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Item Reviewed: "Of Faith, Friends and Family"   by writethewritten
Reviewer: Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈

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

Thank you for submitting your work for me to read. I see that you joined WDC just a few days ago, so I'd like to welcome you here. This is a great place to share your work with others, to read, to learn, and to grow as an author. There are also many social opportunities here, mostly related to writing. The site is so rich and varied, it can be overwhelming, so don't hesitate to drop me a note if you have questions.


                                                             
*FlagB*What I liked best
This piece follows the evolution of a young person seeking more in life. It follows the main points on her journey, to the end point where she's absorbed into the entity's family and--apparently--left her own. This is an intriguing plot, told with allegorical language. It's well-written in it's own way--although I'll have more to say on that below.

When you sent this to me, you noted that you hadn't done anything creative in a long while and that you found it cathartic to do so. I certainly know that feeling, and I want to both congratulate you on responding to the creative urge and encourage you to continue. This is a heartfelt piece, one that has more than one possible interpretation. You've got a beginning, middle, and end, but where the young woman winds up is open to more than one interpretation. That ambiguity is, I think, a good thing. It lets the readers find their own meanings in what you've written, and the lack of judgement about the ending encourages readers to do exactly that.

So, these are all positive things. I'm going to have some other observations for you that aren't criticisms, exactly. They are more comments about how you could make this piece more effective.
,
                                                             
*FlagB*Fictional Dream
I should begin by saying that most of what follows assumes that you intend this specifically as fiction. If you intended this as something you might deliver as a sermon, or lecture, or speech, it's pretty good and none of the comments that follow apply. But this forum is for fiction, not for sermons or lectures, so I'm thinking you wanted me to comment on it as if it were submitted as fiction. If you didn't intend this as fiction, stop reading and know that I think you did a fine job.

If you did intend it as fiction, then please read on.

I'm a mathematician by training, so when I started thinking about writing fiction, I went looking for theoretical constructs to help me figure out how. It turns out that most authors don't have a "theory of writing," but if you carefully read a lot of fiction, you'll see that the idea of "fictional dream" underlies most of it. This was articulated by John Gardner, and if you are serious about writing fiction I strongly recommend his book.
ASIN: 0679734031
Amazon's Price: $ 15.15


The idea is that the reader enters a fiction dream, induced by the author. The readers imagines the fictional world, the characters, the emotions, and all the other intimate details of the story. The words on the page help to create this dream. The craft of writing fiction involves, to a large extent, techniques for creating and sustaining this fictional dream.

To be sure, there are bigger structural elements--the three act structure, for example. There's characterization, tension, story arcs, setting, dialogue, and so on. But the base is the fictional dream.

Now let me turn to your story. In the context of the fictional dream, you've got a great outline of a story, but the elements of the fictional dream are absent.

A story is about characters who interact with each other and their physical world. We learn about that world through the words and deeds of the characters. A story needs to start with the characters inside the fictional world, acting, doing, and striving. It needs to show things as opposed to telling them.

Just as an example, your first sentence tells us a lot of stuff about your protagonist: "She was a sentimental soul. Young, outwardly confident and bold... but inwardly troubled." That's a good start on characterization, but it's all told. Readers will want to get to know your character through her words and deeds, holistically, the way that they get to know people in the real world. Thus, you might create a short scene where she interacts with someone--maybe a sister or parent--and reveals through her words and deeds the traits that you describe. Readers will infer them from her actions, which is more intimate and immediate. Because it's more intimate and immediate, it's also more memorable.

Also, you need to name the young lady. That helps draw people into her head.

What you've written is a list of events that had a powerful impact on the young woman's life. She's transformed from the beginning to the end. You even got the three-act structure. What's missing is that it's all told in narrative form. Her friends tell her things. She tells her family things. But we never hear the actual words they speak. That's (one) difference between showing and telling.

As I said above, what you have is something that would make an effective speech, sermon, or lecture. But you sent to a place that is specifically for fiction, which is why I made the above comments.

As fiction, what you have is a great outline. It's even more than that. For example, you've got the basics of a three-act structure. Your protagonist has a goal--to discover what's missing in her life. The stakes are high, since no one wants to live a life without meaning. Well, almost no one. The obstacles are high, too, since there are so many conflicting ways to achieve meaning, and some of them (maybe most of them) destroy life rather than enlighten it. The point is that there's a conflict betnween her goals and the obstacles. The outcome of that conflict matters because of the stakes. This leads to tension, which is the engine that keeps readers engaged in your story.

You've got the basis here for a powerful story, for one with universal meaning. For the first time trying something creative "in a long time," in your words, that's impressive.


                                                             
*FlagB*Grammar
I almost always find something to whine about for grammar, but not here. Good job!

                                                             
*FlagB*Just my personal opinion
To reiterate, 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.

Your characters need to live in the here-and-now of ongoing events. That will bring them, and the fictional world, to life. This story certainly deserves the extra effort. I am sure you have skills to do this. I'm not saying it will be easy (you should see what I wrote when I first started trying my hand at fiction!), but it's worth the effort. You have the creative itch, so scratch it by writing, then writing more!

Good luck, and don't hesitate to write to me 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.
                                                             
I only found one minor thing to comment on, and I'm not sure about that.
*Cut*The anklets and thread had been accepted and with them the pretence and the misrepresentation, *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: In the US, it would be “pretense,” but I’m not sure about the UK spelling. *Exclaim*



                                                             

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


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

Thanks again for sharing this item. Keep on writing!


Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈
http://MaxGriffin.net/
http://MaxGriffin.net/blog/
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#1847273 by Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈



*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
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Review of A Day at the Time  
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Rated: E | (4.0)
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*Smile* Hi.Thank you for sharing your chapter. I enjoyed reading it and wanted to share some thoughts with you.

Item Reviewed: "A Day at the Time"   by jdennis
Reviewer: Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈

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

                                                             
*FlagB*What I liked best
The last three paragraphs provide a good sense of the story arc for this novel. I think the theme fits well with the plan to frame the story on how these ideas echo across multiple generations of the same family. This will be a story that's both timely and universal, and it's certainly one that needs told.

                                                             
*FlagB*Style and Voice
First person.

My main suggestions for this chapter revolve around this narrative choice, which I found to present a number of challenges.

About thirty percent of all published fiction uses first person narration, while the overwhelming majority of the remainder uses third person limited. One reason for this is that first person narratives are technically much more difficult to write. That may seem counterintuitive, since we use first person all the time in our day-to-day lives. For example, when our family gathers for the evening meal, we often share our experiences by telling anecdotes about what happened during the day. Of course, we use first person when telling these stories. The problem is exactly that: we are telling the stories.

Effective fiction involves showing rather than telling. When you write in first person, there is an almost irresistible temptation to envision your reader, sitting across from you in an easy chair, while you tell your story. There are many places in this chapter where I have the feeling that exactly that is happening.

We learn many incidents about young Tommy's life, but they feel distant. Tommy is telling us these things, but he--and we, as readers--are standing outside the story, looking in. He even says "I remember" at several points, reminding us that we are not in the here-and-now of the story but in the here-and-now of the TELLING of the story.

Another issue is that at several points, the story stops while the narrator tells the reader stuff or narrates what happened. I've flagged several of these in the line-by-line remarks below to help you see what I mean. Certainly the information about Bitburg in 1952 is important to the story, but it needs to be revealed in the words and deeds of the characters, not through narrated background. As an example, readers don't want to read an essay on the social conditions of nineteenth century Paris. They want to read Les Miserables.

In the last century, many stories evolved in this way, but this approach has largely disappeared from modern fiction. Today, one of author's primary goals is to put the reader inside the story and thus inside the fictional world. Usually, that's by immersing the reader in the point-of-view of one character, in the here-and-now of ongoing events. The reader learns the details holistically, through the words and deeds of the characters and through the thoughts, emotions, and sensations of the POV character. Readers encounter the fictional world in a way similar to how they encounter the real world, except through a "fictional dream."

This is all prelude to my main advice. I think you should consider converting this to third person limited, using Tommy as your POV character. If you are not sure what I mean by third person limited, you might glance at this essay: "Just One Point of View

It's not going to be particularly easy using a 2-year-old Tommy as your POV character. You'll have to use vocabulary appropriate to his age--that's part of being "in his head." He won't have the interpersonal skills to grasp the emotional responses of the adults around him. You'll have to show these through their words and deeds, staying in Tommy's head. But, done effectively, this could make everything that you reveal through narration in this chapter resonate more deeply with the readers. It will be more intimate and immediate because the reader will be enmeshed in your fictional world.

I have another problem with using a first person narrative for a two-year-old POV character. Children that young almost never form memories that last into adulthood--the brain structures, language, and social context just aren't developed enough to lay down memories in the same way an adult does. Your narrative more or less recognizes this when it uses devices like, "My mother told me later," or "I now realize." These are perspectives from the future that interupt the here-and-now of ongoing events.

This is especially true of the opening paragraphs. Literally no one has memories of being a newborn. A newborn won't know what a 'nose' is, let alone have a sense of self sufficient to distinguish between his nose and his mother's. Your opening should launch the here-and-now of your story, and that happens on the plane on the way to Germany. You could use a first person narrative at that point, but it would be extremely challenging to sustain which is why I recommend using third person limited to avoid all the issues of a child that young having memories. In any case, I strongly recommend deleting the opening paragraphs which were at first confusing and then seemed ill-considered.

                                                             
*FlagB*Plot
As noted above, you provide the story arc in the final three paragraphs, and it's a very promising one.

                                                             
*FlagB*Hook
Every chapter needs to end with a hook--a reason to force the reader to turn the page to find out what happens next. That means you're in the middle of the action, of the here-and-now, and the characters are in a situation that's unresolved.

The most compelling hooks are disaster, dilemma, and decision. Ending with a goal, conflict, or reaction is weaker but can be effective, depending on the situation.

Your ending, while informative about the story arc, is not a hook. Your chapter needs a hook.

                                                             
*FlagB*Scene/Setting
Sufficient for staging, although I could use more.

                                                             
*FlagB*Characters
Kurt Vonnegut said all characters should want something, even if it's just a glass of water. In addition wanting something--or having a goal--what they want should matter. Something bad should happen if they fail. These are the stakes. Finally, there needs to be an obstacle to achieving the goal. The goals and the obstacles give rise to conflict. The outcome of the conflict matters because of the stakes. This gives rise to tension, which is the engine that drives your novel and propels plot.

Eventually, you'll need to reveal the goals, stakes, and obstacles for Tommy. The sooner the better, in fact, although the two-year-old Tommy is unlikely to have meaningful goals and an inability to foresee consequences. While relating your story in linear time is generally better, flashbacks also have a role in a novel--just not in the first chapter. But you might consider starting your novel with an older Tommy, developing him as a character for a few chapters, and then using the events of this chapter, in a flashback, to inform why Tommy is Tommy.

Another possibility might be to write the material in this chapter using either Tommy's mother or his father as the POV character. In many ways, that might be stronger.

                                                             
*FlagB*Grammar
*Exclaim* Comma Splices.*Exclaim*
I don't read for grammar, but I usually find things to whine about. not here. Good job!

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

The arc for this story has the potential to be powerful and timely. I certainly encourage you to keep writing. Your vision for this story is worth honing your prose to make it the most intimate and immediate narrative possible.

                                                             
*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*My eyes opened into her eyes, staring into mine. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: One of my pet peeves is when a pronoun has no reference. It’s not just me, either—I have it on good authority most editors feel the same way. So, the “her” has no antecedent—readers are clueless who “she” is. It’s also helpful to work out a way to name the narrator.

As I noted above, however, the problems with this opening go deeper than grammar. You can’t name the POV or the “she” in the sentence because your first person POV character is a newborn infant. He can’t know his name, doesn’t know what a mother is, doesn’t even know what eyes are. A newborn’s eyes don’t even track for several hours.

This might be an amusing choice for certain narratives, but it does not work at all as an opening to a novel, where your initial goal is to draw your readers into your fictional world.
*Exclaim*


*Cut*My Dad joined the Air Force in 1948, at the ineligible age of seventeen. He intended to fight in World War II but found himself emerging from boot camp as the battle came to an end. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Unless this is a science fiction novel with an alternate reality, WWII ended in 1945, three years before his Dad joined the air force and not “as the battle came to an end.” If this IS an alternate reality, then kudos for the subtle hint. However, there is nothing in the later narrative to suggest that it’s an alternate reality, so it will look like an error to most readers. *Exclaim*

*Cut*The understanding of that fact didn't settle in until later in my life. When I remember that
image today, I reflect on the devastation the surviving families must have
felt.*Cut*
*Exclaim*My Comment: First person narratives are more difficult to write than
third person limited. This is counter-intuitive, since we tell first stories every day when we gather with our
family around the dinner table. We relate an amusing, annoying, or otherwise enlightening story about
what happened, There in is the problem: we are TELLING the story.

Good craft in writing fiction involves showing rather than telling. That means, among other things, keeping
the readers in the here-and-now of ongoing events without narrative asides that explain what’s going on.
These kind of things take the readers out the fictional world and hence out of the story.

To be sure, you need to convey information to readers, but you need to do it through the words and
deeds of the characters, not through the narrator stopping the story to explain stuff. Editors hate this kind
of thing and call it an info-dump. Avoiding info-dumps can be one of the most difficult things to learn in
crafting effective fiction.

Notice this is another challenge of using a two-year-old for your POV character. A person that age
doesn’t have the perspective, vocabulary, or empathy necessary to understand the bigger picture. Even
if you have your OTHER characters say and do things, they will likely zip right over your POV character’s
head and remain unnoticed.

*Exclaim*
*Exclaim*

*Cut*According to my mother, our maid traded those cigarettes for enough groceries and clothes to feed and clothe her family without any other income. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Here, you’ve told us what she said instead of putting the actual words in her mouth—narrating the action rather than showing it. .Note that you follow this with an info-dump that explains events. *Exclaim*

*Cut*Where a smile belonged, I found an almost level stretch of flesh, *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: *Exclaim*My Comment: I can imagine that this is an event so traumatic that a two-year-old might remember remembering it (as opposed to remembering the actual event). Alternatively, if you had used a third person narrator, you could certainly relate this incident, of course using vocabulary appropriate to a two-year-old. *Exclaim* *Exclaim*

*Cut*My mother took me on a walk through the ruin that was once Bitburg, Germany. We began our walk, which took us through a bombed-out neighborhood on our way to a general store situated near the center of town. What I remember most about our journey that morning was the muffled sounds of life emanating from beyond the wall of rubble we passed along our way to that store. My mother later told me she imagined those sounds to be ghosts blindly searching through the carnage for their families and homes, moaning with despair at their disappointment over what they found.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: This is great incident, except that it’s told rather than shown. You remind us your telling the story by saying what you remember most. Then you tell us what your mother said, rather than putting the words in her mouth. It would be a great exercise to re-write this incident, including the visit to the grocery story and his father’s reaction, using Tommy’s point-of-view but writing in the third person. That could easily make this a scene filled with emotion as you show the parents’ empathy through their words and deeds and Tommy’s reaction to the them and the scenes. But having the older Tommy tell the story robs it of most of its potential. *Exclaim*

                                                             

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


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

Thanks again for sharing this item. Keep on writing!


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




*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
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Review of The Vessel  
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Rated: E | (4.0)
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Item Reviewed: "The Vessel"   by Dr. Alex Dolittle
Reviewer: Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈

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

                                                             
*FlagB*What I liked best
I liked the sequence of zany attempts that the POV character takes in stride.

                                                             
*FlagB*Style and Voice
You've made the unusual choice of a second person narrator. In theory, this would help put the reader inside the story, but there's a reason so few stories use this narration scheme. It's so unusual that it draws attention to itself rather than the fictional world. For this reason, it's doubly important the author draw the reader into the here-and-now of the fictional world. For example, including sensual information such as smells, textures (touch), and internal sensations only the POV character can feel helps to solidify POV. We experience reality in a linear fashion, so both time reversals in this story draw readers out of the here-and-now.

From this opening, I don't see a reason in the plot for the second person narrative. Perhaps there is something later, or perhaps I'm I'm just missing it, but either first person or third person limited would provide narrative structure at least as intimate and immediate as second person and far easier to work with.

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

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

Your first two sentences are quite good, but then almost immediately we leave the here-and-now for a flashback that runs three or four paragraphs. This disrupts the flow of events and works against drawing the readers into the here-and-now of the fictional world.

                                                             
*FlagB*Scene/Setting
Sufficient for staging, i.e., I could tell where the characters were in relation to one another.

                                                             
*FlagB*Characters
Vonnegut once said that every character should want something, even if it's just a glass of water. This is especially true of the principal characters, who should have a goal. The goal needs to matter: something bad happens if the character fails to achieve their goal. These are the stakes. Finally, there need to obstacles to achieving the goal.

There's a natural conflict between goals and obstacles. The outcome of that conflict matters because of the stakes. This gives rise to tension, which is the engine that drives the plot and hence the story.

So, this is another challenge with a second person narrator--giving "you" goals, stakes, and obstacles peculiar to the story. If the goal is to, say, eat coconut pie and the reader hurls at the taste of coconut (like me), that's a hard goal for "you," i.e., me the reader, to assimilate. More to the point, I didn't find much in the way of goals, stakes, or obstacles in this story for any of the characters.

                                                             
*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.

I liked the zany series of events and see real potential in the plot. I can even see the second person narration working, although it presents technical challenges as noted above. Indeed, most of my comments revolve about the idea of the fictional dream.

I note in passing that your review request suggested that this was a screenplay, yet it's written as though it's a short story--or a section of a short story. Plays, whether for theatre, TV, cinema, or radio are quite different from fiction meant to be read, alone, from a printed page. While screenplays and radio scripts have a written form, they are meant to be performed and so there is a living element that is missing from fiction meant to be consumed by reading it. In a movie or TV show, for example, there are the actors, the score, the set, the Foley artist, and the *camera* to augment and enhance the written word. In particular, the camera becomes the eye of the audience, which is why the opening of the original "Halloween" was so effective--it was, in essence, a second person opening making the audience complicit in the murders.

The challenge with written fiction is that it has none of those extra elements. All that we have are the words on the page. But those words, when crafted with care and heart, convey all the emotions and effects available to a screenplay performance. The difference is that those emotional elements happen inside the readers' heads, which is why the craft is so important.

If this really is a screenplay, it's a fine one and my comments don't apply. I'm not competent to review a screenplay, in fact, although this looks good to me. As a short story, I love the zany progression of events and POV character's matter-of-fact responses, so I see great potential for it as a story. 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*Before the camel happened*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Three sentences in, and we have a time reversal. Why not start the story here so you can tell it linearly? *Exclaim*

*Cut*thrown tissues and empty diary cartons*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: I wasn’t aware diaries cam in cartons...oh, wait. You must mean DAIRY cartons. *Exclaim*

*Cut*After looking out your window you made your way to the bathroom groggily.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: “made your way...” is pretty tepid, but the way to pep it up is with a more precise verb rather than an adverb. Maybe “staggered?” *Exclaim*

*Cut*but the camel bellowed hallowly at your feet.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: typo *Exclaim*

*Cut*You remembered the first time you were at the Inn. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: this launches a second flashback... *Exclaim*

*Cut*Based on it’s reaction *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: “it’s” with an apostrophe is a contraction for “it is.” *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 🏳️‍🌈
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#1847273 by Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈



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Rated: E | (4.0)
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Item Reviewed: "Attack of the blobwoman "   by Alextrax52
Reviewer: Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈

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

Please note that there is a word limit to items submitted here. For this reason, I only read the first two chapters of this story and did not read the second one at all. I also added links to your original posting so that I could find your stories.

                                                             
*FlagB*What I liked best
This is a zany bit of writing that is like HP Lovecraft meets the Marx Brothers. Quite an imaginative parody of the classic Blob.

                                                             
*FlagB*Characters
Carole has the rather peculiar life goal of becoming an eating machine. In fact, she loses her job precisely over snarfing down the community snacks her boss provides. It's not clear why she has this goal, but she does. So when a space creature lands in the woods via a meteorite, of *course* she can't wait to eat it. Doubtless hilarity will ensue.

So Carole has a goal. Oscar Wilde said the only thing worse than not getting what you want it getting it, so no doubt this will be a parable on that witticism.

I get that this is parody and humor, but I'd like to know what zany reason Carole has for her goal, and what she thinks will go wrong in her life if she doesn't realize it. This would tell us the stakes--why she cares about her goal. The obstacle is then overcoming her physical limitations to achieving her goal, but, hey! That's where the space alien comes in the story arc begins.

                                                             
*FlagB*Hook
The most compelling hooks are disaster, dilemma, and decision. Ending with a goal, conflict, or reaction is weaker but can be effective, depending on the situation.

The idea is to end each chapter with a hook that compels the readers to turn the page and start the next chapter to find out what happens next. You've got a hook for chapter one, but not for chapter 2.

                                                             
*FlagB*Style and Voice
MOstly, we're in Carole's head, except at one point an omniscient narrator intrudes to tell readers stuff. This used to be commonplace in fiction, but not so much any more. Modern fiction tends to reveal essential facts through the words and deeds of the characters rather than through an omniscient narrator telling the readers stuff. If you're interested, I can suggest some readings on deploying point of view to accomplish this.

                                                             
*FlagB*Scene/Setting
I loved the description of the crater and the meteorite. You might consider inserting a touch of description of Carole's apartment that reveal her character and maybe her obsession. I have visions of empty pizza boxes and candy bar wrappers.

                                                             
*FlagB*Grammar
*Exclaim* Dialogue.*Exclaim*
Each time a new character speaks, you need to start a new paragraph. So, for example, in your opening Melanie bellows. That's one paragraph. Then, when Carole asks, "What's the problem?" you need to start a new paragraph.

This rule applies even if the "response" is nonverbal. So for example, Melanie might say something and Carole's response might be "Carole rolled her eyes and shrugged." That's her nonverbal part of the dialogue, so it should be in a new paragraph, too.

*Exclaim* Vague adjectives.*Exclaim*
Adjectives like "large" and "small" give no sense of scale and add nothing a description. You're better off using more precise adjectives that help readers visualize the size.

                                                             
*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 zany twists of this story so far, although it was hard to read due to the improper paragraphing (see above on dialogue). Of course, this is an easy fix. If the reader accepts Carole's loopy goal (I've never met anyone, male or female, who *wants* to be an eating machine), then the story has it's own logic from there. BTW, I know that there are eating contests where the winners are the ones who can consume the most food in a given time, so I can imagine Carole aspires to win such a contest.

In any case, thank you for sharing. I enjoyed this wacky start to your 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*To Carole it was one thing to run a by the book, tight ship organisation but it was quite another to run it with an almost Draconian rule, after all Melanie had fired employees in the past just for one misplaced handling of the equipment that was delivered or even more bizarrely for not washing their hands.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Run-on sentence. *Exclaim*

*Cut*she looked up and see what appeared *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: typo: looked up and *saw* *Exclaim*

*Cut*Carole thought to herself “I wish there was someway that I could just eat all the time” *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: When quoting an internal thought, the editorial standard is to use italics rather than quotation marks. Since the italics denote an internal thought, you don’t need a “thought tag” like “Carol thought...” *Exclaim*

*Cut*she was amazed. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Tells us she was amazed rather than showing it through her reactions. *Exclaim*

*Cut*quite similar to the one she’d watched in a Simpson’s Halloween episode. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Which in turn was a spoof on the classic movie of the same name. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0051418/
*Exclaim*


*Cut*However, what Carole didn’t know was that this blob was a slow burner. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Omniscient narrator shows up, knowing more than the POV character Carole. *Exclaim*



                                                             

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


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

Thanks again for sharing this item. Keep on writing!


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



*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
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Rated: ASR | (4.0)
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*Smile* Hi. Thanks for asking me to read your chapter. I enjoyed it and wanted to share some thoughts with you.

Item Reviewed: "King of the House Elves, Chapter 2"   by HollyMerry
Reviewer: Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈

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

                                                             
*FlagB*What I liked best
There are many lovely descriptions in this chapter--for exmaple, "Airen’s reddish gold hair kindled like burnished copper when illuminated by the fire in his forge..."

                                                             
*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 paragraphs give a wide-shot, panoramic view of the setting--the kind of thing that often happens in movies. The problem is, this isn't a movie. It's a novel. In a movie, the *camera* is the eye of the audience. In a novel, one of the characters provides not only the eyes, but the ears, nose, fingers, and all the other senses. So, before starting descriptions, it's a good idea to draw a reader into the head of your point-of-view character.

Mostly this chapter uses Aria for the POV, so it would be an easy tweak to change from omniscient to her POV. It would also help make the chapter more immediate and intimate.

                                                             
*FlagB*Plot
We meet Aria, whose immediate goal seems to be contacting her father. The obstacle is the cruelty of the humans, which provides the stakes as well.

                                                             
*FlagB*Hook
The most compelling hooks are disaster, dilemma, and decision. Ending with a goal, conflict, or reaction is weaker but can be effective, depending on the situation.

By the end of the chapter, Aria has reached a decision to go to her father. Indeed, the chapter goes on for a bit after that decision and reaches a point of mystery where we're not sure how the decision will work out.

The scene/sequel model helps to understand hooks. In a "scene" chapter, there's lots of action which culminates in an outcome of some type. The outcome forces one of the hook types, which sets of a "Sequel" chapter where the protagonist reacts to the outcome of the action and develops a new plan. That sets up the following chapter, another "scene" chapter.

Most of the this second chapter is "sequel," i.e., it sets up the action (conflict) that will arise from the decision at the end. So, the decision point is the more natural ending and hook. The action that follows from that--the "scene"--would be the next chapter. The outcome of that action would be one of the various hooks noted above, setting the next chapter as another sequel chapter where the character reacts to the outcome of the scene chapter. The ending of that sequel sets of the next "scene" chapter and so on.

                                                             
*FlagB*Style and Voice
Omniscient.

                                                             
*FlagB*Grammar
*Exclaim* Repeated Words.*Exclaim*
Beware repeating words and phrases since it runs the risk of making your prose seem monotone.

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

There are a couple of places where the story stops while the narrator intrudes to tell the readers stuff--the so-called info-dump. These stop the action in the here-and-now and take the reader out of the fictional world even as they fill in details about how that world works. But readers don't want to read a treatise on poverty in the 19th century Paris; they want to read Les Miserables. The novel shows, through the words and deeds of the characters, the horrific life of the poor in Paris. That showing is the power of fiction.

That said, info dumps seem to be pervasive in published fantasy. That's one reason I don't have the patience to read this genre. SciFi authors that cross over to fantasy, such as Lois McMaster Bujold, write successful fantasy novels without info dumps. Your novel has a well-thought-out and detailed fictional world. It has sympathetic and believable characters, with great conflicts. It deserves to have more focused third-person-limited POV (changing from chapter to chapter) and taking the effort to reveal the details of the world through the words and deeds of your characters rather than info-dumps.

Do keep writing--your work shows many admirable skills. Your writing crackles like a fireworks. Some tweaks on POV and showing as opposed to telling will make this dynamite instead of a firecracker.

                                                             
*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*Though young and quick of hearing, Aira was reluctant to answer. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: There’s been an omniscient POV up to here. This line suggests Aria’s POV, but it could be the omniscient narrator knowing everything... *Exclaim*

*Cut*Airen’s reddish gold hair kindled like burnished copper when illuminated by the fire in his forge in the brownie village that they left behind half a mile from the faerie door into the castle. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: So, this departs from the here-and-now and tells us how he looked in the past? How is that relevant? *Exclaim*

*Cut*He often made nails, letter openers, knives and other useful implements for humans. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: The rest of the paragraph is info-dump. *Exclaim*

*Cut*Airen’s pack of metalwork clanked on his shoulders as he turned to bid Aira farewell.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: After several paragraphs of info-dump, we’re back in the here-and-now. *Exclaim*

*Cut*They tiptoed carefully *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: It’s hard to imagine them tiptoeing “recklessly,” so I’d omit the adverb. *Exclaim*

*Cut*worn to a thread as her work-worn fingers slid from Aira’s wrist.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: “worn” repeats. *Exclaim*

*Cut*Aira clapped her hands in delight, too overjoyed to notice Meg’s reserved tone.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Bur, of course, the omniscient narrator does notice... *Exclaim*

                                                             

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


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

Thanks again for sharing this item. Keep on writing!


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




*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
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Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
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*Smile* Hi. Max again. Thank you for asking me to read your chapter. I it and wanted to share some thoughts with you about it.

Item Reviewed: "The Kraken's Prisoners - Chapter 1"   by HollyMerry
Reviewer: Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈

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

                                                             
*FlagB*What I liked best
Aira is an engaging character with clear goals, high stakes, and impressive obstacles. These are the building blocks of tension and hence of plot, so this is another awesome chapter.

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

Your opening is your best opportunity to draw readers into your fictional world, to induce a dream-like state in which your words guide their imaginations. The readers become the author's active partners in imagining the fictional world, in a state of suspended disbelief. In crafting the opening of any story, it's the author's primary task to launch this fictional dream. The best way to do that is to put the readers into the head of the POV character. For this reason, I've several remarks on the opening paragraph that relate to Aira's POV as opposed to that of an omniscient narrator.

*Cut*Aira headed for the crab apple tree, humming one of the songs that the dryads had taught her.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Feels like an omniscient narrator, standing outside the story, reporting what Aira is doing. Your goal is to put the readers in her head, which is why internal sensations and/or reporting what she senses are stronger openings. For example, “She inhaled the heady scent of the crab apple blossoms and began to hum one of the songs the dryads had taught her.” That initial phrase, including the subjective “heady” scent, puts the readers in her head. It also implies the motivation for her beginning to hum. *Exclaim*
*Cut*After years of toiling as a servant for humans, helping the dryads in their forest home had to be one of the easiest jobs the brownie girl had done. The dryads admired her care for their trees and how she helped woodland creatures find the autumn bounty they provided. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: This states a pair of facts, again implicitly invoking the omniscient narrator. Rephrasing to put it her head is simple, but tricky. If you rephrase, for example, “It wasn’t always easy being a brownie servant to humans, but caring for the trees lifted her spirit. The dryads, at least, were grateful. *Exclaim* My suggested rephrasing suggests a subtext that might not be appropriate—but suggested subtexts are also helpful in putting the readers in Aira’s head. It’s better if they infer something rather than be told it explicitly. Notice, too, that in the paragraphs that follow, you do put the readers in Aira’s head, so it’s largely just this opening.

                                                             
*FlagB*Characters
Aira has a couple of goals in this chapter--one is more long-term and the other immediate. The long-term goal is to reunite with Boroden, who has proclaimed his love for her. I find it interesting that she doesn't exactly seem to reciprocate. Indeed, this proclamation appears as a more or less emotionless memory, so I'm wondering if she loves him, too? I think so, since she clearly wants to reconnect with him. There also is an implied conflict, besides their separation, in that Boroden is royalty and Aira is clearly not.

More immediate, though, is the threat posed by the woodcutters and their allies, which threaten her life directly and cause her to flee her rather idyllic existence. So, for Aira, this flight is the precipitating incident that disrupts her world and starts the plot.

                                                             
*FlagB*Plot

This already has the basic elements of the Hero's Journey, a well-loved plot that we know from many sources--Lord of the Rings and Star Wars being two of the best-known. Clearly, you're familiar with this and are effectively deploying the memes.

                                                             
*FlagB*Hook
The most compelling hooks are disaster, dilemma, and decision. Ending with a goal, conflict, or reaction is weaker but can be effective, depending on the situation.

I'm inclined to say that I would have ended the chapter a bit earlier, right before the jay arrives to rescue her. That ending would be "disaster," and the ensuing rescue sets up the next sequence of events that will end with one of the above hooks.

Where you DO end, with them setting off on foot, is a "decision," but in this case I think it's a tad weaker and anti-climactic.

                                                             
*FlagB*Style and Voice
Mostly 3rd person limited in Aira's head, but there is one slip where the narrative hops into Gretchen's head. See the line-by-line remarks below.

One thing about the POV--there are several places where it feels like the narrator intrudes to state a fact. As above in the first paragraph, I suggest tweaking these so that they are credibly something Aira is thinking, sensing, or feeling. Remember, everything on the page is supposed to be something that Aira has sensed, felt, thought, or remembered. She also needs to have a *reason* for thinking it--see the comment on her "golden hair" below. Third person limited is powerful, but it has subtles, too.

                                                             
*FlagB*Referencing
Lots of little details to establish the fictional world.

                                                             
*FlagB*Grammar
Good job! I almost always find something to whine about here, but your copy is clean.

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

Most of my comments pertain to point of view. In terms of tweaks, these would be rather minor, but they contribute greatly to putting the readers inside the fictional world, imagining the details along with you, the author.

You have a great talent for description and for characterization. This promises to be an interesting novel, with the two romantic leads. It might help if there were some conflict besides separation that prevents the leads from coming together--for example, Boroden as King might have Kingly obligation that he can't reconcile with his feelings for Aira. we've already seen some of that since he's fled and left her behind.

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*‘Indeed I am. I like the peace of the forest,’ Aira said, tossing back her long golden hair and reaching for her full basket, which she had left suspended on a branch.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: I get that you want to show that she has golden hair, but she’s unlikely to be thinking about that right at the moment. That means that this, too, feels like the narrator inserting a fact. In third person limited, whatever on the page is *supposed* to be something that Aira has sensed, thought, or felt. Thus, it has to be natural that she’d be thinking about her hair color, which isn’t likely in this context—unless you can contrive a reason to insert it. *Exclaim*

*Cut*The moon had been full like this soon after Boroden’s departure and she had crept outside to admire its beauty, careful not to wake Gretchen.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: I’m not sure we need this tiny time reversal. *Exclaim*

*Cut*An animal had been crouched amongst a heap of mossy boulders, its black fur blending into the shadows. A wolf. Aira had blown out her candle as it turned.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: I’m not quite clear on the sequencing here, but it looks like Aira only saw the animal after blowing out the candle, so that should be first, before any mention of the animal (otherwise, it’s the omniscient narrator knowing stuff Aira does not know). *Exclaim*

*Cut*It had come back the next few nights, but why? *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: so we’ve suddenly changed from the here-and-now of Aira returning to the cabin to several days later, summarizing what’s happened. That’s fine, but the transition needs to be clearer. *Exclaim*

*Cut*The brownies did their work by night to avoid humans noticing them.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Another place to tweak to make this Aira thinking this, as opposed to the narrator stating a fact. *Exclaim*

b}*Cut* Gretchen thought that Aira was mad to move so surely.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Hops into Gretchen’s head. To stay with Aira, you could rephrase as, "From her expression, Aira could tell Gretchen thought her mad." Or even replace "expression" with "google eyes" for a more evocative description. *Exclaim*


                                                             

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


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

Thanks again for sharing this item. Keep on writing!


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




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*Smile* Hi. This is Max. Thank you for asking me to read your chapter. I it and wanted to share some thoughts with you.

Item Reviewed: "Where Rainbows Dance- Chapter 1"   by HollyMerry
Reviewer: Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈

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

                                                             
*FlagB*What I liked best
There is much to love in this chapter. I especially liked the opening, where you established the point of view using Boroden's sensations and active, subjective descriptions to draw us into his head. The use of active verbs throughout helps to make the environment part of the story and bring the here-and-now to life. Nice work!

                                                             
*FlagB*Characters
Boroden is the POV character and the protagonist. He's apparently a deposed prince and heir to the throne, but his goal is to rescue his childhood sweetheart Aira. He's got substantial obstacles to achieving this goal, not the least of which is that he's not certain that she's still alive. However, tortured shrieks echo through their worm-infested prison, and he believes they are from Aira. His love for her coupled with the danger she must be in establish the stakes. The power of the krakens, who have imprisoned him, provide the obstacles.

Goals, stakes, and obstacles are the basic building blocks of tension, and hence of plot. You've established these in this chapter, which provides a strong foundation for moving forward.

That said, I felt a bit overwhelmed by the plethora of characters who appeared in this chapter. On the first page, we meet Boroden, Carnelian, Torden, and learn about Aira and Krysila. Several more characters make apearances or are mentioned before the end. That's a lot for readers to keep track of, especially in such a short chapter. As the novel progresses readers will become familiar with Boroden and he will ground their experience. In a couple more chapters, you can have multiple characters and it will be less confusing, but I think there are too many in this first chapter.

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

                                                             
*FlagB*Plot
We have a good sense of the plot. In rough outline, there's been a palace revolt, Boroden, the legitimate heir, is in prison. His sweetheart is being tortured. He wants to rescue her, get his throne back, and find a safe home for his people. I'm confident more will come, but those are the basics for now, and are certainly compelling.

The chapter is kind of ambiguous about whether Aira is dead or alive. The first thing we learn about her is that she's dead, at least according to Boroden. But then he hopes she's still alive, and eventually he seems to conclude she's somewhere nearby, shrieking from torture. If that's where we're supposed to end up, then that revelation needs to have more emotional impact on Boroden, so it's clear he's gone from being guilty over causing her death to being committed to rescuing her. After all, the rescue becomes his goal.

                                                             
*FlagB*Hook
Your "hook" is what keeps the pages turning. It usually refers to some unfinished business that arises in the final paragraph.

The most compelling hooks are disaster, dilemma, and decision. Ending with a goal, conflict, or reaction is weaker but can be effective, depending on the situation.

Your hook doesn't quite fit one of these categories. We know Boroden has a visitor, but have no inkling what this might mean. At a minimum, we need a reaction from him. Alternatively, the "visitor" could present an opportunity, so that could lead to "decision." In any case, I wish the hook were stronger.

                                                             
*FlagB*Referencing
There are quite a few details about the fictional world. Most of these are threaded into the narrative, so readers learn about things by inference from the words and deeds of the characters. However, there is at least one info-dump which needs re-worked or eliminated.

                                                             
*FlagB*Scene/Setting
Excellent, vivid writing here!

                                                             
*FlagB*Grammar
*Exclaim* Comma Splices.*Exclaim*
*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.

Overall, I think this is an excellent first chapter. It does what it needs to do, and the writing is professional. You use active verbs, you use the sensations to build characterization and sense of place, Boroden has clear goals, stakes, and obstacles. Everything is in place to launch an awesome novel. I've made several suggestions, but these are largely tweaks to a fine piece of writing.

Do write more chapters of the saga of Boroden! I almost never read fantasy, but this is good stuff!

                                                             
*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*Water drops fell like a barrage of arrows from the cave roof, and a thick chill penetrated through Boroden’s coat. He hugged his arms about himself against the cold and avoided the gaze of his companions. Damp, stagnant air probed his nostrils. Looking beyond the fitful light of the torches, the darkness was so dense that it threatened to swallow him.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: This is a really awesome opening. You name the POV character in the first sentence and you use his sensations and subjective language to draw the readers into his head. You orient the reader in time and place, and let us know that he’s got companions near him.

I’ve got only one minor suggestion: move the phrase Water drops fell like a barrage of arrows from the cave roof after the phrase about the stagnant air probing his nostrils. The reason is that this phrase doesn’t establish POV in the same way the other parts of the opening do. The thick chill penetrates his coat, he reacts by hugging his arms, and then stagnant air penetrates his nostrils. These are subjective sensations (using great, active verbs!) that put the readers inside his head. Once there, the subjective description of the water droplets confirms we’re in his head. But, putting the same phrase in the first sentence feels like an omniscient narrator, standing outside the here-and-now of the story, giving a poetic description. The difference is small, but everything you can do put the readers inside Boroden’s head is positive, especially in the opening. *Exclaim*


*Cut*‘I’ve missed you too. I never thought I’d see you again after Krysila *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Ok, we’ve heard about Aira, and Krysila, two characters who aren’t even present. I’m feeling a little overwhelmed. We also learn Boroden is feeling guilt, and that he had a goal, namely finding a home for his clan, but his current goal is still unclear. *Exclaim*

*Cut*frowned mournfully at the memory.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: “Frowned” is a perfectly good verb. It doesn’t need an adverb to pep it up. If you want to say he’s mourning, you could add something like “mourning pooled in his eyes,” but I’d rather have we have something more directly observable. He might evade Borodon’s gaze, for example, or there might be a quaver in his voice, or maybe his chin might quiver. *Exclaim*

*Cut*I refuse to give up hope that Aira will survive,’ Boroden said stubbornly.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: I thought Aira was dead? Also, note the adverb. *Exclaim*

*Cut*A bloodcurdling shriek came from somewhere above them.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: “Somewhere” makes this feel vague. Just “from above” suffices. *Exclaim*

*Cut*‘Aira’s alive!’ Boroden said.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Does that mean the shriek they just heard was hers? If so, don’t we need an emotional reaction from Boroden? Joy that she’s alive, but horror that she’s being tortured? *Exclaim*

*Cut*Torden’s sad frown twisted his lips beneath his tusk-like moustache. ‘She’ll not survive.’*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Great description!
Bu, put the mustache gesture where he first appears and it becomes a memorable token of him. Here, it’s too late since the reader will have already “seen” him in their imagination. *Exclaim*


*Cut*Aira. He had to rescue her.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: OK. Now we’ve got a goal for Boroden. *Exclaim*

*Cut*He glanced around the cave, ignoring his companions. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: This launches a paragraph of background, related in narrative form. This breaks the fictional dream. Editors hate this kind of thing and call it an “info-dump.” Worse, it breaks the linear time of the opening since it remembers past events. Remember, you’ve got your entire novel to give this kind of information.

(I admit I rarely read fantasy, and I know that info-dumps often appear in fantasy novels. That's one reason I rarely read them. Lois McMaster Bujold has a whole series of fantasy novels, and you won't find a single info-dump in any of them. However, my aversion to info-dumps appears to be less than uniform among fantasy authors. Just an FYI.) *Exclaim*


                                                             

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


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

Thanks again for sharing this item. Keep on writing!


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




*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
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Item Reviewed: "A mistaken identity"   by nat
Reviewer: Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈

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

This item consists of the opening chapters to a longer work. At 5500 words, it's longer than what I ordinarily review for "The Review Spot, so I read and commented only on the first chapter. If you want me to read subsequent chapters, please feel free to submit them, bearing in mind the 4000 word limit for "The Review Spot.

                                                             
*FlagB*What I liked best
This story introduces us to a protagonist who has made a dreadful mistake that resulted in the death of a close friend and grave injury to another. She's trying to cope with the consequences, with the assistance of her psychiatrist. By the end of the first chapter, we learn of her remorse, her failed attempts at reconciliation with the family of the victim, and that her therapist is protecting a confidence that he cannot reveal to her. This sets up good tension for your opening, introduces a flawed but credible character, and gives her goals, stakes, and obstacles. From the standpoint of plot and character, this is an excellent start!!!

                                                             
*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.

I have a couple of minor comments here. First, I don't think we ever learn the name of the female protagonist. I strongly recommmend you give us her name in the first sentence if at all possible. Knowing her name will help readers identify with her and sympathize with her plight.

Second, it's usually not a good idea to start with dialogue. Instead, it's better to first establish the point of view (more on point of view in a moment). That way you can orient the readers as to who is *hearing* the speech, which helps to draw them into the fictional world.

You do a pretty good job with answering the other basic questions (who, what, when, where, why, etc) that are needed to launch a coherent story.

                                                             
*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. In the line-by-line remarks below, I've tried to flag the various places where the point of view hops between characters.

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.

So, my primary recommendation for this chapter is to use the female protagonist for the point-of-view character. In terms of revisions, this is fairly minor. For example, instead of saying the attending physician saw something, describe WHAT she saw directly and then have her react (maybe her eyes widen, or she snaps out commands) that confirm that she saw it. All the places that I flagged should be revised to stay in the single point of view of the female lead.

I know it's a pain to revise, even in so modest a way as I suggest, but it will pay off in big dividends in terms of drawing the readers into your fictional world.

A second comment here deals with flashbacks. These can be an author's friend, but are hard to do in a first chapter. They work better in later chapters once the readers know your characters and their world. Also, to avoid confusing readers, it's important to have clear transitions from the fictional present to the fictional past. I noticed that initially we seemed to wobble a bit between the fictional present and the fictional past, so I'd avoid this, too.

Actually, what I'd recommend instead of the flashback is to START with the protagonist leaving the club, taking the keys, etc. I'd proceed in a linear fashion through the accident, the 911 call, the ambulance trip, the ER, and her waking in her room with Jason. The whole scene, from the drunken departure from the club to the ER, is a really powerful sequence and I think it would be stronger yet if you used it to launch the novel, so we'd see it evolve in the here-and-now of the characters rather than a flashback.

                                                             
*FlagB*Hook
The most compelling hooks are disaster, dilemma, and decision. Ending with a goal, conflict, or reaction is weaker but can be effective, depending on the situation.

Your hook appears to be a goal, but could readily be reframed as a decision or a dilemma, either of which would be a little stronger. In any case, learning the aftermath of the accident is a good hook.

                                                             
*FlagB*Characters
Both the female protagonist and Jason are well-conceived characters. Despite her flawed decisions, the female lead is sympathetic and readers will want to cheer for her.

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

Most of my comments, especially those on point of view and the flashback, flow from the idea of the fictional dream. This refers to a technical aspect of craft, but it's still an important consideration. You have strong characters, a really strong plot, and a good hook. Tweaking this for more focused point of view and linear timelines would make the "fictional dream" stronger and thus build on the strengths you've already got.

Thanks for sharing, and do keep working on this novel!! It's concept is great, and the characterizations are excellent.

                                                             
*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.
                                                             
b}*Cut*As she put her head down her eyes welled up with tears. And her mind went to earlier that morning.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: This appears to launch a flashback. *Exclaim*

*Cut*"You are dead to me!" She felt her body crumble from a heavy force that shook her whole being and passed out. Then she woke up back in the cell.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: What appears to be a very brief flashback seems to end when she wakes “back in the cell.” *Exclaim*

*Cut*Tires screeched to a stop.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Now we seem to be back in the flashback... *Exclaim*

*Cut*Adam turned back to see the young guy half dazed, "You better hang on!" He yelled.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: We’ve been in the female protagonist’s head up to this point, but here we hop into Adam’s head since we’re told what he sees. *Exclaim*

*Cut*"Adam! Adam!" She saw his lifeless body on the ground.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Now we’re back in the female protagonist’s head since we’re told what SHE sees. *Exclaim*

*Cut*She went to grab her cell in frantic, *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: in frantic...what? maybe in a frenzy? *Exclaim*

*Cut*Her knees buckled as she dropped to the floor. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: So is she still inside the car? In my mind’s eye, she was still outside, having recovered her phone from the back seat. *Exclaim*

*Cut*A hand touched her lifeless body. She tried desperately to wake up but she couldn't. She just felt a sharp pain in her left side. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Several places you report what a character “felt,” “heard,” or otherwise sensed. This is a subtle form of telling. It’s better to first establish the point of view. Once the readers are inside the head of the POV character, then anything on the page is something they have sensed. In this case, it’s almost always more immediate and intimate to describe the sensation directly. You do exactly this in the first sentence where a hand touches her body. But in the last sentence, you tell us what she felt. It would be stronger to just say, “A sharp pain gripped her left side.” If you’re in her head, readers will infer she “felt” the pain. Indeed, that little step of inference helps to draw readers into her head and hence into the story. Also, the pain becomes an active element of the narrative when it “grips” her side. *Exclaim*

*Cut*The doctor exhaled deeply and was about to call it when she heard a soft beep*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Hops to the doctor’s head where we learn what she was about to do and what she heard.

As I think about this, you could end a scene with the female protagonist losing consciousness in the ambulance. You could then start a new scene with the physician in the ER, maybe drinking coffee or something when the ambulance arrives. Doing the entire ER scene in the physician's POV might work, except that I have the impression that the physician won't again appear. If Jason is on staff at the hospital and somehow learned she was hurt, you could use him as the POV character, observing the physicians work on her.

Just a thought. The point is you can have mulitple POV characters in your novel, but just one per scene. *Exclaim*


*Cut*Jason sat back in his chair and folded his arms across his neck gently brushing past his sandy blond hair and then moving across and down towards his face. "So what did you tell the officer?"*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: this appears to be the end of the flasback. *Exclaim*

*Cut*Flashes of how she got out of the club twirling and dancing. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: More flashback in this paragraph *Exclaim*

*Cut*"It's okay, it's okay, you can't fight it, you have to let it play through and take its course."*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: For the rest of the chapter we appear to be in the fictional present, except it’s not the present of the opening paragraphs. In the opening paragraphs, Jason references “this morning” as the time of the accident, while in these ending paragraphs the accident appears to have happened a year ago. *Exclaim*



                                                             

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


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

Thanks again for sharing this item. Keep on writing!


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



*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
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Item Reviewed: "Listen To My Heart? (Chapters 1 and 2)"   by Starling
Reviewer: Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈

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

                                                             
*FlagB*What I liked best
I'm a sucker for romance, authors, and SciFi, so of course I liked this.

                                                             
*FlagB*Style and Voice
These chapters use 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.

What seems to be happening is that the POV wobbles between Kerry and Ian within the same scene. We learn what one is thinking and sensing and then, a couple of paragraphs later, we're in the other one's head, learning what they are thinking and sensing. My main suggestion for these chapters deals with POV. For each scene, pick one character to provide the POV and stick with it. What's on the page is what that character thinks, senses, knows, and feels. For all the other characters, readers--and the POV character--must infer those things from their words and deeds.

As an example, at one point you tell us that Ian's coffee is lukewarm. We're in a scene that started in Kerry's POV, so she can't know the temperature of his coffee. However, he could take a sip and make a face, from readers could infer it's cold. You could even have Kerry make that inference, but it needs to be an inference rather than a statement of fact. There''s a technique called "free direct discourse" for doing this; see "Really Just One Point of View for more details.

                                                             
*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.

Each scene should establish the point of view and then draw the reader into the fictional world. In a romance novel, it's common for the POV to swap in each chapter, but this certainly isn't a rule. Some novels stay with one of the romantic leads, some swap POV on a less regular scale. But once you've picked a POV for that scene, stick with it.

The opening paragraph to the novel does set up Kerry as the POV character. However, there's quite a bit background information in the form of telling that sets up where she's at and what she's doing. It's almost always more intimate and immediate for readers to reveal this information through the words and deeds of the characters rather than through narration, so you might consider moving the clock back a bit and start with her arrival at the hotel and registering for the Symposium. You might even have Queen Uppity-Nose show up and make a snotty comment or two gushing about Ian. THe idea is to create an opening scene that puts your characters in motion and reveals the essential information, including Kerry's immediate goal of meeting Ian.

                                                             
*FlagB*Plot
So, Kerry is in hopelessly in love with Ian, but he appears to be happily married and so she knows her feelings will be unrequited. Ian, on the other hand, has a secret he's "not ready" to share with Kerry. He claims all is well at home, but on the other hand he's had a rep as a lothario, so who knows? Overall, I liked the tension this sets up and thought this was a great start for your novel.

                                                             
*FlagB*Hook
The most compelling hooks are disaster, dilemma, and decision. Ending with a goal, conflict, or reaction is weaker but can be effective, depending on the situation.

Chapter one needs a better hook. What is Kerry thinking as she goes upstairs? Has she sensed something amiss with Ian? That would be a dilemma or maybe a decision to get to the bottom of it.

On the other hand, we partly hopped into the Ian's head in this chapter, so maybe it ends with his reaction, or his resolve to have the difficult conversation with Kerry, or something else.

In any case, the hook should come from unresolved issues in their relationship.

                                                             
*FlagB*Scene/Setting
Sufficient for staging.

                                                             
*FlagB*Characters
I like Kerry. Ian, not so much. Oh, and of course I loathe the Queen Uppity Nose in the Air.

                                                             
*FlagB*Grammar
A few minor typos--see the line by line.

                                                             
*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 looks like an awesome start to your romance novel. It's got at least three great characters so far, and good tension between all three. 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* Ian’s wife came on and talked to her about it, which was awkward because Kerry’s heart was speeding toward a dead-end wall, her heart could not get through. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Something is amiss with this sentence. Did you mean...”THAT her heart could not get through?” if so, you should omit the comma. *Exclaim*

*Cut*She ordered, presented her pass, used two hands to carry the largest mug of hot chocolate imaginable, over to the small round pink and white candy-striped, two top metal tables in the corner beside the windows looking out on the front of the hotel and sat.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: This sentence is a bit of a run-on. *Exclaim*

*Cut*Ian tried drinking the coffee in the hotel room but found the taste horrible.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: We’ve been in Kerry’s POV, but with this sentence we’ve flipped to Ian’s. *Exclaim*
*Cut*Ian wasn’t ready to have the conversation he rehearsed since Kerry confirmed she would be at this stop in the tour but he couldn’t pass up the chance to talk to her.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: I think you need a comma before “but.” *Exclaim*

*Cut*The man was taller than she envisioned.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Hops into Kerry’s head. Note we were in Ian’s head earlier. *Exclaim*

*Cut*By 8:00 am. Kerry was on her way downstairs.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Re-establishes Kerry's POV at the start of Ch 2 *Exclaim*

*Cut*on the six-inch-high raised diasis.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: typo: dais. *Exclaim*

*Cut* I am on the College Board and made sure you were on this tour.”*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Did you mean the Board of Trustees (or Regents) of the local college, or did you mean the actual College Board, an umbrella organization of over 6000 educational organizations. I’m betting you meant something like a local Board of Trustees. Wealthy donors to the college are sometimes included on such boards, along with politicians, distinguished alumni, and other community leaders. Her implied wealth makes her a probable Trustee, most likely one tolerated but not particularly respected due to her privileged demeanor. *Exclaim*

*Cut*Ian took a drink of his coffee, which was lukewarm by now, and shook his head.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: hops to Ian’s head since Kerry can’t tell whether it’s lukewarm or not. *Exclaim*

*Cut*Kerry nodded. “She has attended everyone one*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: typo: here, it should be “every one,” two words. *Exclaim*

*Cut*He wasn’t sure why he felt he needed to apologize, *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: continuing in Kerrry’s head. *Exclaim*

*Cut*Kerry admitted to herself the luncheon would be exciting, *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Back in Kerry’s head *Exclaim*

*Cut*Ian chuckled. Not letting go of her hand he led her to lunch.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Depending on the POV, this might or might not be a good hook. There’s still the mystery conversation Ian wants to have, so if we’re in his head, the decision to have that conversation is a hook. If we’re in Kerry’s head, I’d still use the readers’ knowledge of Ian’s secret message as the hook. Kerry could, for example, look in his eyes, see that he’s distracted, and decide to get to the bottom of his distress—a “decision” hook that reinforces the tension of the mystery conversation. *Exclaim*

                                                             

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


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

Thanks again for sharing this item. Keep on writing!


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



*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
10
10
Review of Star of the Night  
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Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
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Item Reviewed: "Star of the Night"   by EdWords
Reviewer: Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈

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

                                                             
*FlagB*What I liked best
I always like stories with Twilight Zone style twists, and this one delivered!

                                                             
*FlagB*Style and Voice
Both parts of this story use 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.

The heart of the story is the conflict in the longer, opening section. My main suggestion for this story is to use third person limited here, using the young son to provide the point of view.

Mostly, the story is already in his POV, so the revisions required would be minor. However, anything you can do to deepen the connection to the POV character will likewise deepen the connection to the here-and-now of ongoing events.

Now, this presents a challenge in view of the twist at the end: you have to be honest in your descriptions of the character's sensations and thoughts. For example, you can't really say that sobs wracked is body since, well, he can't sob. But you cab say anger and fear choked his evert breath. You could have his limbs tremble when his mother strokes his face. He could see an infinite reflection of himself in her eyes (she has hundreds of them, right?) You might even have him start to fall into a trance when he stares at the light and then shudders and turns away.

The idea is to draw the readers in to his head. They'll be thinking he's human, of course, but they'll also be aware that something might be a little off. Then, at the end, it'll be like a lock fitting a key when the twist makes everything fall into place. You'll fool them, but you won't deceive them.

                                                             
*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.

See above. The opening especially feels like an omniscient narrator, standing outside the story, telling the readers things. Instead, you want the readers inside the here-and-now of ongoing events, imagining the details along with you. You can do this by putting them in the head of the POV character.

                                                             
*FlagB*Plot
Ah, this is about the obsession of cults. Oh, wait...

                                                             
*FlagB*Transition
You specifically asked about the transition between the two segments. When I first read this, I thought perhaps we were seeing the young son, all grown up, with his child. Of course, that blew up right away when the reality of the two scenes became apparent.

I actually liked the flash of light when it became apparent what was really going on. As above, I'd establish a POV, probably the father. So, instead of "they sat on the porch...", you might lead with something like, "Eli sat with his son on the hard, concrete steps of their back porch. A cool evening breeze prickled his skin, and he put an arm around his son. Moths fluttered and buzzed overhead, drawn to the glow of the streetlamp." The idea is to use subjective terms like "hard steps" and "cool breeze" "prickling" his skin to put the readers inside his head. I'd consider adding the moths to set up the big reveal, but it might be overkill.

However, other than establishing POV for the final section, I think the transition is fine. It's clear we're in a new setting, and the reveal is awesome.

                                                             
*FlagB*Scene/Setting
Sufficient for staging...although the first section might feature the hypnotic appeal of the light a bit more.

                                                             
*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 premise and execution of this story. I especially liked the twist. My comments on POV are at the edges of an otherwise well-done tale. Thank you for sharing!!!

                                                             

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


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

Thanks again for sharing this item. Keep on writing!


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



*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
11
11
Review of Breakthrough  
Review by
Rated: E | (4.0)
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Item Reviewed: "Breakthrough"   by Anni Pon
Reviewer: Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈

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

                                                             
*FlagB*What I liked best
I loved having a dog for the point-of-view character!! I also loved the twist at the end when the identity of the Master dovetailed with the earlier descriptions of him, like a key fitting a lock.

                                                             
*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 answers the who, what, when, and where questions, although it's not until the last sentence of the first paragraph that it's clear that the first person narrator is a dog. Your opening paragraph also consists of the narrator stating facts, such as the Master is a funny man.

My main suggestion is to tweak the opening so that the readers are inside the narrator's head as soon as possible. Dogs live in a world of scents, so launching with smells and other internal sensations helps to do that. Of course, it's also important to know that the narrator is a dog, so you might have Master ruffle his ears and describe a thrill running down his spine setting his tail awag. These are minor tweaks, but I think they'd both be more immediate and intimate and pull the reader into the POV and the here-and-now more quickly.

                                                             
*FlagB*Plot
Kurt Vonnegut once said every character should want something. Our narrator has simple wants that mostly center on satisfying his Master, and they are well-articulated. Master wants something, too, and he's seeking it in his notes toys. Both wants are fulfilled at the end, closing the circle.

                                                             
*FlagB*Style and Voice
First person. No slips. Loved it.

                                                             
*FlagB*Referencing
By appearances, this involves the discovery of the famous equation, right? Except from a dog's POV. That's hilarious and genius at the same time. However, the real "Master" was, at the time, living with his first wife in an apartment in Switzerland, and his spouse is nowhere to be found. So the historical referencing is a little off, but that's kind of beside the point and is a trivial quibble. I wouldn't change anything.

                                                             
*FlagB*Scene/Setting
As noted above, I'd add more smells to the setting. Koontz uses a dog for the POV in a couple of chapters of "Dragon Tears." He's always getting distracted by the most interesting new smell. It's worth a look.

                                                             
*FlagB*Characters
In real life, Master had a dog named Chico Marx. In an interview, he once said, "“The dog is very smart. He feels sorry for me because I receive so much mail. That’s why he tries to bite the mailman.” It would be fun if you could work this in somehow.

                                                             
*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.

I loved this story and the narrator! Thank you for sharing!

                                                             
*FlagB*Line-by-line remarks
*Bullet*Your text is in BLUE.
*Bullet*My comments are in GREEN.
*Bullet*If I suggest a re-wording, it's in GRAPE.
                                                             
*Cut*Master has just hit his hand on his piles of toys loudly.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Note the adverb. How about, “Master just smashed his hand against his pile of toys.” *Exclaim*

But I am not too worried. I know he will return shortly. He always does. Sometimes it takes longer than others, but he still comes back to sit with his toys, even when they make him angry. *Cut*In the mean time, *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: typo: meantime is one word. *Exclaim*

                                                             

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


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

Thanks again for sharing this item. Keep on writing!


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



*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
12
12
Review of Fool in the Rain  
Review by
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
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Item Reviewed: "Fool in the Rain"   by Kit MacPherson
Reviewer: Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈

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

                                                             
*FlagB*What I liked best
I loved tracking down the source material for this snippet of mythology. Your naiad--she's Nemea, right?--speaks with a contemporary voice, but that's another charming aspect of this little piece.

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

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

The first paragraph has important information and, especially, it introduces the narrator's voice. However, the story really starts in the second paragraph where subjective sensations and emotions work together to really draw the readers into the fictional here-and-now. I wonder if there might be a way to swap the first and second paragraphs. Of course, you'd also need to remove the final sentence from the second paragraph since it transitions to the action in the 3rd paragraph. You could insert it as a stand-alone sentence, with minor revision, right before the 3rd paragraph and keep the transition.

                                                             
*FlagB*Plot
A mission from Aphrodite should suggest romance to readers, but you've got a bit of misdirection since our naiad thinks the person she's to meet will have a gory fate. That's not unsurprising, given the nature of Greek myth, and provides a nice twist. But, for foreshadowing, you might give her some longing for love early on. That gives her a goal. She might even lament the impossibility of finding a soulmate among mortals. In any case, it gives her a goal, which helps with tension and plot. It also helps to give her a character arc which closes at the ending. Of course, I'm reading this to include the person Nemea weds in the myth, which means he's not exactly mortal.

One feature of the Nemean myth is that she was the nurse of the Nemean lion, the one Hercules was charged with slaying as one his twelve labors. Sneaking in a reference to
lions might be a nice touch, just add a layer to the mythical references (assuming I've read them correctly--there's only one naiad I could find with the parentage mentioned in this story).

                                                             
*FlagB*Style and Voice
First person. No slips.

                                                             
*FlagB*Scene/Setting
I could maybe use a touch more, although what's here is nicely done. Certainly, it's sufficient for staging.

                                                             
*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.

At less than 1000 words, this qualifies as flash fiction. It's really hard to tell a complete story in that length and still reveal the main elements through the words and deeds of the characters, but you managed it well. Thanks for sharing, and do keep writing!!

                                                             
*FlagB*Line-by-line remarks
*Bullet*Your text is in BLUE.
*Bullet*My comments are in GREEN.
*Bullet*If I suggest a re-wording, it's in GRAPE.
                                                             
I don't have much here--this is well-crafted.

*Cut*“Your name, sir. I don’t believe we’ve been introduced.”*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Really, I think you should reveal his name. *Exclaim*


                                                             

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


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

Thanks again for sharing this item. Keep on writing!


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



*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
13
13
Review of March 1st, 2056  
Review by
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
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Item Reviewed: "March 1st, 2056"   by LorenIsOneOfMyNames
Reviewer: Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈

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

                                                             
*FlagB*What I liked best
I enjoyed this tale of a dystopian future. As with all SciFi, it's really a commentary on today's events, including not only the pandemic but political dysfunction.

                                                             
*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.

This is an effective opening: it sets the stage, answers the who, what, when, and where questions, and names your first-person narrator. It establishes the basic dilemma, as well, which is the lack of reliable information about the chaos of official reality, especially where it interacts with lived reality.

                                                             
*FlagB*Plot
The plot revolves around the continuing decay of social order and disinformation from the official sources, along with Nat's growing suspicions about the politicians and rich people. She evolves a plan to counter this, but we never learn any details. Since she's a single student in high school (?), however, her plan seems to have little prospect for success.

Kurt Vonnegut once said that every character should want something, even if it's a glass of water. I think we need some clarity earlier about Nat's goals. Initially, they seem to be "lay low and not make waves," but they evolve over time. This evolution of her goals is her character arc, and is essential to the plot. Knowing the particulars of her plan is less relevant to the story than the changes she undergoes over the month.

                                                             
*FlagB*Style and Voice
This story uses an epistolary style which uses journal entries to tell the story. This has a long tradition in literature, ranging from the original "Dracula" by Bram Stoker to "Fried Green Tomatoes" by Fannie Flagg.

One of the challenges to this approach is that the story usually winds up being told rather than shown. Your first person narrator does a reasonably good job of inserting the fictional present, the here-and-now of ongoing events, into her journal narratives. That's particularly true in the very first paragraph, that puts the reader inside her head and on that street.

The more that the journal entries show characters acting and speaking--as opposing to telling us that they acted and spoke--the stronger the story will be. This is because seeing things happen in real-time, through the words and deeds of the characters, is more immediate and intimate than narrating what happened. The durability of epistolary novels and short stories comes from authors achieving this balance between journal entries telling things and putting actual words in the mouths of the characters and actual deeds on pages. This is a difficult task, but you have mostly managed it.

                                                             
*FlagB*Characters
Nat, her mother, and her father are all well-drawn and speak with distinctive voices.

                                                             
*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 good short story. While we don't know the details of Nat's plan, Nat's story arc--which is the plot arc as well--goes from trying to fit in and not be noticed to standing up for the truth and fighting back--at least, that's the way I read it. I could wish that her struggle to change had played a little more obvious role in the events, but overall I think you did a good job with both the plot and the evolution of Nat's character.

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

                                                             
*FlagB*Line-by-line remarks
*Bullet*Your text is in BLUE.
*Bullet*My comments are in GREEN.
*Bullet*If I suggest a re-wording, it's in GRAPE.
                                                             
Truly, I didn't find anything to whine about in the body of the story.

                                                             

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


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

Thanks again for sharing this item. Keep on writing!


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



*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
14
14
Review of The Wishing Tree  
Review by
Rated: E | (4.0)
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*Smile* Hi. I'm back with the third and final review from the autcion in "Tee-Up! for Charity.

Item Reviewed: "The Wishing Tree"   by Fyn
Reviewer: Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈

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

                                                             
*FlagB*What I liked best
I see that I have previously reviewed this story. I liked it then, and liked it again on my second reading. It's a love story that tugs at the heartstrings.

                                                             
*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 does a great job of introducing the two characters, establishing their relationship, and setting them in motion. You establish the setting without tossing in extraneous details.

I have two suggestions for the opening, similar to my earlier review. First, the pronouns "her" and "his" in the second paragraph have no antecedents. This is the time to tell us the names of the husband and wife, not several paragraphs later. There's really no reason to keep the names secret, and good reasons to reveal them as early as possible. Knowing the names helps to draw readers into the story and into their heads.

Second, it's generally not a good idea to start with dialogue. Instead, it's better to first establish the point of view. Ultimately, we wind up in Sarah's head, but it takes quite a while before she's the definitive POV character. Instead of starting with Sarah speaking, which leaves the POV open, you might start with her sensing or feeling. Even something as simple as "Sarah's heart warmed at the sight of her husband Jaime buried under a blanket in front of the TV." Her "heart warming" at least establishes her emotional state, which only she knows for certain. In addition, this simple sentence names both characters in an unobtrusive way. If you wanted more foreshadowing, you might add something like, "Despite the bump of worry from the worrisome wrong number yesterday..." That would add some tension, and also reveal that Sarah wants something, namely to resolve the mystery of the phone call.

In any case, I think establishing the point of view early is important, however you do it. Once the readers are firmly in Sarah's head, then arguably everything on the page is something she's thought, seen, heard, or otherwise sensed. Having the POV in place increases the readers' connections to the story and makes it more immediate and intimate. It doesn't take much to establish the POV--just a short phrase as noted above. It pays big dividends, though.


                                                             
*FlagB*Plot
A love story with and ending at once tragic and uplifting. Not easy to do, but you pulled it off with grace and elegance.

I did think the ending dragged a bit. The discovery of the fallen quarter is really the climax that leads to the decision to wait and bury the ashes together. I'd try to get to the conclusion of the shimmering tree a bit sooner. Indeed, you might consider foreshadowing the shimmer the tree earlier, when Sarah and Jaime place new quarters in the tree, depending on your intention for the symbolism of the shimmer.

                                                             
*FlagB*Style and Voice
Because the POV is uncertain until fairly late in the story, this could be mostly an omniscient narrator. This is a style that has all but disappeared in modern literature in favor of either first person narrators (about 30% of all fiction) or third person limited (the overwhelming majority of the remainder). There are good reasons why omniscient narrators have more or less vanished from published fiction having to drawing readers into the fictional world. My main suggestion for this story is to establish the POV as early as possible. This is an almost trivial change to make, but has significant benefits.

                                                             
*FlagB*Referencing
Modern era. well, you might have them take a photo with their mobile phone, but that's certainly not needed.

                                                             
*FlagB*Scene/Setting
Certainly sufficient for staging--I could tell where the characters were in relation to each other. On the trail to the tree, you might consider adding scent to sensation pallette. Smell is particularly tied to memory and could make the scene more intimate.

                                                             
*FlagB*Characters
Both characters speak with unique and believable voices. The children, likewise, have credible dialogue that contributes to the overall story.

                                                             
*FlagB*Grammar
I found a single typo--see the line-by-line comments.

                                                             
*FlagB*Just my personal opinion
I really enjoyed this story. It's affirming, without being maudlin. My only real suggestion involves POV, and it would be trivial to make this change if you agree. Thank you for sharing!!!

                                                             
*FlagB*Line-by-line remarks
*Bullet*Your text is in BLUE.
*Bullet*My comments are in GREEN.
*Bullet*If I suggest a re-wording, it's in GRAPE.
                                                             
*Cut*Sarah and Jaime drove just outside of town and he parked on a back road. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: 150 words in before we learn the names of the characters. It would have been easy to show them as early as the first paragraph. BTW, we still don’t have a clear indication of which one provides the POV. *Exclaim*

*Cut*His brow furrowed, but then he grinned.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: From the phrasing here, I infer we’re in Sarah’s POV. If we were in Jaime’s, I would have expected “he furrowed his brow...” Still, this is kind of an indirect way of deducing this. *Exclaim*

*Cut*I could hear you and be apart of your life again*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: typo: be a part...two words. *Exclaim*


*Cut*He laughed, as she'd meant him to.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: With "as she'd meant...", we have the first certain indication that we’re in her head. *Exclaim*

*Cut*Behind them, a quarter slipped and fell to the ground.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: I understand the foreboding, but neither of them could see this, so it’s either a POV violation or an omniscient narrator, standing outside the story, telling the reader things. *Exclaim*

*Cut*And there it was. His 1952 quarter. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: This makes the earlier omniscient bit unnecessary. The earlier bit also gives away what will happen next, so it reduces tension rather than increasing it. *Exclaim*



                                                             

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


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

Thanks again for sharing this item. Keep on writing!


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




*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
15
15
Review of Finding Home  
Review by
Rated: E | (4.0)
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*Smile* Hi. I'm back with the second review from the auction at "Tee-Up! for Charity.

Item Reviewed: "Finding Home"   by Fyn
Reviewer: Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈

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

                                                             
*FlagB*What I liked best
This is a heartwarming story about family and home. Who couldn't fall for that?

                                                             
*FlagB*Opening
While I liked the story quite a lot, there are some structural things that I think could be changed.

First, the frame for the story is that narrator is filming an interview for a book she's s written. Thus we start and end with her interacting with the interviewer, and there is one little blip of where the interviewer gestures her to continue. The heart of the story, though, is what she actually says during the interview. Thus, the story really starts when she says, "It started my name changed..."

Notice there is also a time reversal at this point, where we go from the fictional present of the interview to the fictional past of her narrative, then revert to the fictional present at the end. This is actually a clever technique for launching a flashback and then for returning the reader to the fictional present.

But here's the thing. We spend less than 200 words in the fictional present, meeting the characters, absorbing where she's at, and then suddenly we're in a new setting, with new characters. This leap runs the risk of pulling readers out of the here-and-now of events since, in fact, that is *exactly* what it's supposed to do. This disrupts the normal linear flow and has a tendency to disconnect the readers' still-fragile connections with the story.

In longer works--a novel, for example--flashbacks can be the author's friend. But almost all editors will caution against time reversals in short fiction precisely because they disrupt the readers' connections with the characters, the setting, and other aspects of the story.

Another issue is that it is only in the framing sections at the start and end that anyone actually speaks. The entirety of middle, which is the heart of the story, is narrated. We learn what people said without hearing the specific words. We learn what the narrator did without actually seeing her *do* it--she tells us what happened as opposed to showing it.

Just for example, you might have the narrator and her mother arrive at the new school, and have the teacher gush, "We're so happy to have Abigail join us. Her IQ is abnormally high even for our gifted classes." Then she could hear a kid loitering nearby mutter "Abbynormal," and you could show her reaction to this sequence of events. That brings the whole sequence to life and reinforces the here-and-now.

Another quibble--it's generally not a good idea to start with someone speaking. That leaves open *who* is speaking and who is hearing the speech, i.e., it leaves the point-of-view open. Even here, where you instantly resolve this with an "I said," that follows the speech. While reading the speech, the reader is left in the dark as to the fundamental context of who is speaking and who is hearing. That's why it's generally better to start with the point-of-view character sensing or feeling rather than speaking or acting. In the context of your opening, you might have the studio lights glare and unease make her squirm in the too-hard seat. Internal sensations help to draw readers into her head.

One final note, the gender and name of the narrator aren't revealed until the fifth paragraph. The sooner we know these things, the better.


                                                             
*FlagB*Plot
I'm going to repeat the quote from Vonnegut here: every character should want something, even if it's a glass of water.

The plot is Abigail's life story. As a youth, she wanted to be her own person and find her own way, right? But her path was unsettled, so she must have wanted something else beyond novelty that caused her path to take so many turns. When she finally "settled down," she found what she really wanted, namely home. So, like Dorothy in Wizard of Oz, she eventually learns "there's no place like home," but home is where the heart is instead of a place.

I do think that this goal--finding her place in the world--and realizing that it's not a place but a state of being is the message and character arc. It's kind of the classic "hero's journey," where she starts in that high school, enters the world with many adventures, and returns to the prosaic world--Michigan in this case--and brings the wisdom of her journey with her.

While I love this plot, I can only repeat what I said above about showing as opposed to telling. This story really needs to be longer, with more real-world slices of life on her journey. Show one time in detail when she couldn't find a new place for the Christmas tree and relocated, showing how her children reacted and how she felt. Show the start--or maybe the end--of one whirlwind romance. If you've seen the movie "Before Sunrise," that's the kind of slice-of-life I'm thinking of.

Okay, one final note. She's fifty when she finally settles down in Michigan, right? We know she's got chidren. I infer from what you've written that her husband already has grown children, too. It's possible, I suppose, that they had children together, but seems unlikely. This means that some of the latter events are missing in details about blending these two families.

                                                             
*FlagB*Style and Voice
First person. I really wish this story had been third person limited. I think that would have resulted in a much more immediate and intimate experience.

                                                             
*FlagB*Scene/Setting
This is mostly absent. Similarly, except for the two framing mini-scenes, action is mostly absent. It's all narration. The scene is important to suggest where things happen, where the characters are in relation to each other, and to establish the mood. The scene also reveals what the POV characters sees and how she reacts to it, so it can deepen characterization. All of this argues for less narration and more showing.

                                                             
*FlagB*Characters
Abigail is a great character who eventually has an epiphany. Her story arc is one worth writing about and readers will feel is worth knowing.

                                                             
*FlagB*Grammar
The only grammatical quibble I had was the use of parenthetic comments. Every editor I've dealt with--even in math journals--has hated them and made me take them out. If you must break the thought of the sentence with an interjection, it's generally better to use em-dashes.

                                                             
*FlagB*Just my personal opinion
The theme and superstructure of this story--Abigail's life--are awesome. I enjoyed reading it this morning. As with my prior review, I see I've made more comments than I ordinarily would...I hope you feel you're getting your moneys' worth for my reviews!

                                                             
*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 yet another new school) *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Editors tend to deprecate parenthetic comments in favor of the em-dash. *Exclaim*

That's it. I jammed all my comments in the earlier parts of the review.

                                                             

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


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

Thanks again for sharing this item. Keep on writing!


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




*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
16
16
Review by
Rated: 18+ | (4.0)
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*Smile* Hi. Max here. This is the first of my reviews for the "Tee-Up! for Charity auction.

Item Reviewed: "Of Grey Eyes and Garnet Hearts"   by Fyn
Reviewer: Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈

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

                                                             
*FlagB*What I liked best
This was a visceral story to read. It brought home the horror and sudden brutality of war, along with heroism of of soldiers.

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

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

The first paragraph establishes the first person narrator and gives him a goal, while the second paragraph establishes the what, when, and where answers as well as the folly of his original goal. In a sense, this puts him adrift and without a goal, which sets up the plot.

I note in passing that we don't know the narrator's name nor do we know his gender. In the third paragraph, we can guess he must be male since he's six-feet-two, although that doesn't strictly rule out being female. Establishing these to things--gender and name--early helps to put readers in his head.


                                                             
*FlagB*Style and Voice
First person. No slips. However, first person is inherently more difficult to write than third person limited, and some of the challenges are apparent in this short story. For example, establishing the narrator's name and gender tends to be a bit harder. One of the reasons first person is more challenging is that it's how we tell stories in real life. Over the evening meal, we'll tell about our day, relating amusing, annoying, or at least diverting incidents. The problem is that we are *telling* the story, not showing it. With a first person narrator, the temptation to tell as opposed to show is almost irresistable. See my comments below on narrated content.

                                                             
*FlagB*Plot
An ambush in Iraq.

                                                             
*FlagB*Referencing
This all felt real. Visceral, in fact. Good job.

                                                             
*FlagB*Scene/Setting
See above. I thought there were good details throughout that brought the setting to life.

                                                             
*FlagB*Characters
Kurt Vonnegut once said that every character should want something, even if it's just a glass of water. It's clear that Fitzgerald wanted to escape from his suffocating life in Arizona, but realized too late that the path he chose didn't provide what he sought. Thus, I would have expected him to find a different goal after what he went through. There's a hint that he's done that, or will do that, so maybe that's sufficient. However, I would have liked a bit more closure.

We never get an explicit goal for Dalton. She's certainly concerned for Fitzgerald and does whatever is necessary to protect him. She lived--and died--for others. That didn't quite get articulated in the conversations that preceded the ambush, although she did want to tell a "good news" story. We infer her goals through her actions, but the conversations might have set this up a little better.

The sergeant speaks, but none of the other characters are brought to life. I think the chaos and horror of the ambush would be more graphic and emotionally compelling if we saw what happened to one of the joking soldiers from earlier.


                                                             
*FlagB*Grammar
One comma splice, which isn't really an error. Otherwise, it's all good.

                                                             
*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 promised an in-depth review with the package, so you're getting more comments than I'd ordinarily provide. This is an excellent, heart-wrenching story. The comments I've made all deal with showing rather than telling. These are little tweaks, but I think they would increase the emotional impact of the story by better linking the readers to the here-and-now and to the minor characters.

Thank you for asking me read this story. Although I never saw combat, I'm a veteran and I recognize the comradeship and commitment of military personnel that this story describes.

                                                             
*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'm sitting in the back of a Hummer packed tight with six other soldiers. The stench is so bad in here, I don't think anyone's had a shower in a week. Elbows fight for room with M-16s. I'm six-foot two: My knees are up around my shoulders. We are on the road to An Nasinyah. I'll be filming a story about the troops. A morale booster, I was told back at camp. Sure. I just hit the sandbox two days ago. I have no idea what is going on except that I feel like I'm the only one that is scared to death. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: There is much to like in this paragraph. You use smell to help establish the close quarters, and have the elbows “fight” the M-16s for room. His knees are at his shoulders due to his six-feet-two frame. Those are all excellent, active images. But then it devolves to the author stating a bunch of facts. They are on the road to An Nasinyah. He’s been told to film a morale-boosting story. He just arrived, doesn’t know what’s going on, and he’s scared to death. These aren’t bad bits of information, but they are missed opportunities at showing as opposed to telling. He might fumble with his camera with nervous fingers, for example, or take a shuddering breath that he hopes no one notices. Fear might clench his stomach and sweat might burn his eyes. Eventually the paragraph ends with him eyeing the other journalist, and again has good, active images that including the Hummmer bouncing around. *Exclaim*

*Cut*They are joking around, pee arching as they try to swamp the bug. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: It wouldn’t take much to show them joking, doubtless in a gross way, as opposed to telling us they were joking around. This is relatively minor, but it’s one of the missed opportunities to show that I mentioned above. Showing them joking around makes them more real, which makes the later events even more traumatic. *Exclaim*

*Cut*The blond stepped to the far side of the hummer, dropped her fatigues and took care of business.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: This must be the Navy journalist, although her hair color wasn’t mentioned earlier. *Exclaim*

*Cut*PFC Fitzgerald, 44th Cav I tell her. MC3 Dalton, USS Ronald Reagan she answers with a smile. She tells me we have about another hour to ride and so we've time to come up with an angle for the story. Like I can even hold my camera steady. She asks about which equipment I'm using and she nods, knowing it well.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Here and in the paragraphs that follow you tell us what they say—narrate the conversation—as opposed to showing it. Given the critical role she plays in the story, this is a missed opportunity to bring her to life. Putting words in her mouth, revealing the cast of her eyes, the quirk of her mouth, or her body language makes her more real for the readers. This would give the ending more punch. *Exclaim*

*Cut*I need to talk. We exchange the short versions of our lives.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: In this paragraph you narrate the conversation as opposed to putting actual words in their mouths. *Exclaim*

*Cut*She seems relaxed, comfortable even. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: With this paragraph, we do get some of her body language, but it’s separated from the conversation itself. It’s the author, intruding, to tell us things as opposed to showing it in the there-and-now of ongoing events. *Exclaim*

*Cut*Yeah, you are, you're bleeding.'*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Comma splice—i.e., you’ve joined two independent clauses with a comma when a semicolon or period would be better. Technically, this isn’t a mistake, but every editor I’ve ever worked with has made me revise these. *Exclaim*

*Cut*It's dark out. My belly feels like it's on fire. Where am I? Oh. Yeah. Shit. 'Dalton?' I holler.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Here, we actually hear the characters speak. It’s much more effective at bringing the here-and-now of the battle to life. *Exclaim*

*Cut*It's cold.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Maybe a sudden chill makes his teeth chatter? Something to show he’s cold as opposed to telling us a fact. *Exclaim*

*Cut*She tells me our convoy was hit big time.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: And now we’re back to narrated conversation.... *Exclaim*

*Cut*I salute Mrs. Dalton. Her eyes are Dalton's eyes looking at me. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: I’d consider putting the line about never forgetting her eyes here as opposed to where it’s at above. It leaves a bit of ambiguity about whose eyes he will never forget, but the mother’s and daughter’s eyes are the same, via the preceding sentence. *Exclaim*

                                                             

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


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

Thanks again for sharing this item. Keep on writing!


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




*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
17
17
Review of "My pleasure."  
Review by
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
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*Smile* Hi. My name is Max. Thank you for asking me to read and comment on your story. I enjoyed it and wanted to share some thoughts with you.

Item Reviewed: ""My pleasure.""   by PrudhviRaj12
Reviewer: Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈

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

                                                             
*FlagB*What I liked best
You've built your story around a magical lake that bridges between this life and the next. It's a creative and original response to the cover from Weird Tales which was the prompt for the contest. Nice job!

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

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

Your opening also needs to orient the reader. We need to know basic things like who, what, when, and where, but we also need to know what kind of story we're reading, and something about the plot. Typically, the latter would include a suggestion of the goals, stakes, and obstacles for the point-of-view character.

That means the opening has to do a lot of things simulataneously, which is why openings are often challenging to write. You do start with your point-of-view character, Leia, and give us some background on the lake, both of which are good. But I've got some thoughts on ways you might tweak the opening.

First, I'd consider placing Leia in the woods surrounding the lake in the first sentence , and I'd do this with having her sense things. For example, moonbeams might shimmer across the lake's surface and a gentle breeze might tug at her hair. "Tugging" gives you a sensation that only she can feel, and helps put the reader in her head. The moonbeams establish that it's night and that there's a lake. Alternative, she might sigh and inhale the scent of juniper and honeysuckle (or some other forsesty-smell) might. Again, the smell puts the reader in her head and and the scents place her in a forest.

Next, I think the fact that she's carrying an urn with her mother's ashes is important to the plot, and thus important to know at the outset, so I'd have her clutch it to her heart, or have its weight tug on her fingers. Next you could have her think about why she's there--to fulfill her mother's mysterious wish that her ashes be spread on the waters, right? So, have her think about that, perhaps wondering why she made such a request. Maybe she thinks about old legends about the lake.

Having the eyeball preserved with the ashes is so peculiar, I'd have her wonder about that, too...although you could leave it a bit a mystery for a while. She could just turn the urn in her fingers and think about her mother's odd instructions for her remains. Let the eyeball be revealed as the "odd instruction" when it plops into the lake.

The bits about Juana's lost husband and her best friend Gwinnita don't seem to me to add to the plot and could be deleted.

Admittedly, the above suggestions are likely to add some words to the story, but I think the opening is particularly important. Adding them here lets you cut things later. The story arc involves Leia's grief and the solace she receives from the lake, so threading her grief as the conflict she needs to resolve is important, too.

Ok, I've almost written as much here as the entire story, but I'm mostly done.

                                                             
*FlagB*Plot
Leia grieves for her mother as she carries out her parent's last wishes for the disposal of her ashes.

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

                                                             
*FlagB*Scene/Setting
Nice job here...evocative descriptions, and they reinforce the mood and the plot.

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

                                                             
*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. It's an original and creative response to the visual prompt. Leia is fully-realized character, and her character arc fits nicely with the plot. I've made some minor suggestions in the line-by-line, but overall I think this is quite nice. Thank you for sharing!

                                                             
*FlagB*Line-by-line remarks
*Bullet*Your text is in BLUE.
*Bullet*My comments are in GREEN.
*Bullet*If I suggest a re-wording, it's in GRAPE.
                                                             
*Cut*after an year of marriage.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: typo: after A year of marriage. *Exclaim*

*Cut*Her only friend was Gwanita, *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Her mother’s only friend? Or Leia’s? *Exclaim*

*Cut*It was pitch dark - 23 year old Leia had always been a brave woman. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: This is two sentences joined by a dash where a period would be more appropriate. Also, numbers should generally be written out. *Exclaim*

*Cut*The reflection of the moon was in the water and Leia, not understanding how to start, throws a tiny rock into the reflection*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: two comments here. First, beware of any sentence where the primary verb is a form of “to be,” as in the opening phrases. Perhaps you could say, “Moonbeams glimmered across the water...,” making the beams an active part of the scene.
Second, you’ve changed tenses between the two sentences. In the first, you’ve got past tense (was), while in the second you’ve got present tense (throws). These should be consistent throughout. *Exclaim*


*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Beware of repeating words and phrases—“made her make a decision,” for example. Why not just, “made her decide?” Second, antecedent for the last “she” is “mother,” since that’s the nearest noun preceding the pronoun. If you said, “when Leia was two years old...” it would be both correct and less confusing. *Exclaim*

*Cut*She, noticeably freaked out, stood in shock.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Who is noticing this? Instead of telling us she “freaked out,” can you describe her reaction? Maybe chills jitter down her back, or an icy ball grips her stomach. It could be adrenalin sent electricity tingling out her fingertips...some physical, that only she can sense. Also, don’t say “she felt,” which is telling. Describe the sensation directly. Readers will infer she “felt” it. *Exclaim*

*Cut*She could hear the branches around her moving*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: “She could hear...” is like “she felt” above. Just describe the branches swishing in the breeze. *Exclaim*



                                                             

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


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

Thanks again for sharing this item. Keep on writing!


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




*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
18
18
Review by
Rated: 18+ | (4.0)
*Smile* Hi. My name is Max. I'm writing as one of the official judges for the "Short Shots: Official WDC Contest.

Item Reviewed: "Speak the truth and shame the Devil"   by Odessa Molinari
Reviewer: Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈

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

Ordinarily, I avoid "grading" stories, but, as a judge, I'm required to rank order what I consider the top ten stories. For consistency in my rankings, I've used a point system based on a few basic elements of craft. To repeat, though, these are just one person's opinion. Writing fiction is an art as well as a craft, and each artist is different.

                                                             
*FlagB*What I liked best
The Twilight Zone style ending returned, full circle, to the beginning, bringing a nice symmetry to the story.

                                                             
*FlagB*Opening paragraph. (12/20 points)
The time-reversal in the opening, necessary to the plot, could have been a bit smoother, I think. You might consider spending a bit more time in the present, establishing the here-and-now of the story, before the brief sojourn to the past.

                                                             
*FlagB*Point of view. (9/10 points)
First person in the nameless narrator's head. No slips, although knowing the narrator's name would have helped draw readers into the story.

                                                             
*FlagB*Effective showing as opposed to telling.(18/20 points)
strong, vivid descriptions here. Not much insight, though, into the feelings and sensations of narrator.

                                                             
*FlagB*Effective use of prompt. (20/20 points)
I recognized the prompt in the descriptions, so good job here.

                                                             
*FlagB*Characters. (10/20 points)
The narrator appeared a bit flat to me. Kurt Vonnegut once said that every character should want something, even if it's only a glass of water. What does the narrator want? What are the obstacles? The stakes are eventually clear, but a hint earlier could be helpful.

                                                             
*FlagB*Technical proficiency. (7/10 points)
I saw some comma errors and couple of minor typos.

                                                             
*BalloonGo* Total points. 8/100

                                                             
That's it! Remember, good or bad, these are just one person's opinion. Writing a story--any story--is challenging creative work. I commend you for your success and urge you to continue! Thank you for sharing your creativity.

Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈
19
19
Review by
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
*Smile* Hi. My name is Max. I'm writing as one of the official judges for the "Short Shots: Official WDC Contest.

Item Reviewed: "Halloween Battle in Shibuya"   by Kotaro
Reviewer: Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈

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

Ordinarily, I avoid "grading" stories, but, as a judge, I'm required to rank order what I consider the top ten stories. For consistency in my rankings, I've used a point system based on a few basic elements of craft. To repeat, though, these are just one person's opinion. Writing fiction is an art as well as a craft, and each artist is different.

                                                             
*FlagB*What I liked best
Positronic robots, disguised as baseball greats, fighting alien demons on Halloween. What's not to like?

                                                             
*FlagB*Opening paragraph. (15/20 points)
The opening did a pretty good orienting the reader to the zany events that are about to unfold, but I think could have been more effective at showing rather than telling.

                                                             
*FlagB*Point of view. (8/10 points)
First person, er, robot, in Ty-Cobb-AI head. No slips in POV, although I felt some confusion about exactly what sort of being was doing the narrating. For example, there's mention of "lungs" and subjective sensations like "stale" scents and "cool" air, so I'm not sure if this is a cyborg-type biological/automaton mix.

                                                             
*FlagB*Effective showing as opposed to telling.(18/20 points)
While the opening had a lot of narrated background, once the action started you did a great job.

                                                             
*FlagB*Effective use of prompt. (20/20 points)
Effective and creative incorporation of the images in the prompt into the story.

                                                             
*FlagB*Characters. (10/20 points)
While not quite part of the characterization, I was a bit confused about other plot elements. For example, this battle is the most recent of a series that started at least 10,000 years ago, so I'm wondering who built the positronic brains and how long they've individually been fighting? Are these "good-guy" aliens, or human demon-fighters-hidden-in-our-midst? Mystery is fine, but I wonder if more clarity would let readers focus more on the here-and-now instead of wondering what was really going on.

                                                             
*FlagB*Technical proficiency. (10 points) /

                                                             
*BalloonGo* Total points. /100

                                                             
That's it! Remember, good or bad, these are just one person's opinion. Writing a story--any story--is challenging creative work. I commend you for your success and urge you to continue! Thank you for sharing your creativity.

Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈
20
20
Review of Magrev's Mistake  
Review by
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
*Smile* Hi. My name is Max. I'm writing as one of the official judges for the "Short Shots: Official WDC Contest.

Item Reviewed: "Magrev's Mistake"   by Beholden
Reviewer: Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈

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

Ordinarily, I avoid "grading" stories, but, as a judge, I'm required to rank order what I consider the top ten stories. For consistency in my rankings, I've used a point system based on a few basic elements of craft. To repeat, though, these are just one person's opinion. Writing fiction is an art as well as a craft, and each artist is different.

                                                             
*FlagB*What I liked best
I like stories with a twist, and this one certainly delivered!

                                                             
*FlagB*Opening paragraph. (15/20 points)
You did a good job orienting the reader and in establishing the point of view. It took a while, though, to get to Magrev's goals, stakes, and obstacles. Once there, however, tension built nicely.

                                                             
*FlagB*Point of view. (7/10 points)
Third person limited, in Magrev's head. As the explosion erupted, however, it felt like an omniscient narrator emerged, standing to one side, describing what occurred rather that staying inside Magrev's head.

                                                             
*FlagB*Effective showing as opposed to telling.(12/20 points)
Good, vivid descriptions. However, there was quite a bit of telling as opposed to showing. For example, every time you say something like "he saw," or "he felt," or told us what he sensed in other ways, it's a subtle form of telling. It's almost always more intimate and immediate for the readers if you describe directly what he sensed; since you've established his point of view, they will infer that he "sensed" it. If you want to emphasize this, you can always have him react in some way.

                                                             
*FlagB*Effective use of prompt. (20/20 points)
Effective use of image in the descriptions of Magrev arising from the grave.

                                                             
*FlagB*Characters. (15/20 points)
Magrev was a credible character. I'm not sure he would have been able to read the sign at the crossroads, however, which would have been written in modern Russian. The Cyrillic script in use at the time of the Khan's invasion of the Kievan Rus would have been quite different. MOreover, while the reader understands the significance of the sign, Magrev doesn't, which I think somewhat weakens the twist. Finally, Magrev's thirst becomes a factor in the latter parts of the story, so I'd suggest adding it as an earlier element. It could serve as a metaphor for his goals, for example.

                                                             
*FlagB*Technical proficiency. (10/10 points)

                                                             
*BalloonGo* Total points. 79/100

                                                             
That's it! Remember, good or bad, these are just one person's opinion. Writing a story--any story--is challenging creative work. I commend you for your success and urge you to continue! Thank you for sharing your creativity.

Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈
21
21
Review by
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
*Smile* Hi. My name is Max. I'm writing as one of the official judges for the "Short Shots: Official WDC Contest.

Item Reviewed: "Release the Fire Demons"   by LightinMind
Reviewer: Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈

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

Ordinarily, I avoid "grading" stories, but, as a judge, I'm required to rank order what I consider the top ten stories. For consistency in my rankings, I've used a point system based on a few basic elements of craft. To repeat, though, these are just one person's opinion. Writing fiction is an art as well as a craft, and each artist is different.

                                                             
*FlagB*What I liked best
I love it when the bad guys get what's coming to them!

                                                             
*FlagB*Opening paragraph. (10/20 points)
Your opening is mostly description and narrated background. While it contains useful, even necessary information, it would do a better job of drawing your readers into your fictional world if you conveyed this information through the words and deeds of your characters.

                                                             
*FlagB*Point of view. (5/10 points)
This story is mostly in Portunus's point of view, but there are places where we're in Harpocrates's head. Other places, an omniscient narrator stands outside the story narrating events or background. Generally, it's more intimate and immediate for the readers to use one character to provide the point of view in each scene.

                                                             
*FlagB*Effective showing as opposed to telling.(12/20 points)
This has good, vivid descriptions, but--as noted above--there are spots where the story stops while the narrator tells the reader things.

                                                             
*FlagB*Effective use of prompt. (20/20 points)
Good descriptive use of the images in the prompt.

                                                             
*FlagB*Characters. (10/20 points)
I get that in this kind of story the characters are more archetypes than living, breathing humans. Still, I could have used a bit more depth and insight into their emotions. For example, you tell us that Harpocrates looked on Portunus's face and saw his contempt and satisfaction. Besides being a place where the POV slipped from Portunus to Harpocrates, this is second hand. If we were in Portunus's head, you could describe directly the satisfaction he was feeling and this, in turn, would have deepened our insight into his character.

                                                             
*FlagB*Technical proficiency. (8/10 points)
No grammatical or typographical errors, so good job. Some minor stylistic points include the use of passive voice which tends to put your readers in a passive, receptive mood. Instead you want them to be your active partners in imagining your fictional world. For this reason, active verbs are preferable to passive.

While you don't over-use adverbs, it's often better to select a more precise verb than to pep up a weak verb with an adverb. As an example, instead of "restlessly striding" you might have Portunus "jitter."

                                                             
*BalloonGo* Total points. 67/100

                                                             
That's it! Remember, good or bad, these are just one person's opinion. Writing a story--any story--is challenging creative work. I commend you for your success and urge you to continue! Thank you for sharing your creativity.

Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈
22
22
Review by
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
*Smile* Hi. My name is Max. I'm writing as one of the official judges for the "Short Shots: Official WDC Contest.

Item Reviewed: "The Wizard's Letter"   by Quick-Quill
Reviewer: Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈

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

Ordinarily, I avoid "grading" stories, but, as a judge, I'm required to rank order what I consider the top ten stories. For consistency in my rankings, I've used a point system based on a few basic elements of craft. To repeat, though, these are just one person's opinion. Writing fiction is an art as well as a craft, and each artist is different.

                                                             
*FlagB*What I liked best
The first paragraph drew me right in!

                                                             
*FlagB*Opening paragraph. (19/20 points)
An almost perfect first paragraph. You name your POV character, establish that he's on a journey, and is a novice magician. My only suggestion would be to have Randy reacting to the plane's shudder in the first paragraph, thus establishing the POV from the start.

                                                             
*FlagB*Point of view. (10/10 points)
3rd person limited, in Randy's head. No slips.

                                                             
*FlagB*Effective showing as opposed to telling.(12/20 points)
While you generally revealed information through the words and deeds of your characters, I felt there was a lot missing in this story. indeed, it felt almost as if it were a first chapter in much longer piece. Just some examples: the nature of Randy's mission is unresolved; why did they pick him up at the subway via a magic spell instead of taking him from his hotel room, or the airport?; Thelma and Lucas appear and then just disappear without explanation. Finally, the story just kind of stops rather than ending. I admit I might have missed something, but this felt more like a fragment than a story.

                                                             
*FlagB*Effective use of prompt. (12/20 points)
While your descriptions were well done, overall this felt tacked on for the reasons noted above.

                                                             
*FlagB*Characters. (12/20 points)
We primarily meet Randy. We know he's got a goal, but it's never spelled out. It looks like Lucas and Thelma are obstacles, but that 's not clear either. The stakes--what bad thing happens if he doesn't achieve his goal--is also unclear. For this reason, while Randy is reasonably well-drawn, what he's trying to achieve is unclear.

                                                             
*FlagB*Technical proficiency. (9/10 points)
One or two minor typos, otherwise fine.

                                                             
*BalloonGo* Total points. 74/100
                                                             
That's it! Remember, good or bad, these are just one person's opinion. Writing a story--any story--is challenging creative work. I commend you for your success and urge you to continue! Thank you for sharing your creativity.

Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈
23
23
Review of The Rising  
Review by
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
*Smile* Hi. My name is Max. I'm writing as one of the official judges for the "Short Shots: Official WDC Contest.

Item Reviewed: "The Rising"   by Espero
Reviewer: Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈

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

Ordinarily, I avoid "grading" stories, but, as a judge, I'm required to rank order what I consider the top ten stories. For consistency in my rankings, I've used a point system based on a few basic elements of craft. To repeat, though, these are just one person's opinion. Writing fiction is an art as well as a craft, and each artist is different.

                                                             
*FlagB*What I liked best
I love it when fiction brings folktales to life, and this one delivered.

                                                             
*FlagB*Opening paragraph. (15/20 points)
Your opening names your protagonist and orients the reader in time and place. It gives Bruce a goal--finding a new occupation away from the bayou--so it also presages the plot.

A couple of suggestions for improvement. First, I think this would be stronger if it including Bruce interacting with the fictional world, especially if the interaction included sensing or other subjective responses that helped to draw the reader into his head. You could convey the same information, for example, by having him wrinkle his nose at the foul scent of fish or pollution from the oil fields, or weariness might drag at his steps after a long haul at sea with the fishing fleet. Secondly, it would be better if the opening suggested what kind of story this would be--it's essentially a story about voodoo and possession, but adding a hint of the supernatural would help set the tone.

                                                             
*FlagB*Point of view. (5/10 points)
This story is mostly in Bruce's head, so it's nominally third person limited. However, the POV wobbles on occasion--for example, at the end where we're in Matt's head. In other place, an omniscient narrator intrudes, standing outside the story looking in, describing things. I realize you are writing against a word limit, but revealing necessary information through the words and deeds of the characters rather than through narration is generally more immediate and intimate for readers.

                                                             
*FlagB*Effective showing as opposed to telling.(12/20 points)
See above on narrated elements.

                                                             
*FlagB*Effective use of prompt. (10/20 points)
The descriptions of the figure in the moonlight were effective and a creative and original use of the prompt.

                                                             
*FlagB*Characters. (15/20 points)
Bruce has a goal--leaving the bayou and finding a new job. The stakes--what bad thing happens if he doesn't acheive the goal--are less clear, and the obstacle appears to be inertia. I think sharpening stakes and obstacles, and making them better connect with the voodoo elements of the story, would increase tension and thus improve the story.

                                                             
*FlagB*Technical proficiency. (8/10 points)
No grammatical errors or other technical flaws, although there are several instances of passive voice. These tend to put readers in a passive, receptive mood when instead you want them to be your partners, actively imagining your fictional world.

                                                             
*BalloonGo* Total points. 75/100

                                                             
That's it! Remember, good or bad, these are just one person's opinion. Writing a story--any story--is challenging creative work. I commend you for your success and urge you to continue! Thank you for sharing your creativity.

Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈
24
24
Review of The Frog King  
Review by
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
*Smile* Hi. My name is Max. I'm writing as one of the official judges for the "Short Shots: Official WDC Contest.

Item Reviewed: "The Frog King"   by DoXx Home From The Asylum!
Reviewer: Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈

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

Ordinarily, I avoid "grading" stories, but, as a judge, I'm required to rank order what I consider the top ten stories. For consistency in my rankings, I've used a point system based on a few basic elements of craft. To repeat, though, these are just one person's opinion. Writing fiction is an art as well as a craft, and each artist is different.

                                                             
*FlagB*What I liked best
I confess I abhor the current occupant of the White House as much as you seem to, so the portrayal in this piece certainly got a sympathetic ear.

                                                             
*FlagB*Opening paragraph. (15/20 points)
Your opening starts with disembodied voices speaking. This does reveal where they are and what they are doing, but both characters disappear from the story and we subsequently learn that Trump is the POV character. Generally, it's stronger to start with your POV character doing and sensing, so that you draw readers into his head.

                                                             
*FlagB*Point of view. (8/10 points)
this is mostly third person limited in Trump's head, although there are diversions--for example both the opening and closing paragraphs.

                                                             
*FlagB*Effective showing as opposed to telling.(15/20 points)
This is kind of a mixed bag. We get some insights as to what is going on through the words and deeds of the characters, but other places through author narration.

                                                             
*FlagB*Effective use of prompt. (10/20 points)
Certainly the image in the prompt is at the center of the plot.

                                                             
*FlagB*Characters. (10/20 points)
So, just to be clear, I despise Trump.

There's certainly a long literary tradition of portraying historical figures in fiction, even horrific sociopaths. Solzhenitsyn's portrayals of Stalin in his novels come to mind. They showed deep insight in his psychopathy and the darkness of his soul, almost as if they were informed not just by the diagnostic and clinical manuals but by personal experience. I'd commend these novels to you as examples.

Stalin certainly never had any self-doubt, and I'm certain Trump never will either. Thus, the actions portrayed in this story aren't credible in terms of the real-life character. However, your Trump is, after all, a fictional character, so the actions of your character have to be credible divorced from what the readers think or know about the real-life character. You do a better job with this, but I'm still not sure that the actions are credible from a fictional perspective.

                                                             
*FlagB*Technical proficiency. (4/10 points)
There are many typos in the copy. It sometimes helps to read your copy line-by-line backwards. That way, you'll focus on the text rather than the actual story and can better find errors.

                                                             
*BalloonGo* Total points. 62/100

                                                             
That's it! Remember, good or bad, these are just one person's opinion. Writing a story--any story--is challenging creative work. I commend you for your success and urge you to continue! Thank you for sharing your creativity.

Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈
25
25
Review by
Rated: E | (4.0)
*Smile* Hi. My name is Max. I'm writing as one of the official judges for the "Short Shots: Official WDC Contest.

Item Reviewed: "Halloween Day, The Cat Inside The Moon"   by Anna Marie Carlson
Reviewer: Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈

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

Ordinarily, I avoid "grading" stories, but, as a judge, I'm required to rank order what I consider the top ten stories. For consistency in my rankings, I've used a point system based on a few basic elements of craft. To repeat, though, these are just one person's opinion. Writing fiction is an art as well as a craft, and each artist is different.

                                                             
*FlagB*What I liked best
I enjoyed this paean to forgiveness and acceptance, where opposites complement each other and live in harmony instead of eternal conflict and destruction. Would that the world could find such peace!

But...while I liked this quite a lot, it's not really a story. It's filled with allegory and metaphor, but has not characters. The essence of plot involves building and then resolving tension, but this is all about the absence of tension.

Like a classic paean, this is a song of thanksgiving for life in all its diversity. It's wonderful and emotive, but it's a challenge to rate in a contest intended for short stories. As you will see, my "rating" scheme breaks down on this unconventional piece.

                                                             
*FlagB*Opening paragraph. (5/20 points)
Your opening certainly reveals that isn't a conventional story but rather an extended allegory. Since from the outset it's an abstraction, readers are by design distanced from what's happening on the page. While distancing of this type can work well in theatre and even cinema, it's much harder to pull off as written fiction where the entire fictional world happens in the readers' heads.

Orwell's Animal Farm is allegory, too, with the farm animals serving as archetypes. But they are recognizable and believable as characters, too, and readers have an emotional connection with them. It's the emotional connection to the characters that I'm missing in this opening.

                                                             
*FlagB*Point of view. (10/10 points)
Omnscient.

                                                             
*FlagB*Effective showing as opposed to telling.(0/20 points)
Well, usually this means revealing information through the words and deeds of the characters, except there are no characters in the conventional sense. This is all narrated, told by a third person who stands outside events and describes them. There is no here-and-now in which people actually speak to each other, smell the scents of the world, feel the heat of passion or the agony of pain. So, since by design it's all narrated--told--and not shown, my scoring scheme breaks down.

Once again, it's the emotional connection to a living, breathing character that I find missing.

                                                             
*FlagB*Effective use of prompt. (20/20 points)
Most authors found evil in the prompt. You found hope, forgiveness, and redemption. Kudos for the most original and creative use of the prompt.

                                                             
*FlagB*Characters. (5/20 points)
Points for the many allegories and archetypes.

                                                             
*FlagB*Technical proficiency. (9/10 points)
There were a couple of minor grammatical errors--most notably "donkey's" for "donkeys."

                                                             
*BalloonGo* Total points. 49/100

Please don't place too much weight on the "score." My judging duties require that I rank-order what I think are the top ten stories. If I used the ratings as my sole guide, this story would not make the top ten. However, I can assure that it DID make my top ten since, while unconventional, it's creative and well written.

I'm using the scoring system to help me consistently rank-order conventional stories. I recognize that my scoring system is flawed for this particular piece since it's slanted toward conventional short stories. When constructing my "best ten" list, I use the ratings as a guide but try to view the stories holistically as well, so yours is in my "best ten" list.

                                                             
That's it! Remember, good or bad, these are just one person's opinion. Writing a story--any story--is challenging creative work. I commend you for your success and urge you to continue! Thank you for sharing your creativity.

Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈
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