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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/profile/reviews/umbrella
Review Requests: OFF
271 Public Reviews Given
Review Style
My reviews are thorough, honest, and balanced. I read each story/poem multiple times: once for pleasure and judging emotional impact, and at least once more to focus on the technical aspects. I like when writers have at least one specific question about their work when submitting it for review. It helps the reviewer understand the writer's intentions and thus provide more useful feedback.
I'm good at...
English grammar and spelling, suggesting improvements in word choice and sentence/paragraph construction, spotting plot issues and underdeveloped characters, offering specific suggestions for improvement, pointing out my favorite passages/characters/etc.
Favorite Genres
Literary fiction, fantasy, young adult, poetry
Least Favorite Genres
Very technical science fiction, romance, erotica, persuasive essays with poorly supported viewpoints
Favorite Item Types
I generally only review static items. Books and book entries are negotiable.
Least Favorite Item Types
Anything that isn't a static item or book.
I will not review...
1) Persuasive essays with poorly supported viewpoints. 2)Extremely rough drafts, unless the requester gives me a heads-up on what to focus on as I read.
Public Reviews
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1
1
Review of The Wilted Mask  
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (3.5)
Title: "The Wilted Mask

Author: Pen Name

How I came across this item: Review request

For information on how I rate the things I read, see "How Should I Rate Items on Writing.Com?
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First impression: Some beautiful lines and images, but overall I'm not exactly sure what I just read

Theme: This is the part I'm not sure about. I'm getting hints of aging (crow's feet, shaking hands, the reference to the Dylan Thomas poem, "still hav[ing] time to find my temple", the title) and emptiness or a void of meaning (fourth stanza). But I'm not sure how it all fits together or what the overall idea of the poem is. An aging person evaluating life and identifying areas for change/growth/reconciliation?

Imagery: I love the first line--"There is a deep well/which holds the clearest/blue water." It's concrete, easy to visualize, and sets a firm foundation from which the rest of the poem could flow. I have a bit of trouble seeing how it fits into the rest of the poem though. There's a bit of a thread of meaning in that whereas the water from the well "fills", the fourth stanza describes nothing but emptiness. And there's also the Rubicon connecting back to the idea of water, but I'm not sure what to make of that either.

There's also the night/light image pattern (third and fifth stanzas). The fifth stanza also contains images of "hills" and "bogs" and a "temple", a "hurdle", and a stranglehold-turned-helping-hand. I don't get a particularly coherent picture from those images--they each seem kind of stand-alone to me.

I don't understand the reference to the "train line" in the first stanza--did someone get run over? If so, who?

Meter/rhyme/structure: Just out of curiosity, how do you choose where to put your line breaks? (I ask most free-form poets this question because I have never quite figured out how to do it effectively.) Some make sense to me (e.g., the first five lines.) Some don't (e.g., the sixth line.) If you have a spare moment, I'd love to hear any thoughts on enjambment you'd care to share with me.

Your five stanzas seem logically organized--the first verse expresses aging, regret, an unattainable (or at least yet-to-be-attained) source of clarity and knowledge. The second expresses a need for knowledge. The third expounds upon that "craving" for knowledge of what will happen at the end of our days, and how we should behave around that time. The fourth stanza is also sort of about knowledge--there's an unknowable thing missing from the speaker's heart. The fifth expresses a desire for change or resolution in the speaker's life before time runs out.

(Am i way off?)

Grammar/spelling/punctuation: No technical errors as far as I can tell

My favorite line: I love the image of the well at the beginning

Overall: I enjoyed reading this poem because it challenged me to actually pay attention and work to find meaning (which I felt good about doing because the language of the poem gives me a strong feeling that its author is highly competent), but I feel like I came up short in the end. I don't feel like I'm taking much away from the experience of reading this poem. I would have liked more sensory metaphor, or perhaps just a more coherent image pattern running through the piece to help convey the poem's meaning (which is obviously fairly complex) to the reader. But, of course, that's just one person's opinion. I'm sure there are many ways to clarify your intended meaning (if clarity is even your goal.)

If you ever do a revision of this, I'd love to read it. And I would definitely be interested in reading anything else you care to post. Thanks for sharing your work!

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2
2
Review of What then of me.  
In affiliation with  
Rated: E | (4.5)
Title: "What then of me.

Author: PaulO

How I came across this item: Hi there! This is a Rising Stars M2M Review!

For information on how I rate the things I read, see "How Should I Rate Items on Writing.Com?
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This poem reads like a riddle with a devastating answer. The speaker longs for death but can't have it for some unrevealed reason. Even the dead reject him/her/it.

Great use of repeated structures, the "I am" and "there is no ___ for me". The poem resonates through those lines. I like the way you've structured your verses--the varying rhyme schemes and line lengths read very well together. The crypt imagery gives an eerie feeling, the thrones hearken back through time. The echoes of cold, stone halls.

Thanks for a truly evocative read!


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3
3
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (4.5)
Title: "Query: The Gardener's Daughter

Author: Sara

How I came across this item: Review request

For information on how I rate the things I read, see "How Should I Rate Items on Writing.Com?
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Well, this query letter certainly makes ME want to read the book! Great job capturing the overall feel of your story. The query letter format you've used seems pretty typical, with a hook at the beginning, then a concise summary, then a bit about yourself and why anyone should bother paying attention to you *Bigsmile* That first sentence, about Lord Greville doing all that work and then missing the payout, is such a great incident to launch a story from! Consider me hooked.

I think there is a tiny bit of room for improvement in the clarity of your summary. For example, when I read this sentence, "When 17 year old Anne Blake, his head gardener’s daughter, accidentally spies the nobleman having a breakdown in his hothouse, she does not believe it is the flower that makes him grieve," I feel confused as to what it is that makes Anne doubt Lord Greville's reason for grieving, and it's also not clear whether they had a conversation about his sadness or not (did he TELL her the flower was making him sad, or did she just assume it was something unrelated?) Of course, the sentence also makes me wonder what is going to happen next in the story, which is fantastic! My curiosity would be stronger, though, if the confusion aspect were removed.

A few other suggestions:

"As she tries to learn more, Anne is caught trespassing by Lord Greville in his library." Is there some way to make this passive sentence active?

"The lord calls upon her to make botanical drawings of plants in his collection as he has some knowledge of the young woman’s ability to draw having found a rendering of himself she had misplaced." This sentence is long and a bit awkwardly worded. Consider revising.

Consider being more specific about the warnings Lord Greville and Anna get from their friends and family about the perils of their relationship? It's currently written as if the perils are obvious, and while they're certainly easy to guess, specificity is likely an asset here. (Instead of them warning "against involvement with the young woman," how about something that speaks more directly to the overstepping of class boundaries?)

"Historical references abound in THE GARDENER’S DAUGHTER as Lord Greville is connected to the King..." Which king? Again, specificity. (Also, as a scientist, I'm very interested to know which "top scientific minds" appear in the story *Smile*).

Typo: "prim and proper with hints of sex coinciding with plant biology."


Anyway, great job! When I'm finally ready to write a query letter myself, I hope I can track you down so you can check it over for me *Smile* Best of luck finding a home for your novel!!!

Tealynn

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4
4
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (3.5)
Title: "Dragoman Challenge C4

Author: Heather LT

How I came across this item: Review request

For information on how I rate the things I read, see "How Should I Rate Items on Writing.Com?
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Plot: Ellie and Toby stop in Lima for a night to recuperate before the next stretch of their journey. They learn they're one of the first teams to reach Lima. Ellie asks for more responsibility, like taking a turn driving the Jeep.

I was glad Ellie asked to drive. I had been thinking about what *I* would do if I were in a race like this, and one thing would be that I wouldn't stop to camp every single night if I could reasonably continue to drive in the jungle in the dark (and since the race started at midnight, I have to assume it's reasonable). My partner and I would switch off driving and sleeping (which is how my boyfriend and I once drove all the way across the US, from one coast to the other--4400km--in under 40 hours!) and we'd eat all of our meals on the road. I'm sure there are stretches, like the river crossings, where both partners would have to be awake and energized, but driving across the desert seems like it'll be pretty uneventful.

I can't wait to find out who called Toby's cellphone!

They suggested she have a number of shots but time was of the essence and she barely had time to pack her suitcase. This is great--it leaves the door open for some really dramatic medial emergencies in Ellie's near future...!

Scene: It's nice to have some down-time during an exciting, high-tension story like this one. It gives the reader a chance to take a breath, along with the characters.

In the next chapter, will they be leaving Lima at the crack of dawn or will they be staying in the city for a bit longer? Just wondering, 'cuz there area few things I would do, in addition to servicing my car, if I were in a major city in between long stretches in the wilderness. One, I would call home. Two, I would try to find some information--travel guides, brochures, word-of-mouth advice, about where I was headed. Three, I would stock up on food and drinks that I like, anything that Toby didn't stock at the beginning of the trip and probably wouldn't buy this time either. If I were Ellie, I'd also buy tons of itch cream if they didn't have any already, and anything else I realized that I forgot before embarking on this journey (she didn't seem to bring much with her, the packing was all Toby's doing, so surely there were a few things Ellie needs/wants that he didn't think to pack?)

Setting: I'd love more details about the hotel room. I've never been to Lima, so I have no idea what to picture. For all this reader knows, they could be staying anywhere from a Holiday Inn to a tiny, locally-owned place with a lot of local flavor and mosquito nets over the beds.

I loved the list of scary jungle animals (poison dart frogs, anacondas, jaguars...). I've been waiting for a list like that since chapter 1!

Character development: Ellie is finally starting to take some initiative, asking to help drive. Not sure how there would be a downside to that (even if Ellie drives REALLY slowly at first)--Toby couldn't possibly want to be the only one to drive or they would most certainly lose the race, what with everyone else having two drivers.

Toby hasn't changed much since the beginning of the story. He still talks to Ellie like she's a child, asking her if she's afraid of the dark, not wanting her to try driving the Jeep, etc. He seems like a nice guy, but I'm finding him a bit monotone at this point. I do agree with Ellie here, about the Nazca Lines:

It really was lovely that he wanted to share these things with her. It somehow made this whole ordeal a fraction better to go through.

But even that makes him sound more fatherly than anything else. I would love to know more about him as a person, what he likes to eat, what kind of medicine he practices, if he has any discernible flaws, etc.--surely he and Ellie have talked about these things on the drive. And of course the same goes for Ellie--what does she do when she's not trying to protect her sister from monstrous men?

Style/grammar/spelling/punctuation: Great, as always. Just one thing:

“I can do all of the on-road driving,” she quipped. Is "quip" the right word here?

My favorite thing about this section: The concrete details about Toby's changing route, and the rational actions like stopping to service the Jeep. Those kinds of things make the race seem very real.

Sucking in a breath, she bolted up right. It was a big, hairy tarantula! Shuddering, she inspected it carefully and deduced that it was no threat to her. This part rang so true to me. I spent a summer as a camp counselor, and we lived outside in permanent tents, and gigantic wolf spiders would constantly be hanging above our cots (on the INSIDE of the tent!). Eventually you just realize that there's nothing you can do about them! That whole paragraph was great--I felt really close to Ellie there.

Overall: These beginning sections have set up quite an exciting story! I wonder if/when Toby and Ellie will run into McKenna and his partner...

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5
5
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (4.0)
Title: "Dragoman Challenge C3

Author: Heather LT

How I came across this item: Review request

For information on how I rate the things I read, see "How Should I Rate Items on Writing.Com?
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Plot: The race begins! Ellie and Toby endure the pre-race chaos around them, then drive off into the jungle after the starting gun blast at midnight. They drive for a while (Ellie slowly acclimating to the bumpiness of the ride, her first real taste of the adventure she'd gotten herself into) and then sleep in the car. In the morning, Toby introduces Ellie to jungle living--no bathrooms, no masking your body odor with smelly spray, bugs everywhere. They drive on, having to stop and pull the Jeep out of some mud (into which Ellie face-plants, to Toby's amusement), then they bathe in a waterfall pool and set up camp next to it for the night, Ellie's first camping experience.

Great start, full of trouble and excitement and bonding moments for Toby and Ellie. It felt very realistic to me. I like how the race starts out on a good note--nothing catastrophic happens, just small things that probably boost Ellie's confidence when she's able to be helpful in overcoming them. I'm sure much more danger is in store, and this relatively low-key beginning will help throw that danger into stark contrast when it finally happens.

Toby drove the route he’d taken on previous races. A direct route from Medellin to Lima with only two scheduled stops: Guatape, which wasn't too far away from their current location, and Huaraz, a city in Peru located over a thousand miles away. I LOVED the specificity of this detail. This is the first time I felt truly oriented in the story. It would be great if there was more of this!

They reached Guatape in no time at all, but they didn't stop to rest. Instead, Toby gave Ellie a short tutorial on how to use the satellite phone so she knew how to check in with headquarters or call for help if necessary. Three hours later as they traipsed on, she had memorised the procedure. What did they do for the three hours they were there, besides try out the phone?

Scene: Quick-paced action made these scenes exciting, but I wished to spend a bit more time in Ellie's head, feeling her reactions, her rationalizations, her emotional response to all the things that happened. There is plenty of action--the story would not be slowed by expressing Ellie's thoughts along the way.

...Toby woke up with a start. Halfway through this chapter, we briefly enter Toby's point of view. Unless there's a reason for this, I'd suggest staying in Ellie's point of view the whole time. Maybe you could have her wake up in the morning with Toby expressing how flabbergasted he was that she slept through the howler monkeys.

Setting: I loved all the details of the jungle here! The crunching twigs, the howler monkeys, the waterfall, the bugs, the humidity, the soft clay mud along the banks of the flooded river.

I had a bit of a hard time visualizing the start of the race. For example, are the people milling around just the contestants and some race organizers, or is there an audience of some sort, the racers' family and friends, maybe? A bit more detail would help the reader be fully present in this exciting moment.

Character development: Ellie and Toby seem to be getting along well. I wonder if any complications will arise in their relationship...!

Some questions and observations:

“They say it makes things more interesting,” replied Toby Who's "they"?

Having resigned herself to fate, her nerves were steel. This seems to contradict her nibbling on her bottom lip in the previous paragraph.

"Don't let the chaos worry you," Toby smiled. "It’s just last minute panic." This is the third time Toby has said something of this nature, and Ellie has never offered him a response. I want her to say something to him, ANYTHING really. (Ideally I'd like her to say, "I'm NOT worried--stop treating me like a child!" But if she does appreciate his protectiveness, it would be great if that could be indicated somehow.)

He escorted her to do her business at the back of the jeep. To what extent did he "escort" her? Sounds like he stood there the whole time rather than just showing her where she should go. I'd be a little uncomfortable with that if I were her.

“No chance of a change of clothes?” she asked... Why would she assume this?

The task of connecting the chains to a nearby tree to winch the jeep out of the sticky situation fell to Ellie. I feel like there should be a conversation surrounding this. Between the two of them, Ellie is clearly NOT the best person for this job. Did Toby want this to be a sort of initiation for her? Did she protest at all? This would be a great opportunity to further develop the characters and their relationship.

Ellie didn't sleep well at all, preferring the extra safety the jeep offered. Why wouldn't she sleep in the Jeep if she wanted to? Her motive for staying in the tent could be explored here--maybe she wants to toughen up, take advantage of the opportunity to sleep in a tent in the jungle? Or maybe she wants to impress Toby? Or maybe she's too embarrassed to ask to sleep in the Jeep?

Style/grammar/spelling/punctuation: Clean and clear, as always!

My favorite thing about this story: I love that the race starts at midnight!

I also loved this exchange:

"H-h-how d-do you st-stand this-is?" She stammered almost every time she spoke, the bumps taking the wind out of her voice.

He grinned in amusement at her broken up speech. "You get used to it," he told her in natural cadence.


And I loved this because I knew exactly what would happen next:

Ellie finished her breakfast, and then quickly drenched herself in her jasmine-scented body spray.

Oh, and this: The mud immediately melted from her skin, swirling around her like a storm cloud in the chilled water. Beautifully worded and wonderfully specific.

Overall: Awesome chapter! Lots of action and potential for some real, deep character building. Great job!

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6
6
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (3.5)
Title: "Dragoman Challenge C2

Author: Heather LT

How I came across this item: Review request

For information on how I rate the things I read, see "How Should I Rate Items on Writing.Com?
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Plot: Ellie and Toby attend the kickoff meeting for the race. Before it starts, McKenna comes over and picks on Ellie, leading to DeLuca picking a fight with McKenna in Ellie's defense. There is a short informational meeting, then all the contestants make their way to the race's starting point, where Toby reveals that he's extremely well-stocked for the race. That gives Ellie some comfort.

I had some questions about race logistics while I read. For example, Ellie brings practically nothing to the race--what if she had been paired with a partner who also had nothing (no Jeep, no camping supplies, etc.)? What would they have done? Did she not think about this at all? Was she told she'd be given supplies when she arrived?


Scene: One part of this section that I think could be expanded is the informational meeting. I want to know more about the race, the route (is it flexible or do they all have to follow the exact same path?), the troubles they can expect to encounter, how much of the other contestants they can expect to see, how the race will be observed by its coordinators (will any of it be filmed? how will they know if someone cheats? etc.) Have you considered beginning the story with this kickoff meeting? You could have short flashbacks to Ellie arriving and meeting Toby and encountering McKenna. There's more energy here than when Ellie first gets off the plane, so starting here might give the story a bit of a stronger jump-start.

Setting: Like the first section, there's not much setting detail here, and I'd love some more. For example, hat's the bus trip like--what kind of scenery do they drive by?

Character development: I'd like to know what's going on inside Ellie's head a bit more. We know very well what she thinks about McKenna, and we know she has no camping experience, but I think her attitude toward the race could be conveyed a bit more strongly. Is she nervous, or downright scared, or excited, or a mix of all three? Toby keeps offering to protect her, but it's not clear whether she actually wants or needs protection (personally, if I were the kind of girl who would volunteer to travel across the world to a dangerous place for my sister, I'd find offers of protection from a man I barely knew rather insulting.) I think I'd be more on her side if I understood her mindset a little better here.

Style/grammar/spelling/punctuation: Like the last chapter, this one is clean and clear and polished. Thanks for that!

My favorite thing about this section: They're starting the race! Yay!

Overall: A bit more focus on Ellie's attitude, a bit more atmospheric setting detail, and this will be a compelling section of the story! So compelling that, again, I'd recommend you try starting the story at this point, and see whether that works for you. But you could also set that suggestion aside until you've completed your entire first draft. I recently read a quote by Kurt Vonnegut that was something like, "Start your story as close to the end as possible." As you continue writing the story, you'll have a better and better idea of where the story actually starts.

Thanks for sharing this! Can't wait to read the next chapter!

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7
7
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (3.5)
Title: "Dragoman Challenge C1

Author: Heather LT

How I came across this item: Hi Heather! I got your email about reviewing a chapter of your novel. I have this weird thing about jumping into the middle of a story, so I figured I'd start at the beginning. So...here's a review of Chapter 1! I hope that's okay!

For information on how I rate the things I read, see "How Should I Rate Items on Writing.Com?
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Plot: A woman named Ellie arrives in Colombia for some kind of race. She made a bet with a man her sister is involved with--if she wins, he'll leave her alone. She meets Toby, her partner for the race, someone she had not previously arranged to partner with (his partner had to bow out of the race at the last minute, not sure if Ellie ever had a partner of her own.) She goes out with Toby and his friends, where she surprises herself by assuring everyone that she and Toby have a chance of winning the race. Toby discloses that he knows Ellie's sister's tormentor, Rory, and that he's not someone to be trifled with. Toby also reveals that he booked all his rooms as double occupancy, since he thought he'd be having a male partner...

Excitement and romance! This story sets the reader up for lots of both. As for this chapter,I wanted to know more about the race. Mystery can be good, can pull the reader along into the next chapter, but knowing how much information to disclose and how much to withhold is an art--there's a delicate balance there (and I feel like such a hypocrite for even mentioning it--I'm CONSTANTLY mystifying my readers by withholding too much information!) I definitely wanted to know more about the race, the nature of it. Is it televised? Is it sponsored by some person or company? It sounds like something that would be hard to get into--how did Ellie do it without having any knowledge of it? I felt a bit disoriented not knowing anything about the race. If I were her, I would have tried to find out all I could when I was at the headquarters place.

Scene: At the beginning, I was a bit thrown off by the abrupt change from the airport to the race headquarters. It reads like she just walked from one to the other, but I'm not sure that's true. Did she really go straight there from the airport, or did she get a hotel room first? I think those early, establishing events could use a bit more continuity. Or you could just start by having Ellie walk into the race headquarters.(I was also kind of confused about the layout of the race headquarters--I was surprised she wasn't greeted or directed somewhere right when she walked in. She was approached with some forms eventually, but the informal-ness of the whole thing kind of shocked me. Maybe I just needed a better orientation to the atmosphere of the headquarters, the general feeling inside, the level of crowdedness and chaos Ellie walked into.)

Setting: This is one area that could use some focus. I've never been to Colombia, so I'd love to see a lot more details about the atmosphere there--I want to really feel like I'm there. So far, we've got that it's hot, and there's a deliciously described restaurant!

Character development: Ellie is fiercely dedicated to her sister's happiness, I think (or maybe there's a darker, less direct reason for her bet with Rory). She's willing to do crazy things to protect her. She's willing to travel across the world on her own, to team up with a stranger to complete this race. She's clearly capable of a lot. She's also someone who doesn't expect Colombia to be hot in the summer, and that is an interesting trait--did she not do any research on where she was going before she left? What does that say about her chances of comfortably navigating the rest of South America in the near future? This definitely adds to the complexity of the character!

She's also the kind of person who would just "turn up" for this big race without any background knowledge whatsoever. Talk about impulsive...or desperate...! And while her partner is out of the room, she digs through his possessions without hesitation or regret. I'm confident this girl will get herself into plenty of interesting situations as the story goes on *Delight*

I thought it was odd that Ellie and McKenna don't exchange any words, even though he seems to be constantly beside her, looking over her shoulder as she signs forms, etc. I understand they don't like each other, but they're so aware of each other that *I* was very aware they didn't speak.

Toby isn't particularly remarkable to me so far--we know he's a doctor, and that he knows a lot of other people competing in the race. But he doesn't seem to have many defining traits so far. Maybe slip in some more of his unique traits in this chapter, so we can get to know him? Is there anything about him that will eventually complicate his relationship with Ellie? Maybe you could mention it here?


Style/grammar/spelling/punctuation: The grammar and spelling are great--thanks for making this such an easy, enjoyable read!

Some questions and observations:

A comforting London accent interrupted her self-pity. “You must be Ellie Sanderson.” How did he know she "must be" Ellie?

“Wow,” escaped his lips, “I was sure you’d be American,” What made him think that?

contrary to what her slim figure would suggest to men like Toby What are "men like Toby"? How can she presume to judge him when she just met him?

Or the sandy-haired gentleman who tried hitting on her as soon as she walked through the door. This is odd. We've been with Ellie (i.e., in her POV) this whole time, ever since she walked in the door, and somehow we missed this moment. If you're going to mention it here, you should probably mention it when it actually happens.

"When he's around, make sure you stick by me," he said, This strikes me as a bit too Prince Charming. Doesn't Ellie at least have a retort for him (like, "I can take care of myself")? We know she take care of herself, but Toby doesn't know yet (is there a reason she might hide that fact from him?). Maybe he could simply tell her to be careful or something? The part about him not wanting her " disappearing into the jungle" is great though--just the right touch of concern, and still very ominous.

My favorite thing about this chapter: The promise of an exciting race!!!


Overall: What an exciting beginning! I can't wait to learn more about the race and Ellie's reasons for doing it. Keep writing!!!

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


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8
8
Review of Small Places  
In affiliation with  
Rated: E | (3.0)
Title: "Small Places

Author: PandaPaws VetTech

How I came across this item: This is a Rising Stars M2M review!

For information on how I rate the things I read, see "How Should I Rate Items on Writing.Com?
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First impression: Hahaha, this cracked me up *Laugh* I love how you combine acrophobia and claustrophobia into one dizzyingly frightful phobia! (Speaking of which, perhaps change the title to reflect both of these complementary phobias rather than just one of them?) This poem would be right at home in a collection of funny poetry for kids.

Theme: Fears can limit our life experiences, but only if you let them!

Imagery: There isn't much strong imagery here, but I loved this: "At the Falls it's hard to see the sights." It's imagery about not being able to see imagery! Though it's a brief line, it was actually enough to make me feel like I was at Niagara Falls trying not to look over the edge. I think the poem would benefit from more specific imagery like this (more specifics about the plane, the MRI tube thing, etc.)

Meter/rhyme/structure: I think this is one area that could be polished. Consider sticking more closely to the bouncy, even rhythm of the first verse throughout the rest of the poem. Some lines are a bit long (e.g., "Small enclosures cause sleepless nights.")

A couple of the lines feel cramped, like they were forced and contorted to fit the poem's meter and rhyme structures, like this one:

"With the nurses I felt so sick;"

Other lines are just kind of devoid of meaning and could be replaced with stronger, funnier, more sensory content:

"I hate being so afraid of heights." (already stated in the first verse!)

"when I went I thought I would die."

"it was worse than having to fly." I'd just like to know more about WHY the MRI was scarier than flying. According to the logic of the poem ("heights + tight spaces" > "tight spaces alone") the MRI should be less frightening than flying. There just needs to be a tiny bit more explanation to help the reader understand.

Grammar/spelling/punctuation: A few suggestions:

"so airplane flights are an affair." I didn't think "affair" was a strong enough word here. Seems like it was only used to fit the rhyme scheme. But maybe rather than changing the word you could just add a modifier (e.g., "so plane flights are a dire affair"? That's a bad example--I'm sure you could come up with one that fits the poem's humorous tone.)

My favorite line:
*Burstg*"I am even afraid of kites!" *Laugh*

Overall: Thanks for sharing this poem! I really hope you decide to keep working on it--it has so much hilarious potential!

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9
9
In affiliation with  
Rated: ASR | (4.5)
Title: "As Deep As I Could

Author: Brian 'Hunter' Compton

How I came across this item: This is a Rising Stars M2M review!

For information on how I rate the things I read, see "How Should I Rate Items on Writing.Com?
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First impression: Sadness--the pain of broken faith

Theme: Making a wrong turn in life, trusting the wrong person, the disappointment of rejection, the self-doubt it causes, the not knowing if it's really the end or if there's hope for a second chance. It hurts to fail after trying as hard as one thinks possible.

Imagery: darkness, light going out, a dark face, a deep dive, an ambiguous gesture, a fish willing to be caught

Meter/rhyme/structure: A beautiful variety of rhyme patterns. Wonderfully effective ABBBA rhyme structure in several stanzas, rhyme of lines 4 and 8 (last lines of stanza 1 and 2), look-took-hook across stanzas 2 and 3, "goodbye" and "good guy" in stanza 4. Meter is smooth and flowing, structure of stanzas of varying length and internal structure is interesting and pleasant.

My favorite line(s):

Trust is what you said;
hold fast I did, me,
one little guy awake
inside the dying spark.


Overall: This poem has put me in a pensive, somber mood. It affected me. Excellent work. I look forward to reading more of your poetry.

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10
10
Review of the same moon  
In affiliation with  
Rated: E | (4.5)
Title: "the same moon

Author: christo

How I came across this item: This is a Rising Stars M2M review!

For information on how I rate the things I read, see "How Should I Rate Items on Writing.Com?
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First impression: Beautiful parallel images, the bittersweetness of time and distance, belief that our connections with others leave a permanent trace

Theme: The magic of bridging the distance between people through shared experience, finding shared experience even across great distance (e.g., the one and only moon), the permanence of memories

Imagery: Images of the moon as a connection point even across great physical distance (e.g., the ocean), images of time as a countable concrete material that can be kept in baskets and separated from another person's time, personal lives as "theaters" (theater-->acting/pretending, and/or theater-->defined areas in wartime), a chewed-off fingernail echoes the shape of a crescent moon.

Meter/rhyme/structure: Wonderfully smooth free verse, effective use of repetition (e.g., "that many times, alone/in crowds, or in bed, alone..."), effective enjambment (especially first stanza).

Overall: I enjoyed this very much. Thank you for sharing it.

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11
11
Review of Gray Mist  
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (3.5)
Title: "Gray Mist

Author: Wisniewski_M

How I came across this item: "Newbies ONLY Short Story & Poem Contest

For information on how I choose my ratings, see "How Should I Rate Items on Writing.Com?
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*Stockingr* What a crazy dream! I'm never lucky enough to have dreams that actually tell a story, that come full circle like this one does, and has such relevant themes (loneliness, muted perception). I thoroughly enjoyed this read.

*Snowman* I think the very first sentence of this piece is a bit undescriptive and could be improved. Consider making your first sentence a strong one that unequivocally alerts the reader that they are walking into a dream world. For example, I really like the third line, "She stood outside her downtown apartment building, on the same street it had always occupied." It makes the reader wonder why the building WOULDN'T be on the same street as always--it signals that something weird is going on.

*Xmastree* Consider breaking up the paragraphs into more easily-digested chunks.

*Snow5* The word "she" is repeated a very noticeable amount. Consider revising with a focus on varying sentence structure to decrease the need for so many "she"s.

*Gingerbread* There is a lot of opportunity to strengthen the language in this piece. For example, in the sentence "They seemed completely oblivious to her and did not acknowledge her..." the "and did not acknowledge her" is redundant.

Another example: " She sat on the stoop and looked up and down the sidewalk. She was absently staring up the sidewalk to her left she saw an accumulation of foggy mist, a huge ball." This could be compacted quite a bit by using stronger verbs. "She sat on the stoop and scanned the sidewalk. To her left, a huge ball of fog had accumulated."

*Ornament1r* Favorite lines:
"...she fell sideways like a bike with a broken kickstand."
"The pruning of her hands was already happening."
" She touched the door with her palm in an attempt to discern the exact make up of the grayness."
"She held her breath and stepped through the plasmatic metal as if it was an open doorway."

I also love the part about the mist people.

*Gift4* This was surreal and awesome! Thanks for sharing, and good luck in the contest!

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12
12
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: ASR | (4.0)
Title: "Simply Because You're You.

Author: R L Shaikh

How I came across this item: "Newbies ONLY Short Story & Poem Contest

For information on how I choose my ratings, see "How Should I Rate Items on Writing.Com?
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*Stockingr* Hi there, and welcome to WDC!!! I hope your time here has been pleasant *Smile*. I stumbled upon your poem and wanted to offer some thoughts.

*Snowman*Theme: This poem captures the writer's struggle to, well, capture what she wants to say! No matter what we write, it always comes up short of our vision, but "somewhere in between the lines" we manage to incorporate a piece of ourselves, our true feelings.

*Xmastree* Imagery: There are only a few images in this poem, a vague allusion to "A great piece of literature,/Something Shakespeare like" (which isn't necessarily "visual", but the lines did resonate with me and stick in my mind as I read the poem), and "shooting star". Would you consider translating more of the thoughts in this poem to concrete images and sensory triggers? I really like that "great piece of literature" line--would you consider making that into an image pattern throughout the rest of the poem? I also like the line "I've been here hours and days"--that line is somewhat visual, actually, because I imagine a writer sitting at her desk, poring over her inadequately expressed thoughts. I would love to see this image expanded. It's so romantic and tangible.

*Snow5* Structure: This poem reads so smoothly. And I really like the repetition of the line "And somewhere in between the lines", and the slight variation in the line that comes after it. I also love the "something [blank] like" motif. I wasn't such a fan of the repetition of the "shooting star" stanza though--as a reader, I couldn't figure out why that whole thing was repeated. It broke away from the struggling-writer parts, which are my favorite, and also the strongest parts, in my opinion.

I thought about the last stanza for a while and realized it's an appropriate ending--the writer returns her thoughts to the object of her literary efforts to try to decipher what it is about that person that makes her WANT to struggle to capture her emotions in words. What she comes up with--"Simply because you're you"--illustrates her inability to articulate it to any degree of specificity, and perhaps her realization that it doesn't need to be articulated. And that is beautiful.

*Ornament1r* Thank you for sharing this gorgeous piece! Best of luck in the contest!

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13
13
Review of The Life of a Spy  
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: ASR | (4.5)
Title: "The Life of a Spy

Author: Escapism

How I came across this item: "Invalid Item

For information on how I choose my ratings, see "How Should I Rate Items on Writing.Com?
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*Stockingr* Hi, and welcome to WDC!!! I hope you've had fun here so far. I saw your entry for the 100 Word Contest and wanted to offer some feedback.

*Snowman* First of all, are you planning to post the rest of the work you pulled this excerpt from? Because I would be very excited to read it!!! The language in this piece is strong and confident, the sentences well-crafted. If I picked this book up and read just this paragraph, I would have no problem trusting the writer to carry me through an entire novel.

Here are some comments on the specific judging criteria for the contest (which the rules say are "title, plot, imagery and ending".)

*Xmastree* The title is kind of general, but I think it does a great job of capturing what the excerpt is about, and even ADDS a bit of context to it.

*Snow5* In terms of plot, the reader can infer several things that have happened to the narrator--killing people, prison breaks, a lost love--but does the excerpt itself really have a "plot"? I suppose if "plot" is nothing more than a series of events, then the answer is yes, if a rather vague one. To me, it reads more like a summary that brings readers up to speed with the narrator's state of mind. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.

*Ornament1r* My favorite part of this piece is the series of images--fragile life, ineffective prisons, memories "like water", the mind as both "a place of refuge" and "a grave", "familiar scent", "burning", a "laugh", drowning. These images indicate that the narrator finds internal conflict much harder to cope with than any external conflict he (or possibly she) has come up against.

*Gingerbread* This doesn't have much of an ending--in fact, the whole thing screams BEGINNING to me. But in some ways it does read as a self-contained summary, so in that sense it does have an ending, and an appropriate one. That last line--"Memory can drown you"--really resonates. And it certainly has a terminal aspect to it.

*Gift4* Best of luck in the contest! I would be thrilled to read more of your work.

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14
14
Review of The Dark  
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (3.5)
Title: "The Dark

Author: Oktober Stephens

How I came across this item: "Invalid Item

For information on how I choose my ratings, see "How Should I Rate Items on Writing.Com?
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*Stockingr* Welcome to WDC!!! I hope it's been a pleasant experience so far *Delight*. I saw your entry in the 100 Word Contest and wanted to offer some feedback. Microfiction is a great way to practice some of the key elements of fiction writing. Since the contest rules say the judges focus on "title, plot, imagery and ending", I'll focus on those.

*Snowman* The title describes your story in a general way. It's good because it's mysterious! It could be improved by being more specific to your story. Since the word count for the contest is so incredibly tight, could you use the title itself to work some extra depth into the story?

*Xmastree* In terms of plot, your story focuses on a person being pursued through an eerie wood. It's thoroughly suspenseful and ends with a "BOO!", which I perceived as a joke--I figured it was someone the narrator knew, playing a prank. It was a great release of all the tension that had built up! It's also sort of a twist ending--the narrator thinks his/her conflict is with a mysterious nocturnal being, but it turns out to be something very different.

The first few lines focus on the woods themselves. The reader doesn't even know there's a person in the story until line 6. Is there any way the creepiness of the woods could be conveyed more through the narrator's perception and voice? What had brought the narrator to the woods in the first place?

*Snow5* The imagery is great--consistently creepy! Words like "blackened" (which, by the way, is mistyped "blacken"), "eeriness", there being no noise but the wind, mysterious twig-snaps, and "feet turn[ing] to stone" make chills run up the reader's spine!

*Ornament1r* As I mentioned, I found the ending to be a great release of tension. And, assuming I'm interpreting it correctly (as a prank pulled by someone the narrator knows), it's a perfect ending for the piece!

*Gingerbread* Microfiction is a great way to practice another important element of fiction writing: conciseness. In my opinion, there is a lot of opportunity to trim this piece down to make room for more content. For example:

<No noise could be heard expect for the blowing of the wind.> This sentence is passive in voice ("could be heard"). Making it active, like you did for the moon in the first sentence (e.g., "The blowing wind made the only noise.") would strengthen this line without taking away meaning or effect, leaving room for more creepy images or events.

<They began to come closer and faster.> "Began to" doesn't provide meaning here, so consider revising this sentence to get rid of it.

*Gift4* Best of luck in the contest!!!

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15
15
Review of Finale  
In affiliation with  
Rated: 18+ | (4.0)
Title: "Finale

Author: Unwritten Insanity

How I came across this item: Hi there! This is a Rising Stars M2M review!

For information on how I rate the things I read, see "How Should I Rate Items on Writing.Com?
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Plot: What incredible suspense! I was thoroughly compelled all the way through this story. I HAD to find out what happened.

I love all the subtle misdirection--the reader is sure the guy has some sort of sexual perversion, but it turns out to be even worse.

Two questions: Why does no one hear the woman scream? And why does this guy keep going back to the same part of town to do this? Not that the town would necessarily have multiple red light districts, but what are his thoughts on the fact that his chances of getting caught, or at least being associated with that part of town, increase every time he does this? It's mentioned that he's a "regular" and that people recognize him and think him harmless. Which brings me to a third question: how many times has he fed his addiction in this part of town? Are these people not on the lookout for a Jack the Ripper? Wouldn't they at least KIND OF suspect this guy they see here all the time?

Scene: I love how you've set this up--you have him walking, on his way to get his next fix, all the while pondering his own addiction in rather philosophical terms.

Setting: You describe a dark street "quiet but crowded" with ladies of the night and their patrons--a vivid, unmistakable locale.

One thing: The guy pulls his victim "into the brick walls and the darkness", but earlier you had said "but the moonlight lights nearly every shadow, every corner." I felt like he should have been more paranoid at the point of contact, or at least surprised/thrilled that he was actually able to FIND some darkness to pull her into. Otherwise, the fact that he'd never gone out when it was so light doesn't serve much purpose in the narrative. (It does add tension at the beginning, which is excellent, but that tension doesn't actually lead anywhere.)

Character development: Not much to say here. The main character expresses the DESIRE to change, but the story doesn't see him through far enough to see if he ever actually does. But that's not what this story is about--this is just a tasty little vignette.

His is free, nothing but his time and someone else's... Love that line! It gave me goosebumps as I read the story a second time, knowing what his addiction was...

Have you considered hinting at where this addiction of his came from? Was he abused as a child, or has he always loved killing ever since he shot that squirrel, or was he rejected by a lover, or did someone introduce him to this hobby, or did he study "beauty" in art school and wanted to find a way to emulate it, or what? That would increase this character's depth by a LOT without wandering too far out of the scene at hand. He's already thinking about his addiction anyway, so going back just a bit farther in his memories would seem perfectly natural.

Style/grammar/spelling/punctuation: A few editorial notes:

...he has never went gone out with such so much light.

Overall: Great story! Glad I stumbled upon it! I hope you continue to develop it. I really like the style you chose, and I think you could do a lot more with it, make the story even more visceral by expanding on the main character's motives and personal history.

Keep writing!

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16
16
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (3.5)
Title: "Top Hat 'n Tails Hits the Trails!

Author: Lesley Scott

How I came across this item: Review request

For information on how I rate the things I read, see "How Should I Rate Items on Writing.Com?
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Wow, that must have been a heck of a ride! It sounds so exciting! It was so cool to read about how you guys overcame every obstacle you encountered, and only lost one person along the way *Laugh*. Mules sound like such amazing creatures..especially Tophat! You really built up the suspense and surprise when you talked about him jumping that irrigation ditch--that part totally floored me! And I couldn't believe you guys pulled a mule out of the mud using just the stuff you'd brought with you on your casual trail ride!

*Poseyb*I felt a lot of sympathy for Alice. You described her situation in a really eloquent way. You only mention her suffering a few times, but she stayed in the back of my mind throughout the story, adding a layer of emotional complexity.

*Poseyb*I also really enjoyed how you described everything in detail, especially how the mule was pulled out of the mud. I could picture the action very well. I could imagine I was there, watching it all happen.

*Poseyb*The main thing I would suggest for this tale is to make it read more like a story. This tale has all the elements of a fiction story, with the added bonus of being TRUE! Much of it already reads like a story, but there are a few pieces of information that could be re-ordered. For example, consider mentioning that Virginia is Beverly's daughter the very first time you talk about Virginia (which I think is the fourth paragraph). Same goes for the fact that Fred's date's name is Alice.

*Poseyb*I know nothing about horses, so I had fun looking up the different breeds you mentioned so I could picture them better as I read. Consider adding a few more details about the TWH and Marsh Tacky breeds in your story to help readers like me get a better idea of the diversity of horse breeds, and the specific ones you're talking about.

*Poseyb*There's a bit of confusion in the middle of the story (especially around the stuck-in-the-mud part) about who is riding which animal. Consider having strong, memorable introductions of each member of your riding group. You definitely already have that for a few people--I had an easy time remembering Barry and Jim because you mentioned they were coon hunters. That little detail was all I needed in order for those characters to stick in my mind. Consider adding a detail like that for Beverly and Harold, especially.

*Poseyb*Consider opening the story with a different first line/paragraph. Something really gripping. Like, maybe open with the second paragraph. The line that starts with I didn't confess... would make a GREAT first line. It makes the reader wonder what's in store for this poor woman on an unseasoned, untested mule! (And it makes Tophat's triumphs seem even more amazing!)

You've got an excellent foundation for a story here. It's exciting, unique, and validated by the fact that you're an expert in the field of mules *Delight*. I hope you plan to revise this, focusing on making the flow of information a little more linear and story-like. Then, once the prose gets cleaned up a bit, I hope you plan to submit it for publication!

Let me know if there are any specific questions I can answer for you from a reader's perspective.

Thanks for sharing this! Please keep posting stories about your adventures!

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17
17
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (4.0)
Title: "Save Fuel Ride A Mule

Author: Lesley Scott

How I came across this item: The WDC Power Reviewers Review Me List

For information on how I rate the things I read, see "How Should I Rate Items on Writing.Com?
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Wow, what an entertaining and informative read! I knew NOTHING about mules (except the biological stuff) before I read this. Now I want to own one! *Laugh*. They sound like such sweet and supportive creatures. I regret not spending more time around them when I lived in South Carolina! (I even had a friend who lived in Summerville!)

I love how you weave together personal experience with background information to truly make your audience care about these animals. The details of your mule shows run the gamut from charming to hilarious to thought-provoking. I also loved the story about the mule who saved her owner's life. It's very supportive of your main theme.

As you revise this piece, I suggest you focus on the overall construction. Things seem a bit scattered right now. As it stands, you open with an introduction to the donkey and mule show, which I think is the perfect place to start. Then you go on to talk about your one specific donkey who won lots of awards in subsequent shows. Then you talk about a specific class (Coon Jumping). Then to dressing mules (and giving some fascinating historical details about belling.) Then you move on to the personality of donkeys and mules. Then to the bridge story. Then back to personality in general. Then you go back to the specific mule show you'd been talking about at the beginning. There isn't really a specific order of topics for something like this--just make sure each topic segues logically into the next. I guess what I'm trying to say by all that is to focus on your transitions the next time you revise this.

There are some typos--keep an eye out for them during your next revision. Or please let me know if you'd like a full proofreading.

I am so happy I stumbled upon this essay! All your stories are endlessly fascinating to me. You have lived such an interesting life!!! Please keep sharing your adventures!

This has been a WDC Power Reviewers Raid Review (Genre: Fantasy/Animal)!Click to visit the WDC Power Reviewers!


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18
18
Review of The Last Stand  
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (3.0)
Title: "The Last Stand

Author: A.Russell

How I came across this item: The Read a Newbie page

For information on how I rate the things I read, see "How Should I Rate Items on Writing.Com?
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*Poseyb*Hi there! I'm participating in a review activity with the WDC Power Reviewers, and this story fit the activity's theme perfectly (it's Fantasy/Animal). Just wanted to let you know I haven't forgotten about reviewing the rest of your novel *Laugh*.*Poseyb*



This is a snapshot of what is undoubtedly the climax of a long and complex ordeal. If you're going to be limited to 500 words, this is DEFINITELY the part of the story you'd wanna write about!

We really don't know much about the plot though. We know Selra and Razeth have some kind of relationship, and that the world will be safer without both of them in it, but that's about it. I felt like I didn't have enough background information to really appreciate what was happening here. Just a subtle hint of the events leading up to this clash would be invaluable to the reader.

Personally, I thought this scene had too much description and not enough story or character development. It was described in stunning detail, but it was like looking at a painting--not much going on beneath the surface of the scene, not much for the reader to connect with. With such a short word count, you of course have to be very careful when choosing what information to include. I would have loved to know more about what was going through Selra's mind during this final showdown (much more than I cared what she looked like).

In very short stories like this, you can squeeze a lot of info into few words if you're careful. It really makes you focus on your word economy, which is a good skill to develop in general, even for longer works. Here's a sentence I thought could be shortened without losing any information: Her ebony hair glistened like finely polished onyx, melting into waves of heart-stopping beauty. Ebony and onyx are synonymous as colors, so taking out "ebony" wouldn't hurt anything (except for maybe not jiving with the style of the bard telling the tale.) And the "heart-stopping beauty" part seemed a little over the top for me, but it's totally a stylistic choice.

Another example: Eyes as red as the blush that stained her cheeks... How about "Eyes red as her rouged cheeks"? (Just saved three whole words! *Laugh*)

Anyway, I hope you decide to develop this story further. Do you already have an idea of what else is going on in Selra's world?

Keep writing!!!

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19
19
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (3.0)
Title: "Tale of a magic daffodil

Author: Tina Victoria Cousins

How I came across this item: The "Read a Newbie" page

For information on how I rate the things I read, see "How Should I Rate Items on Writing.Com?
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Hi! Welcome to WDC!

Plot: What a sad story! Hail had definite Romeo syndrome there at the end. This is a great allegory for the forces in the world that work to keep cultures separated.

I thought it was odd that, when Hail told Fragaria that he was leaving, her only concern was that she'd have to go to the spring ball alone again. I thought she was in love with the guy--it just struck me as rather superficial that she only cared about the ball.

Does the daffodil symbolize something in the real world? Or is it something unique to fairies? I was just wondering if you had something specific in mind when you came up with the daffodil idea. It is interesting that a spring flower sometimes pops up in winter, hinting that the seasons are not as clear cut as we--and the fairies--may think.

         Rating(/5): *Star**Star**Star*

Scene: The scenes in this story are very short. Consider developing a few of them into longer, more detailed scenes. I especially wanted to read more about what exactly happens inside the daffodil. That part breezed by way too fast for me!

         Rating(/5): *Star**Star**Star*

Setting: You give some lovely details about Fragaria's garden home. I especially like the food details--rosehip tea, beetroot salad...Made my mouth water! We can infer some things about the location of the garden from the other details you give--we know it has daffodils, we know it's in a geographical area that experiences winter. Great job painting a lovely picture for your characters to exist in.

One question: Where in the garden does Fragaria live? You say she runs home to her mother, but where exactly is "home" for her?

         Rating(/5): *Star**Star**Star**Star*

Character development: We learn that Fragaria loves spring, and that Hail loves winter, and that Fragaria's mom loves her daughter and thinks that the different types of fairies are better off if they don't try to get too close to each other. I would have liked to know a bit more about each character--their personalities, their likes and dislikes, etc. More detail would help make them seem more realistic and unique.

One thing I wasn't 100% sure of was how old these fairies were supposed to be--are they equivalent to human teenagers, or are they supposed to be younger than that?

         Rating(/5): *Star**Star**Star*

Style/grammar/spelling/punctuation: Each time you use the word "bare", it should actually be "bear." (Bare = naked; to reveal. Bear = a furry animal; to yield; to cope with; to support.)

"This is the proper punctuation and capitalization for dialogue," she said. "Is this the proper punctuation and capitalization for questions in dialogue?" she asked. (Yes, it is!) Keep an eye out for errors in your dialogue presentation the next time you revise this story.

She instantly shied away behind a sleeping lilac bush and hoped she would sink into the soil beneath, but she couldn’t, for the ground was frozen solid, so she had to grin and bare this strange newcomer to the garden. There are several rather long sentences like this--to me, they lack flow. They read like lists. Consider breaking up long sentences with several conjunctions into smaller parts, or revise the sentence to take out some of the conjunctions. (For this sentence, consider something like, "She shied away behind a sleeping lilac bush, hoping she would sink into the soil beneath. To her disappointment, the ground was frozen solid, so she had to grin and bear this strange newcomer."

I would suggest sticking with one verb tense--the opening paragraph is present tense and the rest is past tense. It would work just fine if it were all past tense.

         Rating(/5): *Star**Star*

My favorite thing about this story: As I mentioned before, definitely the fairy food *Delight*

Overall: Beautiful story. The overall structure and technical mechanics could use some attention in your next revision, but you have a definite framework for a story that is very relevant in today's ever-homogenizing society. One last note: consider changing your title to something that better reflects the theme or focus of the story. It seems to be more about Fragaria and Hail than the daffodil.

Keep writing!!!

         Overall Rating(/5): *Star**Star**Star*

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20
20
Review of Carry-On  
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (4.5)
Title: "Carry-On

Author: Phoenix Ashies

How I came across this item: Review request

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First impression: I really like this. It's rhythmic and cohesive and flowing, and I like the imagery and the words you've chosen. It's a thought-provoking piece that offers the reader multiple opportunities for interpretation, which makes it an interesting and worthwhile piece to read.

Theme: This poem seems to address the question of where we store our emotional baggage when we're not, uh, using it. Do we leave it behind on the vehicle that would have transported us closer to our goals/dreams? Do we try to hide it from ourselves, somewhere not so accessible, so it doesn't come out and bother us unexpectedly? Do we keep it always within reach (at our fingertips, perhaps?), there to remind us of difficult times? Maybe we transform it into something tangible, a symbol of something lost/unattainable.

         Rating(/5): *Star**Star**Star**Star**Halfstar*

Imagery: I like the combination of images you offer here. A horse, an old chest, torn and battered fingernails, a glass of dirty water. They seem disparate, but you associate them with each through their shared capacity for holding things and the way each strongly evokes an idea or emotion.

         Rating(/5): *Star**Star**Star**Star**Halfstar*

Meter/rhyme/structure: There are many richly-textured lines in this poem that I really enjoyed reading out loud. I like the assonance (and some consonance, like in glass/dance) you use at the ends of several lines (e.g., ride/sign/night). I thought this was a really well-constructed piece. It just sounds really nice.

         Rating(/5): *Star**Star**Star**Star**Halfstar*

Grammar/spelling/punctuation: The punctuation and capitalization aren't 100% consistent. By the rules you set in the majority of the lines (i.e., following the standard rules), Sometimes shouldn't be capitalized, and there should be a comma at the end of the penultimate line.

I also have a question about word choice. In the line where I hold my bedsheets, why did you use the word "hold" rather than "keep" or "store"? It's poetry, so of course you can take liberties with word choice, but I wouldn't say I "hold" my clothes in a closet, or "hold" my dishes in the kitchen. You keep/store/etc. your items in places. (Unless I'm just totally misunderstanding in what sense you've used that word--please let me know if I am!)

I also have a question about pillowcases, specifically pillowcases that I scream my dreams into/at night. Why lock them up if you're just going to take them out again at night? (Just wondering if this line was intentionally written this way. When I think old cedar chest (especially a locked one), I think long-term storage. But the pillowcase line makes me think nightly access. Just something that made me wonder.)

Lastly, is an empty glass with dirty water in it really empty? Was that also written intentionally?

         Rating(/5): *Star**Star**Star**Halfstar*

My favorite line(s): (It was hard to pick just one!) swirling the dirty water/wishing I could dance.

Overall: Beautiful words that stirred my imagination. A few things puzzled me upon close inspection, but one of the functions of poetry is to puzzle, I think *Delight*. I will be back to read more of your work! Keep writing!!!

         Overall Rating(/5): *Star**Star**Star**Star**Halfstar*

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21
21
Review of Back to Life  
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (3.5)
Title: "Back to Life

Author: Fyn -

How I came across this item: WDC Power Review Shop package

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Hi, Fyn! This review is part of your
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First impression: Really liked the first three stanzas. The fourth stanza broke both the tone and the rhythm that had been established; in fact, I couldn't seem to get into a rhythm at all while reading the fourth or fifth stanzas. I think this is a personal problem of mine--I think I'm just not sure how to read (aloud) the dialogue in the context of the poem, what it should sound like. Really liked the sixth stanza, then the dialogue threw me again in the seventh.

Theme: I really like the theme of a playground contemplating its own obsolete-ness, then being rebuilt/reincarnated to participate in another cycle of human maturation. I also very much appreciate the optimism in this poem--it's getting harder and harder to find rich, contemplative poetry that isn't horribly depressing.

Imagery: This is a strongly visual poem, with the playground's transformation from rusted heap to shiny, sturdy imagination station taking center stage. My favorite parts of the poem are the gorgeously-worded descriptions like ...swing seats cant earthward/grounded into the toe-scudded trough and ...even the dandelions hang their heads. (Reading this poem I realized that, for me, "dandelions" evokes "childhood" more strongly than pretty much any other word I can think of.)

Meter/rhyme/structure: The free-verse structure of the poem suits the subject well. The repeated lines in the first and seventh stanzas bring the poem full-circle. Several phrases sounded so nice they made me smile, such as:

faded to pink plastic seat warms at possibilities
glide without squeak
dandelions hang
toe-scudded trough

I just couldn't get into the dialogue though. I think I find it a little cheesy/saccharine? Speaking of, who is the intended audience for this poem? It's labeled as "family", so I didn't go into it thinking it was written especially for children. That might make a difference in my perception. But anyway, as personal preference, I like the tone of the non-dialogue parts of this poem much better than the dialogue parts. It's hard for me to criticize something when I can't come up with a solid, objective reason for not liking it, but I figured I should be honest.

Grammar/spelling/punctuation: It's poetry, so punctuation certainly doesn't have to be used conventionally, but two marks that I didn't quite understand were the ellipsis in the first stanza and the semicolon in the sixth. Can you explain to me how you chose those punctuation marks to put there? I like to learn about poetic techniques by asking poets themselves, so I hope you can share your wisdom with me *Delight*.

Apart from those two questions I have, I found this poem to be polished and very clearly-written.

My favorite line:
...needing laughter rivets, giggle paint, toe-touching the clouds optimism
and a good shower of 'what if we dids.'


Overall: The image of a rusted playground is a powerful one, strongly linked to the human experience. It can evoke death, or poverty, or oppression. But scrape the rust off, and suddenly the world looks significantly less bleak *Delight*. Thanks for sharing this!

         Overall Rating(/5): *Star**Star**Star**Halfstar*

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22
22
Review of The Storms  
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 13+ | (3.5)
Title: "The Storms

Author: very thankful

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Theme: This is an atmospheric poem about forces of nature that can't be escaped. There's an air of doom and frenzy, morphing to a somewhat calmed acceptance of death in the third stanza.

         Rating(/5): *Star**Star**Star**Star*

Imagery: Storms--lightning striking almost as if its targets were premeditated. That makes a scary storm even scarier...

The repetition of lightning striking gives the poem a melodic, hypnotic feel, which I enjoyed, but I felt like there were a few too many mentions of it. I found that the effect of the repetition is a bit dulled by the end, especially because several of the "lightning" lines carry no other meaning, or serve no other purpose, than to repeat "lightning strikes." For example,

Lightning strikes me so hard. The fact that the lightning hit the speaker was already mentioned a few lines up--I wasn't sure why it was repeated here, except to keep with the pattern of repetition. Would you consider presenting a new idea/image here rather than repeating one that had already been stated?

         Rating(/5): *Star**Star**Star*

Meter/rhyme/structure: I enjoy the flow of this poem, with just one spot that broke the rhythm as I read:

Now I am so scared. This line doesn't read smoothly to me. I'm not sure which syllables are supposed to be stressed. The line also lacks emphasis in meaning--it doesn't really convey any fear, even though the word "scared" appears in it. Would you consider tweaking the line to give it a bit more emotional punch?

One other comment:

Lightning strikes keeping tabs. I'm not sure what this line means. What does the lightning keep tabs on? Am I missing a hint somewhere?

         Rating(/5): *Star**Star**Star*

Grammar/spelling/punctuation: A nice, polished piece in terms of spelling and grammar. I had a question about punctuation, though--how did you choose which lines to punctuate/capitalize and which ones not to? The third and sixth lines of the first two stanzas aren't punctuated as stringently as the rest of the poem--is there a reason? There are also some periods missing (lines 14, 18, and 27, according to the pattern set by the first stanza).

         Rating(/5): *Star**Star**Star**Star*

My favorite line: Do the storms last, darling? That line totally hooked me, and the repetition is lovely. (I also liked the "Missed you now" at the end of the first stanza--well placed!)

Overall: I enjoyed reading this--it's atmospheric, melodic, and haunting. Keep writing!!!

         Overall Rating(/5): *Star**Star**Star**Halfstar*

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23
23
Review of Sad Bastard Song  
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 18+ | (4.5)
Title: "Sad Bastard Song

Author: J. Daniel Verdin

Where I stumbled upon your item: "Noticing Newbies

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Plot: Jenkins is on a quest for money to buy cigarettes. He finds some. It is enough.

         Rating(/5): *Star**Star**Star**Star**Halfstar*

Scene: Jenkins tears apart his room and scours his house trying to gather cigarette money. I enjoyed following him around as he dug through his memories and revealed the state he and his father lived in. There is just the right amount of detail. Jenkins owns books, but we don't know what kinds of books. He has a box of letters, but the reader must infer their contents from the practically inaccessible location they get stashed after Jenkins rediscovers them.

I don't know what to think about the sapphire. Is it actually a sapphire? Does Jenkins know whether or not it's a real sapphire? Does it matter? Does he care? Is it supposed to speak to his sense of value, or am I just trying to read too much into it? If you have a minute, could you shed a little light on this for me? *Delight*

Oh, and then there's the elegant Chinese tea mug, a nice parallel to the sapphire, I assume.

         Rating(/5): *Star**Star**Star**Star**Halfstar*

Character Development: The lack of funds for cigarettes seems to be the most pressing issue in Jenkins's life. His obliviousness and lack of prioritization are both funny and sad.

He seems to be on the road to become just like his dad--alone and devoid of any ambition--and he seems not to mind. But is he suppressing his bigger issues because they're too much to deal with, or is he truly oblivious? Clearly he cared for Ginny, but has he become resigned to his fate since she left him? (When he sees the picture and looks back on his own happiness with her, it's from a sort of sour-grapes perspective.)

Does his father deliberately withhold the meaty sections of the newspaper from his son, or is it really just a "game" between the two of them? Is he trying to shelter him? Is it a refusal to acknowledge that Jenkins is an adult now? Does Mr. Jenkins not want his son to go out on his own and leave him behind?

         Rating(/5): *Star**Star**Star**Star**Halfstar*

Style/Grammar/spelling/punctuation: Just a couple of typos I spotted:

Jenkins entered the room with quite quiet socked feet.

She was an expression of adoration. (Do you mean "wore" instead of "was"? Though "was" kinda works too--it just struck me weirdly when I read it.)

...and read it at a distance through bi-focal glasses...

“It isn’t talking."

He stepped over his clothes...

         Rating(/5): *Star**Star**Star**Star**Halfstar*

My favorite thing about this story: The subtlety

Overall: I really enjoyed reading this. It's thoughtfully designed and skillfully executed, an insightful sketch of two rather ordinary lives. I hope you decide to keep posting your writing--I look forward to reading it.

         Overall Rating(/5): *Star**Star**Star**Star**Halfstar*

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24
24
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 13+ | (3.5)
Title: "The Man From Downunder

Author: A.M. Snead

Where I stumbled upon your item: "Noticing Newbies

For information on how I rate the things I read, see "How Should I Rate Items on Writing.Com?
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Theme: This poem is a tribute to a person the poet admires, told from the perspective of someone (something?) directly affected by the person. Other themes include respect, obedience, independent thought, and tough love. The multiple layers of this poem made it an enjoyable read, and in my opinion, the subject matter is refreshingly original (though I'm sure others exist, I don't think I've ever read a poem told from a horse's point of view).

I like the horse's character. His "speaking" tone is hilariously irreverent and fits the theme of the poem perfectly. But I had to wonder how he knows so much about crack.

         Rating(/5): *Star**Star**Star**Star**Halfstar*

Imagery: There are no strong visuals in this poem--it's all action and the narrator's chronicle of events. A few details about the setting (for example, does this take place IN Australia, or is the "Man from Down Under" operating somewhere else, and if so, how did the horse know he was the "Man from Down Under"? Not to insult the horse's intelligence--it was just one of the questions I had while I was reading.)

The horse seems to be able to decode human vocal tone, so what about facial expressions? Did the horse notice anything about the way the man looked at him? Did he notice his age, gender (well, obviously he did), hair color, bearing, clothes, etc.? If the horse is, in your opinion, capable of noticing these things, I think some of these details about Clinton Anderson would really add to the story and to the reader's understanding of who he was as a person.

         Rating(/5): *Star**Star*

Meter/rhyme/structure: The poem is part comedy, and I think the structured nature of the poem added to the comedic effect with an ironic sense of formality (it also sort of made me think of Dr. Seuss.)

Most of the poem flows very well--I felt pulled along by the smooth meter. However, I came across a few places where I thought the rhyme and/or meter were a bit contrived:

*Burstg*He snapped his whip, and my a** it did bite (how about something like "my a** felt a bite"--meh, "felt" isn't a very strong, descriptive verb--I'm sure you could think of a much better one)

*Burstg* I wanted to bite him but couldn't get within reach This line reads a bit long--consider cutting a few syllables if possible.

         Rating(/5): *Star**Star**Star**Halfstar*

Grammar/spelling/punctuation:

*Burstg*But he just kept coming, moving my feet --I had a hard time picturing the man "moving" the horse's feet. To me, moving someone else's feet entails picking up their legs one at a time and placing them down slightly ahead of where they were. Consider your word choice in this line and make sure it says what you want it to say.

*Burstg*“That's better.,Hhe said, but what did that mean? (This was the only punctuation error that really stood out to me as I read, but there are several others--just keep an eye out for them during your next revision)

         Rating(/5): *Star**Star**Star*

My favorite line:
Out of his circle, vulnerable and exposed
Surely I could stomp him, game over, case closed


Overall: Thanks for sharing this entertaining read! I hope you continue to develop this piece. It's always refreshing to come across a poem with a unique subject and/or told from an interesting perspective. Keep writing!!!

         Overall Rating(/5): *Star**Star**Star**Halfstar*

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25
25
Review of birthday cake  
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
Title: "birthday cake

Author: Rhyssa

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Hi, Rhyssa! This review is part of your Power Review Shop package!


Theme: Sometimes we know what's good for us but are powerless against the allure of immediate gratification *Delight*. This poem creates interesting layers of tension (health dangers) and lightheartedness (confetti-coated birthday cake, seemingly the most harmless thing in the universe).

         Rating(/5): *Star**Star**Star**Star**Star*

Imagery: The sensory detail in this poem is really great--I love the smell of the cake, and the way it gets into your system and coats your throat, "symphony" made me think of angels heralding the manifestation of this delicious cake *Laugh*, "chocolate buttercream" made me salivate, "funfetti" brought to life the atmosphere of a kid's party, the image of icing-as-aggressor making the reader not know whether to laugh or cringe, the anticipatory air of the last stanza made me salivate again but also hold my breath...

         Rating(/5): *Star**Star**Star**Star**Star*

Meter/rhyme/structure: I'm not super adept at detecting the subtleties of poetic construction...but this seems like a free verse poem, which suits the subject and allows the poem to flow in a natural way. The line breaks read smoothly, and there was no place where I became uncomfortably aware of the meter--the whole thing reads without a single hiccup.

My favorite part about this poem, though, is the careful word choice and the way you create an entire scene in just a handful of words.

         Rating(/5): *Star**Star**Star**Star**Halfstar*

Grammar/spelling/punctuation: No errors detected

         Rating(/5): *Star**Star**Star**Star**Star*

My favorite line: Too hard to choose! But I think I have to go with the whole first stanza.

Overall: I read a whole bunch of your poems (once I started, I couldn't stop!!!), but I only have time to review one right now, and I had such a hard time deciding! This one stuck with me though--the sensory details are strong and enduring, and the words are carefully chosen. I will definitely be back to R&R more when I get a chance *Delight*

Please keep writing!!!

         Overall Rating(/5): *Star**Star**Star**Star**Halfstar*



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