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1
1
Review by
In affiliation with Novel Workshop Group  
Rated: E | (4.0)
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Item Reviewed: "A Village With No Name - Chapter 16
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
Lots of exciting action here, and an awesome hook.

Thank you for continuing to share this novel with me.

                                                             
*FlagB*Plot
The plot advances as Evans learns the consequences of his treachery on behalf of the nefarious Kane.

                                                             
*FlagB*Hook
Awesome!!

                                                             
*FlagB*Style and Voice
Third person limited, mostly in Gideon's head. However, I thought the POV wobbled in a couple of places--see the line-by-line remarks below.

                                                             
*FlagB*Scene/Setting
Good job here. Lots of action, and in a new location, but everything was clear and the descriptions flowed smoothly into the unfolding events.

                                                             
*FlagB*Characters
Gideon's concern for Jackson is a great character reveal--or, more accurately, continuing confirmation. Evans' tortuous twists are credible, I suppose, although he's not quite as thoroughly drawn. He's a coward, to be sure, but he's also concerned about his family.

                                                             
*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!

                                                             
*FlagB*Just my personal opinion
The story continues apace. This is, of course, a morality tale as well as an action-packed adventure. We have right versus wrong, with money and power used to suppress helpless visitors. Best of all, Gideon isn't single-handedly "rescuing" the village. Instead, he's the catalyst for cooperation and defense in the face of greed and infamy. Truly, a metaphor for the times in which we live.

                                                             
*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*A lone rider sat atop his horse walking across the lawn in front of the large ranch house leading an unridden white mare.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: I don't quite follow this sentence. Was the horse walking? *Exclaim*

*Cut*Gideon turned in his saddle, his face hard and without expression. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: He can't see his face, so this is a small POV violation. *Exclaim*

*Cut*But the sight of the burning barn tore at his heart and numbed and confused his brain, *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Hops into Evan's head. *Exclaim*

*Cut*and he let out a loud, throaty screech and heeled his mount hard in the flanks. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Serial "ands." Better, and clearer, to break into two sentences. *Exclaim*

*Cut*Aware of the danger Evans was placing himself in Gideon reached*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: ...and here we're back in Gideon's head. *Exclaim*

*Cut*Evans’ kept a tidy barn; farming equipment stood in neat rows at the center of the barn,*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: "barn" used twice in this sentence. I think you could omit "of the barn" at the end, as it's clear from context. *Exclaim*

*Cut*Just then, an anxious voice came from outside the barn. “Gideon!” Evans shouted. “I can’t find my family. Have you seen them?” There was a moment of silence. “For heaven's sake, Gideon, answer me. Where are you?”*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Awesome hook. *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!.
2
2
Review of The Ticket  
Review by
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: "The Ticket
Author hullabaloo22
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 liked the fact that Ruby had goals--picking up her kids--and obstacles--the traffic. You also showed that her goals mattered. All of this gives a nice tension to the story.

                                                             
*FlagB*Effective showing of the information in the prompt.
(30 points out of 30)
You did an effective job of revealing the information in the prompt via the words and deeds of the characters and through Ruby's thoughts.

                                                             
*FlagB*First Paragraph
(10 points out of 20)
The first paragraph had the feel of an omniscient narrator, standing outside the story, telling the read things. There are several reasons for this--see the line-by-line comments below. Mostly they have to do with establishing Ruby's point of view in the first paragraph--in the first sentence if possible.

                                                             
*FlagB*Creativity and Originality
(13 points out of 15)
This was a nice interleaving of goals, stakes, and obstacles. Indeed, the obstacles arose because she hung around at the lottery and that made her late picking up her children.

                                                             
*FlagB* Effective showing--as opposed to telling--for the whole story
(8 points out of 15)
While you did a great job with the prompt, there are several other places where you tell rather than show things. See the line-by-line remarks below for examples.

                                                             
*FlagB*Plot and Pacing
(7 points out of 10)
We learn rather late in the story that Ruby wants to start her own bakery and that the money from the raffle would help. If you could move that to the opening, that gives her *two* goals, both with high stakes, and both of which get resolved by the ending. By putting it at the beginning, it increases the stakes, especially if she wonders who won the raffle along with worrying about her children.

I have to say I was also confused in a couple of places regarding staging--where was Ruby, where were the people she was talking to. A sentence or two of clarification would help--see the line-by-line remarks.

                                                             
*FlagB*Technical Proficiency (such as grammar, spelling, proof-reading, and following the contest rules)
(7 points out of 10)
I found a few typos--see the line-by-line remarks.

                                                             
*FlagB* Total Points
75 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 enjoyed meetng Ruby and was relieved when she picked up her children and won the raffle! 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*She had spent cash she really could not afford on the tickets. On any other night she would have thought harder, resisted the impulse, but seated next to her neighbour who flourished out cash and bought two, she had felt that she had to do the same.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Several comments here. First, "she" has no antecedent. We learn in a couple of paragraphs it's Ruby, but using her name here is both more correct grammatically and helps to draw readers into her head.

Second, this is the narrator, standing outside the story, telling the reader facts. These are important facts, to be sure, but they are told rather than shown.

Third, there seems to be a little time-reversal here. She has already bought the tickes, but we're learning about this retrospectively.

You might consider, for example, starting with Ruby seeing her neighbor being extravagant by purchasing two raffle tickets. Her neighbors jostle her as they rush to do the same. Ruby makes a purchase, looks at the ticket, and regrets it. Starting with Ruby sensing or acting as opposed to remembering would be stronger and do a better job of pulling readers into the story. *Exclaim*


*Cut*4pm; that was the time that was clearly stated in black and white on the tickets themselves.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: You should not start a sentence with a numeral--you should write it out instead. Indeed, the Chicago Manual of Style indicates that the time of day should be written out unless it is a specific time like 6:22 a.m. See CMOS paragraph 9.37. (I see from spellings that you must be in the UK, so CMOS may not be relevant to proper English as opposed to the version we use here in the US, although CMOS generally notes UK usage when different from US. However, I'm sure you should not start a sentence with a numeral.) *Exclaim*

*Cut*Ruby waved to her neighbour and got to her feet.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: I'm not quite clear where she is at. Earlier I thought she was in her car, but now she's standing up. *Exclaim*

*Cut*Eventually she pushed her way through*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: She "pushed and shoved her way" through the crowd in the prior paragraph. Beware of repeating words and phrases as this runs the risk of making your prose seem monotone. *Exclaim*

*Cut*Her fingers drummed on the steering wheel. Tap, tap, tap, then into drive for another slight move.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: good showing her impatience. *Exclaim*

*Cut*she dialled Greg's number. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: typo *Exclaim*

*Cut*There would be no one there to oversee the kids welfare.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: missing apostrophe. *Exclaim*

*Cut*Someone was waving at her from the back of the vehicle. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: what vehicle? The one in front of her? *Exclaim*

*Cut* Her own home bakery business. She could fund it now, if she could get there to pick the money up.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: It would have been good to have this desire revealed earlier. *Exclaim*

*Cut*There was a pause, some distant chatter. "We're just packing up. There will be someone here for the next hour. Will that be long enough?"*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: So now I'm confused. Was this the guy in the car next to hers, or is it someone else back where the drawing was held? *Exclaim*

*Cut* turned back in to the traffic.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: typo: "into" is one word. *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
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 Attitude Changes  
Review by
In affiliation with Novel Workshop Group  
Rated: 18+ | (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: "Attitude Changes
Author Mastiff will haunt this town.
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 really, really liked the plot for this story. It was an enormously creative retelling of the genie legend, or even maybe the old TV series "The Millionaire." I always wondered what Michael Anthony did when he wasn't giving away money. Anyway, this is an awesome story.

                                                             
*FlagB*Effective showing of the information in the prompt.
(20 points out of 30)
This is a mixed bag, I'm afraid. There is some very effective and subtle showing in this story, where Ruby interacts with her surroundings and the mysterious voice on the phone and, in so doing, reveals details about her feelings about her life. On the flip side, though, there's a lot of telling, especially at the beginning.

                                                             
*FlagB*First Paragraph
(10 points out of 20)
See above, and the line-by-line remarks below.

                                                             
*FlagB*Creativity and Originality
(15 points out of 15)
Highest possible marks here!

                                                             
*FlagB* Effective showing--as opposed to telling--for the whole story
(10 points out of 15)
This is the same mixed bag noted above.

                                                             
*FlagB*Plot and Pacing
(10 points out of 10)
I absolutely loved the little puzzles that Ruby had to solve along the way. They lent a fable-like feeling to the story.

                                                             
*FlagB*Technical Proficiency (such as grammar, spelling, proof-reading, and following the contest rules)
(10 points out of 10)
I think I found one typo.

                                                             
*FlagB* Total Points
75 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 absolutely *loved* this story. However, because the focus of this contest is "show, don't tell," all the little spots where you tell rather than show hold down the score. It would be an almost trivial exersize to just cut the parts where you tell, as the essential information is almost all revealed later as Ruby interacts with the caller and her environment. By all means, keep writing and thank you for sharing this awesome story.

                                                             
*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 found life boring. In fact, Ruby felt it had become an anchor that was tied about her waist, and needed to be dragged everywhere. Traffic was snarled in the gray rainy day, and with the light fading in the city, it was a sea of taillights. She knew the commute would be even worse than usual.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: This opening paragraph is almost all telling. We learn that Ruby finds life boring, an anchor tied to her waist. We learn that traffic is bad. In the last sentence we learn what Ruby knows.

Truly, it wouldn't be difficult to change most of this to showing rather than telling. If you start with Ruby sensing or doing, you'll put readers in her head. Then, the great sentence about the gray, rainy day and the sea of headlights becomes something RUBY is thinking rather than something the author, standing outside the story, is telling us.

Getting Ruby's ennui into the opening is harder, but maybe she heaves a weary sigh at yet another traffic jam, and then use the traffic as a metaphor for her life--as you do in the next paragraph. *Exclaim*


*Cut*What had started out as a wonderful job years back had become stale. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Everything in this paragraph is narrated background. This is important information, to be sure, but it's all told as opposed to shown. It's much stronger to reveal this kind of information through the words and deeds of your characters. *Exclaim*

*Cut*the phone rings, Ruby answers, and her life forever changes. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: The omniscient narrator appears with foreknowledge of what is going to happen, hence this is telling as opposed to showing. *Exclaim*

*Cut*"I'm a little too old for games." As the words left her lips, there was a hint of butterflies in her tummy.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Here, you do a good job of subtly revealing aspects of Ruby's character and her life. Readers can and will infer much from this exchange. *Exclaim*

*Cut*"Choices. Right. Because that's clearly what I'm so good at doing." She thought of the drudgery life had become.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: More good use of her words and inner thoughts to reveal things. You didn't really need the narrated paragraph above because you are showing the essentials here. *Exclaim*

*Cut*"He said 'correct' and that's the same a right!" She said aloud.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: One of the things I liked best about this story were the little puzzles that Ruby had to solve along the way. I suspect some readers won't like this, but for me it gave the story the feeling of a modern fable. I thought this was quite creative. *Exclaim*

*Cut*so she made a very unusual decision not at all like her. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Back to telling...maybe she adrenalin tingles out her fingertips at the impulsive decision. *Exclaim*

*Cut*She was exhilarated!*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: To convey the information that this was unusual for her, she could think here that maybe she should follow her impulses more often. That's her thoughts revealing that that being impulsive is uncharacteristic for her in the context of events. Of course, if you could show her exhilaration as opposed to just telling us about it, that would be better still. *Exclaim*

*Cut*Ruby open the car door with a groan *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: typo: opened. *Exclaim*

*Cut*It seemed everything in life either needed to be replaced or repaired, and oh how nice it would be to do it. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Another effective bit of showing via her interaction with the world around her. Here, her internal thoughts arise in a natural way and reveal the ennui that is central to her character. Again, this obviates the need for the "info-dump" paragraph earlier. *Exclaim*

*Cut*Ruby had been on the island for over two weeks, and it was marvelous.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: This transition could have been smoother...Also, note, you are telling us she thinks it's "marvelous." *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
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!.
4
4
Review of Traffic Jam  
Review by
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: "Traffic Jam
Author Chris Breva - 6 Years at WDC!
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 enjoyed the twist that resolved the tension of the story--his concern about being late. I've actually made a similar mistake, in my case missing a time zone change for a connecting flight.

                                                             
*FlagB*Effective showing of the information in the prompt.
(20 points out of 30)
I thought this was kind of a mixed bag, with some narrated telling and some showing.

                                                             
*FlagB*First Paragraph
(10 points out of 20)
The first three sentences of the opening paragraph are all telling. You do a good job of showing Roscooe's impatience.


                                                             
*FlagB*Creativity and Originality
(15 points out of 15)
I liked the resolution of the twist, as noted above. Quite creative and realistic, too.

                                                             
*FlagB* Effective showing--as opposed to telling--for the whole story
(12 points out of 15)
As noted above, this is kind of a mixed bag, with some excellent showing along with some narrated telling.

                                                             
*FlagB*Plot and Pacing
(8 points out of 10)
I liked the plot but, for example, we learn in the opening paragraph that it's snowing. This doesn't appear again in the story. Are you familiar with Chekhov's rifle? He said that if a rifle appears over the mantel in Act I, then someone must fire it by Act III. The point is that information like the snow should serve a purpose in the story, especially if it's important enough to place in the first paragraph.

                                                             
*FlagB*Technical Proficiency (such as grammar, spelling, proof-reading, and following the contest rules)
(10 points out of 10)
Good job here!!

                                                             
*FlagB* Total Points
70 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.

Mostly you did a fine job of keeping the readers in the here-and-now of the story, and I enjoyed the plot twist at the end along with the story itself. Keep writing, and 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*This is the first day of a new job. Traffic is stopping in all lanes. It is beginning to snow. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: These are all statement of facts, i.e., they are the author telling the reader things. If Roscoe appeared *before* these statements, one could argue these were his thoughts, but we don't have that context until the next sentence. Thus, this is telling as opposed to showing. *Exclaim*

*Cut*Roscoe is chewing his lip and drumming his fingers on the steering wheel. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Good job showing his impatience. *Exclaim*

*Cut*“Oh, this is just great! This is my first day at a new job,*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Repeats information previously told in the opening paragraph. However, here you show it, since it's revealed in Roscoe's words. *Exclaim*

*Cut*Your number is in my contacts, as are the numbers of most of our valued customers. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Why is Roscoe such a valued customer? Does he have a huge account with the bank? If not, it must be an extremely small bank for Sam to recognize him and have his number in his contacts. *Exclaim*

*Cut*Changing the tire and tightening the bolts was an additional ten minutes. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: He did all this without pulling over, while still in the traffic lane? There was no movement for over 20 minutes? I've been in LOTS of traffic jams in cities like LA, Dallas, and even Brussels, but never one this bad. *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
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 Halloween Mystery  
Review by
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: "Halloween Mystery
Author normajean
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 like stories with a twist, and this one certainly has one! I liked Ruby's last name, too, although it turned out to have not much to do with the story.

                                                             
*FlagB*Effective showing of the information in the prompt.
(25 points out of 30)
Mostly, you did an excellent job of showing. However, here and there you narrated things, or had Ruby tell us, as opposed to showing. It's certainly "showing" to reveal things in dialogue, even internal dialogue, but authors should take care in using this technique as it can become telling and pull the readers out of the here-and-now.

                                                             
*FlagB*First Paragraph
(20 points out of 20)
Good first paragrph.


                                                             
*FlagB*Creativity and Originality
(12 points out of 15)
The twist in the tale was a good one. However, I think it would have worked better if you could have somehow worked her conflict with Roscoe earlier into the story. Perhaps the car in front of her looks like the one he used to drive, for example. That gives her an example to express relief that he's out of her life, probably off hiding from the police. Foreshadowing without foretelling is an art unto itself, but for twists to work, the reader needs *not* see what's coming, but realized when the twist occurs they *should* have seen it coming.

                                                             
*FlagB* Effective showing--as opposed to telling--for the whole story
(12 points out of 15)
See the comments above...

                                                             
*FlagB*Plot and Pacing
(8 points out of 10)
I liked the plot, except that the appearance of Roscoe seemed to come out of nowhere...

                                                             
*FlagB*Technical Proficiency (such as grammar, spelling, proof-reading, and following the contest rules)
(10 points out of 10)
No comments here--good job.


                                                             
*FlagB* Total Points
87 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.

Mostly, this story did a good job with the fictive dream. I made of couple of comments in the line-by-lline remarks below where you might consider tweaking it, but overall I liked this story quite a lot. 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 in the world is taking so long?’ thought Ruby.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Most editors deprecate "thought tags" in favor of, for example, italicizing internal thoughts. Thus, the preferred formatting would be
What in the world is taking so long.
Alternatively, you could have her mutter to herself, thereby enabling you to use her name in the dialogue tag. *Exclaim*


*Cut*She slammed the palm of her hand against the steering wheel.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Good use of her actions to show her frustration. *Exclaim*

*Cut*The phone rang again. Again the weird number.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Notice here, you've inserted her internal thought--"Again the weird number"--without a thought tag and without italics. This is actually even better than italics. Once you've put the readers inside Ruby's head, then anything on the page is arguably something she's sensed, felt, or thought. Thus, inserting her thoughts in this way is a technique called "free direct discourse." See "Really Just One Point of View for more discussion. *Exclaim*

*Cut*She found that just the wee bit strange.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Tells the readers what she wonders. If, instead, you'd written something like
Strange. It didn't go to voicemail.
then it would have free direct discourse, as above, and shown via her internal thought that she found it strange. *Exclaim*


*Cut*Ruby fumes*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Telling... *Exclaim*

*Cut*her cell phone rang again.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: the one with the dead battery? Did she re-charge it, or is it her land-line? *Exclaim*

*Cut*“Alright, this is getting pretty freaky. No more phone calls tonight.” Ruby turned off the cell phone and threw it across the room. “Good riddance.”*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: From what follows, it's clear that she must have recognized the voice. Since the reader is supposed to be in her head, it's kind of a POV violation to fail to reveal this fact as it happened. *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
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 of No title yet  
Review by
In affiliation with Novel Workshop Group  
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
Need a review? Visit
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*Smile* Hi. Max here. Thank you for asking me to look at your item. I enjoyed reading it and wanted to share some thoughts with you.

Item Reviewed: "No title yet
Author laurafu
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 from your request that this is the start of a personal memoir. Mostly I review fiction, and feel fairly confident I can make knowledgeable comments. However, I think memoirs are somewhat different, both in style and reader expectations. Because of this, I'm not sure how helpful I can be. In particular, many of my comments derive from my understanding of the craft of fiction, and so may be misaligned with the purposes of this book--just a cautionary note. In any case, I hope you find something useful here.

                                                             
*FlagB*What I liked best
The prose has a wonderful cadence and flow--almost poetic. You paint vivid, memorable images with just a few, well-chosen words. The prose alone made this a joy to read.

                                                             
*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.

Okay, so you can see already my fictional bias. However, even in a memoir, I think you need to draw the readers into your personal world. Your beginning, with the 22-year-old narrator--you!--returning to your childhood home is as good a place as any to start. Indeed, one of my favorite novels, A Separate Peace, starts exactly this way. But...I think that the reader needs to be in the here-and-now of ongoing events. For example, the timeline in this segment is nonlinear--we bounce from the memory of the roses, to a description of the remembered home, to the here-and-now of climbing through the barbed wire surrounding the house as she finds it, to a description of the house as she finds it. Simply rearranging these things in order--starting with the barbed wired, using that to prompt a memory of the roses, etc.--would, I think, make the presentation more immediate and intimate. The idea would be to place the reader inside the narrator's head as she explores her old home and the memories that it prompts.

Another thing--it helps readers to know the narrator's name. That's a challenge with first person narration, but the sooner you introduce her name, the better. Indeed, I'm not sure that the narrator's gender is apparent from from this item, and I've only inferred it from the fact that you've characterized this as a memoir and I've read your bio-block.

                                                             
*FlagB*Characters
This is a memoir, but you still have characters. Hitchcock said that the audience cares about the characters. The plot, he continued, is there to give the characters something to care about. In this case, the narrator is the main "character." Since this is first person, readers are in her head. Readers will want to cheer for her, but you need to give them reasons to do so from the very outset.

Back to fiction again. Characters--every character--should want something or have a goal. Most likely, your narrator wants to make sense of her past at a minimum, and that's sufficient for an opening chapter. The goal also has to matter--something bad will happen if the narrator fails to achieve her goal. These are the stakes. Finally, there should be obstacles to achieving the goal.

The conflict between goals and obstacles combined with the stakes gives rise to tension, which is the energy that propels your story--whether it's fiction or not. Tension is what keeps the pages turning.

At the start of your story, you need to establish goals, stakes, and obstacles for your narrator. You increase tension by refining or expanding the goals, raising the stakes, or increasing the obstacles. Your memoir is a story of self-discovery, right? So story-telling techniques such as increasing tension can help make in more immediate and intimate for readers.

                                                             
*FlagB*Plot
The actual events of your memoir are what they are. You can't change them. But the story is how these events and your reaction to them made you the person you are today. If you have goals, stakes, and obstacles in mind, the plot of that story of personal discovery will come naturally.

                                                             
*FlagB*Hook
You have a reasonably good hook at the end of this chapter--there's an unspoken menace in being "fed the remedies." Disaster, dilemma, or decision are all good hooks, and this one hints at "disaster."

                                                             
*FlagB*Style and Voice
First person.

                                                             
*FlagB*Scene/Setting
Good descriptions throughout. You might sneak a couple details to settle the era--as it stands, this could be almost any time in the last fifty years. If your narrator takes a photo with her mobile phone, we'd nail it to modern day.

                                                             
*FlagB*Grammar
One sentence fragment, otherwise no problems here. 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.

This takes me back to my caveat at the beginning: almost all of the comments here pertain to fiction, and this is not fiction. There is certainly some overlap between good fiction and good memoirs, but I've not studied the latter at all, so take my comments as largely uninformed on your chosen genre.

Thanks for sharing this. I can tell that you have a story--an important story--to tell, and I think it's one people will want to read. 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*Three whits steps lead to the white entrance door.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: typo--should be white. *Exclaim*

*Cut*This is where you entered the mobile home.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: While both are homes, usually a "house" is a built structure, not a mobile home. *Exclaim*

*Cut*Placed on the edge of her property after I was born. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Fragment *Exclaim*

*Cut**Cut*I found hospital bills. The name of a patient I didn’t know. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Starting here, a few paragraphs repeat verbatim. *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!.
7
7
Review of FIND  
for entry "Chapter 1
Review by
In affiliation with Novel Workshop Group  
Rated: E | (4.0)
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*Smile* Hi. My name is Max. I found your story on "Please Review. I enjoyed reading it and wanted to share some thoughts with you about it.

Item Reviewed: "FIND
Chapter: "Chapter 1
Author lori joan morgan
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 love here. First, you've got four engaging characters who are well-drawn. In a first chapter, it's often hard to introduce four distinct characters in a way that readers can keep track of them, but you've managed that task with skill. The dialogue flows nicely, and you've done a good job of interspersing details of your fictional world in a natural way, through the words, deeds, and thoughts of your characters.

                                                             
*FlagB*Characters
Three of the four principal characters, Conia, Jimin, and Benna, have clear-cut goals. First, they want to find the mandatory fourth member so they can form an official "Find Team." Second, Conia is still grieving the loss Bryn from a couple of years ago--Bryn, who would have been the fourth member had he lived, and who was clearly a romantic interest for her.

Conia, as the POV character is most clearly drawn, and her lingering grief and loneliness are apparent. So, not only is she seeing a fourth for their Find Team, she's also seeking love. For Conia, this goal clearly matters (so the stakes are high), and her loss is an obstacle, so that completes the triad of goals, stakes, and obstacles for her.

Less clear are the stakes and obstacles for her two friends. Jac, of course, is a mystery man at this point, so we have no real information about his goals, stakes, or obstacles.

In any case, you've got the basic building blocks of plot in place.

                                                             
*FlagB*Plot
So far, this is about forming a find team. Ultimately, they will have a goal to "find" something, which will add a whole new array of goals, stakes, and obstacles.

One issue I have with the plot is that there's not a lot of tension. What there is centers around Conia's loneliness and grief as obstacles to her unspoken goal of finding love and starting her life over again after Bryn's death. That's a thread that shows up in the beginning and several places, but isn't pervasive enough to be a compelling goal--at least for me.

Secondarily, I'm sure they will ultimately have to "find" something that's important to their world. Right now we don't have a hint what that might be. It would be nice to have some foreshadowing of something amiss in the happy kingdom--something looming on the horizon that presages doom.

Conflict comes from the opposition of goals and obstacles. The outcome of the conflict matters because of the stakes. Tension is the result of the combination of the three. Increases in tension arise from refining or expanding the goals, raising the stakes, increasing the obstacles, or some combination of the three. There is ample opportunity here to have LOTS of tension as this novel progresses. I just wish there were more in this opening chapter.

                                                             
*FlagB*Hook
Good enough hook.

                                                             
*FlagB*Style and Voice
First person...I think I spotted one little wobble.

                                                             
*FlagB*Scene/Setting
This was a bit sparse for my taste--although I confess I seem to almost always want more. Describing the scene helps to ground the readers in the fictional world, of course, but it can also advance character and plot. What Conia notices and what she thinks about the things she notices around her can reveal character--for example, we know she noticed Jac's backside from the conversation, revealing her attraction to him. It might have been a tiny bit stronger, for example, to have her think about how tightly the gray trousers wrapped about his tight buns...As they entered the dome, we know it's crowded, but don't have much other sense about the scene. Are there flags flying? Is the dome granite, or concrete, or maybe copper? What kind of light is there inside--is it like the Pantheon with an occulus admitting natural light? Are there musicians? Vendors selling foods that smell good/bad? As you think about describing these, you could add ominous details about a "red on black raven's banner of the house of Badguylord," to give a touch of background vial the setting and add some tension.

                                                             
*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!

                                                             
*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 the story, the characters, and the dialogue. It moved well and held my attention. I could wish for a touch more tension and description, but these are fiddling at the edges. This is a good opening chapter! Thanks for asking me to read!

                                                             
*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* A slight smile crossed my face.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: She can't see her face, so this is a small POV violation. If you said "bent my lips," then she'd be feeling it as opposed to seeing it... *Exclaim*

*Cut*His features chiseled.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: were chiseled? *Exclaim*

*Cut*An eternity later, I sighed, I had given enough to the cause. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: I infer from the next paragraph that she's been talking to people, right? So, say that here--after an eternity of chatting up boneheads... *Exclaim*

*Cut* I hissed *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Just FYI: I've had more than one editor tell me it's impossible to "hiss" sentence. *Exclaim*

*Cut*“NOT THAT!" I hissed at them.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Whether it's possible to hiss or not, I wouldn't use this construction twice in such a short span. *Exclaim*

*Cut*The events over for the day the crowd flowed out of the Dome *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Missing comma after "day." *Exclaim*

*Cut*‘A court upbringing?’ I wondered.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Did she say this out loud? *Exclaim*

*Cut*I felt the heat rising in my cheeks*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Phrases like "I felt" are a subtle form of telling. It's almost always more immediate and intimate to just describe the sensation directly. Since we're in Conia's head, they will infer she felt it. Moreover, she reacts to the sensation by rushing toward the exit, so that confirms she felt it. *Exclaim*

*Cut*Jimin hurried ahead rounding the side of the building.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: missing comma after "ahead." *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!.
8
8
Review of Insti-Sleep  
Review by
In affiliation with Novel Workshop Group  
Rated: 18+ | (4.0)
Review Spot Tag


Item Reviewed: "Insti-Sleep
Author StabbySerpent
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
Thank you for sharing this horror story. It creeped me out, but then it's a horror story! Between the mystery, growing tension and senses of doom, and down-right horror, there is much to like here. I think I'll settle on the opening paragraph, which grounds the reader in the first-person narrator's head and sets the tone.

                                                             
*FlagB*Opening
I loved the first paragraph. And the second paragraph. And the third...well, you get the progression. But those first paragraphs really draw the readers and foreshadow the action. Brilliant craft at work here!

                                                             
*FlagB*Plot
To sleep. That's all the narrator wants. He doesn't even care if he dreams. He just wants to sleep. Insti-sleep gives him his desire. As Oscar Wilde pointed out, the only thing worse than not getting what you desire is getting what you desire.

                                                             
*FlagB*Style and Voice
First person. No slips. I wish you'd named your narrator earlier--in the first paragraph if possible. That would also establish his gender. This would help to draw readers into his head.

                                                             
*FlagB*Scene/Setting
Sufficient for staging. I almost always wind up wishing for more. Setting can help ground the readers, but more importantly it's another way to show character and advance plot. For example, is Jerrod's place tidy or messy? Does it change after he starts taking insti-sleep? Are there mementos--photos of a past lover, for example?--that can help establish his loneliness?

                                                             
*FlagB*Characters
We get touches of Jerrod's character. We're told he transitions from snarky to vapid, but don't really see the transition happening.

                                                             
*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.

I saw a couple of minor typos--see the line-by-line.

                                                             
*FlagB*Just my personal opinion
In case it wasn't clear, I think this is a *really* good story. The pacing and characterization are excellent, and you do an awesome job of cranking up the tension. I found a few minor typos, but don't have any significant suggestions. 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 walk down the darkness, vision outlines one half of the room while memory aides the other. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Comma splice *Exclaim*

*Cut*I lye in bed *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: typo *Exclaim*

*Cut*I used to like vacations, I yearned for ‘em.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: comma splice *Exclaim*

*Cut*When evening comes, all I do is lye around the house.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Okay, maybe it's not a typo. All he does is LIE around the house, right? See https://www.grammarly.com/blog/lay-lie/ *Exclaim*

*Cut*“One night, I saw an add f*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: typo: ad not add *Exclaim*

*Cut*The rest of my vacation are sleepless nights and runny coffee in the mornings.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Subject/verb disagreement. You might consider "the rest of my vacation consists of ..." *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!.
9
9
Review of D is for Monkey  
Review by
In affiliation with Novel Workshop Group  
Rated: E | (4.0)
Review Spot Tag


Item Reviewed: "D is for Monkey
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 like unusual pieces that push at conventional boundaries, and this certainly does that. If your goal was to create a narrative that replicated dreaming, I think you did a good job! I'm just not quite sure that was your goal...

                                                             
*FlagB*Characters
I'll start with the narrator. He has a mature voice, with a good vocabulary and command of the language, which says that the author does as well. To succeed as a fictional character, however, I think some things need to be clearer.

Kurt Vonnegut said that every character needs to want something, even if it's just a glass of water. The narrator appears to be adrift, not wanting anything in particular. S/he doesn't even seem to be motivated by curiosity about the surreal world of the story.

In addition to wanting something, what they want has to matter--at least to the character. Something bad has to happen if they don't achieve their goal. These are the stakes.

Finally, something has to stand between the character and the goal, an obstacle.

Collectively, goals, stakes and obstacles give rise to tension, which is the energy that drives your story keeps readers turning the page.

Now, you've got elements that could easily be tweaked into goals, stakes, and obstacles. For example, why does the narrator get on the bus? Maybe he feels an irresistible compulsion to board, or maybe he just wants to see what's inside. There is an undercurrent of danger in the bus that eventually leads to a threatening monster. How does that relate to why he's on the bus? Why can't he just leave the bus? As an author, you need to know the answer to questions like this, and then guide the readers to understand why things are happening the way they are.

Tom Clancy said that fiction is different from the real world because fiction has to make sense. Show the reader enough of the fictional world and what's in the narrator's head that you start a dream--a fictional dream--playing the reader's heads.

Even if the goal is to emulate the experience of a dream, the narrator would still have emotions, goals, and needs that, even in the dream, mattered.

So, on a basic level, I think we need more clarity about the narrator, and thus more insight as to what is happening and--most importantly--why we should care about what is happening.

                                                             
*FlagB*Style and Voice
You've chosen a first person narrator. You've given the narrator a consistent, if rather detached, voice. There's nothing wrong with a detached voice, but you still need to include ways to hook the reader into the narrator's head. For example, I'm pretty sure we don't know the narrator's gender, and I'm certain we don't have a name for the narrator. These are two simple and direct ways to help readers connect with the narrator. Other ways include subjective emotions and sensations--sight, smell, touch, for example--that only the narrator can feel. Describing those helps draw readers into the narrator's head and hence inside the story.

                                                             
*FlagB*Scene/Setting
The setting is surreal, with some fine, vivid descriptions. This is one of the strenghts of the story.

                                                             
*FlagB*Grammar
While I don't read for grammar, I almost always find things to whine about. Not here. Good job!

                                                             
*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.

Thanks for sharing this with me. I enjoyed it for the surreal atmosphere and dream-like sequence of events. You have a mastery of language and imagery. 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*The kid in front of me steps from the dirty grey concrete ground up onto the school bus. It is dirty and old,*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Be careful about repeating words and phrases since it runs the risk of making your prose seem monotone. The word "dirty" is used twice here. *Exclaim*

*Cut*The kid in front of me steps from the dirty grey concrete ground up onto the school bus. It is dirty and old,*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Be careful about repeating words and phrases since it runs the risk of making your prose seem monotone. The word "dirty" is used twice here. *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!.
10
10
Review of Ocean dad  
Review by
In affiliation with Novel Workshop Group  
Rated: E | (4.0)
Review Spot Tag


Item Reviewed: "Ocean dad
Author ger
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 story is a really marvelous use of metaphor. The ocean, in multiple forms, serves as a metaphor for the challenges of life, for how people respond to life, and for the narrator's relationship with the father, among other things. You weave these together into a nuanced, delicate tapestry of emotion, memory, and regret.

I think this works well as it stands. It's almost an obituary, with the father's life story explained through vignettes which serve as metaphors for the person, his relationships,and the he influenced the narrator.

As a story, I think there are ways you might revise it. I'm even going to make some comments on that below. But injecting here-and-now realism into this runs the risk of dissipating the chimera-like character of the prose. So, while I'm going to make *comments* on *how* to inject realism and put the readers in the here-and-now of ongoing events, I'm not sure it would improve the *message* of the story, and might well damage the soulful mood. So, read what follows with caution. What you've written is quite good.

                                                             
*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.

So, your opening certainly hooks the reader with the first sentence. It also sets the tone and the mood for the rest of the story, and establishes your first person narrator. It establishes the basic metaphor of the ocean. It also uses that metaphor to establish the character of the father. These are things to the good.

So, what might be missing. Well, first, we never learn the name or even the gender of the narrator. I'm guessing this is deliberate, since it's hard to hide the gender in an entire story. However, these two details helps to put the readers inside the narrator's head and hence inside the world of the story. It helps readers imagine the here-and-now of evolving events.

That leads to another observation. These opening paragraphs, like most of the story, feel like the narrator is sitting next to me, telling his/her memories. On the one hand, that's part of what gives it a philosophical, reflective tone which is something I liked. On the *other* hand, it's "telling" the story as opposed to showing it.

For example, after your first sentence, the rest of the first paragraph tells us the father liked to swim, and especially enjoyed the challenge of high waves and rough seas. The narrator "thinks he liked it" because he liked the challenge the ocean represented and the fact he could meet it. Note that is all told. If you were to show it, you'd reveal these things through his words and deeds. We'd see him strip off his shirt--as he does later. We'd see the eagerness in his eyes as he scanned the ocean, and the enthusiasm as he splashed into the waters. We see him disappearing under a wave, feel the narrator's fear that he'd drowned, and then relief as his head pops up, his face split in a triumphant grin. In short, instead of being told about his love of the challenge, of the threat of the ocean, we'd see it in the here-and-now and infer the things you tell us.

Generally speaking, for story-telling showing is superior to telling. It's more intimate and immediate for the readers, and does a better job of engaging their imagination about the world and the people in the story. On the other hand, I'm not sure that kind of realism is your goal.


                                                             
*FlagB*Plot
We have two characters: the narrator and the father.

Both have clear goals. The stakes are high, since their relationship and, indeed, their lives turn on the goals. The obstacles are high, too, since the goals conflict: one seeks out challenges and the other avoids them.

For each character, the conflict between goals and obstacles, together with stakes, gives rise to tension. This is amplified because of the contrary nature of the goals. So, you've got good tension in the story, and it increases to where the father finally loses his battle.

                                                             
*FlagB*Style and Voice
First person--exactly the right choice for this story, I think.

                                                             
*FlagB*Scene/Setting
Since we're generally not in the here-and-now, this is pretty sparse. We do see the disarray in the father's home, reflecting the disarray in his life. At the ocean, though, we're missing a whole array of possible senses and sensations. THe scent of the sea, the feel of the wind, the chill of the waters, to name just a few. These kinds of details can not only help the fictional dream playing in the readers' heads, they can also reveal bits about character--as with the father's home. So, a touch more scene setting that included some sensory details might be helpful. Not a lot, though: just a touch.

                                                             
*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!

                                                             
*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 understand this piece is more about the metaphor than the story. Indeed, that's something I like about it. But the best fiction is both metaphor and story, working together. Ernest Hemingway said: "I tried to make a real old man, a real boy, a real sea, a real fish, and real sharks. But if I made them good and true enough, they would mean many things. The hardest thing is to make something really true and sometimes truer than true."

The heart of your story is surely truer than true. The pathos and metaphor are there. You can try to inject the here-and-now and add elements of the fictional dream if you wish, but don't lose the metaphor and the beauty of remembrance. This is an excellent piece as it stands. It might become even more powerful with the right touch of the here-and-now, but then again it might not. After all, Hemingway was a genius.

In any case, thank you for sharing this piece with me. I truly enjoyed reading it.


                                                             
*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 liked to swim in it most when it hit, crashed fast onto the beach and gave no calm between the waves.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: For clarity, I'd consider a comma after "beach." The Oxford comma is certainly optional, but I think it would read better in this case. *Exclaim*

*Cut*My uncle came for me, brought me to the beach, likely saved my life.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: But the prior paragraph said you could NOT be saved. Perhaps you meant you feared you couldn't be saved? *Exclaim*

*Cut*I would not have to go after him, it would be too late by the time I would have been told.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Comma splice--you should have a period or semicolon after "him." *Exclaim*

*Cut*I knew he would die, I was waiting for him to die.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: comma splice *Exclaim*

*Cut*I stand with him on the beach.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Here, you've changed from the fictional past to the fictional present. Generally, you should be in one or the other. Also, since the father is dead, I'm not sure if this is memory or dream.

This is well-written, with the kinds of details that put the readers in the here-and-now. Indeed, I'm tempted to say much of this would make a great opening.

Once the tension dissipates, it's usually a good idea to end your story quickly. The father's death and disposition of his ashes dissipates the tension, so in some ways this feels tacked-on. On the other hand, the final two sentences are dynamite. They absolutely slam home the conflict and meaning of what's gone before. If you just described the sea as the narrator stood, looking at it after tossing the coins, then ended with those last two sentences, I think it would have enormous power.

*Exclaim*


*Cut*passed the waves,*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: typo: past, not passed. *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!.
11
11
Review of Adam's Honesty  
Review by
In affiliation with Novel Workshop Group  
Rated: 18+ | (4.0)
Welcome to WDC

*Smile* Hi. Max again. Thanks for asking me to read your story. I enjoyed it quite a lot, and I'm sending you some comments.

Item Reviewed: "Adam's Honesty
Author Misty Shade
Reviewer: Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈

                                                             
Please remember these are just one person's opinions. 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*

                                                             
Since you are relatively new to Writing.Com, I'd like to add my personal welcome to the site. This is a great place to post your work, to learn and grow as an author, and to make new friends. You'll find a wide range of opportunities here. The site can be a little overpowering at first, so if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to drop me a note. If I don't know the answer, I'll try to find out.

Okay, then. Here we go with my comments!

                                                             
*FlagB*What I liked best
There is so much to love in this story. The characters, for example, have a charming innocence as they confront their feelings. Both characters have clear goals, the stakes are high, and the obstacles are primarily internal--the most difficult kind to surmount. The plot is filled with tension, that is released in a marvelous, romantic moment.

So, the story hits on all the major points: characters, tension, plot, and romance. Good job!!

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 lead sentence does a great job of framing Adam's dilemma and establishing the stakes. It draws the readers in.

I do have a suggestion for a different opening in the line-by-line remarks below, but the one you've got works well.

Plot
Will he or won't he? How will Joel react? Will they still be friends? You keep the tension going until the big reveal. Nice work!

Hook
Your first sentence hooks the reader. THen you keep hooking the reader as we learn more about the situation and more about Adam.

Scene/Setting
This was sufficient for staging--I could keep track of the characters in relation to one another. This was especially critical at the climax (so to speak). However, the actual setting was a bit sparse. I almost always want a touch more description--not a lot, just enough to help me visualize where things are happening. Setting can also help establish character, both by revealing what's in Joel's room and by revealing the things Adam notices.

                                                             
*FlagB*Some things you might think about.

Compelling stories almost always start with compelling characters. Authors thread together other elements, such as plot, tension, and setting, to build a fictional world. One way to think about this is that that we lead the readers on a guided dream. We engage them as active participants, so that they become the our partners in imagining the story.

The "guided dream," or "fictional dream," is a fundamental idea in modern fiction. It's the guiding principle behind most of my remarks in the line-by-line comments below. You do a good job with this, but there are little, nit-pickky details where small changes could make things even better.

Show, don't tell.
I know, everyone says this. It's one of the hardest things to learn. It's also the single most important way we engage readers and increase the intimacy and immediacy of our writing. Again, you do a good job here, especially at the climax, but it's important to be relentless about this. Again, I've made a few comments in the line-by-line remarks below.

Point of View.
See below. The general rule is that every short story should have one--and only one--point of view.

Grammar
I notice you are using Proper English as opposed to the American version. I don't read for grammar, but didn't find anything to whine about here. Good job!!

                                                             
*FlagB*Just my personal opinion
I'm grateful for the opportunity to read this story. Your writing shows talent. This review is mostly just first impressions. If you'd like more in-depth comments, please don't hesitate to visit
Image #1953115 over display limit. -?-


Thank you again for sharing your work, and please keep on writing!!! I can tell you have marvelous stories in your head that need to be shared!

                                                             
*FlagB*Line-by-line remarks
*Cut*As Adam rounded the corner onto Joel's street an came up to the walkway leading to his door, he became anxious*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: This is good, in that it builds tension. But, it's telling the reader he's anxious instead of showing it. It's almost always stronger to show rather than tell. Here, it might be something as simple as hesitating at the door--something you have him doing later. Or, alternatively, his palms might be sweaty, or he might draw a tremulous breath. These all reveal through intimate, physical details, how he's feeling. It's that intimacy and immediacy that helps bring the narrative to lifle. *Exclaim*

*Cut*She opened the door wider and I entered the house.

"Hi Mrs Lincoln," I answered, "I'm good thank you and yes I did. Is Joel home?"*Cut*
*Exclaim*My Comment: Prior to here, the narrative voice has been third person--"he came before his friend's house," for example. But it shifts to first person at this point, where "I entered the house." Either choice of voice is fine, but a short story should generally choose one or the other. *Exclaim*

*Cut*As I came up to his room with the big 'Knock First!" and 'Enter at Own Risk!' boards attached to the door, I hesitated. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Here, the hesitation shows his state of mind, rather than telling us he's anxious as before. *Exclaim*
*Cut*He was well built with broad shoulders, *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: This is part of an awesome description of Joel. It not only describes him, but reveals Adam's feelings for him.

The only things I might consider adding at this point are one or two details about Joel's room. We've already seen the signs posted on the door--a great detail!--but I'd like to know a touch more about the room. Is it neat or disorderly, for example. Is the bed made, or unmade? Are there athletic trophies on the walls, or maybe photos of Joel performing in a play? Little details about what is in the room can both set the scene and--more importantly--reveal things about Adam's character.*Exclaim*


*Cut*I laughed, it sounded nervous to my own ears, but I closed the door and walked over to got a pillow off his bed and flopped down to lie on the floor.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: I'd consider a period after "laughed." This is a comma splice, where two sentences are joined with a comma when a period or semicolon would be clearer. Technically, it's no longer a grammar "error," but every editor I've ever worked with has flagged these and makes me change them. *Exclaim*

*Cut*"Wait, did you see Abby again after prom?*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Great way to crank up the tension! *Exclaim*

*Cut*I'd broken the kiss and told her that I'd had a great time too, and watched her walk up to her house, feeling wrecked, and knowing that I had to face the facts. Which was why I was here.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Earlier, you told reader Adam was always honest and did the right thing. This incident shows him being honest and doing the right thing, including--later--not wanting to mislead Abby. So, from the perspective of revealing character, this is excellent.

But...it's a time reversal. For a couple of paragraphs, we're in the past, at the prom and after. A time reversal tends to pull the reader out of the here-and-now of the present. When that happens, it tends to also disrupt the "fictional dream" playing in the reader's head.

In fiction, we try to simulate life. We experience life sequentially, so flashbacks are a difficult technique to execute. In a short story, they are particularly challenging.

At the same time, this is an important bit about Adam's character, and no small part of his motivation for where he's currently at. It's tempting to suggest that you *start* the story with Joel and Adam double-dating at the prom. You could have Adam noticing all those physical features of his friend, while only being semi-aware of the significance of noticing them--or even fighting against it. Then, have him try the kiss, take her home, and resolve to talk to Joel. By adding a scene at the start of the story, you would set the stage for what is about to happen, and reveal things about Adam's character through his words and deeds. You'd need to take care to have the first paragraph reveal that he's conflicted, if only subconsciously, about his feelings for Joel, but I think it might be worth considering this revision.

I concede this would be a big change, and make the story longer, but the plus of showing Adam's character and his attraction to Joel early--as opposed to telling the reader these things--would be significant. *Exclaim*


*Cut*"So," he said, his voice gravely as if he'd just woken, "who is it?"*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: typo: gravelly. Great way to show his state of mind, BTW. *Exclaim*
*Cut*Joel was stunned, looking at the guy who's been his best friend for the last 7 years, he couldn't believe what he'd just heard. *Cut*

*Exclaim*My Comment: Here, the point of view shifts from Adam to Joel. You correctly used three stars to alert the reader to the change.

But here's the thing. A change in point-of-view mid-scene is a disruption to the fictional dream playing in the readers' heads. Up until now, we've been deeply inside Adam's head, seeing things through his eyes, feeling his emotional turmoil. Now, suddenly, at the most critical point in the action, we're in Joel's head. That runs the high risk of pulling the reader out of the fictional dream, and hence out of your fictional world.

The general rule-of-thumb for short stories is to use only one point of view. In a novel, you can often will use multiple points-of-view, although there the rules is "only one point of view per scene." In a novel, multiple points-of-view add variety and you, as author, have the time and space to make smooth transitions from one point of view to another. In a short story, multiple points-of-view complicate everything, both for the author and for the reader.

I see why you shifted here. You wanted to show Joel's internal feelings. But you kept the essential reveal--that he's had similar feelings for Adam--secret, and thus maintained and even built on the tension in the plot. Indeed, the dialogue in this segment is spot-on, both realistic and emotionally potent.

But you could do all of this by remaining in Adam's point-of-view and showing Joel's reactions in his tone, facial expression, and body language. You don't have to reveal Joel's explicit inner thoughts, and in many ways it's stronger to have the reader infer these things. That's part of why showing is stronger than telling: you've engaged the readers' imaginations, and they are then filling in the details for you. *Exclaim*


*Cut*There chests collided and he felt the rise and fall of Adams chest. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: I love the way you are lingering on that first kiss. I learned from a best-selling romance author that the first kiss is an essential part of romance. The physical details, the sensations, the smells, the tastes, the electric thrill--these all contribute to affirming the romantic feelings. You're doing a great job here.

Oh, and this is a minor typo: "Their chests..." *Exclaim*


*Cut*"Me neither." Joel said, and drew Adam close.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: ...and you ended when it's over. That long kiss dissipated the tension that had been building throughout the story. You might have lingered a tad too long for my taste--the tension really went away at Joel's revelation of similar feelings--but it's satisfying to see the resolution through. *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!.
12
12
Review of Potholes  
Review by
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: "Invalid Item
Author {user:####}
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 absolutely loved this story. If i had to pick one thing, it would be the way that the opening connects with the ending, bringing us full circle. That's brilliant!

                                                             
*FlagB*Effective showing of the information in the prompt.
(28 points out of 30)
This is a bit of a mixed bag. You do an excellent job of showing, but sometimes you start with a bit of narrative summation, which is telling. See the line-by-line remarks. This is good, but not quite perfect.

                                                             
*FlagB*First Paragraph
(17 points out of 20)
The first paragraph accomplishes everything a first paragraph needs to do, but it's kind of in the wrong order. As a consequence, it takes a bit for the reader to really settle into Roscoe's head. See below for more detailed comments.

                                                             
*FlagB*Creativity and Originality
(15 points out of 15)
This is perfection!

                                                             
*FlagB* Effective showing--as opposed to telling--for the whole story
(12 points out of 15)
See the line-by-line comments below. I made several little nit-picky comments in places where reporting seemed to replace showing.

                                                             
*FlagB*Plot and Pacing
(10 points out of 10)
Excellent job here, too.

                                                             
*FlagB*Technical Proficiency (such as grammar, spelling, proof-reading, and following the contest rules)
(9 points out of 10)
One typo. Maybe one or two comma errors. No big deal.

                                                             
*FlagB* Total Points
91 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 think this was, hands-down, the best story in the contest this month, and one of the best stories ever. You have a real talent with character, plot, and dialogue. Oh, and metaphor. I love metaphor. You made one the basis of your plot, in an absolute act of brilliance.

But...this contest is about the best job of showing, as opposed to telling. This means that sometimes the best story doesn't win the contest, and that's the case here. It's not that you did a bad job, but another story did a dynamite job of showing, with not even the nit-picky little slips I noted here. It's a good story, too. Nearly as good as yours, in fact, although it's quite different.

In any case, thank you sharing your story. I *really* enjoyed reading it, and I hope you come back again!!

                                                             
*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*Ker-thunk! Damn potholes, Roscoe's brows furrowed as he pushed his glasses back up the slope of his nose. He squinted, peering through the nearly opaque windshield awash in light from the setting sun. I can’t even see the damn things!“Just once, I’d like to actually see people do what they promised. Stupid, lying politicians!”*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: This opening does many things well. You name your POV characer. You orient the reader in space and time. You put the reader inside Roscoe's head with subjective things like him "squinting" at the "opaque" windshield, and by giving us his internal thoughts. The invisible potholes--and his associated epithet--even provide a metaphorical foreshadowing of the plot.

But...there are some tweaks. For one thing, you start with the sound before we know anything else, including who is hearing it and where they are. If you instead started with Roscoe furrowing his brows and peering through the windsheld, you'd put us in his head and orient us in space.

Note, if you "Roscoe's brows furrowed," that implies an omniscient narrator saw them furrow, so it's better to "Roscoe furrowed his brows," or, better yet, "Roscoe scowled."

Once we're in Roscoe's head and we know he's in his car, then you can have the wheel jerk and the crunch of the car bottoming out in a pothole with no confusion from the reader. As it stands, "ker-thunk" could be any heavy object--say, Aunt Beula--hitting the ground. Context is everything, and the sooner you provide, the better. *Exclaim*


*Cut*He could feel the heat in his cheeks*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Phrases like "he could feel" is a subtle form of telling.

In the first place, we're in Roscoe's head. So, in principle, everything that appears on the page is something Roscoes has felt, sensed, knows, or thinks. Telling us he feels it is just that: telling. It's unnecessary. Further, it's almost always more immediate and intimate for readers if you just directly describe what he felt: His cheeks flamed. *Exclaim*


*Cut*OK, Roscoe, calm down. He’s just a kid, he chided himself.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: The italics alone suffice to denote that this is an internal thought. Editors tend to deprecate "thought tags." Otherwise, good job here of showing his anger and his attempts to control it. *Exclaim*

*Cut*with a bit more drama than needed,*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: This feels like someone outside the story judging his manner, i.e., like an omniscient narrator. *Exclaim*

*Cut*watching the throw rug behind it coil like a spring.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: "watching" is like "he could feel" above. It's telling us what he's doing and seeing. *Exclaim*

*Cut*The house was a disaster! Dirty clothes and mismatched shoes lay along the hallway interspersed with the mail that had been dropped through the door slot. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: The first sentence is telling. You don't need it, because you've done a great job showing it's a disaster in the next sentence. If you want to emphasize that Roscoe thinks it's a disaster, have his "lips pull down" or have him scowl, showing his reaction to what he's just seen. *Exclaim*

*Cut*He listened intently and heard a muffled voice*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: "He listened" and "he heard" are like "he noticed" above. Also, "listened intently" uses an adverb to pep up a weak verb. I can't offhand think of a better verb, but I'd rather show him listening intently than use the adverb to show him doing so. For example, maybe he closes his eyes and holds his breath while he listens. *Exclaim*

*Cut*staring at his wife unkempt appearance. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: "Staring..." is like "he noticed" above. I'll stop pointing these out, as I'm sure you get the idea. Just report that she's a mess. If you want to emphasize he's seen it, have him react--as you do, when he says it looks like she's done nothing all day.

Oh, there's a missing possessive--his wife's appearance. *Exclaim*


*Cut*“Oh, mighty lord of the manor, forgive me for not rising and celebrating your return!” The scorn in her voice was palpable.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: In some ways, reporting her tone of voice after she speaks is too late--the readers will have already "heard" her voice in their heads. If might be better if you first gave an indication of her state of mine by, say, rolling eyes, to cue the reader that what's coming is sarcasm. Then they'll hear the tone because you've prepared them for it. *Exclaim*

*Cut*Roscoe stepped back, eyes wide with surprise.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: The wide eyes show his surprise, but he can't see his eyes, so this is a POV violation. The step back shows retreat. Is there some other way you could show surprise? *Exclaim*

*Cut*Evidently she tripped and he tried to catch her*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: I hate commas, I really do. I never get them right. I think you need one after "evidently," and maybe after "tripped." *Exclaim*

*Cut*“Oh, honey. What happened?” he said with concern.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: I don't think he'd say that "with sarcasm." His words, indicate his concern, so you don't need to tell us. Moreover, it's again telling what his words already show. *Exclaim*

*Cut*Roscoe’s cheeks flushed,*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: He can feel his cheeks flush, so this is good showing of his chagrin. *Exclaim*

*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: And this is where we see revealed the genius of the opening reference to potholes. I love it! *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
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!.
13
13
Review of "We Can Do This!"  
Review by
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: ""We Can Do This!"
Author LegendaryMasK❤ MasK of Zorro
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
At the start, we find a marriage ravaged by the death of a child. But, as the story develops, the couple again finds one another, and begin to rebuild their relationship. That's a powerful theme on the redeeming power of love, and an awesome concept for a story.

                                                             
*FlagB*Effective showing of the information in the prompt.
(15 points out of 30)
Where you show things, you do it well--for example, the smells when Roscoe first enters their home. On the other hand, there are at least an equal number of places where you tell readers thing in summary narration. I've noted some of these in the line-by-line remarks below, along with some suggestions for showing.

                                                             
*FlagB*First Paragraph
(5 points out of 20)
On the plus side, you orient the reader in time and space and name your POV character. But there is a lot of telling as opposed to showing--see the line-by-line remarks for more detail.

                                                             
*FlagB*Creativity and Originality
(15 points out of 15)
I really liked the theme for this story quite a lot. Very creative, and not at all like anything I'd expected.

                                                             
*FlagB* Effective showing--as opposed to telling--for the whole story
(8 points out of 15)
As with the intro, it's a mixed bag.

                                                             
*FlagB*Plot and Pacing
(10 points out of 10)
Good job here! Roscoe has clear goals. The stakes are high, and the obstacle, in the form of Ruby's depression, is formidable. You use these to good effect to create tension, which you then release effectively at the climax. Excellent structural and plotting work here!

                                                             
*FlagB*Technical Proficiency (such as grammar, spelling, proof-reading, and following the contest rules)
(8 points out of 10)
There were a couple of minor typos and grammar errors, otherwise this was good.


                                                             
*FlagB* Total Points
61 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 enjoyed this story for it's plot, and for the reslience that the characters showed. Thank you for entering the contest, and I hope you come back again!

                                                             
*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*"FWEET"... The whistle blows indicating it was 5 pm. It had been a long day and Roscoe Tate was so ready to go home and shower, eat and crash on his nice big sofa and not move all weekend. He has been exhausted for the past 7 months.*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.

We start with the sound of the whistle, but we don't know who is hearing it. A declarative sentence follows, revealing that it's 5PM and that Roscoe is ready to go home. Then there's another statement of fact that he's tired. These are all the author telling the reader things instead of revealing them through the words and deeds of the characters. Showing would involve Roscoe reacting to the sound of the whistle. If he's exhausted, there will be physical manifestations--aching muscles, maybe a headache, mental fatigue from lack of sleep, whatever. If you show Roscoe experiencing those things, readers will infer that he's exhausted and that it's been a long day. Moreover, describing subjective feelings--like stretching sore muscles and having his joints ache--places readers in Roscoe's head and establishes his point-of-view.

It's especially critical to be relentless in showing things in your opening sentences, since that's where you draw readers into Roscoe's head and hence into your fictional world.
*Exclaim*


*Cut*he noticed a bunch of the guys talking at the end of the sidewalk. Cutting across the grass to avoid them, *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Phrases like "he noticed" are a subtle form of telling. It's almost always more intimate and immediate for readers if you describe directly what he noticed. If you want to then show that he noticed, have him react in some manner. Indeed, you do this when he cuts across the grass to avoid them. So, it's stronger--and showing as opposed to telling--to just say a bunch guys huddled at the end of the sidewalk talking, followed by his reaction. *Exclaim*

*Cut*Hey, Roscoe what are you doing tonight? asked Jeremiah. Some of the boys are going down to Dixie's and grab a bite to eat, you wanna come along? It's been a very long week." *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: typo: missing open/close quotes. *Exclaim*

*Cut*"Naa, got plans tonight,*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: When Roscoe speaks, you should start a new paragraph. Every time a new person speaks, it's a new paragraph. *Exclaim*

*Cut*"Well, if your sure, the boys were just wondering." *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Needs another new paragraph. Also, typo at "your," which should be "you're." *Exclaim*

*Cut*Back to normal if only it was, Roscoe thought to himself*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Most editors will deprecate "thought tags," often by suggesting that internal thoughts be placed in italics instead. A more advanced technique is to interleave Roscoe's thoughts and emotions into the narrative. If you're deeply in his point-of-view, everything on the page is something he's sensed or thought, so even italics can become unnecessary. However, this requires that the readers already be deeply in his POV. *Exclaim*

*Cut*When Roscoe comes home from work, he's hoping the house isn't a disgusting mess. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: This sentence launches a couple of paragraphs where the story stops while the author tells the reader stuff. This is surely important stuff for the reader to know, but it's all told in narrative form instead of shown through the words and deeds of your characters. For example, maybe he sees the box with the crib they'd bought six months ago still in the garage. If his eyes mist or his chin trembles at the sight of the crib, still in its box after six months, the readers will figure out that tragedy ensued.

Hemingway once said the best story he ever wrote had only six words: "Baby shoes for sale. Never used." That's the kind of showing I'm talking about. Sometimes, what's left unsaid is more powerful than what's said. *Exclaim*


*Cut*He hears the TV blaring as he turns the key in the lock.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: "He hears" is like "he noticed" above... *Exclaim*

*Cut*She has been watching TV all day instead of fixing dinner,*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Statement of fact. How does Roscoe know she's been sitting there all day? *Exclaim*

*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Tells us she's getting angry instead of describing her facial expression and thus showing she's angry. *Exclaim*

*Cut*letting her know that he is defeated and can't go on anymore like this. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Tells us what Ruby knows, so this takes us away from Roscoe's point-of-view. *Exclaim*

*Cut*he sees the tears forming in her eyes. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: We’ve briefly been in Ruby's head, knowing what she feels and sees, but now we're back in Roscoe's head. *Exclaim*

*Cut*she sees the tears slide down his cheeks.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Flips back to Ruby's head, since we're told what she sees. You could stay in Roscoe's POV and still reveal what Ruby sees by having her trace the tears down his cheek with her finger, for example. That would show, through her tender action, not only what she sees but something of how she is feeling. *Exclaim*

*Cut*she sees the tears slide down his cheeks.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Flips back to Ruby's head, since we're told what she sees. You could stay in Roscoe's POV and still reveal what Ruby sees by having her trace the tears down his cheek with her finger, for example. That would show, through her tender action, not only what she sees but something of how she is feeling. *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
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!.
14
14
Review of FIND  
for entry "Chapter 1
Review by
In affiliation with Novel Workshop Group  
Rated: E | (4.0)
Need a review? Visit
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*Smile* Okay! I'm finally back. Thanks for asking me to read your chapters. I liked this quite a lot and wanted to share some thoughts with you.

Item Reviewed: "FIND
Chapter: "Chapter 1
Author lori joan morgan
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 this opening quite a lot. Conia is an appealing character, still mourning Bry but ready to move. She'socially awkward, but in a nice kind of way. The supporting characters are well-drawn and also appealing. This is an excellent start!

                                                             
*FlagB*Plot
The basic plot is that Conia and her two brothers, Bena and Jimin, are seeking a fourth to form a team. Actually, it's to reform the team they had prior to the death of Bry two years ago. So, the overt goals are clear. The subtext is that Conia was in love with Bry, so her sorrow is an obstacle. In any case, we've got a pretty clear plot as they meet and dine with a potential new team member.

                                                             
*FlagB*Hook
See my comments below...this is a reasonable hood, but I think needs a touch more context. There should be some tension about the outcome of the conversation, so I think that needs threaded into the chapter, too.

                                                             
*FlagB*Style and Voice
First person, in Conia's head. no slips.

                                                             
*FlagB*Referencing
I like the way we learn things from context. Great job with this!!!

                                                             
*FlagB*Scene/Setting
Sufficient for staging, but I usually whine for more. you don't need much--the restaurant is very well drawn, for example, but the Conclave was a little spotty, and the opening more so.

                                                             
*FlagB*Characters
see above. I like all the characters except Jac, and don't DISlike him. I just don't know him yet. He does seem kind of like he's got a broom up his...er, I mean, he seems a bit formal.

                                                             
*FlagB*Grammar
I don't read for grammar, but I did notice a couple of sentence fragments. These are okay if not used in excess.

                                                             
*FlagB*Just my personal opinion
I think you've done an outstanding job with the dialogue in this chapter. You've moved the characters around, revealed things about the culture and their relationships through their words and deeds, and minimized telling. These are difficult things to do, and you're doing them well--especially the "no telling" thing. That's one of the hardest things for authors to learn. There are a few places where I could wish for a touch more context, especially at the beginning, but that'll be easy to fix on the next draft.

I could wish for more tension. The goal is to recruit a fourth team member, right? Plus, Conia needs to let Bry go. The importance of the latter goal is pretty clear, but the stakes for the former are less so. Just why do they need a fourth team member? What bad thing happens if they don't find one? Or is it a bad thing if they don't find the right one? What makes a good fourth team member, anyway? So, the stakes could use more clarity. The obstacles come from the enigmatic nature of Jac, who is kind of a mysterious character.

The conflict between obstacles and goals, together with the stakes, are what give rise to tension. Tension is the energy that propels your novel forward. You increase tension by refining or expanding goals, raising the stakes, or increasing the obstacles. Where I'm headed is that I think you need more tension in this opening chapter. You've got some where Conia turns into Chatty Conia, but it needs to tie more clearly to goals and obstacles.

But I've rambled. This is an excellent first chapter. I'm looking 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*We finished our midday meal at one of my favorite eating places inside the city’s western wall. Out of the corner of my eye I watched Bena take in a deep breath straightening his shoulders.


“Conia,” Bena began.


I wondered what he was up to.


“Jimin and I conspired to insure we’d be off this afternoon and evening not just for the conclave.”


I narrowed my eyes as he caught my gaze but he continued.


“I know Bry introduced the concept of us becoming a Find Team, regaling us with stories of the opportunities most people never get a chance at, but it’s been two years since his death, don’t you think it’s time ...” Bena’s voice trailed off as I felt my brow wrinkle toward a frown.


Jimin and Bena helped me keep going after Bry’s death but the fog of grief still hung around me like a tattered shroud I was unwilling to remove.


My frown deepened but looking from Bena to Jimin I nodded. “I agree, it’s time to find someone, we can start our search at the conclave.” *Cut*
*Exclaim*My Comment: I'm going to give you some general comments about this opening.

First, all the good things--and there are many. You've named your narrator at the very start. You've introduced central elements of the plot that will carry the rest of the chapter. You're showing reactions through things like "narrowed eyes," The "fog of grief" is a little bit of telling, but it's a nice, evocative phrase. You've also introduced the basic characters. Finally, you've oriented the reader in space and time. These are all fundamental tasks that many authors forget.

So, what's not like? Well, I DO like it. But...I still have a few tweaks.

Context is everything. You start with a statement of fact: they finished their midday meal. It'd be stronger if you started with Conia sensing or doing something. Maybe she savors the last sip of dandelion wine, letting the bitterswseet liquid burn like hot silk in her throat, just as an example. That internal sensation is something that she's feeling, and instantly puts the reader in her head. Then, instead of telling us she "watched" Bena, you could just report directly what he did. Having her "watch" him do it filters the information through her head and makes it second-hand. If we're *already* in her head, then describing it directly puts us right there in her head, seeing him fidget. If you want to emphasize she saw it, have her react in some way afterwards--in this case, wondering what he's up to, exactly as you do later. These are minor tweaks, but they'd go a long way toward establishing the point of view and making the start more immediate and intimate.

When he speaks, make it clear he's talking to HER. Maybe he takes her hand in a sweaty grip, or stares in her eyes, or even avoids her eyes, but giving context to what he says makes it clearer that "Conia" he's talking to our narrator, and that her name is Conia. (BTW, what you've done here--having him use her name--is a clever way of getting her name at the opening. Good job, that!)

We need context when he mentions Jimin. We're in the fourth paragraph, and we've already got three characters. Just telling us whether he's there or not (if he's there, show him reacting in some way to the speech) would suffice to give this more context.

Then, in the next paragraph, another character, Bry, pops up. Oh, not to worry, he's dead. We don't have to keep track of him. So, introduce him by inverting Bena's speech. Start with, "it's been two years since Bry's death and it's time you moved on...I mean we all moved on..." whatever. Establish that he's NOT there, and that he was in a relationship with Conia.

So, the point is that adding a touch more in the way of context could better ease the reader into Conia's head, and to better understand the relationships between the three characters.
*Exclaim*


*Cut*“It’ll take two hours to get to the Dome. Are you sure you both can walk that far?” They kept fit, but I enjoyed pretending they did not. “Don’t you want to Transport? Jimin? Bena? You’ll miss the opening ceremony!” *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: I like the way you introduce the idea of "transport" without unnecessary telling. Readers can deduce from context what you mean. *Exclaim*


*Cut*“Hey, you’re taken!” Bena chided and elbowed Jimin in the ribs. Jimin put his arms around Bena and pulled him back against his chest for a brief hug.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Another nice way to show their relationship more fully. *Exclaim*

*Cut*An eternity later, I sighed, I had given enough to the cause. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: I don't quite follow what she's doing here...I guess looking for potential team members? *Exclaim*

*Cut*His face expressionless and his stance guarded. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Sentence fragment. These are OK if used sparingly and for effect. I'm not sure a complete sentence wouldn't be better here. *Exclaim*

*Cut*I noticed slight wrinkles*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: "I noticed" is like "I watched" above. It's almost always more immediate and intimate to describe directly what she noticed. *Exclaim*

*Cut*Welcome to The City.”*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: So is it "The City," capitalized? Locals refer to OKC that way. If so, you should capitalize it way back in the first paragraph. *Exclaim*

*Cut* Starting a conversation was always awkward for me.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Instead of stating a fact, maybe she could chide herself for being so awkward. *Exclaim*

*Cut*Bena, six inches shorter than Jimin, dark-skinned with dark hair and eyes. While Jimin tall, fair-haired with light green eyes. I am taller than Bena to my everlasting amusement. A slight smile crossed my face.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: I like having her react after you describe their appearance. However, we're almost all the way through the chapter, so in some ways it's too late: readers will have already "seen" them in their heads. The place for this description would have been in the beginning. *Exclaim*

*Cut*“Shall we discuss the reason you asked me to join you this evening?” Jac inquired.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: I know they plan to ask him about joining up to make a team, but that's only because I've read ahead.

We've learned a bit about Conia's and Bena's skills. We don't yet know Jimin's, nor do we know what skills they need to complete their team. So, as a hook, this leaves a bit to be desired. At 3400 words, this is already a pretty long chapter, but a touch more context would be helpful. *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 🏳️‍🌈




*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
15
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Review of The Lucky Ones  
Review by
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
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!.
16
16
Review of Alligator Resort  
Review by
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
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#1847273 by Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈



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Review of The Hotel  
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Rated: E | (4.0)
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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!.
18
18
Review by
In affiliation with Novel Workshop Group  
Rated: 18+ | (4.0)
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*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.



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19
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Review by
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!.
20
20
Review by
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!.
21
21
Review of Miscommunication  
Review by
Rated: 18+ | (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: "Miscommunication
Author Kimbug
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 the plot for this story. It's the classic plot for a romance: woman meets man, woman loses man, woman gets man back. The happy-ever-after resolution always satsifies.

                                                             
*FlagB*Effective showing of the information in the prompt.
(28 points out of 30)
You did a good job showing the items in the prompt.

                                                             
*FlagB*First Paragraph
(10 points out of 20)
See the line-by-line remarks below for comments on your opening paragraph.

                                                             
*FlagB*Creativity and Originality
(15 points out of 15)
Good job folding the prompt elements into your story!

                                                             
*FlagB* Effective showing--as opposed to telling--for the whole story
(5 points out of 15)
While you did a good job with the prompts, there are several places where the story stops while you tell the reader things. These narrated interludes reveal essential plot information, but they do so outside of the here-and-now of the story. That distances the readers from the emotional content, and makes the tension of the story abstract. I made several notes in the line-by-line comments on this.

                                                             
*FlagB*Plot and Pacing
(5 points out of 10)
I liked the plot, and structurally it was fine. However, in many ways this plot is too complex to fit in a 1000-word short story. In order to show all the necessary elements, together with the emotional subtext as their relationship begins to fall apart, this should be at least 20,000 words if not more.

In a longer piece, alternating the point-of-view between Rose and Roscoe can be very effective. It's important, however, to *establish* the point of view at the start of every change. So, for example, when we first jumped to Rosoe's head, I didn't catch it until the middle of the second paragraph. In addition, some of the POV switches are short--only a paragraph or two. This can easily confuse readers, but more to the point, every point of view switch is a potential disruption of the "fictional dream" running in the readers' heads. A shift in POV requires the readers to shift gears, and to begin to see the fictional world through new eyes. That's the great thing about shifting the POV, but it's also the bad thing: it risks pulling the readers out of the story. That's why the general rule-of-thumb is one POV per short story.

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


                                                             
*FlagB* Total Points
76 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.

                                                             
*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*Roscoe and I sat next to each other in Dr. Thorne's Business Communications class at Stuart College. He was never one to voluntarily raise his hand to answer questions, however when called upon, Roscoe's answers were always correct. One day, Dr. Thorne gave a lecture on the importance of tact and diplomacy in the business world, then gave an in-class assignment of composing a rejection letter to illustrate. We were required to work in teams of two and read our letters aloud before the class. Instantly, I felt my mouth turn dry and my hands perspire; I looked around at the other students, wondering who would be willing to partner with me.*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.

This opening orients the readers in time and place, and it establishes the basic outline of the plot. It starts off well, too, with Roscoe and the narrator sitting together. But...note that the next several sentences all narrate--tell--the reader what's going on. We're told Roscoe never raises his hand and we're told about the assignment. Her mouth turning dry and her inspection of the other students shows her reaction to the assignment since she has a physical reaction, followed by an action. If you had put actual words in Dr. Thorne's mouth, or had her be surprised if Roscoe raised his hand, those would be ways of showing the information that's narrated.

Finally, I wish you had found a way to name Ruby in the opening sentence.
*Exclaim*


*Cut*"Hey, wanna be partners?" Roscoe asked.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: This would have been a perfect opportunity to learn her name. *Exclaim*

*Cut*The look on my face was one of shock; *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: She can't see her face, so this is a point-of-view violation. *Exclaim*

*Cut*Our sarcasm laced don't letter, which he read, garnered a lot of snickers from the class. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: missing "and" before "garnered." *Exclaim*

*Cut*"We rock!" Roscoe exclaimed as he high-fived me after class.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: This is another paragraph that largely consists of narrated summaries. The fertility information is crucial to the plot. Indeed, it's so important, I'm not sure why you didn't start with that, showing the interview with the doctor where they learn donor sperm is essential. *Exclaim*

*Cut*It was the midst of tax and audit season; at least I had that to look forward to. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: It took quite a while to firgure out that the POV changed to Roscoe here. When you make this shift, it's easy to lose even an attentive reader, so it's important to be clear about whose POV we are in.. *Exclaim*

*Cut*the ohsmisshapen, the milk curdled; my stomach turned at the sight of it.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: typo *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!.
22
22
Review by
In affiliation with Novel Workshop Group  
Rated: 18+ | (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: "A Day In The Life...
Author Carly - Prepping for NaNoWriMo
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!.
23
23
Review by
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 t