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1
1
Review of The Way Station  
Review by Brandiwyn🎶
Rated: ASR | (4.5)
I always love a good punchline. I didn't see yours coming, which is the best kind! *Laugh* The tag was a nice touch. I assume it was on his toe??

I feel stupid now (maybe it's the early hour) but I had to Google "deiced". My brain didn't read DE and ICED as two separate syllables or even a diphthong. I read some single-syllabled word that sounded like a fancy spelling of "diced." I even thought it might be a typo (and so did Google - the first suggestion said, "Did you mean decided?")

Congrats on your win! *RibbonB*

Cheers,
Michelle


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
2
2
Review by Brandiwyn🎶
In affiliation with I Write  
Rated: E | (4.5)
Please accept my review in conjunction with "I Write [E]. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to read and review your work.

First Impressions:
The paragraphs run together and are difficult to decipher. You can use {indent} or the -> in the edit bar to indent your paragraphs, or if you want something easier, just "Enter" one extra time after each paragraph and put a space in between them.

Specific Praise and Suggestions:
I love this story. Your pacing is absolutely perfect, and you had my heart yearning for Taygen to relax and have fun. Literally, tension in my chest. If she's your protagonist, mission accomplished!!

I do have a few suggestions that might make the story even better, if you're interested.

1. Voice. Mostly, voice was excellent. I get the feeling this child is roughly eight years old. She's old enough to go to a sleepover camp by herself, but young enough to still want her teddy with her even in front of other kids. If I'm right, good job showing-not-telling. However, you have a few inconsistencies in your voice you could iron out. This story is told in third person, but definitely through Taygen's eyes. Therefore, I would not expect:

their crumbling marriage. Even if she knows her parents are having marital problems, I would be surprised to hear a child refer to their marriage as "crumbling."

I was also going to highlight "colossally, freaky place" but then changed my mind. I know smart 8-year-olds who might use language like that. But if she's smart with a high vocabulary, just make sure that's consistent throughout.

One other voice-related minor thing: Since the narrator is telling the story through Taygen's eyes, it surprised me to read "Big blue eyes widened at the vastness of the place." We don't normally think about the color of our own eyes when we widen them, so it just seemed like an odd thing to say.

2. Plot. Just a quick note that the counselor never introduced the girls. Taygen know's Gwyn's name because Holly said "That's good. I am just showing Gwyn around." Later: "K" Gwyn chirped made it sound like Taygen remembered the name, which is not likely since she was so nervous and the statement about showing Gwyn around wasn't even directed at her. Plus Gwyn never learned Taygen's name. So an introduction might be good all around.

I loved how it ended with Taygen warming up to the possibility that camp might not be so bad after all. You've accomplished a protagonist change in your short story, and so you've succeeded in building a strong plot.

NOTE: I started this review a few hours ago and you have since added to the story. I don't think the story needed the additional section, but having read it, I like where you went with it. The change in Taygen goes even further because she realizes that she can be accepted by Gwyn even though they have differences, and in that realization, she gains her first true friend. A lovely story. If you're interested in my opinion on the matter, I liked the shorter version better, because I was more emotionally involved. As I read the continuation, it was a little dense at times, slow, not quite as perfect of pacing as the original story. That pang in my chest, which was real on the first pass, wasn't really there reading the continuation. But truthfully, I don't know if that's because I had already read the first part and thought it was over, and then there was more to read, so the confusing expectations might have interfered with my emotional connection. If a new reader reads your story with no expectations as to where it ends, they might disagree with me.

Summary:
Nicely done. This piece is sweet, and I detect a theme around introversion, that it's okay to be an introvert and you can and should be accepted for who you are. A good message for kids who read your story. Good luck in the contest. *Smile*

Cheers,
Michelle


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
3
3
Review of The Hardship  
Review by Brandiwyn🎶
In affiliation with I Write  
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
Please accept my review in conjunction with "I Write [E]. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to read and review your work.

First Impressions:
I noticed the short length of the piece first, and then I picked up on the anger and frustration of the protagonist. My initial thought was that it was going to be an angsty piece, but I liked the uplifting humor at the end. I initially thought the scene was set at a funeral until I got to the second paragraph.

Specific Praise and Suggestions:
I really liked this story. The pacing was good, and I especially liked how you teased at first, waiting to give away first the situation (someone has cancer), and then the identity of the patient (the protagonist's sister) for a couple paragraphs. You created dramatic tension for me by keeping me in suspense.

The scene was clear, once you started to describe it. I could visualize the hospital room, stark but for the colorful gifts and the continuous crowd of people coming through.

Your character's anger and frustration was evident, and I felt it for myself.

You had a few minor editorial errors:

shared old stories and babbled on as no time had passed at all. as if no
sign that I could place about of the bed of (I think that's what you intended, but "about of" didn't make sense)

On my first read, it bothered me a little that you don't use many commas. But on the second read, and once I got through it, I decided that I was just being a comma diva, lol. However, since it was an impression I got, let me share a few examples, just so you know what was going through my mind.

These sentences in particular felt like it needed some punctuation to break up the thoughts:

...would whisper the word cancer like if you said it too loud they might catch it too
The whole scene sent bile rising up my throat leaving a nasty taste in my mouth that kept a grimace on my face.

Summary:
Great emotional roller coaster, given the limited word count. The last two paragraphs made me smile, whereas the story up to that point had me tense. You don't have much time to tell us about these characters, primarily the protagonist and her sister, the cancer patient, but we learn a lot about their relationships with the rest of the family and with each other in a short amount of time. It was an enjoyable read. Thanks for sharing!


Cheers,
Michelle


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
4
4
Review by Brandiwyn🎶
In affiliation with I Write  
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
Please accept my review in conjunction with "I Write [E]. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to read and review your work.

First Impressions:
"The ground squelched..." Very descriptive!! Believe it or not, it that word hit three of my senses: touch, sound, and sight. I visualized wet grass, though wet from water, not blood. You corrected my thinking almost immediately:

"The ground squelched as Shoshana Cox walked toward the corpses..." Yum. You gave me the shivers. *Thumbsup*

Specific Praise and Suggestions:
Let me start by saying I LOVE this chapter. I'll get to the reasons why I love it, but I'm going to start with the constructive feedback. Don't let it discourage you from getting to the good stuff. *Bigsmile*

I read straight through before writing comments. I noticed that the beginning was slow. The story picked up speed around the time the conversation with Hoyt started. I think the slow intro was a result of a combination of pacing and confusion.

1. Pacing. This wasn't about the amount of action, which I thought was paced perfectly. But some of your sentences (not many, but a few) were just unnecessarily wordy. Wordy isn't always a bad thing, but it is when writing an action/suspense/thriller, some combination of which I think you have here. Examples:

The ground squelched as Shoshana Cox walked toward the corpses, glancing down she noticed blood seeping up on top of her boot.

Could be reduced to something like:

The ground squelched as Shoshana Cox walked toward the corpses. Blood seeped up on top of her boot. (That she looked at it to notice is implied.)

2. Confusion. I got lost here:

Tracking the noob had been simple, she shifted to wolf form and followed the scent of blood and bile. Now the tranquilized lycanthrope was sleeping in the back of the secured truck and she was ensuring that the clean-up team

Since I didn't yet know that Shoshana was a werewolf, I thought "she shifted" referred to the noob. Then I realized you must have meant Shoshana, and I read on to see "the tranquilized lycanthrope" and thought you were saying Shoshana was tranquil (because I didn't know they'd caught the noob.) Then I was really confused about how she could be both sleeping and ensuring, when it dawned on me that they must have caught the noob. I think replacing "she" with "Shoshana" the first time might eliminate that whole string of confusion.

You have some good moments, but your intro sounds like it's a completely different voice from after the story picks up, like either you added the intro later, or else you found your voice once you got going. I did like how you started the story, by introducing us to Shoshana, her personality, and her job.

After the intro, I was sucked into the story. Even though the partners had a boring job, I wasn't at all bored. It was gripping. More on that in a minute.

I did find myself yanked out of the story a few times asking, "Wait, what?" They were:

Laughing at the assistant’s comment, she went into her boss’s office.
This was the first time I wondered if you'd added the intro later, because Shoshana was incredibly grumpy during the intro. I liked the receptionist's comment, which made me smile and gave me a little sense of Marianne's personality. It was Shoshana's reaction that startled me.

That was two weeks ago.
Again, I wondered if you added the intro after the rest, because this sentence only makes sense if you start with Hoyt giving Shoshana her assignment. It's not that it couldn't have all happened two weeks ago. It's that it wasn't a single scene, and after two opening scenes, it would have made more sense to me to say, "Two weeks later..." Reading my own feedback, it seems nitpicky and bizarre, but it is what it is. The phrase "That was two weeks ago" made me stop reading and think, "Hm, I wonder if the intro was written later." That pulled me out of the story.

THE GOOD STUFF:

OMG. I love your premise, your characters, and your unfolding plot. I love Shoshana and loved the intro scene (it was just the writing of the scene itself that seemed a bit tight and stilted.) I loved your voice and pacing, once you got into it. It was natural and flowed well. I love the world you've built. I love the cliffhanger you ended with; it makes me want to know who the intruder was, and to meet Teagan, because she seems like she's going to be a great character, too.

Characters: It's in the details. It's the way Shoshana reacted to the council enforcer at the crime scene. It's the thing where she'd forgotten to wash her shirt but wore it anyway. It's the part where she objected to the boring assignment, but took it anyway because it's her job. You've told me a lot about her in a short time.

World: The pacing of your world delivery is just about flawless. I never had a hint of exposition. You revealed details about your world - the pack, the council, the rules, her job, the dragons - all through action and dialogue, and most of your dialogue is very natural.

Plot: Your hook is that someone is after Teagan, but she can't know she's a dragon. So Shoshana has to protect her without telling her why. If I were Teagan, I'd be pissed about that. And if I were Shoshana, I'm not sure I know how I'd pull that off. I can't wait to see how it's going to unfold.

Voice: You have a clean grasp of 3rd person limited. You're telling the story through Shoshana's eyes alone (so far), and that adds a lot to the mystery of the piece. You never once strayed from her head. Also, your voice after the intro flows naturally. Where in the intro, it sounded like you struggled to find the right words, the scenes after the intro read like you tap-tap-tapped on your keyboard full speed ahead without pausing to breathe, like you knew exactly what you wanted to say and how to say it, like the story told itself for you.

Summary:
A gripping story with a great hook! The intro was a little slow due to some pacing and confusion issues, but it was a great scene, and after the intro, I couldn't stop reading. *Smile*

Good luck in the contest!

Cheers,
Michelle


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
5
5
Review of Sedative Eyes  
Review by Brandiwyn🎶
Rated: E | (4.5)
Dear Keaton Foster: Know My Hell! ,

I discovered "Sedative Eyes via the Random Review feature. I probably would not have read the piece otherwise because dark poetry is not my thing. However, it surprised me when it drew me in, and I enjoyed it after all.

What I liked about the piece was the vivid imagery and characterization. It was a narrative poem, telling the narrator's story, and I had a clear visual of the story in my mind.

This is where I was drawn in:

Oh the hell
They have seen
No one should
Want them


Now you've introduced me to your character, and I like characters. *Smile* I'm curious about the narrator. Who is he? What is it that he's seen that's so horrendous that he chose to donate his eyes while still alive? What has he done that's so bad that he thinks someone else deserves his living eyes more than he? We never get to find out, but I like the mystery around it, too.

I like the pace of your poem. At a glance, I noticed that it wasn't broken into verses, but on reading it, I decided that I liked it as is. It's driving, as it should be.

More of my favorite lines, either for their imagery or for how they tell the story of your character:

Ripped
From my skull
Torn
From their sockets


All connections
Severed


As the darkness invades


I signed on the line
Gave them permission


Now for the constructive feedback. I had one constant source of confusion throughout the piece. I didn't understand whether your narrator voluntarily donated his eyes while alive. Here at the end, it seems clear that he agreed to donate them upon his death only:

Gave them permission
Upon my death
Take all that you wish


But if he did not agree to donate his eyes while alive, why does he say this twice:

I was assured
I wouldn’t need them


and here, it sounds like whoever is taking his eyes intended to kill him to take the eyes:

Chained to my bed
Left for dead
They’ll be surprised
When I wake up


But if that's the case, why did "they" (the perpetrator taking the eyes) bother to get a signature or try to convince him that he wouldn't need them?

You have an intriguing story written in gripping verse. Thanks for sharing your work.

Cheers,
Michelle


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
6
6
Review of The Academic Lies  
Review by Brandiwyn🎶
Rated: E | (4.0)
Welcome to WDC, Naveed ! Congratulations on posting your first written work in your portfolio. Thanks for allowing me the opportunity to review your work. Please remember that my review consists of my personal opinions only, and you're free to consider or disregard any of it. Please also keep in mind that I'm not well-read on the topic you discuss, so my comments are those of an everyday reader, not a scholar in this field.

Your opening paragraph is engaging because you pose an interesting hypothesis. Your essay format is good, in that you open with your hypothesis and move right into an example, which keeps me reading.

Suggestions:
- Electronic written works are easier to read when you separate the paragraphs with a space. You could manually add a blank line after every paragraph, or easier option is to use the "double space paragraphs" option on your edit screen. You also might want to consider breaking your piece into more paragraphs to make it easier to read, but I'm having a hard time discerning where your paragraphs break, so that could just be the spacing issue.

- While commas are a matter of some debate, I personally think you could use more commas. Your essay is detailed and complex, and commas would make it easier to read. For example:

Kind of ironic isn’t it that the place where you expect to get knowledge and truth is the same place where you are fed fallacies in the name of knowledge? - this is a long sentence that would be easier to read with commas around the phrase "isn't it".

- One such lie is the Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs Should "Needs" be capitalized? I'm not familiar with this work, but I presume that if Hierarchy is part of a title, then Needs would be as well.

- Maslow’s hierarchy has five stages namely: Physiological needs, Safety needs, Social needs, Esteem needs and self-actualization needs - I propose a comma between 'stages' and 'namely,' and also suggest consistency in your capitalization. If Maslow titles the stages, then it is acceptable to capitalize them, but you didn't capitalize "Self-actualization." Also, later in the paragraph, you didn't capitalize "safety" or "physiological." You have the same inconsistency later, when you list the original eight stages, and you fail to capitalize "Self-transcendental."

- He has his own moral codes, which do not necessarily have to be in accordance with those set by the society. So, in a way a self-actualized being is not the best member of the society, but the worst. This seems like a leap. I understand your logic, but it might be better to suggest that a self-actualized person has the potential to be the worst, not that he actually IS the worst. Not every self-actualized person has moral codes that conflict with those of his society.

- but a highly ‘educated’ writer such as Daft - I'm not sure why 'educated' is in quotation marks. Is Daft highly educated or not? It should not be a matter of opinion. Does Daft have an advanced degree? If he does, he is highly educated.

- If that’s the case then he should have named it as ‘Daft’s Hierarchy of Needs’ and not Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, - capitalization consistency.

General comments:

- You make a convincing case in the matter of Daft's interpretation of Maslow, which is that Daft's omissions change the nature of the whole hierarchy. However, I'm not sure this one example alone is enough to convince me that academia feeds lies to students. Why didn't you expound on your Darwin example from the opening paragraph? If your essay is primarily about Daft's misinterpretation of Maslow, then you should make that clear in your title, description and introductory paragraph.

- Your tone comes across as strongly opinionated on the Daft matter, and I would even go so far as to say you slam Daft. I assume that was your intent, but I want to point that out in case you wanted to know how the tone comes across.

Great work! I found your piece engaging and your points clear. Thanks again for sharing your work.


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
7
7
Review by Brandiwyn🎶
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
Please accept my review in conjunction with "I Write [E]. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to read and review your work.

First Impressions:
Cute children's story. The beginning was a little slow but the pace picked up around the time Ms. Doyle proposed a Halloween party.

Specific Praise and Suggestions:
In the first fe paragraphs, the story reads like you're targeting a very young audience, with passages like this:

I remember how on the first day of school, I walked into the sixth grade classroom and saw my teacher.
This is the sort of thing a young child would say.

Her name was Ms. Doyle. She didn´t look that old. In fact, she looked almost young enough to still be in High School. But the weird part was that she was dressed completely in a long black dress.
Your short sentences seem to target a young reader.

But your voice shifts pretty quickly into one that targets an older reader:
produced an unenthusiastic response
a sarcastic voice said
Moreover, by sixth grade, she had a reputation

At first, you shift back and forth. But somewhere around the dodgeball story, you shift entirely and stay consistently in the "older" voice for the rest of the story. After reading through the whole story, it's my opinion that the older voice works well for the story. The younger voice in the opening paragraphs would be appropriate for a kindergartener or first grader but your story is about sixth graders, and I think your voice for the latter half of the story is perfectly appropriate.

Watch for editorial errors. You have a few examples of random quotation marks out of place, missing words, incomplete sentences, etc.

Summary:
I enjoyed the perspective of your protagonist. It was fun to see bullies like Dena and Billy get put in their place, while Ms. Doyle encouraged Albert to pursue his talents. Your ending was cute.


Cheers,
Michelle


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
8
8
Review by Brandiwyn🎶
In affiliation with I Write  
Rated: E | (3.5)
Please accept my review in conjunction with "I Write [E]. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to read and review your work.

First Impressions:
A clever interpretation of the assignment. I like your explanation of why you decided to relate the Psalm to being a student.

Specific Praise and Suggestions:
This is such an unusual piece. I had to ruminate on it for awhile. I have one major problem with the piece, which is the conflict between spirituality and comedy. I loved both aspects of the piece, but not together. I literally laughed out loud here:

Even though I must take exams designed by Satan

But then at this next line:

You prepare a graduation in the presence of my enemies.

I got very uncomfortable. I wondered if this meant your professors are your enemies. But the line could also refer to those who literally stand in the way of your success, which is the spiritual interpretation. Because of the confusion between funny and serious here, I thought for a moment you might literally mean your professors are your enemies, which made me nervous, spiritually, because that's mean and very un-Christian.

At this point, I started to think I would prefer if you chose one path or the other: spiritual or tongue-in-cheek. Personally, I don't have a preference between the two; I would enjoy either interpretation of the assignment. I also noticed that "comedy" is not selected as a genre, so I'm hoping I didn't misunderstand your words.

I pondered this line for awhile:

He teaches my soul. Are souls teachable? I honestly am not sure. It wasn't my favorite line, even though it made me think for awhile. I think that's because I was leaning towards deciding that souls are not teachable, but just ARE; rather, minds are teachable. That's not to say that learning has no effect on the soul. I find learning very satisfying and rewarding. Also, from a Christian perspective, the more I learn, the better the choices I can make, which is also indirectly good for the soul. It helps me avoid inadvertently hurting people.

I like the closing and this line leading into it:

You give a diploma no man read.

Except that it feels like incorrect subject/verb agreement. It's just awkward. Do you mean no man has ever read it before? No man can see it now? It seems like "reads" might be a better choice, or "can read"? Because in the closing line, you explain it by saying that instead of being readable, this diploma is evident simply through your actions.

Summary:
I love the confidence in the piece that shines through the opening and closing lines. I enjoyed the comparison to David's profession and the interpretation of the assignment. I enjoyed the comic aspect of the piece but would prefer that the entire piece lean toward either the comic or spiritual, but not both.

Cheers,
Michelle


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
9
9
Review by Brandiwyn🎶
In affiliation with I Write  
Rated: E | (5.0)
Please accept my review in conjunction with "I Write [E]. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to read and review your work.

First Impressions:
I'm immediately hit with a sense of nostalgia as I start to read this piece, and it never stops. When reviewing, I tend to pause to think about what I've just read a little at a time, so I don't forget my first impressions, because I think the author would want to hear those impressions. I'm very analytical and struggle to turn that "off" even when I've been asked to read something and just give an overall impression (which is why novel reviews take me so long and often go unfinished.) But your piece was paced so well that I read through the entire piece in one sitting and then sat and thought about it for awhile before I wrote the first word of this review.

Specific Praise and Suggestions:
I very rarely give 5's, and I very rarely review poetry. I'm incredibly picky about poetry, because most attempts at poetry are written for the author, not the reader. I believe good poetry evokes emotion in a reader, and it's the poet's job to evoke that emotion. That takes work: carefully planning, with each line and word deliberately chosen, and not just a "word dump" of whatever happens to be going through the mind of the poet at the time of the writing.

Your words and lines are brilliantly crafted. I love everything about this piece. In very few lines, you have painted a picture in my mind. You've introduced me to the characters at the feast, and they're involved in a flurry of action that keeps the reader moving right along with them. Everyone is doing something, and they're all powerful images. Grandma doesn't just bake the pumpkin pie - that IS Grandma, that's her official job, and pumpkin pie will always make us remember Grandma.

I especially love this line:
And not in the dining room

This is no formal, stuffy affair. This is family, through and through, and it brings tears to my eyes. It embodies everything that Thanksgiving should be. Not some formal obligation, but a joyous celebration, the opportunity to be with each other once again in a setting we rarely get to enjoy.

Summary:
Stunning imagery, evocative narration, nostalgic characters. Well done.

Thanks for sharing. Good luck in your contest!

Cheers,
Michelle


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
10
10
Review of I Write  
Review by Brandiwyn🎶
In affiliation with I Write  
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
Please accept my review in conjunction with "I Write [E]. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to read and review your work.

First Impressions:
In a short piece like this, first impressions are important. The first thing I noticed was brilliant imagery and strong active voice in your opening two lines, so well done with the hook. *Thumbsup*

Specific Praise and Suggestions:
*Bullet* I loved the alliteration in Line 4.
*Bullet* You have occasional rhymes, and I wasn't a fan because of the inconsistency. Line 3/4 wasn't as bad but Line 10/11 felt cliche.
*Bullet* Imagery continues to be fantastic throughout, including several non-sight sensory references("air turns chill" / "tremors of fun" / "excitement trembles"
         --- It occurred to me that "they wield their tools" and "gutting out the seeds and pulp" were opportunities for touch-related sensory words
*Bullet* I found this line cliche: "to young and old alike"
*Bullet* Editorial: families (plural) pick their pumpkins (plural) OR each family (singular) picks its pumpkin (singular)
*Bullet* Loved this line: "Carving in faces full of menace or delight" - it brought to mind every clever jack-o-lantern image I've ever seen
*Bullet* I'm a big fan of avoiding word repetition, especially in a piece of this length, and I noticed you ended two lines very close together with "night"
*Bullet* Love your action words: line, flashing, sell, offer, approaches, wield, gutting, carving, trembles, scamper, play. The piece moves along at a nice pace.
*Bullet* Love the closing line, "All on a Halloween night" - strangely, even though I find it a bit cliche, that fits as a closing line because the entire piece evokes nostalgia for me and cliche works well with nostalgia. I still didn't like cliche in the earlier lines, because it doesn't feel deliberate there, but instead feels awkward.

Summary:
Overall, the piece evoked the youthful energy of Halloween night. Imagery is definitely your strength. You don't have a form that I can identify, which doesn't bother me. I'm not a big reader of poetry, but when I do read it, I expect it to evoke some sort of emotional reaction out of me. Your evoked nostalgia, and that's perfect.

Cheers,
Michelle


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
11
11
Review of Fire and Ice  
Review by Brandiwyn🎶
In affiliation with I Write  
Rated: 18+ | (4.5)
Please accept my review in conjunction with "I Write [E]. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to read and review your work.

First Impressions:
A story about an anti-social teen or young adult. As first impressions go, it's definitely misleading, thanks to your mastery of plot twists, which I will get into shortly. There is much more to this story than a boring night spent at home while friends partied without Jenna.

Specific Praise and Suggestions:
She gave her best spooky sound, and dramatic shutter. - Not sure I understood. Did you mean shudder?

The clang of the doorbell made her jump and squeak. - Loved the timing here.

It let out a yell of surprise when she grabbed its wrist, twisted so that its arm was wrenched behind its back, and pulled the mask off with her other hand. Her ex-boyfriend looked up at her More great timing, with a well-paced reveal.

“A storm at midnight on all Hollow’s Eve,” - capitalize All

A crackle of thunder announced the storm’s arrival. - I like the pacing of the action here, too. You tightly weave the approaching storm with Drew's advances.

She moved to the cabinet where Lin kept the emergency Colman lantern. - Coleman

Before she could say a word it grabbed Drew’s head in both hands, and with a slight jerk snapped his neck. Another well-paced surprise. You do thriller/suspense and plot twists very well. Totally did not see this coming. *Thumbsup*

Her assailant tried a few more times to turn her into a human torch - nice description! You apparently also have a knack for vivid imagery.

They closed in on her like a pack of predators on a wounded animal. - More fun imagery. *Bigsmile*

Word Repetition - You used "consumed" four times here: She turned to grab the phone to call for help, but the flames had already consumed it. She turned back to the table to retrieve the lantern, and managed to shield her face with her arms as the flames consumed it, sending shards of glass everywhere. Jenna dropped to the ground to avoid the cloud of acrid smoke that slowly consumed the air. The smell of smoke mixed with the smell of burning flesh as the flames consumed Drew’s body.

You also said this near the end of the paragraph, which also repeated a variation of "consume" and seems like an incomplete thought, unless you meant it was consuming everything in general: She felt herself slipping away as the flames continued to consume.

“Who are you?” Jenna asked as the drip through the IV was strengthened. - How does she know this? Does she watch them tinker with it? Feel the increased effects of some drug?

The sound of sizzling meat traveled through the house followed by the sizzling sound of bacon. - Are you implying that bacon is not meat?! .....I don't care. I'll continue to devour it anyway.

The scene where she wakes and we think it's all a dream, and then that relief is shattered when Lin is attacked, was superb. I totally did not see the twist coming. And then this:

An ear-piercing scream drew Night Wolf out of a dose. Who the hell is Night Wolf?!?! Why are we in a hospital again? What happened to Lin and Jenna? I'm about as confused as poor Jenna, which is fantastic!! *Reading*

Raiden used his divine ability to summon lightning to his hands. He laid them on Jenna’s chest, and used pulses of lightning to restart her heart. -Wicked!! Must know more about Raiden and Night Wolf

“OUT OF MY WAY!” Lin cried. “THAT IS MY BABY!” - I wasn't a fan of the all-caps. I think I would have gotten just as much urgency from the words alone.

Summary:
What starts out sounding like a boring night at home turns into potential rape turns into some murderous skull-thing killing Jenna's ex-boyfriend and burning down her house. Then we think that it was all a nightmare, except it wasn't because the skull-thing kills mom and Jenna, but then it is, because we find ourselves in a hospital bed being resuscitated by magicians who turn out to maybe be Jenna's father and someone else. We get the impression that Jenna has been in the hospital bed all along, and that Mom has been on standby somewhere nearby and completely understands what is going on in Jenna's head.

That's a lot of plot twists in 2,000 words! I love each and every one and feel you are a master of the almighty plot twist.

So you kept me hopping and riveted, but you left me completely unsatisfied. Although Mom (and maybe Jenna?) understand what's happening, I still don't. I feel like this is a snippet of a much larger story. Who were the men we met in the first (apparently imaginary?) hospital bed? Do they matter? Who or what is the skull creature and why is it haunting Jenna? I would love to have more answers. All that said, if this were a chapter instead of a short story, I would have almost no complaints.

Thanks for sharing, and good luck in the contest!

Cheers,
Michelle


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
12
12
Review of Christmas in July  
Review by Brandiwyn🎶
In affiliation with I Write  
Rated: E | (2.5)
Please accept my review in conjunction with "I Write [E]. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to read and review your work.

First Impressions:
Your protagonist, Violet, wakes to find a surprise waiting for her in the living room. The story is told in third person, past tense, but I immediately noticed some discrepancies in your tense. I also noticed a number of incomplete sentences.

Specific Praise and Suggestions:

Description: You did a stunning job of describing the scene, and especially the Christmas tree. I could vividly see the droopy branches and sagging bright start on top. I also loved your ring tone, which engaged my sense of hearing in your story. I could relate to Violet's struggle to find the missing phone.

Tense: Be careful of your chosen tense. You have written your story in a mix of past and present tense. Here are some examples that demonstrate your inconsistency:

         Present Tense:
         Checking a calendar she has on the wall...
         Christmas isn't for another five and a half months...
         ...most beautiful gift anyone has ever left me," Violet says to herself.


         Past Tense:
         Violet walked from her bedroom...
         She walked towards the sad Christmas tree...
         The silence was broken with the sound of the phone...


Confusion: I was confused almost immediately, in your opening paragraph, when you said, "Shocked at what her living room looked like because it was exactly as it looked in her dream." Since you have not yet described her dream, this did not help paint any sort of picture in my head, and I wasn't sure what I was looking at in the living room. I would have preferred some hint that she had a recurring dream (perhaps something like, "Waking up from her recurring dream..." or similar?)

Sentence Fragments: This was a frequent problem in your piece. Here are some examples:
         Shocked at what her living room looked like because it was exactly as it looked in her dream.
         Checking a calendar she has on the wall and seeing the date for today is July 13, 2012.
         Looking at the fireplace with lights and two stockings hung on the mantle.


These are not complete sentences because they are missing subject/verb agreement. In the first example above, WHO was shocked at what her living room looked like? (You're missing "she" or "Violet"). In the second example, you're missing the subject (WHO checks the calendar and sees the date?) but you are also using the wrong form of the verbs (She CHECKS or CHECKED that calendar and she SEES or SAW the date.)

Because you use a lot of dependent clauses in your writing, I suspect that you are using sentence fragments because you write them often in other sentences. For example, this sentence is okay (except that it is missing a required comma):

         Confused about the situation she walked into the living room to look at the mysterious changes.

If I insert the comma where it belongs, your sentence looks like this:

         Confused about the situation, she walked into the living room to look at the mysterious changes.

The first part of your sentence looks like many of your sentence fragments, which are incorrect when they stand alone:

         Confused about the situation.

However, the addition of an INDEPENDENT clause to your sentence makes the dependent clause okay. Here's the independent clause:

         She walked into the living room to look at the mysterious changes.

This phrase is "independent" because it can stand alone as its own sentence. It has a subject (She) and a verb (walked), and they agree. Therefore, you can add any number of dependent clauses, and you still have a proper sentence:

         Confused about the situation, she walked into the living room to look at the mysterious changes.

The problem is that you are writing dependent clauses by themselves. This is incorrect. They cannot stand alone.

Plot: This is a cute story. It seems that Violet has been talking in her sleep for awhile, and Sebastian is a loving and considerate boyfriend.

Editorial: I think this might have been an inadvertent typo or editing error: "...I thought it would be fun to recreate for real thing for ya."


Summary:
This is a very sweet tale of a morning surprise left by Violet's boyfriend before he left for a business trip. Your description of the sad little Christmas tree is vivid, and the scene where Violet (who just woke up!) struggles to find her missing cell phone is believable. Your writing includes a number of grammatical errors including mixed tense, missing commas, and misuse of dependent clauses. These types of errors would be found and corrected by a professional editor.

Cheers,
Michelle


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
13
13
Review of Obsession  
Review by Brandiwyn🎶
In affiliation with I Write  
Rated: E | (2.5)
Please accept my review in conjunction with "I Write [E]. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to read and review your work.

First Impressions:
The first things I noticed were that the story is told in third person present, and that it takes place in an office. Carla is the protagonist, who appears to be an accountant. The narrative and dialog feel very formal.

Specific Praise and Suggestions:

Plot
I don't have any kind of foreshadowing that Larry will turn out to be a predator, so this was a great plot twist! Larry was rather freaky, and you left me with the feeling that she won't escape.

In your opening paragraph, you said nearly the same thing twice:
"...looks around to see where the sound is coming from."
-and-
"...humming continues and she decides to find out where this is coming from."

Consider eliminating repeated phrases, because they slow down the action.

In general, I found the pacing in first half of the story a bit slow, even without the repeated phrase. I find stories much more engaging when the action in them continues to move forward. For example, I don't need to know that she "decides to find out" something. Just show me that she did so:

The strange humming continues.

Getting up from her desk...


Clearly she is investigating, so there is no need to spell out for me that she made a decision to investigate.

Favorite Parts
The end was scary, which I loved. I also loved the ringtone set to "The Witch is Dead"!

Genre
Consider adding "Horror" to the list of genres. *Smile*

Dialog
The formal language was distracting, especially in the dialog, which did not feel natural. I propose you consider the use of contractions, for example:

"I do not hear anything." = "I don't hear anything."
"...you are right." = "You're right."

Also, some of the dialog felt unnatural just because it's not something people would say. For example:

“I knew you would say that. I am going to remind you my name is Larry. We have met before about one month ago..."
- "I am going to remind you" felt bulky and unnatural.

“It is home time. Looks like you need a night out. Some of the girls are getting together tonight. You should come. The Dry Martini for 8pm.”
- "The Dry Martini at 8pm" would make more sense to me.

"I will cya guys then"
- Ironically, this is too informal for dialog, or at least for written dialog in a fiction piece. I suggest writing out the phrase "see you" instead of using the abbreviation.

Grammar and Usage
Generally, grammar and usage were correct, with only a few editorial catches:

- Occasionally I found extra commas that did not belong, at least not according to the Style guidelines with which I'm familiar:
Carla says, “Maybe, you are right..." (no comma after "Maybe")
"...What, do you know about this new guy?” (no comma after "What")

- Watch your tense. You slipped into past tense a couple times:
Carla stood up from her seat...
Carla tried to run past Larry...


- You have a sentence fragment here:
Taking a deep breath and counting from one to ten to attempt to calm her nerves.

Summary:
Great use of the prompt with a scary twist at the end. Grammar and usage are mostly correct, but the tone feels too formal, especially in the dialog. I could have also used faster pacing in the beginning of the piece. However, once you got to the last five paragraphs or so, the pacing was much better. You have a great imagination, and I hope you continue to develop your craft. Keep writing!

Cheers,
Michelle


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
14
14
Review by Brandiwyn🎶
Rated: E | (4.0)
Please accept my review in conjunction with "I Write [E]. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to read and review your work.

First Impressions:
I see three quatrains of poetry, with fairly consistent line length. Words jump off the page: sweetness, carefree, unbridled, fragile, hazy, unforgiving... I expect to be emotionally touched by this piece.

Specific Praise:
You do indeed move me with your words. My favorite lines:

The carefree moments of unbridled play

and

Buried deep within unforgiving ground

These lines represent their verses as polar opposites of one another. First you make me see beauty in life, and then you rip it away.

And then this line, your closing:

Time stands to honour then move slowly on

This is a powerful reminder that we are but brief, falling petals on the flower of life. We have only the time we have to honor and be honored, and then time marches forward without us, and we are forgotten.

Beautifully done.

I'm not as big a fan of your second verse. Compared to the first and last, it feels forced for a number of reasons:

Word repetition: "broken" and "broke" - in such a short piece, each word has the capacity to carry a huge amount of power. Their effects are watered down for me when I just saw the word two lines ago.

Forced rhyme: "broke us" is an awkward way to end the third line even without the heavily forced feel of "hiding with fear and fuss" - in a poem filled with powerful imagery, this just doesn't work for me at all. I can't see fear like I can see unbridled play or burial in unforgiving ground. And "fuss" seems a very awkward word to describing "hiding" - I imagine a fussy child making a lot of noise, which reveals your hiding place to the intruder. It just doesn't work for me.

The first line of the quatrain:
Time marched, ripped fragile hearts broken in two

To me, this reads like hearts were broken before time came along, which I believe is the opposite of what you mean.

And one final comment about word repetition: You used "time" thrice within this short piece. While I get that the whole point of the poem is about the passing of time, I feel you could be more creative. You've demonstrated such thorough creativity in other lines of the poem.

Summary:
A wonderful piece that reminds us of our own mortality. You've captured the brevity of life in beautiful imagery. I especially enjoyed the first and third stanza but am not as big a fan of the second. I almost feel you could eliminate it entirely and use the first line of the last quatrain (which contains word repetition anyway) to summarize the passing of time that you've portrayed in that second stanza. It might even be poetic imagery in itself, to portray the eternities of youth and death with entire stanzas, while only allocating a single poetic line to the fleeting passing of a lifetime.

Good luck in the contest!

Cheers,
Michelle


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
15
15
Review of School Pressures  
Review by Brandiwyn🎶
Rated: ASR | (3.5)
I offer this review in conjunction with "I Write in June-July-August [ASR], and I thank you for the opportunity to read your work and provide feedback. I hope you find it helpful.

I found your topic very apropos, considering the season, and relatable as well. Ironically, I just had a discussion yesterday with a friend about how overpriced and overvalued college has become. In my generation, college was an expectation. It was ingrained in me that college = job. But these days, you're lucky to get a job at all after college, let alone a job in your field, let alone a job that pays enough to make your student loan payments. So this piece is very relevant.

The form is good, and the rhyme is not forced.

I reviewed a piece for you recently and was incredibly impressed with its poetic attributes: meter that reads well aloud and yet feels unforced; brilliant imagery; poetic vocabulary, with words that evoke strong meanings and emotional connections. I missed those attributes in this piece. I felt like it scratched the surface of emotional connection, and I would have liked to have seen more. This piece was almost too direct, too conversational. It raises a fantastic question at the end, but I felt I was on the receiving end of an opinion piece, being handed conclusions rather than being led there emotionally and allowed to draw my own conclusions.

That said, you did leave me with a question in the end, so you invite further reflection and discussion around your piece, which is always a good thing. I'd love to see better value in academia, and I'm interested to see where the problem and these discussions lead us. I anticipate a market crash much like we saw in the housing market a decade ago.

Thanks again for sharing your work and allowing me to review it. I wish you the best of luck in the contest!

Cheers,
Micelle


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
16
16
Review of Camp VR  
Review by Brandiwyn🎶
In affiliation with I Write  
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
Please accept this review in conjunction with "I Write in June-July-August [ASR]. Thank you for allowing me to read and review your work. I hope you find my comments helpful.

First Impression:
The first thing I noticed was the voice of the piece, which is clearly written from the perspective of a upper-elementary- or middle-school-aged child. The voice captures that age perfectly.

Characters:
Ginny appears to be a whiny and narcissistic child. She tries to use whining to coerce her mother into letting her out of VR Camp. I also love these lines:

Even if she didn't get straight A's all the time, anyone could see that she was one of the most intelligent students her age

"In fact, she didn't have any friends at all. But that didn't bother her because everyone at school was a loser."

It tells me that her mother is not the only seemingly inferior person in her life. Though the second line did give me pause and make me consider that her I'm-better-than-you bravado might be an act to hide a lacking self-confidence.

"That's enough," said Ginny. "We need to find this mirror thing."
Ginny, for all her people-are-morons attitude, is a natural-born leader.

Just a note that Leonard seemed to lose his stutter entirely after the turning-Ginny-into-an-ant incident.

Plot:
I love the setup - how Ginny got in trouble and the ultimatum from the principal. It strikes me that mom is a weak character, which explains how she allowed Ginny to get as bad as she is.

I love this line:
Of course, as is often the case with quests, the real object is to find something less tangible along the way.
So profound! *Laugh* One of those things you've always known, but nobody ever really admitted.

Turning Ginny into an ant: Totally random and completely hysterical. Although, it did seem a bit unrealistic that Leonard was suddenly an accomplished wizard. Was he reading his book while they walked? That's hard to do over rough terrain.

...Trying to sneak away from Leonard and Bob was wrong," said the reflection. I never really understood the big deal. It seemed like Ginny was trying to take advantage of the spider's distraction, not Bob's distraction. Despite her obvious narcissism, I never got the impression in this particular case that she was trying to one-up anyone, just that she was trying to accomplish the team's goal, on behalf of the team, just to get it over with since she didn't want to be there in the first place. So this angle doesn't jive well with me, that she did something wrong by trying to sneak into the cave.

I like the ending a lot, and I understand where you went with it - that Bob would have had a similar come-to-Jesus moment with "himself" like Ginny had. But it still felt like a rushed transition. Even Ginny's transition felt a little rushed and unbelievable.

Laugh-Out-Loud Moment:
This guy looks like a real genius, thought Ginny. Leonard and Bill are both morons. I've got morons on my team.

General Suggestions:
It took a moment to realize that Dr. E is still speaking here: "Now then, you have been chosen... Perhaps something like, "Now then," he continued...

You never really explained what caused the loud crash: ...there was a loud crash. It was Leonard. He had a magic wand which he was waving indiscriminately and sending bolts of purple light flying in every direction Just to help visualize the scene, I would have liked to have it spelled out (one of the bolts of purple light clearly caused something specific to crash, but you left me wondering what it was.)

This seemed unnecessarily wordy: ...there was a chamber and in the chamber...

Editorial: "Oh Please," said Bob. (lowercase "p")

Word repetition here ("thoughtful"): Leonard was more thoughtful. "Give it a try," he said putting Ginny on the ground. "Good Luck."

"Thanks," said Ginny. Then, she added thoughtfully.


Summary:
A great story with fun characters and a good plot. You're a witty writer, evidenced by Ginny's witty inner dialog. I really do like the story and the plot, but I felt like the transitions on the parts of the characters were too abrupt. It might have helped if I'd gotten a stronger feeling of dissent from Ginny when she ventured away from the group, some notion that she was trying to separate herself from the group rather than just take advantage of a circumstance that would allow her to achieve the team's goal. I also would have needed some amount of guilt or an understanding that what she was doing was wrong, so that when the mirror spelled it out for her later, it would be more believable that this was a nugget of integrity buried deep inside her that was just waiting to be released.

Thanks again for sharing your work, and good luck in the contest!!

Cheers,
Michelle


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
17
17
Review by Brandiwyn🎶
Rated: E | (3.5)
It's difficult to write to this piece in its form because I can only pause, but not back up or move forward in the audio file. If I want to listen to section :37 to :43 four or five times in a row to solidify in my mind the action taking place there, my only option is to reload the whole browser tab and listen again, all the way up to :37, before I can focus on my goal and start taking notes. If there's a way to move around within the piece, I'd like to know how to do it. If not, there may not be anything that can be done about it, but just passing on my feedback in case there is.

I do, however, love the contest. Great idea!
18
18
Review of Camp California  
Review by Brandiwyn🎶
In affiliation with I Write  
Rated: E | (4.5)
I offer this review in conjunction with "I Write in June-July-August [ASR], and I thank you for the opportunity to read your work and provide feedback. I hope you find it helpful.

First, by coincidence, I was listening to this piece on Pandora when I began reading your work:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gzKo90nTC0Y

I found the two otherwise independent works nicely paired. Like the song, your work is slow and a bit melancholy, or at least wistful, and yet a bright tone permeates the entire piece, as you aptly capture with your closing line:

Hope.

My favorite line. *Smile*

I'm impressed by the work you've obviously put into this piece. It's well planned and executed. You managed to craft your words into the required form while achieving a natural flow to the words, with phrasing (in the musical or poetic sense) that ebbs and flows like it should. Nothing feels forced.

My least favorite line:

Some kids have never seen the trees,

Just a personal preference here, but the use of "kids" stands out among the more eloquent words surrounding it. The more formal "children" would fit the voice better, but obviously creates a meter problem.

One other constructive suggestion: You used the word "hope" twice, first in the sixth line, and again in the closing line. It might make the closing line even more powerfully uplifting if it wasn't already given away.

Besides the closing line, my other favorite lines are:

Where innocence is reclaimed.
- this line implies hope without spelling it out. Can innocence ever really be reclaimed? Of course it can. *Smile* For some of us, the feeling of reclaimed innocence is fleeting, but it's a joyous moment when it happens. Even though I'm not a child struggling with poverty and the early loss of innocence that poverty engenders, I can relate to this line. I've ridden in amusement park rides with children, flown across a lake on a jet ski, done those activities that make you forget your troubles for a few minutes and experience nothing but sheer joy.

She shows them her clear, crystalline waters,
And varied, viridescent flora.

Brilliant imagery. Nice vocabulary, too. *Wink*

Unpolluted air surrounds them,
This one, I was on the fence about. At first, I thought the use of "unpolluted" felt harsh and abrasive. Where the previous line speak of crystalline waters and viridescent flora, this line speaks of air that is clean only in comparison to what these children normally experience, which is polluted air. Ultimately, I decided that worked in favor of the piece, because it reminds me where the children came from and again highlights the contrasting moods within the poem. The poem speaks of hope, but it's not wholly comforting. The piece carries a bit of tension within its beauty.

Thanks again for sharing your work, and good luck in the contest!

Cheers,
Michelle


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
19
19
Review by Brandiwyn🎶
Rated: E | (3.5)
Please accept my review in accordance with the requirements of "I Write in June-July-August [ASR].

Were I to review this piece as strictly a reader, I might be more critical. I do have some comments from that perspective, but first let me say that I have a hard time reviewing this piece from that perspective, because it strikes me as a highly personal piece. I feel like any criticism of your work might be interpreted as criticism of you or your personal trials, and I don't want to come across that way. Please know that I applaud your efforts to come to terms with the struggles you face and to accept them without allowing them to overwhelm you, for you clearly have many blessings.

But since you're entering a contest with this piece and have listed it as your I Write entry, you clearly desire a review of the writing. With that in mind, I offer the following suggestions.

I enjoyed the format of the piece. I like that you always listed the blessing first, because that establishes it as the higher priority.

I struggled with the piece as a reader because I haven't specifically experienced most of your personal struggles. You might consider playing with your poetry and making it more abstract, using imagery and metaphor to describe your struggles, but also making the struggles and the blessings alike more universal to the average reader. It would also make the piece more poetic and fun to read.

As it is, in direct speech, I find some of the wording jarring, such as "the brats who annoyed you". I found the line "Think not of your health insurance..." with its use of parenthetical phrase to be awkward. "...the Moslems that..." might sound better phrased "...the Moslems who..."

Overall, I'm glad that you are able to give yourself such good advice, and I hope you continue to remind yourself daily. Thank you for sharing your work, and good luck in the contest!

Cheers,
Michelle


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
20
20
Review of Motherhood  
Review by Brandiwyn🎶
Rated: ASR | (5.0)
A powerful glimpse into a mother's life. The next time someone suggests that a mom who stays home with her kids doesn't "work," I'll show them this. It's also a fantastic textbook example of show-don't-tell. I don't have children and never intend to have them. I have the privilege of educating hundreds of children, molding and shaping their lives, without the responsibility of caring for them around the clock. I'm fairly sure that none of my kids appreciate their moms as much as they should.
21
21
Review by Brandiwyn🎶
Rated: 13+ | (3.5)
I like the premise of this story. I also like the punchline-style of writing. Your narrative drive is good - you sucked me in with your first two lines, wondering what happened. It's not til the last line that I get to see, so your element of suspense worked well.

I was a little confused - not by ambiguous writing, but emotionally - when I got to the part about the mini-skirt. I thought for a moment that it was a joke, that the story would be a comedy, even though Bill and Ken were scared and crying. I thought maybe there was a plot twist in the punchline that would turn the story funny. I'm not the kind of reader who checks genres before reading - I just dive in. So when I got to the end of the line and realized that he was dead, that it wasn't a joke, I felt somewhat unfulfilled, like, wait - what just happened? Is this a joke or isn't it? Lack of clarity may in part be because the story is so short. I didn't get much of a taste of your characters or what happened that night. I *do* like how you left what happened to my imagination - he's wearing a mini-skirt and clutching a map. I can conjure a dozen scenarios, and that works for me. It was that moment of emotional confusion that I'm not sure I liked.

This is a nit-pick, but you used the word "still" three times in two sentences. Word repetition pulls me out of a story and makes me think, wait, didn't he just say that? So it interrupts your narrative drive.

Another nitpick:
"...can do to a man," Officer Grady pointed...
This doesn't make sense. You're implying that he "pointed" the quote. Try a period after "...man." to create two separate thoughts here.

Thanks for sharing! *Smile*
22
22
Review of Pain  
Review by Brandiwyn🎶
Rated: E | (3.0)
Hello confused and thank you for sharing your work.

Your premise is beautiful. Love beats pain. Such a positive message.

I would have liked to see more poetic tools (e.g., imagery, symbolism, metaphor) in your delivery of the message, rather than simply outright telling us that love beats pain. I do like your use of personification: Pain "beats" and "tears" and "degrades." Love "overwhelms" and "comforts." These are also good action words, which helps drive me through the piece (in other words, it's not boring.)

These two lines were my least favorite:

pain,
is everywhere.

This is such a broad comment and somewhat commonplace. It's almost too obvious to say and not poetic. It doesn't evoke any emotion in me at all. Yes, pain is everywhere. So what? What does that have to do with ME? Touch me on an emotional level. Give me some pain. Either tell me about someone's specific suffering - in a way that it rips my heart out to hear about it - or remind me of my own personal pain somehow. Then give me love. Take me on an emotional roller coaster.

and:

with love,
pain just cant compare

First, "can't" needs an apostrophe.
Second, this closing phrase is the first you've ended without punctuation. If you had poetic justification for this, that would be fine. I can't find any poetic justification, and it doesn't appear deliberate.
Third, this is a weak ending.

In poetry, you want to use words to make powerful statements about things like love beating pain. To say "pain just can't compare" is almost a cop-out, like you couldn't find the words to describe how much stronger love is than pain. But that's the point of poetry - finding the words. Find a way to make me feel the pain, and then make me feel the love, so that you don't even have to tell me that love beats pain. I'll figure it out for myself if you take me there.

I feel like you're really onto something here, and I'd love to see you play with it and make that statement in a stronger, more poetic way. One idea - and this is just an idea - is to try making the statement from the point of view of a character, rather than using the sweeping "us" verbiage. Another idea is to use some tools to play around with your specific word usage. If you're interested in some tools, here are a couple of word sites that are fun to play with:

www.visuwords.com
http://www.rhymezone.com/

Peace!
23
23
Review of Bacon  
Review by Brandiwyn🎶
Rated: E | (4.0)
This is one of the funniest stories I've ever read!! I loved every minute of it. I searched for "bacon" at WDC (who doesn't love bacon?) and found your story. The description caught my attention, and I read it from beginning to end in one sitting. I wasn't even searching for a story. I was searching for a picture, but your story was so fun to read that I couldn't stop.

It's not a 5 because the writing could use an editor's overhaul. Here are some examples of how your writing could be improved (I give specific examples, but there were other examples all throughout your story):

*** Missing punctuation:
“Bob, Bob wake up Bob.”

This is a run-on sentence, and it looks amateurish. At a minimum, you need more commas:
"Bob, Bob, wake up, Bob."

The best revision of the sentence would have periods:
"Bob. Bob. Wake up, Bob."

*** Adverb use:
"Bob and Asmozedineus gazed at each other unblinkingly..."

Avoid the use of too many adverbs. Paint a picture with action words instead, because action drives a plot forward better than adverbs:
"Bob and Asmozedineus gazed at each other, eyes unblinking."

The best revision of this sentence tells the story from the point of view of your main character, helping us get into his head and feel like we're living his story:
"Bob and Asmozedineus gazed at each other without blinking until Bob's eyes watered and ached, but he refused to let the squirrel king have the upper hand in this battle of wits."

* Cliche use:
...for what seemed like years.

"what seemed like years" was a great phrase when it was first coined, but it's now it's so overused that it's lost some of its awesome factor. The example I gave above, in which Bob's eyes watered and ached, tells the reader the same thing - that they didn't blink for a very long time - using action instead of a cliche.

Those are the biggest culprits I saw in your writing that could use editorial clean-up (punctuation, adverb use, cliche use.) That takes practice and feedback, or maybe some research or a class on good writing... or just a good editor for hire. But no amount of classes or editors in the world can give a writer the kind of wit and imagination you have. What you have is pure, natural talent, and you should continue to cultivate that because you could have a serious future in writing.

Thanks for the fun read. *Smile*
24
24
Review of First Date  
Review by Brandiwyn🎶
Rated: 18+ | (4.5)
"First Date" is a fun short story with an unexpected twist. My specific comments and suggestions are below, which you are welcome to implement, take to heart, make note of, or ignore altogether, as you see fit. *Bigsmile* Enjoy!

* The story was a quick, easy read. The pacing was good for the entertainment value and surprise twist. You spent just enough time on the snakes to build up your punchline.

* I liked the bit about the unidentifed drink (specifically, that only the bartender knew what the two men were drinking.) Nice funny factor.

* "...acknowledging the wisdom of his remarks." I loved this line. It "shows" inebriation beautifully. *Bigsmile*

The only thing that hung me up was Dave... in particular, his astonishment at the bill. Surely, as drunk as Rob is, it wouldn't be a surprise that the bill is excessive.

I also thought Dave was a bit of a character of convenience. I realize you had to squeeze his character into a piece with a low word-count, but the bit about the bill had me confused about him. He offers to pay, and he offers to drive Rob home, so I'm thinking, nice guy. Then he sees the bill and reneges... and I think, or maybe not? Or it's just for show? And what was he doing at the bar in the first place? Did he go alone? Why? It seems he just showed up, saw Rob, heard his brief story over a single drink, and drives Rob home. What happened to the rest of his night? Was he just hanging out? He seems really interested in whether Rob got any, but he basically ignores the cute bartender.

Again... I have no idea if you have word restrictions, but a little bit of character development is about all I suggest. Your comedic timing is good, so I'm sure you don't want to dump a bunch of verbiage in and mess that all up. It made me laugh. *Bigsmile*

Thanks for the read.
25
25
Review of Thrifty Times  
Review by Brandiwyn🎶
Rated: 18+ | (3.5)
I remember seeing this contest when it was around and thinking it sounded interesting. Based on your four pieces, I can see that it's a challenging thing to accomplish. It's difficult to establish the right pace for a piece, especially a narrative story, when you can't include definite articles. That's the first thing I noticed. On the other hand, the task really drives you to come up with different descriptors for your settings and actions, and it forces you to consider new and alternative subjects for your action (e.g., "miniskirt shielded"), which, by the way, indirectly forces active voice. I like that about it.

You also managed to create a full plot with each one, which is impressive.

Thanks again for sharing your work. *Smile*
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