rajiana's head for the first time, recapitulating her goals, stakes and obstacles would help to start her character arc. It would also possibly start a separate plot line for her that would merge with that of Ryuki which you launched with the prior two chapters. Indeed, the hints at her family history give a sense of what her goals, obstacles, and stakes might be. Just tweaking the *ending* to add a hook that relates to those might be sufficient to help launch her character arc.

                                                             
*FlagB*Hook
This is the only weakness that I see to this chapter: there is no hook. I think I already shared with you the blog I reference on hooks.

                                                             
*FlagB*Style and Voice
First person, in Rajiana's head. No slips.

However, I did notice several variants on "I saw..." in the text. It's almost always more intimate and immediate for the readers if you describe directly what she say, felt, or otherwise sensed. We're in her head, so readers will readily infer that she sensed whatever is happening. That little act of inference helps to draw readers into her head and hence into the fictional world. To emphasize she saw it, you can have her react in some way--as you often do. I've noted several of these instances in the line-by-line remarks below.

                                                             
*FlagB*Referencing
More details on the fictional world, given in context and through the words and deeds of your characters. Clever to reference the government and the founders via images on the currency.

                                                             
*FlagB*Scene/Setting
Good use of sensory information. The action is well-organized and clear.

                                                             
*FlagB*Grammar
*Exclaim* Adverbs.*Exclaim* You don't overuse adverbs, but they show up enough to be worth a comment. You know what Stephen King says about adverbs . I think he is correct. Adverbs are often a shorthand in which the author falls into "telling" rather than "showing." I try to use zero adverbs, since otherwise I'd sprinkle them all over the place like fairy dust. *Rolleyes* I've marked one or more places in the line-by-line comments below where I think you might consider a more precise verb or a touch more description rather than an adverb.

                                                             
*FlagB*Just my personal opinion
This is a good chapter. It's almost a self-contained little story that could stand on its own. But that's a problem, in that it's also almost disconnected from the earlier chapters and the plot that was developing, plus there is no hook at the end. I don't know where this is headed, but the "scene/sequel" model in the blog I mentioned above should help you tweak this to give a hook into the next Rajiana chapter. (You don't have to hook into the Ryuki chapter.)

I have very few comments in the line-by-line remarks. This is well-written. Thanks for sharing, and I look forward to the next installment.

                                                             
*FlagB*Line-by-line remarks
*Bullet*Your text is in BLUE.
*Bullet*My comments are in GREEN.
*Bullet*If I suggest a re-wording, it's in GRAPE.
                                                             
*Cut*But I saw his shadow keep moving down the street and breathed a sigh of relief.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: an instance of "I saw..." as noted above. *Exclaim*

*Cut*I could see her face twisted with worry*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: another instance. *Exclaim*

*Cut*Tourists are weird, I thought to myself,*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: No need for the thought tag. We're in her head, so the comment about tourists is necessarily her thinking it. *Exclaim*

*Cut*moving inbetween cars as they passed.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: I flagged "inbetween" as a typo for the missing space. However, the same construction appears later, so I now wonder if it's an indication of dialect? *Exclaim*

*Cut*I saw Itrim and Venir standing on the corner, looking bored. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: another "I saw." Maybe they are "loitering on the corner," eliminating the need to tell us they "look bored. *Exclaim*

*Cut*and I felt a hand on my shoulder.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: "I felt..." is like "I saw..." *Exclaim*

*Cut*and I felt a hand on my shoulder.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: "I felt..." is like "I saw..." *Exclaim*
*Cut*I turned around to see Itrim and Venir.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Another "I saw..." Maybe she turned around to "face" them, which gives a sense of her intention along with the action? *Exclaim*

*Cut*I felt a tear run down my cheek.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: "I felt..." *Exclaim*


*Cut*"The noodles were very good," I said softly.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: "said softly" is almost the canonical example of weak verb/adverb combination. She could have murmured, or mumbled, or whispered, for a few examples. *Exclaim*


                                                             

I only review things I like, and I really liked this story. I'm a professor by day, and find awarding grades the least satisfying part of my job. *Frown* Since I'm reviewing in part for my own edification, I decided long ago to give a rating of "4" to everything I review, thus avoiding the necessity of "grading" things on WDC. So please don't assign any weight to my "grade" -- but know that I selected this story for review because I liked it and thought I could learn from studying it. *Smile*


Again, these are just one person's opinions. Only you know what is best for your story! The surest path to success is to keep writing and to be true to your muse!

Thanks again for sharing this item. Keep on writing!


Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈
http://MaxGriffin.net/
http://MaxGriffin.net/blog/
Check out my {x-link:http://maxgriffin.net/LongMusings.shtml}


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
15
15
Review of 911  
Review by Max Griffin ...
In affiliation with Novel Workshop Group  
Rated: 18+ | (4.0)
Need a review? Visit
Review Spot Glyph


*Smile* Hi. My name is Max. Thanks for asking me to read your story. I enjoyed it and wanted to share some thoughts with you.

Item Reviewed: "911
Author JJDel
Reviewer: Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈

                                                             
As always, these are just one person's opinions. Always remember Only you know what is best for your story. I've read and commented on your work as I would try to read my own. I hope you find something here useful *Smile*, and that you will discard the rest with good cheer. *Heart*

                                                             
*FlagB*What I liked best
The narrator of your story shows commitment to his profession and compassion for those he serves, even in the face of tragedy. He's an awesome character, and one readers will cheer for.

                                                             
*FlagB*Characters
This story is a day in the life of the narrator, a paramedic in a medium-sized city. As I noted above, I liked the character, but for him to succeed as a fictional character we need slightly more information about him.

Hitchcock famously said that the audience cares about the characters. The plot, he continued, is there to give the characters something to care about. There's truth to that in fiction as well as cinema.

Characters have goals: something they strive to attain. The goals matter: something bad happens if they don't achieve their goals. Those are the stakes. Finally, there are obstacles to achieving those goals. Tension arises in the conflict between goals, stakes, and obstacles. Authors increase tension by deepening the goals, raising the stakes, or adding obstacles. Tension is the key to momentum in your novel and to keeping the pages turning.

The information that's missing from the narrator is precisely his goals. We know he loves his job. He tells us that in the opening paragraph. He says he's sometimes tempted to walk off the job, but he never does because he loves it. That implies to me that he's achieved his goal: he's in a job he loves. It's stressful, as we see in the story, but the stress is an obstacle he implies he's overcome.

In order for a story to work, there needs to be tension, which arises from conflict. There's certainly tension at the very end, when he meets with the mother, but it's disconnected from the rest of the story prior to this final call. In the first half of the story, there's no tension at all. Since the readers care about the characters, something about the character needs to be at risk in order for the story to have effective tension.

So, I'd suggest givng some thought to the narrator's goals, the stakes, and the obstacles. Create tension from the conflict between goals and obstacles, and then increase the tension by either increasing the stakes, increasing the obstacles, or refining the goals. You've got the framework for doing that, since the calls you describe escalate in risks to the victims. But the narrator feels emotionally detached until the final scene where he meets the mother.

                                                             
*FlagB*Plot
This may be an accurate presentation of the day of a paramedic--I have no way of knowing. But, to quote Tom Clancy, fiction is different from real life. Fiction needs to make sense. This feels like a string of unrelated incidents. The incidents escalate, and they could be tied together by the narrator's being more engaged, but right now the story doesn't have an organic feel.

Now, I admit there might be elements tying these all together that I've missed. I noted that I thought the narrator felt detached, but I think that's a consequence of the fact that most of the story is told via narrated summary. If we were deeply inside the narrator's head, that detachment would go away. One way to get there might be the goals/stakes/obstacles meme I suggested above, but there are other possibilities.

                                                             
*FlagB*Style and Voice
You first emailed me in connection with the "Show, Don't Tell Contest, so it shouldn't be too much of a surprise how many of the line-by-line remarks below relate to showing as opposed to telling.

Mostly, we've got a first person narrator here using the fictional present. However, through the first half to three quarters of the story, this reads like an after-action report rather than a story. A story shows the joys and sorrows, triumphs and tragedies, loves and losses of the characters. It's more than just reporting what happened and what was said. A first person narrator should be even more intimate and immediate than a third person, but instead this one feels distant even when we learn important and meaningful things about him. That derives from the fact that so much of the story is told rather than shown.

Ordinarily, I wouldn't refer you to one of my essays on the subject, but in this case I think the examples in "Just One Point of View might be helpful for you to look at.

                                                             
*FlagB*Just my personal opinion
One way to think of telling a story is that it is a guided dream in which the author leads the readers through the events. In doing this, the author needs to engage the readers as active participants in the story, so that they become the author's partner in imagining the story. Elements of craft that engage the readers and immerse them in the story enhance this fictive dream. On the other hand, authors should avoid things that interrupt the dream and pull readers out of the story.

There's much to love about this story. The narrator is sympathetic. The situations he's in are full of drama and potential for pathos. Tweaking the prose in the direction of more intimacy through deeper showing, deeper connection to the here-and-now, would make this a powerful tale indeed. It's almost there, and deserves the extra effort.

Thanks for sharing, and by all means keep writing!!!

                                                             
*FlagB*Line-by-line remarks
*Bullet*Your text is in BLUE.
*Bullet*My comments are in GREEN.
*Bullet*If I suggest a re-wording, it's in GRAPE.
                                                             
*Cut*I really love my job. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Openings are critical in any work of fiction. Some editors and agents will decide whether or not to read your submission based only on your first sentence.

Your opening is your best opportunity to draw readers into your fictional world, to induce a dream-like state in which your words guide their imaginations. The readers become the author's active partners in imagining the fictional world, in a state of suspended disbelief. In crafting the opening of any story, it's the author's primary task to launch this fictional dream.

It's generally a good idea to start in media res, in the middle of action. This first paragraph, on the other hand, contains no action. Instead, it summarizes, in narrative form, some facts about the narrator. This makes it what editors sometimes call an info-dump: a place where the story stops while the author tells the readers things.

These might be important things for the readers to know. If so, however, the way to convey that information is by putting your characters in motion, interacting with each other and with their environment. That interaction reveals the information through the words and deeds of your characters--it shows the information.
*Exclaim*


*Cut*It is seven o’clock in the morning and I am stocking my ambulance. I am waiting for my partner, Kane Dalton, to arrive. I climb out of the ambulance satisfied that we have enough supplies and the ambulance is spotless. Kane walks over to me and he wants to know if I need help with the stocking. I let Kane know that the ambulance is all set and that we are ready to go. We climb into the ambulance and we announce to dispatch that we are on the air. We are ready for our first call.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: This second paragraph is where the story starts. Your narrator is doing something--stocking the ambulance. We meet his partner, Kane, and they discuss their day. They call dispatch and announce their readiness to be on call.

But notice that we don't actually hear the words of their conversation. Instead, we're told they had a conversation and what they discussed. If this is important, then we should hear the words they speak, see their facial expressions and body language, maybe know what the narrator is smelling or extraneous sounds he's hearing. Putting the words in their mouths, describing facial expressions, tone of voice, and so on are showing the information as opposed to telling it.

Finally, we don't yet know the name of your point-of-view character. It's easy enough to have Kane utter the name as part of greeting him--which is another reason for showing the actual words that Kane speaks. Knowing the narrator's name will help draw readers into his head and hence into your fictional world.

Oh, and we don't know the POV character's gender, either. I've assumed it's male because I'm male, but "he" could be a "she." *Exclaim*


*Cut*Dispatch gives us an easy call to start our day with. It is an elderly woman who fell out of her chair.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: This is a great little incident. It shows the narrator being both compassionate and professional. He's caring, he takes to help the woman, and tries to assure that there is nothing to be embarrased about. These all reveal important things about his character and help to put the readers on his side.

However, as with the prior paragraph, the entire incident is narrated. We don't see the team entering her apartment, hearing her calls. They don't smell the urine and feces. We don't learn any details about the apartment--is it neat or messy? Are there pictures of family and friends? Perhaps some indication of her husband? Little details can reveal things not only about her character but about your narrator: these are the things he notices and you can show his reactions to relics of her life. We don't learn that she lives alone until the narrator tells us--after he's left the apartment. Surely he deduced this on entering, or learned it from the building superintendent. In any case, it's one of the reasons that they spent time.

Also, don't have the narrator tell us that he spent extra time and why. Let the readers infer the reason--compassion for the woman. If they spent extra time, maybe have dispatch complain about how long it took and then have them be defensive about the woman's situation. Again, show, don't tell. *Exclaim*


*Cut*Kane and I are sent on call after call for several hours. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: This paragraph is summary narration, too, but in this case I think it's okay. Here, the purpose is just to summarize a series of stressful events. You've established essential information about character and stress in the prior incident, to the purpose here is just to illustrate how the pattern repeated through the day. The point being that there is a place for summary notation, even though your story should primarily show events happening in the here-and-now, as they evolve, instead of telling about them. *Exclaim*

*Cut*It is two o’clock in the afternoon now.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: This incident is now the heart of the story. It's especially important here to avoid summary narration and focus on showing events as they transpire.

For example, you might have the narrator stretch. Maybe they pull over waiting for the next call, and he can't keep his eyes open. After he drifts off, he jerks away to the blare of dispatch calling.

They race to the scene, careening through traffic. Who is driving? Maybe they just miss a vehicle running a light, and adrenalin jitters out his fingers. Be INSIDE the narrator's head during the drive, his heart pounding, his breath racing, the siren blaring in his ears.

Describe the vicitm "trapped in the windshield." Is he half-in and half-out? Is he screaming? Is there blood? What does he look like? Do his eyes roll in fear? What does it smell like? How does the narrator feel, seeing all these things? Is he still excited, like on the drive, or is he calm now, professional but tense, eager to do his job and save the victim.

What do the police and fireman say? The actual words, not what they "reported," which is narrated summary. Are there onlookers kibbitzing, maybe taking pictures with mobile phones? How does he feel about that?

The point is that the description here feels like more like an after-action report as opposed to the chaos of the here-and-now of the actual event. Being in the moment is the most fundamental part of showing the story.
*Exclaim*


*Cut*This poor boy needs Kane and I and he needs us at this very moment.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment:...needs Kane and me... *Exclaim*

*Cut*Logan asks in a horse voice*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: typo: hoarse voice *Exclaim*

*Cut*We arrive at the hospital and the two doctors ask why I did not pronounce*Cut* *Exclaim*My Comment: Again, you're telling us, in narrated form, what the two doctors asked rather than putting the actual words in their mouths. *Exclaim*

*Cut*“Ma’am, your son asked me to give you a message.”

“What is it?”*Cut*
*Exclaim*My Comment: Here, at last, we actually hear the words people speak. This is so much more powerful than summarizing what they said. The emotional content in this part of the story is effectively shown. My only suggestion is put in an occasional dialogue tag, so we know who is speaking, and possible to put in some facial expressions or other nonverbal cues from the mother. *Exclaim*

                                                             

I only review things I like, and I really liked this story. I'm a professor by day, and find awarding grades the least satisfying part of my job. *Frown* Since I'm reviewing in part for my own edification, I decided long ago to give a rating of "4" to everything I review, thus avoiding the necessity of "grading" things on WDC. So please don't assign any weight to my "grade" -- but know that I selected this story for review because I liked it and thought I could learn from studying it. *Smile*


Again, these are just one person's opinions. Only you know what is best for your story! The surest path to success is to keep writing and to be true to your muse!

Thanks again for sharing this item. Keep on writing!


Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈
http://MaxGriffin.net/
http://MaxGriffin.net/blog/
Check out my essay   on short stories.



*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
16
16
Review of A Stranger Calls  
Review by Max Griffin ...
In affiliation with Novel Workshop Group  
Rated: E | (4.0)
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*Smile* Hi. My name is Max.Thanks for asking me to read your story. I enjoyed it and wanted to share some thoughts with you.

Item Reviewed: "A Stranger Calls
Author Victor L. Rolling Jr.
Reviewer: Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈

                                                             
As always, these are just one person's opinions. Always remember Only you know what is best for your story. I've read and commented on your work as I would try to read my own. I hope you find something here useful *Smile*, and that you will discard the rest with good cheer. *Heart*

                                                             
*FlagB*What I liked best
I love stories with a twist. Here, the tension builds nicely in this short piece right up to the--apparent!--release when Blake appears at the door. Then, wham! The twist comes. Nice work!

                                                             
*FlagB*Opening
Openings are critical in any work of fiction. Some editors and agents will decide whether or not to read your submission based only on your first sentence.

Here, we start with a poetic image of thunder and lightning. I liked it, but it appears before anything else happens and, in particular, before we meet Brendon. Thus, it's an omniscient narrator, standing outside the story, telling us about the lightning and thunder. This puts the readers outside the story, looking in, too. Instead, you want the readers inside your fictional world, imagining it along with you, the author.

The most effective way to put your readers inside your story is to first put them inside the head of your point-of-view character--in this case, Brendon. Thus, if you start with Brendon acting or, better yet, sensing something internal, that will put the readers inside his head and launch a fictional dream playing in their heads. Once they're in Brendon's head, it'll be him thinking about the thunder and lightning, and they'll be *inside* the story.

Some other important features of an opening involve orienting the readers. At least some of the who/what/when/where/how/why questions should be answered in your opening. In particular, we don't know where Brendon is at until somewhat later. We don't know if he's in an apartment or a house, we don't know anything about the interior, time of day, and other elements. Who is Blake, anyway? A friend? Co-worker? An ex-lover? Someone Brendon is expecting to come over? You don't have to answer all these questions, but you as the author should know the answer to all of them. Once you know the answers and story, then you can pick and choose those things that will help draw readers into the story in a way that will enhance the plot and deepen the characterization.

Just as an example, maybe Brendon's apartment is compulsively neat, which says something about his character. Maybe there's a picture of Brendan and Blake at the beach, but the glass is cracked and the frame is bent. Little details can suggest much. It's better to suggest a tempestuous relationship via the broken glass and damaged frame than to tell the readers about it, for example. that would be assuming, of course, that there is such a relationship and it's somehow important to the plot.

                                                             
*FlagB*Plot
We've got the mysterious phone call, which repeats. The repetition increases tension. Brendon's distress increases tension. The storm outside reinforces the increase in tension. Tension is the engine that drives plot, and you've done a good job firing it up.

I have to ask, though. What's the significance of "Hello Moto?" Is that his ringtone? Or is it Blake, talking to him? Or something else? Doubtless, I'm being dense.

                                                             
*FlagB*Style and Voice
Mostly third person limited, in Brendon's head.

                                                             
*FlagB*Scene/Setting
See above. We need more, just to help us locate Brendan and later Blake in space and time.

                                                             
*FlagB*Just my personal opinion
One way to think of telling a story is that it is a guided dream in which the author leads the readers through the events. In doing this, the author needs to engage the readers as active participants in the story, so that they become the author's partner in imagining the story. Elements of craft that engage the readers and immerse them in the story enhance this fictive dream. On the other hand, authors should avoid things that interrupt the dream and pull readers out of the story.

I've already noted that I think we need a bit more clarity on location, and some sensory information for Brendon to help launch the fictional dream and draw readers into the story.

That said, however, I liked this story for the twist, which was especially effective in the way you delivered it. Thanks for sharing, and do keep on writing!!!

                                                             
*FlagB*Line-by-line remarks
*Bullet*Your text is in BLUE.
*Bullet*My comments are in GREEN.
*Bullet*If I suggest a re-wording, it's in GRAPE.
                                                             
*Cut*As he opens the door Blake spits up blood, holding his neck, falling directly upon Brendon trapping him.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: This is kind of a run-on sentence. The climax of the story is here, so I'd use shorter sentences, which read faster. That increase the pace of events for the reader, which adds to the tension and release. *Exclaim*
*Cut*Brendon's screams fade into the thunder applauding the lightning's dance across the night sky. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: I get that repeating the metaphor of the thunder applauding the lightning can add unity to the beginning and ending of the story. However, the metaphor is pretty memorable, and I think repeating it weakens it rather than connecting the beginning and end. *Exclaim*

*Cut*A dark figure drops Blake's phone in the middle of the street.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: I'm also not quite clear about the dark figure. Was he waiting on Brendon's doorstep for Blake? If so, why was Blake repeated calling and hanging up? Or did he have Blake's phone all along, and was the call supposedly from Blake really from the "dark figure?" If the latter, I'd have Brendon think that Blake's voice sounded strange when he spoke. In any case, I think we need some clarity here. I don't mind ambiguity, but the readers need some clues about what might-or might not--be happening. *Exclaim*

                                                             

I only review things I like, and I really liked this story. I'm a professor by day, and find awarding grades the least satisfying part of my job. *Frown* Since I'm reviewing in part for my own edification, I decided long ago to give a rating of "4" to everything I review, thus avoiding the necessity of "grading" things on WDC. So please don't assign any weight to my "grade" -- but know that I selected this story for review because I liked it and thought I could learn from studying it. *Smile*


Again, these are just one person's opinions. Only you know what is best for your story! The surest path to success is to keep writing and to be true to your muse!

Thanks again for sharing this item. Keep on writing!


Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈
http://MaxGriffin.net/
http://MaxGriffin.net/blog/
Check out my essay   on short stories.



*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
17
17
Review of FATE OF A SEAL  
Review by Max Griffin ...
In affiliation with Novel Workshop Group  
Rated: E | (4.0)
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*Smile* Hi. My name is Max. Thanks for asking me to read your story. I enjoyed it and wanted to share some thoughts with you.

Item Reviewed: "FATE OF A SEAL
Author Gita
Reviewer: Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈

                                                             
As always, these are just one person's opinions. Always remember Only you know what is best for your story. I've read and commented on your work as I would try to read my own. I hope you find something here useful *Smile*, and that you will discard the rest with good cheer. *Heart*

                                                             
*FlagB*What I liked best
At 488 words, this qualifies as flash fiction. It's extraordinarily difficult to write a complete story using so few words, but you pulled it off. We've even got a satisfying twist ending and a powerful theme. That's impressive!

Flash fiction has its own rules and expectations. It's almost like poetry, in that every word has to count and much is implied rather than shown. Because of this, many of my usual leads for reviews don't exactly apply, and this will be somewhat briefer than a review for a longer story.

                                                             
*FlagB*Plot
Mike is a Navy Seal. He's initially anguished about killing someone on a recent mission. His repeated inquiries about "where's Stephen" reveal their closeness and hence his devastation at learning the other members of his team died.

In the second half of the story, things are turned upside down. But Mike has had an epiphany about being a SEAL, and therein is the twist in the story and the theme.

                                                             
*FlagB*Just my personal opinion
One way to think of telling a story is that it is a guided dream in which the author leads the readers through the events. In doing this, the author needs to engage the readers as active participants in the story, so that they become the author's partner in imagining the story. Elements of craft that engage the readers and immerse them in the story enhance this fictive dream. On the other hand, authors should avoid things that interrupt the dream and pull readers out of the story.

As I noted above, I find writing flash fiction to be quite challenging. It's at least as challenging to review it. Many of the elements of craft that apply to even slightly longer works just don't apply to those less than 500 words. There's not room, for example, for much in the way of sensory information, setting, or deep characterization. The legend about Hemingway's six-word story is telling. It's not only got a beginning, middle, and end, it's got tragedy and pathos, all in six words! See here   for more information.

Still, with the careful selection of words a talented author can express much. For example, in this story the character Mike repeatedly asks about "Stephen," which establishes the close relationship between them and makes later developments even more jarring.

Nonetheless, I found a few suggestions to make that might improve the fictional dream, at least at the beginning, without adding too many words.

Thanks for sharing! I enjoyed this story. By all means, keep writing!

                                                             
*FlagB*Line-by-line remarks
*Bullet*Your text is in BLUE.
*Bullet*My comments are in GREEN.
*Bullet*If I suggest a re-wording, it's in GRAPE.
                                                             
*Cut*In the dead of night he signaled the rescue team, grabbed the nearest oxygen tank, plunged into the sea, and swam underwater until he was hauled onto the craft.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Several comments here.

First, there is no antecedent to "he." We learn a couple of lines that his name is "Mike," so I'd use it in the opening sentence. Knowing his name will help to draw readers into his head and hence into your story.

Second, the predicate has four actions: signaled, grabbed, plunged, and swam. That's one too many. Groups of three have a natural rhythm to them, but four makes this feel like a bit of a run-on.

I left out "was hauled" from the actions list, since Mike didn't do that. In fact, the passive voice "was hauled" means that the person or thing doing the hauling is unknown. Even in the case the hauler's identity is unknown, Mike could sense "hands" gripping him and hauling him into the craft, so I'd consider making the hands the active "doer" by writing, "eager hands hauled him into the craft."

Finally, I have to ask, "what craft?" Since Mike's a SEAL, I later imagined this to be an inflatable raft, but giving it a bit more clarity here would help readers to visualize what's happening and wouldn't cost much in terms of word count.
*Exclaim*


*Cut*“Mike, you are alive!”*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Who is saying this? The Psychologist who writes a note a couple of lines later? *Exclaim*

*Cut*(“PTSD and survivor’s guilt,” wrote the psychologist.)*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Throughout most of this piece, we're in Mike's head. The one exception is this parenthetic comment, where we learn what the psychologist wrote. I understand that the purpose of the parentheses is to cue the reader that this isn't in Mike's point of view. Still, I'd suggest *keeping* everything in his point of view and instead have the psychologist mutter "PSTD" while scribbling on this notepad. *Exclaim*

                                                             

I only review things I like, and I really liked this story. I'm a professor by day, and find awarding grades the least satisfying part of my job. *Frown* Since I'm reviewing in part for my own edification, I decided long ago to give a rating of "4" to everything I review, thus avoiding the necessity of "grading" things on WDC. So please don't assign any weight to my "grade" -- but know that I selected this story for review because I liked it and thought I could learn from studying it. *Smile*


Again, these are just one person's opinions. Only you know what is best for your story! The surest path to success is to keep writing and to be true to your muse!

Thanks again for sharing this item. Keep on writing!


Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈
http://MaxGriffin.net/
http://MaxGriffin.net/blog/
Check out my essay   on short stories.



*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
18
18
Review by Max Griffin ...
In affiliation with Novel Workshop Group  
Rated: 18+ | (4.0)
Need a review? Visit
Review Spot Glyph


*Smile* Hi. My name is Max. I'm here to review your entry in the "Metamorphosis Contest.

Item Reviewed: "Terence and Harold
Author Robert Waltz
Reviewer: Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈

                                                             
As always, these are just one person's opinions. Always remember Only you know what is best for your story. I've read and commented on your work as I would try to read my own. I hope you find something here useful *Smile*, and that you will discard the rest with good cheer. *Heart*

Congratulations on your second-place finish in the contest. This was a fine story and an original, modern take on the tortoise-and-hare fable.


                                                             
*FlagB*What I liked best
The contrast between Harold--the hare--and Terrence--the tortoise--was awesome. Loved the characters and their use in the story.

                                                             
*FlagB*Opening
Openings are critical in any work of fiction. Some editors and agents will decide whether or not to read your submission based only on your first sentence.

Your opening is your best opportunity to draw readers into your fictional world, to induce a dream-like state in which your words guide their imaginations. The readers become the author's active partners in imagining the fictional world, in a state of suspended disbelief. In crafting the opening of any story, it's the author's primary task to launch this fictional dream.

Your opening names the two characters, orients the readers in time and place, and sets of up the contest. This achieves most of the primary goals of an opening, but I've still got some suggestions.

After the race starts, the story alternates the point of view between the two brothers. However, in the opening, we essentially have an omniscient narrator, who knows everything about both brothers. Omniscient narrators have certainly been around for a long time, and once dominated fiction. Today, however, about 30% of fiction uses a first person narrator and the overwhelming majority of the remainder uses third person limited. In the latter, the author chooses one character to provide the point of view. Readers may know what that character senses and thinks, but must infer these things about other characters. The idea is that readers will experience the fictional world through the POV character, and the resulting "fictional dream" will be more immediate and intimate as a consequence.

Novels may and often do have more than one POV character, although the usual rule is one POV character per scene. Short stories, due to length, most often have only one POV character. The reason is that each shift in point of view requires readers to readjust their viewpoint, and runs the risk of disrupting the fictional dream. This runs the risk of pulling readers out of the fictional world and the story.

In your opening, you differentiate between the two characters. While they have distinct characteristics, these don't readily extend to their speech patterns and, truthfully, I had a hard time remembering which was which. Now, if you'd shown the opening scene in one point of view--I don't care which brother's--readers would be anchored by that person, his thoughts, his sensations, and so on. If it's Harold, for example, he'd be annoyed by Terrence's disheveled appearance and be seeing evidence of drug use. If it were Terrence, he'd likely be amused by his brother's uptight demeanor and appearance. By grounding the readers on one point of view, the differences between the two would be more apparent and persistent.

So, my first recommendation is to pick a brother to provide the POV in the opening scene in the coffee shop. I'll return to POV in the section on plot.

                                                             
*FlagB*Characters
Characters need to want something--to have a goal. The goal has to matter. Bad things will happen if the characters fail--these are the stakes. Finally, there need to be obstacles. The conflict between goals, stakes, and obstacles produces tension and gives rise to plot. The author increases tension by adding goals, piling up obstacles, and raising the stakes. This produces drama, and leads to the ultimate resolution of the novel.

Goals, stakes, and obstacles are the basic building blocks of plot.

Here, each brother has a goal, namely the well-being of their brother. It's more overt for Harold, but Terrence does as well, as evidenced by his intention to tell Harold about the spa. This is a goal that certainly matters. The obstacles are communication, expectations, and the other brother.

You do a great job of laying this all out by showing this in the words, deeds, and thoughts of your characters.

                                                             
*FlagB*Plot
Once the race starts, the plot developments in short segments where you alternate the point of view between Harold and Terrence. As I noted above, this technique runs the risk of breaking the fictional dream and pulling readers out of the story, although I understand why you want to use it here. You've correctly given readers visual cues--an extra space between each segment--to help them spot the change in POV. You also clearly start each section by putting the readers in the appropriate brother's head. So, I think this Roshomon-style approach works in this story.

The one suggestion I have, though, is that you might consider making each of these scenes a little longer. For example, the final Harold scene is only 74 words and one paragraph--that's scarcely enough to re-establish point view before we hop back into Terrence's head. I think you could make this work by showing the entire race first in Harold's POV up to where he reawakens in the spa, and then in Terrence's POV all the way to the end. That retains the contrasting approach to the race while maintaining continuity long enough to lower the risk of unsettling the readers.

                                                             
*FlagB*Referencing and setting
I loved the references to Manhattan. It's been a while since I've walked those streets, but you caught the feeling really well.

                                                             
*FlagB*Just my personal opinion
One way to think of telling a story is that it is a guided dream in which the author leads the readers through the events. In doing this, the author needs to engage the readers as active participants in the story, so that they become the author's partner in imagining the story. Elements of craft that engage the readers and immerse them in the story enhance this fictive dream. On the other hand, authors should avoid things that interrupt the dream and pull readers out of the story.

Most of my comments above pertain to the idea of the "fictional dream." I didn't really find a lot to comment on in the line-by-line remarks, which indicates to me that this is a well-crafted story.

I enjoyed this story and the creative take on the Aesop fable. This is a well-written tale, with strong characters, good motivations, and lots of local color. It's certainly well-deserving of its placement in the contest. Thanks for sharing, and do keep writing! You have talent!

                                                             
*FlagB*Line-by-line remarks
*Bullet*Your text is in BLUE.
*Bullet*My comments are in GREEN.
*Bullet*If I suggest a re-wording, it's in GRAPE.
                                                             
*Cut*The massive limo inched forward, its side dangerously close to a cab’s back end. A frantic arm poked out of the taxi, warding away the black car.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: I'm not seeing the connection, even metaphorically, between the limo and the story. It's kind of distracting, especially since neither brother seems to react to it in any way even while apparently noticing it. *Exclaim*

*Cut*Anyway, we have all the latest equipment. Also locally sourced and organic.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: The equipment is organic? *Exclaim*

                                                             

I only review things I like, and I really liked this story. I'm a professor by day, and find awarding grades the least satisfying part of my job. *Frown* Since I'm reviewing in part for my own edification, I decided long ago to give a rating of "4" to everything I review, thus avoiding the necessity of "grading" things on WDC. So please don't assign any weight to my "grade" -- but know that I selected this story for review because I liked it and thought I could learn from studying it. *Smile*


Again, these are just one person's opinions. Only you know what is best for your story! The surest path to success is to keep writing and to be true to your muse!

Thanks again for sharing this item. Keep on writing!


Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈
http://MaxGriffin.net/
http://MaxGriffin.net/blog/
Check out my essay   on short stories.



*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
19
19
Review of 5k My Way  
Review by Max Griffin ...
In affiliation with Novel Workshop Group  
Rated: 18+ | (4.0)
Need a review? Visit
Review Spot Glyph


*Smile* Hi. My name is Max. I'm here to review your entry in the "Metamorphosis Contest.

Item Reviewed: "5k My Way
Author Dominique
Reviewer: Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈

                                                             
As always, these are just one person's opinions. Always remember Only you know what is best for your story. I've read and commented on your work as I would try to read my own. I hope you find something here useful *Smile*, and that you will discard the rest with good cheer. *Heart*

Congratulations on winning the [item:2179099}! This is an awesome story, and well-deserving of the win. Thank you for sharing!


                                                             
*FlagB*What I liked best
Of course, I liked Troy best. He's a great character. Modest, determined, brave, and tolerant even in the face of bullying.

On a technical level, I thought your description of Troy in the "runner's high," where the outside world vanishes and all that's left is the rush of the wind and the rhythm of the run, was really effective.

                                                             
*FlagB*Plot
The most basic building block of plot derives from your character's goals. The goals have to matter--those are the stakes. Finally, there need to be obstacles to achieving the goals. Tension arises from the conflict between between goals and obstacles, and readers care about that tension because of the stakes.

This story does a beautiful job with this. Troy's goal is simple: to run in the race. He doesn't want to win. Finishing the race is an implicit goal, but one he doesn't even articulate. Just the joy and accomplishment of running suffices for him. His diagnosis is the the obvious obstacle. Because of the other circumstances you describe--his disability and the loathsome behavior of Mike--you invest the readers with their own stakes and their own goals. Ultimately, of course, the readers will want justice, which means Mike's hurtful words must have consequences.

                                                             
*FlagB*Style and Voice
Third person, largely in Troy's head. However, I have the sense in various places that an omniscient narrator underlies the story. I've made a few comments in the line-by-line remarks below that relate to establishing Troy as the point-of-view character and staying in there here-and-now of his experiences throughout.

                                                             
*FlagB*Scene/Setting
At the outset, you describe the race in narrtaive form, telling readers about the crowd and the various events. Later, mid-story, you describe the same features but from Troy's point of view. In the latter segment, we see the ocean of faces and the crowd of contestants. We hear the murmur of conversation. We even catch the scent of popcorn. That segment shows what the earlier paragraph tells. Showing is almost always stronger than telling, so one suggestion I have is, for example, to move the latter segment to the front of the story, showing the event rather than telling us about it.

                                                             
*FlagB*Characters
Troy is an awesome character. Readers will easily be on his side.

Mike is so totally loathsome he's almost not credible, except that I know such people exist.

I wonder if you might need an in-between character. Perhaps someone who is condescending and tries to "defend" Troy while still demeaning him. If you put in such a character, they could actually become more self-aware by the end of the story, so that Troy's achievement actually changes someone's mind. Just a thought.

                                                             
*FlagB*Just my personal opinion
One way to think of telling a story is that it is a guided dream in which the author leads the readers through the events. In doing this, the author needs to engage the readers as active participants in the story, so that they become the author's partner in imagining the story. Elements of craft that engage the readers and immerse them in the story enhance this fictive dream. On the other hand, authors should avoid things that interrupt the dream and pull readers out of the story.

Most of my comments in the line-by-line remarks below relate to the idea of the fictional dream.

Thank you for sharing this story. I absolutely loved it. I'm glad it got the recognition it deserved in the contest. Do keep writing--this story proves you have talent!

                                                             
*FlagB*Line-by-line remarks
*Bullet*Your text is in BLUE.
*Bullet*My comments are in GREEN.
*Bullet*If I suggest a re-wording, it's in GRAPE.
                                                             
*Cut*"Look who it is. You're kidding, right?" Mike taunted.

Troy was stretching for the 5k race that was held to support Cerebral Palsy and fund research towards finding a cure. The annual fundraiser was a huge turnout, attracting tourists from all around the country. Troy was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy and thankfully still able to run at a slow, steady pace. *Cut*
*Exclaim*My Comment: Openings are critical in any work of fiction. Some editors and agents will decide whether or not to read your submission based only on your first sentence.

In this opening, you name your point-of-view character, orient the readers in time and place, and establish the essentials of the story--that it will be about a race. These are all fundamental tasks in launching a story, and are to the good.

I do have some suggestions, however. First, it's generally not a good idea to launch a story with a disembodied voice speaking. It's better to first establish the point-of-view, putting readers in Troy's head, by having him sensing, acting, or reacting to his environment. Once readers are solidly in his head, they will understand that Troy is hearing the speech, and later descriptions become things he might be thinking or sensing, and so help to draw readers into his head and hence into your fictional world.

Secondly, note in the second paragraph that you tell the readers about the race, its purpose, and the turnout, along with Troy's diagnosis. It would be stronger if you could show these things, revealing them through the words and deeds of your characters.

For example, instead of saying the turnout is "huge," you could have Troy try to ignore the crowd looming behind the barriers, the murmur of hundreds of excited voices, the colorful sea of t-shirts from all across the country. That has him reacting to a scene you directly describe, converting your narrated--telling--description to showing. He might consider his own body compared to the lithe, athletic form of the other racers and think he may not be as fast off the blocks, but he at least could run slow and steady for the race, just like in his practice runs for the last six months.

You know Troy much better than I do, so I'm sure you can do better than my suggestions above. The point is to stay in the moment, which reinforces the here-and-now of the fictional world. That increases the intimacy an immediacy of the story and enhances the fictional dream.
*Exclaim*


*Cut*Mike pointed to the number on his shirt,*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: On Troy's shirt or Mike's shirt? The antecedent to "his" is technically Mike, but from context I think you mean Troy. For this reason, I'd use his name instead of "his." *Exclaim*

*Cut*Mike pointed to the number on his shirt,*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: On Troy's shirt or Mike's shirt? The antecedent to "his" is technically Mike, but from context I think you mean Troy. For this reason, I'd use his name instead of "his." *Exclaim*

*Cut*Men and women were stretching before they ran. Runners were indulging in a final protein bar and water or Gatorade. There were large canvas tents and colorful balloons scattered across the grass. Families were gathered at the vendor stands buying their children cotton candy or ice cream. Many were designating their seats or laying a blanket down to mark their spot on the grass. Dogs were running around, tails wagging begging for attention and food. Announcements were being made over a microphone. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: This is a great description. It shows that there is a large turnout, both in racers and spectators, for the race. The place for this description is above, in place of the second paragraph in your opening. *Exclaim*

*Cut*made sure to turn around and give him a nasty look.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: This is a tiny point-of-view slip, since it tells us Mike's intention. Troy is the POV character, so he can't know that. It's enough to report that Mike turned around and gave Troy a dirty look. Readers, along with Troy, will infer it's deliberate. That little step of inference helps to draw them into the story. *Exclaim*

*Cut*The sun's rays were intense;*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Beware of sentences where the primary verb is a form of "to be." Here, you might have the sun's rays beat down on him. *Exclaim*

*Cut*It wasn't long before he didn't notice the surrounding runners or the piercing cries from over-tired toddlers. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Rather than say he "didn't notice" them--which implies an omniscient narrator who does notice them--say something like they "disappeared." That would imply he did notice them at first, but now they have vanished from his perception. That keeps you inside his head. *Exclaim*

*Cut*"Well, to begin you have a warrant for your arrest, but also I'd say a pretty solid case of a disability hate crime and disturbing the peace." *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: The police officer has a warrant for Mike's arrest, Mike doesn't "have" it. However, the existence of the warrant weakens the overall point that Mike needs consequences for his actions, so my inclination is to say you don't need to include this.

Mike is also disturbing the peace, so the officer would likely escort him away for that alone. However, as despicable as Mike has been, I don't see evidence of a hate crime. Generally, a hate crime is a crime such as assault which is motivated by hate. Hateful speech by itself is not generally a crime, although it is admissible as evidence of state of mind when establishing motive. Thus, if Mike had pushed Troy--which would be assault--his prior speech would be evidence that the crime of assault was a hate crime. The simplest thing to do here is to have Mike push Troy, which would lead the officer to arrest him and charge him with assault, motivated by hate.

In most states, any unwanted touching constitutes assault. Thus, if Mike had torn up a flyer and thrown it at Troy, it would be "assault" under the law if bits of the torn paper had actually touched Troy. I'm not sure I'd use that, though, since most people will think that's not "assault." Pushing Tory certainly would be.

Sorry. One of my recent jobs was supervising the Police Department on our campus, so I'm probably over-informed on this topic. *Exclaim*



                                                             

I only review things I like, and I really liked this story. I'm a professor by day, and find awarding grades the least satisfying part of my job. *Frown* Since I'm reviewing in part for my own edification, I decided long ago to give a rating of "4" to everything I review, thus avoiding the necessity of "grading" things on WDC. So please don't assign any weight to my "grade" -- but know that I selected this story for review because I liked it and thought I could learn from studying it. *Smile*


Again, these are just one person's opinions. Only you know what is best for your story! The surest path to success is to keep writing and to be true to your muse!

Thanks again for sharing this item. Keep on writing!


Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈
http://MaxGriffin.net/
http://MaxGriffin.net/blog/
Check out my essay   on short stories.



*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
20
20
Review of A New Beginning  
Review by Max Griffin ...
In affiliation with Novel Workshop Group  
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
Need a review? Visit
Review Spot Glyph


*Smile* Hi. My name is Max. I'm here to review the story you submitted to the first round of the "Metamorphosis Contest.

Item Reviewed: "A New Beginning
Author Kotaro
Reviewer: Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈

                                                             
As always, these are just one person's opinions. Always remember Only you know what is best for your story. I've read and commented on your work as I would try to read my own. I hope you find something here useful *Smile*, and that you will discard the rest with good cheer. *Heart*

For reference, the prompt was
A poor soldier returns from war, lonely and impoverished. He--or maybe she!--meets a witch, who promises him riches if he climbs into a cave and retrieves a magic tinderbox. Inside the cave, he encounters a dog with eyes like saucers guarding the prize. When he finally opens the box, a magic blue light shines on him and his life changes forever.


                                                             
*FlagB*What I liked best
This story brimmed with action and tension. The protagonist, John, is both troubled and sympathetic, and you did a great job showing both aspects of his character. He experiences flashbacks and nightmares, and doesn't have enough to even buy meals but must instead rely on meals from a homeless shelter. Still, when he comes into a sum of money, his first thought is to donate a non-trivial part of it back to the shelter. He's a credible and sympathetic character that readers will cheer for.

                                                             
*FlagB*Plot
The plot presents the protagonist, John, with a goal, namely to locate the rest of the "treasure" by following clues he found in his room, along with the initial bundle of cash. The obstacles are the criminals (?) following him. The stakes are high, since with the remainder of the cash he can get the treatment he needs for his PTSD.

I was a little confused about what he seemed to know about the criminals. See the line-by-line comments below. The ending seemed a little strange, too, since he didn't use the funds to get the treatment as planned.

                                                             
*FlagB*Style and Voice
This story uses an omniscient narrator, in which the author stands outside the fictional events, looking in. The author knows the internal thoughts of all the characters; in fact, the author knows everything.

This narrative style dominated 19th century literature and continued well into the 20th. However, it has all but disappeared from commercial fiction today. About 30% of all contemporary fiction uses a first person narrator, while the overwhelming majority of the remainder uses third person limited.

Omniscient narration has many advantages, since it lets the author convey lots of information with minimal words. However, no one reads fiction to learn background information. People read fiction for the human connection with the characters: their sorrows and joys, triumphs and tragedies, loves and losses. Narration chills that connection, which is why it's so much stronger to reveal things through the words and deeds of your characters rather than by telling the readers stuff.

In third person limited, for each scene the author chooses one character to provide the point of view. The reader can know what that character sees, hears, smells, and otherwise senses. The reader can know what that character thinks, as well. But the reader has to infer these things about all the other characters through their words and deeds. The idea is that the author places the readers deep inside the head of one character, and then the readers encounter the fictional world through that character in a holistic manner, the same way we encounter the real world. That human connection, done well, will draw the reader into the story and thus into the fictional world.

A novel can--and usually does--have many point-of-view characters, but there should be only one for each scene. Most short stories, due to length, will have only one POV character.

You start out in John's head, and it appeared to be third person limited. But then midway in the story the POV hopped about, changing back and forth between the criminals, to Juanita, and to John. I've noted some of these hops in the line-by-line remarks below to help you find them.

It wouldn't take much in the way of revision to write the entire story in John's POV--although I admit you'd have to sacrifice a couple of mini-scenes where he's not around to see things. However, keeping the readers in John's head increases the intimacy and immediacy of events and reinforces the fictional dream playing in the reader's imagination. For this reason, my main suggestion for this story is to make the tweaks necessary to show the entire thing in John's POV.

                                                             
*FlagB*Scene/Setting
This was good--lots of strong, vivid descriptions.

                                                             
*FlagB*Characters
John is an excellent character. The bad guys fill their role, although they don't have a lot of depth. Juanita doesn't have a huge role, but she comes across strong, too.

                                                             
*FlagB*Grammar
I wasn't ready for grammar, but this appeared to be clean copy. Good work!

                                                             
*FlagB*Just my personal opinion
One way to think of telling a story is that it is a guided dream in which the author leads the readers through the events. In doing this, the author needs to engage the readers as active participants in the story, so that they become the author's partner in imagining the story. Elements of craft that engage the readers and immerse them in the story enhance this fictive dream. On the other hand, authors should avoid things that interrupt the dream and pull readers out of the story.

The suggestions I made above and below in the line-by-line remarks--on point of view and the opening paragraph--both pertain to strengthening the fictional dream playing the reader's head.

I had some questions about the plot, too. I note in passing that it only marginally followed the prompt, with several elements missing--the cave, the dog, and the blue light. In terms of the story, that's irrelevant. Had this been a contest entry, though, it would have influenced the judging.

Thanks for sharing this story. I enjoyed reading it. It was full of suspense and tension, and it's always gratifying to see the good guys win at the end. Keep on writing--you have talent!

                                                             
*FlagB*Line-by-line remarks
*Bullet*Your text is in BLUE.
*Bullet*My comments are in GREEN.
*Bullet*If I suggest a re-wording, it's in GRAPE.
                                                             
*Cut*Flaming vehicles and flashes of light defeated the night and illuminated the pride of culture lost. The funk of burning tires and flesh churned his guts. Screams of agony rent the crackle of combustion and the roar of weapons. His squad huddled among rubble or laid dead or wounded in the streets. The shriek of an incoming round rose and rose to a crescendo.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: There are some wonderful sensory images in this opening paragraph. The opening establishes that the POV character is a soldier, and one who has known violent, even horrifying combat. The opening also foreshadows the plot by giving a hints about the goals of the protagonist.

I do have some teaks to suggest, however. First, there is no antecedent to the pronoun "his," so I'd take this opportunity to name John. We learn his name a few hundred words later, but stating it now will help to draw readers into his head and hence into the story.

Secondly, we learn in the next paragraph that the vivid events of this chapter are a dream. This might work in a screenplay, but it's really hard to pull off in a short story. Unlike a movie or a play, the action of a short story all happens in the reader's head. The reader imagines the fictional world, based on the clues provided by the author. The reader becomes the author's partner in constructing the here-and-now of this world. Launching this "fictional dream" in the reader's imagination is one of the primary purposes of an opening.

By starting with an actual dream, the reader is "fooled" into launching the wrong fictional dream, one that's in the middle of combat. As soon as John wakes up, the reader has reboot the fictional dream with a new set of cues. Every reboot to the fictional dream playing in the reader's head runs the risk of disrupting that dream-like state and breaking the partnership between the author and the reader in imagining the fictional world.

This kind of opening can work, but it's tricky and difficult to pull off. In a screenplay, for example, special effects, or even a transposed shot of John squirming in bed, can cue the person watching that they are witnessing a dream. But in a short story, you don't have cameras, or music, or a foley artist, or all the other things a screenwrite and director can access. You've just got words on the page.

So, my main recommendation for the opening is to start with John waking up from the dream, not with him in the dream. He can always sit up and think, that was a bad one." He could sniff for the smell of burning flesh, listen for the crackle of combustion and the roar of weapons, but hear only silence. Or maybe hear the neighbor's TV playing the song from Jeopardy. Alex Trebek was never like his dream.

That starts in the real here-and-now, but still lets you use the great images you put into your opening paragraph. *Exclaim*


*Cut*His t-shirt was damp with sweat.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Beware of sentences where the primary verb is a form of "to be." Here, for example, maybe his sweat-soaked t-shirt clings to his clammy body. *Exclaim*

*Cut*Gusts tossed old newspapers into the air. They flew up the street, shining wet from recent rain, then drifted to the pavement to be picked up by the next gust. He thought his life was like those discarded newspapers; pushed around by random events he had no power to influence.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Great paragraph, and awesome use of simile. *Exclaim*

*Cut*After a leisurely breakfast at a diner, he had a barber cut his hair short, then strolled to a men’s shop to buy some clothes. During that time, at the hotel, two men in suits broke into a room on the third floor. With them was a woman in jeans and a sweatshirt.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: We've been in John's head so far, but here the POV abruptly shifts to his vacant room and an omniscient narrator. *Exclaim*

*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Establishes that we're in Juanita's head. *Exclaim*

*Cut*Eventually, the man they wanted saw the way they scanned the street and scrutinized the faces of the men they passed. He was slightly alarmed that they had come before he left.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Now we're in John's head. *Exclaim*

*Cut*They noticed he matched the age, height, build, and color of hair, but so did a lot of others. The things that didn’t match: the clothes and the haircut, convinced them he wasn’t the one.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Omniscient narrator, again, telling us what the pursuers know and think. *Exclaim*

*Cut*The tables were empty and the racket of pots and pans being washed could be heard. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: "could be heard" is passive voice, which puts your readers in a passive, receptive mood. We know that the "other one" is probably hearing this, so there is no need for the passive voice. Since it puts readers in a passive rather than active mode, it also works against engaging the readers' imaginations. *Exclaim*

*Cut*he discovered it occupied by the woman in the back seat and the thin man in the front. Probably, the muscular one was inside the church.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: This phrasing suggests that Holmes knows who these people are. Was that your intent? From what went before, it felt like there was no connection between them except for the fortuitous discovery of the money. *Exclaim*

                                                             

I only review things I like, and I really liked this story. I'm a professor by day, and find awarding grades the least satisfying part of my job. *Frown* Since I'm reviewing in part for my own edification, I decided long ago to give a rating of "4" to everything I review, thus avoiding the necessity of "grading" things on WDC. So please don't assign any weight to my "grade" -- but know that I selected this story for review because I liked it and thought I could learn from studying it. *Smile*


Again, these are just one person's opinions. Only you know what is best for your story! The surest path to success is to keep writing and to be true to your muse!

Thanks again for sharing this item. Keep on writing!


Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈
http://MaxGriffin.net/
http://MaxGriffin.net/blog/
Check out my essay   on short stories.



*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
21
21
Review by Max Griffin ...
Rated: 18+ | (4.0)
Review Spot Review


Item Reviewed: "The Novice Vampire Hunter
Author Robert Edward Baker
Reviewer: Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈

                                                             
As always, these are just one person's opinions. Always remember Only you know what is best for your story. I've read and commented on your work as I would try to read my own. I hope you find something here useful *Smile*, and that you will discard the rest with good cheer. *Heart*

                                                             
*FlagB*What I liked best
A twist on the vampire legend that also includes a reference to the "Christian Singles" ads I see on TV. How ironic.

                                                             
*FlagB*Opening
I actually stumbled a bit in the first couple of paragraphs. The POV was clear, but I couldn't tell who was speaking, for example. See the line-by-line remarks.

                                                             
*FlagB*Plot
A nice little plot, complete with a twist. However, what happened to Stephen? Was he "turned," too? He kind of disappeared.

                                                             
*FlagB*Style and Voice
Third person limited, in Jeremy's head. no slips.

                                                             
*FlagB*Referencing
This is England in the 1920s, from nice in-line references to the recently completed war, flappers, etc. All that's missing is all that jazz.

                                                             
*FlagB*Scene/Setting
I'm guessing you're working against a word limit since this story is exactly 2000 words. However, the settings are pretty sparse. We miss scent in the opening, for example, there's no description of the gate, and later the crypt is even more sparsely described. I'm not sure you can cut anything and still meet the word limit, though.

                                                             
Clean copy, as awlays.

                                                             
*FlagB*Just my personal opinion
This is a nice little story with a satisfying twist at the end. I didn't find anything of substance to complain about. This is your usual excellent job.
Thanks for sharing!!!!

                                                             
*FlagB*Line-by-line remarks
*Bullet*Your text is in BLUE.
*Bullet*My comments are in GREEN.
*Bullet*If I suggest a re-wording, it's in GRAPE.
                                                             
*Cut*Sir Jeremy Arkwright stepped back to avoid the phlegm flying from Mrs. Marsden’s maw. “She's a demon, sir. A blood-sucking fiend.” Mr. Marsden cowered behind her in their farmhouse kitchen as she jabbed at the two puncture marks on his neck. “And this ain’t the first time.”*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Which of the three characters is speaking here? I can eventually guess that it's Mr. Marsden, but it's not at all clear at the point of the first speech. *Exclaim*

*Cut*Stephen, his friend, leaned close and whispered, “That's the third we’ve seen. Do you believe me now?”*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Logically, this is Mr. Marsden's friend, since his name is the nearest proper noun preceding the pronoun, but from later context he's Jeremy's friend. *Exclaim*

*Cut*“With your triple first in Theology from Cambridge,*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: I thought Cambridge was more for science and Oxford for humanities? Sort of like Harvard and MIT. I suppose he could go to Cambridge to study theology, but wouldn't Oxford be more likely? *Exclaim*

*Cut*The kissing gate came into view.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: I suppose you're working against a word limit, but I'd like a sense of what it looks like. *Exclaim*

*Cut*It appears female vampires may only bite male humans and vice versa.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: no gay vampires? Who knew? After Oscar Wilde, even 1920s England would have known about gay people. *Exclaim*

                                                             

I only review things I like, and I really liked this story. I'm a professor by day, and find awarding grades the least satisfying part of my job. *Frown* Since I'm reviewing in part for my own edification, I decided long ago to give a rating of "4" to everything I review, thus avoiding the necessity of "grading" things on WDC. So please don't assign any weight to my "grade" -- but know that I selected this story for review because I liked it and thought I could learn from studying it. *Smile*


Again, these are just one person's opinions. Only you know what is best for your story! The surest path to success is to keep writing and to be true to your muse!

Thanks again for sharing this item. Keep on writing!


Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈
http://MaxGriffin.net/
http://MaxGriffin.net/blog/
Check out my {x-link:http://maxgriffin.net/LongMusings.shtml}


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
22
22
Review by Max Griffin ...
In affiliation with Novel Workshop Group  
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
Review Spot Review


Item Reviewed: "Ryuki's Rage chapter 2
Author JulianBenabides
Reviewer: Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈

                                                             
As always, these are just one person's opinions. Always remember Only you know what is best for your story. I've read and commented on your work as I would try to read my own. I hope you find something here useful *Smile*, and that you will discard the rest with good cheer. *Heart*

                                                             
*FlagB*What I liked best
Good tension in this chapter. Ryuki's almost pathetic desire to impress the other boys comes through clearly.

                                                             
*FlagB*Opening
I think you need more in the way of orienting the reader in time and place. What class is he in? Who else is there? What is the classroom like? After the careful attention to cultural weirdness in chapter one, this is kind of jarring. It could be happening in any suburban middle school--at least, until they head to the roof for "recess."

Just for example--we learn later he's not wearing shoes. Is this typical or atypical? We learn he wants to impress Itrim and Venir, but they hang out with Kyle, who appears to be a bully. Are Itrim and Venir likewise bullies? They seem to dominate Kyle. It's not clear *why* Ryuki is so eager to impress Itrim and Venir, nor why he trusts them later.

                                                             
*FlagB*Plot
Despite just witnessing a gruesome execution for a crime against tourists, Ryuki agrees to be the lure in a badger scam. I half-expected the other two boys to just beat him up. In fact, I still more or less expect that. But, again, it's not so clear why he's so eager to be part of their group. I mean, he says he'd do almost anything these guys say, but it's the "why" that's missing.

                                                             
*FlagB*Hook
We're still in the middle of their scam for the night. I'm pretty sure this sets up either a flight to the bowery, or Ryuki getting beat up, or maybe just humiliated. In any case, the tension is cranked pretty high, so this is basically a cliff-hanger--the strongest hook possible.

                                                             
*FlagB*Style and Voice
First person in Ryuki's head. No slips.

                                                             
*FlagB*Referencing
I could use a bit more of that magic referencing that permeated the first chapter. On the other hand, it's been more than a week since I read the first chapter, so maybe it's just reviewer lag and not needed.

                                                             
*FlagB*Scene/Setting
Excellent work here. The white line and the silent shadows of the bowery are a menacing part of the tension.

                                                             
*FlagB*Characters
Itrim and Venir feel just a little flat to me. I have the sense that these are mean-spirited boys, out to exploit what they sense is weakness in Ryuki. Or maybe they just want to make a buck and then be cruel. In any case, I think we need to Itrim do something (other than poking at Kyle) gratuitous for good or ill to get a sense of their character. In other words, I'd like to see them "save a cat" or "kick a dog" to establish character--see
https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/KickTh...
for what I'm talking about.

                                                             
*FlagB*Grammar
Good job--nothing jumped out at me.

                                                             
*FlagB*Just my personal opinion
This is really well-written. I have almost nothing in the way of line-by-line comments. In this chapter, I'm feeling sorry for Ryuki, since it's clear that the other two boys are just exploiting him and will probably be cruel to him in some way before the night is over. This does a good job of advancing character and plot. Thanks for sharing, and I look forward to reading more.

                                                             
*FlagB*Line-by-line remarks
*Bullet*Your text is in BLUE.
*Bullet*My comments are in GREEN.
*Bullet*If I suggest a re-wording, it's in GRAPE.
                                                             
*Cut*Venir punched him in the arm and Kyle took the hit without complaince.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: typo? Did you mean "complaints?" *Exclaim*

*Cut*I could hear the sound of his loose belt buckle clinking and banging around as he ran.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: It's usually more immediate and intimate for your readers if you describe directly what he heard rather than filtering the sound with an "I could hear." Since Ryuki is the first person narrator, any sound he reports is something he "could hear," so readers will infer he heard it. In fact, that little step of inference helps to solidify POV and draw readers further into the story. If you want to emphasize he heard it, you can always have him react in some way, say, by looking back (or not looking back). *Exclaim*

                                                             

I only review things I like, and I really liked this story. I'm a professor by day, and find awarding grades the least satisfying part of my job. *Frown* Since I'm reviewing in part for my own edification, I decided long ago to give a rating of "4" to everything I review, thus avoiding the necessity of "grading" things on WDC. So please don't assign any weight to my "grade" -- but know that I selected this story for review because I liked it and thought I could learn from studying it. *Smile*


Again, these are just one person's opinions. Only you know what is best for your story! The surest path to success is to keep writing and to be true to your muse!

Thanks again for sharing this item. Keep on writing!


Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈
http://MaxGriffin.net/
http://MaxGriffin.net/blog/
Check out my {x-link:http://maxgriffin.net/LongMusings.shtml}


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
23
23
Review of Stabbers  
Review by Max Griffin ...
Rated: E | (4.0)
Review Spot Review


Item Reviewed: "Stabbers
Author Olive Ollitick
Reviewer: Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈

                                                             
As always, these are just one person's opinions. Always remember Only you know what is best for your story. I've read and commented on your work as I would try to read my own. I hope you find something here useful *Smile*, and that you will discard the rest with good cheer. *Heart*

                                                             
*FlagB*What I liked best
I thought the idea of "stabbers" was creative and original. It looks like a new idea for "super powers" which has lots of potential. It's clear what it can and cannot do, and it's self-limiting, which gives lots of opportunity for tension. Awesome, original idea!

                                                             
*FlagB*Opening
Openings are critical in any work of fiction. Some editors and agents will decide whether or not to read your submission based only on your first sentence.

Your opening is your best opportunity to draw readers into your fictional world, to induce a dream-like state in which your words guide their imaginations. The readers become the author's active partners in imagining the fictional world, in a state of suspended disbelief. In crafting the opening of any story, it's the author's primary task to launch this fictional dream.

Whenver you start a new scene--action in a new location or situation--it's important to orient your readers. This means answering most of the basic who, what, when, where, why, and how questions. For example, in chapter 1, we never really learn *where* the action is happening. We are apparently in "her" point-of-view, but we don't know who "she" is. I'm guessing she's Maize from chapter 2, but the pronouns in chapter 1 have no antecedent, so that's guesswork. More importantly, we don't learn Maize's number until the title of chapter 2. We also don't know where this is happening. We do have some sense of what is happening and who else is there, but we don't know why it's happening.

I found similar issues with the other chapters. Thus, one of my main suggestions for this is to be sure you orient your readers by answering most of the above questions whenever you start a new scene.

                                                             
*FlagB*Plot
The "stabbers" appear to be mutants who have a particular ability. As noted above, I like this idea quite a lot.

                                                             
*FlagB*Referencing
I like that we learn about the stabber's abilities in chapter 2 by seeing them in action. While you clearly have detailed ideas about the abilities, you avoided a narrative explanation and instead opted to show the stabbers using their skills and, at the same time, showing the hostility from the non-stabbers. Good work!

                                                             
*FlagB*Grammar
I found a few minor typos--see the line-by-line remarks below.

                                                             
*FlagB*Just my personal opinion
One way to think of telling a story is that it is a guided dream in which the author leads the readers through the events. In doing this, the author needs to engage the readers as active participants in the story, so that they become the author's partner in imagining the story. Elements of craft that engage the readers and immerse them in the story enhance this fictive dream. On the other hand, authors should avoid things that interrupt the dream and pull readers out of the story.

MOstly, I think you did a good job with the fictional dream. The action in chapter 2 was particularly well done. The staging was good--I could always tell where the characters were in relation to each other and their environment. The tension escalated nicely.

My main suggestion, as noted above, is that I think these chapters need a bit more attention to orienting the reader in time, place, and especially point-of-view. These are an intriguing start to your novel, so by all means keep writing and thank you for sharing!

                                                             
*FlagB*Line-by-line remarks
*Bullet*Your text is in BLUE.
*Bullet*My comments are in GREEN.
*Bullet*If I suggest a re-wording, it's in GRAPE.
                                                             
*Cut*"Stabber." the only words uttered by her father.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Based on what happens later, I'm guessing that this is not a reference to whatever is threatening them, but rather than an accusation directed at his daughter. I think you need to make that explicit. Perhaps his eyes accuse her before he spits out, "Stabber." That would clarify a lot, both in this chapter and in the next. *Exclaim*

*Cut*Another wave of sob rushed up at her*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Rushed up "at" her implies it's someone else's sob. "Within" her would imply it's her sob. *Exclaim*

*Cut*"I'm hungry," Haula says looking up to me. We are merely two ordinary specks in an ocean of specks. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Chapter 2 launches a new scene, in a new location. We've changed from third person to first, so presumably the point-of-view has changed as well.

In starting a new scene , it's important to orient the reader by answering at least some of the basic who, what, when, where, and why questions. The reader will infer than "ocean" is probably a metaphor, but it's much later that we learn this is all happening in a market, or perhaps a mall. However, we never really get a good sense of the setting. So one suggestion is to pay better attention to staging, i.e., helping the readers to understand where things are happening.

In addition, other than the chapter title, "Maize," the first person narrator's name is never mentioned. Specifically naming here--perhaps by putting her name in a bit of dialogue from Haula, would help to draw readers into her head and hence into the story.

I'm guessing that Maize, the first person narrator in chapter two, is the third person POV character in chapter one. Using her name in both chapters would connect them.

Also much later in this chapter we get the sense that Maize has special powers, apparently to invert the "goal" of nearby objects and people. We see this in action, but it's kind of vague at first, and doesn't quite come through. So a touch more inner thought from Maize about her "gift" would help to orient the readers. "Stabbers" appears to be vernacular name for the "gift," which is what presumably connects the first and and second chapters. However, I don't see why the gift would have this name.

*Exclaim*


*Cut*The "bright" future being, why test on animals when we can test on supernatural creatures, meaning a handful of the human population! Yay!*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: This suggests the deeper,on-going nature that your characters face. I like that you hint at this here and avoid a longer, narrated explantion. This is, I think, just right. *Exclaim*

*Cut* I scan the market again to see if there's an easy target. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: This is the first concrete indication of where the action is taking place. *Exclaim*

*Cut*My eyes scan to find an easy target. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: repeats earlier information... *Exclaim*

*Cut*The beating of the heart surges*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Whose heart? *Exclaim*

*Cut*than into bottomless black *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Typo. I think you mean "then." *Exclaim*

*Cut*I can't get near enough to asses the situation*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: typo: assess *Exclaim*

*Cut*but it feels distance*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: typo: distant *Exclaim*

*Cut*Every head turns towards me and I curse under my breath1 and starts running the other way.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: typo: start *Exclaim*

*Cut*Chapter 4*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: What happened to Chapter 3? We seem to skip from chapter 2 to chapter 4. *Exclaim*


                                                             

I only review things I like, and I really liked this story. I'm a professor by day, and find awarding grades the least satisfying part of my job. *Frown* Since I'm reviewing in part for my own edification, I decided long ago to give a rating of "4" to everything I review, thus avoiding the necessity of "grading" things on WDC. So please don't assign any weight to my "grade" -- but know that I selected this story for review because I liked it and thought I could learn from studying it. *Smile*


Again, these are just one person's opinions. Only you know what is best for your story! The surest path to success is to keep writing and to be true to your muse!

Thanks again for sharing this item. Keep on writing!


Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈
http://MaxGriffin.net/
http://MaxGriffin.net/blog/
Check out my {x-link:http://maxgriffin.net/LongMusings.shtml}


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
24
24
Review of Rose's Day  
Review by Max Griffin ...
In affiliation with Novel Workshop Group  
Rated: E | (4.0)
Show Don't Tell Logo


Hi! My name is Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈 , and I'm here to review your entry in the "Show, Don't Tell Contest

Item Reviewed: "Rose's Day
Author Penelope Kein
Reviewer: Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈

                                                             
As always, these are just one person's opinions. Our contest has multiple judges, and final rankings are always the result of a group process. Remember Only you know what is best for your story. I've read and commented on your work as I would try to read my own. I hope you find something here useful *Smile*, and that you will discard the rest with good cheer. *Heart*

                                                             
*FlagB*What I liked best
I love stories where one thing seems to be happening when, at the end, we get a tidbit of information that turns everything up-side-down. Stories with twisty endings--Twilight Zone endings--are among my favorites. This story certainly delivered on that score.

                                                             
*FlagB*Effective showing of the information in the prompt.
(27 points out of 30)
For the most part, you did a good job showing the information, although the narrator winds up telling us some of the information such as the snow in the morning. Admittedly, that's using the characters' words and deeds, but that generally excludes the first person narrator speaking directly to the reader, telling them things.

To see what I mean, suppose you have Ruby wake in the morning and look out her bedroom window. You could then describe her snow-covered yard, perhaps with flakes still coming down. Now, you're showing the snow because it's something she sees as opposed to telling us about it.

The distinction is small but important. It's one of the things that makes first person stories harder to write than third person, because it's so tempting to just use the character to tell the readers things. That's more efficient, to be sure, but showing those things is more intimate and immediate for the readers.

                                                             
*FlagB*First Paragraph
(15 points out of 20)
The first paragraph needs to launch the fictional dream and, in so doing, orient the reader in time and space. Naming the point of view character helps to draw readers into the story.

We learn that it's morning and that it snowed in your opening. She dances around in anticipation of spending the day with her twins, which is an awesome way to show that's she's eager to do so. But it other elements of staging and orientation are missing. I assume, since she "wakes," what she's in her bedroom. Presumably she looks out the window to see the snow. But where is her husband? Gone to work already? Where are the children? (I know, that's not relevant. But where does she think the children are?) A touch more detail that would orient the reader to her situation and where the other characters are located would help a lot in launching this story.

Oh, and I'd name Ruby in the first sentence, if at all possible. Getting that chore done is another challenge in first person narration.

                                                             
*FlagB*Creativity and Originality
(15 points out of 15)
You've constructed a nice, if rather macabre, story from the prompt. In fact, this is almost exactly the story I had in mind when I wrote the prompt, so we must think alike!

                                                             
*FlagB* Effective showing--as opposed to telling--for the whole story
(14 points out of 15)
Good work here!

                                                             
*FlagB*Plot and Pacing
(8 points out of 10)
The tension built nicely, especially during and after Linda's visit.

The ending, though, I thought dragged. Once Joe reveals what's *really* happened during the day, the tension dissipates and the story is effectively over. For that reason, I'd end it as quickly as possible after the big reveal. A few short sentences to serve as a capstone, showing Ruby's emotional collapse for her prior high, would put an effective ending to the story. Readers don't need the details of the accident--they just need to know that she's suffering from her just-remembered loss.

                                                             
*FlagB*Technical Proficiency (such as grammar, spelling, proof-reading, and following the contest rules)
(9 points out of 10)
I think I found one thing to nit-pick, otherwise good job.


                                                             
*FlagB* Total Points
88 points out of 100

                                                             
*FlagB*Just my personal opinion
One way to think of telling a story is that it is a guided dream in which the author leads the readers through the events. In doing this, the author needs to engage the readers as active participants in the story, so that they become the author's partner in imagining the story. Elements of craft that engage the readers and immerse them in the story enhance this fictive dream. On the other hand, authors should avoid things that interrupt the dream and pull readers out of the story.

I liked this story a lot. The tension built well, and Ruby's mania come through, along with her collapse at the end. Good work! Thanks for sharing!

                                                             
*FlagB*Line-by-line remarks
*Bullet*Your text is in BLUE.
*Bullet*My comments are in GREEN.
*Bullet*If I suggest a re-wording, it's in GRAPE.
                                                             
*Cut*Linda looks at me sideways, through her bangs. “Oh, uh, that’s… that’s great, Rose” she stammers. Huh, what’s up with that? I wonder if she’s feeling well. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Awesome job of showing Linda look uncomfortable, per the prompt. *Exclaim*

*Cut*I put them in their beds, and turn on the monitor so I can hear when they wake up. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: no comma needed after "beds." *Exclaim*

*Cut*Once they are asleep, I head back downstairs to make dinner. I pull out the carrots, potatoes and seasoning and start the roast. I set a timer to remind me to put the rolls in the oven, and I put the twins clothes they wore outside in the wash. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: The first sentence tells she's going to make dinner. The next two sentences show her making dinner. You don't need the first one. *Exclaim*

*Cut*As I am setting the last glass of chocolate milk down,*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: In retrospect, it seems strange that adults would have chocolate milk in the house... *Exclaim*

*Cut*I thought we were passed this!*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Typo: past. *Exclaim*

                                                             

I'm a professor by day, and find awarding grades the least satisfying part of my job. *Frown* Even though I'm scoring this for a contest, I'm also reviewing in part for my own edification. Thus, as is my usual policy, I have given a rating of "4" to all contest entries. So please don't assign any weight to my "grade." *Smile*


Again, these are just one person's opinions. The contest has more than one judge, so you shouldn't assign inordinate weight to any one review. Regardless, remember that only you know what is best for your story! The surest path to success is to keep writing and to be true to your muse!

Thanks again for our contest. We hope you found it to be fun and a learning experience. Keep on writing!


Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈
http://MaxGriffin.net/
http://MaxGriffin.net/blog/
Check out my {x-link:http://maxgriffin.net/LongMusings.shtml}


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
25
25
Review of On a Snow Day  
Review by Max Griffin ...
In affiliation with Novel Workshop Group  
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
Show Don't Tell Logo


Hi! My name is Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈 , and I'm here to review your entry in the "Show, Don't Tell Contest

Item Reviewed: "On a Snow Day
Author Thankful Sonali WDC POWER!
Reviewer: Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈

                                                             
As always, these are just one person's opinions. Our contest has multiple judges, and final rankings are always the result of a group process. Remember Only you know what is best for your story. I've read and commented on your work as I would try to read my own. I hope you find something here useful *Smile*, and that you will discard the rest with good cheer. *Heart*

                                                             
*FlagB*What I liked best
I loved this charming little story about children, snowmen, and lasagna!

                                                             
*FlagB*Effective showing of the information in the prompt.
(28 points out of 30)
The charge was to show the elements via the words and deeds of your characters. You did this, although in places it almost felt like the sole purpose of the conversation was to relay a tidbit of information that wasn't otherwise integral to the action. It's a fine line between showing and telling when using dialogue to convey information.

                                                             
*FlagB*First Paragraph
(17 points out of 20)
Your opening starts with action--Ruby waking--names your POV character, and orients the readers in time and space. These are all essential parts of an effective opening, so kudos on that.

However, staging also includes positioning the characters within the opening scene. We first learn the twins are present when Joe "bye girls," and in the very next paragraph one of them speaks. Before then I'd pictured Joe and Ruby alone in their bedroom, so the appearance of the children was unexpected. It would have been a simple matter, as part of the staging, for them to be hanging on Joe, sleepy-eyed and still in their PJs--that would have helped to set the stage for what follows.

                                                             
*FlagB*Creativity and Originality
(15 points out of 15)
The prompts for this story almost beg for a tragic ending, and that's what most of the co