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Review Requests: ON
129 Public Reviews Given
129 Total Reviews Given
Review Style
Brutally honest, but fair. I will give my impressions of the main points: Plot, character, setting, dialog. Then I will get into grammar, spelling, and typos. I will tell you what works, and what doesn't. As far as the star ratings go, I don't rely on them too much, but use them as a measure of an item's relative merit. Take it for what it's worth. Bottom line, my goal is to help the author improve their work.
I'm good at...
Getting into the details.
Favorite Genres
Science fiction, horror, fantasy, mystery.
I will not review...
Poetry. While I appreciate it, I don't feel I understand it well enough to review it.
Public Reviews
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1
1
Review by Graham B.
Rated: E | (4.0)
Foxtale,

This is my review of “ZUK and ZOB - A Fable For Our Time” as requested. Except for where I point out grammar and spelling issues, this will only be my opinion of the piece.

I enjoyed this story of a clever caveman looking for a way out of a predicament. This is the age-old story of someone trying to contend with forces beyond his control and finding a novel way to do it, with some help from a friend. The themes of friendship, personal livelihood, tyranny, and ingenuity are well represented in this story, despite its short length.

Zob is a sympathetic character here, and I could feel his fear as he must come to terms with the new political order in his tribe and his place in it. He strikes me as a smart character with his invention of the Zob-Fob which elevates his business. I would have liked to have seen him have more of a hand in solving his own problem with Mog and Neb, but it seems Zuk took the lead on that.

Zuk is a favorite character of mine throughout literature. He’s the one who “goes with the flow” as he puts it. Like the Dude, he abides. His easy-going nature keeps him grounded and his life experiences give him the ability to think through this particular problem. Zuk is like a rock in uncertain times for uncertain characters who are finding their way in the world and helps to pull their cookies out of the fire. We could all use more Zuks in our lives.

We don’t learn much about Mog, but I guess he is more of a concept than a character. Neb is more than adequate to represent the courtiers and hangers-on who accompany power and revel in it. He makes for a decent antagonist without ever slinging his club once.

I would have liked to have seen a bit more of the setting represented here. What does the village look like? Who does Zob have for neighbors? What sounds, sights and smells should greet our senses to put us in Zob’s head? I understand if you were writing to a word limit.

The only grammatical issue I saw was a minor one:
“…seeking the fairest, or at least cleanest, of cave women about.”
It should be one word, “cavewoman” just as you did with “caveman.” Also, delete the comma after “cleanest.”

Overall, I thought this was a delightful story with a protagonist in a pickle and looking for a way out and I enjoyed reading it. Thanks for sharing.

-Graham




*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
2
2
Review of Spooky Mission  
Review by Graham B.
Rated: 13+ | (2.5)
Ben,

I am reviewing your short story “Spooky Mission” as requested. Except for where I point out grammatical errors and misspelling, this will only be my opinion of the work.

This looks to me like a classic story of a vampire, told in an early twentieth century writing style. While this style may have its charm, it is difficult to do well. Overall, I thought the style worked, but it could use a little polish. You should have a thesaurus handy to look up some of the more old-fashioned terminology.

The story works at the most basic level, with Andrew arriving and dealing with the consequences of his decisions. The action rises to the end, with the confrontation with the monster. What is missing is characterization. The reader doesn’t end up with much more knowledge of Andrew then they had at the beginning. We know he is a vampire hunter, we know that he pretty brave. That’s about it. There should be a bit more backstory to Andrew. I’m not saying you need exposition to do this, but perhaps more of his character could be revealed through his speech and actions. For example, Andrew or Daniel could refer back to a time in the past when Andrew had to deal with a different monster, and how that affected their relationship. I feel like you could have done more to make the reader care about Daniel so that his death would hit harder.

I found the circumstances of Emily’s arrival odd. The story implies that the castle itself is haunted by the presence of something monstrous. Shouldn’t Emily have already been there instead of showing up at the door? I suggest more clarity on how Emily fits into the circumstances of this castle.

I saw some anomalies in the story which you could address with some attention to detail. Here they are:

You refer to Daniel as a “manservant” but later as a “maidservant.” I would assume this is an error.

The castle has paintings mounted to its exterior walls. That’s rather odd.

You describe wind chimes rattling in the bedroom. Do people hang wind chimes in their bedrooms, and then leave the windows open so they can make noise?

It was strange for Andrew to leave Daniel to go get something to eat. At this point they had just arrived. This moment feels forced, as if you were trying to find a way to kill off Daniel to drive the plot forward. You also refer to the castle as Andrew’s home at one point. Is it? Did Andrew purchase the property and was moving in? I was under the impression that he was simply investigating the place. Also, where does somebody get food at this hour?

Why doesn’t Andrew investigate further when Daniel is killed? And what does Andrew do with Daniel’s body? There seems to be a lack of a reaction from Andrew at the death of Daniel, someone I presume he had known for a long time. Instead, he just goes to bed. Later, Andrew does seem to react appropriately to the strangeness of Emily’s arrival.

I thought it was rather strange for Andrew to have to sleep in the drawing room so Emily could sleep in the bedroom. It is a castle after all, with many bedrooms. If there was a tactical reason for Andrew to sleep in there, perhaps you could elaborate?

In the ensuing fight between Andrew and Emily, you mention Andrew having a weapon of some kind, but never mention it again. But later, Andrew pulls “his sword from his car's bonnet.” At this point I thought a fight was taking place inside the castle, so it was jarring to suddenly see him next to his car. Also, I think the word you are looking for is “boot” not bonnet, unless this car had swords strapped to the bonnet for some reason?

At one point you refer to Emily as “Lucy.”

I recommend separating dialog according to which character is speaking. Each time a character speaks, there should be a new paragraph. It makes the dialog clearer and easier to follow and is in keeping with convention. Also, I recommend placing a space after each period.

Overall, I thought you did a good job building the tension toward the climax. The general structure of the story is a good one. All it needs is some attention to detail and perhaps a bit more world-building. I hope this helps.

-Graham


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
3
3
Review by Graham B.
Rated: E | N/A (Review only item.)
Wrath,

This is my review of “Terabytes and Graphene” as requested. Except where I point out grammatical issues, this will only be my opinion of the work.

If there’s one word I would use to describe this (prologue?) it’s “cryptic.” What I gathered about the themes are that of real-life relationships vs AI. If that’s what you are building on, I’m kind of at a loss to see where this will go based on what I’ve seen here. Krim’s relationship with Amber is physical, and yet they have a connection that goes a bit beyond, something through her father. I wonder, did Krim acquire the AI woman through the same connection?

I get that Krim’s ability to manipulate technology might be matched by his ability to manipulate people. Perhaps his motivations here are to control every aspect of any relationship he might have: “My life. My rules.” I also gathered that he might be rather immature and childlike in his approach to relationships, despite having a clearly superior intellect. He is used to getting his way.

I do want to know, what is the secret? There is little to go on here, which is why I describe this passage as cryptic. It might seem like I am drawing a lot of conclusions from this passage, but I don’t have much else to go on. I am intrigued by the character Krim, and I think you have done a decent job setting the hook. But I think it might help to reveal a bit more about the direction of the plot in this prologue, something to point the reader in the right direction.

"Terrabytes and graphene. Nothing more, love."
Misspelled “terabytes.”

"It's for me. A secret for 1" he raises a finger.

She raises 2 fingers, "And what's next?"
It’s a bit unconventional to use numerals this way in prose instead of spelling the numbers out; “one” and “two.” Certainly not incorrect, and if this is a stylistic choice, then that’s fine.

The last dozen or so lines of dialog break some rules of grammar:

"It's for me. A secret for 1" he raises a finger.
The quotes should be a complete sentence, and “he” should be capitalized as the beginning of a new sentence. “Raises” is not a dialog marker.

She raises 2 fingers, "And what's next?"
Again, this should be two separate sentences. “Raises” is not a dialog marker.

"Find an anwer?" He asks.
Try:
“Find and answer?” he asks.

I hope this helps.

-Graham



*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
4
4
Review by Graham B.
Rated: E | (5.0)
SSpark,

This is my review of “Finding Two Spark” as requested. Except where I point out errors in grammar, this is only my opinion.

This is the most fun I’ve had reading a biographical work recently. I have never read an article about a real estate deal that was so viscerally entertaining and funny, that touched me to the core. It truly brings out the humanity of people of your background, trying to live their dreams.

For starters, you set the context of the essay in a vivid way with this sentence: “It’s the idea of wide-open spaces, which still exist despite a handful of mega-cities dotting the map like the age spots on the back of my hand.” It brings to mind people so close to the land they are a part of it, as if the people and land have grown old together and are inseparable. For me, this sentence painted a picture for the rest of the essay as clearly as if it had been slapped on a canvas in oils. And the rest only gets more vivid.

I liked how everywhere you take the reader, you describe the setting in terms that not only bring it to life in our minds but makes us feel something as well. “Live oaks grew in bunches up and down green hills that were taller than those I grew to love when I was a kid” is just one of many examples of how you do this. Telling us about Scott’s family history in brief with entrepreneurship makes the search for your ranch all the more meaningful.

I found the circumstances in which you acquired Two Spark to be a bit sad, with Ricky’s cancer forcing him to leave the ranch. Apparently, nothing lasts forever. I would have liked to have heard a bit more about whatever became of him, but of course, this is your story, not his.

I also would have liked to hear why you named it “Two Spark.” It seems like it would have been an interesting story.

Here’s a nitpick:

“So, the day I typed Live water property - Texas Hill Country into my computer’s search bar, I felt like Scarlett O’Hara in a threadbare work dress, rising from a hardscrabble field.”
Instead of a comma, you should close out the hyphenated portion with another hyphen (technically an em-dash):
“– Texas Hill Country into my computer’s search bar –“


Throughout the essay, you seemed to be telling two parallel stories: the story of your journey to own a ranch, and the story of Texas and its people. The two stories came together and became something larger than life. I really enjoyed this and hope there will be more. Thank you for sharing!

-Graham





*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
5
5
Review of Old Magic  
Review by Graham B.
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
Julian,

This is my review of “Old Magic” as requested. Except for where I point out grammar and spelling errors, this will only be my opinion of the work.

This looks like an introduction to a larger story, maybe a book. There is very little in the way of plot development or a character arc, but more a setting of the stage. That said, I enjoyed it a lot, and if you intend to build on it, this story makes for a good hook. I am interested in seeing where the characters go from here, what will come of the coming battle, and how the magic depicted will manifest later on.

The characterization is where this story is the strongest. At the end, I feel like I know every character here, and can predict how they might behave in different situations. From the uncertain and untested Ayu, to the snarky and sarcastic Artro, to the wise and timeless Unarak. Everyone seems to have a part to play in the narrative. Now I think a follow-up would truly bring about character arcs and see how they grow. Would we see Ayu become a confident and proficient young warrior? Would Artro’s caustic personality hint at a deeper insecurity? Would the wise Unarak be confronted with a situation even he wasn’t prepared for? The only thing I would suggest is a bit more physical description of the characters. I would like to know what they look like. It doesn’t have to be a top-down detailed description, but just a few key attributes that might relate to the characters’ personalities. What does Ayu look like? Is he taller than his father? Shorter? Does Ren look like Unarak, or is he strikingly different from his brother in important ways? Does Tove decorate her bow in any particular way that reflects her personality or her fighting style?

I liked how you brought the setting to life. This is an aspect that sadly is often neglected. Here the setting is almost a character in its own right and is well suited for the kind of magic you employ. The characters being at one with the environment in order to use their powers has implications for the setting and how it might move the plot forward. Perhaps this could play into the theme of environmentalism. How does one square harmony with the environment with war, especially if the enemy might be employing the same magic?

I imagine that this review is of little use, but I can’t find much to criticize this story on. It is well polished, and the themes of mentorship, friendship, young love and environmentalism are well represented here. All I can say is that there is a lot you can build on and a larger story you could tell. I’m already interested.

Some typos:
“Ayu noyiced a strange motion in the air, like ripples in the water when a fish dusturbs it.”

That’s all I have. I hope you found it helpful.

-Graham


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
6
6
Review by Graham B.
Rated: 13+ | (3.0)
Zachary,

This is my review of Arcane Ascension: Prologue, as requested. Except for where I point out grammatical errors and typos, this is only my opinion.

The first thing I will say about this prologue is that it feels more like a first chapter. Traditionally, prologues are supposed to set the stage for story to come, established the themes, lay the groundwork for the plot. This piece seems to advance the plot and push character development beyond what would normally be seen in a prologue, to even include an inciting incident. Of course there may be a lot more to come, and I haven’t read the rest, but that is my impression. Perhaps the vignette about Kael destroying a tree during his training with Master Elara would serve a prologue by itself, if you expanded it.

I did like Jace as the loyal friend who tries to support Kael. Their relationship would be something to explore later in the book. There could be a lot going on here, which would be upended by the accident. Jace paid a price for his loyalty, and for Kael’s obsession with Senke. Ironically it was his quest to control his powers that drove him to lose control.

Here are some issues I had with what was here:

“He paused before a dusty tome titled "Mysteries of the Senke Era"”

Why would people from the Senke Era write a book entitled “Mysteries of the Senke Era”?

I also noticed a lot of repetition throughout this prologue. Here are some examples:

“He was driven by curiosity, a burning desire to understand the history of the Senke Era and how it could help him control the magic that surged within him.”

“This was exactly the reason he was here - to learn about the Senke Era and perhaps gain some insight into his own unpredictable abilities.”

“He believed that the knowledge of the Senke Era held the key to taming his erratic abilities…”

“Each discovery brought him closer to understanding their mastery over magic, feeding his conviction that he could harness this knowledge to control his own abilities.”

“The potential knowledge hidden within its history consumed him, fueling his determination to unlock the mysteries of his own powers.”

“If only he could decipher the secrets they held, perhaps he would find the key to mastering his abilities.”

“The secrets of the Senke Era would not remain hidden forever, and neither would the key to controlling the storm that raged within him.”

"I understand, Kael. We'll uncover the secrets of the Senke Era, and you'll gain control over your powers. You have my word."

This list of passages all convey the same thing: Kael is investigating the Senke ruins to gain insight into controlling his own powers. This is not the only redundancy I found, but it is the most prominent. It’s the sort of thing that would be caught in editing. The reader gets it. I recommend not belaboring the point. Try to cut down on this sort of repetition. By combining this and other redundancy you could probably cut this prologue in half.

I think this is a good start to a story, and there is potential here. The I did like the characters and I think they will make for interesting drama. But there is a content and pacing issue that I think makes this more like a short story than a prologue. You dive into some themes and introduce quite a bit of rising action. Keep in mind what a prologue is for and don’t serve up the main course before the appetizer has arrived.

That’s all I have, and I hope it helps.

-Graham


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
7
7
Review by Graham B.
Rated: E | (2.5)
Ben,

This is my review of “The Mysterious River” as requested. Except where I point out grammatical errors, this is only my opinion.

As a play, this work is not something I’m used to, though I have read plays before, including the works of Shakespeare and Tennessee Williams. I like the style of its flowery dialog, so reminiscent of nineteenth-century aesthetic.

“For almost sixteen years i.e. from 1930 to 1946, the house is left vacant due to its gothic architecture and location.” I’m not sure how you would express this in a play. You might want to think about whether you will have a voice-over narrative, or to have the characters discuss these kinds of facts. This goes for any exposition. How are you going to convey this information to your audience? How do the "the bitter memories of their parent's death" figure into the plot?

It’s unfortunate that we didn’t get any dialog from Mac. Maybe you could use him to deliver some of the exposition at the beginning? You went to the trouble of describing Mac’s character as “studious and inquisitive, but moody at times.” You seemed to want for him to have an impact on the story beyond his simple disappearance. Perhaps you could leave a clue that his disappearance is related to his curiosity for his brothers to find? The dialog is okay, but Donald’s dialog doesn’t seem to fit how you describe him as “skeptical even on unnecessary aspects.” I would think that Richard would be more likely to embrace supernatural explanations than Donald.

While I did like the character of the Father from the church, I would have liked to have known his name. He was clearly an important character. Also, you described him as idealistic. How would that come through in the dialog? What is his history at this place? He seems to know something about what is happening, but the reader never finds out how he knows. I think the father should have played a bigger role.

The wizard kind of threw me. I was expecting something more cryptic, more monstrous. His dialog was kind of anticlimactic, bragging about how powerful and evil he is. He comes of as a cliché. That might just be me, though.

Once again, I don’t generally review scripts, but I hope I can be of help here. There is a lot of exposition in this story, and you need to consider how it will be conveyed in a play. You have a good grasp on descriptors and settings, but the characters’ inner thoughts will be difficult. The dialog needs some work, as some of it doesn’t make sense in the context of who these characters are. Remember how you envisioned them in the beginning and think about what would be appropriate for them to say. Try saying the dialog out loud and see if it sounds right.

"The bedroom beside the dining hall is small and square with elegant wind chimes hanging overhead."
Wind chimes inside a bedroom? That sounds kind of strange.


That’s all I have. Keep it up.

-Graham


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
8
8
Review by Graham B.
Rated: E | (3.5)
Alkareel,

This is my review of “Erden: Tale of a Land Forgotten” as requested. Except where I indicate some grammatical issues, this will be my opinion of the work.

I like this tale of fantasy about a boy with high expectations. It looks like the start of a great story. You do a good job building the anticipation toward great things that Urie expects later on. Throughout you also hint at something not happening as planned. The mysterious statue seems to be significant in some way, maybe even connected to Urie’s failure to manifest his magic. I would have liked to have seen something more on that subject. Perhaps a description of what it looked like? In fact, the setting could have used more description. This is especially important in a work of fantasy, where you are building a world and need to bring the reader into it. You could have described the mysterious statue right at the beginning, for Urie was kneeling right in front of it. The town, the mansion, Urie’s room, all could have been brought more to life. Use as many senses as you can, sight, hearing, smell, touch.

I liked the dialog. It sounded natural, the way people really speak. Urie’s feelings and thoughts are made clear, and reveal his character, bubbling over with happiness and anticipation. Also, while you can use whatever method you want to indicate an internal monolog, such as the beginning hyphen, convention is that we use italics. This is what readers expect and will make it easier to distinguish inner thoughts.

I think I should mention something about formatting. Not to put too fine a point on it, this story is an eye chart. The paragraphs and lines of dialog are squashed together and make for difficult reading. Look at a published book to see how they do it. There is a reason they format books the way they do; it makes the reading flow more smoothly.


“Past the structure was nothing. Nothing but a sheer cliff dropping down a great distance and extending endlessly into white mist.”
I would join these sentences together and delete one of the “nothings.” This is my only suggested change.

I think this has the makings of an entertaining fantasy story and I hope you keep at it. The ending hints at a journey for Urie to take, perhaps to claim the magic he believes he should have.

-Graham


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
9
9
Review of A New Dawn Ch.1  
Review by Graham B.
Rated: 13+ | (3.0)

Zachary,

It is difficult to give an in-depth review based on only one chapter of a book, but I will do my best.

This looks to be coming-of-age story of a young girl with supernatural powers in a world rich with magic. I strikes me a Harry-Potteresque but with an Asian flavor to it. I feel like you may have been influenced by anime, but I’m not all that familiar with the genre so I won’t review based upon that perspective.

I like the hook you use in the first sentence: “My brother and I are twins and I believe my name should have been his.” It’s an intriguing hook that draws the reader in, but you don’t seem to capitalize on it. I think soon after making a statement like that, you should at least hint at why this is so. This could tie into the theme of the story.

Which brings me to my next point. The theme is not immediately apparent here. Of course, I only have the benefit of reading one chapter in this book, and you might draw out the theme later on, but I think you should make the theme apparent to the reader as soon as possible, especially as your protagonist is about to face another character who is, if not the actual antagonist, at least antagonistic. What is the theme here? What is the main character searching for that will eventually lead to her transformation? While not a hard-and-fast rule, I think the reader should learn the theme before the protagonist does.

I like that your protagonist is proactive and does as much as she can to maintain her agency. It always makes for a better story when the characters advance the plot, rather than have the plot just happen to them.

I hope you continue to develop this story and add to the world-building here. It looks very interesting and might make for a entertaining fantasy.

Here are some grammatical issue I saw:

“The children of these deities are treated as royalty, as for us we are treated like slaves.”
Run-on sentence. Try;
”The children of these deities are treated as royalty. As for us, we are treated like slaves.”

“AHH! I can’t keep getting distracted like this!”
This sentence suggests an inner monolog. I suggest trying to differentiate it from the narrative. Most authors use italics:
AHH! I can’t keep getting distracted like this!


That’s all I have. I hope this helps.

-Graham



*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
10
10
Review of The Last Goodbye  
Review by Graham B.
Rated: E | (3.5)
Xara,

Returning to "The Last Goodbye," here are my thoughts.

This is better. You clarified some of the ambiguities of the plot and the story makes more sense now. More importantly, you expanded some of the details on the narrator's relationship with their mother. It looks like you took my last review to heart and made changes accordingly.

But I think what would help would be to consider why you are writing this. What is the purpose of this story? Is it part of a larger one? Will this lead into the narrator examining his/her life in some way? Is it just a study in a character's emotional turmoil? How will the narrator be transformed by this experience, if at all? These questions are not for me, but for you to ask yourself moving forward.

That's all. I hope this helps.

-Graham


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
11
11
Review of The Last Goodbye  
Review by Graham B.
Rated: E | (3.0)
Xara,

This is my review of “The Last Goodbye,” as requested. I am assuming it is fiction, though it has an autobiographical ring to it. I can relate, for I wasn’t there when my own mother passed, and I still think about the things I would have said in those last moments. In any case, here are my thoughts. Except where I indicate grammatical problems, this will only be my opinion. (I will be referring to your protagonist as “they” as I am not sure of their gender.)

I won’t go into too much detail here, as this is a very short work meant to address the feelings of loss and regret. But I will address one theme I saw in this story: secrecy. I’m not sure what your intentions were in having your character hide the diagnosis from their mother. I would hate to think what would be going through that mother’s mind, wondering why her health was deteriorating. Personally I wouldn’t consider this a particularly moral action. I saw a similar theme at work in the movie “Dad” starring Ted Danson, and I would recommend a watch as it plays on the theme of secrecy. Perhaps this is something you could delve into further. Also, I’m not sure how you would be able to get a doctor to diagnose their mother with cancer with the mother being aware of it.

There was one part of the plot I didn’t understand. The main character stated that they had a meeting they had to attend, but “decided not to attend it.” They then went away for two days. So clearly, the protagonist did decide to go to the meeting. If they initially decided not to go to the meeting, then changed their mind, you should make that clear. Also, you state that on the way home, they took some of their mother’s favorite things. This suggests that they brought things from home, as opposed from gifts purchased elsewhere. Perhaps you could expound on the what sorts of things the protagonist brought home; it would bring more detail to their life and their relationship with their mother. The reader learns nothing about the protagonist’s mother other than the fact that she has cancer.

One nitpick here: you capitalize “Mom.” If you are referring to someone in the proper sense, like “Jack” or “Mary” then you capitalize. But if you are referring to the common noun “mom” as it seems like you are doing, then you don’t capitalize.

“Tears started streaming down my face, I felt that if my world had ended.” This is a run-on sentence, and also “I felt that if my world had ended” doesn’t make much sense. Did you mean “I felt as if my world had ended?”

I think you should build more on the relationship and why the death of the mother has such a devastating effect on the protagonist. The more the reader cares about her, the more they will sympathize and feel what they are feeling. Otherwise, you are just telling the reader that the protagonist is sad, and not really demonstrating why.

That’s all I have. I hope it helps!

-Graham



*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
12
12
Review of Not Yet!  
Review by Graham B.
Rated: 18+ | (4.0)
MjoShmo,

I am reviewing this in response to your request. My apologies for the delay; I have been neglecting my account of late and didn't see it in time.

This is an interesting character study and an examination of how people deal with grief and find closure. It would seem that Ruby had a particularly difficult time coming to terms with her loss. Here are my thoughts. Other than where I point to grammatical errors, they are just my opinion.

Plot:

The plot was just meaty enough to advance your character’s development. Given that this is a character-driven story, it works. The inciting incident of the delivery of the book is all that was needed.

Characters:
You created a portrait of a character experiencing not only grief, but apparently guilt. Where does this guilt come from? Does Ruby blame herself, or she experiencing survivor’s guilt? You created raw emotions for her, but I think it would help a little to outline the circumstances. However, this certainly isn’t necessary to make this character sympathetic to the reader. I like the way you reveal Alex’s character through her illustrations in the book, her imagination still delighting her mother. The last line in the book: “N OT RELLY! ITS YOR TURN NOW !” was especially poignant, as if Alex was telling her mother to keep living. I found the characters to be quite real and sympathetic, even the ones not present in the story.

Setting:

The setting conveyed the state of Ruby’s life – in disarray. You used every sense to bring it life, as if it were a character itself. Nice job.

Dialog:
There wasn’t much dialog, just enough for the delivery man to make his contribution to the story, but it worked.

Grammar:

I didn’t notice any grammatical errors.

This story hit home on the topic of grief. I think it also explores the importance of closure in any mourning. I think it also draws the reader in with its descriptive imagery. While some of the descriptions were a little bit over the top, it works well as an organic whole. I’m not sure what the point of the red text was, and I suggest taking it out, unless there was something implied in it that I missed.

Good job with this, and I hope it does well in the contest!

-Graham


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
13
13
Review of Time to tango  
Review by Graham B.
Rated: ASR | (3.0)
Noodles,

This is my review of Time to Tango, as requested. Except for where I point out technical errors, this will be my opinion of the work.

This was story was rather cryptic, and the theme was opaque, especially when compared to the description. I'm not sure where this story is going, even after reading it, but here are my thoughts and my observations.

Plot:
The story seems to take place over two days, both of which Aneesa encounters two elderly people on the street who mistake her for someone else, and who also seem to exist in her own imagination. The story ends in Aneesa's death, which is implied. I got the impression that Aneesa is unhappy with her life, and what exactly happens next? I'm thinking that her deceased parents take her away from it all, but again, it's cryptic.

Characters: This story is a character study of Aneesa, and in that respect it works well. We get the sense of a life coming off the rails, or at least stuck in a rut. You give a bit of description of what she looks like to this effect. Since the story is so short it's hard to get a further sense of the character without further development, but you do a good job within your constraints.

Setting: The prevailing attribute of the setting is emptiness, meant to convey a sense of Aneesa's life I would guess. There are just a few intrusions into it, which Aneesa seems to be trying to avoid, like Aunty Nazli. The story hints, via the black Audi, that others are wrestling with similar issues. The rain is present at the beginning and seems like it might be an important element, but we never see it again. Maybe revisit that.

Dialog: Not much there. Dialog can reveal much about a character. Of course it looks like you are trying to express Aneesa's isolation, so not much dialog would necessarily be called for, but still, it's a useful tool for character development. Even dialog can be useful in expressing a character's isolation.

Grammar:
I didn't see a misspellings. I saw what looked like sentence fragments that you seemed to be using for stylistic purposes. It's probably okay, but don't overuse it. There is one point where you didn't capitalize Aneesa's name. I didn't see any other issues.

This story looks like it follows the character's life over two days, to its end when it becomes apparent that she is suffering from some sort of delusion, or experiencing something supernatural. It's not clear what's going on. I didn't get that sense that the character changed, or had any particular character arc other than to die at the end. Was that the point? She rejected some sort of lifeline from the hereafter and paid the price for it? You did a good job foreshadowing with the taxi driver screaming at her on day one. Perhaps build on that. Overall, I think some sort of change in Aneesa's outlook or some realization about her life would have made the story more satisfying. Thanks for sharing this and keep it up.

-Graham


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
14
14
Review of Life in Death  
Review by Graham B.
Rated: E | (4.5)
Anita,

Great story! It reminds me of Neil Gaiman's "The Sandman." This is my review as requested. It is my opinion of your work and you can take it for what it is worth.

I like this story you tell about Death becoming tired of his job, and then finding a reason cherish his work again. You gave the concept of Death a human face and identity, and made him someone to sympathize with. What would our outlook be if we had a job like his?

Plot: The plot was cohesive and made sense. This was a brief story of someone in despair about his purpose in... er life? Then finds a reason to carry on. The inciting incident - the school shooting - happens before the beginning of the story. There is no need for the reader to see it. We know what's going on, and you do a great job setting the stage.

Characters: Despairing Death, indifferent Pain, busy and non-nonsense Life. You bring these concepts to life with your characterizations. These characters, in addition to embodying their concepts, also seem to symbolize Death's journey of the soul. You have made this a very spiritual sort of writing, and the characters give Death even more depth. This is where the story really shines.

Setting: The setting here also tells the story: a school cafeteria where horrific violence takes place, a maternity ward where life begins, and an old man's hospital room where he is living out that last few moments of his life. The setting symbolizes Death's journey perfectly.

Dialog: The dialog flows naturally, and sound like people actually speak. No problems here.

Grammar: I did not see any grammatical errors.

I hope I have helped out with this largely positive review. I usually try to find something wrong to harp about, but I'm at a loss. Nicely done!

-Graham


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
15
15
Review by Graham B.
Rated: 18+ | (4.0)
Bob,

This is a review of your work, “Ken Reaches for the Heights.” This review is my own opinion, and you can do with it as you see fit. Any questions I pose in this review are rhetorical, and are only for your benefit.

The first paragraph had an excellent hook, and immediately told me the important stuff about Ken. That’s a great way to start and it pulled me in. Here are my further thoughts:

Plot:
The plot was straightforward, and was a nice, compact journey from the ground to the fifth floor, and out of Ken’s pit of fear to the realization of his strength. That he ended up rescuing a love interest brought the story full circle.

Characters:
That the story was about Ken was obvious. The whole story was his character arc, and you wrote it well. Kate’s character isn’t given a lot of words, but in the last few paragraphs, she come off as someone who jumps right in without hesitation. A contrast to Ken? The only thing I can’t figure was the little girl’s behavior. Why did she go out the window to get help? Why not go into the hall and bang on some doors? A small detail, and doesn’t affect Ken’s arc.

Setting:
The setting was a good metaphor for Ken’s conflicts. The fairgrounds worked as a metaphor for life, with its a-la-carte selection of experiences for Ken to choose from and from which he never chooses the risky events. Circumstances force him onto the rickety escape ladder, which begins his Hero’s Journey. I would have liked a bit more descriptive imagery, but I understand that you were under a word-limit.

Dialog:
It flowed naturally, like real people speak. No issues here.

Grammar:
I didn’t find any grammatical errors. This was pretty polished.

Overall thoughts.
I found this to be well written, and it fits the contest prompt nicely. Good luck!

-Graham


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
16
16
Review by Graham B.
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
Temujin,

This is a good effort at dark humor. It's a nice symmetry between the events happening in real time, and Bob's anecdote about Billy setting off a firecracker and later becoming President. The setting is appropriate, somewhere in farm country where the silos are located. I would be careful about your tenses. Part of the story is described in present tense, where you wrote "A murder of crows erupts..." and later when you describe Bob's consumption of beer. The rest is told in past tense, except for Bob's monologue, which is appropriate. The only dialog is actually described in Bob's monologue, which works pretty well. In my mind, I can actually see Bob getting animated over his recounting of his conversation with Billy. His focus on his story is starkly contrasted with the voices of other people observing the missile launches.

Flash fiction is always a challenge, and you did a good job telling your story in a short format. Keep it up.

-Graham


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
17
17
Review of INvasion  
Review by Graham B.
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
Stephen,

This was very creepy on multiple levels. I think the story accomplished what you set out to do. I liked how you wove together the themes of alien invasion and mental illness.

One thing that confused me thought was when the narrator said “…I do love them so…” about the bugs. There was no lead-up to why the narrator would begin to feel this way about the invaders. Maybe you could expand on the narrator’s feelings here.

You referred to the park as a “man-made miniature Eden.” Was that a religious reference? Was the invasion supposed to signify the Fall of Man (hence, the reference to “Autumn strolls”)? If so, what was the narrator’s sin?

I liked your use of language in this story, and it fits with the unreliable nature of the narrator. And in the end, while you described the apocalypse in vivid gory detail accompanied by dark foretelling of more to come, the reader is still left with uncertainty as to whether the entire thing took place in the narrator’s head. I like that ambiguity, which makes the reader question their own sanity and perceptions.

Some quibbles:
“Fear and dread routed me, unmovable in terror.”
Did you mean,”Fear and dread rooted me...?”

And why did you post-date your work for July?

Good job!

-Graham


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
18
18
Review of The curse  
Review by Graham B.
Rated: E | (3.5)
LMcCulloch,

Thank you for sharing this story. This review will be mostly my own impressions and opinion, combined with some technical issues at the end.

This is a good beginning to a paranormal story and looks like it could be built into a larger mystery. However, I couldn’t help but feel like you revealed a bit too much, a little bit too perfunctorily, such as the backstory behind how Kenzie got her powers in the first place. That alone should merit a flashback chapter by itself. Also, the chapter seems to end rather abruptly, with Amber still sitting in her chair, and Kenzie doing - something. Here are my thoughts:

Plot:
You set it up well, and gradually reveal Kenzie and Amber’s history. Again, I think you revealed too much, if this is, in fact, the first chapter for a book. It’s almost as if the first chapter is a partial outline. Don’t throw too much backstory out there up front, unless you have a whole lot more to reveal. That way, you have another tool to draw the reader’s interest in throughout the whole book.

Characters:
Your characters are interesting and sympathetic. You seem to have them react in appropriately emotional ways to the situation. I wonder how Kenzie felt upon realizing who she was talking to? Perhaps something visceral and gut-wrenching given her complicated history with Amber.

Setting:
This opening chapter would have been an appropriate place to go into more detail with the setting. The only thing I got out of your description was a “small store” which looked like a “witches den.” What does the customer see crowding the shelves upon entering? What kind of atmosphere does the reader detect through the eyes, ears, nose of the characters? How do the characters feel about what they see, and what are the readers meant to feel? There are so many possibilities with this place. Will it be mainstay within your story, a place for it to return to in order to advance the plot? Does it symbolize anything to take place later? Does anything in this store foreshadow further developments?

Dialog:
The characters’ dialog seems natural and flows well, like people actually speak. However, there are some technical issues which I will get into below. Otherwise, nicely done.

Grammar:
First of all, I recommend a break between paragraphs. It makes reading easier. I also recommend breaking each line of dialog into its own discrete paragraph, for the same reason. If you look into published books, you will see that they all do it this way. Also, the first sentence in a series of dialog lines from the same character is usually followed by the attributor, then the rest of the dialog. For example:

“So you came here assuming that I would help you? Sorry, I can’t. Please see yourself out,” I said, turning my back to her.

should look like:

“So, you came here assuming that I would help you?” I said, turning my back to her. “Sorry, I can’t. Please see yourself out.”

See? The first sentence is followed by the attributor, then the rest of Kenzie’s statement. It’s not technically wrong, but it is convention.

“I know you’re closed, but I have an emergency,” the petite brunette said as she forced the door open,
Why did she have to force the door open? Was it locked? Did she break in?

“So should I tell you about my ghost?” She asked.
Don’t capitalize “she.”

This list is representative, not comprehensive, so I recommend a round of proof reading. That’s about all I have. I find the ideas you put forth in this chapter to be intriguing, and hope you continue to work on it.

-Graham


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
19
19
Review by Graham B.
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
Mikema,

This story made me laugh out loud. I thoroughly enjoyed it from beginning to end. I didn’t see many problems with this story beyond technical ones.

Plot:
There was no action to be had in this story, and yet, it pulled the reader in with its sympathetic telling of an Orc finding his place in a world where he didn’t fit. You put in equal parts comedy and tragedy along with tension-building over the possible grisly fate of our heroes, and did so masterfully.

Characters:
Great job here, which it would have to be for this contest. You crafted sympathetic characters that the reader could somehow relate to, despite them being blood-thirsty Orcs. Grok’s loyalty to his friend Erirk is especially touching and perhaps something you could have built on further.

Setting/atmosphere:
Most of the atmosphere is brought to life through the characters. I would have liked to have seen a more vivid description of the world the Orcs inhabit, but I understand you being under a word limit. That said, don’t forget to describe the setting wherever possible. It can become a character in its own right.

Dialog:
It felt natural, like people speak. No problems here except for technical ones which I will address below. Good job!

Grammar:
I will address specific examples of what I saw, and let you find the rest of the errors on your own.

When depicting dialog, I saw this:
“This is going to be a disaster,” He mumbled.
You don’t need to capitalize “he” in this context.

“It’ll be fine,” Erirk's best friend Grok said.
…Erirks best friend, Grok, said.
I would suggest:
“It’ll be fine,” said Erirk’s best friend, Grok.

“You were the one who bumped into my arm.” Erirk didn’t say it with enough force to escape the rag.
You should probably separate this in to separate paragraphs.

“This place is dusty,” Erirk eyed the layer of dust on the floor of the torch-lit hallway.
This sentence is structured for attribution, but you didn’t do that. “Erirk eyed…” is not attributive. Might I suggest:
“This place is dusty,” Erirk said, eyeing the layer of dust…
Attribution, and moving smoothly on to the next clause.

Some of the chairs were occupied by various monsters from a troll eating a lamb to a hobgoblin with spectacles reading through the latest issue of Henchmen Quarterly.
You might want to insert some commas into this one, like one after “lamb.”

“…pouches on his tattered, hand sewn, clothes.”
You don’t need the comma after “sewn.” And might I suggest “hand-sewn.”

“It’s mister Tiffany.”
Capitalize “Mister” in this usage.

“…before the interview.” The Brightly capped goblin said,
This should read:
“…before the interview,” the brightly capped Goblin said,

I noticed that you capitalize “Orc” as J.R.R. Tolkien does, implying not just race, but nationality as well. For consistency, I suggest capitalizing all races, such as Goblin and Troll.

“Rags so filthy that it was everything Erirk could do to not lose his hard-won breakfast.”
This is an incomplete sentence.

“Well?” Erirk had never heard a more ominous rendition of the word well in his life.
I recommend a <CR> after “Well?”

Grok Covered his face with a palm.
“covered”

Then he saw something.
This is strange. Did he see something or remember something?

That’s all I have, though this is not a comprehensive list. I suggest proofreading and finding all instances of these errors.
Other than that, it was very well written, and draws the reader in. I think it has a good shot. Keep it up!

-Graham


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
20
20
Review by Graham B.
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
Breach,

This looks like a pretty good start to a fantasy story. Everything is in place here: a sympathetic protagonist, a complex and intriguing plot, a descriptive setting, and a lot of good action to go with it. Here are my thoughts:

Plot:

This being the first chapter, I don’t expect a complete story. You introduce a lot here in a few paragraphs, enough for a whole book. I wonder if you might have revealed too much. In any case, I can see many places for you to take this story. Will you eventually reveal how everybody keeps finding Branston? It seems that he is not very good at hiding.

Characters:

Good job with the characters. You bring them to life. I could feel what Branston was feeling as he went through what he did. Since plot and character development go hand-in-hand, I would expect to learn more about Faldashir in the future, but not too quickly, as it would ruin some of the mystery if that’s a priority. Will we once again meet the rider who disappeared? I did find your description of Branston’s appearance to be a bit pedestrian: “blond beard” and “brown clothes.” You did a good job bringing him to life through his actions and speech, but perhaps you could have found a way to connect the reader to him through more colorful descriptions? What do you want the reader to feel when they visualize the character?

Setting/atmosphere:
A too-neglected aspect of storytelling, but no problem here. I could almost feel the chill from the winter air. I would just say don’t neglect the setting in future chapters. You are writing fantasy here, which involves world-building after all, so creating and maintaining your setting is critical.

Dialog:
Do issues here. The dialog felt natural, like people really speak.

Grammar:
I found very few errors.

"They don't seem like regular wolves, neither." His neighbor had said.
Should be:
“They don’t seem like regular wolves, neither,” his neighbor had said.

“He didn't think he could outrun the man, already he heard the man's feet hitting the ice.”
Run-on sentence.

"Never show the dragons," His father had said…
Be careful with this:
“Never show the dragons,” his father had said…

“"Krassos didn't send me," The man was panting.”
“Panting” doesn’t work well as an attribution word this way. When in doubt, you can’t go wrong with “said.” I also noticed that you used “growled” twice in a row, earlier. Unless you are talking about an animal, I would suggest using such attributors sparingly.

“Branston thought a moment, at the very least he could get off the ice.”
Another run-on sentence.

That’s all I have for this work. You definitely set the hook with this chapter, promising an exciting story for the reader in the future. I recommend looking into how you format this. Some sentences should be separated for the sake of clarity, and dialog should also be separated from other paragraphs. But you certainly know how to tell a story. Keep it up!

-Graham


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
21
21
Review by Graham B.
Rated: 18+ | (3.0)
Rhyz,

Here are my thoughts for Chapters 9 and 10.

There is clearly more to follow in this story, but I think I can address what you have here in detail and how it fits in to the whole as you’ve presented it so far.

One issue I keep running into is the continuity of your characters’ behavior. This is something I brought up in the previous review and it comes up again here. In a story, it is important to keep a character’s actions in line with their nature, or that character will not be believable to the reader. If the character does something illogical or incomprehensible from that character’s point of view, then the reader will cease to care what happens to them; the character becomes more like a cartoon. It’s also important to keep the characters’ actions within the bounds of what a reasonable person would do, or if not, give justification for the strange behavior, such as insanity, or intoxication. I saw this issue in these chapters.

First, Eric’s reaction to his mistreatment seemed strange. Being kidnapped and dragged to the testing ground (and being knocked unconscious) would have disoriented anyone. Yet, Eric manages to carry on a polite conversation with Leon about the light. This isn’t a huge issue, but it is one of the many minor details which add up to the whole portrait of the character.

I like how you suddenly reveal Leon’s ruthlessness. His actions show him to be a clearly driven individual who will do whatever it takes, including inflicting pain on children, to accomplish his goal. I’ve always enjoyed morally ambiguous characters who exist with one foot in the light, and one in darkness, kind of like Batman.

Then Jason’s torture of Eric commences. Eric really couldn’t call upon his power in that situation? Even when his life is threatened?

Then, during Eric’s conversation with Gareth, I would think that Gareth would be just as outraged at the torture of Lewis as Eric was. Maybe Gareth could justify staying, but I would at least expect him to be conflicted about it.

Finally, it is important to maintain the symmetry of a chapter the same way that you would the whole story: a beginning, middle and end. Chapter 10 ends with Eric talking with Shadow about martial arts training and cereal—right after his big argument with Gareth and his ordeal with Leon. The ending of Ch 10 just doesn’t fit. I recommend keeping to a theme with each chapter. Chapter 9 is about Eric’s ordeal and his reaction to it. Chapter 10 is about how he deals with the aftermath and his own family. Combat training and breakfast don’t really fit, although maybe Shadow would fit somehow.

That’s all I have for this installment. Keep on writing, and I’ll leave you with a quote from William Faulkner:

“The only thing worth writing about is the human heart in conflict with itself”

-Graham


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
22
22
Review by Graham B.
Rated: 18+ | (3.5)
Rhyz,

Continuing the series, here are my thoughts in the next installment. As always, this is just my opinion.

First of all, a whole lot of exposition in Chapter 5, as told through the character Leon. Backstory is important for any significant character, but there are ways to do that make for a more entertaining read, a sort of story-within-story. Leon’s backstory reads like a data dump. He should have a character arc as well as Eric, since he is a pretty important character, and revealing his backstory through developments in the plot, changing circumstances, and conversations throughout will help build tension and a character dynamic. This should be especially true between Leon and Eric.

Eric’s reaction to Leon telling him who was at fault for the Event doesn’t make much sense. I would expect surprise, shock, disbelief, but this violent reaction seems over the top. There was nothing leading up to this point to make the reader believe that Eric was a particularly violent person. I understand if this was a plot device to set up a new character dynamic between Eric and Albert, but it doesn’t seem in character. I like how you followed through with retribution from Albert, and a follow up apology. I would have expected a bit more guilt on Eric’s part when he realized that he had hurt Lewis.

So, Eric has been accepted by the Evos as one of their own, and given a room to live in. Shadow says they knew he was coming. Isn’t he the least bit curious about how they knew?

It looks like Shadow will continue to be the mysterious one, and you are continuing to build expectations about her. It will be interesting to see how she turns out.

Later, there’s more exposition by Leon. I thought you jumped the gun a bit, having Leon reveal what was so special about Eric through his monolog. This is a pretty important character aspect with huge implications, and I think it would be better to do so through plot development. In Star Wars, the audience doesn’t find out that Darth Vader is Luke Skywalker’s father until the end of the second movie. The result has far more emotional impact than if the audience had known from the beginning. It’s all about dramatic revelation, and these are pretty important aspects of the characters being revealed here.

There is a lot of action in this installment despite these chapters apparently being a setup for later plot developments. That’s a good way to keep the reader interested in the slower parts of the story. I like the time and detail you put into developing bonds between the characters. It should serve them well later on in the story. You did a pretty good job there.

If what you revealed in Leon’s monolog is to be used, then this would make for a large, very detailed story. You have a lot to work with, just don’t dump it all on the reader so soon in the story. With the huge world you are building, it sounds like you have a lot of work ahead of you. Keep at it!

-Graham


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
23
23
Review by Graham B.
Rated: 18+ | (3.5)
Rhyz,

Thank you for sharing your work, and for requesting a review from me. This review is only my own opinion and is constructed to help you as well as I know how.

I like this take on people with powers appearing due to some unknown event. It makes me think of George R. R. Martin’s Wild Cards series of stories. It looks like the beginning of a larger work, so I won’t dwell much on the gaps in the plot as I assume they will be filled in later on, though I will mention them just to be sure.

Plot:
Your story seems to really begin with the Event, which you leave as an unknown. There is a six-month gap in time between the prologue and Chapter 1, during which the reader is left wondering what happened in the intervening time. I hope this is filled in later on, possibly through flashbacks.

One quibble here: Why would a game cost three hundred dollars? What sort of game is it? Also, Eric turns his pockets inside out for loose change. Was he really hoping that the loose change in his pockets would add up to three hundred dollars?

Eric and Gareth find themselves in the park, helping the people (presumably without powers) defend themselves from the Reapers. Why would Eric notice the Reapers sneaking into the crowd, but no one in the crowd notices? That’s a little hard to believe, unless the Reapers are dressed exactly like the people in the crowd, in which case, how did Eric notice them? Is that another power? Eric seems to be exploring another power he has – leadership, which for a fifteen-year-old boy is pretty impressive. Are the adults in the crowd really going to follow direction from someone this young? Eric carries out some feats of strength throughout the park scene, but no one seems to notice until he does his mind-blast thing, which marks him as a “freak.” Why didn’t the crowd notice his abilities when he jumped off the building, or the statue? Also, the crowd seemed ready to keep fighting Eric even after his display of power knocked them all down. Wouldn’t they be scared off? I know I would be. The TV on the building seems to be significant in some way, but it only functioned as a plot device to connect Eric with the other people with powers. I was expecting more from it. Maybe in future chapters?

The quarantine sets up a good setting for this story, where people are trapped and have to deal with each other, and with whatever lurking evil may have shown up. I would have liked to have known more about the quarantine, and how it’s being enforced. If you are trying to express the isolation of the inhabitants of this quarantined city, then you did it well. Is there anything else happening outside the quarantine?

Another quibble: you describe a massive structure in the city that didn’t exist before the Event. Apparently, they built it in six months, with no outside help or contractors. If it was built using powers, or if it has always existed, that should be explored as well.
You keep things moving quickly in this story, and that’s good. Just don’t leave out important details, or the story might not make sense.

Characters:
I enjoyed seeing Eric’s character develop, and it happens quickly. He seems to embody attributes of both a fifteen-year-old, and an adult, like someone who was forced by circumstance to grow up too fast. I like this development, and I think you should continue to run with it. However, I think you should have done more with Mum and Lewis. They are Eric’s family, and they would have figured prominently into his character. They would answer a lot of questions about who Eric is.

As I already mentioned, I think you should revisit the behavior of the crowd in the park, because it’s not quite believable. How would the other characters behave? I thought that “mini-hulk” caved a bit too quickly to let Eric and his family in to see the leader. I think another plot development would have been handy to nudge things in this direction. Think about the nature of each character, and how they would be inclined to respond to a situation. Their actions have to make sense.

Setting/atmosphere:
You did a pretty good job with the setting. I got a visual of rooftops of dilapidated buildings, and a ruined park. Just remember to use all of the senses, such as smell or touch.

Dialog:
Good job with the dialog. It reads naturally, like people speak. Nitpick: at one point Eric says, “I’m not going to take your bloody money.” The fact that they are talking about money in dollar amounts tells me that the setting is in North America, or possibly Australia. I’ve never heard Americans or Canadians say “bloody.” Australians might, but other idioms of Australian speech are missing from the dialog. Of course, if this city is entirely made up, then is isn’t an issue; you can have your characters speak in any way you want. Just remember the readers, and what might make the story feel authentic to them.

Grammar:
For the most part, there are no grammar issues. Here is what I noticed:

I swiveled my head to the other side of the street,
“Swiveled”

"Whoa, easy there tiger," the old man said soothingly
When one character addresses another, separate with a comma: “…easy there, tiger,”

“Guessing what was about to happen, I yelled, "Oh, NO!" and was about to stuff the sphere back into its box, but before I could, everything disappeared in a flash of blinding blue light.
Run-on sentence. I recommend splitting it between “box” and “but”

It is a massive building that takes up at least a block, is fifteen storeys high at a minimum
Typo: “storys”

I didn’t notice any other grammar issues.

I thought this was a good start to a fantasy story, and you should keep at it. Just remember to maintain continuity of the plot, and to have your characters behave as they should. In fantasy you have a lot of license to make things up, but always keep the story's authenticity in mind. It helps with the suspension of disbelief, which is the whole point of writing fiction, isn’t it? Keep at it, and you might turn out a compelling fantasy novel.

-Graham



*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
24
24
Review by Graham B.
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
Msoft4,

This looks like a bit a flash fiction, and it's difficult to review in depth, but I will give my thoughts.

I was intrigued at the potential here, and I think more should be done in the steampunk category of sci-fi. This is a good start, but there are some issues. It isn't clear where the character Damien is, or why he is there. I guess it's one of the things to build out on.

I recommend looking over the last paragraph. It looks like it was written to convey urgent action from the character, but the pacing is thrown off by the expository sentence "The speech the Inspector gave..."

Also, at the beginning, Damien looks like he is trying to escape the Actuator, and his "hope withered" when he couldn't. This doesn't seem to mesh with fact that he was trying to destroy the Actuator all along. This might be a continuity issue.

Here are some grammatical issues:
"Slowly dark tendrils dripped out of the drones surface,"
Possessive case: "...drone's surface..."

"Chopin's nocturne for piano no. 8"
Make sure you capitalize appropriately: "Chopin's Nocturne for Piano No. 8"

""Do you know your felony?" He quietly recited."
"he" doesn't need capitalization.

"Damien could barely think, his mind was clouded and his throat was thick."
Run-on sentence.

"You continue considered impenitent. "
I think there are some words missing here. Maybe "to be?"

Thanks for sharing. Write on!

-Graham


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
25
25
Review by Graham B.
Rated: E | (4.0)
Phantomsbride,

Thank you for sharing this story. As requested here is my review and my thoughts. I will give my impressions, a categorical analysis, and an overall conclusion.

This looks like a tragedy in the vein of ancient European mythology, and I imagine it was thus inspired. I think it worked well, though it was rather melancholy. Perhaps it could have used some lighter moments, but that’s just my opinion. Of course there’s nothing wrong with sad endings; I’ve written many myself.

My impression is that the narrative was inconsistent. The perspective was predominantly that of Jacob’s, in the third person. However, on occasion, the narrative would jump abruptly to either Merith’s, or some omniscient narrator to give background story. There is nothing wrong with switching perspectives, but each change should be clearly defined (most authors do it by chapter) and should be done in a way not to interfere with the flow of the story.

There are a few instances where you jump between past and present tense. Try to be consistent on this as well.

Here is the breakdown:

Plot:
You provided a good story with a proper build-up and a palpable conflict. I liked how you gave a historical backdrop to the story. It gives it depth, a canvas on which the characters’ stories can be told. As far as Jacob’s relationship with the Merith, it seems he leaps right into it after their first encounter. There is no lead-in, no first steps toward dialog, just suddenly, Jacob is making excuses to spend as much time with Merith as possible. It’s kind of jarring. Then there is the finale, where Merith’s death causes the water to rise and engulf the two. If that happens, why couldn’t Merith cause the water to rise while she was still alive, and save herself?


Characters:

They are well fleshed out and come alive. I thought Alda could have used a little more depth, however. Also, I thought you may have delayed revelations about her character until a little too late in the story. Some foreshadowing would have worked here. Also, I think it rather odd for a mother to hate her own son. Is there a deeper story here?
“Merith knew that she did not need to answer, but she knew she must.”
I understand what you are trying to say here, but on its face, it doesn’t make much sense. Try rewording it.


Setting:

You didn’t neglect the setting. I liked the imagery you used. It makes the scenery come alive. I would just suggest getting more senses involved, like smells and sounds.


Dialog:

It worked, like natural conversation. I liked how Merith was initially awkward when speaking to Jacob, like she wasn’t used to conversations with mortals. The little detail told a story by itself.


Grammar:

Here are some technical issues I saw.

It’s spelled “tongue” not “tounge.”

“But had been able to understand them, they too, would have avoided the lake.”
Try: “But had they been able to understand…”

“He scrambled backwards, but the lethargy of cold had overcome him, and his limbs would not comply.”
Continuity. How could he scramble backwards if his limbs didn’t comply? Try: “He tried to scramble…”

“Even though he had already made up his mind to hunt the mermaid, he still wore a fade of thoughtful contemplation,”
“…a face of thoughtful…”

“We will hunt the mermaid of the forbidden lake, and slay her!! All who will accompany me on this task of righteousness, TO THE LAKE!!!!”
I recommend not using redundant exclamation points.

“They left a trail of fire and destruction in their way, ready to spill blood.”
I recommend “…in their wake,…” It makes more sense.

My favorite line:
“He thought he saw constellations glittering in her eyes, but when she blinked and stars fell out, he realized that they had been tears.”

That’s about it. I overall, I liked the story. It has that mythological feel, which is something I appreciate as a fan of ancient mythology. Just keep continuity of plot, narrative and characterization in mind when writing. Try using outlines for each of those things. It helps.

I hope you keep it up.

-Graham


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