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Printed from http://www.writing.com/main/profile/reviews/savegunpowder
Review Requests: OFF
99 Public Reviews Given
Review Style
I'm a tough grader, but I don't neglect good things when I see them. I'll be considering two things when I review your piece. 1) Form. How is the pacing? Are you going for a conventional story structure, and if so, is that structure in place? Did the story resolve itself in a satisfying way, or is it an anticlimax? I generally don't go into spelling/grammar unless it's a major issue. 2) Content. This is where it gets tricky and subjective. Sometimes I'll give an objectively bad piece a good rating because it captured the spirit of something I'm interested in – or maybe it grabbed me in another way. If your story is beautifully written but low-stakes, trivial, or out of touch (I'm one of those jazz cigarette-crazed millennials you've heard so much about) the best you're getting is a 4.0.
I'm good at...
I'm a history nerd, so I'm good at noticing details in period pieces. "They wouldn't have used that word in 1757," etc. I'm also a filmmaker, so I'm good at thinking visually.
Favorite Genres
Historical fiction, sci-fi, horror, fantasy, adventure
Public Reviews
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1
1
Review by Leif the Lucky
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 18+ | (4.5)
A wonderful piece. I have no suggestions as far as content. Might sound cheesy, but as an American this resonated deeply with me. I was younger than you in 2001, but I still remember the feelings of uncertainty and paranoia in the aftermath of that attack... you capture those feelings excellently. Well done.

A couple suggestions as far as form goes:

TV should be capitalized.

No need to put 'they' in quotations.

"She pulled a Kleenex from, who knows where..." you don't need that comma.

"Hooah" might read better italicized, or with an exclamation point.

"Fall Out!" No need for "out" to be capitalized.

Use "double quotes" instead of 'single quotes' unless you're in England or someone is quoting someone else in dialogue.

Overall, great job.


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
2
2
Review of Etched in Stone  
Review by Leif the Lucky
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 13+ | (3.5)
You've built a creative fantasy world with a lot going on. Maybe too much.

I feel like there are three stories in here. One is about a mage trying to bring dragons back to life. Another is about a blood feud with a murderous bishop. And lastly, a story about an amulet that reveals all the good or evil deeds a person has done in their lives. In my opinion, you don't focus on any of these aspects closely enough to flesh them out in a satisfying way.

Cascade's relationship with the dragon seems to be the heart of the tale, but I think it's actually the weakest part. First off, it's a trope we've seen before in fantasy and it's kind of overdone. More importantly, though, I didn't feel as emotionally invested as I should have. The dragon just seemed like a means to an end for Cascade, and the strong attachment he develops to the dragon (and the one she develops to him) come out of left field and don't seem entirely justified.

The subplot with the bishop is a little more interesting, but the trouble here is that Quantic is just a huge irredeemable asshole. He lacks depth. I'd be more interested if we saw where he was coming from - maybe he has good reasons to keep the amulet out of the wrong hands. Or at the very least, let us revel in his whacky, over the top evil antics i.e. Emperor Palpatine in Star Wars.

The amulet was my favorite part of the story because of the implications of such a plot device. You could go almost anywhere with that concept, but it was underused. What if Cascade discovers a horrible truth about somebody once getting the amulet? Or maybe he sees a bunch of white orbs around Quantric and realizes that his hatred of the bishop was based purely on his own biases and has clouded his judgment?

All that said, I applaud you for your sincerity and whimsy, which is evident from your writing. It's just not the story I would have written, or wanted to read. Thank you, and write on!


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
3
3
Review of The Crystal Heart  
Review by Leif the Lucky
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 18+ | (4.0)
Pretty good.

Solid horror premise. Continues with your theme of arrogant rich men coming to unsavory ends.

Lots of typos in this one, and the prose didn't flow quite as well as it did in your other story. I'd do an extensive revision with spelling, grammar and clarity in mind.

Also, gotta say, you come up with some very interesting names for your characters.


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
4
4
Review by Leif the Lucky
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 18+ | (4.5)
Nicely done.

The elegance of the prose was this story's best quality, I think. The opening nightmare and the murder scene were done especially well. You have a real talent for stringing words together.

A couple suggestions:

"...and twisted until there was a crisp snap, and light filled the room." might work better as "...and twisted until there was a crisp snap. Light filled the room."

"The fear abate." Shouldn't that be "abated"?

Dormond talking to himself was fine at first but strained my suspension of disbelief as it went on. Maybe change that to him thinking in italics?

Would the CEO of a company with only two thousand employees be able to afford a Manhattan penthouse?

The transition to him finding the bloody gown was a little clunky and sudden. Maybe some foreshadowing would help smooth that out. Something like, "If there's one thing that Alec had learned after building a successful company out of nothing, it was that dreams really can come true."

Thanks for the read. If you're interested in reviewing a story of mine, I'm always looking for feedback on a long three-part novella I wrote, "The Halloween Event, but if that's too daunting, I'd love to know what you think of "Invalid Item.



*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
5
5
Review of Celestial  
Review by Leif the Lucky
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 13+ | (1.5)
Hi Nikki, I'm reviewing this as per your request.

You told me you need this to be "good enough to get noticed." If I could give you some advice: if you're new to writing, or pursuing a creative career in general, you've got to actively and aggressively market yourself. Don't wait for someone to notice you, because it won't happen, certainly not here on WDC.

This is a unique fantasy world you've created. I thought that your protagonist's powers and history were probably the best part of the story.

Sometimes I had to read a paragraph two or three times to get what was going on - sometimes I never exactly caught what you were going for. The piece overall is muddled and unclear and there's no discernible story structure.

Grammar and formatting is a huge problem here. You will need to go back and do extensive revisions with that in mind. In fact, that's where I would start.

Thank you for the read!


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
6
6
Review of Sands of Eternity  
Review by Leif the Lucky
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
I liked this a lot! The title and the intro hooked me.

Your descriptions of the wispdragon were very good – not overelaborate, but just enough to plant a firm image in my head. I appreciated the lesbian love story in a fantasy setting. It's something you don't see every day. The love story was also well handled. Sincere, believable, and providing a strong objective for our main character.

No grammar notes (which is incredibly refreshing) and I thought it was very well-written overall.

I have a couple of nitpicks about the story. The line "What do your dragon eyes see?" reminded me of Aragorn's line in LOTR, "Legolas! What do your elf eyes see?" and for some reason that makes me laugh. I'd change that line up a bit ... you don't want your readers thinking about Orlando Bloom's dreamy blue eyes when they should be thinking about Kaye's quest.

I didn't love the scene with Jatson. First off (and this is a VERY nerdy nitpick) historically knights did not use bows. They thought of ranged killing as cowardly. However, you may be going for a Russian-type fantasy setting because of your numerous references to "steppes." If that's the case, ignore this note, since Eastern Europeans/North Asians were big on missile cavalry.

Second off, you fall into the "long conversation in the midst of a big battle" trope. Why didn't an enemy soldier come up to Jatson and cut his head off while he was prone on his knees? Kaye could have been struck by a stray arrow, or crushed by a falling wispdragon in a freak accident. I just don't believe that our characters would be having this chivalric exchange in the middle of a huge, brutal, hand-to-hand battle. Perhaps there's a better way for Kaye to get this information out of Jatson without suspending disbelief.

One last thing. Why does Kaye release Zigo from her service? She doesn't know that she will find the hourglass and travel to a new plane of existence. For all she knows at the time, the gleam in the white sands could be a broken beer bottle. How would she get home then? Seems like the land of white sands is pretty far away from home. Would she go back to Zigo and say, "Wake up, buddy, I spoke too soon, I actually need a ride back to my apartment."

That last bit was a little cheeky of course, but I really did enjoy this very much, and would love to read more of your work. Any particular story you'd recommend, or want reviewed?


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
7
7
Review of The Orange Dawn  
Review by Leif the Lucky
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
Yeah, it makes sense.

After your very complimentary review of my story
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#2163643 by Not Available.
, I wanted to return the favor.

This is a great little piece of speculation about what might have been going through Vlad's head. It was well written and well structured. A couple nitpicks:

The movie is called "Red Dawn" not "The Red Dawn."

The sentence "They then turned this well-trained army loose on Face Book pages and the Internet to help turn America against itself" could be better expressed, perhaps as "Then they turned this army loose on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Tumblr, even Tinder – and turned America against itself."

Great work!


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
8
8
Review by Leif the Lucky
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
First off, I see you're relatively new to WDC. Welcome to the neighborhood. Feel free to knock if you need to borrow a cup of milk or anything.

I enjoyed this story. Good work!

Great use of the first person perspective. The world of the story was creative and original. The main strength of the piece, I think, was how you doled out pertinent information throughout. The pitfall of flash fiction is that often, the characters don't change, there's no discernible arc, and very little happens. So pretty much the opposite of your story! I commend you for that.

I assume this is a first draft? The prose gets a little clunky at times, and I'd keep an eye out for that in your revisions. There are also a couple of grammatical mistakes, such as "I'm a real flesh and blood human, but for marketing, reasons advertised as AI." You don't need that comma after "marketing."

Thanks for the read! Definitely stimulated my imagination.

*Watermelon**Fire**Sun*Here's a sizzling review just for you in our "WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group Summer Cookout Raid!
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*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
9
9
Review of Untitled.  
Review by Leif the Lucky
Rated: 18+ | (4.0)
Reviewing this story as per your request.

Great job! Liked it a lot. Very refreshing to read a story on here not riddled with spelling errors. I enjoyed the beginning - the scene of the dad's funeral - most. You portray the narrator's grief and angst with class, and successfully avoid descending into melodrama.

I wasn't so crazy about the ending. The dream of the narrator's ancestors was too heavy-handed and obvious. Also who the hell is Monica?


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
10
10
Review by Leif the Lucky
Rated: 18+ | (3.5)
Hey, reviewing this as per your request. Sorry I let the deadline slip AGAIN, no need to reward me those GPs ... I feel bad for not reading it sooner.

I liked it. You write well, with a strong sense of your main character's voice.

In terms of content, I found it lacked tension until the end. I kept expecting Mike's night to go horribly wrong, and for him to end up in a shootout or something, and was disappointed when he didn't. Even at the end, when Mike's predicament in the airplane bathroom is revealed, you tell the reader it is suspenseful without showing it. That oughta be the other way around.

In terms of form, it could be improved in terms of spelling, grammar, and paragraph structure. Make new paragraphs every time someone starts speaking ... the whole story will read much more smoothly. There are numerous grammatical errors that you should go back and fix. There are also some repetitious sentences which took me out of the story. They could be phrased better. Try reading the story aloud to yourself and you'll see what I mean.

Also, your Britishness is showing – gangsters and NYPD officers don't use words like "holiday" and "taking the piss."

Thanks for the read!


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
11
11
Review by Leif the Lucky
Rated: E | (1.0)
Hello, Mr./Ms. Butt. I am reviewing this as per your request.

Unfortunately, I have nothing good to say about this piece. It's clunky, it commits the crime of using far too many ten-dollar words for no reason, it's melodramatic, and worst of all, it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

I wish I had constructive suggestions for you, but to be honest I am at a loss. This seems like a very personal journal entry that should never have made its way to the Internet – maybe, in that sense, my low rating is unfair.

I don't mean to discourage you, but I must give my honest opinion. Please keep writing. There is probably an audience out there for you – I'm just not in it.


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
12
12
Review of Happy the Clown  
Review by Leif the Lucky
Rated: E | (3.5)
Hey there, thanks for reaching out with the review request.

You've crafted an evocative, surreal short tale here. I won't pretend to know exactly what was going on the entire time, but I don't think that was your intention. There's something very Lynchian about "Happy the Clown," and I agree with what you said in your email - this would make a great two or three minute animated short.

There are some spelling and syntax errors. The most obvious:

"...an entire crowd erupts in cheers, laughter and, applause;" 86 the comma after "and"

"...the show's grand finally." It's spelt "finale."

And in your next revision, I'd focus on the technical stuff. Lots of instances where the writing could flow a bit better. For example, "Pedestrians on the streets do not realize there is an obvious desolation; the rain." This might be better as something like, "The people of the city stride past him, late for meaningless engagements and appointments, oblivious to the shuffling clown and his absurd personal precipitation."

Also, I noticed you're new to WDC - welcome! Here's a tip I've found useful in my almost ten years here ... give your stories genre labels. I see that "Happy" is under Inspirational, Other, and Other. Readers here look specifically for stories in genres they enjoy, and I guarantee nobody's scrolling through the "Other" page.

Thank you so much for sharing!


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
13
13
Review of The Right Swipe  
Review by Leif the Lucky
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
I'm reviewing this story as per your request.

I liked it a lot. It's well-written and the character's motivation is clear.

There were a couple spots that I felt could have been phrased better:

"His betrayed mind wrestled with a lot of questions." This is bulky and awkward. You could delete this sentence and nothing would change - we hear about his questions in the next paragraph.

"...the proverbial thin air." Thin air isn't proverbial. Just have him vanish into thin air, or maybe "wink out of existence." Maybe add something about the phone falling to the ground when he disappears.

"It was majorly composed..." I guess "majorly" is a word, since my spellcheck isn't underlining it in red, but it shouldn't be. Delete it. You could also go into more detail about the monster's appearance and really emphasize how disgusting it is.

All in all, this was a pleasure to read. Thank you so much for reaching out!


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
14
14
Review of The Inheritance  
Review by Leif the Lucky
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
Great sense of suspense and rising tension in this one. I enjoyed the setting. I could picture Pa-Pa's estate immediately. I've made the drive across from my home in New Orleans to visit friends in Austin a couple times, and I was always struck by the grandeur of the huge gated ranches on the side of the highway on the plains of East Texas.

Lots of evocative imagery too. I especially liked the koi fighting over Jaime's loogie.

There are lots of typos that weigh the flow of the read down. In your next revision, watch out for misplaced apostrophes (em' should be 'em). There are a number of longer sentences where adding commas would be beneficial. A couple times, the spacing of paragraphs was off.

But that's all small stuff. Story wise, it's strong as steel. I have just two little nitpicks. The line "medbot technology has been in use for eight years" is a little too obviously exposition. Vince Gilligan has a great mantra about this. If you're forced to use a line like "how long have we been brothers?" To get your information across, there's probably a better way of doing it. What could be cool is adding a few subtle sci-fi elements in the beginning. Maybe they're in a self-driving car on their way to the estate. Just some indication early on that we're in the near future.

Last thing is that I'd like a clearer indication of that they find corpses buried in the vineyard. We piece together what it is pretty quickly, but I think you're missing out on a good opportunity for a nice, juicy description of your creepy reveal.

Anyway, nice work! Very entertaining and loved the ending. The whole transferring consciousnesses aspect actually reminded me a lot of my "Redshank Lirette" story that you reviewed.


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
15
15
Review of Evil Wind  
Review by Leif the Lucky
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
An excellent, refreshing story. Top notch quality the likes of which I (sadly) rarely see here on WDC.

The beginning hooked me immediately. I assume you're an older guy or gal? That first chapter was sooo seventies :)

If I had to make one suggestion, I wasn't entirely on board with the poems between chapters. For me, they interrupted the flow of the story.

Thanks for sharing!


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
16
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Review by Leif the Lucky
Rated: E | (3.5)
A concise, fascinating story with a clear three act structure despite its ultra-short length. I liked it a lot, but I'm only giving 3.5 stars because of some grammar/syntax stuff. Here are my suggestions and edits, which are in red.

Once upon a time there was a plague doctor in Florence who wore a chiselled beak-shaped mask. Every day, he roamed the cobblestone streets visiting anyone struck by the Black Death who had not yet fled the city. Rich, poor, farmers, nobles; all were in equal despair. One day, he noticed that some houses remained untouched, a sanctuary from the Great Dying. While others regurgitated residents like bad food. So decided to do what no other doctor had done before him: visit the healthy in hope to observe any clue as to why one household could survive while another was doomed. Until finally, he realized, cats lived in all the healthy homes of Florence. A new pied piper of Hamelin was born.


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
17
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Review of Life on Mars  
Review by Leif the Lucky
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: ASR | (3.0)
A quick little story, kind of like a single frame out of a comic book. Is this part of a larger story? Let me know, I will revise this review if I had more context.

It's a cool concept, but my personal preference would be to have a little more story. Even this "quick cut" short fiction should have a beginning, middle and end. It would work better with some sort of revelation, or twist at the end.


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
18
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Review of Dreamer  
Review by Leif the Lucky
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
I enjoyed this short little tale very much. It's refreshing to see a well-researched period piece in WDC's "History" Genre page, instead of stuff that should have really been put under Fantasy. You chose a fascinating subject ... I've read tons of nonfiction anecdotes about Anglicized Indians, but it's rarely tackled in books or movies. Good stuff.

My only note is about dialogue. Be careful with Thomas's use of flowery thous and thees. You are probably aware that at the time your story takes place, almost nobody spoke like that... those words were used in English primarily in the 16th and 17th centuries. I assume you added the affectation to make Thomas seem flamboyant, and that's fine.

You sort of dip in and out of it, which also may have been intentional, but putting that kind of language in without making absolutely sure you're using these arcane words correctly can be read as laziness. For example, the idea behind the line "that Quaker school thou had us start" wouldn't be expressed that way in that dialect.

Anyway, really enjoyed it. Would love to read some of your other work.


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
19
19
Review of Hunters  
Review by Leif the Lucky
Rated: 18+ | (4.0)
Read this a while ago when I was binging your stuff, and I guess I forgot to review it.

I enjoyed the general badassery of this story. I liked how it started as one thing and ended as another. It subverted my expectations and I didn't see the twist coming.

I appreciate the old Victorian vampire conventions with mirrors and the holy water. Too many "dark and gritty" vampire stories discount these, I guess because of the logic of it - if vampires don't show up in a mirror, then do they appear as just an empty suit, like the Invisible Man? And if holy water harms vampires, then logically, is Christianity right? Personally I like it when authors don't think too much about it. It's a vampire story, it's supposed to be fun and, to an extent, campy.

The only thing I didn't like - and this is really just personal preference - is that the vampire comes from money. That's one vampire convention I don't like so much. I prefer blue collar vampires.

Great work as always, John.
20
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Review of Wendigo witch  
Review by Leif the Lucky
Rated: 18+ | (2.0)
I noticed you're new to writing.com. Welcome! Have a whole bunch of gift points.

Hey, I was intrigued by your story description but I have to admit I couldn't get through the whole thing.

I liked the opening scene - a prologue of Nazi skullduggery is always fun - and the action was nice and exciting in the first present day scene.

That said, this is in dire need of a thorough revision. The formatting is the main thing that makes it unreadable. I'm gonna give you the benefit of the doubt and assume the super short paragraphs are a creative choice, but they don't work for me. It makes the story feel disjointed. There are all sorts of spelling and grammar errors that, if fixed, would help immensely.

If you do a second draft and fix the technical stuff, shoot me an email. I would love to come back and give it a proper review.


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
21
21
Review by Leif the Lucky
Rated: E | (5.0)
Once upon a time there was a cat. Everyday, he licked himself on the windowsill overlooking the lake. One day, his human left the window open. Because of that, he leapt into the yard. Until finally, he saw a moose.
22
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Review of Pax Machina  
Review by Leif the Lucky
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
Not much to say except this sounds really cool and I would definitely read this book.

Reminds me of a self-published novel I read online recently, "In Jupiter We Trust" which was about Rome surviving into modern times and colonizing America.

Thanks, and keep writing!
23
23
Review of Rebecca's Torment  
Review by Leif the Lucky
Rated: 18+ | (4.5)
A classic exorcism story. I enjoyed the ending particularly, really creepy stuff. I know you wrote this story a while ago, but if you ever thought of doing some revisions, I have a few suggestions:

I'm curious, where is Maple Grove? I assume west of the Mississippi, if it was a pioneer town in 1818, but I'd like to hear more about your "neck of the woods," so I can more fully imagine the world of the story.

I would switch your italicized sections - in other words, have the bookend paragraphs be in italics, and the story itself in regular font. I find lengthy italicized sections a little hard to focus on, but maybe that's just me.

Great work!
24
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Review by Leif the Lucky
Rated: 18+ | (3.5)
First off, great title.

I liked this story. Roman Britain is an appropriate setting for a Western, and that genre pairing is original and fun. Your knowledge of that period is evident.

I'm not a huge fan of the ending. I also felt like I'd been robbed of an exciting climax.

This is just my personal preference, so you should probably disregard it - but the Western diction threw me off, the "ain't" and "comin' and leavin'" type stuff. The pessimistic tone, Leone-esque backwoods town and mercenary ambitions of the characters are more than enough to convey the tone you want.

Only one typo, you describe the horses as "snorting beats."

Thanks for sharing, and write on!
25
25
Review by Leif the Lucky
Rated: E | (3.0)
Good work! I like the setting, I like our two main characters. Great little slice of Americana here. Your prologue hooked me. The whole idea that America is not a new world – it's an ancient, ancient land, haunted by all sorts of long-lost mythologies.

I enjoyed the simplicity of your tale, the mounting sense of dread, it was nice and subtle. I presume it was the opening of something longer. I'm interested in seeing where this is going.

There are a couple grammar and syntax things you could fix. "Hieroglyphic’s," for example. The opening has great potential but there might be a better way to phrase it.

Story-wise, I was confused why you describe the waitress and the diner in such detail but say almost nothing about our main characters. I don't need to know that Deb had moist brown eyes or that the diner had red-checkered curtains and photos of Elvis. I've been to 50s diners and I've met hot waitresses. My imagination can fill in any incidental blanks. The moment where Deb embarrasses Mattie by fake-flirting with him is nice, but I wonder if it's necessary. Maybe it'll come into play later, I don't know.

On the other hand, what I really want to know about are Mattie and Jeep... who are they? What's their relationship like? Where are Mattie's folks? Why is he way up in the hills with his papaw? What does he want?

Hope this helps. I enjoyed reading your story!


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