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3,802 Public Reviews Given
Review Style
I balance my reviews by commenting both on what worked and suggestions for improvement. I evaluate material as honestly and objectively as possible, while still being positive and supportive. I can adapt my review style to fit the kind of feedback an author is looking for (e.g., tough love, encouragement, alternative suggestions, etc.).
I'm good at...
Structure, pacing, characterization, plotting, dialogue, and considerations for the professional marketplace. I'm okay at technical editing but much better with broader creative considerations.
Favorite Genres
Action/Adventure, Mystery/Crime/Thriller, Science Fiction/Fantasy
Least Favorite Genres
Nonsense/Experimental Prose
Favorite Item Types
Short stories, novels, essays and other nonfiction writing on a variety of topics.
Least Favorite Item Types
Poetry. (I'm not as familiar with poetic forms as I am with prose.)
I will not review...
Insincere writing. I typically put a lot of thought and effort into my reviews, so I try to focus my efforts on authors who are serious about improving their work. Beyond that, no genre is too weird, no content rating is too high, no form or length is too daunting. I'm open to anything.
Public Reviews
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101
101
Review by Jeff
In affiliation with Party Funds  
Rated: 18+ | (3.5)
Hi ruwth -

I am reviewing your item in connection with "I Write in 2018

I have to admit that, even after reading this item and the instructions for the Taboo Words Contest at least half a dozen times each, I'm still a little uncertain as to whether this is a note to yourself to write a future entry, or this is the entry itself. Don't get me wrong; if it's the latter I can appreciate an unorthodox approach to a contest and enjoy it when people think outside the box for their entries. But three things gave me pause and caused me to second guess whether they're what you're actually doing, or if this was merely a placeholder for a future entry:

1. The reference to I Write threw me off. This piece isn't just self-referential to the Taboo Words Contest, it's also self-referential to the I Write activity, which really makes it feel more like a journal entry or a recap of an item on your to-do list than an actual entry.

2. The prompt for the Taboo Words Contest is to write a poem or a short story. That this is written in first person (and is describing the activity you're trying to complete) makes it feel more like a blog or a journal entry rather than a short story. If you had told the story in third person or added a little narrative detail to give us a sense that this is indeed a short story narrative rather than a nonfiction personal accounting, I think that would help.

3. The most problematic part for me is the characterization of the entry as being something that still needs to be done. "I need to enter a contest right away," "What contest will I enter this week?," "I will enter the Taboo Words Contest." Since these are all present tense, it makes it seem even more like a blog entry or a to-do list rather than a short story. I would recommend changing it to past tense so that it's a little clearer this is the entry itself.

If the goal is to clarify at the end that your "very unique take on the prompt" is writing about writing an entry for the contest, I would try to make the last paragraph a little clearer that it was your intent to do so. You might mention something about how you didn't use any of the taboo words in the piece that they just read, or even in the details below with the word count and prompt information, explicitly state that it's intended to be a meta story.

Overall, I liked your take on the prompt (assuming the intention was to write a self-referential story and that this isn't a placeholder for a real entry to that contest you'll write later!), but I think it could use a little clarification so that there isn't a single doubt in anyone's mind that this item is both about the entry and is the entry itself.

Thank you for the opportunity to read and critique your material. Keep up the good work and keep writing!

Best regards,

Jeff


If you're interested in checking out my work:
"The Book of Jeff
"New & Noteworthy Portfolio Items
102
102
Review of A New World  
Review by Jeff
In affiliation with Party Funds  
Rated: E | (3.5)
Hi Angel -

I am reviewing your item in connection with "I Write in 2018

Before I get into the details, let me just say that I'm a huge fan of extremely short form fiction. Whether you call it blink fiction, flash fiction, micro fiction, or whatever else, compelling people with a narrative of only a handful of words is a very difficult thing to do and I'm always impressed by authors who attempt it, let alone succeed with it!

I really enjoyed your item. I think it's interesting and leaves the reader intrigued to know more without leaving them completely hanging. So, overall, the piece nicely accomplishes its intent.

Where I think there's some area of improvement is in the specific diction and syntax choices. With so little space to work with, every word counts. Short pieces like this become very similar to poetry in the sense that the brevity of the piece puts a lot of emphasis and focus on every single word that's used. Some suggestions you may want to consider:

1. The opening sentence is a bit of a run-on. I'd recommend breaking it up to add a little more punch it up and not start with a grammatical error. Something like "Jan awoke slowly, the dream still there. A city of towers and exotic palaces. Getting out of bed, ..." would punch it up a little and start the piece on the right foot.

2. Removing unnecessary words can give you the space to fit even more narrative into these short pieces. Unless it's integral to telling us something about the character or provides important information about the scene being played out, adjectives like "gradually" can often be cut. "Getting out of bed, she began her normal routine" gets the same point across with one less word, which is one more word that can be applied elsewhere! Similarly, the actual definition of deja vu is "a feeling of having already experienced the present situation" so "the deja vu feeling haunting her" is a bit redundant when "the deja vu haunting her" communicates the same thing without the repetition.

3. I'd recommend varying some of the language choices that show up in short succession. When "unable to shake the strange visions" is immediately followed by another sentence that uses the phrase "an attempt to shake off the deja vu", that second use of "shake" can make the piece feel more limited and constrained than it actually is because the vocabulary repeats itself.

Overall, I think you're off to a strong start. Telling a story in under 100 words is incredibly difficult, especially when the subject matter is about a mythical creature like the phoenix. You've done a great job so far, and hopefully some of the suggestions above help refine the piece and make it even stronger. Nice job! *Smile*

Thank you for the opportunity to read and critique your material. Keep up the good work and keep writing!

Best regards,

Jeff


If you're interested in checking out my work:
"The Book of Jeff
"New & Noteworthy Portfolio Items
103
103
Review of Mom  
Review by Jeff
Rated: E | (3.5)
Hi Devilcoco101

I discovered this item using the site's Read & Review feature and wanted to take a few moments to send you a quick review.

I thought you did a good job with this poem. The meter and rhyme scheme flowed well for the most part, and you did a great job of infusing a lot of emotional depth into so few words. There were a couple of lines that bumped for me, though. "She threw, which was bad" feels like it's maybe missing a word (she threw what?), and I'm a little unsure what the second to last stanza was getting at when it says, "It picked her up to go and rock." Was it a reference to the baby in the previous stanza? A little clarity on that point would help make this poem even stronger.

Overall, I think you're off to a really great start with this poem, and a bit of revision could really make it shine. Really nice job! *Smile*

Thank you for the opportunity to read and critique your material. Keep up the good work and keep writing!

Best regards,

Jeff
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If you're interested in checking out my work:
"New & Noteworthy Portfolio Items
"The Book of Jeff

104
104
Review by Jeff
In affiliation with Party Funds  
Rated: 18+ | (5.0)
Hi ruwth -

I am reviewing your item in connection with "I Write in 2018

Thanks for sending me your item by email. Like you, I don't typically write or review poetry because I've never had much interest or experience with it. But I'm enjoying challenging myself to try something new for "I Write in 2018, and I'm even happier that I've convinced someone else to wander down the poetic path with me. *Smirk*

I agree that this form doesn't really lend itself well to the "read aloud" test; the form makes it difficult to get much of a reading rhythm going. But I thought you did a great job with the tumbling refrain and the construction of your quatrains. I'm particularly impressed by the way you used the same lines in each of the quatrains... coming up with lines that work in varying combinations throughout the poem must not have been easy.

I'm glad you attempted this challenge with me! While I'll always be a prose writer at heart, it's been fun to attempt some of these more challenging poetic forms. I hope you'll keep trying them too! *Bigsmile*

Thank you for the opportunity to read and critique your material. Keep up the good work and keep writing!

Best regards,

Jeff


If you're interested in checking out my work:
"The Book of Jeff
"New & Noteworthy Portfolio Items
105
105
Review of Hitching a Ride  
Review by Jeff
In affiliation with Party Funds  
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
Hi Cheri Annemos -

I am reviewing your item in connection with "I Write in 2018

Overall, I enjoyed this poem. I thought you did a great job with the image prompt, and you created a vivid picture of the situation depicted. The only thing I really stumbled on while I was reading was the second stanza; the first and third felt very practical and grounded in reality, while the second felt a little more ethereal and metaphorical. The juxtaposition of those concepts - going from grounded to metaphorical to grounded again - was a bit jarring as I read it. That said, each of the stanzas on their own were well crafted and elegant. Nicely done! *Smile*

Thank you for the opportunity to read and critique your material. Keep up the good work and keep writing!

Best regards,

Jeff


If you're interested in checking out my work:
"The Book of Jeff
"New & Noteworthy Portfolio Items
106
106
Review of Breakup Letter  
Review by Jeff
In affiliation with Party Funds  
Rated: ASR | (3.0)
Hi Abby Gayle -

I am reviewing your item in connection with "I Write in 2018

I enjoyed the way you wrote this letter in a stream-of-consciousness style. It was an effective way of infusing this letter with what felt like impulsive emotion. It read like a hasty, emotional, rough letter which is exactly how a breakup letter should read. They're not typically well composed and presented; they're rushed and raw.

There did seem to be some room for improvement, though. In particular, I would have liked to have seen a little more content about why you're breaking up with Writer's Block. You say over and over again that you're not sorry it didn't work out, you don't want it in the house, you're feeling uninspired... but what did Writer's Block do to you to make you feel that way? You briefly mention in the first part of the letter that you can't write when it's in the house, and later that you couldn't think of any ideas for the last chapters of your book that's facing a deadline, but it would have been great to see a little more concrete explanation of why Writer's Block is so bad for you and has to go.

While I certainly don't think that contest entries always have to take up the maximum number of allowable words, I did notice that your entry is only 265 words for a contest with a 1,000-word limit. I feel like there's ample room to expand this a little and tell the world (and Writer's Block) a little more about why you're such a bad fit. You've done a great job of explaining what is happening and how it's going to be from now on, but I'd encourage you to get into a little more of the why to really show readers (and Writer's Block) why this is a relationship destined to fail.

Overall, this was a solid first draft that has a lot of potential! *Smile*

Thank you for the opportunity to read and critique your material. Keep up the good work and keep writing!

Best regards,

Jeff


If you're interested in checking out my work:
"The Book of Jeff
"New & Noteworthy Portfolio Items
107
107
Review by Jeff
In affiliation with Party Funds  
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
Hi LostGhost: Seeking & Learning -

I am reviewing your item in connection with "I Write in 2018

Overall, I think you did a great job with this story. In particular, the imagery was excellent and the dialogue helped move things along at a brisk pace. The one line that caught me up a little was in the fourth paragraph when the narrative said "...and I felt my body turning green inch by inch." I think you need a little more to describe this sensation, because green is a visual cue and you're describing a physical sensation. What does turning green feel like?

Other than that, I thought this was a strong story. Nice job! *Smile*

Thank you for the opportunity to read and critique your material. Keep up the good work and keep writing!

Best regards,

Jeff


If you're interested in checking out my work:
"The Book of Jeff
"New & Noteworthy Portfolio Items
108
108
Review of I Write 2018  
for entry "What is possible?
Review by Jeff
In affiliation with Party Funds  
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
Hi Purple Princess -

I am reviewing your item in connection with "I Write in 2018

I thought you did a really good job with this story. Writing an engaging tale in less than 300 words is definitely not easy, and you managed to paint a vivid picture of the characters and the setting.

The one issue I had with the story was an unresolved statement in the third paragraph. You mentioned that Sam's choice to wear the rainbow-colored ribbons in her hair was a choice that your narrator understood as a deep need to feel close to her father. That a bit of an unusual statement, and one that I really wanted resolved in the story. I know 300 words is not a lot of room to play with, but that was such a stark, odd detail that I felt disappointed to not understand how rainbow-colored ribbons connected to her father by the end of the story.

Overall, I thought this was a solid entry for the DFFC. You managed to do a lot with only a few hundred words! *Smile*

Thank you for the opportunity to read and critique your material. Keep up the good work and keep writing!

Best regards,

Jeff


If you're interested in checking out my work:
"The Book of Jeff
"New & Noteworthy Portfolio Items
109
109
Review by Jeff
Rated: 18+ | (3.0)
Hi Velicity Phoenix -

I had a chance to look through your port today and happened across this item, which caught my attention.

I enjoyed the premise of the story. I think you did a great job setting up a mysterious set of circumstances that keeps the reader guessing about what happened, even through the end of the tale. I thought the idea of having really haunting, beautiful music that might be the best music you've ever heard but also a harbinger of one's demise was fantastic. It reminded me of the Sirens of Greek Mythology.

I do think there's quite a bit of opportunity for improvement once you get beyond the premise of the story. From a purely technical standpoint, there were several technical errors that detracted from the reading experience. For example, these typos:

"I sat for a moment, let the endorphins swim, as I smiled."

"You're mine!"

"At the corner of the room, sat my book shelf, and my great grandmother's vintage green chair."

"You're mine. Forever!"

"An electric voice echoes in the investigator's ears as the television cuts back on..."

Additionally, there was a tendency in the piece to overuse commas. This is a problem I have myself; I always tend to use commas where I naturally pause as I write, which usually means I end up with a lot of errant commas that don't grammatically fit with the sentence structure. Examples of some places where you might consider removing extra commas to improve the reading experience:

"If it was not the piano, reading, was the next best thing to calming me."

"I ran through my kitchen, and out the back door, that lead to the bay."

"I looked all over the bay, and searched, for nothing."

"I was wide eyed, as I looked around in the darkness."

On a broader note, I was really hoping that the theme of the piece (the music being tied to the demise of the characters) would have been consistently applied to all the characters in the story. When the police investigator is leaving at the end, he dies not after hearing the music, but seeing strange phenomena on the television. I think it would be great if this investigator met his end in the same way that the other characters did (i.e., after hearing that beautiful music referenced in the last line of the story).

Overall, I think there's a lot of potential to this piece. The concept is great and the characters are interesting, which are the most important parts. With a little revision to the execution of the story and a little proofreading to smooth things out and this could be an excellent piece.

I hope this review has been constructive, and thank you for the opportunity to read your work! Please also remember these comments are the opinion of one person and, as the author, it's up to you to decide which feedback to utilize. Keep up the good work and keep writing!

Best regards,

Jeff
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If you're interested in checking out my work:
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110
110
Review by Jeff
In affiliation with The Iron Bank of Braavos  
Rated: 18+ | (4.0)
Thanks for requesting a review! I appreciate the opportunity to review your item and, overall, I thought you did a really good job establishing the characters and the basic narrative. The pacing was good and kept my interest throughout.

If I had one suggestion for improvement, it would be to consider breaking up the chapters in a more definitive way. This first chapter featured multiple scenes and interactions and I couldn't help but feel like, because there was so much diverse material presented in the chapter, the chapter break itself was a little arbitrary. I would suggest breaking chapters at the natural divide between key scenes or interactions, so that each chapter is a standalone piece that just features that one interaction. By doing that, the reader will better understand the purpose and pacing of the chapter breaks rather than having them pop up at seemingly random places.

Overall, though, I thought this was a really interesting first chapter and the start of what could be a very compelling longer work. Nicely done! *Thumbsup*

I hope you've found this feedback helpful! Thank you for the opportunity to check out your item.

Keep up the good work and keep writing! *Smile*


Jeff
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If you're interested in checking out my work:
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111
111
Review by Jeff
In affiliation with The Iron Bank of Braavos  
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
*Dragon*          *Dragon*          *Dragon*

*Shield6*   Greetings from Westeros!   *Shield6*


My name is Jeff and I'm reviewing your item on behalf of House Targaryen for the "Game of Thrones contest. Please keep in mind that the following are only my personal opinions.

This was a really fun poem to read... and had a structure that actually makes sense to me! ABAB is about the extent of my sophistication with poetic styles. *Laugh*

I thought your imagery was great and really captured the style of flair of the steampunk genre. On top of that your word choice was sophisticated and diverse, but still managed to keep the pace of the read brisk and exciting.

I did catch two small typos:

In the first stanza, it should be “H.G. Wells’ work is done” or “H.G. Wells’s work is done,” but not “H.G. Well’s work is done” as you have it written.

And in the third stanza, it should be “Its vibrations disrupt time” (without the apostrophe).

As usual, though, the toughest criticism I can level at your poetry are a couple of typos. *Laugh* You're an excellent poet and pieces like this are exactly why. This was entertaining, well structured, and evoked strong imagery. I always learn a lot from reading your work and this piece is certainly no exception. Thanks for always teaching me something. *Smile*


I hope you've found this feedback helpful! Thank you for the opportunity to check out your item.

Keep up the good work and keep writing! *Smile*



112
112
Review of Who is She?  
Review by Jeff
In affiliation with The Iron Bank of Braavos  
Rated: 13+ | (3.5)
*Dragon*          *Dragon*          *Dragon*

*Shield6*   Greetings from Westeros!   *Shield6*


My name is Jeff and I'm reviewing your item on behalf of House Targaryen for the "Game of Thrones contest. Please keep in mind that the following are only my personal opinions.


I thought you did a fantastic job with the description in this piece. The sensory detail and imagery in the story is excellent; as a reader I could clearly visualize and imagine everything you were describing.

One of the things I struggled with while reading this piece, though, was understanding her intention as a character. Since the title is "Who is She?" I'm assuming there's meant to be some ambiguity about her identity (which is totally fine), but I didn't get a real sense of her purpose or objective here. I know she sense that it's going to be a special day, but is she anticipating anything in particular? Is she going about her normal everyday actions, or does she react differently knowing it's going to be a special day? Some additional context clues would be really helpful in making the woman in this piece more relatable.

Also, the change in perspective at the very end of the story was a little jarring. This is such an engaging piece, where we're totally immersed in the point of view of the unnamed woman, it's a little surprising and off-putting to suddenly, at the last minute, jump into the perspective of the bus driver. Personally, I think it would be a little more effective if we stayed with her POV the entire time, up to and including the point where she's gone, at which point the story ends.


I hope you've found this feedback helpful! Thank you for the opportunity to check out your item.

Keep up the good work and keep writing! *Smile*



113
113
Review of My Stalker  
Review by Jeff
In affiliation with The Iron Bank of Braavos  
Rated: 13+ | (3.0)
*Dragon*          *Dragon*          *Dragon*

*Shield6*   Greetings from Westeros!   *Shield6*


My name is Jeff and I'm reviewing your item on behalf of House Targaryen for the "Game of Thrones contest. Please keep in mind that the following are only my personal opinions.


I thought this was an interesting piece of writing. It kept me reading through to the very end, which is a testament to your ability to weave a compelling story. *Thumbsup*

One area that I thought could use a little improvement, though, is in the pacing of the events once things really take off. Particularly during the part of the story where Luci is in science class and one of the girls seems to be having a seizure, there's an odd moment where the teacher and Luci have a bit of back-and-forth in the dialogue that doesn't ring entirely true, nor does the part where the 911 operator insists on speaking with the teacher only to ascertain the room number. I feel like those interactions could have been a little more authentic to the staccato, rushed circumstances of an emergency.

Additionally, I was a little confused at the connection between that scene and the stalker. The stalker concerns seem to bookend the piece, but the middle part with science class doesn't seem related as they're dealing with another student until Luci inexplicably passes out herself. I think this piece would benefit from a little more connectedness between the middle and the bookends.

Other than that, I really enjoyed your item and think your story is off to a good start!


I hope you've found this feedback helpful! Thank you for the opportunity to check out your item.

Keep up the good work and keep writing! *Smile*



114
114
Review of The Light Keep  
Review by Jeff
In affiliation with The Iron Bank of Braavos  
Rated: E | (4.0)
*Dragon*          *Dragon*          *Dragon*

*Shield6*   Greetings from Westeros!   *Shield6*


My name is Jeff and I'm reviewing your item on behalf of House Targaryen for the "Game of Thrones contest. Please keep in mind that the following are only my personal opinions.


I thought you did a really great job with this poem. The structure and the rhyme scheme, in particular, stood out to me as the highlights of this piece. I also thought your imagery was excellent; every stanza painted a clear and concise picture for the reader.

Poetry isn't my strong suit, to be honest, and I think what really drew me to this piece was the storytelling in it. Even though it's in poetic verse rather than prose, you managed to tell an interesting, compelling story throughout. A lot of poetry I read doesn't have that narrative quality, and you really hooked me with yours. *Thumbsup*

The one small suggestion I would make is to indicate what form of poetry this is. I know there are a lot of different poetic forms and if this adhered to a particular structure (or if it was intentionally free verse), I think that's good for a reviewer to know. Several of the lines, for example, used the same rhymes ("light," for example was part of a rhyming couplet in three different stanzas), and without knowing the structure, it's difficult to tell whether that was an intentional result of the chosen form, or perhaps an potential area of improvement if there are no structural concerns and the variety of word choice could add more richness to the piece.

Other than that, though, I thought this was an excellent poem.


I hope you've found this feedback helpful! Thank you for the opportunity to check out your item.

Keep up the good work and keep writing! *Smile*



115
115
Review by Jeff
In affiliation with The Iron Bank of Braavos  
Rated: ASR | (3.0)
*Dragon*          *Dragon*          *Dragon*

*Shield6*   Greetings from Westeros!   *Shield6*


My name is Jeff and I'm reviewing your item on behalf of House Targaryen for the "Game of Thrones contest. Please keep in mind that the following are only my personal opinions.


I really liked the pace of your story. There's a lot of action packed into just a few paragraphs, which makes for a very exciting read. I enjoyed the imagination you put into the piece as well, but if there's an area where I thought there could be some improvement it would be in the presentation. There were dozens of typos and other errors in each paragraph, and it did affect the readability somewhat.

Which is not to say that there's anything wrong with that if this is a first draft and you're just trying to get the idea out on paper. If that's the case, though, you might want to make a note somewhere in the item that it's a first or rough draft, or otherwise let people know that it's not supposed to read a completely finished and polished. That's what most people reading and reviewing items here on the site will assume unless told otherwise, so if this is an early draft, it might save you some very critical reviews if you're up front about the fact that this piece is early in the writing process.

On the other hand, if this is a finished piece you're posting, I'd recommend a thorough proofread to make sure you catch the typos and errors. There's nothing wrong with the occasional oversight, but you don't want the readability of the piece to be affected. While the pacing of this piece was good, I think it could be really great once the errors are ironed out so the read is a smoother experience for the reader. *Smile*


I hope you've found this feedback helpful! Thank you for the opportunity to check out your item.

Keep up the good work and keep writing! *Smile*



116
116
Review by Jeff
In affiliation with The Iron Bank of Braavos  
Rated: 13+ | (3.5)
*Dragon*          *Dragon*          *Dragon*

*Shield6*   Greetings from Westeros!   *Shield6*


My name is Jeff and I'm reviewing your item on behalf of House Targaryen for the "Game of Thrones contest. Please keep in mind that the following are only my personal opinions.


Overall, I really enjoyed this story. I thought you did a good job with the detail and description, particular the visuals that the narrator experiences. I do have a couple of suggestions, however.

First, I would recommend delaying the reveal that the person tucking him in is not his mother. When you reveal it in the first paragraph, it takes away from the suspense and foreboding in the following paragraphs. I think it would be more effective and suspenseful to play that out a little by mentioning that the rustle of covers woke him, that he assumes it's mom come to apologize after the earlier argument, he must have dozed off and now she's back to make up... and BOOM, that's when he realizes that the person standing over his bed is not actually his mother. By playing with the delayed payoff of a story moment,
you can really build up the tension.

Second, I would do the same thing with the grandmother. He thinks it's his grandmother, he describes his grandmother, and then you lay it on the audience at the very end that she's been dead for 10 years. The more you can play with the reveal of information, the better you can stretch out the suspense and toy with your readers. *Smile*

Finally, I would try to tie the ending into the beginning a little more. I really loved the sentiment of the last line... that when the darkness visits, one is drawn to look closer at the shadows... but I was hoping there would be a bit more of a reason for it. An explanation of why this is happening to the narrator. Early on in the story, it's unclear what the argument is about, but I think you have a really great opportunity to tie the nightmare he experiences into his earlier actions. What if, for instance, he's having the nightmare and the darkness is coming for him because he willfully did something bad and is now experiencing the consequences? Any time you can find a way to add some resonance to the actions and experiences your characters undergo, I think it adds an extra layer of meaning for an audience.


I hope you've found this feedback helpful! Thank you for the opportunity to check out your item.

Keep up the good work and keep writing! *Smile*



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117
Review of We Know Very Well  
Review by Jeff
Rated: E | (4.5)
Hi Claude H. A. Simpson -

I'm participating in the "Note: TWO DAY CHALLENGE : Scavenger Hunt ...", for which one of the challenges is to review a poem by a member with more than five poems in their portfolio. This poem caught my eye, so I thought I'd send you a quick review to let you know that I really enjoyed this piece. I'm not particularly well-versed in poetry, but I thought the poem was well-structured, elegant, and really did a great job of highlighting the fact that we have no way of knowing where we'll ultimately end up, and that the only thing we can really do in this life is the best we can to make the right choices when faced with the opportunity to do so.

I don't think we've ever crossed paths on the site before, I'm glad that I had the opportunity to read your work and get to know a little about your voice as a writer. Nice work!

Best regards,

Jeff
118
118
Review by Jeff
Rated: 18+ | (4.0)
Hello Joto-Kai -

Thank you for sending me a review request! I was more than happy to check out your item and have enclosed the following comments for your consideration:

Overall, I thought this was a solid vignette that was well written and had compelling characters and dialogue within an interesting narrative. Where I had some concerns were with the fact that this is (as mentioned in your review request) a sample of a book edited to be somewhat standalone. You acknowledged that it's a weakness of the piece, and I have to say that I agree. As a reader, it felt a bit like being dropped into the middle of a story that had already been going on, and it was difficult to get a sense of the characters and narrative while feeling like so much information was missing from my understanding. While that feeling was somewhat mitigated as the events of the story went on, it could be a significant issue if you intend this to be a standalone piece for some purpose.

I suppose that naturally leads to the question of what the purpose of this piece is. If the standalone is meant as some kind of teaser or extra bonus for readers who are already familiar with the work (for example, a mailing list bonus to readers who are already familiar with a larger work featuring these characters), I think it's excellent. But if the standalone is meant to introduce an audience to these characters, I feel like there needs to be a little more context early on in order for readers to familiarize themselves with the backstory that led up to this point in time.

As I mentioned at the beginning of the review, overall I think you've got some intriguing characters here, and the piece is well written and compelling once the reader settles into the narrative. But if this is intended to be a standalone piece for people unfamiliar with the characters and their world, you might want to consider adding some material early on so the reader doesn't feel quite so lost for so long in such a short piece. Other than that, I really enjoyed this!

I hope you've found this review helpful and encouraging. Remember that these comments are only the opinion of one person, and it's ultimately up to you - the author - to decide which feedback to incorporate into your work. Thank you for the opportunity to share my thoughts; best of luck with your writing!


Jeff
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119
Review by Jeff
Rated: 13+ | (3.0)

Hello Tadpole1 -

Thank you for sending me a review request! I was more than happy to check out your item and have enclosed the following comments for your consideration:

First, I would consider putting something personal about the editor at the beginning of your letter. I always think it's a nice touch to personalize a letter so the recipient knows that you've put time and thought into contacting them, rather than just dashing off a form letter to everyone you can think of (even if that's what you're actually doing *Wink*). If it were me, I might start a cover letter along the following lines:

Dear Mr. [Editor]:

I am writing to congratulate you on [the recent success of a client / the recent announcement of some exciting news]. I'm a big fan of [that client/your work], and I was hoping for a moment of your time to tell you about THE KILLING CURE, a 121,000-word science fiction thriller I've written. Imagine an intercontinental version of Michael Crichton's Prey filled with intrigue, betrayal, and romance.

I also feel like the synopsis/summary is a tad too long. Both paragraphs together total almost 300 words, which I think will get a little cumbersome in what should be a brief query letter. I would recommend cutting it down at least in half, and have included a version below that pares down your two paragraphs into one:

Dr. Catherine Thompson, a spunky British researcher and head of NanoCures in London, has created a cure for cancer with spectacular results but mysterious side effects that include regained youth, development of strange eye colors, and sexual activity that’s off the charts. Powerful men, including her estranged father, steal her cure and wind up creating a pandemic virus. Catherine teams up to save the day with Ryan Jons, a brilliant autodidact, mechanic, and inventor whose desire for a simple life is challenged when Catherine waltzes into town and sets her sexy eyes on him. Ryan soon finds himself torn between a promise to always take care of his ailing sister and his involvement with Catherine.

As with the synopsis I've already sent notes on, I think less is more here. The shorter the read, the less likely the editor is to get bored, and the punchier you can make it without giving away too many details, the more likely they are to want to read the manuscript.

I would also slightly tweak the "once this book is accepted for publication I'll create a website" comment. While I think it's great to mention that you're a go-getter in terms of self-promotion, I think that line comes off as a little passive aggressive, like you're not willing to do the work until someone gives you the okay. I would revise (and combine it with the other paragraphs about yourself) so that you're generally talking yourself up like the following example:

As a previously published author (two short stories in anthologies), I know the value of an author working hard to promote their own work, and I am committed to getting this book out there. My research for THE KILLING CURE included visits to the nanotechnology labs at MIT and Vanderbilt, and I am in the process of developing a website to help promote the book upon its release. I also organize a tour group in Paris that has members from all over the world, many of whom I can tap as a core audience.

Finally, I would end with a slightly more robust call to action, just so the editor knows exactly what you want from him or her. Something like:

It would be my pleasure to send you a copy of the manuscript for review at your convenience. I can be reached at [email] or [phone] and sincerely look forward to the possibility of working with you.

Thank you in advance for your time and kind consideration, and I hope to hear from you soon.

Sincerely,

I think you've got the bones of a good query letter here. With some revisions (noted above), you have the potential for a really professional letter that could potentially appeal to a lot of editors looking for new clients and material. *Smile*

I hope you've found this review helpful and encouraging. Remember that these comments are only the opinion of one person, and it's ultimately up to you - the author - to decide which feedback to incorporate into your work. Thank you for the opportunity to share my thoughts; best of luck with your writing!


Jeff
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120
120
Review of She Let Them In  
Review by Jeff
In affiliation with The Dark Society  
Rated: 13+ | (3.0)
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Hi Jen~ -

This review is being sent in connection with "The Dark Society's "Valentine's Day Review Massacre activity. We're trying to do our part for the dark genres of Writing.Com by conducting a review raid on the most romantic day of the year! With that in mind, I've enclosed the following feedback about your item:

I enjoyed the imagery in this poem. I thought you did a good job with the description and the pacing, although I did think that the punctuation and capitalization felt a little off. While the use of punctuation is a personal choice on the part of the poet, there seemed to be some definite places where you were ending one sentiment and starting another, often with the use of a capital letter at the beginning of that next line. In those cases, I would recommend some kind of punctuation at the end of the previous line, just to help establish that the form you've chosen and the progression of your words call for a pause at those specific places. Without the accompanying punctuation, the erratic capitalization felt a little jarring. That formatting/structural issue aside, I really enjoyed the content of the poem and thought it was a solid Dark Dreamscapes entry. Nice work! *Smile*

I hope this review has been constructive, and thank you for the opportunity to read your work! Please also remember these comments are the opinion of one person and, as the author, it's up to you to decide which feedback to utilize. Keep up the good work and keep writing!

Best regards,

- Jeff

If you're interested in checking out my work:
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121
121
Review by Jeff
In affiliation with The Dark Society  
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
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Hi 💙 Carly - Pumpkin Spiced -

This review is being sent in connection with "The Dark Society's "Valentine's Day Review Massacre activity. We're trying to do our part for the dark genres of Writing.Com by conducting a review raid on the most romantic day of the year! With that in mind, I've enclosed the following feedback about your item:

This was a really, really good poem. I appreciate the fact that your verses are complex and have a lot going on in them; so much poetry involves short, staccato lines... it was refreshing to see one that isn't afraid to include more than four or five words on a line to really pack in the imagery and nuance. I thought this poem was a great take on the image prompt, and I love that you included it in your entry to share with the reader. Overall, I really enjoyed this read. Well done! *Smile*

I hope this review has been constructive, and thank you for the opportunity to read your work! Please also remember these comments are the opinion of one person and, as the author, it's up to you to decide which feedback to utilize. Keep up the good work and keep writing!

Best regards,

- Jeff

If you're interested in checking out my work:
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122
122
Review of Sinister Smiles  
Review by Jeff
In affiliation with The Dark Society  
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
Hi Jo -

I thought you did a great job with this story. It was creepy, well written, and made great use of the prompt. I apologize for taking so long to get to this review, but I hope the wait was worth it, because this is my pick for the best entry of the round! *Bigsmile* The only suggestion I would make is to consider switching it over to a static item... or at least choosing to create static items in the future. A campfire is traditionally for multiple users to collaborate on a story together; static items are traditionally what's used for short stories written by a single author.

I'm going to hold off on the Awardicon until I hear back from you (in case you want to change the item type and would prefer the new item be the one awarded), but your merit badge and GPs are on the way! Congratulations! *Smile*

I hope this review has been constructive, and thank you for the opportunity to read your work! Please also remember these comments are the opinion of one person and, as the author, it's up to you to decide which feedback to utilize. Keep up the good work and keep writing!

Best regards,

Jeff

If you're interested in checking out my work:
"The Book of Jeff
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123
123
Review by Jeff
In affiliation with The Dark Society  
Rated: 18+ | (4.0)
Hi Louisa Mullerworth -

Sorry for taking so long to get around to judging this round of Sinister Stories! *Blush* Overall, I thought your story was very enjoyable and well-written. You made good use of the prompt, and your dark atmosphere in the story was excellent. While this wasn't my pick for the winner this round, I enjoyed your story so much that I'm enclosing a few GPs as both a consolation and an apology for taking so long to get around to this. Great work! *Smile*


I hope this review has been constructive, and thank you for the opportunity to read your work! Please also remember these comments are the opinion of one person and, as the author, it's up to you to decide which feedback to utilize. Keep up the good work and keep writing!

Best regards,

Jeff

If you're interested in checking out my work:
"The Book of Jeff
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124
124
Review of Off Politics  
Review by Jeff
In affiliation with The Dark Society  
Rated: 18+ | (4.0)
Hi NuThu -

I'm very sorry for the delay in reading your entry for the Sinister Stories Contest. Although it's currently on hiatus due to lack of free time on my part, I wanted to make sure that I got caught up on overdue reviews. I'm certainly glad I did, because this was an excellent story! I really enjoyed the entire read and thought you did a great job. Unfortunately you were the only qualifying entry during your round of the contest, but I'm including some GPs here as a consolation prize to show my appreciation for you taking the time to write such a compelling story. Thank you so much!

I hope this review has been constructive, and thank you for the opportunity to read your work! Please also remember these comments are the opinion of one person and, as the author, it's up to you to decide which feedback to utilize. Keep up the good work and keep writing!

Best regards,

Jeff

If you're interested in checking out my work:
"The Book of Jeff
"New & Noteworthy Portfolio Items
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125
125
Review of Decay  
Review by Jeff
In affiliation with The Dark Society  
Rated: 13+ | (3.0)
Hi Kei-chan -

This was a fun flash fiction horror story. I liked the twist at the end when you revealed that the narrator of the story wasn't quite what s/he (or the audience) originally thought, and the level of detail and description in the story was effective for such a short piece. Unfortunately, this story didn't post a word count anywhere in the item (which was a requirement for the contest), and didn't even mention the prompt for the January round, which was to feature something beneath the ice during a day of ice skating. *Frown* I enjoy your horror writing and would love to see a qualified entry eligible for judging in a future round. *Smile*

I hope this review has been constructive, and thank you for the opportunity to read your work! Please also remember these comments are the opinion of one person and, as the author, it's up to you to decide which feedback to utilize. Keep up the good work and keep writing!

Best regards,

Jeff

If you're interested in checking out my work:
"The Book of Jeff
"New & Noteworthy Portfolio Items
Community Activities



A new banner for The Dark Society.


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