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Elements of craft that draw readers into your fictional world and your character's head.
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Review of Business & Booze  
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Rated: 18+ | (4.0)
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Item Reviewed: "Business & Booze
Author Alcides
Reviewer: Max Griffin πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ

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

                                                             
*FlagB*What I liked best
I love farce, and this one surely qualifies. The weirdness provides ample opportunity for comedic exploits. Your affectation of capitalizing words for emphasis--as varied as highlighting puns and alliteration to hilariously absurd events--is also amusing.

                                                             
*FlagB*Style and Voice
This story uses a first-person narrator, in common with about 30% of all published fiction.

This is a familiar form for good reason. We use it every day when we tell our family or friends an interesting incident from our lives. It the written word, it's easy for the author to imagine the reader sitting nearby, in an easy chair or across the dinner table, as you tell your story. Therein is the challenge to first person narratives: telling the story as opposed to showing it.

In face-to-face encounters, telling is mitigated by tone of voice, gestures, and facial expression--the nonverbal aspects of telling a story. But a written first person narrative has none of those: it's just words in a row on a page.

First person narratives are most effective when they show the essential story elements instead of telling them. They have the advantage of intimacy with the narrator, but to the extent the story is told as opposed to shown, this intimacy is lost.

My primary suggestion for this story--which is quite creative and amusing--is to be relentless about showing things as opposed to telling them. Your narrator has an awesome voice, replete with clever puns, alliterations, and cultural references. What's missing is putting the readers inside his fictional world through showing things.

By way of example, the first page or so of your story consists of the narrator telling the readers stuff. It's important stuff, to be sure, but it's all told. Instead of telling us he enjoys drinking, show him actually doing it, real-time, in the course of evolving events. Show him drinking green beer. Show him sliding green worms into his mouth and savoring their taste and, er, mouth feel. The descriptions are mostly there, but in an abstract and distancing kind of way as opposed to happening in the here-and-now. indeed, the here-and-now doesn't start until there's a knock at the door, over 800 words into the story.


                                                             
*FlagB*Plot
Great plot. I loved it!

                                                             
*FlagB*Hook
The arrival of the green goblin wielding a blaster is a great hook--I'd put it as near the front of the story as possible.

                                                             
*FlagB*Scene/Setting
This was a little sparse for my taste. Generally, it was sufficient for staging--I could tell where the characters where in relation to each other--but didn't reveal much about the characters. Little details about the office, for example, could not only help bring the scene to life it could also reveal bits about the character.

                                                             
*FlagB*Grammar
I mentioned the affection about capitalization above. I liked this, but I also found it distracting. A stylistic choice that calls attention to itself runs the risk of distracting from the story--from the here-and-now of evolving events. For my taste, I think the capitalization became more distracting than amusing by the end of the story. Others may disagree, though, but I'd be remiss to omit this observation.

                                                             
*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 especially a farce needs the willing suspension of disbelief by the readers. The author needs to fully immerse the readers in the absurd fictional world. you've got a marvelously absurd and creative world here, which is why I made the suggestion above to try to show as much of it as possible.

Thank you for sharing this piece. It brought smiles to my face--and coffee spurting out my nose on more than one occasion. It's very creative and original. Thank you for sharing, and do keep on writing!

                                                             
*FlagB*Line-by-line remarks
*Bullet*Your text is in BLUE.
*Bullet*My comments are in GREEN.
*Bullet*If I suggest a re-wording, it's in GRAPE.
                                                             
*Cut*As It Happened that Day, then, I answered A Knock at My Office Door, *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: this is where the story starts. *Exclaim*

*Cut*I was Scared Shitless,*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: States a fact--telling--as opposed to showing the state of being afraid. *Exclaim*

*Cut*Continuing with Her Zealous Zapper, She went on to say, as well, how She kept Her Finger away from The Atom Annihilator Setting on Her Peacemaker Pistol. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Notice you are narrating this conversation as opposed to putting the actual words in her mouth and showing it. *Exclaim*

*Cut*The Martian Magnets *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: magnates? *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 πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ
http://MaxGriffin.net/
http://MaxGriffin.net/blog/
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#1847273 by Max Griffin πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ



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Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
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Item Reviewed: "Silverbolt #1 Origins
Author Jolanh
Reviewer: Max Griffin πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ

                                                             
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*

                                                             
Since I've reviewed this once before, I'll dispense with most of my leads and gut launch into comments.


                                                             
*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.
                                                             
Thanks again for asking me to look at this chapter. I think the writing is much more active and intimate here than in the first version. You've got a great hook, and you give the reader ample reason to cheer for Ethan. I like the concept a lot, and Ethan is a great character. In fact, the other characters are, too. Even the school board president seems intent on doing the right thing.

BTW, I think most large urban school districts have alternative schools for students who have behavioral or other issues that prevent attending a regular class. The class sizes are smaller and the teachers have training to meet the special circumstances of particular students. Perhaps Ethan's school district is too small to have one?

Structurally, I wish that some information had arrived earlier. For example, we find out that there are 75 known super-humans on the planet. If we'd known that earlier, it would have grounded some of the early action. For one suggestion, maybe a group of students are looking at a video of a super-human, maybe even commenting on them being "freaks" who should be exterminated. Just a thought.

The whole idea of being an outcast in high school is a powerful one. The Buffy series is founded on that, for example. Having super-powers should be a blessing, but as you correctly surmise, it turns out to be the opposite.

Back to structure--it felt a little bumpy. The transitions could have been smoother between scenes, and the events could have moved more smoothly. This is almost enough for three chapters: one that ends with Ethan passing out, one at the school board meeting, and a final one that involves the fight and its aftermath.

In summary, I liked this. I can see where you deliberately took to heart the suggestions I made in my prior review. In the line-by-line remarks below, I'm going to be a bit more picky--that's a reward for being a good student!

Thanks for sharing, and keep writing!!!!

/////////////////////line-by-line remarks follow//////////////////////////
*Cut*Ethan stared at the clockc:gred}[,] twirling his pencil between two fingers nervously. Two minutes, I need to hang on for two more minutes. What started as a tiny pinprick of sensation in his hand, slowly crept up his arm and felt like painful acupuncture therapy. Seconds passed, the pain grew in increments, becoming difficult to bear. Ethan started to squirm like a drug addict going through withdrawals.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: You've done a really good job with this opening. You start with Ethan doing and sensing, which helps to draw readers into his head. You also orient the readers in time and place. You show the pain bothering him when he squirms like a drug addict. The one place I'd suggest a change is the phrase "becoming difficult to bear," which is the author stating a fact. You don't need this because you show this fact in the final sentence. You could even emphasize if a trickle of sweat ran down his temple, for example. Note the missing comma. *Exclaim*

*Cut*Ethan's breathing was ragged now, desperately trying to get some measure of control over his body. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: I think you could use more active verbs here, to make this feel more in-the-moment as opposed to the author stating facts. Perhaps Ethan "panted," for a more precise verb, and "desperation gripped him" as he sought to regain control of his body. *Exclaim*

*Cut*The rest of the students were now facing him cameras[,] out recording the incident hoping to birth the next viral video.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Author tells us what's in the heads of the other students. You could convey the same information by having dismay grip Ethan at the idea of starring in the next viral video... *Exclaim*

*Cut*His slender hands gripped the desk with white knuckle intensity, while he gasped for air. A surge of energy jerked his arms upward. A ferocious snapping noise filled the air,*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: "air" used in successive sentences. This isn't wrong, but repeating words and phrases runs the risk of making your prose seem monoton. *Exclaim*

*Cut*Ethan's classmates were now gasping and pointing, *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Just an aside here: I've read some reviewers who say to avoid phrases like "were gasping" and just say "gasped." I disagree. "Were gasping" indicates ongoing activity, while "gasps" indicates a one-time instance. I mention this in passing to let you know I'd keep this exactly as written even if reviewers tell you to change it. [On the other hand, if an *editor* says change it, do so. They're the paying customer and may be following a style guide.] *Exclaim*

*Cut*A mousy girl with glasses shouted, "Someone call nine one one."*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: It's generally correct to write out single-digit numbers rather than use numerals, which is what you've done here. However, paragraph 9.57 of the Chicago Manual of Style, while not precisely on point, says to use numerals for telephone numbers. Paragraph 9.2 recommends using numerals for numbers larger than 100, so that would also support using numerals here. *Exclaim*

*Cut*The video of Ethan's ordeal appropriately named, "superhuman floppy chicken," went viral instantly.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: This paragraph and the next are narrated background--an info-dump, telling rather than showing. *Exclaim*

*Cut*while gently tapping his neatly combed blonde hair, *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: He's unlikely to be thinking about his hair color, or even that it's neatly combed at this point. Thus, this takes the reader slightly out of his head and hence out of the here-and-now. *Exclaim*

*Cut*Florence leaned against her podium, "I bet you think you are so special with your powers and scholarship."*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Make it clearer that she's addressing Ethan--perhaps she glares at him before she speaks. *Exclaim*

*Cut*unresolved feelings may lead to further incidences."*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: typo: incidents. *Exclaim*

*Cut*I know Ivy League School would salivate over such a submission."*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Ivy Schools generally are not the publishers of elite journals. The *faculty* at Ivy League schools publish *in* elite journals. The publishers range from Springer-Verlag to the National Academy of Science. Perhaps he knows someone at Harvard or another Ivy League school who would love to research Ethan's powers. *Exclaim*

*Cut*and the only villain in recorded history died in a hail of carpet bombing."*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: must be a typo here of some kind... *Exclaim*

*Cut*Ethan felt his blood boil, and the lightning blue eyes dilated. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: "blood boil" is over-used--just say his face heated. He can't see his eyes dilate, so this is a POV violation. *Exclaim*

*Cut*Fear filled eyes stared deeply into his, *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: "fear-filled," for clarity. *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 πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ
http://MaxGriffin.net/
http://MaxGriffin.net/blog/
Check out
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Thoughts on Writing  (NPL)
Short essays on the craft of fiction.
#1847273 by Max Griffin πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ



*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
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3
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Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
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*Smile* Hi. This is Max. Thanks for asking me to look at your story. I enjoyed reading it and wanted to share some thoughts with you.

Item Reviewed: "Silverbolt #1 Origins
Author Jolanh
Reviewer: Max Griffin πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ

                                                             
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 enjoyed this little story, both for its plot and for the evocative use of language.

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

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

Your opening is really quite good. You start with the priest, your point-of-view character, sensing and doing. You orient the reader in place. Most important, you suggest the priest's goal: to acquire the mysterious stone.

                                                             
*FlagB*Plot
When the priest smiles at the stone in the first sentence, we know he has a goal. The first paragraph confirms this: he wants to make the stone "his own."

As the same time, there's a patina of danger associated with the stone. The earth is "rotten" where he finds it, and it holds him and his party "in thrall." The urgency with which the stone calls to him shows the importance of his goal--the stakes.

Implicit in the goal is that he must act, and the stone demands obedience. The necessity of action becomes, in essence, an obstacle to overcome. The danger is also an obstacle to the goal.

So, in the first paragraphs, we have a goal, stakes, and obstacles. These are the building blocks of tension and hence plot. Authors can increase tension by broadening the goal, raising the stakes, or increasing the tension. Increasing the tension keeps the pages turning.

In this story, the goal becomes more urgent as the goddess speaks to him, but likewise the danger increases as members of his party die. Thus, the tension increases.

I'm belaboring this precisely because you've done such a good job with this. I mentioned I liked the plot, and your plot keeps the focus on the goals, stakes, ,and obstacles right to the climax. Excellent work!

                                                             
*FlagB*Style and Voice
Third person limited, in the priest's head. Well, mostly. There are a few places where the story stops while the author intrudes to tell the reader stuff. Important stuff, to be sure, but it's told rather than shown.

In the line-by-line remarks below, I elaborate on a couple of these places. They would be easy to tweak, and I think it would be well worth the effort. My best advice to all authors is to be relentless about showing.

{{c:lgrey}                                                              
*FlagB*Scene/Setting
Sufficient for staging--I could tell where the characters were in relation to each other. Your language also did a fine job of establishing a foreboding mood.

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

                                                             
*FlagB*Just my personal opinion
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.

Thank you for asking me to read this story. I enjoyed reading it and seeing how you used the story elements to ramp up tension to the climax. Like all good authors, you didn't hang around after the climax, so I liked that, too. I do mention a few ways you might consider tweaking things in the line-by-line remarks below, but this is a fine story. By all means, keep writing!!!

                                                             
*FlagB*Line-by-line remarks
*Bullet*Your text is in BLUE.
*Bullet*My comments are in GREEN.
*Bullet*If I suggest a re-wording, it's in GRAPE.
                                                             
*Cut*The stone would glow brightly from human touch, causing inky black dots to appear reacting to the warmth. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Here, the author intrudes to state a fact. This pulls the reader out of the here-and-now of the story and thus interrupts the fictional dream.

As an alternative, you could show the priest or one of his guards touching the stone, show it glow at the touch, show the inky black dots appear. In addition, it's important to keep the reader inside the priest's head while describing these things, so having him react physically or emotionally is also helpful. Perhaps the stone has visceral powers, and can send sinews of darkness twining through his vision. Perhaps adrenalin sends needles skittering down his spine, or bile burns the back of this throat. Giving him subjective sensations that only he can feel keeps the readers grounded in his point of view. *Exclaim*


*Cut*The other men refused to carry the stone further, leaving the priest with only the most stalwart of guards. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Again, the author is stating facts, telling instead of showing events. *Exclaim*

*Cut*On the second night, the priest could heart whispers,*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: typo: hear, not heart, right? *Exclaim*

*Cut*Desire caused a deep aching in his soul.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: "Desire" often carries a sexual connotation. If that was your intent, great. If not, perhaps a less charged term like "yearning" might be better. *Exclaim*

The priest threw off his habit and religious symbols, *Cut*feeling the chill air on his bare body. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: This is a good, subjective sensation, but saying he "felt" it is a subtle form of telling. It's generally more immediate and intimate for the reader to describe directly what he felt. If you want to emphasize he "felt" it, you could have him react in some way. For example, you might say something like, "Frigid air chilled his bare body, making him shiver and his teeth chatter." *Exclaim*

*Cut* laughed maniacally,*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: This is one of those adverbs I mentioned. Perhaps he "shrieked" or "howled." Also, you use "maniacal" in the next paragraph. Repeating words and phrases runs the risk of making your prose seem monotone, so it's generally better to vary your word choices. *Exclaim*

*Cut* It was a distorted image of humanity, with white-hot glowing eyes. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Other than the eyes, how is it distorted? *Exclaim*

*Cut*The distorted being placed her hand on his head,*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: "distorted" appeared a few sentences earlier... *Exclaim*

*Cut*"Rise, Valraven,*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Why wait until the end to name the priest? It would help solidify the character if we knew his name at the outset. *Exclaim*

*Cut*Kill and remove their bones we have more work to do.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Missing period after "bones." *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 πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ
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 πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ




*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
4
4
Review of The Coroner  
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Rated: 18+ | (4.0)
Review Spot Tag


Item Reviewed: "The Coroner
Author Drmikedo
Reviewer: Max Griffin πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ

                                                             
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 in this little tale. The descriptions are vivid, the tension is magnificent, and there's plenty of mystery. It's more-or-less self-contained, but since it's tagged as a prologue, I'm sure it's part of a longer piece. If so, it serves as an excellent start, and will certainly hook readers to keep the pages turning.

                                                             
*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.

The main character already provides the point of view for most of this chapter, except for interludes where the story stops while the author tells the reader stuff. The opening paragraphs, for example, are all told. He's an awesome character, and one the readers will immediately fix on. But he doesn't appear until the third paragraph, and doesn't really act, sense, or think until the fourth paragraph. I've marked a couple of other places where narrated interludes seem to interrupt the action.

This is really a terrific story. But you could increase the intimacy and immediacy by putting the readers in the head of your main character and keeping them there. That's my main suggestion for this tale.

                                                             
*FlagB*Plot
Great plot, with lots of tension. The plot is simple, which is part of what makes it so effective. He's hunting the dark, rain-shrouded streets for something. He has a goal. When he finds the muggers and their victim, the stakes are high, as are the obstacles--he's outnumbered, for one thing. The tension continues to increase as the obstacles stack up. Great plotting, and great tension.

                                                             
*FlagB*Hook
The nameless main character is fascinating and characters will inevitably want to know more about him. He's a great hook.

Eventually you give your main character a name--Blackcoat--but I'd suggest establishing the name earlier in the piece. It helps to draw readers into his head and will make the prose a little smoother by clarifying pronouns.

                                                             
*FlagB*Scene/Setting
Good job here. The oppressive rain and the darkness add to the foreboding. Adding smells to the alley--perhaps from the restaurant or the trash--might be a nice touch.

                                                             
*FlagB*Grammar

*Exclaim* Adverbs.*Exclaim* You don't overuse adverbs (well, there are at least 50 in this short piece), but they show up enough to be worth a comment. You know what Stephen King says about adverbs . I think he is correct. Adverbs are often a shorthand in which the author falls into "telling" rather than "showing." I try to use zero adverbs, since otherwise I'd sprinkle them all over the place like fairy dust. *Rolleyes* I've marked one or more places in the line-by-line comments below where I think you might consider a more precise verb or a touch more description rather than an adverb.

                                                             
*FlagB*Just my personal opinion
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 is a really good prologue for your novel. The writing is strong, the main character is full of mystery, and the tension is awesome. You've also got a great hook to force the readers to continue to turn the pages. My main suggestion is to tweak this a bit to keep the focus on Blackcoat and avoid narrator intrusions, but those are minor quibbles. Thanks for sharing, and to keep writing!!!

                                                             
*FlagB*Line-by-line remarks
*Bullet*Your text is in BLUE.
*Bullet*My comments are in GREEN.
*Bullet*If I suggest a re-wording, it's in GRAPE.
                                                             
*Cut*The rain fell gently on the streets of Philadelphia. *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.

In this opening, you do a great job setting the scene and orienting the reader. It reads like the start of an excellent news story. But journalism and fiction are two different things. In journalism, we expect there to be a reporter, standing outside events, reporting on them. In fiction, the goal is to draw readers into the fictional world, activating their imaginations, and luring them to collaborate with the author in imagining the fictional world.

There are several techniques to do this. Starting in media res, in the middle of action, is one. Another is to establish the point of view by putting the readers inside the head of protagonist--see my comments above.

So, while the opening is good, I think you might consider tweaking it by putting the main character in the middle of doing and sensing at the very outset, using that to establish the information that's in the opening. *Exclaim*


*Cut*He listened as the rain fell softly onto the brim of the black wool hat he always wore*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: This is one of those adverbs I mentioned. Here, maybe the rain "drizzled," for example, for a more precise verb. *Exclaim*

*Cut*he thought, Why do I do it? Night after night, why do I go out and do this.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: You have correctly used italic when quoting internal thoughts. However, most editors will deprecate thought tags--the italics alone are sufficient to indicate this is an internal thought. *Exclaim*

*Cut*Not being seen was a fairly difficult task. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: This launches a paragraph where the author intrudes to tell the readers stuff. This is important stuff, to be sure, but it's all told as opposed to shown. It would be a relatively simple matter to tweak this so that it's in the POV character's head and still convey the information. You do this, for example, when he thinks about his goggles, but it would be smoother if it were folded into the action--say, he paused to wipe raindrops from the goggles. For another example, he might hitch the black bag on his back and his tools might clink.

Editors and agents tend to dislike these kinds of narrative interludes and call them "info-dumps." *Exclaim*


*Cut*Here we go again, the man thought as he quickly moved *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: see comments above on thought tags and adverbs. *Exclaim*

*Cut*What matters is that you're gong to leave that woman alone."*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: typo: going, not gong *Exclaim*

*Cut*The dark figure flashed a grin that frightened both the girl and her attackers.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Author intrudes to state a fact. It would be stronger to show their fear. *Exclaim*

*Cut*Recognition flashed across the boys face.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: typo: missing apostrophe *Exclaim*

*Cut*An audible crunch could be heard*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Passive voice. It would be stronger to just describe the sound directly. *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 πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ
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 πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ



*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
5
5
Review of Black Friday  
Review by
Rated: E | (4.0)
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Hi! My name is Max Griffin πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ , and I'm here to review your entry in the "Show, Don't Tell Contest

Item Reviewed: "Black Friday
Author Odessa Molinari smiling
Reviewer: Max Griffin πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ

                                                             
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
This is a heartwarming story of a good deed by "Santa" on Black Friday. Besides being nicely plotted, it's well written. You are clearly an experienced and talented author. I'm so pleased you entered our contest, and congratulations on your well-deserved win.

                                                             
*FlagB*Effective showing of the information in the prompt.
(30 points out of 30)
A really excellent job here

                                                             
*FlagB*First Paragraph
(18 points out of 20)
A good opening. My only real quibble is that I wish you'd given us Ruby's name in the opening paragraph. Readers have an easier time identifying with the narrator when they know her name, so this is a way to help draw readers into her head and hence into the story.

                                                             
*FlagB*Creativity and Originality
(15 points out of 15)
I loved the creative ways you showed the required elements of the prompt.

                                                             
*FlagB* Effective showing--as opposed to telling--for the whole story
(15 points out of 15)
Special kudos here. No "telling" at all in this story.

                                                             
*FlagB*Plot and Pacing
(10 points out of 10)
Another good job.

Ruby has a goal--to purchase a gift for her grandchild. This clearly matters, so the stakes are high. Initially, her obstacle is lack of funds, so we start with some tension. But here is where your skills really show. As the events transpire, we learn Ruby is elderly and infirm--another obstacle. Then she's dismayed by the bus in the bus. Indeed, we learn that the bus is crowded as much by the scents and poking and jabbing than by her saying "the bus is crowded." Later, she's accosted by the rude woman and her child. All of these in increase the obstacles, which in turn increases the tension. Finally, she falls and faints (or maybe the other way around), wrapping the tension even higher as we're reminded she's not achieved her goal. The tension releases in the last two sentences. Like all good authors, you didn't hang around after the tension releases, although there's a hint that she may have found a new friend.

This is really masterful plotting.

                                                             
*FlagB*Technical Proficiency (such as grammar, spelling, proof-reading, and following the contest rules)
(9 points out of 10)
I think maybe I found one commma error. But, you'd be using proper English rather than the American version, so I'm even less sure.

                                                             
*FlagB* Total Points
97 points out of 100

                                                             
*FlagB*Just my personal opinion
Thank you for entering the contest and sharing this story!!! Keep on writing--you have talent!

                                                             
*FlagB*Line-by-line remarks
*Bullet*Your text is in BLUE.
*Bullet*My comments are in GREEN.
*Bullet*If I suggest a re-wording, it's in GRAPE.
                                                             
*Cut*BLACK FRIDAY! How appropriate. I unzipped my purse and poured the contents onto the table. No notes, just coins. One, two, three, four, five. Five pound coins stacked on the table. Two more left. Fifty pence, two twenties and a ten...*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Good opening paragraph. "Black Friday" announces she's going shopping. Then she counts her money (on her kitchen table?), and which shows us that she's short on funds. The only thing missing is that I wish we learned her name in the opening, which helps to draw readers into the story. *Exclaim*

*Cut*As soon as I opened the front door the wind hit, icy, piercing. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Good craft in evidence here. First, we have the cause and effect in the right order. Second, the "piercing" wind is a subjective sensation, which draws the reader into Ruby's head. Nice work! *Exclaim*

*Cut*With my stick in the trolley, and my hand firmly on the rail, I dragged myself up the seventeen steps; one by one, breath by breath, cough by cough.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Another great sentence that *shows* the readers lots of information via Ruby's actions and interactions with her environment. *Exclaim*

*Cut*The bus was crowded; guess everyone's after a bargain today. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Comma splice. This isn't technically an error, but every editor I've ever dealt with has made me fix this kind of thing by putting a period or semicolon between the two clauses. *Exclaim*

*Cut*As I rose he took my arm and helped me from the bus.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: I'm pretty sure you need a comma after "rose." *Exclaim*

*Cut*The automatic doors slid open[,] and a rush of warm air hit me[,] and my vision blurred. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Again, not an error, but I think it would read better with the suggested change. *Exclaim*

*Cut*I tried to look around for the toy shop, *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: This is another great paragraph, showing the required elements from the prompt by having Ruby interact with her environment. *Exclaim*

*Cut*My voice was muffled by the sound of an alarm somewhere nearby.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Passive voice. *Exclaim*

*Cut*I looked over at Santa, looking on anxiously,*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: A minor quibble: the verb "look" appears twice in this sentence. Repeating words and phrases runs the risk of making your prose seem monotone, so you might consider a different word for one instance--"glanced," for example, in the first case. *Exclaim*

*Cut*I was woken by a knock on the door.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Passive voice puts your readers in a passive, receptive mood. Instead, you want to activate their imaginations so that they are working the story with you. For this reason, active verb forms are generally better than passive. *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 πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ
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 πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
6
6
Review by
In affiliation with Novel Workshop Group  
Rated: 18+ | (4.0)
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Hi! My name is Max Griffin πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ , and I'm here to review your entry in the "Show, Don't Tell Contest

Item Reviewed: "It Happened on Black Friday
Author writingperson
Reviewer: Max Griffin πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ

                                                             
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 enjoy stories that are supportive of disfavored minorities, and in particular I enjoy stories about gay people. This dark tale about the tragic consequences of hatred during the holiday season has so much potential. You might be interested to learn that almost all of my published work features gay protagonists.

                                                             
*FlagB*Effective showing of the information in the prompt.
(15 points out of 30)
You certainly revealed all of the information in the prompt, but I must say that much of it was told as opposed to shown. Indeed, this is one of perils of first person narration. We tell stories all the time in real life. We come home and our families exchange tales about how their day went. That's healthy, even if the stories are sometimes not happy ones. But the point is that we tell these stories.

In writing, the goal is to incite the reader's imagination, to bring the fictional world to life in their minds. Having Ruby say she hates crowds won't do that. But if people jostle against her, if they smell bad, or step on her feet, you're showing the place is crowded. If she reacts to these elements in her environment--maybe her pulse quickens, or she scowls, or even pushes back, then readers are right there, enmeshed in the here-and-now of ongoing events, living the story in their heads.

It's tempting to write in first person since we use it all the time in real life. But it's *much* harder to write effective fiction in first person, partly because it is so tempting to just tell rather than show. About 70% of all published fiction uses third person limited for just this reason.

                                                             
*FlagB*First Paragraph
(10 points out of 20)
See above--much of the content is told rather than shown. I confess I was a little confused, too. First the door is there, then it's not. It turns out--much later--that the opening half of the story is all a dream.

In a novel, dreams--like flashbacks--can be an effective tool. But they are much harder to pull off in a short story. The author and the reader make a contract: the reader suspends disbelief and tries to imagine the fictional reality, while the author is honest with the reader in presenting the fictional world. Absent a clear-cut clue that the narrator is in a dream-state, this breaks this implicit contract. More to the point, the reader's connection to fictional world is broken at the point we learn it was all a dream in the first place. In a novel, you can set this up and recover from it; in a short story, there's generally not time.

                                                             
*FlagB*Creativity and Originality
(15 points out of 15)
Good job here--at least as far as I understood the story.

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

                                                             
*FlagB*Plot and Pacing
(5 points out of 10)
I became confused toward the end--see my line-by-line remarks below.

Certainly, the sentiments at the end of the story have a certain power to them. But, the reader is told about the incident, then told about how it was the result of intolerance, the told a judgement on said intolerance. It would be much more effective to set up an incident where the reader has an emotional connection with the characters, sees the intolerance and motivation in action, and reaches the conclusions articulated in the story.

People don't want to read an essay about, for example, the failings of 19th Century France. They want to read Les Miserables instead. The reason the novel endures is because it's good fiction and because it has a powerful moral lesson. you have a similarly powerful moral lesson in this story. Revealing the lesson through events that unfold in real time is what fiction is about.

                                                             
*FlagB*Technical Proficiency (such as grammar, spelling, proof-reading, and following the contest rules)
(5 points out of 10)
I admit I'm a horrible proof reader. I leave out words all of the time, and I have a *terrible* time spotting it. I can find this kind of thing in someone else's story, just not in mine. Unfortunately, I found several instances here.

                                                             
*FlagB* Total Points
60 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 the moral of the story, and I liked Ruby. I think that the overall plot works, too. The story and the underlying moral deserve a powerful fictional treatment. In any case, thank you for sharing your story, I certainly encourage you to keep writing. I can tell you have passion for your ideas, and that's important.

                                                             
*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*at it hadn’t when last looked.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Missing word, maybe: "at least it hadn't..." *Exclaim*

*Cut*I don’t like crowds any more than you and Marcy can always wait for her gift. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Missing comma after "you." I originally read that Jayson didn't like crowds any more than the narrator and Marcy. *Exclaim*

*Cut*So, the first I decide to shop a Corners*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: typo: shop at Corners, right? *Exclaim*

*Cut*β€œYeah, the store across the courtyard has been since last year at this time.”*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Has been what? Open? Closed? Crowded? I'm sure there's another missing word. *Exclaim*

*Cut*I get into my car. Slam the door and push the button igniting the engine. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Tense changes here from the fictional past to the fictional present. You should one or the other--at least in a short story. *Exclaim*

*Cut*It seems Corner’s Novelties, the only store still doing business at Conderson’s in the light of last year’s tragic events, Mr. Carlson, what is your take on the recent spike?”*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Something seems to be askew with this sentence. The opening clause says "It seems Corner's Novelties..." but never completes the thought. *Exclaim*

*Cut* β€œMs. Mildred Castle,” Mr. Carlson,” I said. Why do you make such a grim pronouncement?”*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: So now she's gone from listening on the radio to doing the interview? I'm confused. *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 πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ
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 πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
7
7
Review by
Rated: E | (4.0)
Show Don't Tell Logo


Hi! My name is Max Griffin πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ , and I'm here to review your entry in the "Show, Don't Tell Contest

Item Reviewed: "Ruby's Black Friday
Author BradJShaw βš“
Reviewer: Max Griffin πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ

                                                             
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 this story about love and loss and Christmas. We meet Ruby who was always eager to teach others "a lesson," including a young man in this story. But it's never too late, and Ruby has an epiphany inspired by her deceased husband. She reconciles with her son in time for Christmas. I liked the twist to the tale, too, but it's one I won't reveal in my review.

                                                             
*FlagB*Effective showing of the information in the prompt.
(15 points out of 30)
I'd have to say at least half of the information is told in narrative form rather than shown. In addition, while it's technically "showing" to reveal information through Ruby's thoughts, it's better if they arise naturally in the flow of events. See my line-by-line comments below for more thoughts on this.

                                                             
*FlagB*First Paragraph
(10 points out of 20)
This conveys all the essential information needed for the story, but almost all of it is told rather than shown.

                                                             
*FlagB*Creativity and Originality
(14 points out of 15)
Ever since Dickens wrote "A Christmas Carole," the ghosts of Christmas past have inspired authors. It's a classic plot, and I loved the way you moved it to the modern era and folded Ruby's particular flaw into the story.


                                                             
*FlagB* Effective showing--as opposed to telling--for the whole story
(10 points out of 15)
There are places where the story stops while the author intrudes to tell the reader things. I noted at least a couple in the line-by-line remarks below.

                                                             
*FlagB*Plot and Pacing
(10 points out of 10)
God job here. The tension grew as Ruby chased the teen through the mall, followed by the apparition she finds in the corridor.

                                                             
*FlagB*Technical Proficiency (such as grammar, spelling, proof-reading, and following the contest rules)
(8 points out of 10)
I found a couple of minor grammar errors.


                                                             
*FlagB* Total Points
67 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 modern re-telling of the classic Dickens tale. Thank you for sharing, and by all means keep writing!!!

                                                             
*FlagB*Line-by-line remarks
*Bullet*Your text is in BLUE.
*Bullet*My comments are in GREEN.
*Bullet*If I suggest a re-wording, it's in GRAPE.
                                                             
*Cut*Ruby walked fast through the mall, which was more overcrowded this year than previous years. Sheesh, she thought, the economy must really be booming this year. I haven't seen the mall this packed on a Black Friday in I can't remember when. There's just too many people here. I can't stand it. I will be so glad when I find what I came for.The frown on her face made the other shoppers who were passing by her from the opposite direction look down at the floor, and continue walking without saying a word to her. Normally at this time of the year, people were more congenial, saying "hi", and "Merry Christmas!", but Ruby didn't want any part of that this year, because the middle of December would be one year since her husband George passed away from heart complications, and that still weighed on her mind heavily. How can these people be so happy? She thought. Don't they knew my one and only true love is gone from me for eternity?*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.

There is much to like in this opening. You name your protagonist, which helps to put the readers in her head. You start with her doing, so you start in media res. Finally, you convey essential information about time and place, about Ruby's mood, and about her loss. This is all to the good.

I have suggestions, though. Besides conveying information, you want to insert your readers in the flow events in the here-and-now of the story. Narration stands outside the story, looking in, so it's better to use techniques that draw readers into the fictional world and into Ruby's head.

For example, in the first sentence you tell the readers that the mall is crowded and that she's "walking fast." In the first case, you could show the mall is crowded by the simple expedient of having her push through a crowd of shoppers. That way, we'd learn the place is packed through her actions rather than through narrative description. "Walking fast" is one of those adverbs I mentioned above--maybe she rushed, or hurried, for example. For another, you might turn her frown into an action/reaction sequence: she frowns and then shoppers look at their shoes. That way readers will infer their reaction, which is again better than telling the readers their reaction in narrative form. You might even have her scowl at a "Merry Christmas" from another shopper, again revealing her mood through her actions rather than narration.

Finally, the key bit information here is her loss, which is again revealed in narrative form. Instead, you might consider having her pause before a restaurant where she and her husband used to dine. This could then trigger her thoughts about her loss, just a year ago. That would be another action/reaction sequence that would make the flow of information coincide with the flow of events in the here-and-now of the story.

*Exclaim*


*Cut*looking for the only store that carried the latest and greatest electronic gadget that her teenage nephew Billy Joe wanted*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: This establishes Ruby's goal. It would be better if that were in the first paragraph--for example, maybe she pushes through the crowd to get into the Sharper Image store for the crap gizmo her nephew wants. *Exclaim*,

*Cut*a young man close to about half Ruby's age pushed up against her from behind, without even looking back, or not even so much as an "I'm sorry, ma'am".*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Good job showing the rudeness of the crowd and Ruby's reaction. *Exclaim*

*Cut*Although she was carrying a couple large shopping bags filled with presents, along with her bag sized purse, *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: This rearranged my view of Ruby, so fitting this tidbit into the opening--assuming it's essential to the story--would be better. *Exclaim*

*Cut*That's weird, she thought.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: It's correct to quote internal thoughts using italics. Most editors, however, will deprecate "thought tags." *Exclaim*

*Cut*All the times I have came here,*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: typo: "have come." In fact, people think with contractions, so I'd suggest "All the times I've come here..." *Exclaim*

*Cut*"You are not ready to see me yet, although I have came*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: "have come..." *Exclaim*

*Cut*you have put Roscoe and I through. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: "Roscoe and me." "Me" is the object of the verb "put." *Exclaim*

*Cut*On Christmas Day of that same year, not even a full month after she had encountered whatever it was that day in the mall, Ruby got to see George for Christmas again.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: I liked the ending, except again it's told rather than shown. If you could show, from Ruby's point of view, what happens while she's preparing breakfast for Roscoe and thus why she gets to see George, I think it would be a much stronger ending. *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 πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ
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 πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
8
8
Review by
In affiliation with Novel Workshop Group  
Rated: E | (4.0)
Review Spot Tag


Item Reviewed: "A Village With No Name - 17 / 18 / 19
Author kzn
Reviewer: Max Griffin πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ

                                                             
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 vivid action in this chapter, along with disastrous consequences that Gideon will have to cope with.

                                                             
*FlagB*Plot
Evans at last takes a stand and reaps the consequences of his earlier deal with the devil, namely Kane. This preliminary battle is mostly a defeat for Gideon, although he does rescue the children.

                                                             
*FlagB*Hook
There's the march back to the village and the problem of the children to deal with, both of which are unresolved complications and hence could provide hooks. The bigger complication, of course, is the pending confrontation with Kane and his allies and what appear to be almost insurmountable odds with the addition of the Indians. I could wish for a stonger final paragraph to keep the tension hanging on Kane's powerful forces.

                                                             
*FlagB*Style and Voice
I found several places where the point of view wobbled, especially in the first segment. See the line-by-line remarks.

                                                             
*FlagB*Scene/Setting
Sufficient for staging. I almost always want more, but it's a matter of taste. You did include scent at the farmhouse, but how about in the cave?

                                                             
*FlagB*Characters
Gideon has an epiphany here after a moment of doubt.

                                                             
*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!

Beware of repeating words and phrases, as this runs the risk of making your prose feel monotone. I spotted a few instances in the line-by-line remarks below.

                                                             
*FlagB*Just my personal opinion
Another strong chapter. you've made Kane even more evil and powerful than before, given Gideon a very believable moment of doubt, followed by grim determination. I want to know what happens to Dicky--another remarkable and admirably drawn character, even if he is a mule. Hoss, too, comes to life in this chapter more than earlier. The nuanced relationships between the people and their animals really helped to bring this not-so-distant era to life.

Thanks so much for continuing to post these chapters--and I'm sorry I missed this chapter earlier. It's *really* good.

                                                             
*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*Bree sniffed and wiped her eyes with sand, stained hands.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: sand-stained hands? But sand doesn't stain, so maybe sandy, stained hands? *Exclaim*

*Cut* his eyes momentarily blinded by the bright glow of the noon sun. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: So, we're in Tim's point of view? If so, I'd start with him acting or sensing rather than Bree. *Exclaim*

*Cut*his pale, blue-green eyes watered from the pain. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Tim can't see his eyes, nor is he likely to be thinking about their color, so this is a POV violation. *Exclaim*

*Cut*lean stubbled cheek.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: lean, <comma> stubbled cheek. I think. I'm never sure about commas. *Exclaim*

*Cut*The fear that showed on the young boy’s face made Jackson step forward.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Puts us in Jackson's head. *Exclaim*

*Cut*charred body and the stench of it made him sick to his stomach. Her charred clothing had fused to her tacky,*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: "charred" used twice in close proximity. *Exclaim*

*Cut*Gideon knew his horse was faster than most and guessed he would have enough time to catch Evans before his horse carried him into the tree line.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Too many indefinite pronouns to keep track of whose horse is whose. *Exclaim*

*Cut*β€œA villager was waiting for me at the house when I returned with the children.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: children repeats from the prior paragraph. *Exclaim*

*Cut*but the monks he had seen walking around the old mission.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: did you mean "like the monks?" *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 πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ
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 πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ



*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
9
9
Review by
Rated: E | (4.0)
Review Spot Tag


Item Reviewed: "A Village With No Name / Chapter 20
Author kzn
Reviewer: Max Griffin πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ

                                                             
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 is another great chapter. I like the added complexity of Mary Loo's appearance and her eerie similarities to Gideon's dead wife. I don't recall if you've previously mentioned that Gideon's wife was adopted, or perhaps a foundling, as groundwork for what is surely coming. If you have not, it would be an easy matter to add a sentence or two earlier on to help set this up. Otherwise, it'll wind up feeling like a deus ex machina.

I'm going to limit most of comments since this is well-written and, where I'd have suggestions, I'd mostly be covering ground I've gone over before.

                                                             
*FlagB*Plot
Awesome plot advance.

                                                             
*FlagB*Hook
You've ended with a decision, which is a good enough hook since it has tension built into it. I was a little unclear about the details, though--see the line-by-line remarks below. That's probably reviewer fatigue from not having read this in a while, but if not you might want to add a word or two to clarify.

                                                             
*FlagB*Style and Voice
Third person limited in Gideon's head. There are places were it feels like the author intrudes to state a fact, especially at the start. Once the action starts, we're pretty firmly in Gideon's head. See the line-by-line remarks for an example.

                                                             
*FlagB*Scene/Setting
Good job. We've been in all the spaces before, so we just need a touch to remind us, and you've done that.

                                                             
*FlagB*Characters
Mary Loo is conflicted, but she's got her "save the cat" moment with her concern for the children. This establishes her and lets the reader cheer for her.

Even Scott seems to have his moments, but he's been such a swaggering, entitled creep that it's hard to believe he'll have a transformation to a "good guy" even under the influence of his sister. He's clearly got a cult-like worship of his father.

                                                             
*FlagB*Grammar
Beware of repeating words and phrases, which runs the risk of making your prose seem monotone. I found at least one example in the line-by-line remarks.

                                                             
*FlagB*Just my personal opinion
This is an awesome story with a terrific twist with the addition of Mary Loo. We must be nearing the denouement, so I'm looking forward to future chapters to see how it all winds up!!!

                                                             
*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*It was a little after mid-afternoon when they entered the main street, *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment:Author intrudes to state a fact. Why not just have Gideon's eyes burn in the glare of the "mid-afternoon sun?" It conveys the same information, but because it describes Gideon's sensation, you've kept the reader inside his head instead of just stating a fact. *Exclaim*

*Cut*Gideon reined Hoss to a stop outside Watkins' office, dismounted, and tied Hoss to the hitching rail at the base of the steps. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: "Hoss" used twice in close proximity. *Exclaim*

*Cut*β€œOnly while you alive,”*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: typo *Exclaim*

b}*Cut*β€œListen to him, Scott,” Watkins intreated.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: "intreat" is an archaic form of "entreat." I'd use the latter. *Exclaim*

*Cut*he went quite *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: typo--"quiet," right? *Exclaim*

*Cut*for she was the spitting image of his wife Glenda; *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: foreshadowing, perhaps, of an actual relationship? I don't recall that there's been groundwork for this, but it's hard to recall when reading episodically like this. *Exclaim*

*Cut*β€œThe best place for the children is in their own home. We could stay with them until some other arrangement can be made. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Again, I've lost the thread. Somehow I thought the farmhouse burned to the ground? Or is this the mayor's home in the village? But in the next speech, Gideon says he'll "bunk with hired help." What hired help? I don't recall there being any ranch hands at the Mayor's farm... *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 πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ
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 πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ



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


Item Reviewed: "A Village With No Name - Chapter 16
Author kzn
Reviewer: Max Griffin πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ

                                                             
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. β€œGideon!” Evans shouted. β€œI can’t find my family. Have you seen them?” There was a moment of silence. β€œFor 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 πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ
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 πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ



*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
11
11
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 πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ , and I'm here to review your entry in the "Show, Don't Tell Contest

Item Reviewed: "Attitude Changes
Author Mastiff
Reviewer: Max Griffin πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ

                                                             
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 πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ
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 πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
12
12
Review of Traffic Jam  
Review by
In affiliation with Novel Workshop Group  
Rated: E | (4.0)
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Hi! My name is Max Griffin πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ , and I'm here to review your entry in the "Show, Don't Tell Contest

Item Reviewed: "Traffic Jam
Author Chris Breva- Marshall Graduate
Reviewer: Max Griffin πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ

                                                             
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*β€œOh, 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 πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ
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 πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
13
13
Review of Halloween Mystery  
Review by
In affiliation with Novel Workshop Group  
Rated: E | (4.0)
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Hi! My name is Max Griffin πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ , and I'm here to review your entry in the "Show, Don't Tell Contest

Item Reviewed: "Halloween Mystery
Author normajean
Reviewer: Max Griffin πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ

                                                             
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*β€œWhat 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*β€œAlright, this is getting pretty freaky. No more phone calls tonight.” Ruby turned off the cell phone and threw it across the room. β€œGood 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 πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ
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 πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
14
14
Review of Chapter 1  
Review by
In affiliation with Novel Workshop Group  
Rated: E | (4.0)
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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: "Chapter 1
Author laurafu
Reviewer: Max Griffin πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ

                                                             
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 πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ
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 πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ




*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
15
15
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 πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ

                                                             
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*β€œNOT 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*β€˜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 πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ
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 πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ




*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
16
16
Review of Insti-Sleep  
Review by
In affiliation with Novel Workshop Group  
Rated: 18+ | (4.0)
Review Spot Tag


Item Reviewed: "Insti-Sleep
Author SleepySerpent
Reviewer: Max Griffin πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ

                                                             
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 β€˜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*β€œOne 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 πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ
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 πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ



*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
17
17
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 πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ

                                                             
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 πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ
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 πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ



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


Item Reviewed: "A Village With No Name / Chapter 14 / 15
Author kzn
Reviewer: Max Griffin πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ

                                                             
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
Another solid chapter. I like Kane behind bars, and fast thinking of Tim. Of course, there is still a lot of tension and much to resolve.

                                                             
*FlagB*Hook
The next scene will be at the ranch, right? So I'd consider *ending* with Gideon and his team heading to the ranch, to set up the conflict in the next chapter.

                                                             
*FlagB*Style and Voice
The point of view in the second half stayed pretty firmly in Gideon's head. However, in the first half, it wavered quite a bit. I'd consider staying in Tim's head the entire time. Staying with one character will be more intimate and immediate for readers, especially in an action scene like this one.

                                                             
*FlagB*Characters
Kane is certainly despicable. It's kind of hard to believe that one of Gideon's deputies didn't just shoot the SOB in the belief that would liberate the village.

                                                             
*FlagB*Grammar
*Exclaim* Comma Splices.*Exclaim*
Nothing major--just a couple of typos.

                                                             
*FlagB*Just my personal opinion
These chapters introduce new characters in Watkin's family. They all show bravery and resilience in the face of brutality. They are all easy to cheer for, and the villains are credible and truly villainous.

I did think that the surrender of Kane and his thugs went by a bit too quickly. One minute they were threatening with guns, the next they're being locked up. Did the other men just lay down their weapons when Kane was disarmed? I seem to have missed a couple of intervening steps where Kane tells his "boys" to stand down and assures them reinforcements will be on the way.

Still, this is another great set of chapters, with lots of tension. Even with the outcome of the gun battle in town, there's still much to resolve. Thanks for sharing. I'm enjoying this novel quite a bit.

                                                             
*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 young boy *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: For the purpose of orienting the reader, we need to know the boy's name. Since his last name is Evans, knowing that also orients the reader as to location. *Exclaim*

*Cut*β€œThe house, it’s burning.”*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: comma splice *Exclaim*

*Cut* But when she saw the column of smoke*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: By my count, this is the third POV so far. We start with the "the boy," then move to Betty Evans, and now to Bree. *Exclaim*

*Cut*His mind racing;*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: back in Tim's head. *Exclaim*

*Cut*but with grit teeth, he charged on with deaf ears.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Typo--I think you mean "gritted" teeth. *Exclaim*

*Cut*Then there was a calmness in her *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: puts us in Bree's head. *Exclaim*

*Cut*the paths too dry to leave our tracks.”*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: missing apostrophe--path's *Exclaim*

*Cut*It rose into the sky*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: No antecedent for "it." For clarity, I'd consider "the cloud" or "the smoke." *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 πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ
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 πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ



*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
19
19
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 πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ

                                                             
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 πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ
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 πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ



*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
20
20
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 πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ

                                                             
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 πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ
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 πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ



*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
21
21
Review by
In affiliation with Novel Workshop Group  
Rated: E | (4.0)
Review Spot Tag


Item Reviewed: "A Village With No Name / Chapter 12 / 13
Author kzn
Reviewer: Max Griffin πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ

                                                             
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
Another good chapter, or pair of chapters. You're doing an outstanding job of increasing the tension. Gideon's goals expand, the obstacles get harder to overcome, and the stakes get higher. You're using all the elements to craft increased tension, which keeps the story moving forward with great energy.

I'm going to dispense with most of my leads for this review. Suffice to say, you're continuing to do a great job.

                                                             
*FlagB*Hook
Both chapters end with good hooks.

                                                             
*FlagB*Style and Voice
I did find some spots where the old omniscient narrator seemed to rear his head.

                                                             
*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 to be compelling. The characters are all awesome, especially the protagonists. My only minor complaint is that Kane is almost too purely evil. It's almost like he relishes doing bad things, just for the sake of doing them. There is ample evidence in today's headlines that such pathological people exist, but most people at least have a story running in their heads that make them "good guys," doing evil in order to achieve a greater good.

I also found Evans' story arc to be a little too pat. First, he betrays his allies, then he comes crawling back to them. What did he think Kane was going to do? We also get a hint that he's been opportunistic in the past when Sam recounts the history of how Evans acquired his farm. Knowing that bit of duplicity earlier would have given the readers reason to suspect him, and thus make his actions more credible as they occur. Just a thought.

Overall, a good chapter. We're getting closer to the ultimate showdown. Good read! Thank you for sharing.
                                                             
*FlagB*Line-by-line remarks
*Bullet*Your text is in BLUE.
*Bullet*My comments are in GREEN.
*Bullet*If I suggest a re-wording, it's in GRAPE.
                                                             
Most of my comments are minor remarks on typos rather than anything of substance. In any case, I hope they help.
*Cut* where the temperature sores*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Typo: soars. *Exclaim*

*Cut*In such a heat a man’s exposed skin turns a rosy pink, and then the moisture beneath the skin begins to boil causing little water welts to appear beneath the flesh. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Omniscient narrator intrudes to state a fact... *Exclaim*

*Cut*In such a heat a man’s exposed skin turns a rosy pink, and then the moisture beneath the skin begins to boil causing little water welts to appear beneath the flesh. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Omniscient narrator intrudes to state a fact... *Exclaim*


*Cut*Gideon couldn’t help but notice how Jackson fondled his Henry rifle.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Telling us what Gideon noticed instead of just describing Jackson's act directly. Also, above it was a "Hendry" rifle. *Exclaim*

*Cut* β€œNice sixteen-shot-repeater you've got there," Gideon said with a pleasing grin.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Pleasing to whom? This appears to be a POV violation. *Exclaim*


*Cut*and wanted to trade it for another*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: and HE wanted to trade it...otherwise the horse is the nearest noun for the implied subject, and it reads like the horse wanted to trade the worms for something... *Exclaim*

*Cut*and raised his hand in acknowledgment to the lookouts signal.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: typo: missing apostrophe *Exclaim*

*Cut*β€œWhen you arrived back in the village Carlos was riding with you.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: missing comma after "village." Othewise, he's riding back into a village named Carlos. *Exclaim*


*Cut*β€œThe mayors riding with them,*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Missing apostrophe: mayor's, for the contraction. *Exclaim*

*Cut*Evans had moved forward unnoticed,*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: unnoticed by whom? If Gideon didn't notice him, this is a POV violation. In order to show Gideon didn't notice, have him show surprise at Evan's sudden appearance. *Exclaim*

*Cut*Call off you boys.”*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: typo *Exclaim*

*Cut*Sam pulled in his horse*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: I assume this is the break for chapter 13. *Exclaim*

*Cut*The two men entered the outhouse*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: I thought an "outhouse" was a latrine, but that doesn't match the description that follows. *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 πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ
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 πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ



*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
22
22
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 πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ , and I'm here to review your entry in the "Show, Don't Tell Contest

Item Reviewed: "Invalid Item
Author {user:####}
Reviewer: Max Griffin πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ

                                                             
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!β€œJust 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*β€œOh, 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*β€œOh, 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 πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ
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 πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
23
23
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 πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ , and I'm here to review your entry in the "Show, Don't Tell Contest

Item Reviewed: ""We Can Do This!"
Author LegendaryMasK❀
Reviewer: Max Griffin πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ

                                                             
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 πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ
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 πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
24
24
Review of FIND  
for entry "Chapter 1
Review by
In affiliation with Novel Workshop Group  
Rated: E | (4.0)
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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 πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ

                                                             
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.