The following review is strictly my opinion and it is my hope that this will be helpful to you. Please take what you need from it and disregard what you don't. If you have any questions about my comments here, please do not hesitate to ask. My door is always open!
Hello fellow Rising Star! This is a Member 2 Member Review - I hope your enjoy my feedback!
First I will share with you what I liked about the piece:
I must say, I am very impressed with your work! You have a clear knack for intense short fiction, which happens to be one of my favorite things to both read and write. At first I was not sure what to expect from this piece, but found myself quickly drawn into it and forgetting that I was reading this specifically to be critical of it. When I reached the end of the piece it was only then that I remembered my purpose, and happily went back to read it again. That is the sign of an excellently conceived and executed piece of work, when your reader becomes so lost in it that they can focus on nothing else while they are taking in those words.
Your characters were very well-developed and realistic, carrying this personal story on their shoulders with grace. I felt connected to both of them and invested in what happened to them, even with this story being so short. You crafted both with just enough detail and care that I believed them. Believable characters are notoriously difficult to create, but you made it seem so wonderfully effortless. Reese especially was the heart of this story, and I found myself very drawn to him. Wonderful work!
I loved the style with which you wrote this, especially the imagery you laced into it and the unusual way you chose to describe some things. I could see your personality in every line, the way you composed every phrase, and that is not a common occurrence. It can be a risk, because not all readers will 'get' it, but it is a risk worth taking for when it is successful because you set your work apart and give it a unique voice, making it memorable, powerful, and infinitely more interesting.
There was not much dialogue in this, but what there was, and the interaction between the characters, felt very natural and honest. That can be tricky to achieve, so I was very pleased to see it done so well here.
What a great idea for a story! It was creative and original, but refreshingly simplistic. Though I am not usually a fan of 'romantic' stories, this one really appealed to me, and I think that is largely because of how unique it was. It was not typical, expected 'romance', and this is such an interesting way to bring these two characters together. If more romances were written this way, I would be a huge fan of the genre!
Now, a few observations that I wanted to share with you:
“You’ve got to be kidding,” Reese scoffed.
I placed a comma here that was missing, which I believe was just a small oversight as this problem did not persist in your other dialogue.
He’d employed the idea of an explosion, in hope to illustrate his wilder side to Heather.
Your writing is truly exemplary, and finding anything to comment on for improvement was actually something of a challenge. There was only one actual error that I caught, and everything else is merely an aesthetic observation and suggestions for alternatives. These are intended to help you polish and refine what is already a fantastic and technically excellent story. For this first one, I got a little hung up on the highlighted phrase, thinking it sounded just slightly awkward. I might suggest rewording just that part very slightly, like this: 'He'd employed the idea of an explosion, with the hope of illustrating his wilder side to Heather.' or ', hoping to illustrate his wilder side to Hannah.'
Reese’s hands reached the temperature of the sun; his every inch of skin felt like it was impossibly constructed of electricity. His head hit the hard ground, and any vision fled to white.
Just a few suggestions for alternatives words here that I feel might add a little more drama and intensity to the tone of this moment. For 'constructed' I would suggest 'composed', because for me that word just seems more congruent with what you are describing. And instead of 'any' I would suggest 'all', as it seems a more appropriate word when talking about vision, which is usually an 'all or nothing' sense. Also it feels more finial, since he is in fact blacking out.
A bony grip shook at his shoulder. His charred eyelids bickered as he forced them away from one another. His mother looked down on his bandaged self, tears already cascading over her cheeks and her chin.
The whimpering woman cautiously approached the bed, and ran her shaky hands under his limb.
I pulled these two lines out because I caught a small inconsistency in the text. The first line here, which is the beginning paragraph in the second part of the story, places his mother at his bedside, close enough to put a hand on his shoulder and look down at him. Then in the next paragraph she has to cross the room to lift his arm for him, but at what point did she walk away? I read through this part several times to be sure I didn't miss some minute detail, but at no point does the text mention her moving away from him. I suppose the reader could assume that she moved and it simply wasn't mentioned, and not all readers would even catch it, but for those that would it might make them feel like you aren't thinking about the details. And I know that you, as such a clearly talented writer, understand the importance of details!
Where his beautifully decorated hand had been before he’d fallen into sleep, there now sat a red and black congregation of twisted flesh.
I was very moved by the vision this line gave me, it was powerful and striking, but something gave me pause. 'Beautifully decorated hand'? That gives me the idea that his hand was either tattooed or he wore a lot of jewelry, but no details like that are given either beforehand (no pun intended!) or at this point. This is important because if the reader knows what his hand looked like before, the contrast will be that much higher when his newly deformed hand is revealed, heightening the drama. It would be as simple as adding in a description of his hand somewhere in the beginning, which would be easy since you talk about the hands so much when they are trying to light the wick.
“Here, try mine,” he comforted, his eyes fixed expectantly on the young girl’s set.
What exactly is the word 'set' referring to here? I tried to puzzle it out by reading context clues and making some assumptions, but got nowhere I was sure of or comfortable with. I feel it is important for the reader to be clear here as to what he is looking at, especially since you make a point of saying that he is looking at it so intently. As is, there is too much room for misinterpretation.
She drew her arm out of her pocket, and threw them around his midsection.
A few more inconsistencies here that I noticed, and wanted to point out to you. First, it seemed a little unlikely to me that her 'arm' would be in her 'pocket'. Hands go in pockets, not usually arms unless you are talking about some incredibly unusual and avant garde clothing, which I don't believe was the case here. Then your subject was a single arm, but in the second half of the line you used the pronoun 'them', which implies a plural subject. These are minor things, but like I said, I am being nitpicky ^_~ I would suggest rewriting this sentence to take care of these, perhaps like this: 'She withdrew her hand from her pockets and threw her arms around his midsection.' or something similar.
One more thing I wanted to mention to you. I noticed that you used a lot of semicolons in your writing. I was surprised, and impressed, to see that you used them properly, which I can honestly say there are many writers who do not. However, you might consider changing up your use of punctuation - there are other options available, just to vary your sentence structures a bit and keep your reader on their toes. I just wanted to let you know that I noticed a tendency, in case you were not aware of it. But kudos on using semicolons at all! I see so many writers who shy away from them because they do not understand the rules of usage, so you should be very proud of yourself.
Overall, you are a delightfully talented writer and I enjoyed reading your work a great deal! This wonderful story left me feeling as if I had been somewhere else, and few things can take me there. Despite the many suggestions I made, they were just and only that, suggestions - you could change absolutely nothing about this piece and it would still be just a striking. Excellent work!
Keep putting pen-to-paper - This has been a:
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