*Magnify*
SPONSORED LINKS
Creative fun in
the palm of your hand.
Printed from http://www.writing.com/main/profile/reviews/mattab15
Review Requests: OFF
277 Public Reviews Given
Review Style
I always try to send detailed reviews with as much information as possible. If I enjoy something in your piece I will tell you AND explain why I enjoyed it and what effect I think it has on the reader. Likewise if I see something that could be improved I will point it out and explain my reasoning and possible solutions to the issue. I like to focus on plot, character, and the more creative areas of writing, but I do look at grammar, too.
I'm good at...
Characterisation. Plot development. Pacing. Flow. Understanding.
Favorite Genres
Fantasy, sci-fi, horror, science/tech
Least Favorite Genres
Erotic, romance, family, self-help, religious, spiritual, anything that cannot be reviewed properly (i.e., really personal pieces)
Favorite Item Types
Statics: short stories, poetry, articles (about writing, fantasy, sci-fi, science or tech) Items under 3000 words
Least Favorite Item Types
Images, long form. Anything over 3000 words
I will not review...
Anything over 3000 words unless I already know the writer. I don't want to read any personal pieces where a detailed review would be inappropriate (so no eulogy/obituries, personal accounts of illness, how you found religion, etc...)
Public Reviews
Previous ... -1- 2 3 4 ... Next
1
1
In affiliation with Fantasy and Science Fiction So...  
Rated: 18+ | (4.5)
Hi there Whata, Still Recovering

I am reviewing you today on behalf of House Targaryen in "Game of Thrones. You may have noticed this little activity around the site, or not - it is quite well hidden...

I specifically chose to review you as you have participated in WdC Live. On that front, don't worry, I know I still need to send the GPs out. I'm just ... well I have no excuse. Soon. I promise. Probably. You won by the way. Just in case you wanted to know!


This is a brilliant idea for a contest. It is exactly the kind of thing I wanted to produce, but didn't. I really enjoy reading and writing about controversial subjects, especially religion (of which I have none) and science (of which I (almost) have a degree). Of course, I wouldn't class science itself as a controversy as science is simply the discovery of facts and universal truth (maybe 'simply' is the wrong word). That said, there are many topics within science which are controversial, so I totally understand why it is a topic here.


The layout of the contest page is strong and powerful. The 4 controversies are clearly introduced.

The only thing I found slightly unclear was regarding ratings. The contest has an 18+ rating. Is this the maximum rating for entries? I saw an XGC entry, but couldn't find a rule that allowed/disallowed this.


I am aware that by saying how interested I am in the contest that you will now be expecting me to enter. To be fair, I expect myself to enter, but I have a habit of failing to meet simple expectations like this. Keep an eye out for an entry from me, but please don't hold your breath as I would hate for you to suffocate *Sick*


Write On!



Please be aware that these opinions are simply opinions and you may or may not agree with them. If you have any discrepancies with my review or if you would like to ask me about my comments please do not hesitate to email me and ask.

Thanks
Image #2016806 over display limit. -?-
Fantasy and Science Fiction Society  [E]
For Fantasy and Science Fiction authors to improve their craft in a supportive environment
by Matt Bird MSci Hons AMRSC

"Thrice Prompted
2
2
In affiliation with Fantasy and Science Fiction So...  
Rated: 13+ | (3.0)
Hi brom21


I am review this piece as part of the Game of Thrones activity I am sure you have seen terrorising the site! I chose to review you specifically as you entered the May Flash Challenge earlier in the year.

Before I start the review, I would like to give you a few pieces of general advice regarding entering contests.

Entering Contests

Now for the review of the actual piece!

You used the prompt well for your flash. An alien suddenly popping in for a can of Pepsi certainly counts as an unexpected visitor!

The humour in this piece is the main strength. I am a big fan of surreal humour and you have used that to good effect in your piece.


There are two weaknesses in this piece: the grammar and the voice. The former is easy to fix. Make sure you go over a piece at least once before submitting. The following dropnote lists the grammar issues I spotted.

Grammar


Voice refers to the way the ideas of the story are expressed through the author's use of words and style. Every author has a unique voice, but there are general ideas that most voices use.

My issue with the voice in this piece is it doesn't leave much for the reader to do or infer. This is often referred to as 'show don't tell'. Personally, I think it is better expressed 'show and tell', as it is best to 'tell' in some cases. That said, showing is normally the preferred way of an expressing ideas in fiction.

You do actually do a lot of showing, which is good. The Nix's conversation with Bill is, in my opinion, a good example of showing. The alien is confident and knows what he wants. Bill is nervous and struggles to get his words out. If you exclusively look at the dialogue this piece is a fantastic example of how to give each character a unique voice.

However, you need to trust the reader to interpret this. For example you write 'What happened next was astounding.'

Well if it is so astounding then the reader will work this out from the astounding event happening. If the reader doesn't realise the event is astounding, then you need to do a better job of writing an astounding event! This section could be rewritten to have Nix simple speak in English and having Bill think about that, or try to ask:

“Stop!” I said, holding the gun with trembling hands and eyes wide in terror. From what he knew of UFO’s it was obvious; I was speaking to an alien. I did not know what to do. Why was this being here? What did it want?
“Greetings Earthling," the alien said ... in English.
I tried to speak but all I could muster was a puppy-like whimper.
“You can put the gun down." The alien walked further into my living room. "What could I do to you? Bite your kneecaps?”


See how the dialogue doesn't need to be changed at all? All I did was remove the sections that told the reader what to feel. I added a bit of action into the last bit of dialogue to give the scene a sense of movement. Without movement dialogue heavy scenes exist in what is sometimes referred to as a white box, that is a place that doesn't feel like it exists.

I won't go through an point out all instances of this, but I hope you will take a look and see where the text tells the reader what to feel rather than showing them.


The ending with the hologram device felt a bit out of place, but I guess it shows the alien appreciated the Pepsi.


Overall an enjoyable piece with some great dialogue and humour. A bit or work on the grammar and showing rather than telling could improve the piece.



Write On!





Please be aware that these opinions are simply opinions and you may or may not agree with them. If you have any discrepancies with my review or if you would like to ask me about my comments please do not hesitate to email me and ask.

Thanks
Image #2016806 over display limit. -?-
Fantasy and Science Fiction Society  [E]
For Fantasy and Science Fiction authors to improve their craft in a supportive environment
by Matt Bird MSci Hons AMRSC

"Thrice Prompted


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
3
3
In affiliation with Fantasy and Science Fiction So...  
Rated: ASR | (4.5)
Hi Than Pence

I am reviewing your short story The River or the Gorge as part of the Game of Thrones event currently bombarding WdC. I don't believe we've made acquaintance before, so let me tell you that this story was a wonderful way to meet you.


The story starts off as a standard story set an unknown number of years in the future. Lidia, a young girl, is scared of the what she must do and doesn't want to leave her mother. We don't know what the River is other than a resistance movement (perhaps fighting against the Gorge). For a short story we don't need to know more than this, but it could easily be a prologue to a longer story.

The language flows well throughout the piece and I never find myself struggling to follow. The twist at the end works well and doesn't contradict the rest of the story. The circular nature of what is going on seemed a bit Terminator-like, but obviously this version was more subtle and had less killer robot-people!


There were only a few points n the story I think need fixing:

Cadence watery eyes turn resolute


Cadence should be possessive here - Cadence's


This river will take you to the River and you'll all be safe


As a reader I can see the distinction between river and River, but how clear would this be in real life speech? I'm not sure people would say this.


Overall a really lovely piece with great use of language. The present tense added a magical sense to the story and the twist at the end was unexpected and effective.


Write On!




Please be aware that these opinions are simply opinions and you may or may not agree with them. If you have any discrepancies with my review or if you would like to ask me about my comments please do not hesitate to email me and ask.

Thanks
Image #2016806 over display limit. -?-
Fantasy and Science Fiction Society  [E]
For Fantasy and Science Fiction authors to improve their craft in a supportive environment
by Matt Bird MSci Hons AMRSC

"Thrice Prompted
{/center


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
4
4
Review of Ripe Oblivion  
In affiliation with Fantasy and Science Fiction So...  
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
Hi tHiNg MMMasquerading


You may have heard of a little thing called "Game of Thrones. I am here battling on behalf of House Targaryen. You and your poem has been caught in the crossfire!


Ripe Oblivion is a visually striking poem. The hourglass shape represents time, which is a theme in this poem. I enjoyed the blend of the fantastical nature of the image with the real world. It is as if this fallen angel is trying to live a normal life on Earth and struggling to find sense in it. Of course all the non angels living on Earth also struggle to find sense in life, so it is no wonder someone not from the planet would find it difficult!

I love the first line. 'Ripe oblivion' is such a strong phrase that truly sets the tone for the piece. By the third line you have shifted from a dark fantasy style poem to a more real setting of a train and then a Motel. Despite this quick shift in language in works well and doesn't jerk the reader.

I loved the simile of living like a bad smell.

The only part of the poem I wasn't a fan of was the start of the second stanza: Dawn / cloudy / awakens! - I'm not sure what I'm supposed to be thinking/feeling/seeing at this point. Is it just a quick list, or is it supposed to be a full sentence that I'm not understanding?

The remainder of the poem is great, especially the last line which ties the words to the visual structure of the poem.


Overall, a striking poem with a great visual.

Write On!




Please be aware that these opinions are simply opinions and you may or may not agree with them. If you have any discrepancies with my review or if you would like to ask me about my comments please do not hesitate to email me and ask.

Thanks
Image #2016806 over display limit. -?-
Fantasy and Science Fiction Society  [E]
For Fantasy and Science Fiction authors to improve their craft in a supportive environment
by Matt Bird MSci Hons AMRSC

"Thrice Prompted


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
5
5
In affiliation with Fantasy and Science Fiction So...  
Rated: E | (4.0)
Hi Patrece~ Starting anew.

I am reviewing your poem as part of the Game of Thrones activity currently taking place on the battle ground that is WdC.


I know this is an old poem, but the title drew me in and I had to read it! The words you were given in the contest were weird and varied and I think you have done a great job with them.

Overall, I thought the poem was good.

Stanza 1
The first line is good and sets the tone and topic of the poem.

Line 2 I thought was grammatically incorrect. I think 'But I needed something light.' would have worked better.

I think line 3 is good, but I would have gone with 'So I opted for a tuna melt,' and ended the second line with a comma.

The fourth line doesn't sound quite right to me. I'm not sure what it is, but it doesn't flow as well as the rest of the poem.


Stanza 2
Best line of the poem. I can't think of anyways to improve it!


Stanza 3
I thought the second line didn't flow that well. Again, not sure how to improve it (I'm not a poet), but wanted to point it out.
The fourth line needed dialogue marks: Said, 'be good, you'll get a treat.'


Stanza 4
Overall a good stanza. The fourth line didn't quite make sense. I know what you're trying to say, but it isn't the best way of writing it. I'm struggling to rewrite it in a way that makes poetic sense, so you may have the best possibility already!


Stanza 5
I can't think of any improvements. Strong stanza.


Stanza 6
Brilliant end to the poem. There is a rogue fullstop after the exclamation mark at the very end. I love the last line! I think the last two lines are my favourite lines in the poem.


Overall a fun poem!


Write On!




Please be aware that these opinions are simply opinions and you may or may not agree with them. If you have any discrepancies with my review or if you would like to ask me about my comments please do not hesitate to email me and ask.

Thanks
Image #2016806 over display limit. -?-
Fantasy and Science Fiction Society  [E]
For Fantasy and Science Fiction authors to improve their craft in a supportive environment
by Matt Bird MSci Hons AMRSC

"Thrice Prompted


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
6
6
Review of Remnants  
In affiliation with Fantasy and Science Fiction So...  
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
Hi 🌜 HuntersMoon

I am reviewing your Short Shots entry as part of the Game of Thrones activity currently engulfing writing.com.

I loved this vignette. I say vignette as I'm not sure this would constitute a story as there isn't any plot per se, more an exploration of a theme. There is nothing wrong with writing like this, but I wanted to be clear on my reasoning for calling it a vignette.

One thing this piece does particularly well is combine references to the past with the present (of this story). For example the opening scene has Sarah pour Koffee whilst also thinking about the past and referencing old slogans. The slogan referenced is from the 1930s, but I guess it still holds relevance in the early 21st century (as a chemist, I'm rather fond of the slogan).

By showing that Sarah doesn't know what real coffee tastes like, the reader instantly knows this is set in the future, likely after some near-apocalyptic event.

The second paragraph is a fantastic way of describing the character. It's not subtle, but it shows that the change happened in her lifetime.

I felt the reference about leaders who refuse to cooperate resonates with the current state of the EU with the UK having voted to leave. Who knows what this will lead to, but it is possible that without the support of the EU, the UK is going to struggle to help get any strong climate initiatives off the ground in Europe. Of course the opposite could be true. Without the EU's bureaucracy the UK may make real progress in sustainability and become a template for European countries to follow. Who knows?

I enjoyed the interactions between Sarah and her son. The world may be broken, but family will always be a strong tie for people.


There were two little mistakes I spotted. 'The Silent Spring' should be italicised: The Silent Spring.

I think 'she said, pulling him close protectively.' would read better as 'she said, protectively pulling him close/closer'. The adverb seems a bit out of place at the end of the sentence.


Overall a great piece.


Write On!



Please be aware that these opinions are simply opinions and you may or may not agree with them. If you have any discrepancies with my review or if you would like to ask me about my comments please do not hesitate to email me and ask.

Thanks
Image #2016806 over display limit. -?-
Fantasy and Science Fiction Society  [E]
For Fantasy and Science Fiction authors to improve their craft in a supportive environment
by Matt Bird MSci Hons AMRSC

"Thrice Prompted


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
7
7
In affiliation with Fantasy and Science Fiction So...  
Rated: E | (4.5)
Hi Caroline T.

I'm back again to review another of your May Flash challenge entries. With 4 of the top 5 flashes being yours I reckon you've got a chance for the big prize. Add that to all the prizes you'll be getting for finishing the challenge and I think you'll be sitting happy for quite some time!

The challenge with Day 3 was, in my opinion, harder than it looked. 3 word sentences are not that hard to write. But to make a full story that flows and makes sense exclusively using 3 word sentences is tough.

You used two headings in the piece which worked well to place the reader in the world. The first proper line of the story is dialogue, which is a personal favourite of mine for opening stories. Some argue that opening with dialogue can have a White Box affect where the reader is confused and doesn't know who is speaking etc... But, in this case the dialogue is only three words long so any confusion doesn't last very long. It works well to bring some excitement to the story from the very start and sets the tone for what follows.

We are then introduced to Stan and Mel. Stan is a fairly cliche gruff character who order people around. In a longer story this would be an issue as he very 1-dimensional, for the purposes of a 500-word flash it is fine to use stereotypes for some characters.

I liked the end of the story. It provided a pleasing turn of events for Mel. Stan loses and Mel wins.

My only suggestion would be a bit more showing rather than telling. I know 500 words limits you in this area somewhat, but Mel's grumbling felt a bit telly to me. Maybe have Stan give a few more orders and be a bit more unreasonable and just have Mel grumble rather than spell it out for the reader.

I appreciated the use of ~~~. Even the dividers were only 3 long!


Write On!



Please be aware that these opinions are simply opinions and you may or may not agree with them. If you have any discrepancies with my review or if you would like to ask me about my comments please do not hesitate to email me and ask.

Thanks
Image #2016806 over display limit. -?-
Fantasy and Science Fiction Society  [E]
For Fantasy and Science Fiction authors to improve their craft in a supportive environment
by Matt Bird MSci Hons AMRSC

"Thrice Prompted


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
8
8
Review of Testing  
In affiliation with Fantasy and Science Fiction So...  
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
Hi Cat ~ A Proud Stark


I am writing this review with the Portal 2 soundtrack playing in the background. Oh, and happy account anniversary. I'm sure your inbox is already bursting!


First of all let me say I am a big fan of Portal 2. I didn't play the first game, but the concept is the same I think. You captured the tone of the game very well. To the point and eerily optimistic despite the scary reality.

The use of italics for the entirety of the piece could be annoying for some pieces, but I think it works here. The italics imply this is the introduction or prologue to the start of the game / full story. I can easily imagine the camera panning out from whomever is speaking ready for the player to start controlling the new test subject.

Is this piece actually a drabble? A drabble is normally around 100 words, this is closer to 400. It is definitely flash fiction, but probably not a drabble. Not that it really matters, the piece is the same regardless what you call it!

Generally the piece is well written. I only spotted one grammatical issue:

...most important, defining thing in common; Science.


The semi-colon there should be a colon. '...in common: Science.'

I enjoyed reading this piece and would love to read the finished project if you upload it to WdC. I like fan-fic stuff and Portal has a great game-world.


Write On!







Please be aware that these opinions are simply opinions and you may or may not agree with them. If you have any discrepancies with my review or if you would like to ask me about my comments please do not hesitate to email me and ask.

Thanks
Image #2016806 over display limit. -?-
Fantasy and Science Fiction Society  [E]
For Fantasy and Science Fiction authors to improve their craft in a supportive environment
by Matt Bird MSci Hons AMRSC

"Thrice Prompted


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
9
9
Review of After Effects  
In affiliation with Fantasy and Science Fiction So...  
Rated: E | (5.0)


Hi Caroline T.

First of all, thank you for entering the May Flash Challenge. It was great fun reading all your entries and you won quite a lot the dailies. I know you'll have been wondering when the results will be released. I will announce the winner some point next week. I will also send all the prizes out for the various achievements at that time.

Congratulations on winning Day 2 of the challenge.

After Effects is a really well written story. The strength of the grammar was amazing considering the time frame. I've seen flash fiction that wasn't written in a day that is littered with typos and mistakes, so good job on that.

The only grammar mistake I spotted was here:

“Yes, Martin,” she beamed, “that’s exactly right!...


'Beamed' is not a method of talking, it is an action. So the dialogue should have been punctuated as:

“Yes, Martin.” She beamed. “That’s exactly right!...



I loved the idea of time packets spread across the globe. I don't know if you've seen the game Quantum Break, but there is a similar premise there where a mistake with a time machine led to glitches in time around the area. There is strong world building here, too. The idea of healthcare using it is great, and obviously the military would also take advantage of it.


The story takes the form of an 'elderly' lady talking to children. This is a tried-and-tested, but still effective, device for getting the world-building across. It also forms a great red herring. I, as the reader, was trying to second guess what the twist would be and I assumed maybe they were all trapped or something along those lines. I thought the way you presented the twist was well executed and simple - perfect for flash fiction.


Congrats on making the top 5!




Please be aware that these opinions are simply opinions and you may or may not agree with them. If you have any discrepancies with my review or if you would like to ask me about my comments please do not hesitate to email me and ask.

Thanks
Image #2016806 over display limit. -?-
Fantasy and Science Fiction Society  [E]
For Fantasy and Science Fiction authors to improve their craft in a supportive environment
by Matt Bird MSci Hons AMRSC

"Thrice Prompted


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
10
10
In affiliation with Fantasy and Science Fiction So...  
Rated: E | (2.5)
Hi P.J.Gray

I've just read your work in progress story of the Ghost of Shangradi.

The piece has promise, but as it stands now simply isn't working, in my opinion. I don't know what work in progress means for this piece. Is this the complete draft story? Or is it only the start of a story? If it is the latter, then some of what I have to say won't apply. But if this is meant to be the complete draft, then I think there is a lot of work to be done.

There are a lot of technical issues with this piece. As this is a draft, I think it would be meaningless to go through each one individually as the chances are the piece will change a lot as you edit it. But you should go through to make sure the basic things like having all proper nouns and the start of sentences capitalised are done. Just a quick glance over the piece would allow you to spot basic errors like that and the whole piece would seem far more professional if these were sorted. Another issue is that at the start of the piece " " are used for dialogue, whereas ' ' are used later on. You should pick one and stick with it.

The opening passage has some intrigue. Terry is in a tomb and hears noises. A little cliché, but it builds the suspense well. Then he meets a ghost who is a bit like a Sphinx in that the ghost asks a question to allow Terry to pass. What got me about the ghost, is that there is no motive. It is never made clear who this ghost is or why it wants to stop Terry from passing through. Even in horror B-movies the antagonist has some kind of motive. Even it is just the ghost is a malevolent spirit wanting to cause distress, the reader should know. The end of the opening paragraph is too cliché for me. 'Chilled to the bone', 'hairs on his back started to rise', 'most scared he had ever felt in his life'. We get that he is scared. But these are pretty bland and overused statements. I reckon you could have some fun coming up with your own ways of showing Terry's fear. You don't have to avoid clichés totally, but you should present them in a new way. If his hairs are standing up, then show what that does to him. Does he feel them tugging at his skin? Does sweat bead up? Fear is a very personal thing. You could make this opening a lot more powerful if you hone in on the personal experience of Terry. Show us his fear.

Then we get the riddle. I liked the language you used for the riddle. The rhyme works well and there is a good rhythm to the words. However, I do wonder how much the ghost wants Terry to get the question wrong. I got the answer straight the way. It just isn't that difficult. Don't get me wrong, I think it is a wonderful riddle to the word death, just not a very challenging one. I guess this all goes back to the ghosts motive. If the ghost simply wants to scare then an easy riddle is fine. But if he genuinely wants to kill Terry and stop him from passing then why use such an easy riddle?

The latter part of the story takes place after and before this initial ghost encounter. It's a little confusing, I have to admit. Terry is thinking back on the events with the ghost, whilst simultaneously having a flashback to his father. When I first read it I thought Terry was talking to his father after seeing the ghost, but I now realise Terry is thinking back. Then it goes dark, then he's suddenly in the dark with another ghost, then someone asks what he's doing. I felt the end was a bit rushed, but that it also contains some interesting ideas. With a bit of TLC I reckon the ending would work quite well.


In summary: an interesting story with promise, but with many issues making it difficult to follow at times. Write on!


Please be aware that these opinions are simply opinions and you may or may not agree with them. If you have any discrepancies with my review or if you would like to ask me about my comments please do not hesitate to email me and ask.

Thanks

Image #2039793 over display limit. -?-
Image #2016806 over display limit. -?-
Fantasy and Science Fiction Society  [E]
For Fantasy and Science Fiction authors to improve their craft in a supportive environment
by Matt Bird MSci Hons AMRSC

"Thrice Prompted


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
11
11
Review of Ghost Town  
In affiliation with Fantasy and Science Fiction So...  
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)


Hi brom21


It's been a while since I've reviewed you, and where better to begin again than with a poem from the FSFS Poetry Workshop. Before I begin the review I want to thank you for taking part in the workshop. Members like you are the reason activities like this can happen.

I enjoyed this poem. I think the imagery is really good. I got a vivid sense of the ghost town you were portraying. I think the poem is good enough that your item description doesn't need to be so blunt. Perhaps the description could be 'The town lives silent' as that links directly to the poem without stating you are talking about a literal ghost town.

As this piece was written for a workshop lesson, I recommend including the prompts you were given. Perhaps state at the top or bottom that this poem is a Rondeau. I suggest this because I initially had some suggestions which wouldn't have worked in the form. I only thought to look up the prompt you used because I know it is for the poetry workshop.

On the subject of form, I like what you did with the constraints of the form. The first line works well and the part of the line you chose to repeat is effective and powerful. You kept to the rhyme scheme well. I did initially think you'd made a mistake in the second stanza as for me 'bone' and 'shone' don't rhyme. However, I looked it up and it turns out we have a different pronunciation for 'shone' in the UK than the US. Where in the US it does rhyme with 'bone', in the UK 'shone' rhymes with 'con' and 'don'.

Like I have already said, I really like the imagery. That said there were a few lines which didn't shine for me. For example the 'cold like a decaying cone' image didn't work for me. I wouldn't associate decay with cold. Often things decay faster in warm, moist conditions. The cold preserves.

In the final stanza you say 'They peruse, torment and love to daunt'. Did you mean to say 'pursue' instead of 'peruse'. The former means to chase, whereas peruse means to look at an examine. Pursue seems to be more fitting.

There is a grammatical mistake in the first stanza. The comma after 'are' in 'They are, vile, horrid...' is not needed.

In summary: a strong poem with a few little mistakes. Write On!



Please be aware that these opinions are simply opinions and you may or may not agree with them. If you have any discrepancies with my review or if you would like to ask me about my comments please do not hesitate to email me and ask.

Thanks
Image #2043737 over display limit. -?-
Image #2016806 over display limit. -?-
Fantasy and Science Fiction Society  [E]
For Fantasy and Science Fiction authors to improve their craft in a supportive environment
by Matt Bird MSci Hons AMRSC

"Thrice Prompted


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
12
12
Review of Shovel ready.  
In affiliation with Fantasy and Science Fiction So...  
Rated: E | (4.0)
Hi Turtle ~ KanyáthƐko:wa:h



Shovel Ready is about change and how we are often not equipped to cope with it.

The first stanza has a really good beat. It is fast paced and introduces the reader to one of the concepts of the poem: that things aren't always what they seem. I'd probably say that this is my favourite stanza in the poem.

The first two lines of the second stanza maintain the fast pace of the first stanza. However, I felt the next line was a bit slow in comparison. 'explanations that no longer fit' seemed to have too many syllables to work effectively. The rest of stanza two is good, though.

I liked how you varied the stanza lengths. It added an element of chaos that seems fitting with the subject matter. I also really liked the two lines of stanza 4. As an image it is really effective.

Stanza 6 (Narratives...) seemed to stick at the end. It felt like it was going somewhere but never arrived. I expected another line. I don't know what that line would be, but I felt like it is needed to help the flow of the poem.

The last 4 lines of the poem are really powerful. Humans are creatures of habit. Change, although constant and relentless, can also happen slowly. Social norms don't change as rapidly as technology. Often by the time society has adapted to change, something else has changed and replaced the thing we have adapted for. Think about how slow the law has been to catchup to the information age we are living in now. Recent laws already seem archaic because of how slow change in this area of society occurs.

In summary: a good poem with a strong message, that stumbles in a few places. Write On!

Please be aware that these opinions are simply opinions and you may or may not agree with them. If you have any discrepancies with my review or if you would like to ask me about my comments please do not hesitate to email me and ask.

Thanks
Image #2043737 over display limit. -?-
Image #2016806 over display limit. -?-
Fantasy and Science Fiction Society  [E]
For Fantasy and Science Fiction authors to improve their craft in a supportive environment
by Matt Bird MSci Hons AMRSC

"Thrice Prompted


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
13
13
Review of Fresh Snow  
In affiliation with Fantasy and Science Fiction So...  
Rated: E | (4.5)


Hi Turtle ~ KanyáthƐko:wa:h


Like your last poem, this poem features snow. Maybe I just keep picking snow-based poems or maybe you write a lot about snow!

I really liked this little poem. Like you, I love fresh snow. The sound it makes as it crackles beneath your feet. The glistening in the early morning sun. There is something very magical about it. It almost seems criminal to be the first person to step into the 'unbroken trail', but it is so satisfying to do so!

Beneath the snowy exterior of this poem is a message about life. In a world that is rapidly changing people like to find something to hold onto. We need something static and unchanging to prevent us from being washed away in the torrent of constant progress. As you say the walk is 'unnecessary' in terms of achieving something, but it is an escape.

The structure of this poem makes it easy to read and allows the poem to flow really well. It reads almost like thoughts flowing through your mind.

I love the last two lines. 'I've fresh snow' is such a great retort. If I ever get the chance to use that line in real life I will make the most of it!

I can't really pick a favourite stanza as they all work so well together. I would give you 5 stars, but I just read your article on why you don't give five stars. So in honour of a poet's work never being done I award you 4.5 stars!


In summary: great poem. Write On!




Please be aware that these opinions are simply opinions and you may or may not agree with them. If you have any discrepancies with my review or if you would like to ask me about my comments please do not hesitate to email me and ask.

Thanks
Image #2039793 over display limit. -?-
Image #2016806 over display limit. -?-
Fantasy and Science Fiction Society  [E]
For Fantasy and Science Fiction authors to improve their craft in a supportive environment
by Matt Bird MSci Hons AMRSC

"Thrice Prompted


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
14
14
Review of Snowflake Screams  
In affiliation with Fantasy and Science Fiction So...  
Rated: E | (4.0)


Hi Turtle ~ KanyáthƐko:wa:h

I really enjoyed reading your poem, Snowflake Screams. There is a certain elegance to your words that is difficult to describe. The metaphor of the screaming snowflake works well as a comparison to the things we do not notice, but still have a large impact on us and the world.

As you say 'much is hidden' and we therefore shouldn't assume we know the impacts of everything we do. For instance global warming was caused in part by us not understanding the intricate hidden mechanisms surrounding the world's global climate. I would argue, though, that all of what is hidden in this sense is not understood.

I really like the message of this poem. The third stanza, 'we do not grasp the beauty' really epitomises how I think society views the world. The planet is more than just a rock. It is an interconnected web of immense beauty that only really shines when you look properly.

The fifth stanza has a little grammar mistake in. 'At frequencies to high' should be 'At frequencies too high. As a scientist I wondered what the frequency is, so I did a little searching and found this article  . Did you read about this research before writing the poem or is this a happy coincidence?

I think it was the right decision not to have a rhyming structure for this poem. The world isn't always ordered like that and the poem reflects that. But, of course, some structure is needed to make the poem flow well so the 4 line stanzas flanked by two 2 line stanzas works well.

I'm going to be honest, and say I wasn't a massive fan of the last stanza. It fell a little flat for me. I think it could work better if it was linked more to the poem. Perhaps:

'How is it then,
that we're the ones to judge?'

The subtle addition of 'then' emphasises that the question is being asked in light of what you've described in the poem.


Overall, a great poem with only a couple of minor issues.


Write On!



Please be aware that these opinions are simply opinions and you may or may not agree with them. If you have any discrepancies with my review or if you would like to ask me about my comments please do not hesitate to email me and ask.

Thanks
Image #2039793 over display limit. -?-
Image #2016806 over display limit. -?-
Fantasy and Science Fiction Society  [E]
For Fantasy and Science Fiction authors to improve their craft in a supportive environment
by Matt Bird MSci Hons AMRSC

"Thrice Prompted


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
15
15
Review of Write Stuff  
In affiliation with Fantasy and Science Fiction So...  
Rated: E | (4.0)
Hi there Dave



I've just read your poem and must say that I really enjoyed it. The content of the poem is, obviously, relevant to me as a fellow writer. Like you I really enjoy reading and writing. Also like you I have a fair amount of variation in what I like. Sometimes it will be dark, sometimes light and humorous. I'm currently working on a science fiction novel.

Overall I think the poem flows fairly well. That said I felt there were several places where the poem stumbles.

*Bulletg* The end of the second stanza felt a syllable too short. Perhaps 'it never seems quite good enough' would work better?

*Bulletg* The third line of the first stanza didn't pack much of a punch in my opinion. I get that you want to repeat the word 'stuff' throughout, but 'to also write stuff--' just didn't read right to me. I'm not really sure what I would do to that line, but I'm sure you could find an alternative (if you agree with me, that is).

*Bulletg* The last stanza is my favourite. It has a fast pace and flows smoothly to the end. I also feel the last stanza is the best in terms of content. Writing anything is always going to be goal based to some degree and it can feel like you're spreading your soul over a blank page and hoping someone will like it.

In summary: I really like your poem but it could be further improved by sorting out some stumbling lines. Write On!

Please be aware that this review is simply my opinion and you may or may not agree with them. If you have any discrepancies with my review or if you would like to ask me about my comments please do not hesitate to email me and ask.

Thanks
Image #2039793 over display limit. -?-
Image #2016806 over display limit. -?-
Fantasy and Science Fiction Society  [E]
For Fantasy and Science Fiction authors to improve their craft in a supportive environment
by Matt Bird MSci Hons AMRSC

"Thrice Prompted


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
16
16
Review of Inconstant  
In affiliation with The Coffee Shop for the Fantas...  
Rated: E | (3.0)
Hi Teerich-Visiting!

Thanks for entering the " Magic Words Contest ! I'm Matt Bird MSci Hons AMRSC , a judge for the contest. My review is broken down into the categories laid down in the Judging Criteria on the contest home page. My scores for each section are also given. These will be added to A E Willcox's scores which is used to determine the placings in the contest. Phew! With that out of the way, let's get on with the review!


*Man* Characters *Woman*


This is a rewrite of a classic fairy tale. The issue with fairy tales is that the characters tend to be very exaggerated and lacking in depth. However, that is kind of expected and is the style for this kind of piece. I actually think you did a good job at the start showing Rapunzel's sadness.

You open the story with Rapunzel peering across tree tops. The reader does not know at this point that the 'she' is Rapunzel. The obvious way you did this tells me you intended for the reader to be left in the dark. However, I personally think it would be stronger to give us her name straight away. At the moment it isn't clear that the person referred to in the poem is the person in the tower. I go into more detail on this in the structure section, but by not giving us the name it appears as if the woman in the tower is simply recollecting the story of Rapunzel, rather than the story happening to her.

I must say that Rapunzel's character weakened nearer the end. I am not an expert on the story of Rapunzel, and only know the rough story, so apologies if she is actually like this in the fairy tale. A 'handsome stranger' saved her, and kissed him. He risked his life to save her, and she led him on, only to wait for him to realise she didn't actually love him. You don't give a timeframe over which this happened, but I get the impression Rapunzel let the handsome stranger protect her for at least a year before he finally realised she was using him and didn't love him.

We are quickly introduced to Aubin at the end and aren't old anything about him other than he gave Rapunzel a rose (much like the stranger did). Actually as I am writing this I am beginning to think maybe I have misunderstood the final sequence of events. Who says "Rapunzel! Rapunzel!", is it the stranger (which I think is implied from its position in the story) or Aubin (which makes sense in terms of story)? I don't think this is clear.

Score: 2.5/5 (strong at the start, but confusing at the end)


*Puzzle2* Plot *Puzzle4*


This is a short story with a relatively straight forward plot. Rapunzel is a damsel in need of resucing. Many knights etc... try to save her but her hair is too short. Eventually a handsome stranger rescues her. I can only imagine the immense pain Rapunzel went through as he climbed her hair. It is told that the hair only just reaches, so there would have been no way for Rapunzel to somehow wrap the hair around something first in order to mitigate the pain.

One issue I had was when the stranger removed the iron bars from the window. This is really, really high up. He is no longer holding on to Rapunzel's hair as she has shied away to a corner. So this man is on the external window sill using all his might to remove presumably strong iron bars from masonry. This would be tough on the ground, let alone somewhere with practically no safe hold. It also begs the question why Rapunzel, from her safe position, wouldn't have first removed the bars. She's had years to do it and there would no doubt be some furniture for her to use. If a stranger can do dangling from a windowsill then she could have done it!

As I have already mentioned, I found the end a bit confusing. I can't work out what Aubin did and what the handsome stranger did. Was Aubin looking after her, or the stranger? If the father was able to forbid them from seeing her, then that means he is living there. Why didn't he just cut off her hair? After all two birds managed to inform an entire kingdom.

I get the impression the end was rushed slightly. Also, the very last line confused me. Is that saying that Rapunzel hasn't really been freed and is about to be rescued? Or was it just stylistic to reinforce the fairy-tale you were rewriting?

I didn't feel the conflict was strong enough. The father was constantly mentioned, and I expected him to come into play at some point. I know you were working from a fairy-tale, but when doing these re-works, it is often good to put new stuff in. I just didn't get a thrill or sense of excitement at the climax of the story. Everything turned out well in the end, and there was never really a point where I, as a reader, thought anything else would happen.


Score: 2/5 (simple, but not much conflict)


*Document* Structure *Documentbl*


There is a clear beginning, middle, and end. The structure is aided by the fairy-tale nature, but is nonetheless good.

The story clearly builds to the climax of Rapunzel being saved, but the story carries on quite a bit after this. Obviously this is a personal preference, but I as I was confused by the last part, I would have preferred more drama during the saving scene, and less of the post-climax stuff.

Without a strong conflict, the climax is weakened. I felt it was inevitable and there weren't any twists in the road. Again, this could just be personal preference, but I felt it could have been more exciting.

I did enjoy the use of a poem in the story. I'm not sure quite how the birds managed to send this poem across the kingdom considering it is later implied the birds hadn't actually said anything. I'm no expert on poetry, but I didn't see any problems with it. Granted you did use all 10 words in the poem, but it worked so I don't mind!

Score 2/5 (good beg., mid., end structure, but the climax wasn't exciting. I liked the poem)


*Thought* Dialogue *Thought2*


There is rather little dialogue in this piece. This isn't a problem. I probably use too much dialogue, but that's just a personal preference.

Dialogue can help make confusing scenes clearer and to speed things along if needed. I felt that a bit more dialogue with clearer tags in the end sequence would have cleared up exactly who was saying what. I know the stranger didn't give a name, but if he had it would have made the dialogue easier to write for him, thus clarifying the end sequence.

Score: 2.5/5 (not much, could be used to clarify the end)


*Tree3* Descriptions and Setting *Tree2*


I enjoyed your descriptions in this piece. The opening paragraphs were filled with great description. Also the final section was well described wit the oak trees and pond. I especially enjoyed the dexcription of the iron bars casting 'deep slashes of shadow' across the room.

I think a bit more character description would help with the end sequence.

Also I think more description about the window and windowsill would help to position the man as he is rescuing Rapunzel.

Score: 2/3 (Good descriptions, but need more for characters)


*Tools* Mechanics *Tools2*


Overall I think the piece is fairly strong on this front. However, there were a few bits I spotted:

She leant her cheek on the cool, stone frame and, once more, looked out across undulations of the green carpet which stretched out in all directions; wandering in distraction from the window to the bed, before collapsing full length on the coverlet.


I'm pretty sure this is a misuse of a semicolon. I'm not 100 % of the rules, but this seemed wrong to me. I recommend looking this up, or asking someone else who has more knowledge than I do! I think 'For long seconds Rapunzel felt the moist warmth of his lips; waiting for the fire of passion to course through her body before they pulled apart' is another case of this.

During the poem there seems to be random use of "quote" marks. I'm not sure what they are there for in the middle of the poem. You should probably check those out.

'Knarled' is spelt 'gnarled'.


I notice that you use double spaces after full-stops. I don't believe that is the convention now. I imagine it is just personal preference.

I wasn't a fan of the fount and colour choice of the piece. Comic Sans is generally frowned upon in most situations. An interesting bit of trivia for you: Microsoft originally designed the font for applications in children's software such as MS Bob and is based on comic book fonts (hence the name). Obviously font choice is personal preference but comic looks unprofessional especially in bold and purple. For writing Arial, Times, and Verdana are preferable. Courier is popular as each character is the same size. I found it the font was quite difficult to read.


Mechanics: 6.5/10 (good with a few issues)


*Mustachel*Overall*Mustacher*


The piece clearly takes inspiration from fairy-tales, but I don't think it completely captured that kind of feel. Fairy-tales need to be simple start-to-finish, but with (sometimes complex) undertones carrying a message. I don't write fairy-tales, but I understand they are harder to write than one would think. The quote 'Easy reading is damn hard writing' ~ Nathaniel Hawthorne seems appropriate.

The ending is what contributed most to this. I felt the end was tacked on and went along a different route to the rest of the story and didn't quite mesh properly.

However, I can clearly see that you have potential as a writer. Your descriptions are good and that's something I struggle with, so I know how good a skill that is.


Score: 2.5/5 (doesn't quite feel fairy-tale. You have potential.)

Please give feedback on the contest here: "Magic Words Feedback Form (it should take under 5 minutes)

Total Score: 20/38

Write On!

Please be aware that these opinions are simply opinions and you may or may not agree with them. If you have any discrepancies with my review or if you would like to ask me about my comments please do not hesitate to email me and ask.



 
The Magician's Song  [13+]
The world of a normal guy is turned massively upside down by one man in a dressing gown
by Matt Bird MSci Hons AMRSC

"The Coffee Shop for the Fantasy Society


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
17
17
In affiliation with The Coffee Shop for the Fantas...  
Rated: 13+ | (3.5)
Hi Roland Greene

Thanks for entering the " Magic Words Contest ! I'm Matt Bird MSci Hons AMRSC , a judge for the contest. My review is broken down into the categories laid down in the Judging Criteria on the contest home page. My scores for each section are also given. These will be added to A E Willcox's scores which is used to determine the placings in the contest. Phew! With that out of the way, let's get on with the review!


*Man* Characters *Woman*


The protagonist, Nova, is an intriguing character. She has witnessed the atrocities of the government and wants to do something about it. She is bright, and raised by by bright parents. This makes her a strong and compelling character - good job! I wonder, though, given the nature of the story, if it would be even more powerful had something happened directly to her. Her sister was raped, but she didn't witness it. I think the character and her motivations would be stronger if she had witnessed these events first hand.

The other characters aren't built up as much as Nova. That's of course to be expected considering their secondary role, but I felt that the parents especially could have had more depth. They have jobs, so that fits them in with the world, but other than that they don't fit in outside of the story. What I think I'm getting at is I would have liked to see some interactions not directly related to the story. Not necessarily irrelevant interactions, but something to show they have some life off the page.

Despite that, I did enjoy how the parents' jobs played a role in the plan. I thought it was well thought out on this front.

One character goes 'missing' in the story for a while. At one point Nova asks Lamaar to go fetch Ezra. Ezra is said to be wise and hence useful in the discussion. However, Lamaar never actually leaves to go get him, and so Ezra never actually joins the discussion, meaning really his input wasn't needed.

Finally, I think the squirrel and butterfly should be mentioned. I liked these as a plot device, but I did wonder if they were a little too helpful. It is never actually explained how they got their information, or what kind of magic allowed them to communicate. I think a little bit of explanation would have been nice for this.

Score: 3/5 (strong protagonist, but the secondary characters could be fleshed out more)


*Puzzle2* Plot *Puzzle4*


The plot is straightforward to follow. Nova, fed up with the unjust nature of the world she lives in rallies support for her cause and, with the help of a riddle, pull off a plan to overthrow the government.

The crux of the this story is in solving the riddle. This riddle is handed on a plate to the protagonist, so there isn't a conflict in actually acquiring the information, just in solving it. The key to a satisfying plot is that there should be some conflict making it difficult for the protagonist. I do wonder if there is such a conflict in this story. If anything the conflict compels the characters forward and in no way holds them back.

What I'm getting at is they solve the riddle with no set backs. They are a bunch of clever people able to solve a riddle, which, looking back, only requires a knowledge of the world. It seems rather easy for them. There was one point when I thought this set-back would arise. Lamaar is sent to check in on Myra's room. Could this be a guard who's sneaked in? Maybe some other danger. Well, we're never told. We know it isn't anything important as Lamaar is back not long after being asked to go get someone. What was it? I think that is a perfect point to add some conflict.

Then in the final 'battle' everything goes exactly to plan. Call me sadistic, but I really want something terrible to happen to these characters! That's why we read a story: to see characters overcome something more powerful than they are. Sure the government is oppressive, but in the final conflict they are rather passive to being put in cells. Surely they'd question why people they thought were other guards were arresting them?

Now, this really will make me a sadist, but I think someone should die or get injured. This is your story, not mine, so remember this is 100 % just an opinion of one reader and you are more than welcome to discard it. Maybe the potion goes wrong and one of them turns into their normal self and is taken. Even if he is saved, the moment of tension would make the climax more exciting.

Score: 2.5/5 (Straightforward plot, but not much conflict)


*Document* Structure *Documentbl*


The structure of the story is good. We open with the protagonist being given the first part of the clue. We move into them solving the riddle for the middle (as the new series of Catchphrase says, 'will the middle solve the riddle' - hmm... you probably won't get that reference *Wink*). Then the finale of the piece is them changing into different people and solving everything.

I'm in two minds as to whether the ending is a little bit deus ex machina. I'm leaning towards not, but it could be construed as such. See, I'm not sure if the ability to change into other people is properly hinted at before it is used. We have telepathic animals, so we know this world has magic. You do a good job at telling us the mother has skills with herbs and potions. But the first time a changing potion is mentioned is right before it is used.

There is certainly a rise towards the conflict, but this rise isn't particularly steep, mainly due to the climax being easy to attain. Stories (especially around the 5K mark) tend to have try-fail cycles. In really tight prose you can get 3 or 4 (sometimes 5) of these in, but doing so requires sacrifices to be made. For the style you're writing in, I reckon you could fit 1 or 2 (maybe 3 at a squeeze) cycles in. A cycle consists of trying to do something and failing. After you're done with the cycles you naturally have try-success moment which is satisfying for the reader. But the key to that satisfaction is that the characters previously failed. The reader emotionally invests in a strong character who fails, but stands up and tries again. When the success comes the reader cheers alongside the characters. But without the failures first, the reader has nothing to get invested in.

Score 2.5/5 (easy-to-follow, but could do with a try-fail cycle)


*Thought* Dialogue *Thought2*


The dialogue works well in pushing the story forward. Most of the dialogue occurs during the riddle solving section. I enjoyed the back and forth between characters with Nova and her mother acting as leaders. This is done well and is easy to read. Good job.

I did feel that they all sounded quite similar to one another. You characters each have a specialisation, you could say. I think it would be possible to build upon those specialities within their dialogue. For example the mother could use foraging or herb based metaphors and analogies. Where as the father would use leather-smithing stories to put his point across.

Score: 2.75/5 (works well, but could use different styles for different characters)


*Tree3* Descriptions and Setting *Tree2*


There is a great description right at the start. It tells us the story is first person, and sets the mood for the story and gives the setting tone. The well is 'old', the ropes 'dry and worn'. It was 'dried up' and essentially abandoned. The well serves as a description of the society of the world, and I really enjoyed this aspect.

I also liked how you go on to describe its beauty in spring time, only to pull away and say 'it was not spring time'. It worked well to contrast what it can be, with what it is. If I was writing a GCSE English essay on this, I might say The author uses the contrast between the spring-time description and the reality of winter-time to foreshadow that change is coming. Of course that only makes sense after reading the whole story, and I have no idea if it was intentional, but it'd probably get some marks!

There is a trend with many pieces on WdC. There is a brilliant description at the beginning, and then not much else in the way of description. What does the palace look like? for example.

One part of the world building that confused me was the security arrangements for the palace. I struggled to believe that there would be an entrance to such a high security place in a mine that could be accessed with help form the local locksmith. That is one truck-load of trust there!

I also revelled in the slightly vile description of cutting off a wart and using it in the potion. Personally, no matter the stakes I'm not sure I would drink that *Wink*

Score: 1.5/3 (nice descriptions at the start, but fewer as the story progresses)


*Tools* Mechanics *Tools2*


I understand that you were slightly rushed to get this in for the contest, but obviously we can't let that change our judging of the piece - I hope you understand.

That said, the piece is fairly strong in this regard. There are several recurring issues, leading me to think they aren't typos, so I'll go over them here:

After a semicolon you don't use a capital letter: 'it mattered not; It's been months' --> 'it mattered not; it's been months'

Also in the example above there is a tense change. The story is told in the past tense. However, 'it's been months' is in the present tense. It should read 'it had been months since the well dried up and the villagers had sought out...' There are several tense shifts in the piece. I recommend reading through and identifying the other ones yourself.

There were some places with errant "speech marks". I can't actually find them again, but I know they're there! I think a proof-read or two will weed these out.

Nearing the end, you added random word counts. I'm guessing they were so you didn't go over the 5K mark, but you forgot to remove them at the end. They are 3964 and 4797. I thought there was a third, but I might be wrong.



Mechanics: 6/10 (a few tense shifts, and semi-colon issues)


*Mustachel*Overall*Mustacher*


I felt comfortable reading your work, Hanna. Throughout the whole piece I trusted that you knew where you were taking the story, and that meant reading the story was enjoyable. I normally don't like reading stories over 3.5K as they take longer to read and review, especially if the writer isn't confident with their own ability. So, I thank you for writing a read that was easy to follow.

Also, I commend you on tackling a revolution. They are complex stories to write, and although you didn't quite go into all the intricacies, it is still a story that lends itself to longer works.

Overall this was an enjoyable read with bits of voice shining throughout. With a bit more time, you could have polished it up and let your voice come through more.

Score: 3.5/5

Please give feedback on the contest here: "Magic Words Feedback Form (it should take under 5 minutes)

Total Score: 21.75/38

Write On!

Please be aware that these opinions are simply opinions and you may or may not agree with them. If you have any discrepancies with my review or if you would like to ask me about my comments please do not hesitate to email me and ask.



 
The Magician's Song  [13+]
The world of a normal guy is turned massively upside down by one man in a dressing gown
by Matt Bird MSci Hons AMRSC

"The Coffee Shop for the Fantasy Society


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
18
18
Review of Nightingales  
In affiliation with The Coffee Shop for the Fantas...  
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
Hi Hanna

I'm Matt Bird MSci Hons AMRSC and am reviewing your story as part of the judging process for " Magic Words Contest . I will be using the judging criteria outlined on the contest homepage.


*Man* Characters *Woman*


Jamma is an interesting character. She has latent powers that only come into being once her grandmother dies and she journeys to a magical world of peoples who look after the world and keep watch over it. I liked her character, and thought she was well developed.


Jaida is Jamma's grandmother. It is an unfortunate name choice. Both Jaida and Jamma start with 'Ja' and end with 'a', which makes it easy to get the two names mixed up on paper. I read a 'rule' once that you should avoid giving main characters names that start with the same letter. Jaida was once a Devine, and passes on a box to help Jamma on her journey to become a Devine, too.

It seemed odd that Jaida could talk to animals and trees, and see the future, yet Jamma says in the previous paragraph that 'none of her family members or close friends had ever experiences unnatural phenomena'. Call me hyper-ordinary, but doesn't talking to trees and seeing the future count as 'unnatural phenomena'?


Justin also begins with 'J'. Now, I am aware this might be part of the culture you are trying to build, but giving three leading characters J names seems to be asking for trouble! Justin acts as a sort of guide to Jamma. His character is well described and developed.

Score: 4/5 (Well developed, but talking to trees is unnatural in my opinion)


*Puzzle2* Plot *Puzzle4*


The plot, in a nutshell, is Jamma using the wooden box to find her way to a new place to continue where her grandmother left off (though she doesn't know it). It is an intrguing premise, and on the whole well delivered.

Honestly, I found it a little lacking in conflict. As with everything in this review, this is my opinion. The conflict is that Jamma doesn't know what's happening or what she needs to do. The plot therefore revolves around her getting answers. But these answers are too easy. Jamma practically says so herself with 'her heart had nothing to do with it. The box did it all on her own.' Although Jamma's character is well developed, she doesn't play an active role in the plot. All these guardians and guides move her until she is where she needs to be. The plot moves Jamma. It would be (in my opinion) more engaging if Jamma moved the plot.

For example, when she has to reach the door in the tree, the box eventually just turns into a ladder for her. What if she had to work out that she needed a ladder. She could ask the box (not expecting a response) and the box reacts. At the moment the box does something and Jamma reacts. I feel t would work better the other way around (Jamma does something, and causes the box to react to her).

Score: 3.5/5 (Good premise, but Jamma is too passive within it)


*Document* Structure *Documentbl*


There is a definite beginning, middle, and end, which serves the story well. Does the story rise to a climax (from the judging guidelines)? Yes, it does. The climax is a realisation of what she (and Justin) now are and what her new life will be.

I thought the rise to the climax was a little slow. I think this connects to the points I was making in the plot section. Everything just happens and Jamma follows. I felt there could have been more action. More excitement. I am fully aware that this story is not a thriller, nor should it be, but something dramatic could happen. There was one place I anticipated dramatic action, but it never came. When she is crossing the river she has a solid path to walk across. Then, once she's across the river, it vanishes. Could something dramatic happen there? Perhaps the path vanishes as she walks, meaning there is no going back. Or maybe it keeps changing and she almost falls into the river.

Score 4/5 (Good, but a tad slow)


*Thought* Dialogue *Thought2*


I really enjoyed the dialogue when Jamma speaks to the river. It is convincing and dreamy. She tries to assert her authority (You were going uphill). Her desperation shows when she says she is 'dire need to' speak to the nightingale. This is a very good example of a place where Jamma does something and causes something to happen. She speaks and the river reacts. This is good.

However, I felt the dialogue between Jamma and Justin was a little too formal.

"I wasn't aware I was late for anything. And I don't recall having an appointment with you. Do I know you?"

It is all very stilted. I feel forming it as a question might sound more natural: "I'm not late for anything ... am I? I don't think I have an appointment with you. Should I know you?"

Wearing her bravest face she said to him, "Might I enquire who you are and what business you have with me?"

"Calm down Jamma. We have a mutual interest that started when Lifesaver Jaida was called back to her ancestors.

Justin tells Jamma to 'calm down'. I didn't get the sense from her dialogue that she wasn't calm. I wouldn't expect her to be calm, but her dialogue gives the impression of a very level-headed person evaluating her situation. Perhaps more anxiety in her words would add vulnerability and tension.

Score: 3.5/5 (Some good lines, but others are a bit formal)


*Tree3* Descriptions and Setting *Tree2*


The descriptions in this piece are superb! Each one hits the mark perfectly, and powerfully draws the reader into the story. I could vividly see the river flowing up and down, up and down. The beautiful wooden box with the nightingales. The tree and the door. The Eternity Land's rivers and hills.

I would quote my favourite, but they are all so wonderful I'll quote this:

[See item]

*Bigsmile* The descriptions in this piece, truly are the highlight of the story. You have a way with words that makes everything seem so magical!

Score: 3/3 (Stunning!)


*Tools* Mechanics *Tools2*


There are several small, but recurring, errors in this piece.

"Calm down Jamma. We have a mutual interest that started when Lifesaver Jaida was called back to her ancestors.

There are a number of times when dialogue isn't closed.

As soon as Jamma set foot on the other bank, the sound of running water had startled her and she nearly lost her footing. The river was back, in all its glory, running downhill.{/quote
A lot of the time 'had' is used unnecessarily. This would be more active without had, as in: 'the sound of running water startled her and she nearly...'

"You don't need to look far," she heard the voice in her head. "I'm right in front of you!"

Here, 'she heard the voice in her head' is not acting as a dialogue tag. It is a description. So you should end the dialogue line with a full stop and capitalise she. Or change it to '...look far," she heard the voice in her head say.'

Mechanics: 8/10 (a few minor mistakes)


*Mustachel*Overall*Mustacher*


This is a pleasant read, though slow in places. There is a unique voice in the piece and this shines through in the descriptions. There are two themes I can see in this piece. The primary theme is told through Jamma's journey. That is to continue forward no matter how out of the ordinary the situation. Follow your curiosity. This is a good theme. The second is shown through the destination and the Devine people. We need to look after our world and look over it. This is a nice environmental message.

Score: 4/5 (Good theme)

Total Score: 30/38

Please remember this review consists of just my opinion. You are free to take what you want and discard the rest. You are of course welcome to email me if you have any queries about my review.

Write On!



 
The Magician's Song  [13+]
The world of a normal guy is turned massively upside down by one man in a dressing gown
by Matt Bird MSci Hons AMRSC

"The Coffee Shop for the Fantasy Society



*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
19
19
Review of The Comedian  
In affiliation with The Coffee Shop for the Fantas...  
Rated: 18+ | (4.0)
Hi cqa1

I'm Matt Bird MSci Hons AMRSC and am judging your entry to " Magic Words Contest . I will be using the judging criteria outlined on the contest homepage.


*Man* Characters *Woman*


Dakos is an an easy character to like. His opinions and attitudes in life are ideal and strong. He is against racism, and has the courage and ability to give retorts to those who are racist. He starts the story slightly under-confident, but grows more confident throughout the story. He is a comedian with a good understanding of his crowd and jokes. Dakos is a Novantae, a race discriminated against by many of the races in the Capital Lands. He uses this to his advantage throughout the story.


Isadora Merikalos is a Novantae, like Dakos, but has worked her way up in the amphitheatre's ranks. How has she managed to do this with all the discrimination supposedly surrounding her race? For a race that is so discriminated against, both Dakos and Isadora have done remarkably well getting to a position where they can entertain and manage people, respectively.


Tony is the face of discrimination in the story. Although some of the crowd is prejudice, Tony is the character we see described and witness him personally acting upon the prejudices. He calls Dakos 'Novantae scum' and suggests he should 'know your place'. These are are taken straight from the real world, which on the one hand lends power to the words, but also makes it a little too obvious that this is a statement piece.


I'll handle the crowd as one character. It seems to consist mainly of Novantae, which brings me back to my earlier point; for a discriminated race they seem to have it quite easy. They easily outnumber and outvoice those that discriminate against Dakos whilst he's on stage. I think your message may be stronger if the Novantae are fewer in number in the crowd and are outnumbered, but still manage to out-voice the prejudice crowd.

Score: 4/5 (Good characters, but the Novantae don't seem that hard-done by)


*Puzzle2* Plot *Puzzle4*


There isn't really a strong over-riding plot. The conflict is obviously Dakos overcoming the stereotyping and presenting a good comedy set. This aspect of the plot is done pretty well. However, I'm left wanting more. Something more should happen whilst he's performing. Perhaps Tony's words really puts him off and his comedy starts off without getting much of a reaction. Maybe one of his jokes is inappropriate meaning he has to win back the crowd.

The secondary plot is Dakos wanting to get with Isadora. This is an engaging plot-line and I wish there was more of this plot in the story. Sadly, Dakos doesn't get with Isadora at the end, because she already has a girlfriend. Dakos would be, understandably, upset by this, but that doesn't really show at the end when he says, "Oh, okay. Well, I'll run into you some time or another." It doesn't seem like he was particually fussed either way. I think the problem is you are trying to make Dakos seem respectful to everyone, and didn't want it to seem like he was upset that Isadora was a lesbian. You can have Dakos upset that he can't be with Isadora, and still be respectful. I understand what you are trying to do here, but sometimes the theme took precedent over the plot.

Score: 3.5/5 (There isn't much plot, but what is there is pretty good)


*Document* Structure *Documentbl*


The structure of this story is intriguing. It is written in 1st person, but as Dakos looking back on how he entered the comedy scene. This is a risky POV to take on as you run the risk of making the reader feel too distant from the action. However, I think the risk paid off as I really enjoyed this use of first person. It took a little bit of getting used to, but overall I think this worked. Good job!

The story opens with Dakos preparing for his performance, moves onto a few acts cancelling meaning Dakos must be on longer, then Isadora enters. She then talks to Dakos, who then performs, and gives comebacks to the discriminative crowd members. Finally we end with Dakos not being able to get Isadora. There is a clear beginning, middle, and end.

The climax isn't particularly big. There are actually two climaxes in this piece. The first and most enjoyable is the one when Dakos wins the crowd over with his 'your mom' joke. The second is slightly anti-climactic as Dakos doesn't get what he wants, but isn't impacted by it either. You mention he feels like a kick-in-the-balls when he is turned down, but the climax would be so much better if something else happened. Was anyone else around? If so how did they react and how did Dakos react to them?

Score 3.75/5 (intriguing structure)


*Thought* Dialogue *Thought2*


I really enjoyed the dialogue in this piece. Each character was easy to differentiate through their dialogue.

My favourite dialogue lines were those said during the stand-up routine. They were all in-world jokes, but some also work in real life:

"I thought I was going to be late to this, my mule was being an ass along the Trade Road."

I laughed out loud at that one.

Sadly, my favourite line is not appropiate for me to put in a public review, but needless to say I had to stop reading for at least a minute whilst I laughed at it!

Score: 5/5 (great jokes!)


*Tree3* Descriptions and Setting *Tree2*


The description in this piece generally worked well. At the start, there is the description of the actors in the amphitheatre. Here, I thought there were too many names listed. The reader doesn't need to know the names of the everyone in the room. It would suffice to simply give an idea of numbers.

I loved the description of Tony. It added to his character and gave a sense of the place.

The world this piece is set in is well realised. There is the discrimination, different races, and a value in entertainment.

Score: 2/3 (Well done)


*Tools* Mechanics *Tools2*


Solid mechanics. Just a few little thing:

trying to read my parchment of in the dim lighting

There are some words missing here. Parchment of what?

where ever the hell

Where ever is one word; wherever.

as if fate wanted toarouse{/quote
There is a space missing between to and arouse.

From the northern tribes of the Novantae-"


The - should be an em dash, —, or --. The crowd cheering interrupts him.

"Go back North you...

Either 'Go back to the North' or 'Go back up North'

Mechanics: 8.5/10 (Strong, just a few little things)


*Mustachel*Overall*Mustacher*


I enjoyed this story. The comedy was great!

There is a very strong theme in this story, that of discrimination and standing up for yourself. Sometimes this theme was delivered with a heavy hand, but in general is well delivered.

Score: 4/5 (strong theme)

Total Score: 30.75/38

Please remember this review consists of just my opinion. You are free to take what you want and discard the rest. You are of course welcome to email me if you have any queries about my review.

Write On!



 
The Magician's Song  [13+]
The world of a normal guy is turned massively upside down by one man in a dressing gown
by Matt Bird MSci Hons AMRSC

"The Coffee Shop for the Fantasy Society



*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
20
20
Review of In his eyes  
In affiliation with The Coffee Shop for the Fantas...  
Rated: 18+ | (4.0)
Hi Roxy Emilia Means




*Man* Characters *Woman*


The characters in this piece don't have any names as far as I can tell so I will refer to them as he/him and she/her.


Initially she seems a temperamental character, quick to anger. I thought to myself after the second paragraph, 'sheesh! She really needs to take a deep breath!'. Of course now I have finished the piece I see now that is exactly what you wanted me to think. I won't spoil the end for anybody reading this review, but it does all make sense at the end.

I couldn't really vision her in my mind. I know her age and profession, but not what she looks like. What colour is her hair, how tall is she? At the end I could do with some more descriptions of the result of her transformation. That said, I absolutely loved the transformation scene. Her running, her emotions, then bang! the transformation. I imagined a dramatic soundtrack in the background to that scene. Big echoing drums bashing in the back, with exciting strings building up to the moment of transformation, at which point the drums stop, and the music calms. If it was a film, a camera would sweep around the transformed character.


He is her 'knight', but initially seems like a bit of a pervert. Again it comes together at the end. However, I felt his character lacked motivation. Why was he helping her? What was his interest? He says 'I will let no one harm you', but why is offering her this support? I thought your description of him was good and I could vision him in my mind.


Score: 4/5 (Good characters, but what does she look like, and what's his motivation)


*Puzzle2* Plot *Puzzle4*


This is a short piece, and as such carries a simple, but effective plot. The conflict is clearly laid out at the start of the piece. He has been in her house and she is not happy about it. As a reader, I want to read on to find out why she is so angry about this, and am given the answer a few paragraphs later. Then a new conflict arises, where is this man and what does he want with her?

I might have liked a bit more plot at the end. Perhaps a hint of what is to come for her. This would leave me thinking about the story after reading it, which is always a plus.

Score: 4.5/5 (Simple and effective plot)


*Document* Structure *Documentbl*


The structure of the story is clear. We open with her finding the letter, move on to her trying to find him, and end with the transformation. The transitions between these sections is smooth and pulls the reader along at each stage.

The story builds to a dramatic climax with the transformation.

Score 5/5 (Well structured, with smooth transitions)


*Thought* Dialogue *Thought2*


In the whole the dialogue is pretty decent. I enjoyed the conversation in the flashback to when she met him for the first time. It read natural and convincing.

I wasn't so keen on the dialogue at the end when he is explaining everything to her. It felt a bit too info-dumpy. An info-dump is where you simply tell the reader a load of information in one go with out being compelling or interesting in the presentation of the information. Perhaps the story could be a 100 or 200 words longer, and have this scene extended. He could explain to her different things, whilst she is in hysterics. Let's be honest, if you found out what she does, you'd be hysterical. I don't think this comes across in the dialogue at the end.

Score: 4/5 (Mainly natural, but a bit too much info-dumping at the end)


*Tree3* Descriptions and Setting *Tree2*


There is very little description of setting in this piece. I don't have an image of whre this is set in my head. I have a generic apartment, and a generic street. Too much generic stuff. Is there something unusual, or unique to the location? Perhaps there is a faux-fireplace in her apartment, though she's always yearned for a real one (a bit of foreshadowing). What about when she's running? Perhaps the street lights blur past her. Just little details to take this generic setting and make it real for the reader. Saying that, I'll be the first to admit that description is not a strong suit of mine!

Score: 1.5/3 (too generic)


*Tools* Mechanics *Tools2*


On the whole the mechanics of this piece are solid. I didn't spot any thing that breaks any rules.

However, I wasn't keen on the use of brackets. For example 'She could key his car (if he had one)'. The brackets detract from the sentence, which I might have written as 'If he had a car, she would find it and key it'. That's just off the top of my head, I'm sure you could come up with something better.

Again, later on, 'Three (and this one was a doozy), tiny...' The use of the word doozy felt completely out of place in the story, and the whole comment seemed unnecessary. I think the sentence is stronger without the parenthetic comment.

Mechanics: 8.5/10 (solid, but unnecessary use of brackets)


*Mustachel*Overall*Mustacher*


I enjoyed reading this story. It had me guessing throughout, and didn't disappoint with its climax. There isn't much thematic work in the piece, but it was enjoyable nonetheless.

Score: 4.5/5 (Enjoyable piece)

Total Score: 32/38

Please remember this review consists of just my opinion. You are free to take what you want and discard the rest. You are of course welcome to email me if you have any queries about my review.

Write On!



 
The Magician's Song  [13+]
The world of a normal guy is turned massively upside down by one man in a dressing gown
by Matt Bird MSci Hons AMRSC

"The Coffee Shop for the Fantasy Society



*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
21
21
Review of A Stony Heart  
In affiliation with The Coffee Shop for the Fantas...  
Rated: E | (4.5)
Hi iamthenez

This is Matt Bird MSci Hons AMRSC judging your entry to the " Magic Words Contest . I am using the judging criteria outlined on the contest page.


*Man* Characters *Woman*


I love Ezekiel. He is such a unique character - a stone and bronze gargoyle watching over a rural landscape for signs of change, designed to be so hideous that he would repel spirits. Of course this terrifying image does make him an unlikely candidate for a love story!

You let the reader into the gargoyle's mind in such a way that we learn a lot about him is such a short story. He watches and watches until, one day, a beautiful woman changes his life. There is a stunning description of this woman, that is so deep with emotion and story I have to share it here:
Her face betrayed a shadow of melancholy and her demeanour bore an almost palpable sense of sadness

The word choice there is simply brilliant. 'Betrayed', 'shadow', 'melancholy', 'demeanour', 'palpable'. There are all fantastic in this sentence. That one line gives me almost all I need to know about this woman.

There is a certain sadness to Ezekiel's character: 'His legs were not made for leaping or his arms not made for holding'. I think this line along with others really shows depth to the gargoyle's character. At many points during the story I felt really sorry for him. He desperately wants to get to this woman. To hold her. To be with her. To love her. But, alas, he cannot.

Both Ezekiel and the beautiful woman have character arcs. Ezekiel starts off as a watcher, then changes into a gargoyle yearning for love. He becomes almost depressed at his inability to reach out to her, then finally he does in some kind of magical way. His arc ends with him happy.

The woman's arc (well it's more of a graded line) is very subtle and linked inextricably to Ezekiel's. She begins melancholy and sad, and ends slightly happier and in a sort of unspoken relationship with the gargoyle.

Score: 5/5 (Brilliant characters)


*Puzzle2* Plot *Puzzle4*


The plot is simple. And so it should be, the piece is only 1.4K, and wouldn't handle anything more complex. As with the characters, the plot is actually rather sad. This is the kind of romance fiction I enjoy; it isn't a boy-meets-girl cliché, but a subtle gargoyle-yearns-for-girl plot. There isn't much for me to say in this section. I enjoyed the plot. The conflict is entirely character based. Ezekiel can't show his love for this beau that has changed his life.

I find this conflict more than sufficient to carry a short story. The whole point of this story, in my opinion, is to show that the gargoyle has emotions it cannot show. I find this wholly compelling and is the key driving force behind this tale.

Score: 5/5 (Lovely and simple)


*Document* Structure *Documentbl*


The piece is well structured. Your first sentence gives us the protagonist and setting. You open with description, then move smoothly on to character. By the end of the third paragraph you had set everything up and were into the crux of the story. A new character, well described, then a kind of internal monologue. The structure is really good and the story reads well.

The words flow well with the story. The only reason I notice them is because you had to make them stand out for the contest.

The piece is all headed for the climax where the gargoyle finally reaches out and interacts, albeit in a mysterious way. I will admit to being a little confused at how the ring got there. I know it's supposed to be some kind of magic, but there was no indication that the gargoyle could do magic before this. I imagine the emotional storm is supposed to be when this magic happens. If you use something to resolve a conflict like you have in this case, you need to set it up before hand, otherwise it risks being a deus ex machina. Perhaps if you had shown a bit of gargoyle magic, or subtly hinted at it, I would have been less confused by the ending.

Score 4.5/5 (Smooth piece)


*Thought* Dialogue *Thought2*


This is a tough section to judge. This piece has no dialogue. But it works really well. Much of the narrative is Ezekiel's internal voice, and you do a good job at showing this. I don't really have anything to say for this section.

I wonder if maybe the beautiful woman could speak. Then he could comment on her voice.

Score: 4.5/5 (No dialogue needed)


*Tree3* Descriptions and Setting *Tree2*


The description in this piece is lovely. I can visualise Ezekiel and the beautiful woman vividly in my mind.

I have already quoted some of your great description, so I need not repeat them again. Needless to say I felt like I was there with your gargoyle looking upon this beau. The descriptions of place were well done, with rural England sufficiently described to bring it to life, but not overdone so as to drown out the story.

Score: 3/3 (Good description)


*Tools* Mechanics *Tools2*


There are several places where the mechanics let the overall piece down:

As the years slipped by – as only they can for a gargoyle, whose sense of time is more distorted than our own – Ezekiel made note of events of consequence - though they were few in this small town in rural England - and watched for signs of a change he was sure would never come, for he was sure the old ways were long dead.

This paragraph is actually just one sentence. The first bit separated seems to remove the reader from the limited POV within the gargoyle. The piece is primarily written in close limited 3rd, with the reader granted access to the gargoyle's thoughts. However when you say 'our own' you make the piece 1st person, from your POV. I would suggest:

The years slipped by, as they always do for gargoyles - their sense of time more distorted than that of humans – Ezekiel made note of events of consequence, though they were few in this small town in rural England, and watched for signs of a change he was sure would never come. The old ways were long dead, he was sure of it.

I know it is not perfect, but I hope you can see what I am trying to do with it.


Is that what this was that struck him so suddenly out of nowhere?

I stumbled through this sentence. I think removing the 'this was that' would make the sentence clearer.


I didn't notice many mistakes in the main of the story, but that could be how engrossing the character and plot were!


But, almost at the end, there is a massive POV slip. The whole piece is limited to the gargoyle's thoughts and senses, but then, without notice, the POV shifts to the beautiful woman's. From 'Still puzzled' onwards, the POV has changed (though sometimes it flicks back to Ezekiels for a sentence or two). I think the ending would be so much more powerful if you stuck in Ezekiel's POV. How does he know she is puzzled? Is it an expression on her face? Perhaps something she mutters under her breath. It is a shame this POV mistake is there, as it jarred me as a reader right at the end of an otherwise great piece.

Mechanics: 7.5/10 (POV issues at the end, but otherwise pretty good)


*Mustachel*Overall*Mustacher*


This piece certainly has a unique voice. I felt like I knew the gargoyle's character by the end. There is a wonderful theme of unreachable love running throughout he whole piece. I read the piece almost without stumbling, but with the POV issue at the end, I was pulled out of the story.

Score: 4.5/5


I thoroughly enjoyed reading and judging this piece! Great read.

Total Score: 34/38

Write On!



 
The Magician's Song  [13+]
The world of a normal guy is turned massively upside down by one man in a dressing gown
by Matt Bird MSci Hons AMRSC

"The Coffee Shop for the Fantasy Society



*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
22
22
In affiliation with The Coffee Shop for the Fantas...  
Rated: 18+ | (3.0)
Hi cqa1

Thank you for entering the Great Hall of Contest by "The Coffee Shop for the Fantasy Society. Congratulations on placing 2nd. I enjoyed reading your entry; below are my comments on your piece. The review is based off my thoughts when I read it to judge the contest. I see that you have edited the piece since, so I will try to make sure my comments are still relevant.


*Man*Character*Woman*


There are a lot of characters in this piece (as expected, given the prompt). However, many of these characters are background characters, so don't need much development.

The protagonist of the story is Dax Sealbrahn-Provdy (I'll call him that as he seems to have two surnames!), a Gray Wizard. Dax's character is well established and built. Being Gray he is looked down upon by members of the Blue order, but in general he doesn't let that bother him. He is a good man, who has everyone's best interests at heart. This is shown repeatedly throughout the story with him talking to pretty much everyone, listening to what they have to say and always seeming to say the right thing.

Dax has history with another major character, Sir Winston. They both fought in a war protecting the Towerlands (part of the Blue order) from Khazard alongside the Gnome King. The relationship between Dax and Winston is pleasant and enjoyable to read.

Dax's character is strong throughout the majority of the story, but it breaks down at the end. We are led to believe that Dax is a truthful and honest man, but without any warning we are shown that he is actually ever-so-slightly dishonest. When he is making his promise to Robert, we are first told that 'If either of us lies about it, our hands will get warm' and then shown Dax feeling a 'slight burning sensation in the back of his hand'. Does this mean Dax doesn't intend to uphold his promise? Has he got a secret motivation behind what he is doing? I have a feeling this isn't what you intended, but I can't work out what to think about the burning sensation. Actually I've just thought of something. Is it to do with his name? He calls himself Provdy, but is actually Sealbrahn? If so, you might want to explain why he does that.

At the end you show off Dax's physical skills (though sadly not his magical abilities) in a fight that is over pretty quickly. His skill set is implied throughout, and it was no surprise that Dax won.


High Priest Brayden is a very unpleasant character. You have done an excellent job making him despicable with everything he says. He's racist (Blue supremacy), obnoxious, ungrateful, and all together not nice. However I do kind of sympathize with him. If Sir Winston had invited him on the premise that he would become Robert's tutor, only for that not to be the case, you can see why he's annoyed. I know he had it coming, but I get where his anger is coming from at the end.


Sir Winston is an unusual character. On the face of it, he's a good man, who cares for people and animals alike. But then he does some things which can only be describe as 'dick moves'. First of all Winston invites members of the Blue order and the Gray order, knowing they don't get on well. Not only that but he invites the Blue order and promises to let them tutor his son, but stab them in the back and gives it to the Grays (kind of understandable). But what makes Winston's change of hear worse, is that he literally shouts out to the entire party that Dax will tutor Robert. It would probably have worked out better for all involved if they had done the ceremony in private, and Winston had taken Brayden to the side to explain. Brayden would still be angry, but probably wouldn't have had the chance to start a fight. When Brayden does start a fight with Winston, Winston acts like a coward (much like Brayden does) and makes Dax fight for him. Winston makes the man who will tutor his son fight simply because his suit is too expensive. This all adds up to give me mixed messages about Winston. On the one hand he is kind, but on the other he leads people on, goads the people he betrayed, and makes others fight his fights.


Robert is a good character. We don't get to see much of him, considering this is his birthday party, but I think that adds to his character. He seems a little shy, and doesn't much like all the guests there to 'lick his father's shoes.' He gets on well with Dax and enjoys drawing. This is a great detail to his character and acts as a way to get the conversation going. He is intelligent and shows this by dismissing each of the orders Dax suggests in a concise, non-judgemental manner. I like his comment about the Green order. He is careful to add 'That's the only thing I have against the Greens.'. This shows he has considered these before. Robert is my favourite character of all of them as I can relate to him the most.


*Puzzle2*Plot and Structure*Puzzle4*


There is a very clear structure in this piece. It opens with the party scene, moves to the scene with Dax and Robert, and closes with the fight. You have paced the piece well, and I think the structure is one of the best things about this piece.


However, despite the strong structure, the plot is lacking, in my opinion. I don't mean to sound harsh with that comment, and it only my opinion. There isn't a true conflict. You set up Dax and Winston and friends, and Brayden as an enemy, but the conflict between them is superficial.

There is no point in the story where I thought Dax might not achieve his goal. There are 2 reasons for that. First of all Dax doesn't have a goal. He is not aiming to achieve anything. The story could have ended anywhere and Dax wouldn't have lost or gained anything. He arrives at the party not expecting to become a tutor. Then he becomes a tutor. Then he fights. I, as a reader, had no reason to invest in Dax's character because there was nothing to invest in. Again, I'm aware this may sound harsh, but I know you're a good writer and will be able to take these comments on board (or ignore them if you disagree, which is equally fine).

Second, Dax is never in a vulnerable position. He is always the strongest character. His motives are always pure (apart from when his hands burn). During the fight he is never in a position where he may lose. Throughout the entire fight he is in the winning position.

As the contest is over, you are in a position to edit and improve the piece. in my opinion, if you were to make a single change (aside from technical fixes), it would be in this area. Make Dax's opponent stronger, extend the fight sequence, and put Dax in the losing position for three quarters of it. Perhaps, to make the fight seem less 'why are they fighting', make it against Brayden, and have Brayden want to fight Dax (currently the fight is on Winston's behalf). That way you have the protagonist fighting the antagonist and not just a new character who comes at the end.

Also with regards to the fight scene, and this is not a criticism just a question, why are they fighting with fists? Dax is a wizard yes? Currently there is no reason to have wizards in this story as there is no magic! If you make the fight a mixture of physical and magical it would have an added wow-factor.

I will say this again, I do not wish to come across harsh. Everything I say is merely my opinion. I am not a better writer, or more skilled, or anything like that. I am simply a writer, just like you, who has an opinion. Disregard everything if you wish, or take it on board. This is your story, and you know what's best for it more than I do!



*Tree3*Setting*Tree2*


The setting in this story is fantastic! I can vividly see the entire scene. The colours of the various guests, the richness of the mansion, the bustling noise of a busy party, it is all fantastic. I especially love the menagerie. It adds to Winston's character, and provides an excellent back drop for the conversational scenes.

The world-building you've done for this short story is also impressive. There's backstory, age-old conflicts, religions, non-religions, schools of thought, Orders, conflict between orders, wars, etc... Everything you would expect in a novel's world, you've done on a smaller scale for this short story.

There is nothing amiss with your world building and setting as far as I can see and this is defintely the strongest aspect of this story. Out of interest, though, why would anybody not want to be part of the Gray Order? It sounds so fun!

My favourite section was:
She led him through several parlors and past many enthusiastic guests to the menagerie, filled with cages that replicated the animal's environment. In several cages full of gryphons, the cage was decorated with real grass and shaped to resemble the hills of their native habitat. They were segregated by color, the golden gryphons were all in cages to the right while the gray ones were in cages on the left side of the room. The smell was tolerable due to servants constantly hanging perfumed flowers from the ceiling and cleaning up after the animals. Viessa led him through a door at the end of the room he hadn't noticed before, and showed him several hallways filled with animals.

I felt like I was there!



*Tools*Technical*Tools2*


Technically this piece is readable, and on the most part I can understand what you're trying to put across, but there are several areas with room for improvement. I'm not the best at technical stuff myself, so this may not cover everything.

Dialogue
In general for dialogue we follow the 'new speaker, new line' rule. This means whenever a different character starts speaking, you put their dialogue on a line separate to the previous speaker. For example:
The look on the High Priest's face was a mix between embarrassment and pure hatred. With a sigh he said "I have friends to attend to, I take my leave." and turned around and left along with the acolyte and apprentice. Dax turned to his old friend, saying "Who knew my career choice would cause me so much trouble?" he chuckled. "Brayden has his head up his ass, like most of the Blue Order. I only invited him because the Mrs. wants our children to study under him." Winston replied, "But after that I doubt that will be possible."


In this single paragraph both Brayden, Dax, and Winston all speak. Notice how after 'he chuckled', it seems as if Dax is still speaking, even though it is Winston? That's a problem with not following the rule. If you were to re-write it, it would look like this:
The look on the High Priest's face was a mix between embarrassment and pure hatred. With a sigh he said, "I have friends to attend to, I take my leave." He turned around and left along with the acolyte and apprentice.
Dax turned to his old friend., saying "Who knew my career choice would cause me so much trouble?" He chuckled.
"Brayden has his head up his ass," Winston replied, "like most of the Blue Order. I only invited him because the Mrs. wants our children to study under him. But after that, I doubt that will be possible."


I'm sure if you re-read your work, you can spot other occurrences of this.

Spacing
I am aware this is likely an artefact of copy/pasting from Word or some other program into the WDC editor. There is inconsistent spacing throughout the whole piece. For example at the start of the piece each new paragraph is indented and there is no line-spacing. Then after '"But after that I doubt that will be possible."' it changes to no indentation, and line-spaces. A couple of times there is neither an indent nor a line space (for example 2 paragraphs before last).

Like I said, probably just a copying error. This didn't impact my understanding in anyway, just thought you should know.


*Mustachel*Other Comments*Mustacher*


Just before the fight scene Dax can't remember if the Silver Angels are supposed to be an elite force. Then, during the fight he goes over an extensive list of things he knows about the Angels. I struggle to believe that Dax can recall their training patterns, initiation methods, fight style, preferred sub-style of that fight style, but not recall a basic piece of information like whether they're any good.


Overall I enjoyed reading the story, but felt it was let down in several key areas. Increasing the clarity of Winston's character, and some scenes (all discussed above) would help dramatically improve the story for me. The piece excels in setting and world-building, and you are clearly very talented in those areas.


Write On!



 
The Magician's Song  [13+]
The world of a normal guy is turned massively upside down by one man in a dressing gown
by Matt Bird MSci Hons AMRSC

"The Coffee Shop for the Fantasy Society



*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
23
23
In affiliation with The Coffee Shop for the Fantas...  
Rated: E | (3.5)
Hi, brom21

It has been too long since I have reviewed anything, especially anything of yours! I intend to get a lot of reviewing done before I start at University later this month.

This is an interesting piece. It has a defined structure with the beginning, middle, and end easy to identify.

The story starts off in the cathedral of Nod, in the realm of Iphiria. The protagonist is Malachi (shares a name with a Jewish prophet from the Hebrew bible) and he is a Nepheseer (or at least I think he is, it isn't completely clear). All this information is contained in the opening sentence. Although some readers may think it too much information, I thought it was a suitable amount. Especially in short fiction, it is difficult to get across elements of a new fantasy world. Getting the protagonist's name in as the first word is a great way to ground the reader. All the extra information contained in the sentence gives location and context to the story. In other words, your opening sentence is a heavy lifter!

The first paragraph of dialogue works well to foreshadow the story. The telling of the past, informs the reader that it is likely to repeat itself (otherwise, why would you as the writer put it there?). The whole plot is essentially defined here: There is a Great Book that the previous civilization refused to learn from and so fell to evil and such; the current civilization follows the book and is peaceful. It is obvious that something is going to threaten the peace. The question the reader is asking at this point is 'What is going to do that?'

I loved the image of Nepheseers (not that we know what they look like) riding unicorns, griffins, and phoenixes. So many fantasy creatures in one sentence ... my head almost exploded with joy!

I enjoyed the start of the exchange of dialogue between the Khrine and Malachi. It was fast paced, and moved the story along. Well done here.


Sadly, after that point the story loses its way a bit. When Khrine started explaining in depth about where he got his magic, the story started to become difficult to believe in. The story is set fifteen-thousand years after they left Earth. How is it that this book about evil's roots (I assume you are referring to a bible-like book) is a) still in tact, and b) still readable? Our own language has changed greatly in, say, a thousand years. Would Hebrew still be readable fifteen-thousand years later?

Having said that, the paragraph after Khrine's speech is exciting. Malachi tries to expel Khrine, but it doesn't work. There is a mysterious power/force stopping Khrine being expelled by what should have expelled him (sorry, that may be the worst sentence I've ever written *Wink*) I could easily see the blue light, and the beam of light. I felt Malachi's frustration when it didn't work. This was a well written paragraph.

The main issue, in my opinion, if the rest of the story, is there is not enough conflict. All stories need a conflict to engage the reader and to make reading the story worthwhile to the reader.

There is a moment of suspense where Malachi asks where the great book is, but that suspense is immediately stopped. They have the book. In fact it is literally handed to him. Then the possibility of them being followed is cut off by the portal being sealed. There is zero conflict at this point. Malachi can take as long as he wants to solve the problem. In fact he takes a couple of months! There is evil destroying his world (which I think would be great to show more of), and he is hiding out on Earth for a couple of months whilst he works out how to fix it!

But even in solving the problem there is no conflict. There is nothing difficult about it. The whole solution to the plot is done in two paragraphs. Malachi reads The Great Book, realises it is all a test, and that the solution is to be strong, wise, courageous, and endure the trial.

Then in the end sequence, Malachi lets the other nepheseers know the plan. Then they go, carry out the plan and win.


The good thing, is that you have set up a great premise that can be built up on. Before I carry on, I would like to remind you that I am just one person. You can discard anything you want. It might be that I haven't 'got' your story. If so, take no notice of me!

There needs to be some kind of conflict. This could come from what is known as a try-fail cycle. The protagonists try something out, but it fails. They lose something/someone and have to try something else. That also fails. They try something else, that might fail too. Each failure is bigger than the last. But then, when all hope is lost, they try something else and it works. By making the characters fail a couple of times before succeeding you get the reader to root for them. Conflict is built. Suspense is heightened.

For example, perhaps Malachi misinterprets the book on his first read. Maybe he thinks he needs to go in all guns (or fiery axes) blazing. But this makes things worse. The evil Nepheseers and Khrine defeat them, and they need to retreat back to Earth.
But then something bad has happened there. Maybe the Great Book has been stolen (forgot to seal the portal). They have to go back to Iphria to get it back. They succeed but something bad happens as a result (the succeed but... technique can be used in place of a fail in some cases).
Now they have the tool they need to solve the problem, but they have lost a lot of their people. Moral is low. Now, Malachi finds the solution but has to get them motivated to go back out. Courage is important, but they are scared they will lose more people. Eventually they get motivated to go out and they defeat Khrine because they are made stronger by their bravery.

Obviously those ideas are just examples that I thought of off the top of my head. But in essence, by adding conflict and failure the reader will become emotionally invested in the story.


There are a few grammatical issues with the piece, but I think you could probably catch them in your edits. Also, if you decide to rewrite sections, then the technical/grammatical things are not important. If you would like to see the grammar things, let me know and I'll email them to you.

My favourite line of the whole piece has to be: 'Next, three monstrous Nepheseers armed with flaming axes approached Malachi and his large company.' The line has great imagery with the axes and the next line talks about a wave of fire. Such a strong, brilliant image.

I hope the length of this review doesn't demotivate you. I only put this much time into pieces and authors who i think have potential and are skilled enough to make it work. You have a really great foundation here, and, with a bit of tweaking, could be really great.

Write On!


Please be aware that these opinions are simply opinions and you may or may not agree with them. If you have any discrepancies with my review or if you would like to ask me about my comments please do not hesitate to email me and ask.

Thanks

 
The Magician's Song  [13+]
The world of a normal guy is turned massively upside down by one man in a dressing gown
by Matt Bird MSci Hons AMRSC

"The Coffee Shop for the Fantasy Society


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
24
24
Review of The Vine  
In affiliation with The Coffee Shop for the Fantas...  
Rated: E | (4.0)
Hi, Liz

I believe this is the first review you will have received on writing.com (WDC), so I should point out that not all reviews are laid out like mine. Some people use 'templates', that is a layout where they break the review down into different sections such as character, language, grammar, etc... Others, like me, prefer to write reviews in continuous prose-like form. There is structure, just not split up. Both reviewing styles are fine and have their pros and cons. When you come to review, I'm sure you'll find a style that suits you.


This is certainly an interesting piece. From what I can tell it is actually two things in one: first it is a poetic tale of a puppet that was once alive; but second, on a much deeper level (and as explained by the description) it is a beautiful and disturbing metaphor of a changing life that is leading to the unknown via an uncomfortable path.

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of this review, I would like to congratulate you on creating a piece of poetic prose that is absolutely lovely to read. I've never read anything in this kind of style before and it is refreshing and interesting. You clearly have skill as a writer, and with a bit of polishing this piece could be amazing.

I love the first sentence. It draws the reader straight in to the piece and makes them want to read on. Opening on a strong action beat is always good! The second sentence is good too, though you have used the wrong word at the end of the sentence. 'Fourth' means after 'third'. You needed 'forth' here, as in 'back and forth'.


The sentence 'It used to pump full of life...' reads a little awkwardly, in my opinion. Are you saying the ember used to be full of life, or that the ember pumped her full of life. At the moment it reads like the first, but judging by the context of the sentence, I think you mean the latter. If so, perhaps try:
'It used to pump to rhythm, a vivid beat, filling her life.' or maybe, 'It used to pump her full of life with vivid rhythm and beat.'
Personally I would use either rhythm or beat. Having both together seems unnecessary and makes structuring the sentence more difficult. Perhaps:
I used to pump her full of life, its vivid beat a distant memory.
I added a bit extra so the sentence felt more complete, but that is just personal preference.

I'm not sure about the sentence 'It once was a strong and health root...' I think perhaps you mean 'healthy' (just a typo, I think). But I'm not sure it is very clear. Perhaps it needs to be made into two sentences, or maybe the sections separated by a semi-colon. This is how those would look:
'It was once a strong and healthy root. A wild and youthful vine of Psyche, it grew tall with great, juicy green leaves spurting out around her.'
or
'Once a strong and healthy root; a wild youthful vine of the Psyche that grew tall, its great, juicy leaves surrounding her.'
Again, I reworded a few bits in that last version. Personally I think there are too many adjectives. 'Great, green, juicy leaves' kind of stuck when I was reading it, and it didn't have the same poetic flow as the rest of the piece. Sometimes less is more, especially in poetic prose. Perhaps pruning the adjectives (pardon the pun) will help the flow and give the piece more impact.

The next sentences are really nice. Although they are technically run-on sentences (or whatever the proper name is for sentences which go on past their natural end), I think it works. This piece has a dreamy quality about it, and I think that is what you intended. So I wouldn't change those sentences (starting with 'They protected her...' up to 'They wrapped her...'). I think they give the piece character.

The sentence starting 'Built to be flexible' is nice, but I think it would have more impact by splitting it up.
'Built to be flexible yet strong. So strong. Strong enough to house the wild nature, her vitality. Strong enough to endure the pains of growing and birthing new life of all kinds.
The exact same words as you have used, just with a few fullstops. Think of it like taking a breath when reading it aloud, just slightly longer than a comma would allow.

I'd start a new paragraph before the sentence 'And so the vine shrivelled'. As all of what I have suggested, this is personal preference. The tone changes at this point to be more sad. Previously it was very powerful and strong. It was a crescendo building up to a climax. Then it drops. It is good that is does this, but I think to make it more obvious a new paragraph would be nice.

'All that remains is the bones...' I'm no grammar expert (so I might be wrong), but I think 'is' should be 'are', as in 'All that remains are the bones...' No doubt someone will correct me if I'm wrong.

I love the rest of the piece. Very poetic, yet fits the prose format. Fine job!

A personal preference with regards to 'She wondered; would it...' - I use italics when showing a thought, and also she would be wondering in first person. To make italics on WDC you can use the italics button at the top (the slanted I) or, as I do, just use the writingML tag. To do this put {i} at the start of the phrase, and {/i} at the end. It would look like this:

'She wondered, will it be able to navigate over the new terrain of my life?' Then the rest of it can either be first person (and italics) or third person (as you have it). Of course, you could leave the thought as third person, but I would put the 'she wondered' tag at the end of the thought rather than the start.


To summarise: I think this is a fantastic piece, and I am pleased you have shared it with the world. I would file it under 'Emotion', 'Personal', and possibly 'Experience'. With a bit of polishing this piece would be even more amazing. Don't be put off by the length of this review and the number of points made. This is a genuinely good piece, and I only do detailed reviews for those writers who I think will take on board advice and be skilled enough to improve the writing even further. Great job!

Write On!

Please be aware that these opinions are simply opinions and you may or may not agree with them. If you have any discrepancies with my review or if you would like to ask me about my comments please do not hesitate to email me and ask.

Thanks

 
The Magician's Song  [13+]
The world of a normal guy is turned massively upside down by one man in a dressing gown
by Matt Bird MSci Hons AMRSC

"The Coffee Shop for the Fantasy Society


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
25
25
Review of Crux of Madness  
In affiliation with The Coffee Shop for the Fantas...  
Rated: 13+ | (5.0)
Hi Sir Various

Thanks for entering " Magic Words Contest . You followed the rules fine and used the words correctly.



Stunning. Absolutely brilliant.

I loved this piece. The style, the voice, the plot, the characters were superb.


This style of writing - a thought flow - is one of my favourite short story styles. Despite being past tense you manage to bring an immediacy to it that quite honestly I am envious of. Each Halloween I write a dark piece and they all have a thought flow in them. In mine they form part of the story, but for you the thought flow is the story. It is a very intriguing technique and one that is difficult to pull off. It is all too easy to write about an arrogant, self-centred character, but you did it perfectly.

As writers we all know how important the first sentence is and, quite frankly, yours is the best I have ever read on WDC: 'I didn't have much longer to live, if I was lucky.' If I were being picky I might suggest using an ellipsis rather than a comma but that is purely a stylistic choice that in no way affected the rest of the piece. The sentence instantly builds tension and suspense, makes the reader read on, introduces us to the character, sets the tone for the story, and makes the reader go, "Wow." It is such a blunt sentence that the only thing a reader can do is read the next line. It just so happens the next line a simple, clean description to give us setting.

When the ring first 'speaks' with 'No, Kale-thrall.' tension is built up further. Who is saying No to Kale? Then you follow it up with a another blunt sentence. These sentences really build character. It is clear Kale has lives with this thing for years and has almost come to terms with this life. He still hates it, but in a way he has accepted it as part of him. He recollects his previous attempts of destroying this thing. Often flash-backs, especially this early in a story, are a bad idea. Not in this case. The way you weave it into Kale's thought process makes it seem less of a flash-back and more of a story within a story.

I have already said Kale's character is well developed through the style of sentences, but he is also well executed with what he says. His past is given to the reader in manageable chunks without overloading us.

The plot was excellent. Despite being a thought flow, the piece had structure - a beginning, middle and end. Kale starts out like he's given up. Slowly he tries to fight back, but is set back. Then the surreal scene inside the prison in his head makes him question what he knows about the ring. And then the end (which I won't give away in case people haven't read it yet). Needless to say, it, too, was great.

You may have noticed I'm struggling to find something to criticise, something for you to improve. After all that's what a review is for. I've had a think and the only thing I can think of is this: double check for typos. I found, wait for this, one whole typo in the piece near the beginning:

During my fugue I murdered a village, slaughtering every breath of life, the ring's punishment for my attempt at freedom. .

You put two fullstops at the end of the line when there should only be one. Or perhaps it was supposed to be an ellipsis?

My favourite part came near the end when she says "... Do you want to go mad?"

And he thinks 'I'm already mad.' This amused me a little as well as Kale. In all of this he has come to the realisation that he is mad and so her threat of him becoming mad is null. Simple, but effective. I also enjoyed the last line being a repeat of what had been said earlier. It was a natural way to end it. Perhaps the only suitable ending for the piece as the line before was not suitable for the last line.


So, to summarise: stunning.


Write On!



Please be aware that these opinions are simply opinions and you may or may not agree with them. If you have any discrepancies with my review or if you would like to ask me about my comments please do not hesitate to email me and ask.

Thanks

 
The Magician's Song  [13+]
The world of a normal guy is turned massively upside down by one man in a dressing gown
by Matt Bird MSci Hons AMRSC

"The Coffee Shop for the Fantasy Society


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
96 Reviews · *Magnify*
Page of 4 · 25 per page   < >
Printed from http://www.writing.com/main/profile/reviews/mattab15