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Elements of craft that draw readers into your fictional world and your character's head.
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I'm only interested in prose fiction. I will not review anything over 4000 words, nor will i review poetry. If you have a longer piece, please divide it into bite-sized chunks.
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1
1
Review of Lone Wolf  
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Rated: 18+ | (4.0)
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Item Reviewed: "Lone Wolf"   by Robert Edward Baker
Reviewer: Max Griffin πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ

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

                                                             
*FlagB*What I liked best
Since I try to learn from my mistakes, I only watched the first Twilight movie. As a consequence, I missed most of the references in this story. Nonetheless, it's a good story, with a plot that's independent of the references. I imagine if I'd been more familiar with series, I would have enjoyed this story more. In any case, I liked this story.

                                                             
*FlagB*Scene changes
Every change in scene is a break with the here-and-now and thus threatens to disrupt the fictional dream. For this reason, it's a good idea to orient the reader in time and place at the start of each scene break and to establish, or re-establish, the point of view. This applies to at least two of the breaks in this story.

                                                             
*FlagB*Plot
I know that the Twilight references are foreshadowing, and I did remember enough of the plot to think a vampire might appear. Still, I think you could have added a "stray dog" reference someplace. Maybe when she's talking to Sula? You might also have her call Calef a dog. BTW, babynames.com doesn't list "Calef" as a name. The urban dictionary says a "Calef" is a person who yammers on with annoying questions which doesn't fit the character. I'd consider a more common name--maybe "Bo," which has a hillbilly feel but also echos "Beau," which means "beautiful."

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

                                                             
*FlagB*Scene/Setting
A little sparse but sufficient.

                                                             
*FlagB*Characters
Marta's more or less has goals, stakes, and obstacles. However, her character arc could use some more clarity. She dumps her unfaithful but long-term fiance and goes on a road trip. But what is she seeking on the road trip? There needs to be at least hint that she needs a faithful companion--another reason and way to sneak in dog references. That way, at the end, she has a faithful companion.

Tension usually arises from the conflict between goals and obstacles, but since those were a little hazy, I thought the story didn't have a lot of tension. When the wolf arrived, it was so obvious where it was going to end--even to me, who didn't even remember Twilight had werewolves--that there wasn't much tension from that event. Tension is what keeps the pages turning.

                                                             
*FlagB*Grammar
She had five thousand Benjamin. Benjamin Franklin appears on the hundred dollar bill, so she had five thousand of those? That's $500,000 dollars. She could purchase a Porsche SUV and have lots left over. I think you meant fifty, right?

                                                             
*FlagB*Just my personal opinion
This is a fine story as-is, despite not having a lot of tension. Twilight fans are certain to love it, and I enjoyed even though I'm not a fan. No real need to revise anything unless you feel like it. Thanks for sharing!

                                                             
*FlagB*Line-by-line remarks
*Bullet*Your text is in BLUE.
*Bullet*My comments are in GREEN.
*Bullet*If I suggest a re-wording, it's in GRAPE.
                                                             
*Cut*Marta meandered between the used cars at Honest Bob’s Autos. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: When is this happening with respect to the first scene? Before? After? How much before or after? *Exclaim*

*Cut*She raised an eyebrow. β€œYou’re a used-car salesman.”*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: hahaha *Exclaim*

*Cut*Sula pouted. β€œHow can you do this to me, Smarty Pants?”*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Orient the reader in time and place first, and establish or re-establish POV before anyone speaks. *Exclaim*


                                                             

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


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

Thanks again for sharing this item. Keep on writing!


Max Griffin πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ
http://MaxGriffin.net/
http://MaxGriffin.net/blog/
Check out
FOLDER
Thoughts on Writing  (NPL)
Short essays on the craft of fiction.
#1847273 by Max Griffin πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ



*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
2
2
Review by
In affiliation with Cross Timbers Peer Reviewers  
Rated: 18+ | (4.0)
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Item Reviewed: "As Clear As Water "   by Robert Edward Baker
Reviewer: Max Griffin πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ

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

                                                             
*FlagB*What I liked best
As always, your writing is a joy to read. This story in particular made me laugh out loud in a couple places.

I'm going to forgo most of my usual leads since the story is so well-crafted and put the only significant comment in the line-by-line section.

                                                             
*FlagB*Style and Voice
Third person limited in Leah's head. No slips here, except that once Alice and Leah started talking, I kind of lost track of the POV. The same thing happens in the back-and-forth dialogue when the two of them meet up with Nessie. Having Leah interaction with her environment in ways that remind us we're in her head would be helpful. That usually means emotions, thoughts, or sensations. "Free direct discourse" is another way to do this, since it embeds Leah's thoughts directly into the narrative. See "Really Just One Point of View

                                                             
*FlagB*Referencing
I went to the first Twilight movie, but barely remember it. For sure, I don't remember the droll humor that's in this story. If I did, I might have been willing to watch more of them. Anyway, I thought you did an awesome job with putting the necessary background into the story without a hint of an info-dump. More good craft at work!

                                                             
*FlagB*Scene/Setting
Of course smell would dominate a werewolf's sense of her surroundings! FYI, I once wrote a novel in which I used a dog for the POV in one chapter. I did the same thing--he kept being distracted by interesting smells.

                                                             
*FlagB*Just my personal opinion
I usually avoid fan fiction, and read this one only because it was yours. Now that I've read it, I'm glad I did, as it's good fiction, and well-written. Thanks for sending it my way.

                                                             
*FlagB*Line-by-line remarks
*Bullet*Your text is in BLUE.
*Bullet*My comments are in GREEN.
*Bullet*If I suggest a re-wording, it's in GRAPE.
                                                             
*Cut*β€œYou try carrying your clothes in your mouth for four thousand miles.”*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: hahaha *Exclaim*

*Cut*All men were dogs. In Sam’s case, literally. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: stop! *Exclaim*

*Cut*Leah fidgeted with the pleats of her gingham summer dress unused to anything so…feminine.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: I think you need a comma after β€œdress.” *Exclaim*
*Cut*She saw herself skipping through an unfamiliar forest...*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: One of my best critics, TimM , was fond of reminding me that readers are delicate critters, and easily confused. I’d rush through endings that I thought explained things, and he’d tell me to slow down. He was wise, and clear, and always helpful. I miss him.

Oh, wait, this is supposed to be about this story, not my friend.

I wasn’t quite clear what was happening in the final paragraph until the last sentence, so I think some minor tweaks would be helpful. For example, if you changed β€œa tall girl” to β€œthis tall girl” in the third sentence, it would be clearer. Secondly, the phrasing in the fourth sentence suggests that Jacob and Sam saw exactly the same vision that Leah is seeing now, so some rephrasing would be helpful. It could be as simple as β€œLeah had seen this kind of thing happen to others...” or β€œLeah had seen memories of this kind of vision....” The point is that we need to know for sure that Sam and Jacob didn’t see the same vision as Leah, just a similar one when they β€œimprinted.”
*Exclaim*




                                                             

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


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

Thanks again for sharing this item. Keep on writing!


Max Griffin πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ
http://MaxGriffin.net/
http://MaxGriffin.net/blog/
Check out
FOLDER
Thoughts on Writing  (NPL)
Short essays on the craft of fiction.
#1847273 by Max Griffin πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ



*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
3
3
Review by
In affiliation with Cross Timbers Peer Reviewers  
Rated: E | (4.0)
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Item Reviewed: "The Weight of Hate"   by Redtowrite
Reviewer: Max Griffin πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ

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

                                                             
*FlagB*What I liked best
I'd like to think that this story is all fiction. Even if it is, I'm certain it reflects a horrific reality that we see on today's newscasts. Certainly hate weighs heavliy today on our nation, not the least due to the enthusiastic cheer leading from the obscenity currently occupying the highest office in the land.

Thank you for writing this. It's people like you, with good hearts and the courage to stand up, that give me a glimmer of hope in these dreadful times.

                                                             
*FlagB*Opening
Ordinarly, I'd want you to name your point-of-view character in your opening, but this story is not about the narrator. Indeed, the narrator recites the facts in a dispassionate manner, which makes them all the more horrific. The heroes of this story are those who are the targets and victims of hatred who refuse to be consumed by it.

So, anyway, your opening sets up the story in an entirely appropriate way, with enough hooks too keep the readers engaged.

                                                             
*FlagB*Plot
While the narrator almost disappears from the story, the arc belongs to her (or him). At the start, the narrator is looking for something to inspire an article or story. She happens across an old letter, and inspiration for more than a story. The noose still hanging in the tree is a metaphor for the weight of history that still burdens us. In any case, it's clear that the narrator found inspiration here for more than a mere story.

                                                             
*FlagB*Style and Voice
First person. The narrator speaks with clinical precision, bringing forward the historical details without comment. This makes them all the more horrific.

                                                             
*FlagB*Referencing
One wonders what the townfolk think of their history? The Klan is still active. The librarian, at least, knew thee story. They were happy to leave the noose in the tree all these years. The town is a metaphor for our country, the noose for racism.

                                                             
*FlagB*Grammar
I only found a couple of minor typos, noted in the line-by-line remarks below.

                                                             
*FlagB*Just my personal opinion
I really don't have much to say here. Certainly, I can't think of ways to improve the story. I wish I could think of ways to improve the ills that it presents.

                                                             
*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*everything is on line these days. *Cut* *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: onlineβ€”one word. *Exclaim*

*Cut*is to protecting white women*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: I think there might be a typo here *Exclaim*

                                                             

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


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

Thanks again for sharing this item. Keep on writing!


Max Griffin πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ
http://MaxGriffin.net/
http://MaxGriffin.net/blog/
Check out
FOLDER
Thoughts on Writing  (NPL)
Short essays on the craft of fiction.
#1847273 by Max Griffin πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ



*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
4
4
Review of Last Words  
Review by
In affiliation with Cross Timbers Peer Reviewers  
Rated: E | (4.0)
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Item Reviewed: "Last Words"   by Ezekiel Stephens
Reviewer: Max Griffin πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ

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

                                                             
*FlagB*What I liked best
Anyone who's attempted writing for any period of time has experienced writer's block. One way out is to find inspiration from the real-world stories around us. Then there's the...intriguing...way the protagonist of this story finds.

                                                             
*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 thought your opening was strong. You begin with the protagonist acting, but his actions also reveal his goals and obstacles. His frustrations are also apparent, which speak to the stakes.

I have a couple of minor tweaks to suggest. First, it would be nice to find a way to name your character in the opening paragraph. Perhaps he stares at the title and byline. You might consider "Pickman" for the last name, in deference to a Lovecraft character who turns into a ghoul.

Second, later in the story you describe the interior of his apartment with some details about it being cluttered and messy. This is good, because these details not only fill out the setting but also serve as a metaphor for his life. So...I'd suggest moving these details to the introductory paragraphs.

While you hint at the stakes in the form of his frustration, they are one of the weaker parts of the story. What bad thing or things will happen if he doesn't achieve his goal? Will he have to pay back the advance? Will his parents or some other figure gloat over his failure? Or maybe he just casts an eye at a handgun and thinks he's not ready yet for that solution? If you hint that he's suicidal, that would certainly raise the stakes and provide a counterpoint to what he winds up doing--telling the old lady's story gives purpose to his own life.

                                                             
*FlagB*Plot
Goals and obstacles gives rise to conflict. The conflict matters--at least to Bob--because of the stakes. These three, goals, obstacles, and stakes, lead to tension, which is the engine that propels plot.

I thought you did a good job unrolling the elements of the story, and that the tension was good. One suggestion, though--instead of making his pretense of being a pastor a twist, I'd foreshadow the pretension as a way of increasing tension. For example, when he speaks to the doctor on the phone, you might find a more direct way to indicate that he's supposed to at least appear to be a man of the cloth, or of god, or whatever. That tells us that he's not. The twist is why he undertakes the deception, which we learn later.

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

                                                             
*FlagB*Characters
We know about Bob's goals and obstacles from the start. I've already said I think the stakes could be sharpened a bit. In any case, we have a idea why Bob cares about his goal. What's missing, I think, is why readers should care.

Hitchcock once said that the plot is to give the characters something to care about. The audience--or in our case, the readers--care about the characters. Readers need a reason to cheer for Bob, or at least understand enough about him to care what happens in the end. That gets back to my earlier comment about clarifying the stakes.

                                                             
*FlagB*Grammar
This is well written. I think I only found one thing to whine about in the line-by-line comments.

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

You did an effective job launching the fictional dream, putting us in Bob's head, and keeping us there throughout. I've made a few suggestions above to tweak things, but overall this is an effective and well-crafted story. Thanks for sharing, and do keep writing!!!

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

*Cut*my nostrils were pervaded with the familiar sterile scent *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Passive voice, which tends to put your readers in a passive, receptive mood. Instead, you want them actively involved in imagining your fictional world. For this reason, active verbs forms are better. *Exclaim*


                                                             

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


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

Thanks again for sharing this item. Keep on writing!


Max Griffin πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ
http://MaxGriffin.net/
http://MaxGriffin.net/blog/
Check out
FOLDER
Thoughts on Writing  (NPL)
Short essays on the craft of fiction.
#1847273 by Max Griffin πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ



*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
5
5
Review of Ruby's Romeo  
Review by
In affiliation with Cross Timbers Peer Reviewers  
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
Show Don't Tell Logo


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

Item Reviewed: "Ruby's Romeo"   by Olivia Benson off duty ;)
Reviewer: Max Griffin πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ

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

                                                             
*FlagB*What I liked best
I liked your take on the prompt and the realistic use of multiple care-givers. Ruby's conversations with them give you a way to show many parts of the prompt.

                                                             
*FlagB*Effective showing of the information in the prompt.
(25 points out of 30)
I clearly got Ruby's fears, but it was kind of a stretch to get that Roscoe thinks Ruby's not grateful. Also, some of the elements are told rather than shown.

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


                                                             
*FlagB*Creativity and Originality
(12 points out of 15)
Nice job using multiple characters, but I could have used a bit more depth to them. I'd suggest considering having two caregivers, Roscoe and one other. That way, you can give more depth to the non-Roscoe character.

                                                             
*FlagB* Effective showing--as opposed to telling--for the whole story
(10 points out of 15)
I get that you are using free direct discourse (see "Really Just One Point of View for what I mean by this). However, this technique can be tricky, especially if the readers are not deeply inside the POV character's head. In this case, this often felt more like the author intruding to tell the reader things than Ruby thinking them.

                                                             
*FlagB*Plot and Pacing
(7 points out of 10)
While Ruby has clear goals, stakes, and obstacles, I thought the plot could use more tension by increasing the obstacles, raising the stakes, or refining the goals. Ruby's goal of receiving effective and timely support from her caregivers has high stakes already, so the obstacles become their innattention and/or her fear them taking advantage of her her. So, by increasing the obstacles, you get more tension, which increases her stakes, which increases her fears, and so on.

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


                                                             
*FlagB* Total Points
74 points out of 100



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

                                                             
*FlagB*Line-by-line remarks
*Bullet*Your text is in BLUE.
*Bullet*My comments are in GREEN.
*Bullet*If I suggest a re-wording, it's in GRAPE.
                                                             
*Cut*"Don't worry Ruby, we'll look after you." If only I hadn't had that fall. Ruby watched out the window as the social worker headed to her car.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Generally speaking, it’s better to start with Ruby acting, sensing, or otherwise interacting with her environment. This gives you chance to orient the reader with respect to point of view, time, and place. Starting with a disembodied voice speaking leaves open who is hearing the voice and is otherwise less effective.

The second sentence uses the first person pronoun, although the rest of the story is in third person limited. The technique you’re usingβ€”direct discourseβ€”can be effective, but first you need to put the readers inside Ruby’s head since otherwise it feels like Ruby’s going to be a first person narrator. So, for example, you might have Ruby squirm in wheelchair. She might even silently curse the fall that caused her infirmity. *Exclaim*


*Cut*Ruby went red.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Ruby can’t see her face, so this is a point-of-view violation. If you said her face β€œheated,” she can feel that and you convey the same information while staying in her head. *Exclaim*

*Cut*She wanted him to leave.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Author intrudes to state a fact. *Exclaim*

*Cut*"Mornin' Ruby, and how's my girl today?" I'm not a girl and I'm certainly not yours. "I've brought you a flask so I can make you some tea. It should stay warm all day."*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Each time a new character speaks, you should start a new paragraph. So here, Roscoe speaks in a paragraph, then start a new paragraph when Ruby answers, and a third paragraph when Roscoe responds. *Exclaim*

                                                             

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


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

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


Max Griffin πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ
http://MaxGriffin.net/
http://MaxGriffin.net/blog/
Check out
FOLDER
Thoughts on Writing  (NPL)
Short essays on the craft of fiction.
#1847273 by Max Griffin πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ
6
6
Review of Ruby # 2  
Review by
In affiliation with Cross Timbers Peer Reviewers  
Rated: E | (4.0)
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Hi! My name is Max Griffin πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ , and I'm here to review your entry in the "Show, Don't Tell Contest

Item Reviewed: "Ruby # 2"   by Leadwood
Reviewer: Max Griffin πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ

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

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

                                                             
*FlagB*Effective showing of the information in the prompt.
(25 points out of 30)
Mostly you showed Roscoe's elements, but there was some telling in Ruby's.

                                                             
*FlagB*First Paragraph
(15 points out of 20)
see the line-by-line remarks below.

                                                             
*FlagB*Creativity and Originality
(15 points out of 15)
Great job here!

                                                             
*FlagB* Effective showing--as opposed to telling--for the whole story
(10 points out of 15)
Again, the Ruby parts tended toward telling.

                                                             
*FlagB*Plot and Pacing
(10 points out of 10)
Good job here, except that it felt a little disjointed. This might be due to the hopping between Ruby and Roscoe, but I think some of the transitions could also be stronger.

                                                             
*FlagB*Technical Proficiency (such as grammar, spelling, proof-reading, and following the contest rules)
(4 points out of 10)
The contest specifically requires that one character provide the point of view. However, your story alternates between Roscoe's POV and Ruby's. In a short piece, it's especiallly important to pick one character for the point of view and to stick with it. You might glance at this essay, "Just One Point of View, for some elaboration why this is important and strategies for doing it. Longer pieces can have more than one point of view.

If you'd stayed in Roscoe's head throughout, I think the ending would have been much more effective. You've got an awesome concept for this story, and it deserves the best possible narrative structure.


                                                             
*FlagB* Total Points
79 points out of 100



                                                             
*FlagB*Just my personal opinion
This is a great concept! If you could tweak it to stay in Roscoe's head throughout, I bet you could get it published. Do keep writing!

                                                             
*FlagB*Line-by-line remarks
*Bullet*Your text is in BLUE.
*Bullet*My comments are in GREEN.
*Bullet*If I suggest a re-wording, it's in GRAPE.
                                                             
*Cut*Ruby was standing, the cold gray floor tiles and china white painted walls reflected a blinding light from the fluorescent bulbs above. Her head hung, her chin rested on her chest. Her eyes, her beautiful eyes, were closed.

Roscoe squinted against the glare. *Cut*
*Exclaim*My Comment: One simple change would make this opening dynamite. Just lead with Roscoe squinting against the glare. This is him reacting to his environment. The β€œglare” is subjective, which also helps to put the readers inside his head.

Once we’re in his head, then arguably what follows is Roscoe observing his environment. If you don’t first establish his point of view, then what you have instead is an omniscient narrator, standing outside the story, telling the readers stuff. Instead, you want to engate your readers’ imaginations and put them *inside* the story. One of the most effective ways to do that is to put them inside Roscoe’s head. *Exclaim*


*Cut*he though he might be invisible.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: typo *Exclaim*

                                                             

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


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

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


Max Griffin πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ
http://MaxGriffin.net/
http://MaxGriffin.net/blog/
Check out
FOLDER
Thoughts on Writing  (NPL)
Short essays on the craft of fiction.
#1847273 by Max Griffin πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ
7
7
Review by
In affiliation with Cross Timbers Peer Reviewers  
Rated: E | (4.0)
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Item Reviewed: "The First Chapter of the End"   by Barex Aster
Reviewer: Max Griffin πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ

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

                                                             
*FlagB*What I liked best
There are several things I liked about this story. First, there's the complex fictional world that underpins it. It's clear that you have myriad details worked out, but you gave us just those that we needed to understand the action in the here-and-now action, as it happens. Further, you revealed those details in a natural way, without author intrusions to "explain" what what was happening. That's evidence of good craft, so kudos for that. I also enjoyed the use of language, which is frequently evocative and always active. Finally, this chapter casts the underlying theme as "free will" versus "predestination," with Kara and Omega as representing the two sides.

                                                             
*FlagB*Style and Voice
Ordinarily, I'd start with your opening paragraphs, but most of my comments relate to point of view, so I'm going to begin with that. Please bear with me.

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

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

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

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

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

I knew from the very first sentence that this chapter used an omniscient narrator:
A silent, fiery explosion reflected from the glistening coat of her golden, horror-struck eyes. Her jaw dropped slightly, a short shudder escaping her lips.

This is an awesome image, but Kara can't see her eyes! This is the omniscient narrator, standing outside the story, telling the reader things. This pattern repeats several places in the chapter. Instead of being outside the story, you want the reader inside your fictional world, actively engaged in imagining the events and filling in all the myriad details that help bring a scene to life.

This brings me to my primary suggestion for this chapter: pick a point-of-view character and show the events from that perspective. For the first part of the chapter, it could be Omega or Kara. For the latter part, Kara is the natural choice, although Ganyu might be an interesting choice, assuming he has a significant enough role to play later.

                                                             
*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.

There are some great descriptions in your opening paragraphs and I knew from the first sentences I was reading the product of a skilled author. The writing is skilled and varied, but I still have some tweaks to suggest.

Your opening orients the reader as to time and location. This is a vital part of an opening. However, I confess I couldn't quite picture where Kara was at. I know there are cogs and gears, and something about an empty white void, but it's all kind of vague. Surely, however, the "massive" dragon would have dominated her perceptions, but we don't know where he's at with respect to her. We also don't get much in the way of her interacting with the setting--is it warm or cold, still or windy? The motion of the gears is "muted," but what does that mean? Do they "thump" or maybe "whir?"

If you start with Kara interacting with her environment, either through deeds, or sensations, or a combination of the two, you can put readers inside her head. Once there, in a third-person limited point of view, the connection with the fictional world becomes more immediate and intimate. By being inside Kara's head, the staging is also easier to clarify.

Finally, a minor grammatical point, the pronoun "her" in your first sentence has no antecedent. It's stronger to name your point-of-view character as soon as possible, so I'd consider using her name in this sentence rather than a pronoun.

                                                             
*FlagB*Characters
This chapter gives Kara a goal--to save the world. Survival--hers and others'--relies on her success, so the stakes are high. Further, she has only a year before the vision she sees becomes reality--a "ticking clock" that adds to the stakes and the tension. The opposition to her goal is the inevitability of the basic event--the destruction of her planet--that the dragon Omega asserts. So, we've got goals, stakes, and oppostion, the basic building blocks of tension and plot. That's all to the good.

Kara also reveals a gritty determination, which reveals a bit about her character. However, we don't get much deeper sense of who she is. She seems almost dismissive of Ganvu, for example. We learn that she's young--much younger than her advisors. So, it's possible that her gritty determination is just the hubris of a privileged youth, as Omega seems to suspect. That's fine if it's your intent--it gives her room to grow as a character. But it it IS your intent, it could be more pronounced. Further, it has the disadvantage of making it harder for readers to cheer for her since no one likes a privileged snob. The point here is that we don't really get inside Kara's head at an emotional level. Is there someone or something she cares about? It's almost like it's just the intellectual problem that matters to her. In short, we need an incident of some kind in this chapter that humanizes her.

                                                             
*FlagB*Plot
The plot seems to be "save the world." It's easy to infer why that would be important to Kara, although right now it feels like an intellectual exercise to her.

Hitchcock once said that the audience--or the reader, in our case--cares about the characters. The plot, he continued, is there to give the readers something to care about. The readers need to be invested in Kara in order to care about what she cares about, which circles back to the comments above. We need to see her human side. A "save the cat" moment might be helpful--seeing her do a gratuitous good deed, like saving a stray cat, that reveals she has empathy and human emotions.

                                                             
*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.

This whole chapter is the hook, of course. The ending is the dilemma of what to do. However, there's a problem here, too, since the dilemma is very well framed. There appear to be magical elements to your fictional world--talking dragons and a divination that everyone believes in that's been going on for centuries. But there's also evidence of technology in the form of holograms and the references to space-time. So, at this point we don't know exactly what kind of story we're reading. My guess is that it's a cross-over fantasy/SciFi story, which would be awesome, but it also means the dilemma isn't quite framed yet. Is she seeking for a spell, like the one that gives rise to the divination, or will it be a technical solution? Or a combination of these? In some ways, ending the chapter at the break, before Kara's return to the palace, would be a better break, providing stronger unity to the chapter and a stronger hook.

                                                             
*FlagB*Scene/Setting
You do a good job with the throne room, but as noted above I couldn't quite visualize the setting in the opening sequence. Even in the throne room, the omniscient narrator tracks the journey through the palace and into the room. It would be stronger if Kara were making this journey while the readers were in her point-of-view.

                                                             
*FlagB*Grammar
*Exclaim* Adverbs.*Exclaim* You don't overuse adverbs (well, there are over 40 in this short chapter), 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 enjoyed this chapter for all the reasons I noted at the outset. It sets the stage for what promises to be an awesome cross-over SciFi/Fantasy novel, and it features a universal theme. The writing and use of language isn't just superior, it's excellent and shows real talent. As you will see below, I have few line-by-line comments for this reasln.

I suppose it seems I've made many suggestions, and indeed I have, but that's because the piece has such great promise. I see you've only posted one chapter publicly on WDC, but I hope you write more. Indeed, while I've made suggestions to this opening chapter, I'd urge you to keep writing more chapters rather than pouncing on these suggestions and re-writing your opening. The most important thing is to keep the momentum you've started and get the story down. There's plenty of time to come back later and tweak this chapter, once you know your world and your characters better. It's not uncommon for first chapters to undergo many revisions, often late in the writing process, so I'd urge you to keep writing on this project and revise later.

Thanks for sharing!!

                                                             
*FlagB*Line-by-line remarks
*Bullet*Your text is in BLUE.
*Bullet*My comments are in GREEN.
*Bullet*If I suggest a re-wording, it's in GRAPE.
                                                             
*Cut*Kara remained how she stood, *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: The dragon just called her the β€œKing,” but here she’s female? *Exclaim*

*Cut*A shadow casted over her face*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: β€œCast” is an irregular verb; the past tense is β€œcast,” not β€œcasted.” *Exclaim*

*Cut*β€œHmph,” the dragon lightly laughed. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: This is one of those adverbs mentioned above. Did he β€œchuckle,” or maybe β€œsnicker?” A more precise verb gives a clearer emotional context to his response. *Exclaim*

*Cut*Light bloomed from the large, arched windows*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: β€œLarge” is one of those non-specific adjectives that don’t add anything useful since they don’t provide scale. "Giant," used later in this paragraph, is only slightly better for being subjective. *Exclaim*

                                                             

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


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

Thanks again for sharing this item. Keep on writing!


Max Griffin πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ
http://MaxGriffin.net/
http://MaxGriffin.net/blog/
Check out
FOLDER
Thoughts on Writing  (NPL)
Short essays on the craft of fiction.
#1847273 by Max Griffin πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ



*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
8
8
Review by
In affiliation with Cross Timbers Peer Reviewers  
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
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Item Reviewed: "Amenadiel goes back to Pylos"   by Becca Winchester
Reviewer: Max Griffin πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ

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

                                                             
*FlagB*What I liked best
The presence of Amenadiel clues me in that this is based on the Lucifer graphic novels and TV series. If I've gotten this wrong, I apologize. I've occasionally watched and enjoyed the TV series, mostly because I've enjoyed Tom Ellis' portrayal of the eponymous character. In any case, I enjoyed the additional insights into the characters that this vignette provided.

                                                             
*FlagB*Plot
This story provides explicit background in the DC universe for the fall of the Mycenaean civilization in the period 1100 BCE (before the common era). This links this event--through the fall of Pylos--to various other mythologies in the universe. These mythologies, not coincidentally, align with historical events, with Greek beliefs and myths about the gods (including parts of the Iliiad), and with various Biblical passages. It's the synergy between real events and various belief systems that make this thread in the DC universe so compelling.

That said, the plot is about the actions of the characters. Characters have goals that matter--the stakes--and confront opposition. The characters come to life by interacting, in the here-and-now, with each other and with the fictional world. We learn about them through their actions, in real time, as their words and deeds reveal who they are are. Inference rather than narration is the way that characters come to life in the imaginations of the readers.

So I must say that this isn't as much a story as an outline of a story. It tells us what the characters did and why they did it, but we don't actually see them doing things. This is despite some great, active language--things like your opening sentence, which is marvelous.

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

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

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

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

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


                                                             
*FlagB*Referencing
If this is, indeed, fan fiction, a link to the associated Wiki or perhaps IMDB page might be helpful.

                                                             
*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 characters in the Lucifer universe are powerful archetypes, serving as stand-ins for the opposing ideas of free will and predestination. Both Lucifer and his antagonist Amenadiel are rather heartless, disregarding the collateral damage their dispute does to innocent bystanders. Both are at least somewhat self-aware and are fully drawn as fictional characters, having an abundance of flaws as well as traits that both explain their passions help readers to sympathize with them. But in the TV series and the graphic novel, we learn about these things, such as Lucifer's sometime-compassion, through their words and deeds, not through a voice-over.

This story shows you understand the depth of the characters, but it's all narrated--the fictional equivalent of the voice-over. The actual writing is excellent, and shows that you have the talent to produce evocative and compelling prose. If this is intended as a prologue to a story involving Amenadiel back at the destruction of Pylos, where he's striving to attain a goal in the face of opposing forces, then it's fine, and I'd like to read the story that follows.

Usually my reviews include at least a few line-by-line remarks where I suggest changes to the prose. The actual writing here is quite good, professional even, and I have no such suggestions, just the more general ones above.

You write extremely well. It's not just that it's grammatically correct, the choice of active verbs and the pacing of your prose, using varying sentence lengths, is also impressive. My suggestion is to pick an incident, a place where Amenadiel wants something in particular and is fighting to achieve it, and show us that story.

Thanks for sharing and reminding me that I enjoyed this TV series. I'll probably pick it up again. ANd do keep writing!!! Not everyone has your skills.

                                                             

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


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

Thanks again for sharing this item. Keep on writing!


Max Griffin πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ
http://MaxGriffin.net/
http://MaxGriffin.net/blog/
Check out
FOLDER
Thoughts on Writing  (NPL)
Short essays on the craft of fiction.
#1847273 by Max Griffin πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ

9
9
Review by
In affiliation with Cross Timbers Peer Reviewers  
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
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*Smile* Hi. My name is Max. I found your story on "Please Review. I enjoyed reading it and wanted to share some thoughts with you about it.

Item Reviewed: "Chapter One - The Moon Crab"   by ImaLukewarmPizza
Reviewer: Max Griffin πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ

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

                                                             
*FlagB*What I liked best
One of the joys of reading fiction is encountering new worlds, cultures, and characters. You've built a detailed fictional world grounded by interesting characters, and added just enough of a soupçon of mystery to be intriguing.

                                                             
*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 paragraph orients the reader in time and place tells us quite a bit about the narrator. It's good information to have, but it's all narrated--told--as opposed to shown through the words and deeds of the characters. Showing this information would be much more intimate and immediate for your readers. Since you have a first person narrator, "words and deeds" can also include his sensations, emnotions, and thoughts, but even here showing is better than telling.

Secondly, it's almost always good advice to start in media res, in the middle of action. Thus, your story really starts in the second paragraph, when Eduardo wanders through the desolate village to the coffee fields. The information in the first paragraph is good to know, but it doesn't draw the readers into Eduardo's head nor into the story.

                                                             
*FlagB*Characters
We learn a bit about Eduardo, but, as noted above, a good bit of it is through narration as opposed to through his words and deeds. However, we are missing some essential information.

Compelling characters generally need to want something, to have a goal. The goal gives them something to care about. The goal has to matter: something bad should happen if the character doesn't achieve the goal. Those are the stakes. There are plenty of potential goals laying about, but none of them seem to matter to Eduardo, so the stakes are not apparent.

Finally, there needs to be something preventing the character from achieving their goal, an obstacle.

Conflict arises from the dissonance between the goals and obstacles. The outcome of the conflict matters--the characters care about the outcome--because of the stakes. The end result of goals, stakes, and obstacles is tension, which is the engine that drives your story and keeps readers turning the pages. Authors increase tension by expanding goals, raising the stakes, or adding obstacles. But it's tension that keeps the readers reading.

There isn't a lot of tension in this chapter, and that's because the goals, stakes, and obstacles aren't clear. There are plenty of potential candidates for all three. For example, it's obvious that Eduardo's mother is being abused. The problem is that he doesn't seem to care. It's also obvious that he's all alone, but again it doesn't seem to matter. There's the mystery of Juiia, and he does seem to care a bit about that, but it's all pretty subdued.

Now, I'm not saying you need to set your character on fire in order to have goals, obstacles, and stakes. But we do need to have a sense of what Eduardo wants. Once we've got that, readers can cheer for him, which helps to draw them into his head and hence into the story.

It's pretty clear to me that you DO have in mind goals, stakes, and obstacles for both Eduardo and Julia, so I don't think this is a significant flaw to your novel. But we need at least a preliminary view of these in the first chapter.

That said, I'm not suggesting that you drop everything and re-write this chapter. On the contrary, in fact. First chapters often go through several revisions, so you can always come back later to revise this. I'm often 40K or more words into my novel before I figure out what needs to be in my first chapter, so I'll write as many as twenty chapters before I go back to my first chapter for a revision. It's not uncommon for a first chapter to undergo a dozen more revisions as the author learns more about their characters and their fictional world. So, for now, stick with this chapter and keep writing the rest of the novel. You can always tweak this later.

                                                             
*FlagB*Plot
Goals, stakes, and obstacles are the basic building blocks of plot. It's too early to say what the plot will be here, although the relationship between Eduardo and Julia will clearly play a fundamental role. See my remarks above about revisions--go ahead and write more about your characters. There's plenty of time to come back to your first chapter and clarify things, and it will be more productive to do it when you're more familiar the myriad details that come to life during the course of writing.

                                                             
*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.

You need a hook to keep the pages turning.

                                                             
*FlagB*Style and Voice
First person, in Eduardo's head. I think I saw one place where you told us what was in Julia's head, so be careful to indicate these instances are tempered by saying things like, "She seemed to smile in spite of herself," or "a hesitant smile flashed across her features," so it's clear that it's Eduardo concluding her state of mind rather than the author hopping into her head.

                                                             
*FlagB*Referencing
I liked the way you revealed things about the village and the socioeconomic situation through Eduardo's interactions with his environment rather than narrative interludes. Good job avoiding info-dumps to get this information across!

                                                             
*FlagB*Scene/Setting
See above. Good work using the scene to only orient the readers and stage the characters, but to reveal things about the social context.

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.

I enjoyed this chapter and meeting Eduardo. You've created a detailed and believable fictional world, populated with three-dimensional characters. The desolate nature of the village, the mystery of Julia, the conflicts at Eduardo's home, all have enormous potential for a compelling novel. Keep writing, as I can tell you have a great story to tell us! 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*The conversation made me uncomfortable, *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Tells us he’s uncomfortable as opposed to showing it through his body language or other actions/sensations. *Exclaim*

*Cut* "I like to look at the mountain. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Initially, I thought this was Eduardo speaking, so a dialogue tag would be helpful. *Exclaim*

*Cut*She smiled in spite of herself.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: How does he know it’s in spite of herself? *Exclaim*

                                                             

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


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

Thanks again for sharing this item. Keep on writing!


Max Griffin πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ
http://MaxGriffin.net/
http://MaxGriffin.net/blog/
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Thoughts on Writing  (NPL)
Short essays on the craft of fiction.
#1847273 by Max Griffin πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ




*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
10
10
Review by
In affiliation with Cross Timbers Peer Reviewers  
Rated: E | (4.0)
*Smile* Hi. My name is Max. I'm writing as one of the official judges for the "What a Character! : Official WDC Contest.

Item Reviewed: "Being at home again"   by K.HBey
Reviewer: Max Griffin πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ

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

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 successful short stories. 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
Thank you for writing this story. Speaking as a US citizen, I have been appalled and outraged by policies of the current occupant of the White House--I can't bring myself to call him the "President." His loathsome words and wicked actions have caused endless misery for innocents whose only crimes were hope and believing in the promise of America. I am sad that this story is necessary, but I'm grateful that you wrote it.

                                                             

This contest is all about characters. A memorable character almost always three attributes. First, the character has a goal. The goal matters--that's the stakes. And something or someone is in the way of achieving the goal--that's the obstacle. I'll be looking for all three elements in your story.

                                                             
*FlagB*Character Goal. (20/20 points)
Nazim's goals are simple, understandable, and human. He wants to be part of his family, to contribute to his community, and to prosper. He thought he'd found all of that, when it was heartlessly taken from him. His goals haven't changed, but his circumstances have.

                                                             
*FlagB*Character Stakes. (18/20 points)
The disruption to his life and the initial response of his family back in his first home make the stakes high.

                                                             
*FlagB*Character Obstacles. (18/20 points)
The obstacles are great, since he has become a stranger in two places through no fault of his won. But he shows resilience and eventually succeeds.


                                                             

*FlagB*Opening paragraph. (6/10 points)
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 names your protagonist and establishes the precipitating incident for the story. It starts in the middle of action--a conversation with in which he learns he's being deported.

I wish that the opening had done more to put the readers inside Nazim's head. For example, starting with a disembodied voice speaking leaves open who is hearing the words. If, instead, you start with Nazim sensing, or perhaps feeling fear and anger, you can put readers inside him, experiencing his world along with him. The readers need to feel his grief, uncertainty, and fear through his words, deeds, thoughts, and sensations. In this way, they become more immediate and intimate and thus more powerful.

                                                             
*FlagB*Point of view. (6/10 points)
While Nazim is central to the story, it uses an omniscient narrator. For example, in the third paragraph we learn things about Nazim through narration--the omniscient narrator telling the reader about Nazium. It's more effective, and more intimate and immediate, to reveal these things through his words and deeds. Most modern fiction uses "third person limited" for this purpose. In this strategy, there is one point-of-view character, and the readers know what this person thinks, sees, hears, and senses. They know his emotions, because they know how he's feeling. They are inside his head. But the readers are "limited" to knowing these things about this character. For all other characters, they know only what Nazim knows: their words and deeds.

The story already more or less follows the above strategy, except for the bits where the narratror intrudes to state facts--as in the above-cited third paragraph. This story--and Nazim!--deserve the greater power provided by third person limited as oppposed to omniscient narration.

                                                             
*FlagB*Effective showing as opposed to telling.(6/10 points)
See above. The actual circumstances you describe--the goals, stakes, and obstacles, for example--are quite compelling. But they feel largely set up by narration rather than being revealed through the words and deeds of the characters.

                                                             
*FlagB*Technical proficiency. (8/10 points)
Your English is quite good, but there are a few turns of phrase that felt a bit strange. I generally kind of like strange, but in places it felt like it broke the natural flow of the narrative. As one example, when Mahmoud shouts, "You will earn hardly your life here," the phrasing feels off.

                                                             
*BalloonGo* Total points. 80/100

                                                             
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 πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ
11
11
Review of Pets  
Review by
In affiliation with Cross Timbers Peer Reviewers  
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
*Smile* Hi. My name is Max. I'm writing as one of the official judges for the "What a Character! : Official WDC Contest.

Item Reviewed: "Pets"   by debmiller1
Reviewer: Max Griffin πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ

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

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 successful short stories. 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 dark stories with a twist, and this one delivered!!!

                                                             

This contest is all about characters. A memorable character almost always three attributes. First, the character has a goal. The goal matters--that's the stakes. And something or someone is in the way of achieving the goal--that's the obstacle. I'll be looking for all three elements in your story.

                                                             
*FlagB*Character Goal. (19/20 points)
Gail has mulitple goals. One is to settle her recently deceased father's estate and return to her professional life. But, we learn, her professional life is in turmoil, and she's planning to relocate to a new job and city, feeling betrayed by all of her current friends. In this context, she meets her old high-school boyfriend, Dave. She's willing to reconnect with him, but has no thought of giving up on her plans to move.

Contrarywise, Dave's goals appear to be more sinister and less clear. He does, however, appear determined to rekindle their former relationship.

                                                             
*FlagB*Character Stakes. (19/20 points)
Here, it's the conflict between Gail's goals and Dave's goals constitute the stakes. They can't both get their way, and the stakes are high since it's clear that Gail is successful and wants to return to her profession.

                                                             
*FlagB*Character Obstacles. (19/20 points)
It turns out that Dave is the primary obstacle to Gail's goal. From the first momeent he appears, there are ample hints that he's a sinister presence. Gail sees them--after all, she's the point of view character, and we only learn of these things through her eyes. However, she dismisses them, and even feels regretful at her reactions. Like a character in a horror movie, she makes bad choices...

                                                             

*FlagB*Opening paragraph. (10/10 points)
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.

You name your POV character and have interacting with those around her. You orient the readers in time and place, and suggest the basic elements of the plot. Excellent work.

                                                             
*FlagB*Point of view. (10/10 points)
Third person limited, in Gail's head. No slips. Good job!

                                                             
*FlagB*Effective showing as opposed to telling.(8/10 points)
Good job here, too, although some of the plot elements seem a little heavy-handed. For example, why, other than malice, did Dave let the air out of the tire? And why did Gail fail to make the obvious connection between Dave's not-believable reason for checking the tire and it later going flat?

On the other hand, I loved the metaphor provided by the incident with squirrel.

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

                                                             
*BalloonGo* Total points. 95/100

                                                             
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 πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ
12
12
Review of Charlie Returns  
Review by
In affiliation with Cross Timbers Peer Reviewers  
Rated: ASR | (4.0)
*Smile* Hi. My name is Max. I'm writing as one of the official judges for the "What a Character! : Official WDC Contest.

Item Reviewed: "Charlie Returns"   by Lovina πŸ•β€πŸ¦Ί
Reviewer: Max Griffin πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ

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

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 successful short stories. 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 little tale of magic gone wrong, especially the crows! Very creative! Thank you for sharing.

                                                             

This contest is all about characters. A memorable character almost always three attributes. First, the character has a goal. The goal matters--that's the stakes. And something or someone is in the way of achieving the goal--that's the obstacle. I'll be looking for all three elements in your story.

                                                             
*FlagB*Character Goal. (17/20 points)
Charlie wants to get his wife, Mabel, back. It takes several paragraphs to learn his goal, but once it's clear, we're off!

                                                             
*FlagB*Character Stakes. (17/20 points)
Charlies' devotion to Mabel also eventually becomes clear, making the stakes high.

                                                             
*FlagB*Character Obstacles. (16/20 points)
Charlies' inability to stop practicing magic without losing control and having it pop up unexpectedly is the main obstacles, along with Mabel's demand that he not return unless and until he can guarantee no more magic.

                                                             

*FlagB*Opening paragraph. (6/10 points)
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.

You name your point-of-view character and start by having him acting and interacting with his suroundings. That's the best way to start. I do wish we'd had some hints about his goals, stakes, and obstacles in the opening.

                                                             
*FlagB*Point of view. (10/10 points)
Third person limited. We're solidly in Charlie's head throughout.

                                                             
*FlagB*Effective showing as opposed to telling.(5/10 points)
When we're in the here-and-now of Charlie in the park, this is quite good. But a significant part of the story--nearly a third--is in a narrated flashback to the day the car turned into a toaster and the couple turned into crows. I absolutely loved the idea of them inadvertently turning into crows, but it's all narrated, as opposed to shown in their words and deeds. Even their interactions are narrated rather than putting the words in their mouths--although I'd love to know how the Mabel-crow yells at him.

We also learn via narration rather than the words and deeds of the character other essential elements of the story, like the conclusions the Elders reached.

                                                             
*FlagB*Technical proficiency. (8/10 points)
I saw a couple of comma splices, where a comma separates two independent clauses where a semicolon or period would be more appropriate. These technically aren't mistakes, but they tend to give you longer sentences and run the risk of feeling run-on.

                                                             
*BalloonGo* Total points. 78/100

                                                             
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 πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ
13
13
Review by
In affiliation with Cross Timbers Peer Reviewers  
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
*Smile* Hi. My name is Max. I'm writing as one of the official judges for the "What a Character! : Official WDC Contest.

Item Reviewed: "You, Me and Brotherman
Author jdennis
Reviewer: Max Griffin πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ

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

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 successful short stories. 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
This brought back memories of being an uncertain college freshman, lost in the shadows behind more experienced, more charismatic classmates. I never broke into a girl's dorm (I'm gay, after all!), but certainly heard others boast of doing so. Brotherman captures the nonchalant arrogance of these boasters, but your narrator captures the innocence of that age.

                                                             

This contest is all about characters. A memorable character almost always three attributes. First, the character has a goal. The goal matters--that's the stakes. And something or someone is in the way of achieving the goal--that's the obstacle. I'll be looking for all three elements in your story.

                                                             
*FlagB*Character Goal. (18/20 points)
Our character's goal apparently is to emulate Brotherman's success with women and dating. He expresses envy at his friend's perceived ability to "love 'em and leave 'em" without causing ill will or bad feelings. So, you get high points for clarity.

                                                             
*FlagB*Character Stakes. (10/20 points)
I confess to being unsympathetic to the goals or the characters. The stakes are pretty high, since he's breaking into a girl's dorm for sex, but it does appear to be fully consensual. Starting with the police officer made my mind turn to more nefarious outcomes, especially as "Brotherman" reminded me of Ted Bundy, but that turned out to be not the case.

                                                             
*FlagB*Character Obstacles. (10/20 points)
The obstacles appeared to dissipate with little or no action or growth from the primary character. There's some initial tension with policeman, then about whether or not the POV character might be charming enough to achieve his goal, but it turns out that Brotherman has arranged everything for hiim--he's more or less a passive participant for whom third parties sweep aside obstacles.

                                                             

*FlagB*Opening paragraph. (5/10 points)
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.
I re-read the opening several times, and still found it confusing. Was Brotherman there? Or did the policeman see him earlier and inquire where he went? Later, the narrator says, "Even with him standing beside me..." On re-reading, I inferred that was a little time reversal to "in the past when trying to pick up girls..." as opposed to right now, while the policeman is interrogating him. If you named your POV character, I missed it--doing this in the first paragraph is another way to draw readers into the story. Finally, it's generally not a good idea to start with a disembodied voice speaking before establishing point of view. Once we're in the POV character's head, then we know when he is listening and when he is speaking.

                                                             
*FlagB*Point of view. (8/10 points)
First person narrator. No slips, but no name either.

                                                             
*FlagB*Effective showing as opposed to telling.(10/10 points)
Good job here--the essential elements are all shown through the words and deeds of the characters, along with the internal thoughts of the narrator.

                                                             
*FlagB*Technical proficiency. (9/10 points)
Good job! I found only one typo.

                                                             
*BalloonGo* Total points. 70/100

                                                             
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 πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ
14
14
Review of Homecoming  
Review by
In affiliation with Cross Timbers Peer Reviewers  
Rated: ASR | (4.0)
*Smile* Hi. My name is Max. I'm writing as one of the official judges for the "What a Character! : Official WDC Contest.

Item Reviewed: "Homecoming
Author hullabaloo22
Reviewer: Max Griffin πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ

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

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 successful short stories. 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
This is a sad story about fractured relationships and the fragility of life. You did a good job portraying Lottie's grief and regret.

                                                             

This contest is all about characters. A memorable character almost always three attributes. First, the character has a goal. The goal matters--that's the stakes. And something or someone is in the way of achieving the goal--that's the obstacle. I'll be looking for all three elements in your story.

                                                             
*FlagB*Character Goal. (15/20 points)
We learn--eventually--that Lottie is grieving the loss of her parents and the corresponding loss of any opportunity at reconciliation. She also feels guilt for her part in the conflict. Her implicit goal is thus dealing with this profound double loss, made worse by the apparent absence of any other support structure. I do wish these goals had been clearer at the outset, where we just see her distraught emotional state without knowing why.

                                                             
*FlagB*Character Stakes. (18/20 points)
Lottie feels the loss deeply, as we see from her emotional state at the start of the story. So the stakes are inherently high.

                                                             
*FlagB*Character Obstacles. (15/20 points)
The main obstacle is, of course, that her parents have unexpected died, removing any opportunity to interact with them.

The characters in this story have a complex set of relationships and back story. A good bit of this is revealed in a flashback, and the rest is strung out over the course of the story.

The goals of the character matter because of the stakes. Tension arises from the conflict between the goals and the obstacles. Tension increases by expanding the goals, raising the stakes, or increasing the obstacles. The problem I'm having is that the main goal--dealing with grief and loss--aren't entirely clear at the outset. Instead, it appears that the goal is dealing with rejection by her father and healing wounds caused by her absence. It's not until mid-story that we learn these goals are impossible since her parents are (recently?) deceased. By the end of the story, it's clear that Lottie is grappling with grief and guilt. I think it would be stronger if this were more clearly articulated as the basis of the plot.


                                                             

*FlagB*Opening paragraph. (8/10 points)
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 names your POV character, has her interacting with her environmnent via her emotions as she pulls into the driveway, and orients the reader with respect to her location.

However, there are some fundamental missing pieces. We know she's sad, but it's not until mid-story that we learn the full reason for her emotional state. Indeed, we're initially led to believe that the conflict over her choice to live with Steve is the basis of her emotional state. Adding to the confusion, in the third paragraph it appears that Lottie's mother actually speaks--the narrative says "her mother said," as opposed to "Lottie could imagine her mother saying."

                                                             
*FlagB*Point of view. (10 points)
No slips here--we're solidly in Lottie's head.

                                                             
*FlagB*Effective showing as opposed to telling.(10 points)
Good job here.

                                                             
*FlagB*Technical proficiency. (10 points)
Good job here, too. The only thing I found was one instance of repeating a word (counting and counted) in close proximity, which runs the risk of making your prose seem monotone.

                                                             
*BalloonGo* Total points. 85/100

                                                             
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 πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ
15
15
Review of Orchids In Orbit  
Review by
In affiliation with Cross Timbers Peer Reviewers  
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
*Smile* Hi. My name is Max. I'm writing as one of the official judges for the "What a Character! : Official WDC Contest.

Item Reviewed: "Orchids In Orbit"   by Laurie Razor
Reviewer: Max Griffin πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ

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

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 successful short stories. 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'm embarrassed to say that it took me nearly to the end to understand what was happening in this clever story. When I finally figured it out, all the puzzling bits fell into place like an elegant mathematical proof or a Bach fugue.

                                                             

This contest is all about characters. A memorable character almost always three attributes. First, the character has a goal. The goal matters--that's the stakes. And something or someone is in the way of achieving the goal--that's the obstacle. I'll be looking for all three elements in your story.

                                                             
*FlagB*Character Goal. (15 points)
This is a public review, so I don't want to give too much away. By the end, the character's goal was clear. The lack of clarity at the outset left me a bit bemused, though.

                                                             
*FlagB*Character Stakes. (18 points)
Change is a natural part of life, so achieving change is life-affirming, a truism more appropriate to some than to others but especially to the POV character here.

                                                             
*FlagB*Character Obstacles. (18 points)
The world can present many obstacles to necessary change, and eventually I deduced what those were, too.

                                                             

*FlagB*Opening paragraph. (5 points)
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 first and best chance to draw readers into your fictional world and into the point-of-view character's mind.

I enjoyed the cleverness of the story, but getting inside the character's world felt more like solving a riddle than being embedded in their world. While you foreshadowed the reveal, I only saw this in retrospect. I enjoy stories with a twist because in these stories I think one thing is happening when the twist reveals it's something completely different. The problem with the twist here is that the foreshadowing bits confused me instead of giving me a visceral, emotional connection with the POV character his the world he lives in. That meant that seeing the twist at the end was more intellectually satisfying than emotionally.

                                                             
*FlagB*Point of view. (10 points)
Third person limited, no slips.

                                                             
*FlagB*Effective showing as opposed to telling.(10 points)
Good here, too.

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

                                                             
*BalloonGo* Total points. 86/100

                                                             
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 πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ
16
16
Review of The price  
Review by
In affiliation with Cross Timbers Peer Reviewers  
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
*Smile* Hi. My name is Max. I'm writing as one of the official judges for the "What a Character! : Official WDC Contest.

Item Reviewed: "The price"   by BlueJay
Reviewer: Max Griffin πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ

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

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 successful short stories. 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
This is a creative variation on the classic "be careful what you wish for" story. As Oscar Wilde pointed out, the only thing worse than not getting what you want it is getting it.

                                                             

This contest is all about characters. A memorable character almost always three attributes. First, the character has a goal. The goal matters--that's the stakes. And something or someone is in the way of achieving the goal--that's the obstacle. I'll be looking for all three elements in your story.

                                                             
*FlagB*Character Goal. (18/20 points)
Locusts have ravaged the crops of Ronan's village. His family and friends are dying. He's heard of a wizard with great magic who lives in a distant village, and he resolves to travel there to seek his assistance.

                                                             
*FlagB*Character Stakes. (17/20 points)
Everyone that matters to Ronan, including his beloved wife, will die if he fails in his mission. The highest possible stakes.

                                                             
*FlagB*Character Obstacles. (17/20 points)
Ah, yes. It turns out the distance to the wizard, or convincing him to help isn't the obstacle. It's the price he winds up paying.


So, you have awesome goals, stakes, and obstacles, which means you should also have awesome tension. However, the story uses a nonlinear time line, and we start, not with the precipitating crisis, but with Ronan's return to the village. The time then shifts to the past, where we follow him up to the point where the story starts and we then follow him to the conclusion.

Flashbacks can be an author's friend. But in a short story--or in the first chapter to a novel--they are especially tricky to pull off. Just as the readers are starting to get comfortable with the time-and-place of one here-and-now, they are whipped off to a different time and place. This runs the great risk of breaking their connection with the fictional world and interrupting the fictional dream playing in their heads. I certainly felt this little break disconnecting me from the story and making the subsequent events feel less urgent and more distant since they were recalled instaed of happening in Ronan's here-and-now. That's why, even though these are great goals, stakes, and obstacles, I wound up not giving perfect scores.

I really liked this story, but my best advice would be tell it in a linear fashion. Establish Ronan's relationship with his beloved---a sentence or two showing them interacting can do that. Then move to the precipitating incident. Now the tension is high, and just gets higher as the crops fail, people get hungry, and Ronan's trip to the wizard drags on. We're cheering for him to save the village, so we share his elation when he does. But then we learn the cost. I think that sequence of building tension to a climax that turns from triumph to tragedy would make a much more powerful and effective story.

Which is not to say that this isn't a good story as it stands. But I think it has potential to be a great story instead of just a good one.

                                                             

*FlagB*Opening paragraph. (10/10 points)
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.

You did a great job of putting us inside Ronan's head in the caravan as it returns to his village. So good, in fact, that the recollection of the precipitating event felt distant, in the past, along with this memories of his wife==see above remarks.

                                                             
*FlagB*Point of view. (10/10 points)
Third person limited, in Ronan's head.

                                                             
*FlagB*Effective showing as opposed to telling.(5/10 points)
Writing to a word limit can be challenging. For example, we know Ronan's wife is "beloved" because the story tells us so. It would be so much more effective to him treating her as his beloved, maybe with a gentle touch, brushing a stray hair from her brow for example. It takes more words, but is more emotionally satisfying for the readers.

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

                                                             
*BalloonGo* Total points. 85/100

                                                             
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 πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ
17
17
Review by
Rated: 18+ | (4.0)
*Smile* Hi. My name is Max. I'm writing as one of the official judges for the "What a Character! : Official WDC Contest.

Item Reviewed: "The Queen's Last Knight"   by Octavius
Reviewer: Max Griffin πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ

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

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 successful short stories. 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
This story features a richly detailed fictional world and character who is bloodthirsty, cruel, and credible. I always think villains make the most interesting characters, and this one certainly qualifies!

                                                             

This contest is all about characters. A memorable character almost always three attributes. First, the character has a goal. The goal matters--that's the stakes. And something or someone is in the way of achieving the goal--that's the obstacle. I'll be looking for all three elements in your story.

                                                             
*FlagB*Character Goal. (15/20 points)
We meet two characters, Queen Testra and her knight. Testra's goal is chaos. Oh, and to inflict suffering on those who oppose her. Well, maybe not just on those who oppose her. She's pretty bloodthirsty.

The knight's goal is more or less the opposite, to bring order out of chaos. How this leads him to see Testra as the savior of the world is one of the main things that makes this an interesting story.

                                                             
*FlagB*Character Stakes. (17/20 points)
Well, the stakes for Testra are to continue to enjoy bringing suffering. Since her approach to being a Queen has, unsurprisingly, led to rebellion, she might actually get killed by the rebels. So her personal stakes are high--continued survival--even if the end is merely the gratifaction she feels from being cruel.

The knight's goal, though, is to bring order to a world where chaos itself has led to immeasurable suffering. So his goal is laudable, even if the means to his end is to sustain the common enemy that has unified previous factions.

                                                             
*FlagB*Character Obstacles. (18/20 points)
Well, the rebels are pounding at the gates of throne room, and all that remains of the Queen's army is the Knight and the queen herself. That's thousands-to-on odds, to the obstacles are high.

The stakes, and hence the plot, are why the characters care about their goals. Hitchcock taught us that the audience, or in our case, the readers care about the characters. In order to derive tension from the conflict between goals and obstacles, the readers have to care about something, or at least someone. You've got reasonable goals, stakes, and criteria, but not a lot of tension because you haven't given the readers much reason care about the outcome. It's kind of there, with the suggestion of an emotional connection between Testra and the knight, but it's pretty tentative. This lack of tension is what led to less-than-perfect scores in this area.

                                                             

*FlagB*Opening paragraph. (5/10 points)
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. While the descriptions are good, I felt like the author stood outside the story describing events--see the comments in the next section.

                                                             
*FlagB*Point of view. (4/10 points)

This story uses an omniscient narrator. A hallmark of this technique is that the narrator stands outside the story, telling the readers what's happening in the here-and-now. That distancing, being outside the story and telling things, is what has caused the omniscient narrator to all but disappear from modern fiction. About 70% of published fiction uses third person limited, and the overwhelming majority of the remainder uses first person. In both cases, the readers experience the story--or at least the scene in question--through the senses, thoughts, and experiences of a single character. The author shows what's going by putting the readers inside the point-of-view character's head and showing them interacting with the fictional world, which is both more intimate and immediate for the readers.

It would be a simple matter to tweak this story to be in the Queen's point-of-view, or even the knight's, and readers would be much more likely to identify with them and thus to care about the outcome of the battle.

                                                             
*FlagB*Effective showing as opposed to telling.(8/10 points)
This story has a richly detailed fictional world with a complex history. Conveying this to readers is a challenge in a story limited to 2000 words, which is doubtless why there is some summary narration.

                                                             
*FlagB*Technical proficiency. (10/10 points)
Good job here.

                                                             
*BalloonGo* Total points. 82/100

                                                             
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 πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ
18
18
Review of Told You So  
Review by
In affiliation with Cross Timbers Peer Reviewers  
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
*Smile* Hi. My name is Max. I'm writing as one of the official judges for the "What a Character! : Official WDC Contest.

Item Reviewed: "Told You So"   by Mara ♣ McBain
Reviewer: Max Griffin πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ

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

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 successful short stories. 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
This is an extraordinarily well-crafted story. It makes excellent use of metaphor and symbolism, conveys powerful emotions with spare prose, and shows all the pertinent information through the interactions of the point-of-view character with her environment. This is difficult story to read due to the content, but it's a master class in short fiction all by itself. Thank you for sharing.

                                                             

This contest is all about characters. A memorable character almost always three attributes. First, the character has a goal. The goal matters--that's the stakes. And something or someone is in the way of achieving the goal--that's the obstacle. I'll be looking for all three elements in your story.

                                                             
*FlagB*Character Goal. (20/20 points)
Elle is returning home to her estranged mother. Her goal is initially to survive, but eventually it's more.

                                                             
*FlagB*Character Stakes. (20/20 points)
We eventually learn that Elle is pregnant, unemployed, and has left her abusive spouse. She has nowhere to go but the home she left five years ago. The stakes start high, and just get higher.

                                                             
*FlagB*Character Obstacles. (20/20 points)
Going home. Unemployed. Abusive husband. Pregnant. Homeless. No place to go but a home whose only resident is the mother who disowned her--and always found fault with her.

Note how the conflict between goals and obstacles increases each time we learn more about her goals and the nature of the obstacles. Similarly, we gradually learn more about the stakes. Each new bit of knowledge, incorporated in a holistic and natural way into the story, increases tension. This is the work of a talented and experienced author employing her craft.

                                                             

*FlagB*Opening paragraph. (9/10 points)
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.

I like everything about the opening except the first two sentences, which feel like a narrator standing outside the story telling the reader things. My preference would be to start if at all possible by putting the readers inside Elle's head. If you'd launched with her stomach churning as she walked up the sidewalk, it'd be perfect.

                                                             
*FlagB*Point of view. (10/10 points)
Third person limited, in Elle's head. Perfect.

                                                             
*FlagB*Effective showing as opposed to telling.(10/10 points)
Awesome. Really.

Phrases like,
They stood there, just looking at one another. A lifetime of β€˜I told you so’ hanging between them.'
couldn't be better. It shows what Elle must be thinking at that moment without quoting specific thoughts. This use of indirect discourse is difficult to master but, as this story shows, is well worth the effort.

Silence "smothers" them is another example...I could go on.

                                                             
*FlagB*Technical proficiency. (10/10 points)
I was too enthralled in the story to actually look for anything, but in any case didn't see anything.

                                                             
*BalloonGo* Total points. 99/100

                                                             
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 πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ
19
19
Review by
In affiliation with Cross Timbers Peer Reviewers  
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
*Smile* Hi. My name is Max. I'm writing as one of the official judges for the "What a Character! : Official WDC Contest.

Item Reviewed: "The Trouble with Ogres"   by Beholden
Reviewer: Max Griffin πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ

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

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 successful short stories. 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 loved the zany characters and mythical elements of the plot. Very creative!!

                                                             

This contest is all about characters. A memorable character almost always three attributes. First, the character has a goal. The goal matters--that's the stakes. And something or someone is in the way of achieving the goal--that's the obstacle. I'll be looking for all three elements in your story.


Synopsis: The trolls want to travel to somewhere--I don't think we know exactly where--and have a choice of two routes. They choose the quickest, but the one that takes them through a field of boulders that legend asserts is filled with ogres. One look at an ogre turns them to stone, so the chosen path is fraught with danger.

                                                             
*FlagB*Character Goal. (17/20 points)
The goal is to survive the passage without being turned to stone. While this part of the goal is clear, I wasn't clear on why the endpoint of the passage was so compelling. Admittedly, we don't need to know this--Hitchcock would have called it a MacGuffin--but it would help if we had at least a hint.

                                                             
*FlagB*Character Stakes. (15/20 points)
Since the danger is that they'll be turned to stone, the stakes are pretty high. However, the only apparent stakes to taking the longer route is that it takes longer, so it's not clear why they take this risk.

                                                             
*FlagB*Character Obstacles. (17/20 points)
It becomes clear that the boulders all around them are trolls and others turned to stone at the sight of ogres. It appears that the sight of an ogre even turns other ogres to stone. However, ogres appear to be rather stupid, to put it charitably, which reduces the threat. As above, it's not clear why this obstacle is necessary except for the tedium of the longer but safer route.

                                                             

*FlagB*Opening paragraph. (9/10 points)
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.

You name your point-of-view character and orient the reader that he's a troll, both important things to do early in your story. We start with him remembering an incident in the past, but this helps to orient the reader to the circumstances, language, and culture of the trolls. Once we're back in the here-and-now, we get oriented on time and place. This is an unusual but, I think, effective opening.

                                                             
*FlagB*Point of view. (10/10 points)
Third person limited, no slips. Good job!

                                                             
*FlagB*Effective showing as opposed to telling.(10/10 points)
Good job here, too. You show the action through the words and deeds of your characters, as well as through the sensations and thoughts of your point-of-view character.

                                                             
*FlagB*Technical proficiency. (7/10 points)
I didn't see any technical errors. However, the story uses a peculiar dialect for the trolls. I was able to puzzle it out without much trouble; after all, you can read a newspaper article if you blot out every fourth word. While I personally found the dialect amusing, I suspect, though, that many readers won't have the patience or tenacity to stick with the story. Generally speaaking, a stylistic element that calls attention to itself tends to distract from the "fictional dream" playing in the readers' heads. For this reason, I wonder if you might consider making the dialect a bit less opaque.

                                                             
*BalloonGo* Total points. 85/100

                                                             
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 πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ
20
20
Review of The homecoming  
Review by
In affiliation with Cross Timbers Peer Reviewers  
Rated: E | (4.0)
*Smile* Hi. My name is Max. I'm writing as one of the official judges for the "What a Character! : Official WDC Contest.

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

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

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 successful short stories. 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 story about a man reconnecting to his family and village after spending ten years in another country. The little bits that placed us in Australia were especially nice.

                                                             

This contest is all about characters. A memorable character almost always three attributes. First, the character has a goal. The goal matters--that's the stakes. And something or someone is in the way of achieving the goal--that's the obstacle. I'll be looking for all three elements in your story.

                                                             
*FlagB*Character Goal. (15/20 points)
This character's goals evolve over the course of the story. Initially, he's there for what appears to be a short visit, and we have impression that he's content with his new life in the USA. So, initially his goal is reconnecting with his family and reforming familial bonds. This story is partly about the characater discovering, or more accuratley, revising his goals, so clarity about the initial goals is more important.

                                                             
*FlagB*Character Stakes. (18 points)
The familial bonds handed fractured due to conflict, and appear to continue to be strong on his arrival. While the goal itself is surely important, it appears to lack urgency--at least at the outset. However, the character soon learns that the family's circumstances have changed, which raises the stakes. This change in circumstances, which becomes clearer as the story evolves, is a good way of introducing and then increasing tension.

                                                             
*FlagB*Character Obstacles. (17 points)
Mostly, our character slips right back into the flow of things on his return home. There's no conflict, neither between him and others nor is there internal conflict. There does appear to be a dawning realization that the things he fled ten years prior are now the things he was missing.

One potential obstacle is the fight he had with Sarah on leaving ten years prior. However, even that conflict turns out to have disappeared over the years with no residual. In any case, re-establishing this relationship is never articulated as a character goal. He never expresses loneliness, for example, about his life in the US, although he does, mid-story, think that Sarah is more genuine than the girls he's been dating.

                                                             

*FlagB*Opening paragraph. (5 points)
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 first paragraph names your POV character, orients the reader in time and space, and sets the stage for the circumstances of the story. These are all good and essential things. It's not until the second paragraph, however, that we're firmly in Michael's head when we learn what he's thinking. Furhter, Generally, it's not a good idea to start with a disembodied voice speaking. It would be stronger if you started with Michael sensing or doing, interacting in some fashion with his environment. It could be as simple as inverting the order of the first two sentences--have him opening his eyes at a touch on his shoulder and the steward murmuring a question.

                                                             
*FlagB*Point of view. (8 points)
Third person limited, iin Michael's head. There is one wobble, where we learn what Stella is thinking.

                                                             
*FlagB*Effective showing as opposed to telling.(10 points)
Mostly we learn what's going on through the words and deeds of the characters, with Michael's thoughts an occasional sidelight.

                                                             
*FlagB*Technical proficiency. (8 points)
A comma splice occurs when two independent clauses are joined by a comma where a period or semicolon would be more appropriate. Usage has evolved over time, and this is no longer listed as an error in places like the Chicago Manual of Style. However, it does turn short sentences into longer ones and has a tendency to give a run-on feel to the prose. I counted several instances of comma splices--enough that they became noticeable.

                                                             
*BalloonGo* Total points. 81/100

                                                             
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 πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ
21
21
Review of Beneath this Mask  
Review by
In affiliation with Cross Timbers Peer Reviewers  
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
*Smile* Hi. My name is Max. I'm writing as one of the official judges for the "What a Character! : Official WDC Contest.

Item Reviewed: "Beneath this Mask
Author Myles Abroad
Reviewer: Max Griffin πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ

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

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 successful short stories. 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 stories with a twist, and this one delivered. Awesome job.

                                                             

This contest is all about characters. A memorable character almost always three attributes. First, the character has a goal. The goal matters--that's the stakes. And something or someone is in the way of achieving the goal--that's the obstacle. I'll be looking for all three elements in your story.

                                                             
*FlagB*Character Goal. (18/20/20 points)
Sally is returning home to attend her mother's funeral. At the same time, she must deal with past rejection from townspeople and former classmates.

                                                             
*FlagB*Character Stakes. (18/20points)
The death of one's mother is always traumatic. Here, it's exacerbated by the broken relationship between Sally and her mother, and Sally's lack of support--with the exception of her loyal friend, Jer.

                                                             
*FlagB*Character Obstacles. (20/20 points)
The obstacles are partly external--Sally has disfiguring injuries. But it's clear that they are mostly internal. She rejects the people she encounters before they have an opportunity to interact with her. So the primary obstacle to her achieving the implicit goal of dealing with grief over her mother's death and their fractured relationship is internal. It turns out that the obstacles are higher, though--she's also dealing with guilt. There are hints that foreshadow this in the story, but it's brought out brilliantly in the climax and resolution. This is a most impressive story.

                                                             

*FlagB*Opening paragraph. (10/10 points)
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.
Excellent first paragraph. You name your POV character, orient the reader in time and place, have her interact with her environment, and establish the basic conflict and plot of the story. Great work here.

                                                             
*FlagB*Point of view. (10/10 points)
No slips.

                                                             
*FlagB*Effective showing as opposed to telling.(10/10 points)
Good job here, too. you've revealed the essential story elements through the words and deeds of the characters and, in particular, thought the dialogue between Sally and Jer. I admit that I figured out the basic plot twist fairly early due to your ingenious foreshadowing, but I think most readers won't catch these elements only in retrospect, after the reveal at the end.

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

                                                             
*BalloonGo* Total points. 96/100

                                                             
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 πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ
22
22
Review of Untitled  
Review by
In affiliation with Cross Timbers Peer Reviewers  
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
Review Spot Banner


Item Reviewed: "Untitled"   by *~Aislyn~*
Reviewer: Max Griffin πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ

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

                                                             
*FlagB*What I liked best
I loved the dialogue between Bishop and the narrator of the story. I also liked the writing, which was vivid and evocative. Nicely done!

                                                             
*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.

On the positive side, you started in the middle of action, and the opening set up both the conflict between the two characters and the ambush that is about to happen. The active verbs and evocative language did a good job of revealing your characters of your narrator and a bit about the underlying fictional world.

Some tweaks. First, it's generally not a good idea to start with a disembodied voice speaking. This leaves open the question of point of view--who is hearing the voice? It's better to start with your point-of-view character acting or sensing in order to put readers in her head.

Second, it would be helpful to orient the readers in time and place. It takes a while--with the mention of the stone outcrop--to learn that we're outside and not in an urban setting. You don't need a lot of setting, but some early on to orient the readers would be helpful. Note that can orient the readers physically in space while at the same time advancing character and plot.

I double-checked, and I couldn't find that you'd named the narrator. This is an important step, and helps to draw readers into her head. There is almost never a good reason for hiding the name of your point-of-view character, although it can be challenging in first person narratives.

                                                             
*FlagB*Plot
The immediate action of the story has to do with dealing with bandits hiding in a cave. By the end of the chapter, our characters have dealt with the bandits' guardians, but they still must deal with the bandits themselves.

The subtext, which by far the most interesting part of the chapter, has to do with the relationship between Bishop and the narrator. The animosity that's evident is counterbalanced by the equally obvious, if repressed, affection. This was especially well done, and will doubtless be a major part of ensuing chapters.

                                                             
*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.

You hook us both with the action that's about to happen (decision) but also with their relationship (dilemma). Excellent work!

                                                             
*FlagB*Style and Voice
First person, in the narrator's head.

However, I do have a response to a question you aske.

*Cut*I may end up writing the story in 3rd person because I want to incorporate some of Bishop's thoughts as well. Currently undecided; let me know what you think!*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: If you are considering third person omniscient, I recommend against it. That style has almost disappeared from modern fiction. The most commonly used style is third person limited, in which one character provides the point of view. Authors may reveal what that character senses and thinks, but are limited to revealing the internal thoughts and sensations to that character alone--hence third person limited. With a change of scene, you can change point-of-view to a different character and still be using third person limited.

Some genres, such as SciFi or action/advanture, have several point-of-view characters, but never more than one per scene. Others, such as romance, might have only one or two point-of-view characters throughout the entire novel.

You can even mix third person limited and first person points of view, again taking care to shift point of view only with a shift in scene. *Exclaim*


                                                             
*FlagB*Referencing
This was exactly right for me. From the word "Dragonborn," I knew something basic about this fictional world. "Orc-like" was another. The characters are armed with arrows and knives, another bit of inforation. This was enough to understand the action in the story, as it was occuring. I trust that you will have further reveals in the future that gradually reveal more depth, as needed, but for now this is exactly right.

                                                             
*FlagB*Scene/Setting
Lots of great work here. I just wish it had started earlier.

                                                             
*FlagB*Characters
We have two awesome characters in this chapter. We get to know the narrator through her words, deeds, and thoughts. For Bishop, it's all through his words and deeds. You did a great job with both.

                                                             
*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 really liked this chapter. My main suggestion is that you tweak the opening to better orient the readers in time and space. This is something that involves a maximum of a sentence or two to put the readers inside the narrators head by having her interact in some way with her environment. Otherwise, the writing is strong, the characters powerful, and entry to the plot compelling. I don't have a lot for you in the line-by-line remarks--this was really well written.

Thanks for sharing!

                                                             
*FlagB*Line-by-line remarks
*Bullet*Your text is in BLUE.
*Bullet*My comments are in GREEN.
*Bullet*If I suggest a re-wording, it's in GRAPE.
                                                             
*Cut* β€œOh, there once was a hero named Ragnar the Red, who came riding to Whiterun from ol’ Rorikstead…”*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: we need to know it's Bishop singing. I initially thought it was the Orc. *Exclaim*

*Cut*Realizing, he was still clutching the stick he had used to prod the fire, he hastily tossed it aside and switched the mace over to that hand. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Extra comma after "realizing." Also, since this tells us what was in the Orc's head, it's a small POV violation. In first person narrative, we can only know what's in the narrator's head. If you said, "Apparently he realized..." then you'd keep readers in her head, drawing a conclusion from his action. Alternatively, you could just describe directly what he does and let the readers make the inference on their own. The latter is probably preferable, since that act if inference helps to draw them into the action. *Exclaim*

*Cut*Arriving at the cave’s entrance, we snuck into the enveloping darkness swiftly and cautiously.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: This is an example of those adverbs I mentioned. Here, "snuck" implies cautiously, so the first adverb just repeats what we already know. To convey "swiftly," you might consider expanding the description a bit, perhaps using it as an opportunity to describe the interior of the cave beyond being "dark." Is there an odor, for example? Or the sound of running water? Perhaps she feels her way by running her fingers along cold, damp rock walls. You get the idea, I'm sure. *Exclaim*

                                                             

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


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

Thanks again for sharing this item. Keep on writing!


Max Griffin πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ
http://MaxGriffin.net/
http://MaxGriffin.net/blog/
Check out
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Thoughts on Writing  (NPL)
Short essays on the craft of fiction.
#1847273 by Max Griffin πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ



*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
23
23
Review of Ruby's Husband  
Review by
In affiliation with Cross Timbers Peer Reviewers  
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
Show Don't Tell Logo


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

Item Reviewed: "Ruby's Husband
Author Buttonose
Reviewer: Max Griffin πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ

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

                                                             
*FlagB*What I liked best
I liked the use of the senses in this story, especially scents. Nice job!

                                                             
*FlagB*Effective showing of the information in the prompt.
(30 points out of 20/30)
A mixed bag here. You did a great job showing the essential part of the story--that Ruby didn't remember having a husband. But other parts, such as her loneliness, you specifically told.

                                                             
*FlagB*First Paragraph
(15 points out of 20)
Well, the story is mostly one long paragraph. However, your first sentence is quite good. You name Ruby, have her doing and sensing things, and you orient the reader in time and space.

                                                             
*FlagB*Creativity and Originality
(8 points out of 15)
It's hard to write a story that ends with "it was all a dream." The basic problem is that the author makes a bargain with the readers at the start of the story. The bargain is that I will show you a fictional reality, but you must take me at my word and "suspend your disbelief." The idea is that the author and readers become collaborators in imagining the fictional world, with the reader filling in the myriad little details that the author omits or leaves out.

The "dream twist" works if the reader gets hints up front that the point-of-view character provides an unreliable viewpoint. Other elements of the story can foreshadow the dreamlike character, so that when the twist at the end comes, the reader slaps her forehead and says, "I should have seen that coming." The "misty hands" you used, for example, might have appeared in the first or second sentence as a foreshadowing vehicle.

I like stories with twist endings, I even like being surprised. But the most effective of these stories include foreshadowing that makes the ending fit with the rest of the story.

                                                             
*FlagB* Effective showing--as opposed to telling--for the whole story
(10 points out of 15)
There are places where the showing is outstanding, but others where you fall into narration. For example, in the very last sentence, you tell us she heard another patient instead of showing the patient shouting, in the hear-and-now.

                                                             
*FlagB*Plot and Pacing
(5 points out of 10)
This is essentially flash fiction, so there's not much build-up or tension.

                                                             
*FlagB*Technical Proficiency (such as grammar, spelling, proof-reading, and following the contest rules)
(3 points out of 10)
Several issues here. First, the minimum length per the contest rules is 1000 words, and this is barely 250 words. Second, the fictional tense is inconsistent--it's a mix of the fictional past and the fictional present.

While adverbs aren't a "mistake," they are another example of telling rather than showing. Adverbs almost always prop up weak verbs, when a more precise verb would be better.


                                                             
*FlagB* Total Points
61 points out of 100



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

I like stories with a twist, and this one delivered. You took the prompt in an unexpected way, which I also liked. Because of the length, this story is essentially flash fiction, which is extraordinarily difficult to write well. You've done a credible job with a creative twist on the prompts. Thanks for sharing!!!

                                                             
*FlagB*Line-by-line remarks
*Bullet*Your text is in BLUE.
*Bullet*My comments are in GREEN.
*Bullet*If I suggest a re-wording, it's in GRAPE.
                                                             
*Cut*tossing her coat on it's hook.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: typo: "it's" is the contraction for "it is." *Exclaim*

*Cut*She looked at the college pamphlets, still scattered across the dining room table, and smiled. I'm glad that's done with, at least. She looks*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Notice the first sentence uses the fictional past, "looked," while the second uses the fictional present, "looks." The narrative should be in one or the other. *Exclaim*

*Cut*feeling rather lonely.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: telling rather than showing. *Exclaim*

*Cut*At least in college I had a roommate...*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: But this is excellent showing that she's lonely. You didn't need the prior sentence that tells the same fact, and in fact that sentence weakens this one. *Exclaim*

b}*Cut*She hesitantly pulled it open,*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: This is one of the adverbs I mentioned. In this case, show her pausing, with her hand on the door, before pulling it open. That shows the hesitation through her actions as it happens rather than telling the reader she "hesitantly" opened the door. *Exclaim*



                                                             

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


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

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


Max Griffin πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ
http://MaxGriffin.net/
http://MaxGriffin.net/blog/
Check out
FOLDER
Thoughts on Writing  (NPL)
Short essays on the craft of fiction.
#1847273 by Max Griffin πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
24
24
Review of Ruby Who?  
Review by
In affiliation with Cross Timbers Peer Reviewers  
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
Show Don't Tell Logo


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

Item Reviewed: "Ruby Who?
Author Olivia Benson off duty ;)
Reviewer: Max Griffin πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ

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

                                                             
*FlagB*What I liked best

                                                             
*FlagB*Effective showing of the information in the prompt.
(28 points out of 30)
Good job here.

                                                             
*FlagB*First Paragraph
(8 points out of 20)
First paragraphs are hard to write. They have to achieve many, often conflicting, goals. First, they need to orient the reader by answering as many of the basic who, what, when, where, why, and how questions as possible. They need to establish the point of view and name the POV character. They should start in media res, in the middle of things, with the POV character doing, sensing, and acting. Finally, they should establish the basic conflict of the story.

Your opening does some of these things well, but not others. The POV, for example, appears to be switch off between the patient--who we learn is Ruby in paragraph six--and the ER nurse. At the same time, we're clearly in an ER, and we learn the basic conflict of the story at the end of the opeing segment, which constitutes a great hook.

                                                             
*FlagB*Creativity and Originality
(12 points out of 15)
This is a creative and unexpected take on the prompt. Nice job.

                                                             
*FlagB* Effective showing--as opposed to telling--for the whole story
(12 points out of 15)
You mostly did a good job of staying in the here-and-now and revealing the story through the words and deeds of the characters. There were a few places where the narrator intruded to state a fact--I included at least one example in the line-by-line remarks below.

                                                             
*FlagB*Plot and Pacing
(7 points out of 10)
Well, the basic plot was clear almost from the end of the first paragraph. That meant there wasn't a lot of tension as the story progressed.

                                                             
*FlagB*Technical Proficiency (such as grammar, spelling, proof-reading, and following the contest rules)
(9 points out of 10)
Mostly nothing to complain about here. I found a few items, but I'm uncertain about differences between US English and UK English. See the line-by-line remarks.


                                                             
*FlagB* Total Points
76 points out of 100



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

                                                             
*FlagB*Line-by-line remarks
*Bullet*Your text is in BLUE.
*Bullet*My comments are in GREEN.
*Bullet*If I suggest a re-wording, it's in GRAPE.
                                                             
*Cut*I'm not a Mrs I tell you."*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: "Mrs" is an abbreviation. In this context, I'd write out missus. *Exclaim*

*Cut*Left to her own devises, *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Devises or devices? Or is this a US/UK difference? *Exclaim*

"It's Dottie." Her childhood friend. *Cut*She opened the door to a virtual stranger.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Narrator intrudes to state a fact. Better to show Ruby reacting with a question, like, "Who are you?" Maybe even have a physical or subjection, reaction like thinking who is this "old biddy." *Exclaim*

*Cut*"It's been a while, hasn't it." *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Typo. Question mark, not period. *Exclaim*

*Cut*"I'm not and never have been married." Ruby was loosing it.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: "losing it," right? *Exclaim*


                                                             

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


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

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


Max Griffin πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ
http://MaxGriffin.net/
http://MaxGriffin.net/blog/
Check out
FOLDER
Thoughts on Writing  (NPL)
Short essays on the craft of fiction.
#1847273 by Max Griffin πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
25
25
Review of The Color of Ruby  
Review by
In affiliation with Cross Timbers Peer Reviewers  
Rated: E | (4.5)
Show Don't Tell Logo


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

Item Reviewed: "The Color of Ruby
Author L.A. Grawitch
Reviewer: Max Griffin πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ

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

                                                             
*FlagB*What I liked best
This story has some lovely prose, especially in the vivid descriptions of Ruby and her home. Nice job!

                                                             
*FlagB*Effective showing of the information in the prompt.
(26 points out of 30)
For the most part, you show the information in the prompt. The suitcases, for example, show that Ruby has been gone. But there's a touch of telling, too. Ruby tells the reader, in a speech, that's she's lonely, for example. Putting this in a speech is still telling, especially when we're not really in Ruby's head (see below).

                                                             
*FlagB*First Paragraph
(15 points out of 20)
The prose and descriptions of the opening paragraphs are lovely. The descriptions are vivid and active, and the use of "blood red" in the opening sentence is good foreshadowing. So, there is much to love here.

But...the entire first two paragraphs read like an omniscient narrator, standing outside the here-and-now of the story, telling the reader about Ruby and her home. Indeed, the entire story, while mostly in Ruby's point of view, uses an omniscient narrator.

Omniscient narration has a long history, but it's almost completely disappeared from modern fiction. Today, about 30% of all fiction uses a first person narrator, with the overwhelming majority of the remainder using third person limited. In the latter, the author immerses the reader inside the here-and-now experience of the point-of-view character. We can know what she senses, thinks, and feels, but for all other characters we must infer those things from their words and actions. Even for the POV character, it's best to reveal things through words, actions, and sensations.

Your opening paragraphs, while lovely, don't put the reader inside Ruby's head and thus don't draw the reader into the story. The reader is like the narrator, standing outside the story. My main suggestion for this story would be to sharpen the point of view, putting the readers firmly inside Ruby's head and keeping them there.

I've made a few notes in the line-by-line remarks below to note some places where the point of view hops from one character to another.

                                                             
*FlagB*Creativity and Originality
(12 points out of 15)
This story is an original and creative response to the plot. Nice job! I do wish the foreshadowing were a little stronger. Marshall, for example, must have experience Ruby's personality shifts before--or at least unexplained absences. I'd consider putting a bit more explicit foreshadowing in the story, especially in the conversation with Marshall. Readers tend to be inattentive and miss subtle hints--even experienced readers who are looking for them.

                                                             
*FlagB* Effective showing--as opposed to telling--for the whole story
(12 points out of 15)
Again, you've mostly done a commendable jog with some minor slips. I pointed out a few in the line-by-line remarks below.

                                                             
*FlagB*Plot and Pacing
(8 points out of 10)
I loved the plot, but I could have stood a bit more foreshadowing. For example, at the very start, Ruby might stoop to wipe up a bit of goo that's leaked from her suitcase while wondering what it might be. That sets up the later reveal, and makes it less of a deus ex machina.

                                                             
*FlagB*Technical Proficiency (such as grammar, spelling, proof-reading, and following the contest rules)
(10 points out of 10)
Good job! Usually I find typos or grammatical things to whine about, but not here. The writing is professional and a joy to read.

                                                             
*FlagB* Total Points
85 points out of 100

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

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

*Cut*She threw the door open in her excitement.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Narrator tells the reader she's excited as opposed to showing her excitement. *Exclaim*

*Cut*He knew only that chivalry demanded it of him.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Hops into Marshall's head. *Exclaim*

*Cut*The feel of the bauble was alien to her touch.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Puts us back in Ruby's head. *Exclaim*

*Cut*Looking into her eyes to study the truthfulness of her statement, he saw only a shimmering plea for help in her eyes.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Hops back into Marshall's head. *Exclaim*

*Cut*Ruby first felt the anger rise in her chest, like a bad case of heart burn, the flames spread to her face leaving wicked splotches of red on her cheeks. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: This puts us in Ruby's head, since we know what she's feeling. But then the narrator intrudes to tell us about the splotches on her cheek, which she cannot see. *Exclaim*

                                                             

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


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

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


Max Griffin πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ
http://MaxGriffin.net/
http://MaxGriffin.net/blog/
Check out
FOLDER
Thoughts on Writing  (NPL)
Short essays on the craft of fiction.
#1847273 by Max Griffin πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
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