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Public Reviews
1
1
Review by scifiguy
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
Hello, My name is Jeff, and I'm reviewing "A Slight Case of Mistaken Identity on behalf of the {WDC POWER REVIEWERS GROUP.

While I am by no means the ultimate authority on everything prose, I am, like you, aspiring to become the best writer I can be. Reviewing the work of others is a privilege, and I hope we both learn something about ourselves during this process.

A review is not a solution, but an observation. As Neil Gaiman once said, "Remember: When people tell you something's wrong or doesn't work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong."

My reviews are limited to The Hook, which is the first sentence of your piece, followed by the first paragraph or two, and, finally, a general critique of the overall content of the chapter/story/item. My reviews are thorough, and if I've taken the time to review your work it is because I've seen promise in your writing. Should you revise your effort based upon my feedback, I will be happy to offer a follow-up review!

ON RATINGS: Every rating I give is 4 stars. Ratings are subjective and vary from person to person, adding little value to the review given. Ratings rarely please an author, and often cause angst. It's at least 4 stars to you, or you wouldn't have put it out there, right? *Smile*

Take what I've written below with a grain of salt. Keep what you feel adds value and toss the rest to the wind, for in the end, it is your muse that you must satisfy. Not mine.

With that said, on to the review!

*****************************************************************************************


Opening Sentence
"The Hook"


I was just finishing setting the table for dinner when there was a knock on the door.

In a Nutshell: An unknown person in an unknown time, first person perspective, hears a knock on an unseen door.

For such an intriguing story, this is quite a benign way to get it rolling. For me, it falls into the "it was a dark and stormy night" category, where there are lots of words but nothing really interesting happens to make us want to read on. Okay, it's not that bad, but you get the idea. Breaking glass, the sound of a gunshot, a lady's scream, and the infamous knock at the door are all valid tools, but I think they've been used so frequently over the centuries that their value as a hook is diminished.

Given the prompt you had to work from, I understand. *Star*


Opening Paragraph

“Get that, will you, Elisha?” Uncle Kane called distractedly from the small library off the front hallway. I sighed and set the last fork in its place. Something always came along to interrupt dinner—which was, by the smell, something excellent . . . but then, with Mrs. Hodgins as Cook, it always was—whether it was Uncle Kane absorbed in his studies in the library so that we had to hold dinner for him, or Uncle Kane’s strange friends showing up just when dinner was to be served. . . .

In a Nutshell: We meet our protagonist, Elisha, gender unknown, age unknown, in what seems like a large, interesting house filled with quality characters.

This is well done. You've introduced the protagonist of your story through the dialogue of another character in a way I find quite neat. Uncle Kane calls out Elisha's name and away we go. You use Elisha's perspective and experience to bounce around and hit just enough of the particulars to give life to the people and the place, all without a ton of backstory or gibberish. This is classic SHOWING, and I really like it.

I'm not sure if I like the word "distractedly" though. Aside from being a pronoun, it just seems out of place to me. Elisha can't see Kane and it doesn't seem to me that one can tell from several rooms away if another is distracted.


The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

THE GOOD

This is a well written story, and you should certainly continue writing. I know the prompt and the word count limitations probably got in your way and made you condense a bit, but this is a lovely beginning to a wonderful tale that I would enjoy reading. The way you ping-pong information into a sentence that starts out looking like a TELL and then turns into a SHOW is a talent worth cultivating. Never lose that.

I don't always read an entire piece when I review, mostly because I'm so focused on helping young authors develop the hook, the inciting incident, and the story-worthy problem, but I read all of this. The inciting incident of your story is when the king, queen, prince and princess begin their journey away from home. Them knocking on the door turns out to be the hook, but you don't develop a story-worthy problem until the end of the chapter, where Elisha realizes an adventure is about to begin.


THE BAD

The ellipse... You use dashes and dots enough that they stand out, and some editors/publishers might key in on this. I thought you used them appropriately and they didn't interfere with the read too much, but any time an author uses them enough that I start counting them it's probably not a good thing.

Gender Neutrality: Sadly, I was unable to divine Elisha's gender. At one point, he/she laments never being handsome in one sentence and then not having a beautiful face in the next. There was also Kane's advice, "a gentleman never looks like one o'clock half-struck." I'm leaning towards Elisha being a girl, based upon the attraction to and face flushing because of the Prince at the end, and also from seeing the Prince's warming interest in Elisha as the story progresses, but you should clear this up for the dummies like me out there.

Foreign Language: You seem to struggle a bit to justify (to us readers) how Elisha might know certain words like Iwichken, and you don't really need to. Introduce it through dialogue by having Elisha give her thanks in the same language. When the princess tilts her head and asks Elisha if she speaks the language, you can then take that entire paragraph of TELLing us how bad she sucked at learning Bedouin or Farsi or Arabic from Kane and SHOW it through dialogue. I know there are always concerns about word count and paragraph length and all that rubbish these days, but you'll never go wrong with dialogue. It's way more interesting to watch the story unfold in words and actions, rather than through dictation, narration, and summation.


THE UGLY

There is nothing ugly here, except that the story ends at the precipice of an adventure I'll have to wait for. *Smile*


Final Thoughts: Please keep writing! There is something rich and deep in the words you put to page, and I think you could be in print someday, if you're not already.

Respectfully Submitted,
Jeff Newcomb
scifiguy


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
2
2
Review by scifiguy
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (4.0)
Hello, My name is Jeff, and I'm reviewing "The Darkness Within on behalf of the WDC POWER REVIEWERS GROUP.

While I am by no means an accomplished poet, I am, like you, aspiring to express the bitter, better, best of life through chains of prose whispered into our brains from the ether.

I enjoy all forms of poetry, although I have a bias towards the rhyme. If I've taken the time to review your poem, regardless of its style, tempo, or grace, it is because I see an echo of myself in its verse and am compelled to respond.

In general, I will comment on the style and structure, cadence, and content. From time to time I will even answer your prose with a ditty of my own, if I am so taken. Whatever I offer, it is meant with the respect and dignity you deserve for baring your soul to the world; to help you enunciate more clearly a message that simply must be heard.

Take what I write with a grain of salt. Keep what you feel adds value and toss the rest to the wind, for in the end, it is your muse that you must satisfy, and your story that must be told.

With that said, on to the review!


************************************************************************

Overarching Theme
"The Thrust"


This is a poem about suicide, the final solution some seek as a means to get attention, or to end painful suffering.

Cadence, Tone, Form

The cadence varies. I do not detect a cadence used to guide the piece, which is fine. Classical poetry either rhymes or it doesn't, and this doesn't. There is no metronome of syllables that I can discern, so the lines just bleed together as focused thoughts spewed forth.

The mood is dark and selfish, which is a reflection of the mindset that produces a suicide. In fact, the selfishness is almost textbook depression, with the subject having a completely external locus of control. That means the subject believes everyone else is in control of his/her destiny, that things happen TO him/her, not because he or she takes action. Rather than sympathy, I feel sad.

This is a free-form poem. Nine lines in the first stanza, seventeen in the next. Even free-form poetry usually fits within one constraint or another, such as syllable count, equal stanzas, or certain line break form. In the cases it does not, the power of the words must overcome this lack of symmetry in order to be pleasing to the reader, lest the point of the piece be lost.


Final Thoughts
What I take with me as I walk away


Sadly, I've seen my fair of suicides and suicide attempts in my life, back when I was a paramedic. I didn't learn much from those who were successful, other than that they left their family and friends with a mess to clean up and a lot of unresolved anger. The line, "maybe now you notice, maybe now you care" may be reflective of the thoughts of the person contemplating suicide, but after they've done the deed, their family and friends seem relieved that the drama has finally left their lives. There was no regret. No remorse. Just relief that it was over. All they ever wanted was a normal relationship without all the drama, and for the victim to make their own way in life without them being responsible for his/her feelings.

The survivors? I've picked up three who were unsuccessful. Two bridge jumpers and one guy with a headache... He pumped a .22 round right between his eyes and missed. The bullet passed between the lobes of the brain and lodged in the back of his skull, causing no lasting damage but a curious scar in the middle of his forehead. All three told me that the moment they jumped or pulled the trigger, they wanted to live again and were glad they did. I ran into a girl who'd jumped off a bridge into water a few years afterward. She told me she had gotten married, had a baby, and was very happy in life. Funny how that goes... I guess you don't know what you have until you almost lose it all.

If this is an exploration for you, just writing and not a cry for help, you've just scratched the obvious surface of what truly motivates a mentally broken individual seeking suicide. This is textbook stuff, the Hollywood-type things depressed people routinely say to elicit attention from their "tormenters," the people they blame for their unhappiness. The richness and the depth of true mental anguish is far more harsh, far more dark, and far more hate-filled than your attempt to nutshell the mindset. You have the gist of it, but you've glossed over the real hatred, anger, and venom.

If this is a cry for help, something you're really thinking about, try to imagine how these words make people around you feel. It doesn't make them care. It doesn't get you what you want. And if you're gone, they might miss you, but they'll never have to care again. Do what normal people do; tell people you love them, do things to make them happy, and show them how much you appreciate their love in return. That will usually get you all the attention you ever need, and it's okay if they don't give it back. The secret to being happy in life is to give, not to receive. Spend some time volunteering at a shelter. Give a bum $5. Do something nice for someone who cannot do for themselves. The goal in life shouldn't be to find people to stroke your ego, it should be to build your own ego through acts of kindness and selfless love.

Good luck to you, whichever the case may be.

Sincerely,
Jeff
scifiguy







*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
3
3
Review of Redux - chapter 1  
Review by scifiguy
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 18+ | (4.0)
Hello, My name is Jeff, and I'm reviewing "Invalid Item on behalf of the WDC POWER REVIEWERS GROUP.

While I am by no means the ultimate authority on everything prose, I am, like you, aspiring to become the best writer I can be. Reviewing the work of others is a privilege, and I hope we both learn something about ourselves during this process.

A review is not a solution, but an observation. As Neil Gaiman once said, "Remember: When people tell you something's wrong or doesn't work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong."

My reviews are limited to The Hook, which is the first sentence of your piece, followed by the first paragraph or two, and, finally, a general critique of the overall content of the chapter/story/item. My reviews are thorough, and if I've taken the time to review your work it is because I've seen promise in your writing. Should you revise your effort based upon my feedback, I will be happy to offer a follow-up review!

ON RATINGS: Every rating I give is 4 stars. Ratings are subjective and vary from person to person, adding little value to the review given. Ratings rarely please an author, and often cause angst. It's at least 4 stars to you, or you wouldn't have put it out there, right? *Smile*

Take what I've written below with a grain of salt. Keep what you feel adds value and toss the rest to the wind, for in the end, it is your muse that you must satisfy. Not mine.

With that said, on to the review!

************************************************************************

I'm skipping the summary, as would most editors and publishers. *Smile*

Opening Sentence
"The Hook"


I'm including the first two sentences here because they should be joined by a conjunction.

Charlie focused her blue eyes on the vastness of empty space before her. She and tried not to think about the lack of coffee in her cup.

Nutshell: A bored woman named Charlie contemplates the vastness of space and a lack of coffee.

There's nothing wrong with starting your novel with a bored woman staring into the great beyond, as long as you don't want anyone to read it. While this used to be common place (pick up anything by written prior to 1950), people, editors, and publishers prefer something that starts in the middle of something exciting these days. Yeah, I know that isn't fair. You want to introduce Charlie and the crew on your terms, get everyone familiar with their personalities, and then give us a big wow in chapter two. It's a nice thought, but if you want someone to pick this book up off the shelf and put it in their bag, you're going to have to ask them to read it from the very first word or it just won't happen.

What you've done here is to begin your story as if it is a screenplay. Let's take a look at it as if it were:

INT. BRIDGE OF STARSHIP - NIGHT SHIFT
Charlie holds empty cup of coffee, feet propped up on console, and stares at space on the viewscreen.

What else is going on? Well, not much. A lot of stuff in her head, which leads me to:



The First Paragraph

Rhodes, their on board head Doctor, had warned her about drinking caffeine at such irregular intervals. Despite the fact that it was nearing one in the morning, she wanted more. Charlie loved the dark substance too much.

Nutshell: Charlie likes coffee but her doctor says no.

Please don't be discouraged by my comments. You write well, but you do a lot of TELLing and not a lot of SHOWing, and this is a great example. We (readers) would learn a lot more about Charlie's love of coffee and Rhodes' medical personality if this were revealed later, much later, through dialogue. The first paragraph, and indeed the next eleven paragraphs, take place inside of Charlie's head and are fed to us through omniscient narration, sans dialogue, mixed in with a bit of author intrusion via a smattering of backstory.

I'm not saying you have to begin your story with dialogue. You need to begin your story with action. Why should we care about Charlie? What is Charlie's story worthy problem? What does Charlie want more than anything, right now? Those are the things that make us want to read on.

I love science fiction a great deal and I want to get to know Charlie. She has a great backstory and is a sympathetic character, but I want to learn these things about her character and her constitution through the things she says and does. I want to learn about her relationships with the other characters through their interactions, which you do get to later in the chapter, and that is when she really begins to come alive.



Final Thoughts
The good, the bad, and the ugly


THE GOOD

You write well. Your intent to introduce your characters and their personalities is not misguided, just misplaced. The chapter ends with a bit of a hook that makes us want to read on to chapter two, but that's a bit too late in my humble opinion. Whatever you do, KEEP WRITING! The more you write, the better you will become at it.

THE BAD

Backstory... If you need to keep going back to tell Charlie's history, perhaps you're starting the book in the wrong place? Start it sooner and write out the prequel so you no longer feel compelled to insert information in your current story, or start it later (in the middle of what's interesting) and let us discover the truths that matter about Charlie through SHOWing and not TELLing. I know you can do it! It just takes practice. You have to trust me (the reader) to be smart enough to figure things out on the fly, without having to be spoon-fed information your muse thinks is too vital to leave out. It really isn't. Hit us where it hurts and let it all hang out. *Smile*

THE UGLY

There is no ugly here. Punctuation is good. The chapter has a beginning, middle, and end. Conversations make sense. Believe it or not, even the best writers have trouble getting all three right sometimes. *Smile*

Put up chapter two and send me an email when it's ready for review. I see a spark in your writing and I'm willing to put money down that the story really gets cooking.

Sincerely,
Jeff Newcomb
scifiguy


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
4
4
Review of An Inhuman Place  
Review by scifiguy
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
Hello, My name is Jeff, and I'm reviewing "An Inhuman Place on behalf of the WDC POWER REVIEWERS GROUP.

While I am by no means the ultimate authority on everything prose, I am, like you, aspiring to become the best writer I can be. Reviewing the work of others is a privilege, and I hope we both learn something about ourselves during this process.

A review is not a solution, but an observation. As Neil Gaiman once said, "Remember: When people tell you something's wrong or doesn't work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong."

My reviews are limited to The Hook, which is the first sentence of your piece, followed by the first paragraph or two, and, finally, a general critique of the overall content of the chapter/story/item. My reviews are thorough, and if I've taken the time to review your work it is because I've seen promise in your writing. Should you revise your effort based upon my feedback, I will be happy to offer a follow-up review!

ON RATINGS: Every rating I give is 4 stars. Ratings are subjective and vary from person to person, adding little value to the review given. Ratings rarely please an author, and often cause angst. It's at least 4 stars to you, or you wouldn't have put it out there, right? *Smile*

Take what I've written below with a grain of salt. Keep what you feel adds value and toss the rest to the wind, for in the end, it is your muse that you must satisfy. Not mine.

With that said, on to the review!

************************************************************************

Opening Sentence
"The Hook"


I stood at the front door of the Harper House wondering how my friends had talked me into doing something so incredibly stupid.

Bang! You nailed the hook and the story-worthy problem in your first sentence, something so few writers do. More than that, in just 23 words, you gave us a first person protagonist, a location that just sounds plain ominous, and the one pronoun you use is perfectly (pun intended) acceptable because things that are just plain stupid aren't always story worthy. Well done.


First Paragraph

The large, rotting, decrepit blemish of a building towered over me, casting a long shadow that made me irrationally uncomfortable. Realistically, it was impossible for the rumors to be true, but stepping onto the property had brought an ominous feeling in the pit of my stomach.

You use the remainder of your opening paragraph to set the hook and tighten the drag. You then proceed to reel us in; as the narrator becomes uncomfortable, so does the reader. For a tribute to SK, this is an excellent way to open it up.


Final Thoughts
The good, the bad, and the ugly


THE GOOD

There's a lot of good here, Tyler. The story has a beginning, a middle, and an end. You'd be surprised at how many people miss out on one of the three. It flows well, is grammatically correct, exhibits good punctuation, and uses the cues of the genre to entice the reader on.

I'm not sure if you intended this to be an "unreliable narrator" piece, but it is, and it's done well. The plot twist at the end, or "the reveal" could be a bit more crisp to be a little bit less anticlimactic, but I wouldn't worry about that too much. I enjoyed reading this and hope you offer more.


THE BAD

Not too much to mention here. As with all first person narrations I read, the repeated use of "I" grates on me, just as much as the repeated use of "he said/she said" bothers me in a third person narrative. You space the I's out well enough that it wasn't a large concern, but there were a few places where "I did this, and I did that, and then I tried this" became tedious.

*Cut* "I closed my mind and listened to the three clicks, and then the subsequent roar of flames."*Cut*

The three clicks of what? I'm assuming it's three clicks of the lighter, but you could be more clear. It's a disrupting sentence right before the climactic reveal that ripped me from the story and sent my eyes wandering back up the page to see what I'd missed.


THE UGLY

There is no ugly here.


Good job! This is an excellent short story and very King-esque. Keep writing! And remember, it's okay to idolize an author, but much better to establish your own brand. You're talented enough to write in your own style and be accepted for what it represents.

I highly recommend you read Stephen King's On Writing if you haven't already. It is a must read for every writer hoping to turn this into a career.


Sincerely,
Jeff Newcomb
scifiguy


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
5
5
Review of Louis and Jacqui  
Review by scifiguy
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: ASR | (4.0)
Hello, My name is Jeff, and I'm reviewing "Louis and Jacqui on behalf of the WDC POWER REVIEWERS GROUP.

While I am by no means the ultimate authority on everything prose, I am, like you, aspiring to become the best writer I can be. Reviewing the work of others is a privilege, where we both learn something about ourselves.

My reviews are limited to The Hook, which is the first sentence of your piece, followed by the first paragraph or two, and, finally, a general critique of the overall content of the chapter/story/item. My reviews are thorough, and if I've taken the time to review your work it is because I've seen promise in your writing. Should you revise your effort based upon my feedback, I will be happy to offer a follow-up review!

ON RATINGS: Every rating I give is 4 stars. Ratings are subjective and vary from person to person, adding little value to the review given. Ratings rarely please an author, and often cause angst. It's at least 4 stars to you, or you wouldn't have put it out there, right? *Smile*

Take what I've written below with a grain of salt. Keep what you feel adds value and toss the rest to the wind, for in the end, it is your muse that you must satisfy. Not mine.

With that said, on to the review!

************************************************************************

Opening Sentence
"The Hook"


He was a king who was just a boy.

Nice opening to a period piece. It places us in the right frame of mind to understand the dilemma the protagonist must face, being all-powerful, and yet powerless. The contrast is immediately palpable, and I want to read more.

First Paragraph

It was the year of our Lord, Sixteen Hundred and Twelve. Though just eleven years old, Louis found himself King of France. Too young to rule in his own right, he was nevertheless still not allowed to act as a young boy.

We are in the year 1612, experiencing the story of King Louis of France through young eyes just old enough to grasp both his weakness and his power.

This is an excellent opening for a story! Louis has a story worthy problem within the first two paragraphs, that he is a king that wants to be a boy.

A weaker author would have followed the temptation to portray young Louis a bit more spoiled, stamping his foot to go out and play. But here, you put it into terms we can all understand. Going out to play is the forbidden fruit, something he LONGS for, something he DESIRES, but is DENIED. Such things are understandable by anyone, and make for the best hooks of all. You SHOW us who he is, what it is he wants, through his desire, instead of TELLing us what he wanted. Well done!


Final Thoughts
The good, the bad, and the ugly


THE GOOD

Snatching a story about Louis the 8th from the annals of history is brave, at least to those of us well versed in European monarchical history. I am pleased with the tale, although it is out of character with the elder Louis history remembers. In your story, Jacqui teaches him compassion and justice, and yet he would later exile his mother and execute her followers. Still, this is an enjoyable story of the beauty of the moment in the life of a king/boy, and I cherish the excellent conversations and tone of the piece.

THE BAD

One thing you left out (this is a historical piece about a real person) is that Louis the 8th was a hairlip, with a cleft palate and a double row of teeth. Small beans to someone who doesn't know history, but it had an impact on me. Another thing that didn't sit well with me was that you have this wonderful story in full blossom and then you cut from SHOWing me the life and the feelings of a young king to Telling me history as it flew by on the breeze. From "Louis looked Jacqui up and down" to "he slipped away to meet her one last time" is nothing but summary. The details of the summary are what I thought I'd get when I finished the first few paragraphs, and I feel cheated.

THE UGLY

There is no "ugly" here, just a few spots with omitted words. For example, in the third paragraph, the word "to" is missing between the and lead.


Largely well done! You tell a good story, I'm just not sure why you didn't tell it fully. I truly enjoy any story that picks up on a piece of history missed by the historians, placed well in the gaps between reality and fantasy. I note it was a contest entry, and contests often have word limits that make us (as authors) rush to the end of what we want to say. I hope you revisit this story and SHOW us how the tale between Jacqui and her young king as it unfolds, the way it should be told, for somewhere in there lies another story worthy problem: a king who cannot marry for love.

Sincerely,
Jeff Newcomb
scifiguy


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
6
6
Review by scifiguy
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 18+ | (4.0)
Hello, My name is Jeff, and I'm reviewing "Bus Number Nine - Novel Ch.1 on behalf of the WDC POWER REVIEWERS GROUP.

While I am by no means the ultimate authority on everything prose, I am, like you, aspiring to become the best writer I can be. Reviewing the work of others is a privilege, where we both learn something about ourselves.

My reviews are limited to The Hook, which is the first sentence of your piece, followed by the first paragraph or two, and, finally, a general critique of the overall content of the chapter/story/item. My reviews are thorough, and if I've taken the time to review your work it is because I've seen promise in your writing. Should you revise your effort based upon my feedback, I will be happy to offer a follow-up review!

ON RATINGS: Every rating I give is 4 stars. Ratings are subjective and vary from person to person, adding little value to the review given. Ratings rarely please an author, and often cause angst. It's at least 4 stars to you, or you wouldn't have put it out there, right? *Smile*

Take what I've written below with a grain of salt. Keep what you feel adds value and toss the rest to the wind, for in the end, it is your muse that you must satisfy. Not mine.

With that said, on to the review!

************************************************************************

Opening Sentence
"The Hook"


I’ll probably get executed for writing this.

Nice first-person opening. Unoriginal, but powerful nonetheless. The phraseology indicates an under-educated person, gender neutral.

What's important to me is that it provides a decent enough hook to lure me in because it begs two questions:

1. What truth is powerful enough to be worth the teller's life to tell?
2. What truth is powerful enough that someone would kill to keep it from being told?

These days, when people are killed for everything from the mundane (their shoes) to the arcane (political expediency), perhaps we have become numb to the deaths of others. Conditioned is a good word. Your clever opening leaves me hoping you answer those two questions before the paragraph is through.

That is the holy grail of the hook because it is the story worthy problem for this character: He/she has a story to tell that is vital and it must be told, even if it means his/her death.



First Paragraph

I haven’t told anyone I’m doing this, but I think it’s important for people to know how all this shit works and why so many people are dying. I don’t think anyone outside of the Bus system knows how they work. Not really. They only know what they saw on fucking commercials, reality show, tweets, or some Facebook shit they read. And none of that amounts to jack-shit, really. My name is Jake Moller, Private First Class. I’m a guard on a Bus for the Milgov. I got some German heritage in me, so they call me “The Kraut” for short, or sometimes just “Kraut” or “K-man”.

We are introduced to PFC Jake Moller, a security guard of sorts who works for the Milgov, and learn that people are dying. He refers to a Bus system and hints that it is misunderstood, and shows a disdain for the know-nothing sheep of society, the ignorant masses he apparently blames for bad times, and the worthless media they consume. Indeed, 2014 was a good year to choose for this story, for that is a mirror of the situation that exists today. It may be too close to our time, though.

Milgov is a nice name that propels us into a sci-fi setting in some future world that includes Facebook and Twitter but not the structured society we take for granted now. So far, so good. It could be more clear, but these are raw thoughts being transferred to us from a normal Joe living in a dangerous time, so we can play along with it as is.

Overall, great first paragraph. I get the impression that Jake Moller is a good vehicle to tell this tale. Just remember that bitterness only makes a reader swoon for a while. It takes much more to make us really care for the plight a character is in and to root for them to win the day all the way to the end of the book.



Final Thoughts
The good, the bad, and the ugly


THE GOOD

This is a compelling story that could be ripped from tomorrow's newspaper. You have all of the elements to a post-apocalyptic thriller here, and the story plays out in a fairly convincing manner. I am not a fan of characters swearing, but this is a first person adventure and the language of the protagonist defines him as much as it does the times in which he lives.

THE BAD

Try to avoid duplication of words and thoughts within the same paragraph. For example, search the first paragraph for multiple instances of "if you ask me."

I think 2014 may be a bit too close to home for this story. I understand that you want it to be in the here and now, but we (the readers) would expect some real figures to be present in the story, like Obama and Boehner, if this were going to happen later this year. If they're not present, we'd need to know how their stories end. An unwritten rule about stories that involve politics and take place within our lifetimes is that they should occur at least beyond the next election cycle.

Also bad is the backstory that begins in paragraph two. Jake is right that we need to "know some basic history here," but think about it: He's telling this story to someone in his present, or perhaps his near future, and they'll already know about the coup. They'll know about the drones. It doesn't make sense that he'd reiterate it now, does it? Yeah, I know, it's central to your story (for us), but there are other vehicles you could use to fill us in on the facts. Jakes is TELLing us the story NOW, instead of SHOWing us the story as it unfolds, and when your muse takes us BACK to tell us something we should already know, it breaks the spell.

At several points, you allude to things that happened in the past, and we (the readers) don't want to keep going back, no matter how good the stories are, because they keep the story from moving forward. Not all backstory is bad; some is even necessary. There are ways to narrate this tale in such a way as to keep it all happening live, but I'll merely suggest you investigate and leave you to discover them, if you so choose. It's better that you find something that fits with your writing style than something I might suggest. If none of that works for you, you can certainly push forward with the style you've laid out. The entire story may be powerful enough to overcome any objections a reviewer/editor may have.


THE UGLY

I am blinded by walls of text, as are most readers. When the eyes are assaulted by one massive paragraph after another, they begin to skim the information in hopes of finding some respite from the never-ending info-blast before them. A general rule of thumb is to hit the enter key whenever the topic changes. I'll refer to you an awesome little book by Strunk and White, The Elements of Style. For about $7, it is an invaluable resource that keeps the grammar hounds at bay.


This is an Orwellian tale that is ripe and fresh, plucked from the slippery slope trajectory our society seems to be heading down, on rails covered with grease. I thank you for attempting to write such an ambitious story and sincerely hope to see more from you on this subject.


Sincerely,
Jeff Newcomb
scifiguy


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
7
7
Review by scifiguy
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (4.0)
Hello, My name is Jeff, and I'm reviewing "Invalid Item on behalf of the WDC POWER REVIEWERS GROUP.

While I am by no means the ultimate authority on everything prose, I am, like you, aspiring to become the best writer I can be. Reviewing the work of others is a privilege, where we both learn something about ourselves.

My reviews are limited to The Hook, which is the first sentence of your piece, followed by the first few paragraphs, and, finally, a general critique of the overall content of the chapter/story/item.

Every rating I give is 4 stars. Ratings are subjective and vary from person to person, adding little value to the review given. Ratings rarely please an author, and often cause angst. It's 4 stars to you, or you wouldn't have put it out there, right? *Smile*

Take what I've written below with a grain of salt. Keep what you feel adds value and toss the rest to the wind, for in the end, it is your muse that you must satisfy. With that said, on to the review!

************************************************************************

Reading my review in the voice of Gandalf helps...

Opening Sentence
"The Hook"


“Why, Elanor, my wuv,” Sam remarked mildly, “What are you still doing up?”

Our old friend Samwise Gamgee comes to life, speaking to Elanor as she enters the stage, obviously younger and probably related. Time and place is not noted, though you quickly take care of that. No harm, no foul, I suppose.

Using a question to kick start a story simply smacks of a hook, doesn't it? If it's a salient question (yours is), we want to read on because we want to hear the answer. If it's a question asked by Samwise Gamgee, well... We know the answer is going to lead to something wonderful, now don't we?

All in all, you've chosen the proper tool to carry us readers onward. Introduce the characters, set up an opportunity for them to interact, and let them lead us to whatever comes next. Not bad for a would-be Took.



First Paragraph

Elanor Gardner was only seventeen and some months, but she was Samwise and Rose Cotton Gamgee’s first-born, and her cares carried some importance in the household. Six siblings suddenly had grown to eight. Not a curved hallway passage, nor several layers of larder shelves within Bag End, would shelter her from the cries of her new twin siblings, Daisy and Primrose.

At least seventeen, maybe eighteen years have passed since the defeat of Sauron and the armies of darkness beyond the Black Gate, not to mention the overthrow of Saruman, back at the Shire. A pair of twins you say? And thus we now know it must be a tale from before the passing of our wonderful Rosie, set quite nicely within a gap in the Master's tale of rings and kings and hobbits and men. Well done, Walkinbird. Well done, indeed.

When writing fan fiction, one of the most important things to the fans that read it lay not in the odes to style and grace, but in the line of time and where the story falls. Once a fan reconciles the timeline in their mind, then they examine characters and settings and such, secure in the knowledge the author has done their homework and remained true to the dream.

As for a hook, it is missing from this second, important paragraph, but I don't really care. Odd of me to think in such a way, but you've done such a remarkable job of reproducing Tolkien's style that it doesn't really matter. This is a glimpse through the window of time, back to an age where stories needn't happen in the now, now, NOW that editors and reviewers so oft demand these days. When Tolkien wrote his masterpieces, lives were slow enough to engage in a good story, and we were better off for it.



Final Thoughts
The good, the bad, and the ugly


THE GOOD: This is my first review of your work and I am quite impressed, young Took. You've managed to do quite a few things right in emulation of Master Tolkien, and I enjoyed this read immensely. Your attention to detail is spot on, and you've obviously spent some time studying the tone, tenor, and cadence of him. Very well done in that regard. Even better was the closing line. Coming home, especially after a great adventure, indeed makes us the men and women we are supposed to be.

THE BAD: Once you established yourself as at least qualified to add to the Tolkien universe, you failed to take a bold step towards doing so. Where's your sense of adventure? You're creating lore here, not making a pie. You could have taken a much greater license with this piece and I'd have swallowed it like a fish taking a worm from a hook.

THE UGLY: There is nothing but beauty here. Well done.



Now it's off to read the rest of your portfolio, just for fun! Good job and KEEP WRITING! You do it very well!

Sincerely,
Jeff Newcomb
scifiguy


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
8
8
Review by scifiguy
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (4.0)
Hello, My name is Jeff, and I'm reviewing "If Wishes Were Fishes on behalf of the WDC POWER REVIEWERS GROUP'S anniversary brigade.

*Burstr**Burstr* HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!!! *Burstr**Burstr*


While I am by no means the ultimate authority on everything prose, I am, like you, aspiring to become the best writer I can be. Reviewing the work of others is a privilege, where we both learn something about ourselves.

My reviews are limited to The Hook, which is the first sentence of your piece, followed by the first few paragraphs, and, finally, a general critique of the overall content of the chapter/story/item.

Every rating I give is 4 stars. Ratings are subjective and vary from person to person, adding little value to the review given. Ratings rarely please an author, and often cause angst. It's 4 stars to you, or you wouldn't have put it out there, right? *Smile*

Take what I've written below with a grain of salt. Keep what you feel adds value and toss the rest to the wind, for in the end, it is your muse that you must satisfy. With that said, on to the review!

************************************************************************

Opening Sentence
"The Hook"


Robby Blake was ten years old. He did not understand why his mom and dad had to move from Connecticut to Nebraska the week before his tenth birthday.

I cheated a bit on my own rule and added the second sentence because it makes (in my mind) a single thought. Good writing makes me want to do that sometimes. *Smile*

We meet Robby and learn his age. This is good, because it allows us (readers) to establish a baseline for the character's voice and motivations.

Taken as a whole, the first and second sentences set up an iron-clad hook and story worthy problem: He has to say goodbye to all he's ever known and doesn't want to. Who would? Oh, how wonderful the world would be if all authors could do this with every tale they wrote! Good job!



First Paragraph

Dad told him that he had a contract for those wind turbines that could not be put off one more day. They had to leave Friday. He would miss sharing his birthday with his friends. He would miss their presents and good times at his party.

Robby's dilemma is thoroughly exposed in the remainder of the opening paragraph. They were leaving soon. The most important thing to a 10-year old (birthday) will be missed. The second most important thing to a 10-year old (presents!) will really be missed, and these revelations taken together set up a very sympathetic response in me. I want to read more.

And that is the key to writing well, is it not? Making us want to care about Robby, to make us hope his parents find a way to let him stay just long enough to spend that one special day with friends...



Final Thoughts
The good, the bad, and the ugly


THE GOOD: Excellent opening, and a good setup to the story in paragraph two. It was an enjoyable read, a fanciful walk through a few days in the life of a child whose world is changing and it's beyond his control. Robby is sympathetic because we have all wished wishes would come true, and probably remember realizing at some point in our lives that they really never do.

Another excellent point in the story reminded me of a scary movie about the origin of genies, and a man saying "be careful what you wish for, you just might get it."

THE BAD: Nothing too bad, other than the story ended prematurely. I wanted to know more about the "wish master" or whoever the old man was. It would have been nice to watch Robby learn to control his wishes, but then again, what 10-year old boy could understand such raw power as that of omnipotent desire on demand?

THE UGLY: There is no ugly in this story. You wrote it well, even in its brevity, and I am glad I got a chance to review it!

Happy anniversary! I sincerely WISH you get to come back and share some more with us someday.


Sincerely,
Jeff Newcomb
scifiguy


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
9
9
Review by scifiguy
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (4.0)
Hello, My name is Jeff, and I'm reviewing "In The Time of Peace on behalf of the WDC POWER REVIEWERS GROUP.

While I am by no means the ultimate authority on everything prose, I am, like you, aspiring to become the best writer I can be. Reviewing the work of others is a privilege, where we both learn something about ourselves.

My reviews are limited to The Hook, which is the first sentence of your piece, followed by the paragraph, and, finally, a general critique of the overall content of the chapter/story/item.

Every rating I give is 4 stars. Ratings are subjective and vary from person to person, adding little value to the review given. Ratings rarely please an author, and often cause angst. It's 4 stars to you, or you wouldn't have put it out there, right? *Smile*

Take what I've written below with a grain of salt. Keep what you feel adds value and toss the rest to the wind, for in the end, it is your muse that you must satisfy. With that said, on to the review!

************************************************************************

Let me open by saying up front that I did enjoy reading this story. However, I had some uncharacteristically harsh reactions because I felt you cheated me of a good read by doing some things that you could have done better. - Jeff

Opening Sentence
"The Hook"


“It is a beautiful day, my love” said King Aldan Sutherwind, as he gazed through the window of his lavish bedchamber.

King Sutherwind admires the view of his kingdom with his wife/mistress present in an obviously elevated bedroom.

This is a safe beginning to a fantasy tale, but it isn't a good one. Sorry, I know that's harsh, but it is sincere. There is no hook present, no action is taking place, and it smacks of boredom. The king is merely surveying the scene out the window as if we were watching the opening of a movie, waiting for the action to begin.

Therein lies its major problem; we're all waiting for the story to begin.

I'm not saying you are a bad writer. I'm not saying this opening kills your story. On the contrary, I see the hook, way down there at the very last possible bit of the far too distant and ignoble second paragraph, THE KING HAS NO HEIR. That's a big, fat, juicy, GREAT hook! One that everyone can understand. But...

M'Lord, why doth thou maketh they servant, thy faithful readership, dither and dally until thine muse sayeth the time be nigh to shareth thy good king's pain? Shame on thee!

You could literally begin this story by saying "King Sutherwind gazed across his lands from the balcony of his bedchamber, from distant shores to the mountains beyond, and had but one regret: He had yet to give the fair citizens of Thellos a viable heir," and cut most of the two paragraphs. One of the major tenets in writing is to be sparing with your words and never, ever, include a single, solitary, unnecessary word, thought, action, or deed.



First Paragraph

Outside, as far as he could see, was the kingdom of Thellos and encircling the base of his ivory palace were its citizens; fruitful and content. All within his land were pleased with their King's rule, as he showed them favor of lenient taxes, free trade in the markets and a vigilant guard, by his Peacekeepers; knights and mages of considerable skill.

In the rest of this paragraph, nothing happens. It's filler; desperate prose that occupies space until you figure out how to get to what your muse really wanted to say. Let's break it down:

1. He looks far and wide and sees happy people.
2. They're all happy because he's benevolent.

That's it. That's all you said.

Someone could say that to him, an advisor or his queen, and it would have taken place in the context of the moment. Instead, you TELL us these things instead of SHOWing us these things, and we feel cheated somehow. SHOWing happens in the context of discovery. TELLing happens when your muse doesn't trust the reader to follow the story without being dragged through filler and history until you get to the point. It may be a lovely, wonderful, interesting point, but we'll only wait so long.

IF, and I do mean if, the reader keeps reading to get to the actual dilemma, they'll find that all of this information could have been included in the conversation with King Aldan's advisors or someone else relevant.

Think I'm wrong? Look at how the story takes off after this nifty revelation about not having an heir! We're going places, we're seeing new people... Must we endure the pablum before being rewarded with such grace? I see your mind at work here. You think it's good enough, but it isn't. You can do so much better, but you need to put your mind to it. You have talent, but you need to work hard. Hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard.



Final Thoughts
The good, the bad, and the ugly


THE GOOD: You write well, from a technical standpoint. The story is a great antithesis to the usual tale of kings, such as the Tudors in English history, who cared about nothing other than controlling people and leaving an heir. Your story is King Arthurian, and asks, "What if a good man was king, who believed in the collective moral compass of his subjects to choose (or elect!) a ruler to succeed him?" The tension and the strife from his visiers and relatives would be great for drama in the full blown story, and quite the interesting read.

THE BAD: Work on the opening. From "It's a beautiful day, my love," to "blew her a kiss and left to begin his day," you need to focus on that one essential thing Sutherwind NEEDS, and that is to put to rest his story worthy problem: Producing an heir or convincing those around him he doesn't really need to. "A king who weds for the sole purpose of an heir is a selfish king" is the greatest line in this story.

I didn't get the sword play. Again, it may all be part of the king's day, but it isn't really relevant to this tale. The king's story worthy problem is that he doesn't have an heir and doesn't intend to do what is necessary to produce one. You need to get to work establishing and resolving that problem from the get-go. We can meet Camdin later.

THE UGLY: I don't comment much on spelling and grammar, but there are a few things in this story that need to be reconciled. Check your usage of throne/thrown, to/too, adviser/advisor. Also, the king is obviously familiar with Camdin, yet you spend a considerable amount of time referring to him as "the man" and "the stranger." Camdin appears to take great pride in keeping the king on his toes and not complacent, and yet it has been 30 years since they last met? Nice thrust, but parried with ease.


With all seriousness aside:

Camdin is a nice ploy in an otherwise good story, but just out of sync. You have a great story here and I'd like to read more, in spite of the things I've written that I believe you need to work on. You show great aptitude for scripting conversations and situational action, but the story needs a beginning, a middle, and an end (even in a chapter!) to really flow and make the reader want to read chapter two. This is something I know you can do, and hope you put in the time and effort to make it so.


KEEP WRITING! It only gets better from here!

Sincerely,
Jeff Newcomb
scifiguy


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
10
10
Review by scifiguy
Rated: ASR | (4.0)
Item Reviewed: "Escape From Desolation (rewrite)
Author brom21
Reviewer: scifiguy
__________
This review is merely the opinion/s of one man, and those opinions could be wrong. Only you know what is best for your story. The words that follow come from the heart, as if I were marking up my own work, and I hope you find them useful in some small way. If not, feel free to cast them to a warm summer’s breeze. My reviews always have suggestions for improvement, the way my eyes see them, but I realize your eyes (and your muse) may see it differently. Please know that my advice is offered in the spirit of making this fine piece even better, and all pieced reviewd receive a rating of "4." Who am I to judge? *Smile*


__________
*Check2*Plot
Jared watches as a city beloved to him meets a fiery end.

__________
*Check2*Style and Voice
Third person omniscent, from Jared's point of view.

__________
*Check2*Referencing
In this (what I assume to be) opening paragraph, you reference Zatire and Appolyon. It is not clear whether Zatire is a planet or a city, and although it could be assumed that Appolyon is Jared's version of hell, I'm confused as to what metal skyscrapers have to do with such a place.

You mention that "He clenched the ash that smelled like death," but did not describe him picking up the ash, which yanks me from the story to consider whether this is a flashback scene.

You also mention "fears of starvation, lung disease, ... going mad from isolation, ... becoming suicidally depressed, ... and other thoughts of terror." Are these his immediate concerns? If you were in Jared's shoes, watching Manhattan burn, would you focus on long or short term threats? We lack the perspective of time to lead us to the proper conclusion.

__________
*Check2*Scene/Setting
We are at an unknown location, watching the destruction of a city. It's not clear whether we're on the outskirts of town, on a hill overlooking the town, or inside a safe section of the city in pursuit of a bad guy as the last line suggests.

__________
*Check2*Characters
Jared is the only character, and we know little about him other than that he cares a great deal for this burning city. We do not know what he tastes, feels on his skin (radiant heat, perhaps?), or hears. We don't know the time, time of day, season, or even what planet we're on, through his point of view. We do know a little about how he feels, and that he longs to return to the halcyon days of his youth.

*Exclaim* Dialog.*Exclaim*
Only one piece of dialogue here: "No, Nooooo!" I'm not sure most people would be bothered by this, or perhaps they would and just won't comment, but I'll toss my two cents into the pot. The opening sentence, paragraph, scene, and chapter give the reader a pretty good idea of what the rest of the book contains. Do you want them to judge everything you've worked so hard to produce on an utterance that cannot add meaning to the emotional impact of the scene before Jared, at least not the way showing him dropping to his knees in shock, tearing his hat from his head and placing it over his chest could?

__________
*Check2*Grammar
There are spelling and grammatical errors here that suggest multiple rewrites of the same material. The paragraph is too long; a good opening is maybe three or four sentences at most, and it should contain the inciting incident; "A scene in which something happens to Jared that creates his surface problem and introduces the first indications of a story-worthy problem." (from Hooked)

Also, words like "tall," "glowed," and "thoughts" are plain, and do little to describe the scene. How tall? What did it glow like? Thoughts of terror mean many things to many people, and are not always frightening.

__________
*Check2*Just my personal opinion

You are creative. Names like Zatire and Appolyon are interesting, and you're not afraid to be unconventional (blue sun). You've included all the elements of a scene and even touched on smell, a sense many writers often forget. That's the good news, and there's enough of it here for me to believe you will improve with practice. Alas, that also means there is room for improvement, so I will be precise to help you improve more quickly:

It's too long. The perspective isn't clear (where is Jared?). I see the elements of an inciting incident, but you have not connected the dots to make Jared care enough to do something, or to make the reader excited about reading the next paragraph. The scene leaves me confused. In the beginning, everything is on fire. In the middle, Jared is holding ash in his hand that makes me wonder if this is a flashback. It references things from the backstory (a big no-no in opening lines) and makes the reader ask a lot of questions.

The best advice I can give comes from Stephen King: "Kill your darlings." It seems to me that this entire paragraph could be summed up in one or two sentences, which makes the rest just a bunch of things that mean something to you, but are better left for the reader to imagine on their own.

"Jared fell to his knees as he watched the city of Zatire, the beloved city of his birth, surrender to a hellish wall of flame. At that moment, facing the loss of everything he held dear, Jared knew he would spend the rest of his life tracking down those responsible and holding them accountable for their sins."
11
11
Review by scifiguy
Rated: E | (4.0)
Hello again, Ruth. Turnabout is fair play, and one good review deserves another. Before I begin, I should say a few things:

I take my job as a reviewer seriously, although I don't hold others to my own lofty standards. Also, I don't review that much poetry, so forgive my clumsiness if you wrote Damsel in a form I'm not familiar with. This review comes from the heart, but it's just the opinion of one man. Only you know what's best for your poem.



Plot This is the story of the Damsel, a woman scorned by an unappreciative Love, presumably her husband. She is hurt by him in some unrevealed way, but he does not see the pain he's caused. She wants his understanding, he gives her only need. In the end, she is unable to bear the burden of two hearts to feed and moves to set one free.

Flow I know that flow is important in poetry, in more than one way. This poem has a logical beginning, a visible transition, and an angst-filled ending. Shakespeare's three acts, if you will, and they were well played. You moved the Damsel from a moment of raw emotion, through a period of angst and confused roles, to a time of resolution, and that's something a **lot** of poets (and writers, too) just can't do.

There are also some rules in poetry, although they vary from person to person and style to style. I note that stanza two includes five lines, while all the rest are four. This does not bother me, but it might offend the purist. I am a fan of poetry that rhymes, though. *Smile* I believe this poem would carry much more weight than it does now if you could carry one theme throughout, rhyming all the time or not at all. In the stories I read and review, I often point out where a sudden shift in Point of View, or author intrusion "breaks the spell" and reminds me that I'm reading a story instead of living it through the eyes of the character. So, when you start the poem with a few rhyming stanzas, the first time my eyes hit a word that "should" rhyme, but doesn't, it seems distracting. This poem was still good enough that it wasn't a major problem for me.

Dialogue I regret that you did not name the scoundrel, other than the hint of a capitalized word (Love) in the last stanza. A Damsel needs a Knight, does she not? To my untrained eyes, this lends itself to unbalanced selfishness on the part of the lady, for I have no heathan upon which to lay blame.

Just My Opinion I read through all of your poems before selecting this one to review. I chose Damsel because you showed me some of your own pain in it, which made the Damsel seem more real. I may not be a man of great poetic depth or knowledge, but there is one thing I do know: powerful poetry comes from the heart. Keep writing, and never be afraid to put your hopes and fears and mushy tears into your verse. Its the best therapy there is.

Sincerely,

Jeff
~~~*FlowerY*~~~

"Once upon a distant time, I knew a Damsel too. We had our share of ups and downs, a lot like Love and you.
I feel your pain and wonder if we're all destined to cry? Tethered to such misery, and yet we all still try.
Hopelessly romantic, we all begin again, with much less hope for romance, we'll settle for good friends."


12
12
Review of The Literarian  
Review by scifiguy
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
*Smile* Hi, my name is Jeff. I read your work and offer this, my humble review, of writing that impressed me.

__________
Item Reviewed: "The Literarian
Author Sean Arthur Cox
Reviewer: scifiguy
__________
This review is merely the opinion/s of one man, and those opinions could be wrong. Only you know what is best for your story. The words that follow come from the heart, as if I were marking up my own work, and I hope you find them useful in some small way. If not, feel free to cast them to a warm summer’s breeze. My reviews always have suggestions for improvement, the way my eyes see them, but I realize your eyes (and your muse) may see it differently. Please know that my advice is offered in the spirit of making this fine piece even better.*Smile*


__________
*Check2*Plot
Matt Thompson is a "socially insignificant" ticket salesman in a box office, contemplating his place in the "Great Story" of life. In a society where his job is mostly performed by machines and natural childbirth is difficult, Matt attempts to decide if he is a "stock character" or a protagonist in real life and, in the process, stumbles upon a good idea for a story and attempts to write it down.

There is also a sub-plot, a very good one in fact. Using movies as a means of population control and/or tool for cultural enhancement is about the most original, unique idea for a story I've come across in quite a while. From the bottom of my heart, you should write that book!

__________
*Check2*Style and Voice
Third person, past tense, solid voice.

__________
*Check2*Referencing
This story occurs 150-200 years in the future.

__________
*Check2*Scene/Setting
The story takes place inside a theater box office staffed by humans, rather than robots or ticket dispensers.

__________
*Check2*Characters
Matt Thompson is a believable man who dreams of being something more than he is. The taste of his depression is strong, while I can clearly smell his ambition. You do an excellent job of getting inside his head, and it's almost more of a human interest story than sci-fi. His hopes and dreams are clear, while his frustrations as a writer mimick my own. His "story," his thoughts regarding his own relevance in the larger scheme of things, are on target and sound. I felt for him, even identified with him, and that's perfect for this audience.

"Guest" is well done. The contrast between "guest" and Gerald is strong, and in this person's inclusion in the story seems necessary to give us perspective on Matt. Other than a facial expression and a tone of voice, I have no idea what this character looks like, but it wasn't necessary. Matt just needed a sounding board, and this character fit the bill.

Gerald Houtin is Matt's chance to feel relevant. Description is light; as with Guest, I don't have an image in my head to go with the character (other than 'pleasant looking'), but what he drags out of Matt is more than relevant.

*Exclaim* Dialog.*Exclaim*
The dialogue is almost entirely Matt's thoughts, but that''s not a bad thing. I get the distinct impression from this story that Matt is making each of the guests into "stock," while the dialogue makes Matt highly memorable.

__________
*Check2*Grammar
No problems with grammar, although the reference to the book Matt had highlighted should have had some markings (italics, quotes, etc.) to delineate it from the rest of the story.

__________
*Check2*Just my personal opinion

This is an excellent study of what goes on inside the head of a writer. I am reminded of Stephen King's story behind the book Carrie, which he tossed in the trash for much the same reason Matt junked his story. Tabitha King rescued it, breathed a little confidence into Stephen, and the rest is history. If this story continues, I hope Matt has a Tabitha, for that is all any good writer needs.

Only one word of caution: While I am never so pithy as to make note of paragraph length, I can't help but give fair warning that most of the places one can submit such fine work to these days do. More often than not, stories with long, rambling paragraphs (even good ones like this) go directly to slush. That's a shame, but it is the world we live in.

If you have not submitted this work to someplace for publication, you should. I consider it one of the best I've read on Writing.com.

__________
I only review things I like, and when I review, I use this format, carefully adapted from Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈 . He is an excellent writer, and I highly recommend checking out his portfolio.

Like Max, I have decided to give everything I review a rating of “4.” Please don’t assign any weight to this number, it is just a number – but know that I selected this story to review because I liked it and thought I could learn from studying it. *Smile*


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

Sincerely,

Jeff Newcomb
http://www.jeffnewcomb.com

Special thanks to Max Griffin for such a clear and concise way to review.
Check out his essay on short stories at "Long Musings on Short Stories.
13
13
Review by scifiguy
Rated: E | (4.5)
Bravo!

That was an excellent conversation! I enjoyed the flow and the pace... The message was very clear to me and the lack of quotation marks (the whole thing was a conversation) really sets this apart, in my book.

I have to admit that the title threw me off a bit. I was expecting a preachy, devotional piece that was more gospel than reverence, but I was very wrong. If you are familiar with C.W. Fields, you did a great job channeling his character. If not, look him up and watch a few videos. Yes indeedy-do, he was a great man.

I have no other critique to add to this. Well written and well said. I only gave you a 4.5 because it would take a Stephen King or Tom Clancy to get a 5 out of me. GOOD JOB!
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Review by scifiguy
Rated: E | (3.0)
I love a story that takes me back to when I was a kid... We used to go to the Cascade Shopping Center in White City, Oregon when I was about 4 or 5, and I remember thinking the exact same thing you wrote about... I think the guy in charge there was just like the lady from your story, a gruff old bald guy who watched us like a hawk as we'd run up and down the aisle with our dollar in hand, trying to get as many sweets as our allowance would buy.

As for the critique? I'm never fond of sentences that start out with "you." I think that "Never take the green ones" would have been better, but that's just my preference. Short, choppy sentences are difficult to read and don't reflect the conversation you're trying to have with me, so try some conjunctions. For example, the second sentence: "The green ones are always stale and dry because they've been passed over too many times by kids who prefer the taste and smell of the tastier red-colored treats" would have impressed me and sucked me all the way into your tale. Also, some people prefer that paragraphs begin with different words, where you used "As I" to start the second and third paragraphs. Yes, that's picky, but valid.

The point of view switches around a few times. Are you talking to me, or telling me a story?

Good conclusion. Your last statement summed up your feelings in a natural way that wrapped up the story for me. I was with you as you walked away, munching on licorice. *Smile*

Overall, I rated this as a 3. Compared to others, I rate lower and have more to say, but I've been writing and reading for a long time now. A 3 is a good start in my book, and with a few more hours spent on this story, you could easily attain a 4 or better. A story that connects with the reader on any level is good, but only a good start. Painting pictures with your words would have made this a lot better for me. Please email me if you edit this story in the future, as I would love to see its progress.

Scifiguy
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