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Review Requests: ON
81 Public Reviews Given
Review Style
So we all admit that not all stories are created equally. I'll attempt then, to review on a curve, based on an arbitrary two tier system. If the story really impresses me in its uniqueness and is publication worthy, it will make my tier 1 review and I will specifically say so. If the submission is average or below and not publication material it will make my tier 2 review but I will not overtly say this. Both kinds of reviews will still garner supportive analysis and constructive criticism where necessary.
I'm good at...
Plot analysis and character development. Recognizing strong starts and stronger finishes.
Favorite Genres
short fiction stories especially of mystery, horror and psychological intrigue. I enjoy twists and misdirection. Poetry is not my forte however.
Least Favorite Genres
sci-fi, religious,historical
Least Favorite Item Types
Those without imagination.
I will not review...
Political or religious pieces.
Public Reviews
1
1
Review by Donkey Hoetay
Rated: ASR | (4.0)
Ms Shamrock This is a tier 1 review.

Hey, these little forced assignments are hard. Good job with the dialogue engineering to fit in your phrases. Almost all of them were seamless in the relevant narrative with respect to the plot. Now I'm going to critique the essense of the story for some things I believe you can improve on;


“Meet me inside.”

Such a simple command, but it sent shivers and the theme song to Jaws. SENT SHIVERS IS A HACKNEYED PHRASE. EVERY ONE USES IT. TRY TO DISTINGUISH YOURSELF WITH SOMETHING NEW. ( IT FELT LIKE EACH VERTEBRAE HAD TURNED INTO A CUBE OF ICE.) WAS THE THEME SONG 'SENT' ALSO? THIS NEEDS TO BE TIGHTENED.

My face heated; DESCRIBE WHAT YOUR FACE FELT LIKE OR LOOKED INSTEAD OF SAYING THE VERB. ( I COULD TELL THE WARM FLUSH TO MY CHEEKS TURNED THEM A RUDDY SHADE OF LILAC) my heart sped. Was I getting fired?

The boss responded with, “Take a break from questions, Mattie,” when I asked what was up.

Gravel crunched beneath our feet as we trudged toward the steel building where the auto garage and Mr. G’s office lay. THIS IS A WEAK SENTENCE PERHAPS ( TRUDGED TOWARDS THE ENTRANCE OF THE STEEL BUILDING HOUSING THE GARAGE AND HIS OFFICE)

I peeked at his face. It wasn’t a pleasant sight. Mr. G was an ex-boxer with a broken nose, splayed lips and one eye, always askew. NICE.

One last time my eyes searched for the gentleness I’d thought might lie underneath, NICE but he was wearing dark glasses, the mafia enforcer kind.

“You want the short or long version?” Mr. G’s voice growled as we stepped underneath the building’s overhang.

The coolness of the garage, a metal building the size of a football field, did nothing to combat my worry. On the right, two mechanics were dismantling the tires of someone’s idea of an economy car, a VW bus with heavy metal bumpers and a super-charged engine. To my left sat the waiting area, empty as usual, except for my boss’ old green parrot. The bird wasn’t much of a talker, but it made up for it with high-pitched screeching. NICE ADDITION OF THE PARROT AND HIS SQUAWKING.

“Cahhhhrrrrew,” Bobbo squawked over the din of hydraulics, air conditioning, and tools clanking against metal.

“Listen, Mattie. This is my shot, Mr. G said, PUNCTUATION REVIEW FOR DIALOGUE TAGS ETC. removing his dark glasses so he could frown better. “And I’m not going to hear a word against it, you hear?”

“Cahhaarrrell,” Bobbo seconded. NICE

“Mr. G, I have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about. I thought you were offering to give me the . . .”

He raised his hand like a cop demanding attention. The look he gave me narrowed his eyes into slits.“Wait for it,” he shot out in a menacing tone.

What had I done? Was it bad enough to get me fired? My knees buckled. I pictured myself swooning like some tightly corseted Victorian lady. “I gotta go to the john,” I cried out, then bolted.

Mr. G, gangster look-a-like or not, would never think to question a woman’s need to use the facilities. He stuttered a moment, “bbbbb . . . But you'll be back right? This isn’t resolved. I haven’t. . . “ He stopped, either figuring out that I couldn’t leave the garage without doubling back, or else, that I wouldn’t be able to hear him over the pneumatic whatever it was, blasting ear-piercingly.

A sudden silence followed. I wanted to grind to a halt and look, but I knew that Frankie and Joe were probably just google-eyed over the bit of drama they’d witnessed. It never took much to entertain them.

I kept my forward momentum, pushed in through the yellow door, the one with the big sunflower in the center. The men had to use the room with the black door, the one that smelled so bad, you didn’t want to pass by closely.

Inside the woman’s WC everything was neat and fresh-smelling. A vase of tulips sat on the azure-blue tiles of the counter. Mr. G got the flowers from a bag lady. She traded them each day for a glazed doughnut and an apple.

The bag lady – Honey. Oh, no! Was that what this was about? I’d complained to Mr. G that Honey wasn’t leaving after she got her food. I’d been worried she might be up to no good. It wasn’t like she was waiting to use the bathroom or chatting with the men. She was just hanging around -- for hours.

It was obvious that Mr. G had a soft spot for her. Why would he care if the lady’s restroom had flowers? Besides, Honey probably didn’t even buy them, probably dragged them out of a nearby dumpster. But Mr. G didn’t seem to care about that, or that Honey was hanging around. In fact, I once saw his lip curve upward when she appeared.

I used the facilities, washed my hands, sighed, and then pushed out through the yellow sunflower door. Once more the men stopped to stare, then TOO MANY 'THENS'. glancing over at Mr. G, made a pretense of working hard. But Mr. G didn’t notice. His eyes, still unsheathed by the mafia glasses, were watching me as I approached.

“Look,” he said, “I’ll make it short. I’m going to . . .”

“Fire me?” I gasped, feeling wobbly knees again.

“Fire?” he gasped, then shook his head. “Why would I do that? You’re a good addition. You make everything clean, bright, friendly. Nah, what I have to tell you is . . . well, it’s the story of tonight.”

“Caaahhhrrrrrrrrrrrrr.”

Whatever Bobbo was trying to get across, it couldn’t have been any more puzzling than Mr. G’s frightening IS THIS THE RIGHT ADJECTIVE? utterances. But at least I wasn’t getting fired . . . Wait, what did he mean about TONIGHT? Was the boss asking me out? A tidal wave of nausea rolled over me. NICE. I GET WHAT YOURE TRYING TO SAY BUT BE ACCURATE. IS IT A TIDAL WAVE OR IS IT A TSUNAMI. THEY ARE NOT THE SAME THING. I barely heard his next words.

“I didn’t want you to . . . I mean you . . . well, uh, you see . . . I invited Honey out, just for a burger.”

“Honey . . . the bag lady?”

“No. I mean, don’t call her that. Uh, it’s why she’s been here a lot. We’ve been talking.”

Mr. G’s face reddened; his eyes shut; his hands began to shake. Was he afraid of me, of what I’d think? NICE.

“But that’s great,” I said. “I’m happy that . . .”

“Thought I’d better explain about . . . Uh, I know you got invoices to do, but I wanted to . . .” Mr. G didn’t finish the sentence, just turned and strode off.

I paused a moment before I headed off to do invoices. What I saw, I could hardly believe. My gruff old boss was not only smiling, but whistling an old Elvis Presley song -- the one about fools falling in love. NICE.


2
2
Review of Life in Death  
Review by Donkey Hoetay
Rated: E | (3.5)
Anita E.
(This is a tier one review)
Thanks so much for asking my opinion on your fine piece. I am impressed with your treatment of a familiar theme in that of soul harvesting. Well done. There has been a definite improvement between my first reading of a week ago and now. Obviously you've done some superb editing in that interim as a few of the issues I noted then, no longer seem to be apparent.
My main criticism involved your verb tense usage which I found weakened the strength of your prose. The usual construction followed the format; ...Was talking or was looking, but as of last reading, I only detect two remaining examples. You have also edited out a few of the adverbs (-ly ending words) that prevented you work from shining.

The plot is intriguing although I have not been convinced as to the reason behind the change of heart of the spirit 'death'. You need to delve just a bit more below the surface to reveal the emotional turmoil he was going through. Your grammar and syntax are excellent. Your ending paragraph is strong generally. Nice twist but the actual last sentence is somewhat weak and needs work to tie a perfect bow on your piece.

Good work. Keep it up.
kind regards.
DH
3
3
Review by Donkey Hoetay
Rated: 13+ | (3.0)
Dragonbane,
Thanks for asking my opinion of the first few paragraphs of your fantasy piece. You are a passionate fantasy writer and I'm impressed with your enthusiasm. These are my own personal impressions and you should embrace the suggestions that you think have value and discard those that don't.

That being said, this is what I like about your piece. I like that you begin in the middle of the action. Immediate immersion is good rather than starting with something predictable like talking about the weather.

About three years ago I requested a review from an author and he put two arms on my shoulders and shook me with a raw truthful review. Best thing that ever happened to me. I'm going to do this for you right now.

The most obvious problem with your writing is seen in your dialogue tags. You are making two errors which reveal an immaturity that you must get beyond if you want to take your writing to the next level. This is especially seen with Princess Alexia's speech. There is too much reliance on ADVERBS which forces you to TELL and not SHOW. So you're trying to communicate that she's very angry but you rely on words like; Angrily, coldly, firmly x2, unflinchly, sternly. My reviewer impeached to me that these adverbs were the tools of lazy writers. How do you know she's pissed? You have to SHOW us. Write about the flare of her nostrils, write about the prominence of her jugular vein at the side of her neck, write about how big her pupils are and how long it has been since she last blinked. Describe the prominence of her Adams apple dropping low in her throat before she speaks. You get the point I'm trying to make right.
The second thing you might consider changing is the ....," said Princess Alexia... After the dialogue. Try indicating the speaker before the sentence to mix it up sometimes. It demonstrates a maturing skill in writing.

For Example; ...She hadn't blinked in over five minutes ignoring the burn of her dried corneas. Her frigid stare locked in on the seated king. "War it will be if you don't release him."

So I'd like you to get rid of all of your adverbs and I'd like to read your rewrite when you do. I'm very excited about this. You're a good writer dragonbane, but now you need to be a great writer.

Respectfully
DH
4
4
Review of Come Back  
Review by Donkey Hoetay
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
Elizjohn
This is a compact but remarkable poem. I rather like what you've done with it. Here are only a few of the things I appreciate about it(lol). The central theme of time and love lost is clear and you adhere to it throughout; There is tremendous symmetry to your poem. I love that you are not forced to rhyme which makes the prose sing; Your vocabulary is on display in the conveyance of the single emotion of grief; You build to a crescendo very skillfully by the step-like increase in numbers.
Given all of these credits to your poem, the title should now be obvious.

"One Single Wish"
5
5
Review of Matilda  
Review by Donkey Hoetay
Rated: 18+ | (5.0)
James
This is top shelf art. Loved your style. Your world building is excellent and characters breathe with the elixir of your prose. You achieve what all we authors hope for...the holy grail of immersion.
Keep it up.
DH
6
6
Review of Pass it on...  
Review by Donkey Hoetay
Rated: E | (3.0)
Hello SFT
Thanks again for another of your stories. So if I am to believe that you are aspiring to be a creditable author, and you are looking for critical analysis to help you improve, then I'm going to grade you with strict detail on this one.

I'll assume this event may have happened and you're trying to turn it into a teaching moment. This is commendable indeed, but I'm confused as to what audience it's directed. Is this for parents or for children's consumption? It matters greatly what your target audience is as it determines the style you will write the story in. I'm not convinced you have committed to either one of the groups.

If it's for parental consumption I would have opted not to include the dialogue and just relay the experience 'matter of fact'.

Speaking of your technical use of grammar in this piece I'd have to give it a failing grade. When you submit something to be reviewed you really must try your best to submit as much of a polished product as you can. This involves multiple proofreads and rewrites, line by line, looking for punctuation and syntax errors. There is literally a least one error in every line of your piece. Most of them are involving the dialogue and the tags associated with who is speaking. I highly recommend you research to see what the rules are for fictional dialogue because this is a weak area that needs work. I had the same issue when I started where I just thought it did not matter and I would just guess at what to put. There are rules that need to be followed; for example, each person's new speech needs to be on a new line, etc.

Further on the technical analysis; you were not consistent with your tense. Through most of the story it was in the past tense then right at the end you switched to the present tense.

Finally, I will end with style considerations. For impact, it would have been a stronger piece if you humanized your daughter and given her a name that we could relate to instead of 'my little one' and 'sweets'. Also, try to cut out or reduce as much as you can your use of adverbs in your dialogue tags. Words like excitedly, proudly and hesitantly serve to show what the speaker is doing rather than telling us through your skill of description.

Here's an example; "I would fight them." With a scowl on her brow, Jenna grinned in such a way, only her left dimple made an appearance, along with the space where her front tooth once was.

Hope this was helpful. Keep writing the good stuff.
7
7
Review by Donkey Hoetay
Rated: 13+ | (3.5)
Thanks so much for the opportunity to review your work. Please keep in mind that I am not a professional reviewer so please only take the comments you find useful.

Here are the things I like about this piece; Your use of the country vernacular and accent is spot on, although I felt it might have been more appropriate for a more southern region like Appalachian West Virginia than in Midwestern Ohio. I also kind of like the nonchalance of the dialogue with all the rocket mayhem going on around.

The problem for this piece for me is that I don't understand the deeper meaning. I can see you know how to write as you have a command of the English language but I don't get the subtle message you are trying to convey. I desperately want to be let into the secret but as an author, you have not done so.
Writing with nuance and hidden meaning requires deft skill and if the reader is left having to re-read multiple times then you have failed on a particular level.

So far what I have gleaned is that A farmer decides to have a barbeque during the start of a missile war from his farm fields. Then he reminisces about his pyromaniac brother-in-law who is or was the POTUS. Are you using 'Billy' as a metaphor for a rogue president? And who is speaking the words that are in italics?

Don't get me wrong...I like quirky short stories that don't have a direct approach but I don't get the message in this one.

Keep writing the good stuff.
8
8
Review of Story of She  
Review by Donkey Hoetay
Rated: ASR | (4.5)
Mimi
I’m impressed. This piece of erotica was most entertaining. I love your raw style of discourse of lesbian intercourse. Your motel setting was perfect in reflecting the psssion that ensued. And on a personal note, there is something truly erotic when a woman writes the word ‘cunt’ to describe her lesbian adventures.
Well done and keep it up.
DEREK
9
9
Review by Donkey Hoetay
Rated: 13+ | (3.0)
Hello []
I liked your story. There are some enticing themes that you have going on in this piece. All good stories are comprised of different elements working together. Your consistent theme of gritty determination works pretty well here.

Overall though the story lacks other elements that prevent it from being a truly great piece. You've chosen to write this in short story form but it reads as if it's one chapter in a bigger novel. The relationship between Sarah and Bart is not well established and the exchange of height and weight is not a natural introductory dialogue. As an author your job is to tell the story. The importance of effective storytelling can never be understated. I know your plot is well formed in your mind but you have not told the story for your reader in the words that you have allowed us to read. So many things Sarah did and wants to do are not very well explained. What drives her ( apart from this mysterious bus on the mountain) is missing. She seems a complex character, which is good, but you haven't shared her age or where or when this scene is taking place. These are important elements in storytelling and your charge as an author is to blend it in seamlessly.

These are some of the elements of the plot that confused me; What did Bart mean when he addressed the bus driver about giving Sarah some engine parts? What motivated her to stab herself with a metal screwdriver in her already injured foot then breaking it off while still impaled? (impossible btw). How did she get to her destination by the 5 oclock deadline?

On the technical side, I'd try to use as few adverbs as possible in your descriptions of the speakers. It's those words that end in -ly. there are a few punctuation issues but not that many. Remember, relationships matter, they are the essence of conflict within your story and that's where you want to be in your writing. Having compelling conflicts between your characters.

Thanks again for allowing me to read and critique your very nice piece. Keep it up. I see a diamond in the rough here.

DH
PS you should change your pen name to something pronounceable. Folks need to know who you are as you make a name for yourself.
10
10
Review of Family Secrets  
Review by Donkey Hoetay
Rated: ASR | (4.0)
CanImagine
I see your vision with this piece. This is a well written period drama seemingly set in feudal middle ages. The overarching theme transmitted for me is one of love enduring through worsening crisis. The piece is written in third person omniscient narrator style. There are three protagonists introduced but no obvious antagonists.

In the first sub-chapter, we are immersed into an unusual father-daughter relationship where risky cavalier acts of bravado are the currency of terms of endearment. The daughter seems to have been blessed with a hereditary super-power which must be managed to avoid overt detection. This is not unlike the father-daughter relationship in the Logan movie of X-Men series. The plot conflict is intriguing. The Warden is torn between keeping his daughter out of the crucible of direct conflict versus increasing the odds of victory by allowing her to accompany him. It's not an original plot sequence by any means but you have started to brand your unique style into the threads.

SO far the Warden seems to be the most engaging character of the three. He's engrossed in paternal responsibility while having a strong preparatory eye on defense and allegiance to his king. He's gregarious and somewhat skilled in weapons of the time and combat. The dialogue is Americanized British speak which is appropriate for this present audience. It's light and nonoffensive and flows well. The reparteé is rich and give a clue of the loving relationship between them.

The story is beginning to come to life but it has not had time to mature as yet. You are doing quite a bit of telling so far and that's keeping me at elbows length away from beginning to care significantly about the characters. But this is still early times yet.

Let's talk about the hook and opening paragraphs. It's good but it needs flesh. This is very significant that a father is throwing a knife at his daughter's face. It needs to be made explicit that this is happening and you should spend a lot more time with this opening scene. I'd like to know what sound the heavy knife made through the air and into the bark. Her emotion at being nicked with the blade. I'd like to know what she actually did to heal herself and how she felt at seeing her own blood. Right now you only devoted two lines to this event and perhaps a whole paragraph should be invested for dividends to pay off later.

I like how you use the linkage of the olfactory memory with Lindsy and Andrew. Her the forest smells and him the barn smells that remind them of their time together. If this is going to be a novella you will have the time to be more descriptive about facial and body habitus of the characters along with scene setting. The horse exercise scene with Andrew was well written. The pace was about right perhaps too fast at times.

Hope I was thorough in answering your questions. Keep it up. Lindsy will be pleased.

Regards
Derek
11
11
Review by Donkey Hoetay
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
Dear Breach
This is my review of your chapter 'Tracks in the snow' which you requested. My impressions and comments are merely those of a fellow writer interested in the growth of his colleagues through exchange. Those comments which you find have no value feel free to disregard.
This is a tier one review!

The interesting thing about reviewing a chapter is that one gets to observe the writer in his most relaxed creative state. One where he is unhurriedly driving his plot forward. The other side of this sword is that unfortunately the reviewer does not get the benefit of what has happened before, which brings these particular characters together in the space that they occupy in your work. Thus plots and conclusions are sometimes lost in the immersion. That being said let me say that I rather liked this excerpt that you chose.

The things that impress me most are your excellent scene descriptions and your easy character dialogue. Your characters are believable and you have good use of your dialogue tags. If not done well these can be very distracting to the reader. It's clear that we are in a setting similar to that seen on Game of Thrones in the North. You did well in your vocabulary choices when describing the handling of the horses and their behavior. You did a pretty good job in limiting your use of adverbs which most mature writers agree degrades ones writing. Just the occasional 'suddenly' and 'quickly' observed.

Relationships are the life blood of any decent works of art. The casualty of a random chapter review robs me of the essential relationship between the four horsemen. One can get a sense, but then inferences and assumptions have to take over.

I want to discuss your level of detail that you chose to describe your changing wilderness scene. You made a deliberate decision to record very small and mundane actions. This adds to the overall story but at some point the reader is expecting this detail to matter to the overall plot. For me this is usually the vehicle used to set descriptive scenes but you do not use enough smilies and metaphors to achieve this. Your editor will caution you to be frugal with your words if they are not supportive of your theme or ultimate plot.

I'm not the greatest fan of the fantasy genre but your attempt was really good. There was a gentle crescendo in your tension and I'm sure further chapters will reveal why the Wolgs perished.

Your punctuation was spot on but perhaps you might try to be a tad more provocative with your vocabulary to achieve a more edgy presentation. I'd have loved to know what Vigo and Branson looked like but you likely have described them in previous chapters.

Overall I loved your work. A strong solid piece of art indeed. Good luck to you going forward.

Regards
DH
12
12
Review of The Offer  
Review by Donkey Hoetay
Rated: E | (3.5)
Hello Blake
Thanks for the privilege of reviewing another one of your pieces. Remember these are merely my thoughts as a reader and you may choose to act on those you think apply to you.

So it looks like you've done a nice job again with this piece. Much better title than last time which right off the bat injects intrigue. In the last review, I focused on strength of plot and character development. Your plot here is significantly better although you telegraphed the ending two paragraphs before the end. This is a big no-no for short stories. Your endings should be twisty and surprising if you have the skill to do so. In this case, your Protagonist Remy made an error in judgment which led to his death. You failed to give him a plan to outsmart the villain which makes your hero seem inadequate almost stupid even. This is not satisfying for your reader who has invested in your character. Remember you are the architect of this melodrama and you control all that transpires in it.

Generally speaking, the dialogue flows very well. In an effort to guide you to becoming a more mature writer these are a couple things that editors will be looking out for; Try not to pile on with too many sequential adjectives in one sentence. Also, you are using way too many adverbs in your descriptions. You should try to 'show' what is happening in your story rather than 'tell' your readers. Brightly, graciously, meticulously, quickly, exceedingly, surprisingly, confidently...are examples of your heavy usage of adverbs that should be replaced with concise, description. It's not easy to get rid of all of them but use them judiciously. (smile)

So for instance, your opening few sentences look like this: Gold emblazoned tapestries straddled the long and inviting welcome lobby of the hotel. The marble floor glimmered brightly and looked as if its expensive tiles had just been meticulously cleaned. In the corners, bright screened TV’s droned on with repetitive information about the current election season with no breaking news currently being brought to light.

Consider this toned down alternative; The hotel spared no expense if the ornate furnishings in the lobby alone were any indication. Remy appreciated his own well-dressed reflection from the polished marble on which he walked. Television monitors flashed old news but...

Overall a much better job son. Keep at it.
13
13
Review of Just A Quickie  
Review by Donkey Hoetay
Rated: 18+ | (5.0)
Highway Hiker
This is a tier one review just to get this out of the way. Take a breath...do you smell that? That's the breath of fresh air that you bring to the table dear. Pardon my French but your shit is really good. I enjoyed reading this edgy piece of yours H2. You already know this but you write in the 'less is more' style. There is no need for hyperbole when you have the weapon of smart insightful discourse to blow you out of the water.

So this scene probably only took ten minutes in real time but you skilfully pulled back years of sequential levels of pain and internal conflict with this man she calls her husband. You deftly dismantled the psyche of weak male self-esteem with a strong phallus. Well done. But I also think you're trying to leak a message about the female character's mode of thought. Could it be that she is in such negative arrears in love that she prefers the rough angry quickie than to actually have to deal with the more distasteful thought of intimate sex with him?

Your handling of this delicate topic is raw real and superb. You generated some classic phrases which allow you to paint in colors not often seen. I wanted to see if you were the real deal and I poked around your portfolio a bit. The piece 'White Trash' is equally well done if not better. Bravo to you. Not sure how old you are but you have a bright future in fiction if you continue to hone your skills in this craft. Here are a few of my favorite things...

'My mind seemed to scatter and flee, for those brief (eternal) moments I was only what lay between my legs. I was nothing but pounds of worthless flesh wrapped around this vagina that kept betraying me by making me a woman. By being female it seemed that I was born to be a victim of every surge of testosterone that deigned to sniff in my direction. '

'Instead of dreading this coming time, instead of all the planning of escape that I used to do before the last baby was born, I found that I was waiting for the numbness that I hoped I would eventually find. I needed a harder shell, more protection from this natural disaster of my life.'

My suggestions for improvement are few but important as a reader, however. Give your character's names so we can get further invested in your narrative. I know this is first person singular narration but have her say his name once instead of 'baby' and for him of her instead of 'bitch'

Dispense with the parentheses please. I'm not sure who they are for and how to read them and it bumps me out of the mood you've woven. She's already speaking to herself generally anyway. If there is something that's poignant but said under breath you might try using italics for effect.

Just a suggestion to complete your story. You can completely ignore this but I thought you could consider transferring the revulsion into thoughts of messing with the meal she's preparing for him. AN internal fantasy plot for poisoning as she continues to fume about her situation but in the end, the food prep is more spectacular than she's ever done with respect to taste and presentation. That would be the proverbial cherry on top for me and I know you're skillful enough for that challenge. Lol

By the way, the kids are not his right? Where's the father then?

Anyway, great job all around. I love your other pseudo erotica pieces also. Keep it up.

Derek
14
14
Review of Gate 11A  
Review by Donkey Hoetay
Rated: 13+ | (3.0)
Young Mr. Blake,
Thanks so much for being a lover of the arts and being an active contributor. I wish I'd began when I was in my teens. So this is a pretty good attempt. Your airport fiasco had some intriguing aspects to it. The one thing I like that you did very well was to demonstrate the degree of substance abuse dependency. It became clear that Paul has a problem even multiple problems it appears but your story structure is weak and may prevent some of your readers the chance to identify with your main character. You have to decide in your planning, 'do I want my readers to celebrate, to hate or merely to understand my character's actions'? After reading your piece I neither love hate or quite entirely understand Paul.

You've got good skills at writing so my critique is only to make you a better writer for your readers. It is not to discourage you in any way. The following are some general pointers that will dramatically improve your writing.

Use a provocative title; This one is actually pretty good.

You must capture your reader in the first three or four sentences. You only have one chance to impress and score points to make the reader become invested. This was a very poor beginning as it made me feel you were not taking me seriously using the word stupid so often and introducing eyebrows etc.

When introducing your characters it's okay to be a bit mysterious in the beginning. Avoid saying things like 'Paul Westerly was his name...' Rather something like; Although there wasn't a single cloud in the sky, Paul Westerly's umbrella tapped against the escalator steps as he entered gate 11a. One of his only two true companions. That and his flask with the yellow cap...'

Your plot has to make sense to the reader. Readers are intelligent and are very sensitive if it appears that you are insulting their knowledge. So I assume this is an American Airport. In this day most people know that you cannot hang out near any Airline gates without a boarding pass. This is a security lapse if this is allowed to happen on a daily basis. Also if Paul wants attention from crowds why not choose a zoo, boardwalk, mall etc. Another issue with your plot that confused me involved his confirming the bathroom gender by feeling out the words on the wall. Indicating that his vision is very poor but yet still he could pinpoint a child across the room and hit him with a projectile.

Finally, there is a bit of confusion at the end. After this old mad was attacked and bloodied in an airport he was put in a cell and not into an ambulance to go to ER or something. Where is airport security? I'm just pointing out things in your plot that must make sense so your reader is allowed to invest with your characters.

You're definitely a better writer that I was when I was 19 and you are well on your way. Take you time and listen to those around you who know what they are talking about. There are other points that need fixing too but the first one you should tackle in your quest to become a great writer is plot and character structure.

Good luck to you going forward.
Regards DH
15
15
Review by Donkey Hoetay
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
This is very nicely done indeed. Majestic images behind a veil. I appreciate this craft of natures beauty and power.
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Review of Lullaby  
Review by Donkey Hoetay
Rated: 18+ | (4.5)
This is a tier 1 REVIEW

Corban
Very impressive bit of fiction you've created here. I liked it a lot on many levels so let me see if I can dissect some of the elements here for you.

The plot is simple enough. Most of the time you don't need anything extravagant to produce literary magic. Less is more, more often than not. Terror come to life is the box that i'd put this in. Certainly I'm curious about the form and origin of the entity but it looks like you deliberately left those pieces of information out for effect of mystery. It's fiction in the end right dammit! But if you could work in a hook or some obscure clue that the reader may hang their curiosity hat on would complete the circle here as to why where how. Perhaps have it wearing Lieutenant Krause's badge or something weird like that.

I like how you tangentially describe things and emotions that are not directly related to the immediate action. This shows a degree of literary maturity where you recognize that you have your readers ensnared already and you can take the liberty of an occasional offramp before returning to the highway.

Like this:
Thomas, on the other hand, has longer dark brown hair. I cannot see his face because his head is angled a little to the floor, causing some of his hair to hang down and block my view. But what I do see is that he seems despondent and detached from what is happening.

And this: This is pretty good in fact.
I stare at the blank screen. In fact, all of the screens are blank. I'm breathing fast. I feel sweat on my face. My rapid heartbeats become thunder in the silence.

I sit there in that chair for what feels like forever, mortally petrified, and unable to process what happened. I sit there in the silence, as fear's icy grip refuses to weaken. Every second that passes by rolls past like an hour in my head.

Something is off. Something about the room I sit in now. Afraid of what I'll find, I look around the room. I listen. Then I finally realize what it is.

The clock stopped ticking.


You still need some work on this piece however, to smooth the ruts out. Below I will paste a paragraph which contains excellent metaphors, but you spoil it with a couple errors;

"NO NO OH GOD NO!" He scratches with futile at the knob. At this point tears run down his face, almost as if they too are trying to escape this dire situation. Thomas turns to the side and throws his arms across his face. He yells the names of his children so violently with remorse that I am sure it would kill his vocal cords.

Refrain from using all caps in your dialog. The exclamation point is enough to transmit the anguish if well written. The next sentence I think that should be 'futility'. Even so, this is called 'telling' and you need to learn of how to 'show' his futility.

One further criticism is that I would not like you to fall into the trap of having the narrator die. If he did die then who was telling the story. Under what situation unless ghost, can Connors relate this story from the jaws of the creature. You give no indication that he survives although you do say that he may be MIA.

In conclusion, This is pretty good writing here. Cool metaphors that are understated but still vivid imagery. Keep it up.
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Review by Donkey Hoetay
Rated: E | (3.5)
Hello Tadpole
DH here giving you a return review as requested. Now remember I'm not greatly skilled as a reviewer. But what I lack in finesse I make it up in noting plot, character and dialog flaws which might be holding your piece back from being excellent.

I really like this story you've written here. It's got loads of texture and promise. Who doesn't love a scary swamp mystery? Of the the three you gave me to pick this one is far superior. Your title is vague and mysterious enough but it wouldn't hurt to jazz it up with another totally bizarre word; menace of the Rougarou ...night of the Rougarou...the horror in the Rougarou. You get the point.

You have a good beginning but you must always strive for a fantastic beginning. SO we have this slacker kid who's not doing well in school. Grab your reader and never let them go...
I might open with a thought bubble...F's suck. Whoever first began the word fun with that letter should be shot dead. And when my father sees this grade he'll freak then shoot me.....

So our protagonist wants to share an adventure with a friend out of frustration. A little teenage invincibility right? Great plot indeed. A couple things that you need to keep in mind for strong reading is to avoid weak verbs.
So for example, instead of 'Benny was lying on the couch' ... 'Benny lay on the couch" is a stronger sentence.

I notice you don't have too many adverbs which is great. Avoid those like the plague Tadpole. Anytime you can show your actions rather than tell them is a literarily more powerful sentence. Says me who just used an adverb to tell you that. lol

Also your dialog tags are pretty good. there are not that many that just 'Said Benny' or 'Said Jana'. You use action descriptions very well to assign the speech dialogs.

Your story as written is not visually attractive to look at. I was told once that my words have to look esthetically pleasing on the page. A few lines of description in a paragraph then a few lines of dialog then repeat.

There are times when there is too much dialog without breaks and it becomes homogenous to look at.

Finally although this is a really good plot with nice suspense the ending is soft and happily ever after-ish. Shy away from predictability like its a hot inferno. When I think I'm done with my plot when I write my short stories I pause and challenge myself to come up with a more unexpected ending.

If I wrote this great story I would go to the extreme and have Jana BE THE ROUGAROU!!!! And pretend to be protecting Benny from the threat while she's just concealing her true identity until the kill. I'd have her go back to the shore to get help from Benny's father so he could come over into the woods too to help look for him. Then kill him too.

I know my mind is a little warped. Overall great job. I like it. I'd submit this one.
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Review by Donkey Hoetay
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
Matt
Just came across your piece. I like it. It's well written. The construction is spot on with adequate pacing. Grammar and syntax are appropriate for British culture and customs. Character development is good but needs improvement. You also need to scribe the time of day correctly but perhaps that's ok for Brit literature.
The thing that I'll critique you on is that you have all this literary muscle but your story is weak. I am not invested or fearful of a public vandal. The intrigue index is too low for your great writing skills. Next time increase the stakes with a kidnapping a bomb or a murder or all of the above.
Great job
Cheers
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Review by Donkey Hoetay
Rated: 13+ | (3.0)
Hello Lilly Rose Hen,
Welcome to writing .com. I saw and read your story and thought I'd offer a review of your work. I'm so glad you joined this community and are producing original works. Artists are very sensitive creatures when it come to their work. I Know this to be very true but also know that the spirit of this critique is for your overall growth and maturity in becoming a better author. You are free to accept what you like and disregard what you don't.

That being said, I liked your piece a lot. It's an acrid dark story of desolate souls. A classic 'good versus very evil' tale with graphic elements of violence and despair told in the first person point of view. (POV). This are two of my favorite descriptive lines of your piece: 'He had a darkness that clung to him like the smell of bonfire smoke, clutching to anything that gets within its cloudy grasp.' and 'my lungs burn like my skin, with every breath it feels like a million little forks dragging down my throat and lungs.'

Punctuation
You have quite a few problems with punctuation here however. Your sentences in many cases are too long. The comas are out of place and probably should be replaced with periods. Here is an example of a too long sentence that needs to be restructured: 'He would use her against me as leverage by telling me the things he would do to her if I ever told anyone about him and if I dared to go against him he would threaten my life and hers, forcing me to get my hands dirty and light the match that would destroy a helpless persons house to the ground.'
Try to make your sentences short, communicating as much information as possible.

Plot
The plot is good but there are major problems with the tense that it's written in. You switch frequently between present and past in your tale and it gets a bit confusing. Also I am not sure who is writing the story. In the last paragraph it would appear you are successful in your suicide attempt by sailing off a tall building. If you died then who is writing the story. The only way around this is that you survived or that this is a ghost story told from beyond and you don't make it clear which one it is.

Characters
I like how you described Bonnie's character. I can see her shrouded innocence . I would have been pleased if you fleshed out Sam's character a bit more. What motivates him etc. The protagonist who is Mason You need to mention his name in the text earlier rather than late during the fight scene.

Phrasing/Sentence structure
Pretty good. It's good how you keep the dialogue on separate lines. I talked about the sentence length before. I picked up a few spelling errors. "Is this what excepting death feels like? Did Bonnie except death?" Do you mean expecting or accepting?
Try using Italics with an exclamation point rather than full caps to emphasize shouting.

Final thoughts
Pretty good attempt. Nice story. Keep at it.


sincerely Donkey Hoetay
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Review by Donkey Hoetay
Rated: E | (3.5)
Hello Kaitlin I am reviewing your chapter 'Three turns from home' with pleasure. We all feel very protective of our creations and authors are extremely sensitive about their work. However please take my individual critique as my singular opinion and you should decide for yourself if you want to agree with or disregard my comments.
With that being said I want to tell you that I liked your excerpt very much. I don't know your age or experience in writing but you clearly have talent in this area. I was intrigued by your title because it inspired a mystique in its vagueness.
Technically you are pretty accomplished with your syntax and grammar. Your sentence structure is good but you have a tendency to have them run on for too long. More attention needs to be put into commas for your longer sentences and paragraphs for change of scenes. The transition from the horses and stable scene to the Grandparent's home needs a paragraph break for example.
As I said your writing flows well. You give very vivid details of the scene from the first person singular point of view. The problem is that it's too much detail sometimes. There is a tendency to focus on details that does not advance the general plot.Take this sentence for instance: I pulled out a bottle of Apple juice and poured myself a glass and sat down at the kitchen table. can be reduced to: I drank a glass of juice at the kitchen table.
Essentially your piece needs to lose a little weight to be really good.(my grandfather and my grandmother can be shortened to my grandparents). You spend a lot of time detailing your horse and how it made you feel riding and grooming but not that much time in detailing meeting your mother again after not seeing her for years. So this attention is disproportionate and it gives the reader the impression that its not important to the story at all.
You've got talent for sure. You just need to focus on what the reader needs to focus on.
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Review of Writing.Com 101  
for entry "How To Create an Item
Review by Donkey Hoetay
Rated: E | (4.0)
Hello I was creating an item into my portfolio. I took a break then came back to continue. I attempted to save my work and it said I did not own the work I was attempting to save and it kicked me out to log in again. Is there any hope of recovering this? This is the reference num I was issued 31446067

Donkey Hoetay
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Review of Horses  
Review by Donkey Hoetay
Rated: E | (3.5)
Brookbyrd
I loved your monologue. I could feel your unbridled passion for your hobby/profession all through this piece. Through your writing I am educated about the nuances of barrel riding and the fact that not only do horses have emotions but that they can feel ours too. On the technical side there are a few typographical errors that you need to clean up; This sentence for example, 'I don't believe in order to win shows and *completion* you have to have a horse that is *breed* for it.'
Not a bad job overall but I'd like to challenge you into writing a piece as seen through your horse's eyes. what do you think they think of us?
Cheers
Donkey Hoetay
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Review of Day 14  
Review by Donkey Hoetay
Rated: E | (3.0)
Fyn
This is a rather thoughtful piece. Your sentence structure is perfect and the introduction of poetry into a conflict zone is a nice touch. It would appear to me like this is a diary entry as part of a larger work of art. The problem is one of orientation for the reader. We don't quite know where we are. The names that are mentioned have no reference and we don't know how to feel about them and who they represent. I am sure the larger work would reveal these things like what the conflict is about, what are the soldiers guarding and who has the upper hand at the time of the journal entry etc. And so to critique the piece in absence of orientation I am left cold searching to connect and identify with the characters.
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