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Printed from http://www.writing.com/main/profile/reviews/soledad_moon
Review Requests: ON
145 Public Reviews Given
Review Style
In a single word, thorough. I will turn your piece upside down, shake the change out of its pockets and look at even the most minute details. I can be technical but will do so when emphasizing a larger point about the piece as a whole.
I'm good at...
plot structure analysis, technical/formatting issues, character development commentary (especially checking for continuity), diction and dialogue
Favorite Genres
political, dark, dystopia, speculative fiction, plotty erotica, some sci-fi, anything with emphasis on social science
Least Favorite Genres
teen, young adult, romance, most erotica, anything ultramilitant, (creative) non-fiction
Favorite Item Types
novellas and novelettes, short stories over 3,000 words, poetry in challenging forms
Least Favorite Item Types
flash fiction, short stories under 3,000 words, full novels, short poetry
I will not review...
anything with a subservient female character, nature poetry, stories with happy endings
Public Reviews
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1
1
Review of Suicide  
Rated: 13+ | (2.0)
Greetings!

This showed up in the Read a Newbie column, so in spite of the non-E title I decided to check it out. I have to admit that the formatting took me right out of the piece. While raw emotion can fuel a piece, it does take some refinement for raw emotional to be felt by the reader. I did not feel that emotion because the capricious comma use; misspellings; run-on sentences; and truncated paragraph format made it difficult to even follow what was happening (let alone understand the pain).



When I pushed past the chaotic presentation, I found myself with a lot of questions. I think if you answer some of these questions in your piece readers will be better able to empathize (or at least get a sense for why someone might get pushed to this extreme).

*Bulletg* What happened when Chrissy got pushed around? Did Kennedy call her names or tell certain lies?

*Bulletg* How long did the bullying go on? You said it was a while, but how long was a while in this case?

*Bulletg* What was it about Chrissy being thrown out of her seat that pushed her to the point of tying that noose? It's quite a jump from not responding to bullies to suddenly active measures to die. While I understand that suicide itself is an impulsive act, there's also a fair amount of time spent suffering in silence and pondering the idea. If there's even a hint of that ponderation, the transition to suicide will be more sad than bewildering (as it appears right now).

Answering these questions don't have to make the piece overly lengthy (if you want to keep it short). They will, however, provide some more background that will help readers make sense of what's going on. When you have enough energy to revise this piece, I hope you can give us even a little more background.

~Elisa
A brand new siggie from the Stik!!
2
2
Rated: 13+ | N/A (Review only item.)
Hi, there!

I love intentionally bad poetry, especially any that tackles Valentine's Day. Your piece is no exception. The first line was a solid start to this piece (although I think switching the order of the words would make it an even stronger opening line). From there, the descriptions drew chuckles from me. I especially enjoyed your calling Cupid "Baby-clown"; that was an inspired choice. Your disdain of Cupid is clear and understandable throughout this piece. I approve!

~Elisa
A different kind of review signature
3
3
Review of When you find me  
Rated: ASR | (2.0)
Greetings!

I've been deliberating for a bit on how to approach this piece. When I read it, I saw a lot happening that I felt deserved attention. My overall impression is that the narrator's focus felt really scattered. I could tell that a lot of the story was being told in flashback, but it didn't feel like there was a solid sense of significant amounts of time passing.



These structural issues were enough to distract me from the characters. It seemed to me that we started off with exploring who Ashley was before segueing into reminiscing about Mr. Nutty McDoogie. However, I feel like there was more space devoted to actively developing the dog. While I'll delve a little deeper into discussing my impressions of each character's development, I want to state now that I think the best way to address some of the structural issues is to tell Ashley's story in reverse chronological order. This also gives you an opportunity to unravel her identity in a more engaging manner.


ASHLEY: The first introduction we get to Ashley is a list of defining characteristics.

...a vibrant and beautiful girl loved by everybody. She was good at everything she did, she was caring, compassionate and an advocate for everybody who was mistreated. She was the biggest animal lover and took in every stray dog that crossed her path.


Starting off with a textbook example of telling in a story means a (potential) loss of readers very early in the piece. With these traits being duly assigned to her, interest in finding out more about her (and the narrator's relationship to her) falls by the wayside. We're not given as strong of a reason to care about Ashley or what she does. I would consider having the narrator delve into an act Ashley committed that highlights her skills (such as helping the narrator understand a geometry concept). If we readers see Ashley in action at the outset, we'll be much more curious as to why she suddenly took off, not to mention better understand the narrator's confusion and sadness. Going back to the reverse chronological order tactic I mentioned, perhaps you could have the narrator looking over something that Ashley helped her with and being interrupted by the news that Ashley disappeared.


MR. NUTTY MCDOOGIE: Out of all the characters, I'd say I actually understood Nutty the best. While there was still a plethora of adverbs that were distracting, I saw some concrete nuggets that showed me the personality of this dog that meant a lot of Ashley (and actually seemed more memorable to the narrator than Ashley herself). These lines gave me understanding of this character, because it seems Nutty truly was a character. (Note: I included some suggestions to tighten up the sentences to improve pacing.)

He always had one ear up and one ear down, giving him an eternally goofy looking appearance that begged for you to cuddle with him.

His threatening growl grew silent over the time, but the hair in his back was still raised and his eyes was watching my every move, making me wonder uncomfortably, what he would do if I make the wrong move...

All seventy pounds of him would jump on his hind legs in an awkward series of weird exuberant bounces, his ears and tongue flopping along.


These lines prompted vivid images of the dog and his bond with Ashley, something I feel is this piece's strongest aspect. Your use of action here is something I would encourage you to apply to Ashley's characterization and perhaps even the narrator. On an unrelated note, I feel like everything about Nutty could stand alone as its own story, if you ever decided to explore Nutty further.


ASHLEY'S MOTHER: While Nutty struck as the best developed character, I'd say that the most developed human character was Ashley's mother. I find the awkwardness between her and the narrator believable, and I could at least appreciate her sadness. Her reticence goes a long way in showing her emotional state and is effective. That said, I'd have liked to see a little more attention to details when it comes to Ashley's mother. How did the narrator learn of her true occupation? Was it through spying her uniform somewhere in the house? I also wondered why she let the narrator in her home when the two had never met before Ashley's disappearance. Is she so bewildered by her daughter's disappearance that she's willing to let anyone in who might have some answers? I would consider detailing the moment when the narrator meets Ashely's mother the first time. It will help readers better understand the mystery of Ashley's disappearing act and provide greater credibility to everyone involved.



Overall, I feel your characters are believable and have the capacity to be engaging. At the moment, though, there's not quite enough action to give readers enough insight to truly buy into them. I would also consider which character you want to be the focus of this piece, as it currently comes across as Nutty being the focus. Showing Ashley in action aside from bonding with Nutty would help bring a greater amount of the reader's focus back to her and better show the narrator's connection to this long lost individual.


~Elisa
A brand new siggie from the Stik!!
4
4
Review of Dear Reviewer  
Rated: 13+ | (3.5)
Greetings!

This piece popped up randomly for me a couple days ago, and I finally have a chance to sit down and share my thoughts on it. I have to admit it made me laugh in spots, and I actually feel a little sheepish about that. I realize that your intent here was to educate with humor being a distant last on the priority list. Anyway, there are a few items that really stood out to me.


*Bulletb* 4) Please do not partake in drugs and alcohol during the writing of your review…it is most obvious when you do.

I admit this made me laugh, mostly because I've received a few reviews like this. I feel that adding a stipulation about being awake when reviewing might be good to mention. I actually had someone type in their review that they were still half asleep while providing feedback on my work. *Facepalm* I wish I was making that up.

*Bulletb* 5) When reviewing a story which needs the 250 characters to get the GPs, try cutting the review to 300, then it is not so obvious.

I was confused by the use of the word cutting here. Then again, when I hear that word, it's usually because someone recommended that I take something out of a piece. On a side note, I'd also recommend a semicolon after "300". I admit I go a little bit crazy when I see comma splices.

*Bulletb* 6) There will be errors. If they do not interfere with the flow of the story, please write, 'there are errors which need attending to', and ‘lacking commas’, or ‘needs semicolons’ or ‘misspelled words”. It is like a cuisine reviewer writing the fork is placed one inch too low. Plus, I wont be lazy and use you as a proof reader.

On a related note, is this supposed to be sarcastic? I honestly can't tell. Right now, I'm reading it as being slightly sarcastic, especially since I know such errors can actually be hard to find outside of a reviewer catching them. I do say that if anyone's up for me providing a line by line grammar check I will do it. Otherwise, I find the grammatical error that keeps popping up and comment on that. It seems like this statement condemns all of those options with its current sarcastic undertones.

*Bulletb* 9) Using a template is much easier and saves time. I use one. However, there are reviewers which make it look and read like a map for a treasure hunt and the ‘feel’ for the story goes out the window.

I admit this is the one point that stood out the most in my initial reading of this piece. I definitely agree with the last sentence in regards to the downsides of review templates. At the same time, I admit I tend to shy away from them. They may make things easier, but I feel that they can prompt reviewers to become really lazy if they're used to using them. (Of course, some review groups require them, and I realize that's their prerogative.) The biggest concern I have with them is that any template use suggests to me that the reader isn't really paying attention to the piece and is filling in the blank for review credits. When I review, I have some specific formatting WritingML that I use, but I approach each review slightly differently. After years of dealing with corporate templates for emails and phone calls, I feel that templates are robotic and discourage dialogue between authors and reviewers. I'm not sure how much good they're really doing.


As you can see, I have a lot of feelings on this piece. I realize it's kind of old, but I figure a little rephrasing here and there will help anyone else who stumbles upon this piece have a better understanding of what you'd like to see more of from reviewers.


~Elisa
A brand new siggie from the Stik!!
5
5
Rated: E | (2.0)
Greetings!

There's a lot going on with this particular piece. It was actually a bit hard at the very beginning due to the formatting of the text. I presume this was done due to space constrictions, which is understandable. Once you have rewritten this piece,you may want to consider some portfolio reorganization to free up some space. I would wait to do that until some editing is out of the way first. That being said, the formatting did mean a bit more effort was needed to complete the reading. This brings me to the story itself.


The beginning of the story feels like a lot of information is being spoonfed to the reader. We're given description in a manner that feels more like a checklist than anything. Diving into a flashback right away also prevents the reader from being immersed in the story right away. I barely even know what Andrea Sinclair's is like before I'm being moved along into Don's mind as he reminisces about getting the dress for Sally. There's not enough information given for me to care. You could always try something like this, adding a sentence that lets the reader know what the restaurant serves or who else is there.

Don is sitting at a table in Andrea Sinclair’s, a very posh upscale restaurant in town. Groups of men and women in satiny dresses and men donning sport coats share Veals and champagne at surrounding tables.

With this beginning (if you choose to use it, and I'll address that in a moment), I feel adding even just a couple details about the restaurant will interest readers and also help us believe that Don is in the right state of mind to remember something pleasant about Sally. Right now, I'm not getting any of that when reading through the first paragraph, which actually does seem kind of short if you want to have this scene serve as the prologue. That could discourage readers from going any further with this story.


As I read further, I found myself more engrossed by the scene at the Cotton Gin. Here you did a fantastic job of evoking the mood of the bar and the personalities of the patrons. I got a better understanding of what Don was feeling and who mattered in his life. I feel like this might actually be a better place to start the story, with details of the rejected proposal being sprinkled in the story later on. It would be a good way to detail his reluctance to acknowledge Darlene. Here's a possible place to weave in such information without giving too much away.

Don turned his chair so he could watch the door for the first good looking Doe that walked in. As people wandered in, he'd sit up a bit if he saw any flashes that looked like sea foam green. However, as luck would have it this was not a very good night for singles it seemed that all the good-looking Doe’s brought their bucks. And the ones that came alone were either over eighty or under age, and Brenda was sending them back out the door.

It may not seem like much information, but it would give readers something to look forward to as they read. They might wonder about the sea foam green bit as they read, but with more details being mentioned in the story they'll start to put the pieces together in a more natural way. Then their understanding of Don will evolve in a rewarding fashion.


One other thing that stood out to me was the point of view. It switches from Don to Darlene and back at times during this chapter. I certainly don't mind shifting points of view, but doing so in the first chapter can confuse other readers. This area is where I first noticed.

Darlene somewhat disgusted that Don hadn’t even looked at her walked off. Darlene had always liked Don. But Don never gave her much attention. Don turned his chair so he could watch the door for the first good looking Doe that walked in. However, as luck would have it this was not a very good night for singles it seemed that all the good-looking Doe’s brought their bucks. And the ones that came alone were either over eighty or under age, and Brenda was sending them back out the door. The girl just didn’t have a sense of humor when it came to minors. Taco had just finished singing “House of the Rising Sun” when Darlene brought him his drink.
“Here you go Don that will be two-fifty please.
Don laid three dollars on the table. “Keep the change Miss.”
“Thank you, Don.”
Don still had not looked up at Darlene, and she was really disgusted and walked off. As she reached the bar Tammy was standing they're, taking a break. Darlene threw the tray up on the bar and turned her back to the bar and climbed on to a barstool. She turned to Tammy.


By this point I'd already gotten used to seeing things from Don's point of view, so the switch to Darlene was a little bit strange for me. On top of that, the point of view switch provided a bit of an information dump about Darlene's feelings toward Don that I feel could have been revealed later or scaled back. I'd concentrate in this particular part on detailing what Don observes of Darlene's behavior and then let her overtures directed at him reveal her intentions.

Don felt more than heard Darlene leave, her footsteps almost stomping back to the bar. He turned his chair so he could watch the door for the first good looking Doe that walked in. However, as luck would have it this was not a very good night for singles it seemed that all the good-looking Doe’s brought their bucks. The ones that came alone were either over eighty or under age, and Brenda was sending them back out the door. The girl just didn’t have a sense of humor when it came to minors. Taco had just finished singing “House of the Rising Sun” when Darlene brought him his drink.

“Here you go Don," she chimed. "That will be two-fifty, please.

Don laid three dollars on the table. “Keep the change Miss.”

“Thank you, Don.”

He heard her sigh but kept his eye on his screwdriver. Picking up the glass, he took a sip and spotted Darlene at the bar out of the corner of his eye. It looked like she was talking to Tammy, but he couldn't figure out what they were saying. Don shrugged and continued staring at the stage.



The more I read, the more I could be immersed in the story (although it took a little effort to keep track of everyone in the Cotton Gin from time to time). I even chuckled a bit toward the end of the chapter. That said, there's going to need to be some cleanup in terms of formatting and creating a stronger hook at the beginning in order to really bring this story to life. If you'd like I can take a look at the chapter after you've made some changes and do a more detailed review to pick up punctuation/wording errors that I spotted. While I did see them in this version, I feel that the top priority with this story should be taking a look at where detail works/doesn't work and securing the reader's attention at the very outset.



~Elisa
A brand new siggie from the Stik!!
6
6
Review of Un-Fair  
Rated: 18+ | (3.0)
Greetings! I read this piece a couple times before gathering my thoughts. It was engaging to a point, and I thought the narrator's voice was well developed. There's a lot to like in this piece (including the title), but I felt there were some areas that derailed the momentum of the story's pace. There are also some formatting issues that I spotted along the way that you'll want to keep in mind for rewrites and that I wish to discuss fairly in-depth because I feel this story can go from good to great when these issues are tackled. I think when these items are tackled the humor in this story will be more apparent and feel more natural for the characters (as well as the reader).


*Bulletb* Four years of near-perfect grades (save, of course, for ninth grade PE) and I’m somehow still not exempt from doing volunteer hours. I just don’t understand why someone like me has to volunteer at dismal jobs to graduate high school. People who think and learn the way I do don’t need conventional jobs; we get through university on scholarships and get high-paying careers where we never need to learn how to socialize.

I didn't think too much about this when I read the story the first time, but it jumped out at me the second time around. Though I didn't have perfect grades in high school/secondary, I was in IB, which had a 50 hour volunteering requirement that was non-negotiable. Even if that wasn't the case, a number of students who were earning such high marks usually participated in volunteer activities to increase their odds of getting into their first choice of university. Part of this stemmed from recommendations from parents and guidance counselors, but some of it was also peer pressure (not necessarily of a bad sort). My memories of that made me stop short when I read this paragraph because I wanted to know more about how Jane's attitude took form. How long did she know the volunteer hours were required in order to graduate? What exactly made her try to fight it? Most importantly, what makes her think a university is going to accept her based solely on grades? Considering how early this paragraph appears in the story, it sets up Jane's character and has the most immediate impact on her voice. It does a good job of crystalizing Jane's cynicism/borderline antisocial stance. However, it does so with raising a lot of questions about her attitude and how flexible it really is (which makes a big difference as the story goes on). I think some aspects of this paragraph might need to be reexamined to clarify why Jane fought this so much. It could be tweaked to give rise to an unreliable narrator, although that might be a bit much for a comedy piece. As it is, this part gets a little too serious (at least for me).


*Bulletb* One thing that you may want to try to give this piece a little more levity is adding more physical components. In particular, I'd like to see more details on the body language of the characters. This is especially true for Evan. Here are a few places where I think body language/physical actions would be beneficial. I offer some suggestions here, but you might come up with something better if you decide to detail more nonverbal communication.

“I’ll tell you some stories about him. We’re actually supposed to be heading outside for a tour of the fairgrounds, but clearly you’re not one to spend your time listening during job training, so we’ll chat instead.” Sounds adequate.

Instead of saying "Sounds adequate", why not show a little activity on Jane's part?

“I’ll tell you some stories about him. We’re actually supposed to be heading outside for a tour of the fairgrounds, but clearly you’re not one to spend your time listening during job training, so we’ll chat instead.”

I shrug and take a half step toward the exit.


He tells me, “Try squire. I'll have to follow one of the knights around all the time.”

This would be a great place to show a facial expression.

He grimaces. “Try squire. I'll have to follow one of the knights around all the time.”

“What are you doing?” He definitely isn’t smiling at me now.

I think describing Evan's face here is crucial. Reversing the positioning of the dialogue and action may also help keep the pace from halting (which I'll discuss in more detail momentarily).

He narrows his eyes. “What are you doing?”



*Bulletb* Pacing is another aspect of comedy writing with an importance that can never be understated. If you've ever watched stage performances of The Taming of the Shrew (which this story nicely echoes), you'll find that rapid fire banter between the characters and swift action engages the audience both in laughter and emotional investment. With this story, I feel there's space to eliminate some areas that read like transitions but aren't and to clarify the transitions that should be there. The first concept comes up mostly in the form of splitting up paragraphs that should be combined. Here's one example.

A week later and my slack-witted parents still firmly agreed with the dolts that make up our education system. By then the only jobs left for me to choose from were police officer-in-training or wench. That’s right. Wench.

But the only thing worse than being a wench is a physical stamina test. Which is why I’m sitting on this bench being trained to serve people that would all be working for me, were it not for my youth.


Starting a new paragraph after wench feel awkward. I feel combining these two paragraphs would allow readers a bit more time to digest Jane's reasoning before jumping to a new idea. This split prompts readers to shift to a new idea that's actually linked to the previous paragraph, which can be a little jarring. Here's a possible way to approach combining the two.

A week later and my slack-witted parents still firmly agreed with the dolts that make up our education system. By then the only jobs left for me to choose from were police officer-in-training or wench. That’s right. Wench. The only thing worse than being a wench is a physical stamina test. Hence I’m sitting on this bench being trained to serve people that would all be working for me, were it not for my youth.

One thing that confused me a little bit was the passage of time with the following section.

Evan’s saying good-bye and meeting up with some blonde girl who’s all breasts and butt, Brett’s joined a bunch of muscular guys who all look obnoxious, and I have absolutely no knowledge of how to do my job.

Thank God I truly don’t care.



And now here I stand, in a tattered floor-length skirt, with a fake missing tooth, on my first day working at a renaissance fair. With that idiot Evan handing me a flower and smiling at me.


I actually found myself wondering how much time had passed. Was it an hour? A day? Adding to the confusion was the fact that Jane mentions blowing off two hours of training but later on states that only one hour has elapsed. If this difference stays unreconciled, it's going to pull more people right out of the story. Any levity present in the story before this point will be forgotten, and any levity after this will go unnoticed. As a side note, I would be very surprised if the training was not considered in the total volunteer time. When I did my volunteer work in high school, the hours spent training to complete certain tasks (e.g. plant care steps at the nature conservatory) were included in the hours.

Related to this phenomenon is how some characterization is relayed. While the reader finds out the protagonist's name right away, how does Evan find out? Likewise, how did Jane find out about Evan's childhood time in Manchester? Was that something Brett mentioned, or did Evan bring it up? Did Jane happen to overhear some other workers gossiping about Evan? The way it's currently presented makes it seem like Jane pulled all this information out of thin air. Even a passing "or so I heard" entered in there would tie up this loose end and keep the action moving. It would also show the degree of detachment Jane feels from this environment. Heck, it might even show the opposite, which would actually make more sense considering her change of heart.


*Bulletb* I have to admit the ending felt very strange to me for two reasons. First, even though Evan's persistence in socializing with Jane has been well developed, his motivation is still somewhat obtuse. Why is he so interested in Jane? Is it because she took to Brett first? That's the impression I'm getting, but by the time I'm reaching that conclusion it almost feels too late. When am I reaching that conclusion? It's around this line.

“I know,” Evan tells him. As soon as Brett starts talking to him he gets this uncomfortable look.

This could be fixed fairly early in the story where we first see Evan. When you say Brett gives Evan a weird look, describing what his face looks like would provide a bit of foreshadowing that's not too obvious but still provides a reason for the reader to at least understand Evan's motivation. It can still be funny, such as Brett's eyebrows scrunching up in a manner that reminds Jane of something that might be cute to most people but strikes her as absurd (squirming puppies, for example).

The other thing that was even more unclear to me is what caused Jane's attitude toward to complete a 180 in such a short period of time.? Now there are some moments where I could really see her conflict with regards to Evan (such as the part where she ruminates on Evan actually thinking he's a knight). Those lines do show her at least considering him, but it's almost too subtle when later on her attitude shifts almost immediately for suspicion to compliance. She goes from swinging a fake sword at him and saying she doesn't trust him to her breakdown and inability to apologize in the space of about twelve lines of dialogue (which also includes Brett). That feels very sudden, and I'm not sure if many readers will be able to suspend their disbelief without one of two things happening. The first is more hints at the underlying tension between Evan and Brett. The second is making the story longer. Going back to The Taming of the Shrew, the taming of Katherina takes place about halfway through, and we see more of her transformation into a more docile character. In this case, while Jane is no shrew, perhaps it would be worth considering taking a little time to elaborate on Jane's transformation into someone starting to understand the value of socialization. I didn't see that so much with this ending (which got a little rambly in regards to Jane's internal thoughts).


*Bulletb* There is one minor detail that's bugging me a little bit.

“Welcome to the county fair!” they all shout in unison.

Some American readers might become confused by the use of the phrase "county fair" to describe this medieval themed event (as Americans will call these medieval fairs or even ren faire despite that name's era being a bit different in terms of costuming and popular activities). If medieval fairs are actually called county fairs in certain regions, you may want to consider adding a footnote to explain that or use a different term.



When it comes down to it, I did enjoy the story (albeit more on the first reading). I felt that the characters were engaging and worth following, and I got a pretty good feel for the setting. Bolstering the actual story components (fleshing out motivations, smoothing the transitions) will make this an even more compelling work that will leave readers wanting to know even more about Jane's change (or if she even succeeds in changing).




~Elisa
A brand new siggie from the Stik!!
7
7
Rated: 18+ | (3.0)
Greetings!

This story possesses an intriguing concept and likable characters. It's a story with a good foundation that would greatly benefit from some expansion and tweaks in the execution. As I read through the story, I noticed a few particular spots that struck me as good places to start in fortifying your work.



*Plane* CHARACTERIZATION: I was able to get a grasp of the characters and felt that they had some dimension. That said, I do think there's room to further develop Avery and Dr. M.

When it comes to Avery, she strikes me as a touch too naive and effervescent, not someone I envision getting behind the controls of an airplane (which is a pursuit that entails a rigorous study of mathematics and formal sciences). Here are a couple places where I feel you could tweak Avery's development.


He is luminously gorgeous, like an angel, she thought. I wish I could kiss him…I could but I’d land in pretty hot water for it…


I get the impression of a babbler here, even when she's just thinking. I'm not saying we don't think corny thoughts like this from time to time. I just think there are a few too many words. Even simply paring down "like an angel" to "angelic" or specifying a feature (hair, eyes, skin, whatever) that exemplifies his luminosity would make Avery's voice sound a touch more realistic.


Avery opened the door of the Cessna and climbed inside. Looking over the myriad controls, she mentally went through all the preparations prior to a successful flight.


Don't be afraid to bolster the detail of Avery's pre-flight preparation. Even with a single seater Cessna aircraft the checks can tale a few minutes. It may involve a little research, yes, but the payoff is seeing the devotion Avery has to flying and/or highlighting her nervousness of going into flight. Either way, I would imagine that she'd want to ensure that her first flight would be safe.

When it comes to Dr. M, he seems too perfect, to be honest. I even think that his primary drawback (if you can even call it that) of being married is not really a flaw. Even a small flaw would give him more dimension. I also felt his emotional response to Avery's actions/passing were a little melodramatic. Sure, I can appreciate an empathetic character, but his reactions are a bit much since he appears to not know Avery that well. It also implies something going wrong in his own marriage, which I suspect is not intended. There's one particular line that really stood out in terms of Dr. M's development.

Mrs. Mistofeles came to his side and gave him a hug. “Now, honey, you don’t know it was your fault. It could have been caused by anything. Don’t be so hard on yourself.”


“When is the funeral?” asked Dr. M.

“It’s next Friday.”

“We have to go,” wept Dr. M



I cannot imagine the trauma of losing a patient (even if not directly on the operating table), but I am not convinced that Avery's death would be enough to uncork the pain of those past experiences. Again, I think this is tied to the notion of their association not being more thoroughly detailed for readers to see how well Dr. M actually knew Avery. If he didn't know her that well, I'm more inclined to think that a different, more subtle display of emotion (wringing of the hands, a grimace from holding back some sort of outburst, hanginghead, etc.) could be used. (As an aside, his wife really feels tossed into the story as a plot device. I'd like to see more development on her side for building tension of some sort.)


*Plane* PACING: Overall, I feel that the first half of the story moved too quickly, rushing through Avery's infatuation to get to the judgment in Heaven. While I felt the Heaven scene was the most solid part of this story, I feel it would benefit from stronger build-up in the first half of the story. While I've already pointed out some ways to enhance character development, I feel that some plot points/actions could benefit from this same restructuring. Here's one such action.


She found that she was in the living room of a large Victorian house. It was cluttered with all sorts of knickknacks. She looked out the window with the lacy curtains and saw a plane parked outside. Turning her attention back to the interior of the room, she saw that while cluttered, it was still beautiful, with its sapphire walls and wood floor.

She went over to the bookshelf and pulled out a thick book. It read, The Aerodynamics of Flight. “I know all about that,” she muttered before making the connection: “All the things I know take the form of books here in my mind.” Sitting on the shelf was an address book. She opened it and saw pictures of everyone she had ever known, complete with everything she knew about them.



I see a couple possibilities for slowing the pace just a bit here. The first is to combine the paragraphs. Since these actions all occur in one specific room and that the other rooms explored only get one paragraph, this option would logically work. If you want to keep it as two paragraphs, have Avery move around the room more. What other books are on the shelf? Are the knick knacks vintage flight instruments or vestiges of other hobbies/life experiences? What about the people in the address book? While I could see the benefits of ghosting around the house, her physical collapse would make more sense if Avery interacted with this mental house and its components, thus solidifying the psychosomatic connection between the hypnosis and her death.


*Plane* SETTING DEVELOPMENT: The one thing I did not see too much was setting development (outside of the hypnosis scene). I could tell when the action was outdoors versus inside, but I was left guessing at the details. I read the story assuming everything took place in a suburban area. Some more hints (perhaps Avery describing what she saw below to her flight instructor via radio?) would give the setting a little more shape and show this story not happening in a vacuum. I'd also like to see a little more physical detail of Heaven and even the church where the funeral took place. I don't think a whole lot of description is needed for either of those two places, but the switch between them happens in so few words. A little extra information will keep readers' minds from jumping from setting to setting.



You have an accessible story with some worthwhile developments here. I think that it can be fleshed out some more without dramatically increasing the word count. Don't be afraid to revisit and rewrite sections. Such moves will fortify the intensity of the story and breathe more life into the characters, drawing the reader further into worlds that bear some familiarity while also standing apart.


~Elisa
A brand new siggie from the Stik!!

My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Go Noticed.
8
8
Rated: 13+ | (2.0)
Greetings!

I commend you for taking on the topic of food safety in your piece. It's a discussion that has uneven coverage at best and should be researched on an individual level. That said, I got less of a research vibe than a propaganda one while reading this item, which will work against getting people on the fence to hear you out. In the internet age, it is a lot easier to find information to reinforce already held beliefs and thus play to a single person's confirmation bias. If you want to break someone from that trance, you will need to polish this piece and leave no stone unturned. There are a few areas in particular that I feel merit special attention.


*Bullet* CITATION: My biggest issue with this piece was the lack of citation for any quote or statistic used in this item. Let's take at the beginning of this piece.

Top FDA bureaucrat admits:

"I'm not telling you it is a system that is optimal for consumers..."


Who was this individual from the FDA? It he or she was kept anonymous, where did you pull this quote? Pulling such statements without providing additional context is great for propaganda but not for a piece that is intended to get people to reexamine their food consumption habits. More cynical readers will even dismiss the piece right off the bat because of the lack of citation. If you at least state the name of the publication in which this quote was related (even the title of a YouTube video or radio broadcast), that gives people something to research independently, which I gather is a step in the right direction for your purposes. You will want to do this for a number of quotes and statistics scattered throughout this piece.


*Bullet* SOURCES: Speaking of sources, there are a lot of quotes mentioned in less than 800 words. If you want to keep the item within that word count bracket, you may want to consider using fewer sources to avoid confusing some readers. It will also lessen the workload for those who decide to continue researching on their own. There is a possibility that you may find yourself in a position where you will need to make a pervasive change to the piece after tracking down the sources. I can see this going one of two ways: narrowing the scope of the piece to focus on either detailing the problems with the food supply or expanding your word count to roughly 1,000-1,500 words to accommodate both topics.


*Bullet* WORDING: My other major concern with this is the tone used. It struck me as very heavy-handed and came across as "my way or the highway", if you will. If you want to truly get people on board and not potentially have this dismissed as propaganda, I would strongly consider backing off a little. In other places, it gets a little too casual, which can also earn detractors. This part in particular stood out to me.

My system is to buy or grow organic foods and become a vegetarian. Paul Mc Cartny has an interesting video called, " If Slaughterhouses were made of glass, we'd all be vegetarians. It's on my facebook page under Les Kilpatrick.

The Facebook quote embodies the too-casual aspect that I mentioned, while the first sentence is an example of the more aggressive language that carries hints of stubbornness. (On a side note, the organic foods mention brought this article   to mind. I think equating organic foods to food safety is a bit risky, especially if an organic farmer unknowingly spreads contaminated manure. It's much easier to filter that out for an individual tending his or her own plot, but even in urban community gardens this can be a potential pitfall.)


*Bullet* PRESENTATION: I also noticed that this piece was designated as an "other" static item with educational as all three genres. I would consider determined what specific kind of static items this is (article? essay?) and at least look at adding Food/cooking as a genre. Determining the exact item type will help you refine the piece and give more structure, while adding a different genre or two will allow more readers to find it.


Overall, I think that your choice in a troublesome topic was a good one. I just don't think this piece has quite enough going for it to make it as effective as you'd like.




~Elisa
A brand new siggie from the Stik!!
My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Go Noticed.
9
9
Review of The Emetic  
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
Greetings!

While I've read a variety of works on numerous eating disorders, this is probably one of the most visceral works I've read. It's downright haunting, in fact. There are a lot of things that work in this piece. In particular, your use of the verbs "muffle" and "grate" in the fourth stanza give this a powerful sensory punch. There are a couple places where I think a little tweaking would tighten this piece. These things should also be considered in your future poems.


*Burstg* Enjambment: I see enjambment in quite a bit of poetry I read, but it's rare when I see it used effectively. Most of the time, it makes the poem feel like a run-on sentence. Here is an example:

begin to leak onto what
is no longer a face

and I am as blurred


Sometimes it's worth entering a pause, if nothing else to signal to readers to stop for a second and let that line mentally percolate before continuing. The pause can be indicated with a period, semicolon or comma. I feel a period after face would be appropriate here, especially since the last two stanzas are all part of the same, complex thought.

*Burstg* Word choice: There were a couple times when your word choice created images that didn't always fit into the greater scope of the work. One such example comes from the following line:

I moan the cry of the
cows that haunt me through


Given that cries are generally associated with a higher pitch, I find it to be a jarring juxtaposition when moan is used in the same sentence. Sure, moans and cries can both come out in such primal forms of emoting, but they're generally not simultaneous. This particular section suggests a singular expression, and I think "moan" is the better word used to describe the noise in this part of the scene.


Overall, I think this is a very vivid poem, one that details that ongoing anguish of the narrator without leading the reader to draw a specific opinion about this struggle. There are aspects that can be revised to elevate the poem to an even more powerful piece, but you certainly have a good start here.




~Elisa
A brand new siggie from the Stik!!
10
10
Rated: 13+ | (3.5)
Greetings!

I actually read this a while ago but haven't had a chance to really think it over. To my surprise I enjoyed it. Then again, I like unconventional love stories. That said, I'm going after the details since the story and main characters have a solid shape.


*Bulletg* Adverbs: Sometimes I found the adverbs took away from the descriptions in the story. When used in this way, they struck me as redundant. Here's an example.

Arms akimbo, and glaring as if looks could kill, a pale, puny boy approaches them menacingly.

I thought the glare helped craft the image of Jimmy's approach, so the adverb seemed out of place. It could be replaced with some descriptor of Jimmy's posture or other nonverbal cue that involves something besides the face. You could also remove the adverb without taking away from the description of the approach. Each sentence containing an adverb would have to be handled a different way, and you might find that the adverb is beneficial. I would still consider removing a few of them in places where they echo a previous description or could be replaced with a more active description.


*Bulletg* Secondary characters: Though the story is from Arvind's point of view, I felt that I learned more about Jimmy's family. While we find out that Arvind has a sister and that his mom gets along well with Jimmy, we don't really see them at all. In fact, the most I really get to know about Seetl is in Act III when Arvind and Jimmy discuss the rumor started about Arvind and the college student. I wasn't really able to grasp the age difference between Seetl and Arvind or how close/distant they were on an emotional level. I'd have also liked to see a moment showing the chumminess between Jimmy and Arvind's mother. Likewise, you could throw in physocal descriptors of them in Act II, maybe by having Jimmy note a physical feature he likes about Arvind that is similar to his mother.


*Bulletg* Setting: This is the one component I felt got the least attention. I mean, we get some physical description of the neighborhood where Arvind and Jimmy grew up, and there was the scene at the cafe where we saw people outside of their social circle notice them. The MIT bit hinted at a general location for Acts IV and V, but is that area the same setting for the first three acts as well? I couldn't really tell. Maybe in Act I you could describe the exterior of the houses a little more. The natural weather conditions of Act II suggest part of this story takes place outside of Massachusetts (if one uses the barometer of school starting after Labor Day ans six weeks after being somewhere in the middle of October). I actually pictured these parts taking place in the cookie cutter towns of South Florida, even though I'm guessing that wasn't the intention. Besides, even though Arvind and Jimmy get caught up in each other much of the time, Arvind at least strikes me as more observant than the average person. I'd think he's notice some unique characteristics about the place he inhabits.


*Bulletg* Nitpick: There were a few mechanical/continuity things that stood out while I was reading.

1. He's wearing a blood red shirt, and maroon jeans that not only clash with it, but are a little too long, besides.

I'd trim this down a bit to chase off those errant commas that love to crash parties.

He's wearing a blood red shirt and too-long maroon jeans that clash with it.

2. From Act I: He looks like he might be eight, three years younger than Arvind...

From Act III: In it, thirteen year old Jimmy is grinning, and greatly resembles a Croc, himself. Next to him, fourteen year old Arvind looks sweaty and miserable.

I'm thinking Jimmy's age might need to be bumped up a couple years in Act I.

3. In Act II, Arvind's empire on Grand Strategy has two names. I wasn't sure if it was supposed to be either Arvindia/Arvindorinam or one was the official name while the other was an epithet. It struck me as a little inconsistent, although if one is an epithet it's not all that clear.


Overall, I did enjoy the story and just think it's a matter of detail work at this point. Well, that, and I'm interested in reading about Haley's life. I'm really curious as to how that goes.



~Elisa
A brand new siggie from the Stik!!

My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Go Noticed.
11
11
Review of Bent and Blind  
Rated: E | (2.5)
Greetings! I see a good poem lurking in a scattering of words and images that all clamor for my attention. When I read this, I wondered if, when writing this, you wanted to take a chance with this poem structurally and emotionally. Sometimes, it felt like you wanted to but couldn't quite do it. It can be hard to do, especially if you're not used to making your thoughts and/or feelings public. That said, there are some aspects of the poem I think you ought to take a look at in revision.

*Idea* LINE LENGTH - The strongest poetic works find the balance between long lines and extremely short ones. In your particular case, I would recommend trimming some fat. Here is one example and a possible way to trim it down while retaining the original idea.

It badgered my mind, it scattered my thoughts, it warped my world to white.

It raped my mind, scattering thoughts, warping my world
white.
(What exactly do you mean by warping your world to white? That's another thing to consider, which will be covered in another section.)

If you're not sure where to start when shortening lines, think of it this way. Does some part of the line appeal to at least one of the five senses? If so, hold onto that part and rewrite the line around that word or phrase.


*Idea* IMAGERY - Just about every poetry reader I've come across touts imagery as either number one or number two on the list of things he/she considers paramount. There were some moments where you flexed some imagery muscle, such as the example below.

As I plunged into the depths of my own sickly mortal veins.

Bodily imagery, when done in a matter that's not crass or gory, can be an effective way to get a reader's attention. I'd like to see this poem have more of those moments. Here's a place when an abstract idea would benefit from a strong image to convey the idea.

You can become a slave to it, this world becomes a lie,

When abstractions show up in poetry, many readers feel as if they're being spoonfed information, which kind of takes the fun out of reading verse. *Wink* So whip up some more images to process. Here's what I might do with the above line.

I work under its under its crushing hand, enduring its sugary lie,


*Idea* RHYME/STRUCTURE - While there are plenty of readers who seek out strict rhyme and meter, it feels like you're trying to appeal to them and readers who prefer fewer structural restrictions. I think some of your line and imagery issues stem from trying to fit everything into a particular rhyme scheme. Instead of having every line have the very end rhyme exactly, play around with slant rhymes. You can also try having similar (but not the same) vowel sounds or other types of rhymes that aren't an exact match. I think if you do that, the revision process will be easier for this poem. I think it will also make your four quatrain followed by a couplet structure easier for people to follow.

*Idea* PUNCTUATION - You will hear a lot of different opinions on this subject. However, as a very detail oriented person, punctuation in a poem makes a huge impact on me. The way I see it, it tells readers when to stop reading, take a breath, pause or even how fast they are supposed to read the verse. To me, the speed of this poem was in a constant state of flux because of the punctuation. You started off ending each line with a period, which resulted in a slow but steady speed. That's fine, but when I get to the first couplet (which was not punctuated at all), I zipped right through it. If you're going to use punctuation, do make an effort to adhere to standard grammar rules. While some poets bend the rules, it tends to backfire when the poem is being read due to speed issues.

I think you have a good start to a poem. To make it more effective, you'll have to be willing to take some risks when revising it. That's okay, though. Taking risks in writing is what keeps it interesting for all of us involved in the craft.

~Elisa
** Image ID #1549496 Unavailable **

My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Go Noticed.
12
12
Review of Luck  
Rated: 18+ | (4.0)
Greetings! There's always something fun with humanizing abstract ideas such as Despair, Luck and so on. I even started a novel with a similar concept. And I'm amused with this new take on the slice of life writing style. It almost begs for a sequel. I got a pretty good idea of where the characters played.

As I read, a few detail oriented things stood out. It might not be a bad idea to detail the casino a little more so people don't get the idea that it's similar to a typical place on the Strip. (Never having been to Fremont myself, I was at a bit of a loss when it came to really grasping the feel of the place.) There was also one part of the dialogue toward the end that didn't quite read right to me.

“I got an email on my Blackberry, he’s vacationing in the Caymans. So, what’ll it be?” I spilled the remaining ten one-thousand dollar chips from one hand to the next.

“Steak or Lobster?”


I gathered that the first line was being spoken by Luck, but it seemed like the second line would be a natural extension of his question. It didn't quite seem like it would be a good follow up by Lust, especially since it's spoken as a question. Here's how I would imagine that particular instance of dialogue.

“I got an email on my Blackberry. He’s vacationing in the Caymans. So, what’ll it be?” I asked, spilled the remaining ten one-thousand dollar chips from one hand to the next. “Steak or Lobster?”

This could also be broken up with a short acknowledgement by Lust when it comes to Wisdom's whereabouts.

Speaking of Luck, what does he look like? I know we don't always get to see the narrator in first person stories, but there's always room to throw in a key detail about his physical appearance. Perhaps he (or Lust) tugs at his shirt, and he might mention what the shirt looks like. Or Lust could ruffle his hair (if it's not cut too close, that is). While I certainly understand not bombarding readers with a boatload of physical detail about Luck, a tidbit or two helps those of us looking in get an idea of who the narrator really is.

Overall, I found this to be an enjoyable story. Some bolstering of the details will make this an even stronger piece, and that would certainly be a good thing. And if you ever decide to expand upon this concept of humanized abstracts, I just might have to take a look. *Smile*


~Elisa
** Image ID #1549496 Unavailable **

My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Go Noticed.
13
13
Rated: 18+ | (3.5)
Greetings! I enjoy writings inspired by fun juxtapositions. In this case that juxtaposition is the slow drive on the fast highway. You brought it up in your brief description, which made me wonder how much more I'd see of it in the poem. Honestly, I saw less of it than I was expecting. Here is one place where you could expand on the imagery to highlight the fast/slow contrast.

lay on their horns all day
while I busily enjoy the scenery;


Aside from the fact that busily enjoying the scenery seems to not fit with the other relaxed attitudes the speaker has on this drive, I think some description of the scenery would make this pop. While I see the surrounding environment while driving on the highway, I know I'm not always paying attention to how the leaves dangle on the branches or how the dirt swirls in errant breezes when I'm flying down the road. Pointing out little things like that in a line or two will add a more visceral touch to this contrast.

The other thing I'd like to mention is the structure of the poem. Even this can be used to build a fast/slow contrast. Whenever I've read poems that are a little lengthy yet condensed to one whole stanza, I feel reading them is kind of a rushed experience. That seems a little contrary to the theme of slowing down that permeates this poem. *Smile* I think breaking it up into even two stanzas will make it feel less rushed. Here's a place where I might put a break.

couldn't keep me
at bay-red tacks on cities like lite-brite


couldn't keep me at bay-

red tacks on cities like lite-brite


Another structure-related thing I noticed while reading was the following three lines.

'cuz i'm my own man visa
vis
the rest of the earth


I'm just curious as to why you had the 'vis' in 'vis-a-vis' on its own line. If you wanted to shorten the poem a little bit, this might be one place to tighten things up.

Overall, I enjoyed the defience and contrast displayed in this poem. WIth a little more concrete detail and structural alterations it will be the poem it's meant to be.

~Elisa
** Image ID #1549496 Unavailable **

My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Go Noticed.
14
14
Rated: 13+ | (3.0)
Greetings! Before I begin, I do have a quick question. When you say "Gay Marriage: The Cancer That Has Infected America’s Morals", is that supposed to be a restating of the title. I thought that was your intention but couldn't tell for sure. If it isn't, I think choosing one over the other will make your opinion more focused. Likewise, is this an essay or an editorial? It could work either way. If you wish to have it as an essay, I think your arguments need some fortification. With that out of the way, I read this and realized there's a lot I want to say in regards to content and structure.



CONTENT

*Bullet* When it comes to the Bible verses quoted, which version of the book are you using? There are slight wording changes among them, and we all know that different words lead to different interpretations of the same verse in the English language. My parents have a King James Bible, but the version I received as a gift from my grandmother is international (I think. I know for sure it's not King James, though). Though not likely, you might encounter some people who will debate with you how these verses were interpreted, and they might do that because their version phrases them a little differently. If you mention the version of the Bible you quote, then people can go directly to that book and see the text for themselves. It helps in giving opinions stronger credibility.


*Bullet* Anyone who claims to know my God and my Jesus yet still accepts gay marriage is a hypocrite.

That's a tough sell. Ruling out Unitarian Universalists, there are those in the conservative community that support gay marriage because it would support the notion of love as a sacred sanction and bolstering fidelity. Here's one such argument along those lines.

http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9B0...

With Christianity being so large and diverse in its sects, there will be numerous opinions on how best to promote Christian values. Some will see permitting gay marriage as a way to bolster marriage in general. I think it's an opinion that both Christians and people in general should at least consider.


*Bullet* Societies have gone for the entire length of human existence without it, why the sudden push?

I have to admit this is a good question. I'm glad to see you brought it up, because it is something both sides should consider. I think this debate has been going on for so long both parties may have forgotten what sparked it in the first place (especially among those for gay marriage). I would like to see your answer to this question (instead of just skipping to the point of keeping the status quo). It's the one part of this essay that truly got my attention, and I would have liked to see you delve further into it. It could be in this very work, or it could be another editorial altogether. The choice is up to you.


*Bullet* Even harder pressed is the fact that there is proof that opposite sex marriages are not as stable as same-sex marriages.

This whole paragraph had me scratching my head. I reread it a couple times and realized that the point gets lost in mixed up phrases and the statistics being cited by a vague link that doesn't show readers exactly where to view the original information. Normally I would save this for the structure section, but here the structure affects the content more than anywhere else in the piece. The sentence I quoted above is a good example of this. I'm guessing that is supposed to have "same sex marriages" first followed by "opposite sex marriages". The way it is now almost advocates gay marriage. *Wink* Here is another sentence where wording muddles the argument you're making.

In Sweden, where gay marriage is allowed, the divorce rate among men is one and a half times higher than that of their straight marriage counterparts.

While I figured you were comparing the divorce rates of gay and straight men, the lack of the word "gay" does look a little odd in that sentence. Finally, I noticed that you cited Imapp.org. It's certainly okay to use internet sources in any writing, but a URL by itself doesn't cut it. Where on the website did you find these statistics? Most citation styles (MLA, APA, etc.) will cite by either author or the title. If you can find that information, that will help readers find the information so they can view it themselves. I'll include a link to the MLA electronic sources citation guide. The site also has information for APA, which might be more appropriate.

http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/557/09/...


*Bullet* Right now I have...is not already married.

You piqued my curiosity, so I pulled out my copy of the United States Constitution (which is located in a book containing Supreme Court opinions and dissents on over one hundred rulings in the nation's history). I combed through the document and checked for any relevant Supreme Court cases that would pertain to rights. While it establishes that all citizens of the age of consent do share certain rights (namely voting), I did not see anything pertaining to marriage in there. If you are going to mention the Constitution, it is paramount that would mention the article, section and any key clauses involved. The Constitution is actually a fairly easy read, so providing this information gives readers a road map to finding it, if you will. I could see the Ninth and maybe Section One of the 14th Amendment being used in your argument. Otheriwse, it seems to me you might be confusing the Constitution with more specific US (or even an individual state's) codes of law. If this is the case, I would recommend finding the specific law number and citing it. My go-to place for this information is the Libray of Congress. If you check out THOMAS, that system will have summaries, complete texts, and (co)sponsors of US laws. It's good stuff. Since you do attempt to introduce preexisting US law into the debate (which I never see, so kudos to you), I think some additional research will make your argument stronger.


*Bullet* Have you considered taking a financial angle on this issue? I admit the Biblical argument bored me a bit, as I was thinking I'd heard this before. The non-Biblical arguments did catch my attention, and I think exploring this issue from a financial standpoint would be a breath of fresh air in the debate. You might be able to weave the Constitution in there (although that still would require some work).



STRUCTURE


*Bullet* Watch your indentations. They are inconsistent, which can confuse readers. When I stumbled upon an unindented paragraph, I wondered if the points could be combined. One such example is the line starting "The city of Sodom..." To me, it seemed that part could have been combined with the previous paragraph. On the contrary, the line starting "In conclusion..." clearly shows a transition in thought and should be indented.


*Bullet* With an essay, you should have an introductory paragraph where you succintly state your point in one sentence and provide some context. The first three lines are a good base for this paragraph, but they should be set apart from the Biblical argument. That paragraph should also state that non-Biblical arguments against gay marriage will be made so we readers have an idea of what to expect (namely, something rarely seen on this side of the debate).


*Bullet* Now I know there are those that won’t accept the word of God, but I see this as one of the most compelling arguments against it.

When I first read this, my first question was "Against what, exactly?" I figured the "it" in question was gay marriage. With the way this sentence is worded, however, "it" could be accepting the word of God. It wouldn't hurt to clarify that.


*Bullet* Watch your sentence fragments. These two stuck out at me, and they think they could be combined with the preceeding sentences.

Such as the fact that we simply don’t need gay marriage.
Such as the argument that it is an equal rights issue.




Overall, the first paragraph almost made me apathetic, and I think any strengths in this piece stem from the presence of non-Biblical arguments. Right now, your arguments are not the strongest they could be to persuade others (either those for gay marriage or those apathetic to the issue) to even consider them. Some research and careful rewriting will make this piece stand out. For right now, though, it almost feels unfinished.

~Elisa
A brand new siggie from the Stik!!
15
15
Rated: E | (2.0)
Greetings! When I read this, I couldn't help but thinking it wasn't quite finished. Though I've seen it in poetry review forums, is it really poetry? Or would it work better in actual letter format? I'm inclined to say the latter based on what I see here. However, since it's not complete, I'm just taking a guess. Here are some things to consider if you decide to recraft this as an actual letter to your soul.


*Bullet* Make the second person point of view richer. This will involve more than adding "you" and "your". Add some details that the other entity will understand better than anyone. This can come in the form of anecdotes where your strength has been tested in the past. With that, put a little more of your current self out there for your past self to see. Try and answer one of the questions you throw out there. It can be as simple as one sentence that starts "I now believe..." and then goes on to briefly state your answer on a particular topic.


*Bullet* If it's a letter, say so! There are many static item subtypes available on the site, and letter/memo is one of them. Aside from that, you can either add a salutation or "sign" the letter, if you will. Such little details might seem silly, but it makes readers feel like they're stumbling upon a secret. It addresses some of our natural voyeuristic tendencies. *Smile*


*Bullet* You might want to consider expanding upon the following line.

Losing the only reasons I had to live are why ill end up losing my life.

How does that work? You've started to address that in the proceeding sentence. Then you jump to saying you wouldn't take your own life. That's a little bit assumptive. Losing your life could in fact not be your decision to make. At least that's what the italicized line suggests. Tell your past soul what's going on, what actions you're kicking around. You've started to do that, but there's still room to expand on that idea.


*Bullet* Since you have the opportunity, be sure to clean up the details. In the line I discussed before, be sure you capitalize and make that the contraction I'm guessing it's supposed to be. Also be sure that you're not mixing up homophones (your and you're, for example). It almost looks as if this was typed up on the fly. When you're ready to make this a finished product, be sure to check out these easy to miss details.

To me, this piece is like raw furniture. It's a little rough in spots but can be turned into something beautiful and durable. A little shaping and polish will help you get it there.



~Elisa
A brand new siggie from the Stik!!
16
16
Review of One Candle Glows  
Rated: E | (3.0)
Greetings! I read over this poem a few times, trying to grasp the woman's sadness. I'm not so sure I did. You've got a start with the "one candle glows" repeton, and there's room to expand from there. As I read along, these things stood out to me.


*Check2* LINE LENGTH: In any form of poetry/prose, line length cues readers as to how the piece should be read. Since the stanzas are essentially long sentences, people who breeze through this piece may confuse themselves. Even when I took the time to pour over each word, I wasn't totally comfortable with its rhythm. Here's an example of where I think some tweaking would make it more comfortable to read.

One candle glows as she
turns the pages of an
old and worn romance story,
and sees the dynamics of an
inspirational love
in every written word.


I think some of the words make the rhythm awkward in spots (especially the words "and", "inspirational" and anything naming an abstract concept). Likewise, this compund sentence could be shortened to have one independent and one dependent clause. Such a change would retain the original intent of the stanza will controlling the pace.

One candle glows as she
turns the pages of an
old and worn romance,
the dynamics of an
inspirational love
in every written word.



*Check2* WORD CHOICE AND IMAGERY: Aside from affecting how a reader reads the poem, these two things affect the tone/mood as well. I admit I wasn't totally sympathetic to the woman. I felt some sadness, but I know my response could have been more intense. In most cases, you use more words than needed to create the images. Here's a stanza where cutting a couple words would be feasible while retaining the image.

One candle glows on a small
dining table where she
crinkles those yellowed
journal pages and tosses the
remnants of their love aside.


THe lines are a little shorter, but the meat of the stanza remains the same in this example edit.

One candle glows
on a small table where she
crinkles yellowed pages
and tosses the
remnants of their love aside.


Sometimes with poetry being detailed with descriptions can get in the way of conveying the mood. Less description allows readers to use their imaginations a little more in constructing the scene. That independent creativity can work wonders in evoking a sullen mood.


From the emotional perspective, you have a good start on establishing an almost mournful perspective on love that is merely a memory. The technical aspects just need some polishing to make the poem easier to read/internalize.



~Elisa
A brand new siggie from the Stik!!
17
17
Rated: E | (2.5)
Greetings! I've been meaning to review this for some time but have just gotten around to it. Though I'm not a reader of the children's genre, I thought I'd drop off some thoughts on the construction of the story. I liked Lisolette and wanted to get to know her more. Outside of her, I felt like a lot of things were missing from this piece. Children's stories still merit thoughtful character development, easy to folow dialogue and rich settings like other stories, and those are the primary topics I will address.


*Note* CHARACTERS: As I said, I did get a glimpse of Lisolette, and I liked her. Though she may seem childish in comparison to 14 year olds today, I felt her personality fit with the era in which the story is set. The problem is, she struck me as the only character with any really depth. Though several others played a role in the story, none of them really struck me as memorable. I kind of understood that Frau Keltzer was rigid yet not unyielding. However, I felt like Lisolette's parents were almost cardboard cutouts, and the others all blended together. Some physical description couldn't hurt. More to the point, describing their body language would be a great way to reveal their personalities in the action of interrogations. I see the beginnings of this when you describe her encounter with Frau Schmidt ("She looked really elegant and kept her head high."). With the others, you could note if they fidget, twitch or maintain a certain posture. Likewise, you could have Lisolette note either to herself or mention it to someone else if this fidgeting seems out of the ordinary for any of the characters. Right now, though, the characters aren't exactly well distinguished from one another. Perhaps you should spend some time with them to understand how they tick. Asking them questions and having them respond could be helpful.


*Note* SETTING: One thing I remember from reading stories in my childhood was being lost in the settings. They were well described, even if they weren't in fantasy worlds. (If you ever want to see an example of this, pick up a book from The Baby Sitters Club, which shows detailed settings in a non-fantastic world.) Aside from the fact that it's 1892 and that Lisolette's house lacks some of the new household technology available to those of her family's economic status,I have no real concept of when or where this takes place. The parts about Lisolette getting her Sunday dress dirty and Herr annd Frau Wolff enjoying the afternoon sun suggest to me that it takes place in the spring time. Is that the case? Perhaps you could describe new flowering plants growing along the road or stubborn piles of snow that refuse to melt. How about Frau Keltzer's house? Other places where you might not think of adding description (but certainly would enliven the prose) include the beginning during Lisolette's birthday supper. I was eating when I first read this, but I wondered what they had. It seemed like a special occassion, so what did they have to celebrate? And what was the dining area like? These descriptions reflect on her family's status, what their neighborhood is like and other details that children her age would notice. With older children being somewhat sophisticated in those matters nowadays, they might notice if these details are missing. What does that look like? While it can be easy to go overboard with description, there's very little in the story as it is.


*Note* DIALGOUE: The longer the story went on, the more rushed the dialogue felt. It did give the impression of Lisolette abandoning her responsibility of buying milk, and that's where it was most successful. Otherwise, the waves of spoken lines confused me. Two straight pages of it is a real test for readers! If an adult has a hard time following the dialogue, imagine how kids would feel. I do see early on you take a short paragraph to allow Lisolette to collect her thoughts. You should do this more often, and don't be afraid to allow more time in between discussions with other characters. Another option is to reduce the number of questionings Lisolette conducts. Either way, Lisolette is clearly an amateur with an inside track into the adults' lives. She'll need more time to think over the conflicting information she's given. Such non-dialogue paragraphs will help her and the readers keep track of what's happening in the story.


*Note* DETAIL WORK: This section mainly concerns structural issues I noticed throughout the story.

1. I noticed quite a few comma splices. I recommend "Comma Splices and Fused Sentences for suggestions on how to rectify them and will present a line where I spotted the error.

I smiled as I neared the living room, I knew I was faking it but I couldn’t help it.
Note: I think a period instead of the comma would be appropriate here.

2. On a similar note, some of your sentences ramble. Splitting them up into two (or more) sentences will cut down on headaches and make the point clearer.

I laughed; she always had such a fashion sense, maybe it’s because she goes to the School Of Fine Arts.

I laughed. She always had such fashion sense, maybe from attending the School of Fine Arts.

3. Be careful about the spacing of your paragraphs. In some places you have the right spacing while others get lumped together when they should be split. Here's an example of where space should be added.

“You know each other?” Papa asked angrily.
I quickly went to the kitchen without answering his question.



I think you have a good base for a mystery story aimed for a younger audience. I would suggest a rewrite to add some more description and to make it easier to follow. From there, if possible, try to determine what age your audience is (and it makes a big difference in children's writing). Once you determine an age range for the readers of this story, have some kids that age read it. Ask them some questions (e.g. "What do you like best?" "Did you like a particular character more than others?") so you can get a better idea what kids want from a story such as this. It has some work ahead, but I think there's potential for this story to entertain a young audience.

~Elisa
A brand new siggie from the Stik!!
18
18
Review of My Dream  
Rated: 18+ | (2.0)
Greetings! If I remember correctly, this was an entry in Troublesome Musings a couple years back. Real life kind of got in the way of me reviewing it then, but I figured there's no harm in sending comments now. On the whole, I didn't find it that troublesome, and even in rereads I didn't see too much that was disturbing about it. Sure, the narrator might have found it perhaps a bit racy, but compared to some of the erotic pieces that have been entered in the contest, this was like vanilla ice cream topped with vanilla pudding.

As I read the story, a few thoughts kept popping up.


*Bullet* SENTENCE STRUCTURE: It was choppy, and engrossing erotica takes changes up the types of sentences used. I found numerous sentence fragments that sucked the tension out of the story. Here is one example.

I wanted to be pretty for you. Not just pretty. I wanted to be sexy.

I could tell you put in that sentence fragment to emphasize the narrator's intentions. To me, it seemed too clunky and disconnected to really contribute to the overall tone or pacing to the story.

Aside from the sentence fragments, the use of simple sentences was overabundant, causing redundancy or stilting the pace of the action. The first two lines come to mind. Cafe and Starbucks are the same thing, so you could blend the two sentences into a more inviting opening line. Here's one possiblity.

We're sitting in the Starbucks on the outskirts of town, enjoying lattes and the hushed breezes whipping through the trees.

I think the pacing would benefit from more complex and compound sentences being used. A thorough read through to identify sentences that can be combined will help you get started in that part of the revision process.


*Bullet* CHARACTERS: This seems like it's a vivd dream, so why don't we get any description of what the narrator's lover looks like? Sure, the two characters might be familiar with the others' looks, but the readers need to be clued in. *Wink* Likewise, what does the narrator look like? Sometimes we can see ourselves in our dreams, so you could squeeze in a scene in which the narrator sees herself. Speaking of which, I had no idea the narrator was even female until I had read about a third of the story. I felt like a doofus because I kept thinking this was a guy telling the story. Imagine my surprise. I think you should make the narrator's sex known in the first paragraph, because it's not easy to figure out in the first couple, uh, paragraphs.


*Bullet* TONE AND LANGUAGE: I put these two together because my concerns for both of them are very similar. Aside from the fact that the "It was all a dream" ending is a bit cliche, I think there are two possibilities for the tone of this story. The first is a hazy recollection that the narrator is desperate not to forget. The second is approaching it as a secret between the two characters, with vivid descriptions and abundant sensory imagery. Your current tone is somewhere between the two, and I think the latter would be better suited for what's already written.

To achieve the second tone, be prepared to do some trimming, especially of sentences that are primarily interjections of thoughts held by the narrator. Here's an example of such a line.

The kiss itself is innocent, but the feelings behind it are far darker.

That line is chock full o' telling. Want to keep that line around? Illustrate the feelings between the two characters with aggressive actions (e.g. how they remove their clothing, the strength of their respective grasps, etc.). Also consider rethinking some word choices. Here's an instance in which I thought the chosen word didn't quite fit the tone of the piece.

You comply, lying in front of me.

I'm not so sure about using the word comply. Though I'd be inclined to take it out and truncate that sentence, it might work if you go for a bolder tone. On a somewhat related note, you should consider using the word lie in the previous sentence, especially since you use lie correctly in the above sentence.


*Bullet* FORMAT: I recommend breaks in between paragraphs. Right now, the text is all lumped together, so it's hard to figure out transitions in action, tone and thought. Likewise, it's hard on the eyes when all the text is clustered together in such a manner. If you copied and pasted this from a document, you'll have to enter the paragraph breaks manually (or use the preserve spacing function).


I think if you address some of the areas I discussed the piece could become more troublesome in some way. The actions might not be troublesome, but if we're given some more information about the characters or what makes their communing risky or taboo, that could certainly raise eyebrows. You just have to decide how to make us sit up and take notice.

~Elisa
A brand new siggie from the Stik!!
19
19
Review of Into Temptation  
Rated: 18+ | (3.0)
Greetings! The idea of this poem is actually very intriguing, but I struggled with the rambling nature of it. There's a difference between rambling with a good reason to do so and rambling just to look artsy. After a couple readings, I believe this falls into the latter. That detracts from some great images of sacrelige that caught my eye and kept me reading.

As I read the poem, the thing that kept confusing me was who the narrator was addressing. I knew that the narrator was speaking directly to someone or something. It just shifted so often I got confused. Here's one example where I was baffled.

We flew home through the fog in a lead-winged Windstar
Jesus’ carcass flopping against your sternum in a freon breeze.


Whose sternum was it, exactly? Were you addressing the van here? Or is this in some way speaking to God? Considering you address "Mama" later on, I'm almost inclined to think it's the latter. Either way, the point of view is not focused. Even stream of consciousness pieces focus on a singular audience (be it a sole member or sole group). So if the narrator is indeed addressing God the whole time, so tweaking might be in the offering. Stating how you feel God's presence in everything from Mama to the minivan is probably the easiest way to approach this focusing of the point of view.

Aside from the question of the audience in this poem, a few other thoughts crossed my mind. I think some of my questions might have been answered if your brief description had alluded to the conflict of this poem (which I'm not sure I found, actually). Instead of saying it's a short read, say something like the narrator seeks solace while avoiding temptaion. I also wish to address the stanza length. While I can get through a 32 line stanza, many people won't. Such a long stanza might look cool and artsy, but it will frustrate more readers than it will entice. On top of that, it makes the frequent use of enjambment somewhat exhausting to follow. Even 16 lines for a stanza would work in this case. That said, even after rereading the stanzas three times, I didn't know for sure what the temptation was (if any). If we don't even get a clue as to what the temptation is, the title is rather misleading. *Wink* I could guess that screwing over hard working folks is the temptation, but I'm at a loss here.

Don't get me wrong. I did enjoy the various images of Jesus that waxed irreverant toward religion and worship. I also appreciated the progression of the poem. It's nice to see some sort of movement and change over the course of the poem, which doesn't happen that often. Likewise, your expanded vocabulary in this poem was fun, which gave the poem some punch (freon breeze was a delicious phrase, if I do say so myself). Still, I would like to recommend a small change.

You feed them hate and horror stories until their adrenaline glands

I think the term you want here is adrenal. *Smile*

To me, the poem has entertainment value, and once you establish some more focus, it will be an adventurous read (in a good way). Just don't get too carried away in packing in so many images our heads spin (in a not-so-good way).


~Elisa
A brand new siggie from the Stik!!
20
20
Rated: 13+ | (2.5)
Greetings! When it comes to editorials, I focus primarily on the style and structure of the piece. That said, the format of this piece does not sit well with me. Then again, I'm the kind of reader (and writer) who prefers pieces that put the head before the heart. I do realize that emotional is one of the genres of this piece. While it is appropriate for this writing, I question its appropriateness for an editorial (which are meant to reflect a more equal balance of logic and emotion).

Even though this is posted on the internet, I think the writing would benefit if fewer external links were present. Editorials (even those on the internet) draw their strength from the words actually written in them (as opposed to referring people to other areas for more information). Most readers of editorials will not go the extra mile to click on a link to find out more. That said, with your first link, I would recommend replacing it with a concise summary of what is presented in the blog. That way, when readers come across this, they can establish context more quickly before reading your stance on the issue (which I think would work better at the end, anyway).

Speaking of structural issues, I also think information condensed into fewer paragraphs would make the tone of the editorial more focused. I will show one example below.

Take my friend, Russell, for instance...to teach there in the institution.

The words in between the quoted phrases are split up into three paragraphs. Given that one paragraph is simply an extended complex/compund sentence, you could easily combine the three paragraphs into one. On top of that, all of them discuss the same topic, which makes combining them into one paragraph even easier. Most readers of editorials are used to paragraphs that are at least three sentences, but four or five sentences per paragraph is also readable.

My stylistic concerns with the piece center on the language used. Since emotional is a genre used here, your word choice is appropriate for that genre. For an editorial, though, I found it almost inappropriate. In particular, I found the final line (Think about it...) to be out of place. Most editorial readers will be thinking about it, anyway. I think a more assertive conclusion is in order, perhaps something along the lines of "Expanding the reaches of capital punishment may lead to more ruthless discrimination among those with fewer fiscal and/or physical resources." This will stick with readers, as they will have something more specific to ponder once they finish reading the piece.

I think if you are going to post this as an editorial, some tweaking of the format and language are in order. It fits the bill for an informal response, and if that's how you would like for it to be interpreted, I think the letter/memo static item subtype might be more appropriate (especially since you state that it is a response to another person's point, which I'm wondering if you interpreted the same as him).


~Elisa
A brand new siggie from the Stik!!
21
21
Rated: 13+ | (3.0)
Greetings! I enjoy reading and writing sestinas, so I thought I'd have a look at your piece. The journey is illustrated in vivid, eye-catching (ba-dum ching) detail. However, the overall rhythm of the poem is somewhat erratic. Some of it has to do with the form, but in this case, some of the lines could be shortened. Here are some specific suggestions that could tighten up the structure of this poem.

*Bullet* ENJAMBMENT : While enjambment can work as a method of transition, it makes much of the poem read like a run-on sentence. It could create a frenetic tone if it didn't make up the majority of the stanzas. In that case, it just opens the door for headaches for the readers. Here's one particular area where I felt the enjambment was working against the flow.

now; the sodden sack rolls over swelling

thighs that howl as acid swells


The tricky thing about the sestina is how to use the repetons without it feeling bumpy or overly obvious in the reading. Since the word "swell" appears twice in what would be one sentence of prose, it's jarring and doesn't feel right, especially when reading it aloud. If it was two separate sentences, the automatic reaction of readers to cry for different words to be used in one of them would be reduced (if not altogether silenced). Enjambment in sestinas is very tricky. If possible, use it once or twice at the most. Otherwise, the repetons will jar readers.


*Bullet* While repetons play a large role in a sestina's rhythm, the words used in the lines also make a difference. Simply put, shorter words are more effective. Lines in sestinas shouldn't be super long, but you do get wordy in spots. Removing/changing a couple words here and there will make a difference, especially in the following lines.

The eye wants to discover what virgin skin begs that he molest.

The eye wants to find what virgin skin begs him to molest.

taut peaks? No. This cyberspace deception is more common than icicles

like peaks? No. Deception's as common as icicles

their photographs with this licentious eye, lest it loom and swell

their photographs with this lusting eye, lest it loom, swell

It is possible to rewrite the lines without sacrificing the repetons. The trick is to read the line without the repeton and find what can be shortened, changed or taken out.


*Bullet* I admit I was baffled by the last two sentences.

He compensates her with baby’s breath and irises. Her gaze drips icicles.

Aside from the fact that this could be trimmed down, I was wondering who she was. Was she the girl/woman the eye investigated in its nocturnal escapade? If so, there's no hint of their relation to each other, so why is he giving her any sort of compensation? If not, why is the wife only briefly mentioned at the end (out of seemingly nowhere)? I think the eye's journey needs to end earlier in order for this section to make any sense.


I do like the poem, and some of the images are quite striking (e.g. to increase the mileage of its now-dry optic nerve that scrapes behind?; I really liked that line). I think it needs some revision in order to be effective as a poem in general and as a sestina in particular. Sestinas are not the easiest form around, but with some tinkering, you can craft this poem into a successful one.


~Elisa
A brand new siggie from the Stik!!

My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Go Noticed.
22
22
Rated: 13+ | (2.5)
Greetings! I admit I'm of two minds when it comes to this piece. On the one hand, the narrative voice is solid. To me, that voice is the strength of this vignette. On the other hand, the character tells us a lot of things. There are very few opportunities to really see what is prompting the monster's angst, and that is keeping this piece from being more poignant. Here are a few ways to flesh out this piece so that the narrator's struggle becomes more real to the readers.


*Bullet* I am no man, I may look and act like one but I am not.

Aside from the fact that you have a comma splice here (see "Comma Splices and Fused Sentences for details on how to correct these), this is a prime place to throw in a detail or two about the monster's physical appearance. Even just describing his hair to some degree will give readers something to grasp. Let's take a look.

I am no man. I may have the dishwater dreadlocks of a man, and I might spend time mulling over the crossword puzzle like some of them do. That doesn't mean I am of their ilk.

I'm probably way off base about the monster having dreadlocks or doing the crossword in his spare time, and that's the point. He might not be human, but describing him in at least somewhat humanizing terms will make him more accessible. This also prevents readers from drawing wildly different conclusions about this monster. I might think he enjoys a good crossword puzzle while another thinks he prefers to kick a soccer ball around his apartment when he's not eating. I understand that the goal is not to sympathize with him. At this rate, we need to get to know the monster better before delving further into his story.


*Bullet* More animalistic, feral both in thought and appearance I had changed.

I'm not so sure the Yoda-like grammar of this sentence works, especially since the monster's voice is so direct for most of the piece. It also pits passive voice (this line) against active voice (seen throughout the rest of the piece). I would try rearranging it, taking out some words here and there.

I changed, becoming more feral in appearance and thought.

Sure, it's a simpler sentence, but I think it would fit the monster's voice better given the context.


*Bullet* A couple I have almost let go, that in itself should tell you how I hate this life. Some however make me see something in myself. Something that scares me, even a monster has fears.

I put these lines together because they both address a similar concern. This is a great opportunity to use the victims to characterize the monster. You state how, but you don't show it. What did the victims say or do that almost compell him to let them go? Do certain stories strike a chord in him, perhaps provoking an old memory? Likewise, what about those that make him see something in himself that he fears? This is the place to explore the monster's past, even if it's just a quick flashback. Readers want to know why this monster ticks the way he does, and this is a wonderful place to construct the answer readers seek.

There is some work that needs to be done to make the readers understand what the monster is and why he has become such an abomination. You've set down a good foundation, and now it's time to build upon it.


~Elisa
A brand new siggie from the Stik!!

My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Go Noticed.
23
23
Rated: 18+ | (2.5)
Greetings! After reading and rereading this piece, I admit I am of two minds about it. As an account of your experience with California public schools, it is effective. If the piece is meant to be persuasive, though, it's not quite there. It's not clear to me if this is just you sharing your personal experience. I get that impression throughout the piece but have my doubts after reading the last paragraph. If your intention is made clear from the beginning, I think the piece will feel more complete. Given my mixed feelings about the piece, I'll present each direction I think this piece could take and give two reviews (one from each perspective).

*Star* PERSONAL EXPERIENCE: As I said earlier, this is effective as a personal experience piece. Though the use of profanity gives it a journal-like point of view, you leave no doubt in the reader's mind how you feel about what has trangressed. From this angle, my suggestions amount to paying attention to the smaller details. I think mentioning where in California this took place would be helpful. You never know if someone will read this and think all areas of California have public schools like this. Even a vague description of where you were at the time (northern California, for example) would work. While schools like this do exist throughout the country, I think some degree of isolation will help readers better understand your experience. My other suggestion would be to consider the essay and/or editorial item subtypes. While non-fiction does apply, I think a more specific item subtype will help people understand that this is a piece about your personal experience.

*Star* EDITORIAL: While I pointed out the last paragraph as what made me wonder if this was a persuasive piece, two lines in particular made me wonder.

I also believe that competition will actually help strengthen and improve the school system.

When my daughters went to high school, they were bussed to an area that was less than welcoming.


I could see this piece as an argument for vouchers and/or against bussing. I'd also be interested in seeing capitalistic tenets applied to the public school system. Would free market actually work in this type of situation? Anyway, if this is meant to be persuasive, here are some things to consider in the rewrite stage.

*Bullet* changing the item subtype to editorial or even article
*Bullet* rewriting lines to eliminate profanity; I might be wrong on this, but most people reading a persuasive piece will not take kindly to swearing.
*Bullet* augmenting personal experience with data that shows vouchers are effective (or bussing does not work for socieconomic diversification)
*Bullet* cleary defining your argument as close to the beginning of the actual piece as possible (which is currently not the case, even though it is suggested in the brief description)
*Bullet* identify the true scope of the problem; these issues are not always nationwide. As I mentioned in the personal experience section, specifying where you encountered these problems will help readers. With a persuasive piece, a specified area can help the public make more informed decisions about what is best for a given school system. It's possible that what might work in one California school district will backfire in another.

No matter the intent of this piece, I would also recommend cleaning up the punctuation. I'll provide a couple examples that stood out to me as I read.

Someone feels they have been so wronged; that it is justifiable to take the life of others, just to grab some moments of infamy.

I would recommend the following punctuation.

Someone feels they have been so wronged, that it is justifiable to take the life of others just to grab some moments of infamy.


The halls were patrolled by undercover cops reminiscent of the old television show, "21 Jump Street."

A possible fix

The halls were patrolled by undercover cops reminiscent of the old television show 21 Jump Street.


I think there are a lot of possibilities for this piece (even though personally I'm not 100% convinced). Once you decide what exactly this piece will be, some polish will make it stand out. Until you clarify your point, though, not everyone will read it the same way you do, and your message will be lost.


~Elisa
A brand new siggie from the Stik!!
24
24
Rated: 18+ | (2.5)
Greetings! I'm reviewing this for "Troublesome Musings [18+]. This poem shows a unique perspective on the last supper (and an entertaining one at that). However, this perspective is not fleshed out as well as it could be due to the structure of the poem.

My biggest concern stems from how the lines are formed. Long lines in poems, while not common, can work. The problem is the meter is too inconsistent to create a readable rhythm. Granted, they don't have to match each other, but more similarity makes for an easier read. Take these two lines, for instance.

For societies less than desirables there was to be a purge
Romans and crooked politicians erased like a tidal surge,


The wordier the line, the more difficult it is to create a seamless rhythm (since there are more syllables to juggle). It can be difficult work with lines than have more than 16 syllables like these. I would recommend trimming these lines down, using more active language in the process. You can work out the rhymes after you find a way to convey your point in fewer syllables.

On a somewhat related note, the syllables also affect the feet in each line. While a little variety can create a distinct rhythm, switching feet several times in a line can make hard for readers to read it as a poem. They might be more inclined to read it as prose. This is especially true with the first line I quoted. It starts off trochee , becomes spondaic , goes iambic for a little bit before going back to trochee. The idea of the poem is unusual enough. Sending readers on a linguistic rollercoaster might make them miss the point you're trying to make. *Wink*


Aside from the issue of wordiness in the lines (which is prevalent throught the piece), I feel this work would benefit from more descriptive words to flesh out the scene. Where was the feast held, and what did it look like? Who else shared the feast, and did someone disrupt it? What was the weather like that night? As far as I can tell, you are looking to tell a story, but without setting up a setting, the reader isn't going to really connect the events to a certain period of time. A reader not aware of the last supper might think Nero, Jesus and Judas are code names for gang members and that this feast takes place in 2012. Throwing in a couple setting details will breathe more life into this story-poem. After all, aside from characters, setting is one of the most important parts of a story, and this applies to poetry as well.

I think this could be a head-turning, thought-provoking piece. It will need to be restructured in order to not just grab a reader's attention but to hold it throughout the poem. Right now, I feel the wordiness of the lines and lack of details that allow readers to suspend any notions of disbelief are working against your poem.

~Elisa
A brand new siggie from the Stik!!
25
25
Rated: ASR | (2.0)
Greetings! While story concept appeals to me and the ending reflects a sharp sense of nihilism, the story seems rushed and not fulfilling. Formatting errors bog the piece down. Pushing past them, I got only a vague understanding of the characters. While I got an idea for the type of child Jessie was, I felt she was a mere caricature. On the other hand, I wanted to know more about Dad (which I'll address in a minute). I almost felt a little disconnected because there was no true sense of setting. You say it's modern society, but it struck me as a bizarre cross between the domestic ideal of the 1950s (with the mother focused on home life, not to mention the afternoon paper) and modern society (as I got the idea Dad was working on a Saturday). I'll elaborate on what stood out the most as I read.

*Bullet* CHARACTERS:

Jessie- As I stated before, she struck me as a caricature more than a character. I think part of it stems from her being 12. I don't know of any 12 year olds that address their moms as Mommy. There were aso the footed pajamas. I could maybe understand someone older than 8 wearing than in a place with very cold winters. I'm not buying it with a 12 year old. Likewise, in modern society, girls tend to mature on an emotional level more quickly than boys. This above all makes me not believe in Jessie much. If you lower her age or establish how long she's been eating the cereal, Jessie will make more sense.

Mom- Just curious. Why the names Mom and Dad for their characters? Anyway, the mother reminds me of an extreme version of a Stepford wife. I suppose it works in some ways. However, her oblivion strikes me as odd. Given the concept of motherly instincts and the fact that a lot of pressure to yank commercials for sugary products comes from women, the mother doesn't sit right with me. She is not developed enough as a person for me to suspend my disbelief toward her oblivion. If you can show (or at least hint at) the reasons for her behavior, she would be much more believable. At the moment, I can't help but think of her as a cardboard cutout that talks.

Dad- The only one I actually liked was the father. He was the only one with any brains in his head, and I wish the story was told from his point of view. Though he doesn't fully address the practices of his employer, the fact that he is suspicious (and cares about his daughter's well being) makes him sympathetic, at least to some extent. I think the story would work a little better if he worked for the company that made Jessie's cereal (or invented it; that would be great irony!).

On a more general note, I was curious as to what these characters looked like. While I could follow the story without the information, other people who read this will wonder and not be as willing to ignore the lack of information.

*Bullet* SETTING

Aside from the fact that the action takes place in a house, a lab and to some extent the highway, I have no idea where this story takes place. Likewise, I don't know when this took place. Was it in 1999, or is it set in 2009? You can establish this with something as minute as describing how old it is and if its new or a junker. Some physical description of the kitchen and the lab would also be helpful in established the physical location and the time as well (e.g. colors/age of the appliances, what equipment is in the lab). Likewise, with the lab, showing vials of unknown additives and preservatives would be a nice, ominous touch. *Wink* It would emphasize the nihilistic nature of the piece.

*Bullet* FORMAT AND OTHER CONCERNS

*Star* I'd like to suggest a minor rewording for this line (which was otherwise very engaging).

Her footie-covered feet slide down the carpeted stairs, bam-bam-bam, as her heals hit the next successive bump, going down to the kitchen below.

I think stomp or tramp would work a little better than slide, especially with the bam-bam-bam soon after.

*Star* Remember to separate each line of dialogue as a new paragraph. Example:

Doing so, she creates a great cascade of chocolate-covered rice that falls to the floor in a heap. “JESSIE!” shouts her mother. “I’ve told you about spilling cereal on the floor. Pick it all up NOW!”

Doing so, she creates a great cascade of chocolate-covered rice that falls to the floor in a heap.

“JESSIE!” shouts her mother. “I’ve told you about spilling cereal on the floor. Pick it all up NOW!”


*Star* Watch your punctuation, as there are a couple spots where you flip-flop some characters. Example:

“Look daddy, I got Hobby Horsy! I finally got Hobby Horsy”!

“Look daddy, I got Hobby Horsy! I finally got Hobby Horsy!”

*Star* Try putting thoughts in italics to set it apart from spoken dialogue. Here's one area where you could do so.

‘Hey, what if he’s right? What if he’s right and it DOES turn kids into robots”?

Hey, what if he’s right? What if he’s right and it DOES turn kids into robots?

*Star* You might want to consider satire as a genre for this story.


This story could really explore modern society and its flaws. However, at this stage, it's not even a well fleshed out mockery. It could be a mockery than provokes cringing laughter. You have to decide what you want it to be, and from there, you can play around with fleshing it out.



~Elisa
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