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1
Review of A Rookie's Tale  
Review by Alexandra Jones
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
*Star* This is a review # 3 from your winning package in "Invalid Item *Star*


Hello kiyasama!

I've just finished reading your short story "A Rookie's Tale, and I'd like to offer you the following review. Below is a breakdown of my thoughts on various aspects of your piece. Please know that these are just my humble opinions. Only you can know what is right for your story, so use those comments and suggestions that you find helpful, and ignore the rest!

*Quill* Plot: Kiya, I thought this was a cute little story with a surprising ending. You did a nice job of ratcheting up the tension in the middle so that the ending was actually quite unexpected. I thought that something bad truly was going to happen, but the reality of the ending definitely got a smile out of me. I liked that rather than make the story about some crazy, almost impossible event in such a small town, you ended up making it about the characters of the town. I thought this was a great example of how you can have a clear beginning, middle, and end even in a short piece of flash fiction.

*Quill* Style & Voice: Normally, I think I would be a bit put off by all of the narration in the beginning of the story, especially since this is such a short piece. But I think it actually works here because the narration really helps to develop your character since it is in first-person. I also liked that you included a few of your main character's direct thoughts in italics.

At first, I found the present tense a little bit difficult to get used to in this story since past tense is what I have come to expect. The story might be a little bit smoother in past tense, but this is a small criticism since I found myself adapting to the present tense very quickly.

*Quill* Scene/Setting: You did a nice job of describing the misty, emptiness of the deserted town at night. This really helped to set the tone of the story and convince your reader that something bad was going to happen so that they are even more surprised by the ending.

*Quill* Characters: I thought you did a great job of developing your main character. I really enjoyed the details about how boring he finds his job, and how he now regrets not having applied to college out of state. His comments about how nothing ever happens in the small town had me expecting that something was going to happen, and this made the comedic surprise at the ending work well. You did a nice job of describing his fear during the rising tension.

The only thing I might liked to have seen was more of his reaction when he discovered the truth about the prank, but I understand that you were up against a Writer's Cramp word limit.

*Quill* Favorite Lines: Below I have highlighted a few of my favorite lines from this story. I picked these because I thought they created nice character development or imagery, and they showcase your talent as a writer.

*BulletG*Yeah, I was one of those boys and now here I am, years later and bored out of my skull. I knew I should have taken that entrance exam to some university in Portland. What I liked: I liked this character development that showed how three months after getting his dream job, he was already regretting his decision.

*BulletG*It makes you feel as if you’re the only one left in the world. What I liked: I enjoyed your description of the deserted town, and this line in particular helped to set the eerie mood.

*BulletG*I come to a sudden stop, my mouth opening in a soundless scream, feeling my insides curdle with fear at the sight before me. What I liked: I thought this line did a very nice job portraying the physical effects your main character's terror.

*Quill* Grammar/Word Choice: I noticed a few minor grammatical errors and came up with a few word choice suggestions as I read along. I highlighted them below and offered suggestions on how I would fix them. As you know, I am no expert, so please use those suggestions that work for you and your story. *Smile*

*BulletR*Logan’s Helm is a small town of roughly a thousand residents nestled somewhere between two big cities. Suggestion: I think there should be a comma before 'nestled' because the participle 'nestled' is referring to the town and not the residents. If it was was the residents who were nestled, then no comma would be necessary since the noun 'residents' is directly next to the participle. You can check out this link   for more info on participial phrases if you are interested.

*BulletR*...you can even consider it picturesque at first glance. Suggestion: This sounded slightly awkward to me. I'm wondering if it might sound smoother as: '...you might even consider it...'

*BulletR*It’s not a bad place, don’t get me wrong, after all I was born and raised in Logan’s Helm Suggestion: This is a run-on sentence. I think the comma after 'place' should be a period or a semicolon, and the comma after 'wrong' should be a period.

*BulletR*I’ll be damned if every once in a while I didn’t want something exciting to happen. Suggestion: I think didn't should be don't in order to keep the verb in present tense.

*BulletR*There are six of us in there – Chief/Judge Crockett, his deputies - Officers Allen, Mitchell and Scalia - Officer Sharon McGready – a babe in her own right (she mans the phones and just general secretary stuff) and then there's me. Suggestion: I found all of the dashes in this sentence a bit confusing. I would eliminate some of them by punctuating it like this: 'There are six of us in there: Chief/Judge Crockett, his deputies - Officers Allen, Mitchell, and Scalia - Officer Sharon McGready, a babe in her own right (she mans the phones and just general secretary stuff), and then there's me.'

*BulletR*For starters, nightfall around these parts begin sometime after five in the evening. Suggestion: I think that 'begin' should be 'begins'.

*BulletR*...there seems to be someone riding a bicycle towards me. Suggestion: I think that 'towards' should be 'toward' since 'towards' isn't actually a word.

*BulletR*The person doesn’t even have his or her headlights on and it’s wobbling pretty badly. Suggestion: Instead of it's wobbling, I would say they're wobbling since the subject of the sentence is the person, not the bike.

*BulletR*You have a possible homicide on your hands and you can’t even pull out a simple handgun. Suggestion: I would add a comma before 'and' since this is a compound sentence connected by a coordinating conjunction.

*BulletR*…at least I think its dead… Suggestion: I think that its should be it's.

*BulletR*I realize that the more I sit here pondering where Sharon’s gone to, there’s a young girl dying right in front of me. Suggestion: The wording of this sentence sounds a bit off to me because you use 'the more' in the first part of the sentence, but not the second. I would say: 'I realize that while I sit here pondering...'

*BulletR*...walking slowly towards the front of my car to see if the girl is all right. Suggestion: I think that 'towards' should be 'toward'.

*BulletR*Something cold and clammy falls on my shoulders and I honestly do believe... Suggestion: I would add a comma before 'and'.

*Quill* Overall Opinion: Kiya, I thought this was a fun little story and further proof that you have no trouble writing comedy when you put your mind to it. It may not be your genre of choice, but I believe your talent is strong enough to be molded into working with any genre. It has truly been a pleasure to spend time in your portfolio!

I hope you find this review helpful! Please feel free to e-mail me if you have any questions, comments, or requests. Thank you for sharing your work with the WDC community and allowing me the opportunity to review your story! *Smile*

Write On!
Ali



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2
2
Review of One Night in Hell  
Review by Alexandra Jones
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
*Star* This is a review # 2 of your winning package in "Invalid Item! *Star*


Hello kiyasama!

I've just finished reading your short story "One Night in Hell, and I'd like to offer you the following review. Below is a breakdown of my thoughts on various aspects of your piece. Please know that these are just my humble opinions. Only you can know what is right for your story, so use those comments and suggestions that you find helpful, and ignore the rest!

*Quill* Plot: What a great story! It was a quick read, super entertaining, and a great bit of comedy writing. I loved all of the details you included about Brandon's unexpected romp on the wild side. Part of me thinks that every teenager should have a night like this sometime in their life as a sort of rite of passage. *Laugh*

Half of me has a suggestion regarding plot, and the other half of me thinks this story is perfect as is. I was a little bit confused about how Ashley was related to Sam and what Ashley's initial plan for Brandon was. Part of me would have loved to know some more details about how the whole crazy night/miscommunication came to be, but half of me thinks that not knowing actually makes the story funnier. Sometimes those sort of unexplainable happenings add a lot of comedy, and I think that might be the case here.

*Quill* Style & Voice: I loved how well I got to know Brandon in this short piece. The way that you included so many of his direct thoughts made him jump off of the page. Your descriptive images, particularly of Sam, were vivid and made your story come to life. I also loved how fast-paced and easy to read your story was.

One small suggestion: I think it might be nice if you put all of Brandon's direct thoughts into italics. I think the distinction would make your story slightly clearer. You did this with a few of his thoughts, but not with all of them. Here's one line as an example that I think would work well in italics: Huh? What’s this? This isn’t my date!

*Quill* Scene/Setting: There aren't very many setting details in this story, but they really aren't necessary; you're characters are the important part. Still, I had a clear vision of a suburban neighborhood in my mind as Brandon picked up his date, and I had no problem envisioning the getaway car or the 7-11 parking lot.

*Quill* Characters: Your characters are what make this story come to life. Brandon is funny, and his narrative thoughts and descriptions make your tale such an entertaining read. The contrast between Brandon and Sam creates great tension and even more comedy. It was so easy for me to picture the trashy Sam in my mind and Brendan's shocked reaction to everything that happened that night.

The only thing I would have liked to see was a bit more protestation on Brandon's part when he realized Ashley wasn't coming. I get that he is a bit of a push-over, but I feel like even he would have been a bit more argumentative when Ashley didn't show up, and this strange woman just decided to take her place.

*Quill* Favorite Lines: Below I have highlighted a few of my favorite lines from your story. I picked these because I think they created excellent character development or imagery. I think they showcase your talent as a writer.

*BulletG*Tonight’s going to be the big night. The night when I finally become a man. What I liked: I loved this opening. It gave the reader an idea of Brandon's personality right of the bat, but I also loved how you used it again to close the story after everything that happened.

*BulletG*There’s a tattoo of a rose on her upper left arm and her shocking bleached blond hair is a sharp contrast to her heavily tanned skin. She might have been beautiful if she didn’t have so much makeup on her face. What I liked: I loved all of the detail you put into Sam's physical descriptions and mannerisms throughout the story. It was so easy for me to imagine her.

*BulletG*She waggles her brows at me and gives me a toothy grin. I can feel my balls shriveling in disgust. Oh, dear God. What I liked: This line almost had me laughing out loud. Just such a great image of his utter shock and terror.

*BulletG*Something loud goes off and I think I almost pee in my pants at the sound. That was a goddamn gunshot! And another one! What I liked: This was another great example of how Brandon's narration improved the story. It was so easy for me to envision his fear, and it created such a funny moment.

*Quill* Grammar/Word Choice: I came up with some very minor grammatical and word choice suggestions as I read along, and I marked them all below. As you know, I am not an expert, so please use those suggestions that work for you and your story. *Smile*

*BulletR*I sniff my armpits quickly, nod in satisfaction and step out of my Dad’s borrowed BMW... Suggestion: I would add the serial comma after 'satisfaction' here since you added one in the previous sentence.

*BulletR*Our eyes met, sparks flew, I mustered up enough courage to talk to her and the next thing you know... Suggestion: Same thing here. I would add the serial comma after 'to talk to her' for consistency's sake.

*BulletR*There’s a tattoo of a rose on her upper left arm and her shocking bleached blond hair is a sharp contrast to her heavily tanned skin. Suggestion: I would add a comma after 'left arm' because this is a compound sentence connected by a coordinating conjunction.

*BulletR*I watch in horror as a figure runs towards the car and begins to scramble for the backdoor. Suggestion: I think that 'towards' should be 'toward'. There actually is no such word as 'towards'; it's a commonly used colloquialism, buy not really appropriate for professional writing.

*BulletR*“I think we’ve got enough.” Suggestion: Before this sentence, the girl says “Only a couple of hundreds” so maybe she should say, "but I think we've got enough."

*BulletR*I pull off to the side of the road, watching with mild fascination... Suggestion: I would think, given everything that had just happened, his fascination would be more than mild! *Laugh*

*BulletR*‘You see, tonight was supposed to be the big night. The night when I’d become a man…’ Suggestion: A little thing here: I might add the word 'finally' before 'become' in order to keep these lines as consistent as possible with the opening lines.

*Quill* Overall Opinion: Kiya, I had a blast reading this short comedic piece. All of my suggestions are very minor, and this tale is almost perfect as is. It was great for me to see the contrast between the comedy in this story and the sadness of the last one I read. I look forward to spending more time in your portfolio soon!

I hope you find this review helpful! Please feel free to e-mail me if you have any questions, comments, or requests. Thank you for sharing your work with the WDC community and allowing me the opportunity to review your story! *Smile*

Write On!
Ali



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3
3
Review of Saying Goodbye  
Review by Alexandra Jones
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
*Star* This is review # 1 from your winning package in "Invalid Item! *Star*


Hello kiyasama!

I've just finished reading your short story "Saying Goodbye, and I'd like to offer you the following review. Below is a breakdown of my thoughts on various aspects of your piece. Please know that these are just my humble opinions. Only you can know what is right for your story, so use those comments and suggestions that you find helpful, and ignore the rest!

*Quill* Plot: Kiya, what a bittersweet story you've created here! It was wrenching to read how Steve only finally confessed his feelings once it was too late. That felt natural to me because so often in life we don't admit our true desires until we are threatened with losing the thing we love altogether. I guess you could call it the 'you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone' phenomena. I also loved the promise of the ending. The idea of him being there for her forever was simultaneously sad and wistfully romantic.

*Quill* Style & Voice: One of the great things about scenes based primarily on dialogue is that they are usually fast and easy to read as was the case with this story. But, when you have to write a story that's completely dialogue, things get really difficult, and I think you did an awesome job of bringing your characters to life with only their words. There was not one instance where I was confused about who was talking which is an important aspect of a dialogue-only story. I also thought you did an excellent job of bringing the natural flow of speech to your dialogue. Your use of sentence fragments, abbreviations, and slang were all very appropriate and made the story sound realistic.

My only suggestion concerning style is very minimal, but I felt like perhaps you overused ellipses a bit. I totally understand the instinct to use them to show pauses in speech, but I think this story could be more powerful if you only showed those pauses indicated by ellipses in the moments when they pack the biggest emotional punch. For me, the ellipses just broke up the flow a little bit and also made the story look a bit broken in a visual sense. One way you might be able to cut down on them is to replace some of them with dashes. Dashes are perfect for when you want to show a break in dialogue rather than a pause. For example, here is one instance where I think dashes might work well:

"--in London."

"--I can't wait to hear...what? What did you say?"

I think the dashes here show that the speech is a broken continuation of what they said before rather than a strict pause. I think if you removed the ellipses anywhere that they are not absolutely necessary, then you could strengthen this story slightly.

*Quill* Characters: Since this piece is dialogue-based, your characters are the most important part, and they are also the strongest element of the story, in my opinion. I loved how you managed to cultivate this entire friendship and back story for your characters all wrapped up in their final moment together. That sense of connection and shared experiences was so vivid, and I think that is what made the story work. The silly romantic side of me wanted Bre to give up her career for love, but the feminist, realistic side of me wanted her to follow her personal dreams and not ditch them for a guy. I think the ending was perfect because it hinted at the possibility of romance after a long separation, but the pain of that separation created the perfect bittersweet ending.

*Quill* Favorite Lines: Below I have highlighted a few of my favorite lines from this story. I picked them because I think they created excellent character development and showcase your talent as a writer.

*BulletG*"...in London."

"...I can't wait to hear...what? What did you say?"
What I liked: I love how Bre gave her good news and then paused before laying out the hard truth. Her hesitation sounded realistic to me and so did Steve's utter shock.

*BulletG*"...I'll never get to see you again..." What I liked: This line was just heartbreaking to me. I could really feel Steve's loss and sadness. It sounded as if he just completely deflated.

*BulletG*You were so into him and...but geez, London, Brenda. That's so far away. What I liked: I love how Steve transitioned from his explanation straight back into his shock. I also loved your use of the slang 'geez' and the emphasis on London. It all sounded like natural dialogue to me and not stiff in any way.

*BulletG*"I know, Steve. You'll always be here for me. No matter how long it takes." What I liked: This final line gave me goosebumps. The contrast between the sadness of their separation and Steve's sweet dedication created a perfect, wistful ending.

*Quill* Grammar/Word Choice: I could only find two suggestions to make on grammar, both having to do with commas. I've marked them below and offered suggestions on how I would personally fix them. These are only my opinions, and I am not an expert. Please use those suggestions that work for you and your story. *Smile*

*BulletR*When I got the news I was so happy at first and then I realized that I wouldn't get to see you in such a long time. Suggestion: I think you need a comma after 'news' because 'When I got the news' is an introductory clause. You might want to add a comma before 'and', too, but I think that is optional since 'I was so happy at first' is a very short clause.

*BulletR*Hold me and say it quickly, so we part with no regrets." Suggestion: I don't think the comma here is correct. Normally, you would put a comma before the coordinating conjunction 'so' except when it is followed by 'that'. Here I think the 'that' is implied: 'Hold me and say it quickly so that we part with no regrets.' See what I mean? So I don't think there should be a comma here.

*Quill* Overall Opinion: Kiya, I thought this was a really great Dialogue 500 entry. I was impressed with how natural your characters' speech sounded, how you were able to create two very distinct characters using only their speech, and how you created such a powerful ending. This was a great read and it was a pleasure to stop by your port. I'll be back soon!

I hope you find this review helpful! Please feel free to e-mail me if you have any questions, comments, or requests. Thank you for sharing your work with the WDC community and allowing me the opportunity to review your story! *Smile*

Write On!
Ali



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4
4
Review of The Sacred Heart  
Review by Alexandra Jones
In affiliation with Rising Stars of WdC  
Rated: 13+ | (5.0)
*Star* I'm reviewing your work as a fellow Rising Star! *Star*


Hello NickiD89 !

I've just finished reading your short story "The Sacred Heart, and I'd like to offer you the following review. Below is a breakdown of my thoughts on various aspects of your piece. Please know that these are just my humble opinions. Only you can know what is right for your story, so use those comments and suggestions that you find helpful, and ignore the rest!

*Quill* Plot: Nicki, I am so impressed by how many unexpected twists you managed to pack into such a short piece of flash. Right, from the beginning you give the reader such a clear vision of who your character is, and then you turn everything on its head when you reveal his actual identity. You also managed to get the reader asking questions from the very beginning. Why does the man pray for the homeless guy and then check his wallet as if he is going to steal from it? None of it becomes clear until the truth is revealed, and that type of mystery creates the best kind of story. I also loved the image you created at the end. It left me with major goosebumps, always a sign that a story moves me.

*Quill* Style & Voice: Your writing is clear and easy to read, but also intricate and eloquent. You deftly weave images into the action, and it was so easy for me to visualize not only the scene, but your character's actions and expressions. When I write flash, it is always a struggle to fit a full story into such a short piece and have it not feel like an expansion is order, but this story felt complete in every way. Expansions are one of the most common suggestions I give out in reviews, but this piece is absolutely finished, in my opinion.

*Quill* Scene/Setting: I feel like you wove just the right amount of setting description into this story. The dirty Bronx street came right into my mind along with the squalor of the homeless man's location. I could imagine the poker club, even though you didn't give any direct descriptions of the room itself, simply through your description of the characters, their actions, and their dialogue.

*Quill* Characters: Tommy Heart is a brilliant character. You tease the reader, giving them information on his character bit by bit, until you reveal his true identity. I loved reading his interaction with the other poker players, the way that he fit in almost seamlessly. When he finally called the Sacred Heart, the truth hit me like a slap in the face. This type of surprise was a joy to read. And, of course, you topped of his character development with that brilliant moment when he asked the Sister to set up a meeting for his own confession.

*Quill* Favorite Lines: Below I have highlighted a few of my favorite lines from your story. I picked these because I think they created strong imagery or character development. I think they showcase your talent as a writer.

*BulletG* A drop of water ran down the inside of the sweating glass. Thomas whipped his head left and right, popping his neck. What I liked: I love the build you created here through powerful imagery. The detail of the 'sweating' glass and the sensory/auditory description of Tommy cracking his neck create a nice dose of tension. The reader gets an idea of both Tommy's apprehension and his toughness all in a couple of lines.

*BulletG*The piles of chips at his side resembled the smokestacks of Jersey’s finest factories across the Hudson. Thomas allowed a boyish grin and avoided looking the other players in the eye. What I liked: I loved the comparison of the stacks of chips to Jersey smokestacks. It was extremely easy to visualize, but the description was also relevant to the setting. And I loved how you showed a touch of softness to Tommy with that 'boyish grin'.

*BulletG* Father Thomas glanced at the poster on the wall advertising the semi-pro Texas Hold’em Poker Tournament. With a scarlet blush he said, “I found a room full of willing donators.” What I liked: I loved how Father Thomas was ashamed of his actions, and yet did them anyway for what he believed was the greater good. Most would see him as a hero, but he knew his dishonesty was a sin. This complexity of character was brilliant to read.

*BulletG*The homeless man was sitting up, one hand cupping the top of his head as he stared into his open wallet. What I liked: This was such a wonderful image for the story to end on. I loved how you added the homeless man's physical mannerism instead of just having him stare at the wallet. That hand on the top of the head created a perfect image of his confused disbelief.

*Quill* Grammar/Word Choice: I can't remember the last time I said this, but I couldn't find one suggestion to make on your word choice or your grammar. This story was extremely polished. Well done! *Bigsmile*

*Quill* Overall Opinion: I rarely give out five stars because I almost always find a couple of small suggestions to make, but in my mind, this story really is perfect and ready for publication. It's a brilliant piece of flash fiction, filled with amazing twists and depth of character. I look forward to stopping by your portfolio again in the future to see what other treasures it contains!

I hope you find this review helpful! Please feel free to e-mail me if you have any questions, comments, or requests. Thank you for sharing your work with the WDC community and allowing me the opportunity to review your story! *Smile*

Write On!
Ali


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5
5
Review by Alexandra Jones
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: E | N/A (Review only item.)
*Star* This is a review from "Gang's Monthly Review Board /TEMP CLOSED *Star*


Hello warriormom!

I've just finished reading your short story "Jess Waits for the Circus, and I'd like to offer you the following review. Below is a breakdown of my thoughts on various aspects of your piece. Please know that these are just my humble opinions. Only you can know what is right for your story, so use those comments and suggestions that you find helpful, and ignore the rest!

*Quill* Plot: Pat, I thought this was a sweet and entertaining little story about a young boy's excitement over the circus coming to town. You did a great job of describing this sleepy little town and what a big impact an event like this had on its inhabitants.

When I reached the end, I found myself craving more. I think this story has a lot of opportunity for expansion. I would love to read about the impact that the circus has on the town as a whole as it gets set up and then as they perform. On the other hand, this makes a nice little vignette as is: a successful look into the mind and experience of your main character.

*Quill* Style & Voice: Your writing style felt effortless and easy to read. Normally, I would be slightly turned of by the amount of exposition in this story, but you have an amazing way of creating vivid narration so that it is almost as exciting as reading direct actions or dialogue.

One thing I noticed is that in a few places, you switched out of Jess's POV and into the POV of your secondary characters. I noticed this once with Miss Riley and once with Jess's pa. This is a personal opinion, but in a story of this length, I think it would be better to keep the whole story in one character's POV. Perhaps there is a way that you could give the same details but manipulate them so that they come from Jess?

*Quill* Scene/Setting: Your setting and descriptive details were my favorite part of this story. You really have an effortless and magical way with words. From that first moment when you described Jess's red head peeking over the grass, I was hooked. Many of the details you included about the wagon train were also excellent; I particularly enjoyed the paragraph describing the giraffes and elephants.

Because I am so fond of your beautiful descriptions, I would love to see you take them even a little bit further. Some details I would have liked to see included: what were the clothes of the circus performers like? Was there anything painted on the outside of the wagons? Was there any particular foreign or exotic smell to tantalize Jess's nostrils? And I also would have loved to read a few more descriptions of the exotic animals.

*Quill* Characters: I thought your portrayal of Jess was excellent. I loved how you described his anticipation to explore the world. His excitement was endearing and easy to relate to. The slight tension between Jess and his father seemed very natural, and I loved how you wrote the father as being almost as excited for the circus as Jess, but secretly. Finally, the addition of the mother with her 'secret kind of way' of smoothing things over was the perfect touch.

*Quill* Favorite Lines: Below I have highlighted some of my favorite lines from your story. I picked these because I thought they created excellent imagery or character development. I think they showcase your talent as a writer.

*BulletG*Between schooling and chores, he reckoned there was precious little time left for wading through the creek, looking for snakes and crickets, or climbing oak trees to spy on deer and raccoons and such. What I liked: I loved this sentence describing Jess's thoughts. It gave me a great idea of what kind of boy he was, but it also created a very visual image of the forest and what an attraction it is for a little kid.

*BulletG*"Seems like to me," Pa grumbled, "you got better things to do than watch for somethin' that's gonna come whether you're a-lookin' for it or not." What I liked: This was great dialogue to introduce Pa's character. I also loved how you used dialect in the dialogue and thoughts throughout the story. It made it really easy for me to imagine the accent.

*BulletG*Huge gray, wrinkled things, he could not imagine a name for, had long snouts which would curl up and then down. They made a noise as large as they were. He wouldn't want to be on the sharp end of their huge "horns" either! What I liked: I loved these excellent visual and auditory descriptions of the elephants so much that I really think this story would benefit from even more descriptions of the exotic animals like this one.

*BulletG*She always stood up for Pa, but sometimes, she had this secret kind of way to soften Pa up when she thought it was the right thing to do. What I liked: I loved this look into Ma's character and her place in the family dynamic.

*Quill* Grammar/Word Choice: Pat, your grammar is really excellent, especially given that this is a rough draft. I noticed only a few minor issues as I read along. I've marked them below and offered suggestions on how I would personally fix them. These are only my opinions, and I am not an expert, so please use those suggestions that work for you and your story. *Smile*

*BulletR*Then, up the hill he went, to wait and watch for the circus wagons to roll by on their way into town. Suggestion: I don't think the comma after 'went' is necessary because I don't think there is any reason to separate the verb 'went' from the infinitive verb 'to wait'.

*BulletR*Serendipity grown considerably, though, as it rested on a well-travelled wagon trail leading west. Suggestion: It looks to me like you dropped the word 'had' before 'grown'.

*BulletR*He had land here, though, that had belonged to his father, and his grandfather before that. Suggestion: I don't think the comma before 'and' is needed because the clause 'his grandfather before that' is not independent (meaning it can't stand alone as a complete sentence), and commas are most often used to connect two independent clauses with a coordinating conjunction.

*BulletR*He was able to keep his family fed, and make enough selling produce and beef to make ends meet... Suggestion: Same thing here. The second clause isn't independent, so I don't think the comma is necessary.

*BulletR*...was two years older than Jess, and often made Jess's life miserable with his mean tricks and constant... Suggestion: Same thing here. The second clause isn't independent, so I don't think you need the comma. Just for comparisons sake: If you added the word 'he' before 'often', then the second clause would become independent, and the comma would be necessary.

*BulletR*He didn’t know if he could stand much more Suggestion: This sentence seems to be missing a period at the end.

*BulletR*He might have to get Ma off to the side, somehow, and ask her what she might could do to persuade Pa. Suggestion: It seems like either 'might' or 'could' is an extraneous word in this sentence.

*Quill* Overall Opinion: Pat, I wish all of rough drafts came out as readable and collected as this one! I think you did a really nice job of introducing us to this sleepy little town of Serendipity and the future-world-adventurer Jess. For me, the biggest issue was the switching around of POV, but I think this could be easily remedied. I also think that this story could be expanded into something even better if you have the inspiration to do so. All in all, it was a very entertaining read and a pleasure to stop by your port for the first time.

I hope you find this review helpful! Please feel free to e-mail me if you have any questions, comments, or requests. Thank you for sharing your work with the WDC community and allowing me the opportunity to review your story! *Smile*

Write On!
Ali


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6
6
Review of The Diner  
Review by Alexandra Jones
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: E | (4.5)
*Star* This is a review from "Gang's Monthly Review Board /TEMP CLOSED *Star*


Hello Turtle ~ KanyáthƐko:wa:h !

I've just finished reading your short story "The Diner, and I'd like to offer you the following review. Below is a breakdown of my thoughts on various aspects of your piece. Please know that these are just my humble opinions. Only you can know what is right for your story, so use those comments and suggestions that you find helpful, and ignore the rest!

*Quill* Plot: Marc, I thought this was a sweet, bohemian love story, and it was a pleasure to read. I thought you did a wonderful job of depicting how they both watched each other from afar. The ending where the female waitress struck up the courage to make the first move seemed realistic to me, and I loved the ending with the two of them slipping out into the night together.

*Quill* Style & Voice: I thought you did a great job of capturing the image of both of your main characters and depicting the romantic tension and curiosity that built between them. I loved the dialogue section at the end of the story where I got to hear the voices/manner of speaking of each character. I also thought you created a perfect story to bring the quote prompt to light; I think this story is a great interpretation.

I think I would have liked to read some more dialogue earlier in the story. Perhaps instead of simply telling the the reader: She would refill his cup, offer him food, and comment on whatever she could think of to bring him out of his closed world, you could show them one of these moments through your characters' dialogue and action.

*Quill* Scene/Setting: From the very first sentence, I thought you did a great job of weaving setting details into the story. You included just enough description to make it easy for me to imagine the inside of the dinner and your characters in it. Well done!

*Quill* Characters: Your characters are probably the strongest part of this story which is necessary for a romance like this. It was extremely easy for me to envision your lanky, poor, academic hero sitting in his corner booth with a thick book protecting him from the outside world. I didn't get quite as much of a visual of the female lead until the end of the story; her outgoing actions brought a picture of her to my mind. It was a lovely visual to imagine the two of them together talking the night away, but part of me thought it would have been nice to hear more of that dialogue between them. Hearing the details of the moments when they fell for each other might be a nice addition.

*Quill* Favorite Lines: Below I have marked a few of my favorite lines from this story. I picked these because I thought they created great imagery or character development. I think they showcase your talent as a writer.

*BulletG*He had sat there since before her shift started, staring into the void for some time before she placed the naked mug and its volcanic contents before him... What I liked: I thought this image did a great job of capturing your male main character's attitude and demeanor. I also loved your description of the 'volcanic' mug of coffee turning cold.

*BulletG*Every now and then she would get the feeling that his eyes were gently upon her, as if he wanted something, yet was afraid to ask. What I liked: I thought this was a beautiful description of the student's shy admiration of the waitress. A beautiful line.

*BulletG*His tall lanky frame seemed to barely be capable of supporting his jacket, let alone the bag resting on the edge of the bench. What I liked: I thought this was an excellent bit of physical description. It created such a powerful image that it became easy for me to envision him; so much better then the stereotypical: 'he was tall and skinny'.

*BulletG*“I can’t afford to…” She raised a finger to his lips, and was struck by how soft they were, despite the cracks that set in them like lines on a zebra. What I liked: More excellent description here. I loved reading about the waitress' boldness and her reaction to the feel of his lips. Wonderfully romantic.

*Quill* Grammar/Word Choice: I noticed a few minor grammatical issues and typos as I read along. I've highlighted them below and offered suggestions on how I would personally fix them. As you know, I am no expert, so please use those suggestions that work for you and your story. *Smile*

*BulletR*...and she was sure the contents had turned tepid before he took his first drag. Suggestion: This sentence is very long. I would consider cutting 'and' here and starting a new sentence with 'She was sure'.

*Bulletr*...the hems of his pants and the elbows of his jacked showed considerable wear. Suggestion: I think 'jacked' should be 'jacket'.

*BulletR*His tall lanky frame seemed to barely be capable of supporting his jacket... Suggestion: I think this might sound smoother if you simply said: 'frame seemed barely capable of supporting'.

*BulletR*She met him at the cash register, and started in with the awkward small talk that they usually engaged in. Suggestion: I don't think this sentence needs a comma because the second clause isn't independent.

*BulletR*“would you sit back down, just for a few minutes?” Suggestion: I think 'Would' should be capitalized.

*BulletR*He was unsure of why she had asked him to stay, and looked back over his shoulder towards the counter. Suggestion: I don't think this sentence needs a comma because the second clause isn't independent.

*BulletR*His eyes betrayed a hint of terror at her touch, than relaxed as she held momentary firmness against his skin. Suggestion: I think 'than' should be 'then'.

*Quill* Overall Opinion: I thought this was a really wonderful romance, and you did an excellent job of creating powerful images to depict your characters. I think I would have liked to read a bit of an expansion on their dialogue and interaction, but otherwise, what you did include was touching and vivid. This was a great read, and as a fan of romance, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I hope you find this review helpful! Please feel free to e-mail me if you have any questions, comments, or requests. Thank you for sharing your work with the WDC community and allowing me the opportunity to review your story! *Smile*

Write On!
Ali


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7
7
Review by Alexandra Jones
In affiliation with I.N.K.E.D.  
Rated: | (4.5)
*Star* I'm reviewing your work as a member of "Invalid Item *Star*


Hello Barb Folger !

I've just finished reading your short story "HONORS FROM THE SPECIAL, and I'd like to offer you the following review. Below is a breakdown of my thoughts on various aspects of your piece. Please know that these are just my humble opinions. Only you can know what is right for your story, so use those comments and suggestions that you find helpful, and ignore the rest!

*Quill* Plot: What a curious and entertaining little story! I thought you did an excellent job of describing the the Dean's amused disbelief morphing into a sort of confused amazement. I felt that by the end of the story I was just as uncertain as the Dean as to whether or not the certificate was legit. You story certainly left me questioning, and it made me think twice about the nature of practical jokes.

*Quill* Style & Voice: I found your writing concise and easy to read. I think that you have a talent for word-choice; it often seemed like you picked the perfect combination of words to depict a certain thought or image. You did a nice job of capturing the Dean's intellectual and slightly pompous voice.

One small formatting suggestion: I think if you add an extra space between each paragraph, it will be a bit easier for your readers to absorb and follow.

*Quill* Characters: I thought you did a nice job of capturing the Dean's character. I could perfectly picture his amused indulgence as he listened to the 'prankster' on the phone. I also liked how you depicted him wondering whether there could possibly be any truth to it. This created a nice contrast to Franklin who didn't pay it a second thought, certain it couldn't be anything but a prank.

*Quill* Favorite Lines: Below, I have highlighted a few of my favorite lines from your story. I picked them because I think they create great imagery or character development. I think they highlight your talent as a writer.

*BulletG*We elect you–and we see-lect you–for an award in helper of the year for Boston town. You won! What I liked: This was a great bit of dialogue. I love how you highlighted his manner of saying the word 'select'. It was easy for me to imagine the 'illiterate' nature of his voice.

*BulletG*I shook my head in secret amusement. What I liked: I loved how you showed the Dean's amusement. It was as if he was indulging the whims of a child. It captured his slightly 'higher-than-thou' personality.

*BulletG*The whole thing was pretty sloppy, but my name was spelled right. What I liked: I loved this little referral back to the earlier moment in the story. The fact that the name was spelled right hinted at the veracity of the letter; a prankster would probably have purposefully spelled it wrong.

*Quill* Grammar/Word Choice: I noticed a few minor grammatical issues as I read along. I've highlighted them below and offered suggestions on how I would personally fix them. These are just my personal opinions, and I am no expert. Please use those suggestions that work for you and your story. *Smile*

*BulletR*Team for the Retarded People in America. Suggestion: I'm wondering if the 'Retarded People of America' might be a slightly more official sounding title.

*BulletR*...urged to do so by their fraternity brethren; so I decided to put an end to this tasteless joke. Suggestion: I think the semicolon here should be a comma because semicolons are used to connect two independent clauses without a conjunction, but you've used the coordinating conjunction 'so'. Commas are used to connect two independent clauses with a coordinating conjunction.

*BulletR*Finally he asked me how to spell everything I just said. Suggestion: I think there should be a comma after 'Finally' since it is a disjunctive adverb, meaning it modifies the whole sentence, not just the verb.

*BulletR*After I had spelled my my address... Suggestion: It looks like you accidentally repeated the word 'my' here.

*BulletR*I was filled with something like a very indifferent dread. Suggestion: At the risk of making it seem like I 'missed the point', I feel the need to comment on your use of the word 'indifferent'. It seems like a contradiction to describe 'dread' as indifferent. By its very nature dread implies anticipation which is almost the opposite of indifference. Perhaps there is a different word that would make more sense here?

*BulletR*I answered it before the second ring, and gave an energetic greeting. Suggestion: I don't think there should be a comma here because the second clause is not independent.

*BulletR*I said yes, and hung up. Suggestion: Same thing here. I don't think you need the comma because the second clause isn't independent.

*Quill* Overall Opinion: I thought this was an intriguing little tale that forces the reader to reconsider their preconceptions. You did a nice job of capturing your main character and his reactions to the situation. Overall, the story was an easy and entertaining read; I thoroughly enjoyed it!

I hope you find this review helpful! Please feel free to e-mail me if you have any questions, comments, or requests. Thank you for sharing your work with the WDC community and allowing me the opportunity to review your story! *Smile*

Write On!
Ali


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8
8
Review of Free Range Meat  
Review by Alexandra Jones
In affiliation with Rising Stars of WdC  
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
*Star* I'm reviewing your work as a fellow Rising Star! *Star*


Hello intheventofire !

I've just finished reading your short story "Free Range Meat, and I'd like to offer you the following review. Below is a breakdown of my thoughts on various aspects of your piece. Please know that these are just my humble opinions. Only you can know what is right for your story, so use those comments and suggestions that you find helpful, and ignore the rest!

*Quill* Plot: I think this is a fantastic piece of flash fiction! It hints at a much larger story that the reader can only begin to imagine, but you write just enough to create a clear picture. I'm a big fan of vampire fiction, and I think your main character here could be the lead of a much bigger story. I think it could be an excellent full-length short, maybe even a novella or novel. The concept of a paramedic vampire who feeds on lost causes is both intriguing and creepy.

*Quill* Style & Voice: Your main character's voice came through loud and clear in this story. You did a great job of capturing his language and manner of speaking. It sounded almost as if he was talking directly to me, and I think that conversational tone worked perfectly here.

There was one only one word choice that seemed a bit off to me: his use of the word 'peeps' as slang for people. Your main character came of as being a bit gruff and cynical to me, and the word 'peeps' is something I associate more with a younger, party crowd, not a jaded vampire. Of course, only you can know your character completely, so I may be totally off-base here.

*Quill* Scene/Setting: Because this is such short flash-fiction, there is no room for a fully developed setting. However, you still managed to weave amazing imagery. I had no trouble imagining your main character looking down upon the unconscious girl on the gurney, seeing his next meal.

*Quill* Characters: Your main character is amazingly well-developed for such a short story, and I would love to read more of him in a longer piece. His thoughts on drugs, liquor, and junkies all combined to give the reader a clear idea of his view of the world, despite the fact that you didn't have room to include that many details. The reader also gets a clear vision of the girl, or at least of the girl from the main character's eyes, to the point where I could almost think up an entire back story for her.

*Quill* Favorite Lines: Below I have marked a few of my favorite lines from your story. I picked these because I thought they created excellent character development or imagery. I think they highlight your talent as a writer.

*BulletG*...from drowning out junior’s teething cries to writing angsty teenage wails of rebellion with gritty lyrics and dis-chordant guitars... What I liked: I love how much imagery you manage to inject into such a short line. It is full of sounds, but words like 'gritty' and 'angsty' also give it a touch of visual description and really set the tone.

*BulletG*Like I said, this young lady, all cobweb tattoos and the soot-smeared eyes. Seems like she knew all the words. What I liked: The physical description of the girl was very powerful and those two choice details gave me an image of her entire being. Plus, I loved the metaphor of her 'knowing all the words'.

*BulletG*I call them free range. What I liked: Excellent last line! It gives the reader a perfect image of how your main character sees his victims and humankind in general. And to answer your author's note, I am an American, and your use of the term 'free range' made perfect sense to me.

*Quill* Grammar/Word Choice: I noticed some grammatical issues as I read along, mostly having to do with commas and run-on sentences. I've marked them below and offered suggestions on how I would personally fix them. These are just my opinions, and I am no expert. Please use those suggestions that work for you and your story. *Smile*

*BulletR*Drugs are a curiosity to me, they always have been. Like liquor to a muslim or sex to a catholic priest. Suggestion: The first sentence here is a run-on because both clauses surrounding the comma can stand alone as a complete sentence, and they aren't connected by a conjunction. The second sentence is a fragment since it doesn't have both a subject and verb. I think if you change the position of the period here, you could fix both problems in one go: 'Drugs are a curiosity to me. They always have been, like liquor to a Muslim or sex to a catholic priest.'

*BulletR*The ordinary peeps in the world, use them for everything... Suggestion: The comma here is incorrect because you never want to separate the subject of a sentence (peeps) from the verb (use) with a comma.

*BulletR*...dis-chordant guitars and of course they use them to escape. Suggestion: I think 'dis-chordant should probably be 'discordant'. Also, you need a couple of commas here: one before 'and' because 'they use them to escape' is an independent clause, and one after 'of course' because 'of course' is what's known as an interrupter and must be set of from the rest of the sentence by commas. This would read: '...discordant guitars, and of course, they use them to escape.

*BulletR*Like I said, this young lady, all cobweb tattoos and the soot-smeared eyes. Seems like she knew all the words. Suggestion: Both of these lines are fragments, so I think they should be connected to create one complete sentence: 'Like I said, this young lady, all cobweb tattoos and soot-smeared eyes, seems like she knew all the words.'

*Bulletr*She ain’t going to make it, she might have another night, if another paramedic had got here first, but not tonight, not on my watch. Suggestion: This is another run-on sentence since 'She ain't going to make it' and the rest of the sentence can both stand alone as complete sentences. Also, I don't think you need the comma before 'if' because it a subordinating conjunction. This would read: 'She ain't going to make it. She might have another night if another paramedic had got here first, but not tonight, not on my watch.

*Bulletr*No she’ll die on the gurney... Suggestion: 'No' is an interjection, so it needs to be separated from the rest of the sentence by a comma: 'No, she'll die on the gurney...

*Bulletr*Junkie, self-harmers, losers, suicides, that’s what you call them. Suggestion: I think 'Junkie' should be 'Junkies' since the rest of the words are plural, as well.

*Quill* Overall Opinion: I think this is an excellent piece of flash-fiction. I am so impressed with your ability to pack not only a full-fledged character but also some amazing imagery and cultural viewpoints into such a short story. My only real problem with this story were the minor grammatical issues, and I think if you fixed those up, this story would be very near perfect. I hope you are considering expanding on this because I think your character deserves a full-length story. Let me know if you do, and I would love to give it a read!

I hope you find this review helpful! Please feel free to e-mail me if you have any questions, comments, or requests. Thank you for sharing your work with the WDC community and allowing me the opportunity to review your story! *Smile*

Write On!
Ali


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9
9
Review by Alexandra Jones
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: E | (4.5)
*Star* This is a review from "Gang's Monthly Review Board /TEMP CLOSED *Star*


Hello tYpO/T.Boilerman !

I've just finished reading your short story "My Summer Vacation, and I'd like to offer you the following review. Below is a breakdown of my thoughts on various aspects of your piece. Please know that these are just my humble opinions. Only you can know what is right for your story, so use those comments and suggestions that you find helpful, and ignore the rest!

*Quill* Plot: I think this is a great concept for a flash fiction story; it really shows the power that a good book can have in changing our lives. I thought you did a nice job of showing the total despondence of a summer of boredom, and then showing the amazing transformation that an exciting book can create. I think that any book lover will be able to relate to this story as it has an important message about the gift of literature.

*Quill* Style & Voice: I thought you did a good job of capturing your main character's voice. I found your writing style to be simple, and therefore I thought it coincided with the way a kid would talk and tell this story. You didn't specify an age group, but I found myself assuming that your main character was a middle-schooler, and I thought you did a good job of capturing the attitude of a kid that age.

*Quill* Scene/Setting: Since this was such a short story, there was really no need (or room) for any setting description. Still, I found it easy to imagine all of the kids lounging around the bench at school, talking about their trips.

*Quill* Characters: Considering how short this story is, I thought you did a very good job of developing your characters. From that line in the beginning when your main character says, "I am bored.", it was easy to imagine a despondent, bored teen. I remember feeling that way myself, and I found this very believable. I also thought you did a nice job of developing the secondary characters in the space you had: the caring dad who convinces his son to read, wanting him to love a book that he had loved himself, and the group of friends chatting about their trips.

*Quill* Favorite Lines: Below I have highlighted a few of my favorite lines from your story. I picked these because I thought they created nice imagery or character development. I think they showcase your talent as a writer.

*BulletG*I had given up all hope. My friends were either gone or going. I just wanted to crawl into a hole and die. What I liked: I think this line did a great job of depicting the melodramatic nature of a bored kid. It gave me a very clear image of your character moping around, so disappointed at the outcome of his summer.

*BulletG*Sharon and Billie were quite tan and Ken was considering becoming a Buddhist monk. What I liked: This line got a real chuckle out of me. It created such a funny image of the other kids, especially Ken. I could easily imagine them circled around bragging over their trips.

*BulletG*“Oh, not too far, just a visit to southern Missouri and a rafting trip down the Mississippi!” What I liked: I thought this was the perfect final line. It really shows how the power of a good story is as powerful as any real life experience.

*Quill* Grammar/Word Choice: I noticed a few minor grammatical errors as I read along, mostly having to do with commas. I've marked them below and offered suggestions on how I would fix them. Use those suggestions that work for you and your story. *Smile*

*BulletR*I try to have some fun and make the most of it but it always comes back to this one thing. Suggestion: I think there should be a comma before 'but' because this is a compound sentence connected by a coordinating conjunction. Here is a link   that explains this comma rule, in case you are interested; it's rule #1. I found this page really helpful for my own comma usage.

*BulletR*My parents could not afford a vacation this year, dad was laid off at work, the plant had lost some government contract and was in danger of closing. Suggestion: This is technically a run-on sentence because each clause can stand alone as a complete sentence, and there is no conjunction connecting them. You could fix this by adding 'and' before 'the plant', or by changing the commas to periods or semicolons.

*BulletR*My father, handed me a copy of Tom Sawyer and suggested I read it. Suggestion: The comma after 'father' should be removed because the subject (father) should never be separated from the verb (handed) by a comma.

*BulletR*But as I read the very first page I was drawn into this amazing story! Suggestion: I think there should be a comma after 'page' because 'as I read the very first page' is an introductory clause and needs to be separated from the main clause.

*BulletR*I quickly finished it and went to the library to get Huckleberry Finn and I practically read that in one sitting. Suggestion: I would delete the word 'quickly' from this sentence because you already used the word 'quickly' two sentences before, and I found the repetition a little distracting. Also, there should be a comma before 'and' because this is another compound sentence connected by a coordinating conjunction. NOTE: The only time it is okay not to use a comma in a compound sentence with a coordinating conjunction is if the first clause or both clauses are very short. That was the case with some of the sentences in your story, so they don't need commas, and I didn't mention them.

*BulletR*The conversation, of course eventually came around to me. Suggestion: 'Of course' is what is known as an interrupter, and it needs to be separated from the rest of the sentence with commas like this: 'The conversation, of course, eventually came around to me.'

*BulletR*“ So Dave, where did you go this summer?” Suggestion: You seem to have accidentally put an extra space or indent between the first quotation mark and 'So'.

*Quill* Overall Opinion: I think this is a great little story that captures the magic that a good book can create. I think you did a nice job of developing your characters in a very short space, and I really enjoyed reading a story about the power of literature, especially for children.

I hope you find this review helpful! Please feel free to e-mail me if you have any questions, comments, or requests. Thank you for sharing your work with the WDC community and allowing me the opportunity to review your story! *Smile*

Write On!
Ali


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10
10
Review by Alexandra Jones
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: E | (5.0)
*Star* This is a review from "Gang's Monthly Review Board /TEMP CLOSED *Star*


Hello Hayley I. (aka Kilpik) !

I've just finished reading your short story "Flowers and Ash , and I'd like to offer you the following review. Below is a breakdown of my thoughts on various aspects of your piece. Please know that these are just my humble opinions. Only you can know what is right for your story, so use those comments and suggestions that you find helpful, and ignore the rest!

*Quill* Plot: Hayley, this is such a powerful and emotional story! Your main character is correct in a sense when she states that the death of grandparents is 'normal', and yet everyone who goes through the experience understands the intense emotions surrounding such a loss. I think your story did an amazing job of delving into the pain of losing a grandparent, but your story also pointed out the most important thing - the loss doesn't cancel out all of the love that came before.

*Quill* Style & Voice: Your writing style is so fluid and beautiful. You create some extremely powerful similes and metaphors and this piece, but even more special was the way you were able to depict each character's emotional reaction. I thought it was a perfect choice to tell this story from the perspective of the granddaughter, and it was fascinating to experience the waves of her feelings and to hear each nugget of wisdom as it came to her. I felt like I got to feel the unraveling of Beth's whole experience along with her; each dash of emotion and each of her thoughts were expressed so eloquently.

I have one minor suggestion, and when I say 'minor', I really mean it. It didn't take away from my experience of the story, but I still thought I should mention it: I noticed a few adverbs that seemed unnecessary in my opinion. Here's an example: 'I rip open the door hastily and collapse upon slippery leather cushions.' 'Rip' is already a strong verb and intimates speed, so the verb 'hastily' seems unnecessary. There were a few others that I noticed, so you might want to do a quick read-through focused purely on adverbs to see if you can cut any of them.

*Quill* Scene/Setting: I thought your setting descriptions were excellent. I really liked how you wove details of location into your character's actions and experiences. This line for example: 'My hands twitch beside me, sweaty palms against dry leather.' It gives a wonderful sensory image of the feel of the leather, but also adds a detail of Beth's experience. I thought you added just the right amount of description of the cemetery, contrasting the beauty of the location with the intensity of the characters' emotions. And finally, I loved how you used the descriptions of the mom scattering the ashes over the flowers to express the tenderness of love.

*Quill* Characters: Your realistic portrayal of your characters was the strongest part of this story in my opinion. I loved the contrast of the mother, whose grief was already apparent in tears, to the father and daughter, who were still grappling with expressing their emotions. I loved your descriptions of Beth's emotional barriers, and her failed attempt to keep them intact throughout the ceremony. The end when the family came together, emotions of grief and love running free, was a beautiful moment.

I also loved the section with the 'Dr. Phil' Limo diver who felt compelled to offer his sympathies. It was a great moment of irony that the family felt the need to make him feel comfortable. I thought it was a wonderful touch.

*Quill* Favorite Lines: Below I have marked I few of my favorite lines from this story. I picked these because the struck a chord with me, and I thought they created strong character development. This story was packed with great moments, so it was hard to pick only a few!

*BulletG*Someone needs to make an equally cliched reply in order to preserve the aura of properness that we have set up for ourselves. What I liked: I thought this moment with the limo driver was excellent! His need to offer sympathy and relate felt real, but it was almost painful to read knowing what the family really needed was some peace, not an awkward moment.

*BulletG*I cannot relate the person that I once knew with a pile of glorified dust. What I liked: I loved this moment when Beth explained that she was uncomfortable with the thought of cremation. It was a perfect set up for the moment later in the story when the sight of the bag of ashes began to break down her emotional barriers.

*BulletG*It is as if an earthquake is tearing through my bones, a seismic hand that has grabbed ahold of my spine and rattled me to my core. What I liked: I loved this description of the unexpected power of Beth's emotional reaction. Great Simile. Oh, but I just realized that there should be a space between 'a' and 'hold', thanks only to my trusty spell-checker! *Laugh*

*BulletG*“I mean, if it had been me, I would have just tossed them out there. You know, get it out of the way. Chuck ‘em and be done with it.” What I liked: This was a such a great father-daughter moment, and the joke offered a nice moment of relief for both your characters and the reader. It was a little reminder that despite the gravity of the moment, laughter and love still exist.

*Quill* Grammar/Word Choice: Your grammar was excellent in this story! I noticed only a few very minor mistakes as I read along; I have marked them below and offered suggestions on how I would personally fix them. Again, these are only my personal opinions, so please use those suggestions that work for you and your story. *Smile*

*BulletR*We just want to get out. Suggestion: I noticed that you used the word 'out' three times in this very short first paragraph. I'm wondering if you could reword one or two of these instances in order to avoid the repetition and improve the flow.

*BulletR*What disturbs me is that I am unsure if my declaration is even sincere. Suggestion: I would consider cutting the word 'even' from this sentence because it seems unnecessary, and I think this important sentence sounds stronger without it.

*BulletR*...she replies, voice taunt, “Dan or I.” Suggestion: I'm think that 'taunt' is probably supposed to be 'taut'.

*BulletR*The gates of cemetary are visible a few blocks away. Suggestion: It looks like you dropped the word 'the' before cemetery. Also, 'cemetery' is spelled with three 'E's; I noticed this mistake a few times. It's a tricky little word! *Wink*

*BulletR*When she had first been diagnosed she told my mom that all she wanted was to see her grandkids graduate from high school. Suggestion: I think there should be a comma after 'daignosed' because 'When she had first been diagnosed' is an introductory clause.

*Quill* Overall Opinion: This is an amazing story full of emotion and carefully crafted characters. I could tell that you wrote each sentence with care. The pacing was perfect, and your character's thoughts and feelings were not only easy to relate to, but REAL. You're getting another five stars out of me because I can't come up with any suggestions that I believe would truly improve the impact of the story. Excellent work, my friend!

I hope you find this review helpful! Please feel free to e-mail me if you have any questions, comments, or requests. Thank you for sharing your work with the WDC community and allowing me the opportunity to review your story! *Smile*

Write On!
Ali


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11
11
Review of Addiction  
Review by Alexandra Jones
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: 18+ | (4.5)
*Star* This is a review from "Gang's Monthly Review Board /TEMP CLOSED *Star*


Hello The Huntress ~ Autumn Calling !

I've just finished reading your short story "Addiction, and I'd like to offer you the following review. Below is a breakdown of my thoughts on various aspects of your piece. Please know that these are just my humble opinions. Only you can know what is right for your story, so use those comments and suggestions that you find helpful, and ignore the rest!

*Quill* Plot: Laura, I am not surprised to find that you have written another captivating story! I found the plot quite unsettling, yet every word held my attention and forced me to keep reading. I think you've created a very intriguing look into the mind of a character who was stifled all throughout her childhood and the horrible consequences that had on her. I found it so heartbreaking that when she finally gave into her curiosity, it tunneled her into a secluded bubble of shame even though her feelings and desires were natural.

I loved your take on the prompt (or secret in this case); there were so many possible ways to take it, but I think yours seems like a believable choice. In fact, after reading your story, I wouldn't be surprised if you actually pictured something similar to the anonymous sender's real life addiction.

*Quill* Style & Voice: I thought you used so many wonderful instances of simile and metaphor in this story. They made the story, which was largely based on emotion, into something sensory that the reader could envision and experience along with your main character. I liked that you chose to start the story after Mary had been addicted for awhile so that you could hint at the effect it was having on her. The fact that you then flashed back to tell her whole story gave the impression that she was telling the story out loud, almost as if she had finally decided to unburden herself in a confessional or psychiatrist's office.

*Quill* Scene/Setting: Your setting descriptions were sparse which I think is fine for a story like this one that is set mainly inside a house. I thought that Mary's character seemed to hint at her living in a simple suburban home which made it easy for me to envision the basic details of her living situation. The description of Victor's 'den', however, was very visual and created a strong image in my mind; it was easy for me to feel Mary's horror even though I wouldn't have been shocked myself.

*Quill* Characters: I thought you did a wonderful job of developing Mary. Her fear and shame were really the star of this story, and I thought you did a great job of making those emotions jump off of the page. I loved the little details that you included about her past - like the fact that her father took her bedroom door off its hinges when she hit puberty. Her post-marital interaction with Victor was a sad thing to read, and their final fight after she found his den was simultaneously shocking and believable. I also thought it was fascinating to read about Mary's transformation as the addiction took over her life. I thought it fir her character that she allowed herself to give into her curiosity but not her physical desire.

There was one place that I thought could use a sentence of clarification. You described Mary's overwhelming passion for Victor during the courtship to the point where it almost seemed obsessive. Because you described her as having such overwhelming desire for him, her unwillingness to consummate their marriage came as a bit of a surprise to me; I was expecting her to give into her feelings once they were acceptable in God's eyes. I'm wondering if maybe you could add a sentence to the the description of their courtship that explained that even though Mary wanted Victor, she was terrified of her desire. I think if you depicted a touch of fear or hesitation mixed in with her passion, then her behavior after the marriage will make more sense.

*Quill* Favorite Lines: Below I have marked a few of my favorite lines from your story. I picked these because I thought they created wonderful imagery or character development. It was hard to choose just a few lines; this story was full of powerful moments!

*BulletG*I tore into that black-out cellophane like a starving man would tear into a roast. What I liked: This is a wonderful simile. I loved the buildup to the moment when she opened the magazine. Most people wouldn't think twice about a magazine, but her love of magazines and her obsessive behavior around it seemed to fit perfectly with her sheltered personality.

*BulletG*But now, flung into the world, and into freedom, fear and hesitation crashed down on me, a suffocating blanket. What I liked: I loved the metaphor you used for Mary's fear. Her fear seemed like a logical progression given how sheltered she was during her youth, and I think this sentence did a wonderful job of capturing that.

*BulletG* I called a locksmith. What I liked: I loved how you used this short little sentence as its own paragraph. It was a great example of how the length and sound of a sentence can change the whole feel of a story by altering the rhythm. I thought this was a fascinating turning point when Mary finally decided to take action, and it ratcheted up the tension of the following scene.

*BulletG*He didn't know, was always friendly and smiled, unaware that I was a monster in a pink housecoat. If he knew what lay behind my own secret door, he would have crossed himself. What I liked: I thought this was a brilliant ending. It really depicted Mary's shame and self-hatred, and I loved the image of the 'monster in a pink housecoat'.

*Quill* Grammar/Word Choice: I noticed a few minor grammatical issues as I read along; most of them had to do with commas. I never used to notice these typed of mistakes until I took the Comma-Kazi course at New Horizons, but now they stand out for me. I'm not sure I marked all of them; I focused on the ones that jumped out at me as I read along. Interestingly, I didn't notice any comma problems in 'The Choice', so I am wondering if you wrote this story earlier and have brushed up on the rules since then. Anyway, I've offered my suggestions below. As you know, I am know expert, so please use those suggestions that work for you and your story. *Smile*

*BulletR*My guests sit in the next room, enjoying the dinner that I have prepared for them. It has been almost a year since I have invited anyone for one of my famous dinner parties, and already I am regretting it. Suggestion: I noticed that these first two lines of the story were written in present tense, but then the rest of this story is in past. I would switch these lines to present tense to keep the whole story in agreement.

*BulletR*I could not focus on the plate in front of me, or the wine glass in my hand. Suggestion: I don't think the comma before 'or' is necessary because this isn't a compound sentence. Just in case you are interested, here is a link   that covers all of the comma rules. I found it very useful when I was learning the rules myself.

*BulletR*It had always been such a joy, and the largest part of my otherwise empty life. Suggestion: Same thing here. I don't the comma is needed because this isn't a compound sentence.

*BulletR*I had never really felt as if anything were missing from my world. Suggestion: I would cut the adverb 'really' because the sentence sounds stronger to me without it.

*BulletR*I had no idea how to get in touch with this man, so it sat on the coffee table, on top of my latest copy of Better Homes and Gardens. Suggestion: I don't think the comma before 'on' is necessary because prepositional phrases don't need to be separated from the rest of the sentence.

*BulletR*I stayed away from men and lived at home until well into my twenties. Suggestion: I think I would cut 'until' from this sentence because it isn't necessary to the meaning.

*BulletR*...I had never thought it was unusual, because I had spent very little time outside home. Suggestion: I don't think the comma here is necessary because 'because' is a subordinating conjunction, and commas are only used in compound sentences when they're joined by coordinating conjunctions.

*BulletR*If he was not home, he kept it locked, and kept the key with him so that I did not have access to it. Suggestion: I don't think a comma is needed before 'and' because the clause that follows it is dependent on the main clause.

*Quill* Overall Opinion: I thought this was a great story and a fascinating dive into the psychology of a strictly sheltered woman. Your writing style made it so easy to relate to Mary's emotions even though her character is so different than my own. Your ability to show your character's emotions to the reader, instead of simply telling them what she felt, was very impressive. Overall, I thought this was a fascinating look into the center of a failed relationship and the obsessive nature of addiction.

I hope you find this review helpful! Please feel free to e-mail me if you have any questions, comments, or requests. Thank you for sharing your work with the WDC community and allowing me the opportunity to review your story! *Smile*

Write On!
Ali


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12
12
Review of The Gulfstream  
Review by Alexandra Jones
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
*Star* This is a review from "Gang's Monthly Review Board /TEMP CLOSED *Star*


Hello Grin 'n Bear It! !

I've just finished reading your short story "The Gulfstream, and I'd like to offer you the following review. Below is a breakdown of my thoughts on various aspects of your piece. Please know that these are just my humble opinions. Only you can know what is right for your story, so use those comments and suggestions that you find helpful, and ignore the rest!

*Quill* Plot: Meg, I am so impressed with your ability to pack tension into such a short story. Creating a complete story in less than 300 words is extremely difficult, but this tale had a good plot arc containing a beginning, middle, and end. There are many good fathers willing to do anything for their children, but not all of them would take such an active, violent step to do so. The father's need to protect his children became chilling in this story, and I thought that was an interesting twist.

There was only one issue that I had with the plot, and thinking on it now, it's not so much a plot issue as a dialogue issue. In the last line the father says, "This is not a threat," but it sure seems like a threat to me. Maybe he should say something like 'This is not an empty threat' to prove that his words are more than just a simple warning? Forgive me if I have missed part of your meaning, and this suggestion doesn't pertain to your intention.

*Quill* Style & Voice: You managed to pack a whole lot of story into a very few words, and I think you used every one of the available words to your advantage. I also thought you did a brilliant job of incorporating the prompt words into your tale. They weren't just tossed in there; they were vital to the story as a whole. I thought it was a wise decision on your part to have the majority of the story be dialogue because I think dialogue is often the best way to get the most bang for you buck. Using dialogue you can incorporate plot, character development, and description all at once, so I thought that worked very well.

*Quill* Scene/Setting: There is very little setting description in this story, but that is understandable as you simply didn't have room for it. Despite the lack of setting detail, I still could visualize the image of the beach. The father's dialogue description of the gulf stream also created a visual of the tumultuous currents of the ocean, so that was a nice addition to the setting. Overall, I think you did the best you could with the words allotted.

*Quill* Characters: The father's fierce need to protect his children was fascinating to read. His love for his children combined with his angry, restrained violence and reminded me of the animalistic protection of a lion or some other great beast. It seemed instinctual: his need to protect his own as if they were an extension of himself. Even though it seemed like Jeremy deserved the threat, there was something unsettling about the father's intense reaction.

Unfortunately, you didn't have enough words to include what Jeremy did to Emma, but it wasn't hard to imagine. I liked how you included that Emma was feeling shame in the first line; it almost made me think that Jeremy's attack might have been sexual somehow, and that added a whole other level of creepiness to the situation, making the Dad's reaction all the more believable.

*Quill* Favorite Lines: Below I have a highlighted a few of my favorite lines from this story. I chose these because they struck a chord with me, and I think they highlight your talent as a writer.

*BulletG*“Emma, you’re not in trouble. Just tell me the name of the boy.” What I liked: The fact that Emma thought she was in trouble is what made me think Jeremy's attack might have been some kind of sexual harassment since shame is often the resulting emotion from such an encounter. This first line is also great because it starts to rev up the father's anger and determination, and it hints at what is to come.

*BulletG*“Well he’s got blonde hair and he was wearing bright orange swimming trunks. Like the color of a hunting vest.” What I liked: I liked that you included this bit of description because it was essential to the plot - the dad needed to know which boy he is looking for - but it also added a visual element to the final showdown since I could imagine Jeremy's appearance. I thought this was a good example of the judicious use of detail in flash fiction.

*BulletG*I don’t take kindly to boys who hurt little girls, especially when it’s my little girl. What I liked: I would like to highlight the whole climax of this story if I could, but instead I chose this line in particular. It does a good job of showing both the father's disgust and his protectiveness. The whole following scene with the father's threat and Jeremy's fear was also rife with tension.

*Quill* Grammar/Word Choice: I only noticed a few tiny grammar/word choice issues to comment on as I read along. I've marked them below and offered suggestions on how I would personally fix them. As you know, I am not an expert, so please use those suggestions that work for you and your story. *Smile*

*BulletR*Well he’s got blonde hair and he was wearing bright orange swimming trunks. Suggestion: I think there should be a comma after 'Well' because it is an interjection, and interjections should be separated from the rest of the sentence with a comma.

*BulletR*Standing alone near the end of the pier... Suggestion: You used the word 'pier' in the previous sentence, as well, and I am wondering if you could use a different word here in order to avoid the repetition. Maybe 'dock'?

*BulletR*Jeremy stood motionless, eyes wide in fear. Suggestion: This is probably a colloquial thing, but I would say 'eyes wide with fear'.

*Quill* Overall Opinion: I think this story is an excellent example of how to tell a story in only a few words. Flash fiction is difficult, but it also trains us as writers and helps us learn to make every word count. It seems to me that you have learned this lesson well. I would love to see you expand your abilities into some larger stories! You definitely have the talent, and I would love to see what you could come up with if you weren't under word-count restraints.

I hope you find this review helpful! Please feel free to e-mail me if you have any questions, comments, or requests. Thank you for sharing your work with the WDC community and allowing me the opportunity to review your story! *Smile*

Write On!
Ali


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13
13
Review of The Turtle  
Review by Alexandra Jones
In affiliation with Rising Stars of WdC  
Rated: E | (4.0)
*Star* I'm reviewing your work as a fellow Rising Star! *Star*


Hello Turtle ~ KanyáthƐko:wa:h !

I've just finished reading your short story "The Turtle, and I'd like to offer you the following review. Below is a breakdown of my thoughts on various aspects of your piece. Please know that these are just my humble opinions. Only you can know what is right for your story, so use those comments and suggestions that you find helpful, and ignore the rest!

*Quill* Plot: Marc, I have been meaning to stop by your portfolio to leave you a review for a while now, and I am so glad I finally did. I think you have done a wonderful job of retelling this Native American folktale. I enjoyed imagining the Great Tree of Life, and the discussion of the villagers as they decided that the tree 'had to go'. The plot of how earth and plants came to be may be ancient, but I think you did a very nice job of making it your own.

*Quill* Style & Voice: This story has the feeling of a classic folklore tale. I can imagine it being told out loud to a group of children sitting around a campfire. I think this story would work wonderfully as a verbal story, embellished by the gestures and intonations of a talented story teller. I also think that it would work wonderfully as a children's book along with a set of illustrations. I actually found myself imagining a series of beautiful watercolor paintings to depict your characters and the action of the story.

However, without illustrations to help elaborate on your tale, I think it could use a bit more descriptive detail to help make it come alive. For example, the section at the end of the story when the animals are swimming to the ocean floor seemed a bit repetitive. Maybe you could elaborate on their experience to make it more vibrant for the reader. Details that could be mentioned might include: the temperature of the water, the feeling of running out of breath, any sights or sounds under the water, the feeling of the dirt in muskrat's hand. Some descriptions using all five senses throughout this story could make it easier for the reader to visualize your world.

*Quill* Scene/Setting: When I started to imagine your story illustrated in a children's book, I began to imagine your world brought to life with colorful pictures. However, I think your story could benefit from a few more setting descriptions so that your reader can 'see' your story. For example, what does the Tree of Life look like? What does the giant turtle look like? What did the people see as they looked through the hole in the clouds?

*Quill* Characters: I think your characters in this story were strong because they fit the style of a traditional folklore story. I could imagine the characters' fear after the dream and the discussion of the council of elders. I could visualize the chief as the one man brave and strong enough to pull out the Tree. I think perhaps you could improve the story a bit by adding some details that differentiate the different animals. How does a gopher talk and act differently than a mallard or frog?

*Quill* Favorite Lines: Below I have marked a few of my favorite lines from your story. I chose these because they struck a chord with me, and I think they showcase your talent as a writer.

*BulletG*The Chief’s Wife fell through the cloud, her hands still closed tight around the roots of the great tree. What I liked: I thought this was an exciting moment, and I found it easy to visualize First Woman plummeting to the ocean below. I also like how this moment hints at the end when the roots and seeds plant in the soil, creating life.

*BulletG*Mallard started to brag about how good a swimmer he was, so it was decided that he would be the first to try to get the dirt. What I liked: This sentence made it easy for me to visualize a proud duck strutting around, ruffling his feathers as he bragged. I think this sentence could have an amazing illustration to go along with it.

*BulletG*When Muskrat threw the dirt on to Turtle’s back, all of the animals moved back in surprise. Dirt, which had never been in the air before, grew and grew until it covered all of Turtle’s shell. What I liked: I liked how it was unassuming, unnoticed muskrat who saved the day in the end. The image of the dirt spreading across the turtle's shell also gave me an interesting visual.

*Quill* Grammar/Word Choice: Marc, I noticed a few small typos and grammatical errors as I read along, most having to do with commas. Commas used to be my downfall until I took the Comma-Kazi class at New Horizon's Academy and finally got all of the rules straightened out. I've done my best to give you a very quick overview of the first comma rule below so that you can get an idea of the guidelines. I also linked to a helpful website that has information on all of the comma rules. Please know that this is in no way an attempt to tear apart your work; it is my attempt to help you with what I think is one of the most difficult elements of grammar (for me too!). Feel free to shoot me an e-mail if you have any questions or if anything below doesn't make sense to you, and I will do my best to help. If the suggestions below don't work for you, feel free to ignore them. *Smile*

*BulletR*All of the people lived above the earth on the clouds, in a village that surrounded a Great Tree of Life. Suggestion: I believe that the comma before 'in' is incorrect and should be removed. Here's why: commas should be used before coordinating conjunctions (the coordinating conjunctions are: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so) that combine two independent clauses (an independent clause can stand alone as a complete sentence). For example:

The geese caught this strange being on their wings, but they soon found that she was too heavy for them to carry for a long period of time.

This comma is placed correctly because 'but' is a coordinating conjunction, and both clauses can stand alone as complete sentences:

The geese caught this strange being on their wings.
They soon found that she was too heavy for them to carry for a long period of time.

Commas should not be used before subordinating conjunctions (e.g because, since, while, as, where, when etc.) or prepositions (e.g. in, on, over, against, during etc.). There a few exceptions to these rules, but for the most part, following those guidelines will set you on the right track.

Here's another example sentence from your story that doesn't need a comma:

One night, the wife of the Great Chief had a dream, where she saw the great tree harming the people of the sky.

The comma after 'One night' is correct because it follows and introductory phrase, but the comma before 'where' is incorrect because 'where' is a subordinating conjunction.

Finally, here is one last example from your story:

As she looked down the hole, she slipped, and found herself trapped inside the hole.

In this sentence, the comma after 'hole' is correct because 'As she looked down the hole' is an introductory clause and needs to be separated from the rest of the sentence. However, the comma after 'slipped' is incorrect because 'found herself trapped inside a hole' is not an independent clause. See how that can't stand alone as a complete sentence? So even though the conjunction 'and' is coordinating, no comma is needed.

I noticed that a few of these types of mistakes were scattered throughout your story, so you might want to do an edit to try to remove those pesky unnecessary commas. If you are interested in learning more about all of the various comma rules, here is a link   that covers the rules in more detail. It helped me a lot with my own comma usage.

*BulletR*One night, the wife of the Great Chief had a dream, where she saw the great tree harming the people of the sky Suggestion: This sentence needs a period at the end.

*BulletR*In the morning, the woman told her husband of the dream, Suggestion: I think this comma should be a period because the following word is capitalized and seems to begin a new sentence.

*BulletR*...had them gather around the tree so as to pull it out of the ground. Suggestion: I would cut 'so as' because the sentence makes sense without it, and the sentence sounds a little bit wordy with it.

*BulletR*As they gathered around the hole, The side of the cloud became very slippery. Suggestion: I think 'The' shouldn't be capitalized.

*BulletR*They set her down in the water of the earth. Suggestion: I think that 'earth' should be capitalized if you are referring to the planet.

*BulletR*"If we bring this dirt to the top of turtle’s shell, than First Woman will be able to make Turtle’s shell more comfortable.” Suggestion: I think 'than' should be 'then'.

*Quill* Overall Opinion: I think this is a very good recreation of a classic folktale. In its current simple form, I think this story would work marvelously as a childrens book accompanied by illustrations. However, if you want the writing of this story to stand alone, I think it would benefit from a bit more descriptive detail so that the reader can really envision your world. But even in its current form, this story was a joy to read, and I loved learning a bit about your culture through this amazing legend.

I hope you find this review helpful! Please feel free to e-mail me if you have any questions, comments, or requests. Thank you for sharing your work with the WDC community and allowing me the opportunity to review your story! *Smile*

Write On!
Ali


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14
14
Review of The Choice  
Review by Alexandra Jones
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
*Star* This is a review from "Gang's Monthly Review Board /TEMP CLOSED *Star*


Hello The Huntress ~ Autumn Calling !

I've just finished reading your short story "The Choice, and I'd like to offer you the following review. Below is a breakdown of my thoughts on various aspects of your piece. Please know that these are just my humble opinions. Only you can know what is right for your story, so use those comments and suggestions that you find helpful, and ignore the rest!

*Quill* Plot: Laura, what a chilling, terrifying story! For some reason I was expecting this to have a somewhat happy ending, but I was pleased that you chose to end it on such a dark note. It was an interesting twist for the kidnapper to force Ramona to become a kidnapper herself. I knew instinctively that Ramona wouldn't be able to kill the baby, but it came as a surprise that the kidnapper actually shot Sidney.

My only issues with the plot aren't so much issues as unanswered questions. I suspect that these could only be answered in an expansion. What was the kidnapper's motivation? Was he really so sadistic that he just wanted to toy with Ramona and force her to do the unspeakable? Or was there actually a reason that he wanted that baby dead? Without clearer insight into the kidnapper's mind and reasoning this scenario seemed a bit unlikely to me. Perhaps a more likely scenario would be him asking Romana to trade the baby for her daughter because there are a hundred reasons why he might need the baby alive. Most kidnappings are motivated by money (unless they are domestic kidnappings), but in this case, the kidnapper seemed only to want Ramona to suffer. As the reader, I wanted to understand why he wanted to cause her such pain.

*Quill* Style & Voice: Your writing style in this story was spectacular. So beautiful! (Or in this case terrifying!) The images that you created of the dock and the heaving ocean felt all too real. I felt like I was standing on that dock beside Ramona with the wind ripping at my hair. I also thought you did a wonderful job of telling the story from Ramona's point of view. I could feel her desperate desire to have her daughter back, but also her disgust with herself for what she was about to do. It was easy for me to put myself in her shoes and experience her pain.

*Quill* Scene/Setting: Your descriptions of the dock were wonderful, from the whipping wing, to Romana's feet thudding on the pier, and finally the pitching, roaring ocean. Each detail was expertly crafted, and you offered the reader a wonderful combination of sensory details.

There was only place where I could see room for a bit more detail: perhaps you could add a description of either the smell or taste of the salty ocean. The salty air is one of the most distinctive parts of being near the ocean, and a sentence describing the bite of that smell could help transport the reader to your location.

*Quill* Characters: I thought you did a great job of developing Ramona's character. The love for her daughter felt real, almost palpable. It seemed believable to me that she would kidnap the baby, and it also seemed believable that she would go as far as reaching the end of the dock before realizing that she could not go through with it. I imagine many mothers would act similarly if put in that situation. I also thought her grief at the end felt painfully real.

I thought you did a good job of developing the kidnapper's character. Some of his dialogue was perfectly written, and his sadistic nature came through loud and clear. But as I said before, I still wanted to know more about why he was putting Romona through this. Was she just a random target? And if he was simply sick and twisted, did something happen to make him that way?

I should make it clear that, despite my griping, this was only a minor concern as I read along. I was completely wrapped up in the tension of your story, and I was thoroughly satisfied when I reached the end. I offer these questions on the kidnapper's motivation for the sake of being thorough.

*Quill* Favorite Lines: I have highlighted a few of my favorite lines from your story below. I picked these because they struck a chord with me, and I though they created brilliant imagery. I believe they showcase your talent as a writer.

*BulletG* She dashed out of the glass box and across the boardwalk onto the pier, her feet making a hollow drumming noise on the weathered planks that matched the thundering beat of her heart. What I liked: I love how you combined the sensory description of the sound of Romona's footsteps and related them back to her fear. It is a great example of how to weave a setting description into the action of the story to keep the pace moving. I could also hear that 'hollow drumming' perfectly and it set the eerie tone for the coming scene.

*BulletG*She pressed against the railing, staring over the side into the black, pitching water nearly thirty feet down, and felt her stomach lurch. What I liked: This is a great visual image and I love how you once again related it back to Ramona's experience and fear.

*BulletG*The cell slowly slipped from her limp, incredulous fingers, hitting the wooden planks under her with a final thud as the casing cracked and the screen went black. What I liked: This is such a powerful image. The cracking cell phone presents the finality of Ramona's situation perfectly. In fact, I thought this line was so powerful that it could be the last line of the story. You could leave Romona's scream to the reader's imagination because it is an obvious progression. To me, the broken cell phone presents the perfect symbolic image of Romona's loss of power and disconnection from her daughter.

*Quill* Grammar/Word Choice: Laura, your spelling and grammar are superb! I feel a little silly offering you the following suggestions because they are so nit-picky in nature. However, I decided to point out every hiccup that I noticed because in a story of this caliber, I always notice the little things. Most of them are matters of word choice and are simply my personal opinions. I had a lot of fun letting my inner-editor run wild, and I hope that at least a few of these suggestions will be helpful to you. *Smile*

*BulletR*Fear and cold shook her thin frame as the beginnings of a summer storm lashed at the glass sides of this isolated booth. Suggestion: I would say the isolated booth instead of this isolated booth. Using 'this' sounds like something from a first person narrative instead of third.

*BulletR*Your beautiful little Sidney just turned 12... Suggestion: I think this is a matter of opinion but I would write out twelve instead of 12.

*BulletR*In the darkness of late night the end of the pier was invisible out ahead, and she lowered her chin to her chest over the child wrapped there, charging ahead. Suggestion: I would cut out ahead from this sentence to make the sentence read smoother and to eliminate the repetition of the word 'ahead'.

*BulletR*Stumbling away, she only barely managed to catch herself before she fell... Suggestion: I would cut the adverb only to avoid using two adverbs in a row.

*BulletR*She leaned down and whispered soothingly to the baby girl, trying to get her to fall back into sleep, but the child was very awake now, and frightened. Suggestion: The adverb soothingly sounds clunky to me. I think I would cut it or perhaps say something like: whispered soothing words. Also, you have an extra space between get and her.

*BulletR*Isn't that what mothers do for their children? Anything?" Suggestion: The second quotation mark shouldn't be in bold.

*BulletR*Arms trembled violently, like the rest of her body, and she cried hysterically... Suggestion: This is a stylistic choice, but I think I would include the pronoun Her before arms. It sounds smoother to me.

*BulletR*...but all steeped in shadow and storm. Suggestion: I would add the verb were before steeped.

*BulletR*No human being would expect a mother to truly make that choice... Suggestion: I would cut the adverb truly because I think the sentence sounds stronger without it.

*BulletR*Oh dear God, what have I done! God, please, no!" Suggestion: I think the quotation mark should be removed from the end of this sentence since it is Ramona's thought. Or a quotation mark needs to be added at the beginning too.

*BulletR*...came His voice, a sigh on its tail end,"and you have... Suggestion: It looks like you are missing the space between the comma and quotation mark.

*BulletR*I hope that baby in your arms was worth exchanging for the one now lying bleeding to death in front of me. Suggestion: I would cut lying because the two -ing verbs in a row sounds wordy to me.

*Quill* Overall Opinion: I am so glad I finally stopped by your portfolio to read your work! You have such a talent for creating vibrant imagery and it lent itself perfectly to this chilling tale of a mother's loss. Reading this story was a heart-wrenching, gut-wrenching experience. I think this tale is near perfection, and being a fan of dark, psychological stories, I had a wonderful time reading it.

I hope you find this review helpful! Please feel free to e-mail me if you have any questions, comments, or requests. Thank you for sharing your work with the WDC community and allowing me the opportunity to review your story! *Smile*

Write On!
Ali


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15
15
Review by Alexandra Jones
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: 18+
*Star* I am reviewing your work as a student of the Rockin' Review Academy! *Star*


Hello Salem O'Rourke !

I've just finished reading your short story "The Spring will Always Come, and I'd like to offer you the following review. Below is a breakdown of my thoughts on various aspects of your piece. Please know that these are just my humble opinions. Only you can know what is right for your story, so use those comments and suggestions that you find helpful, and ignore the rest!

*Quill* Plot: What a chilling and well-written story! The end is horrifying and left me shivering with revulsion. It was an unexpected surprise even though you had hinted at the importance of the shed so much at the beginning. The twisted sickness of the story line is James' romantic devotion and obsession with his long dead girlfriend. You left the story a bit open-ended as to whether he had murdered her himself or if he had simply found her dead body and brought it back to the shed for his sick worship.

The line where you mentioned an unspecified 'crash' made me assume it was the later, but I wasn't entirely sure. I think it was smart of you to leave this open-ended because the reader is left wondering the truth, and that lack of surety makes your story even creepier.

*Quill* Style & Voice: The story works perfectly told from James' perspective. You let the reader in on enough for us to know that James has some mental issues and to make us curious, but you don't give anything away until the end. Your descriptions of the shed, the rain, and the final horrific scene were beautiful crafted and created vivid pictures in my mind. The imagery in this story is wonderful.

*Quill* Scene/Setting: The shed is the most important setting in this short story, and I think it was smart of you to focus your energy on describing it instead of giving many details about the house itself. I had this ghostly image of it in my mind, and I could clearly hear the sound of the rain pinging off the metal roof. James' obsessive attention to the shed made me curious, so when the final descriptions were given of the suicide scene, I already had a perfect image of it in my mind. This eerie setting coupled with your wonderful descriptions of the bodies created an extremely dramatic finale.

*Quill* Characters: I think you did an amazing job of developing James' character in very few words. It was obvious that he was heartbroken and obsessive over his girlfriend's death, but I didn't suspect his true insanity until you revealed it at the end. He didn't seem that different from how you would expect a guy to be after something so tragic happened, and that lack of suspicion made the ending extremely powerful.

Mark, Sam, and even the beagle Digger worked well as secondary characters. The dog's name was very clever foreshadowing to when he digs at the shed door. I liked how you depicted Sam as relatively clueless. Mark's devotion to his friend was both touching and heart-wrenching. All of your character's were very well portrayed.

*Quill* Favorite Lines: I wanted to point out some of my favorite lines to you. I picked these because they portray your talent for story telling, weaving words, and creating powerful imagery.

*BulletG*The shed was a dull, washed out lime now. The paint chipped here and there, as if protesting the absence of its care-taker. Or, as James liked to think of it, it was mourning her lose. What I liked: Your use of personification in these lines is brilliant. You make the shed into a character of its own which is why the setting is so powerful. It is excellent foreshadowing and beautiful description.

*BulletG*He watched as he passed burnt stubs of candles, wax dripping inharmoniously over shelves and onto picture frames, all of which contained a picture of Natalie. What I liked: This creepy image of James' shrine was very well described and helped to set the perfect scene for the next lines.

*BulletG*What I liked: I am not going to copy and past them, because they are a bit gruesome for a public review, but your descriptions of the bodies were very well-written. I thought they struck the perfect balance between the revolting description of the bodies themselves and the twisted display of James' love for his girlfriend.

*Quill* Grammar/Word Choice: I noticed a few minor grammar and spelling issues as I read through your story, so I've taken the opportunity to give your story a line-by-line edit. Below I have marked any issues that I noticed and also offered you suggestions on how I would personally fix them. These are only my opinions, and I am not an expert. Please use those suggestions that work for you and your story.

*BulletR*he rain pounded on the tin roof of the green shed outside. Suggestion: I think 'he' should be 'The'.

*BulletR*He was still in shock of the news he had just heard about Natalie... Suggestion: I think 'from the news' might make more sense than 'of the news'.

*BulletR*"That’s was her favorite sound,” he whispered to the window. Suggestion: I think "That's" should be 'That'.

*BulletR*...the spring would always come, like a welcoming hug from a loved one you see very little of. Suggestion: I believe the comma before 'like' is unnecessary because the phrase that follows it isn't independent. Usually, commas are only used when connecting two independent clauses with a coordinating conjunction (the coordinating conjunctions are: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so). Here is a fantastic link   that covers the correct use of commas. It helped me a lot with my own comma troubles.

*BulletR*The paint chipped here and there, as if protesting the absence of its care-taker. Suggestion: Here's another example where the comma is unnecessary because 'as if' is a subordinating conjunction.

*BulletR*Or, as James liked to think of it, it was mourning her lose. Suggestion: I think 'lose' should be 'loss'.

*BulletR* “This would be one of those nights were she would be out there; sitting in the dark, listening,” Suggestion: I believe the semicolon should be replaced by a comma because semicolons are used to connect two independent clauses, but the second clause here is not independent.

*BulletR*“You talk as though she was just any-old person,” Suggestion: I think the hyphen you added in 'any old' is unnecessary.

*BulletR*“I thought I told you not to bother yourself, I’ll be fine,” Suggestion: This sentence technically contains a comma splice because both clauses are independent, but they are not connected by a coordinating conjunction. You can fix this by replacing the comma with a period or a semicolon.

*BulletR*...it doesn’t hurt that the Lions are playing, gives me something to watch.” Suggestion: Again, the comma here should be a semicolon or period since 'gives me something to watch' is an independent phrase when you realize that the subject 'it' is dropped from the beginning because Mark is speaking casually.

*BulletR*The doorbell rang, bring James from his thoughts. Suggestion: I think 'bring' should be 'bringing'.

*BulletR*He heard the back door open with a creak, and dog’s claws clicking out onto the patio. Suggestion: Remove the comma here because the second clause is not independent.

*BulletR* James dived, grabbing the dog and flinging it across the yard in one foul swoop. Suggestion: The turn of phrase is actually 'one fell swoop' not 'one foul swoop'. Weird, I know, but that's how Shakespeare originally wrote the line in Macbeth. *Wink*

*BulletR*“What is your problem?” she screamed as mark appeared at the back door. Suggestion: Capitalize 'Mark'.

*BulletR*"Damn it, James, open this God forsaken door!!” Suggestion: I would only use one exclamation point at the end of this sentence.

*BulletR*It smelled as though something had long since died in there. He recovered, pushing further into the shed. Suggestion: Be careful about repeating the word 'shed' since you've used it in all four of your last sentences. Here you could replace it with: 'pushing further inside'.

*BulletR*He looked down as he treed upon rose petals that covered the wood floor. Suggestion: I think 'treed' should be 'tred'.

*BulletR*Her bones projected grotesquely from her neck, congealed blood stained her white blouse. Suggestion: This is another comma splice. You could fix it by replacing the comma with a period or semicolon or by changing 'stained' to 'staining'.

*BulletR*Some still dribbled lazily from the gabbing wound on his neck. Suggestion: I think 'gabbing' should be 'gaping'.

*Quill* Other Suggestions: My only other suggestion has to do with formatting. The large blocks of text can be hard on the eyes when reading on a computer screen. If you add breaks between each paragraph, it'll be a little bit easier for the reader to absorb your story.

*Quill* Overall Opinion: This is a dark and chilling tale that I really enjoyed reading. They're are a few minor grammatical errors, but they hardly took away from the power of your story. If you weeded them out, the story would be even stronger. You have an amazing talent for description that seems to lend itself to this type of creepy horror. Very well done!

I hope you find this review helpful! Please feel free to e-mail me if you have any questions, comments, or requests. Thank you for sharing your work with the WDC community and allowing me the opportunity to review your story! *Smile*

Write On!
Ali


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16
16
Review of Pluto’s Rock  
Review by Alexandra Jones
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
*Star* A promised review from me to you! *Star*


Hello yacolt !

I finally found the time to sit down and read "Pluto’s Rock, and I wanted to leave you my thoughts. Overall, I think the story is really good and has amazing potential. All the necessary elements of a great story are there; anything that it is lacking is a matter of execution. You definitely have a skill for creating sci-fi plots and also for creating sci-fi worlds. Okay, so here is a break down of the things that I think could help the story improve:

*Quill*The Italics: I noticed some inconsistencies in how you used the italics. They were obviously meant to be Jymile's thoughts, but sometimes you wrote them in first person and sometimes you wrote them in third person. From everything that I have learned about using italics for thoughts, I'm under the impression that italics should only be used for first-person thoughts; they should be almost like dialouge - as if your character was saying them out loud, but instead he is saying them out loud in his head. Does that make sense? I think you should switch all italics into first person 'dialouge' and if they don't make sense that way, then they should probably just be part of the regular narrative and not in italics.

*Quill*Character: Jymile is a great character. He is obviously well developed in your mind, and in a lot of places that came through well on the page. There were some places, though, where his dialogue didn't sound quite realistic. As if the wording didn't quite match what a midde-aged, ex-con, gambling, space pilot would say, if you know what I mean? Again, I think this was maybe just side-effect of the rushed nature of a rough draft. I think if you read through all of the dialogue and make sure that every thing he says fits his character than this can be easily worked out.

Also, the story is being told from Jymile's point of view, so in that regard, the entire story should be told as if he is the one telling it. (I don't mean that it should be in first person, I just mean that it should be told all from his perspective even though it's in third person). If I was you, I would read over every single line of the story and make sure they all sound like something that Jymile would say. If the entire story comes out being told like he would tell it, then his character will be extremely strong, and it will strengthen the story a lot, in my opinion.

*Quill*Plot: There were three issues that I had with the plot, and I think the first two of them were caused by what I would call 'rushing the moment'. Again, I think these could be a result of this being a rough draft:

*BulletB* The first is when Jymile finally decides to take the job and escort Dan. He has just spent a whole lot of time explaining why he won't do it, but then all he needs to see is a ton of zeros, and BAM he changes his mind. This might fit his character - he is highly motivated by money, after all - but as the reader, it seemed like he switched his decision way too fast. You might just need to explain his thought process better in order to make the reader understand why that money is enough. What goes through his mind when he sees all of those zeros? Why is that particular number enough for him to be willing to risk his life?

*BulletB* The second point that felt rushed was the final battle on Amenta. The entire story has been leading up to this moment, but the battle itself is rushed and short. I think you need to make this climactic scene at least as detailed (and preferably much more detailed) than the previous two battles that Jymile describes. It also might be nice if you had some way of making this battle unique so that it stands out from the other two. Maybe Jymile gets closer to loosing his own life - it would add a lot of drama and tension at this point if the reader was afraid for your main character's life. All in all, I think you need to add some more tension in this scene, and draw it out to make it into more of a climax.

*BulletB* The final plot point that I had a bit of trouble with was the fact that Linda only really comes into play in the story at the end. Because she is such a pivotal part of the story - the story ends with Jymile trying to figure out if he wants to freeze himself to be with her - I think you need to introduce her sooner in the story and make her a main character throughout the entire thing. Maybe the beginning of the story needs some sort of flashback to show their relationship and closeness? Maybe Jymile reads a letter from her or looks at a photo and describes how much he loves her. Or it might even be good if he has some way of communicating with her from Pluto; this is sci-fi after all so that is not entirely far fetched. Maybe they could have a conversation over some sort of intercom, so the reader can see how close they are. If the reader knows how in love he is from the beginning of the story, then it will help to draw out the romantic relationship between them, and make the ending more believable.

*Quill*The Ending: I like that you left the ending hanging. Sometimes it is annoying when writers feel the need to tie up every last loose end. I think if you work on the second two plot points that I mentioned - the final battle on Amenta and Jymile's relationship with Linda - and get those really strong, then the loose ending will work really well. As the story is now, I didn't really believe Jymile's love for Linda completely, and I didn't think that it was believable that he would consider freezing himself since he said multiple times previously that he would rather die. Once you make the reader believe that Jymile loves Linda more than life itself, the ending will be really powerful.

*Quill*Scientific Questions: There were two sci-fi technical things that left me questioning, so I wanted to point them out really fast:

*BulletB* The first is that I had no idea what a servo is. I thought maybe it was like some kind of shifter, but I wasn't sure. (By the way, you create a lot of build up about the servo being sticky but then you never really use it in the plot. This could be an excellent opportunity for you to add some tension to the final battle. I would use the technical difficulty to your advantage). It would be good if you could briefly explain what the servo is for so that your readers understand exactly what it does.

*BulletB* The second thing was that you mentioned that the bodies from the previous battles were still visible on Amenta's surface. Didn't those battles happen years ago? If there was anything left of them, wouldn't they pretty much be skeletons by now? I wasn't entirely sure about this, but it did jump out at me as a possible scientific inconsistency.

*Quill*Grammar/Spelling/Sentence Structure: This story needs a good edit for grammar and spelling. I know you already know this needs a bit of work. There are also some sentences that are a bit awkwardly worded, and others that seem... rushed maybe? Sort of like you were hurrying to get the story line down, so some of the sentences came out a little bit weak. I think this is normal in a rough draft, though, and it is certainly nothing a good edit can't fix.

*Quill*Overall Opinion: Overall I think this story has awesome potential. I love a lot of the sci-fi aspects like the bio-holster, the hyperspace jumps, and the Amenta robots. The whole concept of what happened on Amenta is really cool too, and it carries a pretty serious message/theme which I think is an important aspect of most good sci-fi. Your characters are strong, and with a bit of fleshing out, I think they could be amazing. The plot is strong, and only needs minor adjustments in order to be excellent. It's a great rough-draft, and I think with a good re-write it could be a fantastic story.

I hope you find this helpful in some way. I had a lot of fun reading your story (and picking it apart. I hope you don't mind too much! *Laugh*). I usually shy away from reading longer pieces on WDC because they are often not quite good enough to keep my attention, but this was an exception. The story is excellent, and it kept my attention all the way through (despite the grammar/spelling issues which are usually distracting for me, but in this case the story stood out despite them). This has heaps of potential, and I think a good re-write will take it to a whole new level.

I'll stop talking your ear off now. *Wink* Thanks for sharing your story!

Write On!
Ali


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17
17
Review of Sacrifice  
Review by Alexandra Jones
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: E | (4.5)
*Star* I am reviewing your work as a student of the Rockin' Review Academy! *Star*


Hello ~A.J. Lyle~ !

I've just finished reading your short story "Sacrifice, and I'd like to offer you the following review. Hopefully this is only the first of many. After all of the wonderful reviews you have showered on my port, I am so pleased to finally have the time to stop by your own. *Delight*

Below is a breakdown of my thoughts on various aspects of your piece. Please know that these are just my humble opinions. Only you can know what is right for your story, so use those comments and suggestions that you find helpful, and ignore the rest!

*Quill* Plot: In many ways, this story seems like a glimpse into a much bigger plot line and a detailed, complex world. Have you ever considered expanding upon this? As the reader, I was left curious about things that came before: particularly Nathan's original run-in with the Fairies for which he gained his favor from the Queen and his imprisonment by the Hunters. Each of these seemed like they could be great stories in their own right, and if you expanded this story into something longer, you wouldn't have to talk about them in flashbacks.

As is, I think this story is still strong. I loved the end when Nathan chooses his family over himself; it was a very powerful moment. I also loved the complex tension that you began to build between the Changers and the Hunters as well as the interesting way that you incorporated the Fae. Shapeshifters and fairies are classic elements in fantasy literature, but I think you have spun the classic into your own creation, and I really enjoyed exploring the world you built.

*Quill* Style & Voice: I loved the imagery that you evoked through your descriptions in this story. Your writing is well-constructed and fluid. I also felt like I got to know your main character, Nathan, by viewing the world through his point of view. All of these things combined to form a strong story.

For the most part, I think you did a great job of balancing narration with dialogue and avoiding an 'information dump'. You managed to fit a lot of story into a small word count, and that is no easy task. Only the second and third paragraph were a little bit slow for me because you had to 'tell' the reader the story's background info instead of showing it to them. Again, I think if you expanded on this story, you could avoid that by spreading the narrative information throughout the action.

*Quill* Scene/Setting: In the few places that you added setting descriptions, they were very strong. I wouldn't suggest that you bog down the action of your story by adding many details about the setting, but I think a few more well-placed descriptions could help bring your world to life. I began to imagine some nice visuals of the Lake of Dreams, but I would have loved a bit more detail. Also, you mentioned a place called the Sacred Garden as being Nathan's destination, but he never gets there. Instead he meets the Queen at the lake. Is the lake some sort of passage way to the Garden, the gateway to the Fairy Realm? This was a bit unclear to me.

*Quill* Characters: Your created very strong characters within a very short story, and that is a difficult task. I loved the physical details you used to describe the Hunters at the beginning, and their dialogue was also strong. But I particularly loved the interaction between Nathan and the Queen; it seemed natural to me, and their dialogue clearly spoke of a past relationship. It seemed like the Queen was almost flirting with Nathan, and I couldn't tell if that was just her personality, or if something romantic had happened between them in the past. I would love to know the details of their back story.

*Quill* Favorite Lines: Certain lines in your story stood out to me where I thought your writing was particularly strong. Here are some of my favorites:

*BulletG*The trees around him retained a soft silver glow which cascaded from the stars above him, promising an end to his wild plight. What I liked: This is such a beautiful, vivid description, and I love the way you connected the setting back to the plot of the story. That takes real talent!

*BulletG*The Fairy smiled, a mischievous tilting of her lips, as she hovered above the water. “A Changer that requires aid? Now that is something new.” What I liked: I was impressed by how much depth you gave the Queen's character through a simple description of her action coupled with a brilliant line of dialogue.

*BulletG*The last thoughts that sifted through his mind before the darkness claimed, were that he would never again see his beloved family, but the sacrifice was well worth their lives. What I liked: The whole last paragraph is a beautiful sequence of description, but this last line in particular holds the powerful punch that every good story needs to end with.

*Quill* Grammar/Word Choice: I did notice a few minor grammar issues or places where your word choice confused me a bit. I have pointed them out below and offered suggestions on how I would fix them. These are only my personal opinions, and I am no expert. I offer them in the hopes you might find some of them useful.

*BulletR*Nathan scanned his surroundings with undeniably keen wolf senses. Suggestion: I would consider cutting the adverb 'undeniably' because I don't really feel it adds anything in terms of meaning, and I think the sentence might be stronger and smoother without it.

*BulletR*...a race that were believed to be extinct by the very Hunters that sought him. Suggestion: I am fairly certain that this should be: 'a race that was believed' because even though a race is made up of many, the race itself is singular, so it needs a singular verb to agree with it.

*BulletR*They captured him in the guise of a human, and had yet to discover what his true form was. Suggestion: I don't think the comma is necessary because the sentence is not compound. Also, the ending might read smoother as '...and had yet to discover his true form.

*BulletR* Suggestion: I noticed a few other comma errors scattered throughout this story, but I'm not going to point them all out because I know from the reviews you've given me that you know how to use commas correctly since you took the Comma-Kazi class. *Wink* I'm sure you could pick them all out with a quick edit. However, if you would like me to point them out, just drop me an e-mail, and I would be happy to do so.

*BulletR*...rid the world of the supernatural; anything that proved more powerful or knowledgeable than themselves. Suggestion: I think a colon would be more appropriate here than a semicolon because the second clause is not independent.

*BulletR*He wasn't anywhere near Nathan when he escaped, yet he would pay the price for his Lord’s failure. Suggestion: This sentence was a bit confusing to me because right before it you say that the leader says he will get in trouble for leaving the prisoner unguarded, and that is really the same thing as not being near Nathan when he escaped. To clear this up, you could say something like: He had nothing to do with Nathan's escape, yet...

*BulletR*He came upon the Lake of Dreams and lapped at the still water greedily; the run far more strenuous than he was accustomed, and his body was still weak from his harsh treatment during the term of his imprisonment, leaving him much less athletic that he had once been. Suggestion: I found this sentence confusing for several reasons. First, the second clause isn't independent in it's current form. You could change it to: 'the run was far more strenuous...', and then it would be independent. Second, the use of the participle 'leaving' sounded a bit awkward to me here. I think it might sound smoother altered to: 'which left'. Lastly, a small typo at the end should be corrected to: 'less athletic than he had once been'.

*BulletR*The last thoughts that sifted through his mind before the darkness claimed, were that he would... Suggestion: I think you dropped a word here: 'before the darkness claimed him'.

*Quill* Overall Opinion: This is a brilliant story, Joy, and I would love to see you expand this into something longer! I think you have already done the hard part: you've created strong, believable characters and a complex world. The story is still strong now, but I think developing into a longer piece would really give your characters and plot room to breath and grow. This was a wonderful read; I hope I get the chance to spend more time in your port in the future.

I hope you find this review helpful! Please feel free to e-mail me if you have any questions, comments, or requests. Thank you for sharing your work with the WDC community and allowing me the opportunity to review your story! *Smile*

Write On!
Ali


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18
18
Review by Alexandra Jones
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: 18+ | (3.5)
*Star* I am reviewing your work as a student of the Rockin' Review Academy! *Star*


Hello Averren !

I just finished reading your short story "...Of Sharp Edges and Pain, and I thought it was very creative. Below is a breakdown of my thoughts on various aspects of your piece. Please know that these are only my humble opinions. Only you can know what is right for your story, so use whatever comments and suggestions you find useful, and ignore the rest!

*Quill* Plot: You've taken a classic plot - a man wakes up in unfamiliar surroundings with amnesia - and turned it into something unique because of the plot twist at the end. I loved discovering that James is stuck in a continual loop, forever trapped by his need to get through the arch. I thought this was very creative and you presented the idea well.

My main suggestion would be that, as the reader, I wanted to know more about the world on the other side of the arch and why James was so desperate to get there. You left so many questions unanswered and I really wanted to know more. Did you have a word limit for the contest? That might have limited your initial entry, but I think this story would be great to expand upon, as there seems to be a lot of back story here that the reader is never filled in on. The other world and James' motives were so vague, and I was desperate to know more.

*Quill* Style & Voice: Your writings style was ethereal and mysterious. You did a great job of bringing a vibe of mystery to this story through your word choice and vivid descriptions. I also thought you did a good job showing us your story through James' point of view, and only revealing information as he discovered it himself. This made me invested in your main character and I came to care about him by the end.

I did see one big issue with this story, though, having to do with tense. Starting with: Then he remembers. you switched tense from past to present. I think the story would be clearer and more powerful if you picked one tense, either past or present, and kept the whole story in that tense. Personally, I would recommend past tense, but that choice is entirely up to you.

*Quill* Scene/Setting: Your setting descriptions in the beginning, as James is discovering his surroundings, are vibrant and beautifully written. I love how you used multiple senses to depict the setting, including sight, touch, and smell. It made me feel like I actually was on the stairway myself. Very well-written.

My only suggestion as to setting, is that I would have liked a little bit of detail of what the setting on the other side of the archway was like. How is the other side different from the side James woke up in? If you were to expand on this story, those details would help the reader to envision the other side.

*Quill* Characters: The reader gets to know James as he gets to know himself, and this works very well. His path of discovery is also the reader's path of discovery. You don't interrupt the narrative with detailed character descriptions, which would be unnecessary. Instead, we get to know James through his actions and thought process. I also loved your description of Ann as 'blond and bright, harsh and beautiful'.

Again, my main critique here is that I wanted to know more detail, particularly about Ann. I got the impression that she is human like James, yet she is in the other world and is accepted there. Why? What is the history of their relationship, and why is Ann allowed to be in the world of these strange creatures? All of these questions left me wanting to know more, and I felt slightly unsatisfied when I reached the end. An expansion on this story would be great.

*Quill* Grammar/Word Choice: As I mentioned, your descriptions in this story are really beautiful, and you do a great job of picking words that create vivid images. Some of my favorite moments were:

*BulletG* The cool, moist air smelled sweet, as if some fragrant shrub or herb was growing nearby. I loved this setting description and your use of smell. As the reader, it helped me to imagine the location, and I actually felt like I was there.

*BulletG* Sound and time compress – James stumbles, feeling as if the air has been pushed from his lungs, a crushing weight pressing him from all sides. I also loved this description of James' journey through the archway. It can be hard to describe the sensation of a fantasy experience, but I think you did a really good job.

I did however notice a couple of minor grammar issues, so I have marked them below and offered suggestions on how I would personally fix them. These are only my own opinions, and I am no expert. Use the suggestions if they work for you; ignore them if they don't.

*BulletR* “Why am I…,” Stopping again, he knew he should be here. Suggestion: I don't think you need the comma after 'Why am I...' because the ellipse is enough punctuation on its own.

*BulletR* Compelled to reach it, he must pass through the arch; but, he feared to do so. I think the semicolon here is incorrect because semicolons are used to connect independent clauses when conjunctions are NOT used. I think this would be simpler and more clear as: Compelled to reach it, he must pass through the arch, but he feared to do so.

*Quill* Overall Opinion: Overall, I think this is an intriguing fantasy concept that left me begging to know more. I love the twist at the end: that James is trapped in a loop of amnesia. My biggest suggestion for this story would be to expand upon it because too many questions are left unanswered.

I hope you find this review helpful. Please feel free to e-mail me if you have any questions, comments or requests. Thank you for sharing your work with the WDC community and allowing me the opportunity to review your story! *Smile*

Write On!
Ali

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Review by Alexandra Jones
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: E | (3.5)
*Star* I am reviewing your work as a student of the Rockin' Review Academy! *Star*


Hello dehz !

I've just finished reading your short story "The final campaign, and I really enjoyed it. Below is a breakdown of my thoughts on various aspects of your story. Please know that these are only my humble opinions. Use whatever comments and suggestions you find helpful, and ignore the rest!

*Quill* Plot: Your plot twist at the end is nothing short of brilliant. The 180 degree flip left me stunned, and I found myself standing in awe of how you had managed to build up to that moment without my having the slightest clue of the truth. It is a simple ending, but it leaves the reader satisfied in a way that only a good twist can.

Up until that point, however, the plot seemed a little bit vague. I'm thinking that perhaps this was somewhat intentional since the ending is the important part, but you have to make sure that your reader stays interested enough to keep reading all the way through so that they reach your clever ending. I think if you added a bit more motive and context to the children's quest, then the reader would be more invested in it, and it would guarantee that they are as interested in the beginning of the story as the end.

*Quill* Style & Voice: You have a beautiful writing style, and many of your descriptive sentences were inspired. You create some amazing imagery. I like how you start the story out from Kieth's point of view, and give the reader an image of his companions and the situation through his eyes.

However, later in the story, you switch the point of view around so that the reader is told some of the story through Faith and Mika's point of view. I found the jumping around a bit confusing, especially in such a short story, and I think this would work better if the whole story remained in Kieth's point of view. It would be more effective to get a description of his possession through his eyes because then the reader could experience the sensation first hand. It was also a bit confusing because in Mika's point of view, you have her winding up for a death blow, but then later she says she was only going to cast a defensive spell, so this seemed contradictory.

*Quill* Scene/Setting: Your setting description of the dungeon was unique and vivid. It would be easy for this to become a stereotypical setting, but your metaphors make it come alive in the reader's mind. I was really impressed by your writing here.

My only suggestion as to setting would be that maybe you could mention where they are at the end of the story. For example, maybe they are back in one of the kid's living rooms. It doesn't have to be much, but a little bit of information would create a great contrast to the setting of their game.

*Quill* Characters: Your characters were distinctive and each one came alive in my mind. The story is mainly action based, so it is a challenge to weave character information into the narrative, but I think you did a very good job. I also liked how their skills as fighters seemed to mirror their personalities.

I think I would consider cutting the flashback, though, where Kieth is remembering a moment with Faith. Although it adds great character background, it also breaks up the action of the story, and I think it would be better if the whole story remained in one time-frame especially because it is so short. It might work better in a novel, but here it just distracted me from the main story. See if you can infuse Faith's character with those details without directly telling the reader of that past moment. In fact, I think you already do this quite well.

*Quill* Grammar/Word Choice: As I've already mentioned some of your descriptive sentences really blew me away. Your word choice was elegant and precise, and it created some very vibrant images in my mind. Here are some examples of my very favorite moments:

*BulletG* The torn red drapes that adorned the windows, and must once had been awe inspiring, reminded them of fresh blood gushing from the cracked walls. This sentence immediately gives the reader a strong visual, but it also imbues the scene with a dark atmosphere and tells the reader of the inherent danger of their location. It's a great metaphor.

*BulletG* Pushed by invisible forces, the imposing oak door at the end of the corridor opened, slamming fiercely against a rusty suit of armour that fell in a clangour of metal and lost dignity. This is another great descriptive sentence that adds thick tension to the scene at hand. I also loved your use of personification.

As I read along, I did notice a few minor grammar mistakes, so I've listed them below and offered suggestions on how I would personally fix them. Again, these are only my own observations, and I am no expert. Only you can know what is right for your story, so take those suggestions that you like, and ignore the rest.

*BulletR* The torn red drapes that adorned the windows, and must once had been awe inspiring... Suggestion: I think 'had' should be 'have'.

*BulletR* ...she seemed strangely unaffected by the gloomy atmosphere, but, then again, he couldn’t remember ever seeing the quiet sorceress lose her composure. Suggestion: The comma after 'but' is incorrect since commas should never follow conjunctions except in very rare circumstances. I used to make this mistake too until my grammar instructor taught me it was wrong. However, all of your other commas are correctly placed.

*BulletR* Faith, on the other hand, seemed ready to jump into battle, her eyes were scanning their surroundings quickly but efficiently, her right hand unconsciously clenching around the hilt of her sword. Suggestion: This is currently a run-on sentence because you have two complete sentences connected by a comma with no conjunction. You could fix this by placing a period and starting a new sentence after 'battle' or by removing the 'were' before 'scanning'.

*BulletR* At the time, her answer hadn’t made any sense to him, but now, he knew what she meant; an eagle may desire a quiet existence, but, as hard as it may try, it could never become a sparrow. Suggestion: Again, no comma should be used after the second 'but'. Also, I think perhaps you should use a colon here instead of a semicolon.

*BulletR* To his left, Mika silently gestured for him to be quiet, while Faith thrust him in a small niche behind a pillar. Suggestion: No comma is necessary before 'while' because commas are only used in compound sentences that are connected by coordinating conjunctions. The coordinating conjunctions are: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so. I noticed you made this mistake in a few other places as well, so I thought you might find this link   helpful. It has a very good explanation of this comma rule - look all the way at the bottom of the page - as well as the other comma rules, and it helped me straighten out my own comma usage.

*BulletR* Her trust in Mika was unshakable, and, despite every fibre of her body shouting at her to attack, she relaxed her stance and turned to the older friend, looking for guidance. Suggestion: No comma should be used after 'and'.

*BulletR* ...he took the short blade he always carried on his side, and, with a last glance at his friends, he ran it through his own heart. Suggestion: No comma should be used after 'and'.

*Quill* Overall Opinion: Overall, I think this is a good story with an excellent finish. I think if you alter this so that it is all in one point of view, it would really help the story shine. I also think if you add more details to the childrens' motivation on their quest, then the reader would be as invested as the children themselves. That will guarantee that your reader continues and reaches your stellar finish.

I hope you find this review helpful. Please feel free to e-mail me if you have any questions, comments or requests. Thank you for sharing your story with WDC community and allowing me the opportunity to review your work. *Smile*

Write On!
Ali

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Review by Alexandra Jones
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
Hello Hayley I. (aka Kilpik) !

I just finished reading "The Girl Without Color, and I loved it! Below is a break down of my thoughts on your story. Please know that these are just my humble opinions. Use whatever suggestions are useful to you, and ignore the rest!

*Quill* Plot: I absolutely love this plot idea. This is the type of idea that tends to make me jealous as a writer since plot is not my strongest suit. It's a unique and creative fantasy concept, and I think you executed it brilliantly. When I finished reading, I also found myself intrigued by the moral you have effortlessly woven into the narrative: that it is not a good idea to rely on outside sources to modulate your mood or alter your personality; instead, you must find happiness within yourself. I think it is a good lesson, but more importantly, I didn't find that the moral was too heavy-handed or distracted me from the story. I was focused on the quality of the story itself, and that is the most important thing.

*Quill* Style & Voice: Your writing is eloquent and full of vibrant imagery. I was very impressed with the way you played with colors both as a descriptive tool for settings but also as metaphors for emotions. Certain descriptive sentences wowed me with their beauty. For example: "Her slight gray form moved slowly through the sea of seeping colors, a dull comet amidst a sky of fading stars." That sentence actually gave me goosebumps.

*Quill* Scene/Setting: Your setting descriptions were simple in and of themselves - it was the colors that made them so vivid. The passage where the Rainbow man comes to town, painting the scenery with his colors, was particularly beautiful. I also liked how you mentioned the specific brands of color (e.g. Green #3, Grassy Spring Happiness) because it was a nice interlacing of plot and setting.

*Quill* Characters: Your characters were well constructed and believable. In a very short time you managed to emotionally attach me to your characters so that I cared about their fates. I also liked how their colors mirrored their personalities, especially Blain's cynical maroon. The banter between Marla and Blain was comical and very well-written. By the time Skarla decided that she wanted to stay gray, I was rooting for her and I felt inspired by her decision to stay pure in herself.

*Quill* Grammar/word choice: Below is a list of any grammar or word choice suggestions that I came up with while reading. Again, these are just my personal opinions, so only pay attention to those suggestions that work for you.

*BulletB* Nothing affected her, nothing could chip away at her cold exterior and blank interior. Suggestion: I think this is technically a run-on sentence because both clauses surrounding the comma are independent. To eliminate this issue, either the comma needs to be a semi-colon, or you need to add the conjunction 'and' after the comma.

*BulletB* Her mother and father had taken this news solemnly, knowing not when they could afford the pricey pigment. Suggestion: I think this sentence might flow better if you switched the order of the words 'knowing' and 'not'.

*BulletB* Skarla looked up, staring at Blain for seemingly the first time that entire day. Suggestion: I think I would cut the adverb 'seemingly' as it makes the sentence sound a little wordy and isn't really necessary.

*BulletB* Skarla’s mother and father had found her and grabbed a hold of shoulders... Suggestion: I think this should be 'grabbed a hold of her shoulders...'

*Quill* Suggestions: This is less of a suggestion and more of a question/comment. I found myself slightly confused by the last sentence: Soon the others would come. I guess it was the ambiguity of the word 'others'. Does she mean other colors or is she referring to her friends? I guess maybe I missed the point a little bit, which could be my own fault, but it was slightly anti-climactic after I enjoyed the rest of the story so much. I'd be curious to hear exactly what your intention was with that last sentence. The rest of the ending was fabulous, and I loved how Skarla developed her very own 'true' colors.

*Quill* Overall Opinion: This is a beautifully written story and a very creative idea. I really enjoyed reading this, and it is obvious that you have real talent as a writer.

I hope you find this review helpful. Feel free to e-mail me if you have any questions, comments or requests. Thank you for sharing your work with the members of WDC!

Ali

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Review by Alexandra Jones
In affiliation with The WDC Amazons & Centaurs Group  
Rated: ASR | (5.0)
Hello Mark Robson !

I just got done reading "Excerpt from Dragon Orb: Longfang and I really loved this excerpt. Below is a break down of my thoughts. Please know that these are just my humble opinions; take whatever suggestions are useful to you and ignore the rest!

*Quill* Plot: Kira and her dragon, Fang, are stranded in a snowstorm, and Kira is struggling to get a fire lit. Then snow worms attack, and Kira and her dragon have to fight to escape. I could feel the tension and danger of the situation as I read along, and I was distinctly worried for your characters. I've already told you this before, but you really do have a talent for writing action sequences.

*Quill* Style & Voice: Your writing is simple, clear and well-suited to young adult readers. You do a wonderful job of capturing the imagery of the setting, and putting the reader in Kira's position.

*Quill* Scene/Setting: You weave your setting descriptions into the action of the scene, and use Kira's observations to tell the reader about the location. I could easily picture the cave, and how the setting was effecting your main character.

*Quill* Characters: I felt like I received a good understanding of your main character through her action and her dialogue with her dragon. She's obviously brave and fierce, and doesn't give up fighting, even when a situation seems hopeless. I also got a feeling for the close bond that exists between her and her dragon.

*Quill* Grammar/Word Choice: I didn't notice any grammar or word choice issues. I was completely drawn into the story, and no flaws in the writing stood out at me. It was really very clear and tightly written.

*Quill* Overall Opinion: This is a great excerpt and a well-crafted action scene. I cared about your characters, and was worried for them during their fight. You did a very nice job of describing the snow worms, and the impending battle. Well done!

I hope you find this review helpful. Feel free to e-mail me with any questions, comments or requests that you might have. Thanks for sharing your stories!

Write on!
Ali

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Review of Flying Challenge  
Review by Alexandra Jones
In affiliation with  
Rated: ASR | (5.0)
Hello Mark Robson !

I just got finished reading "Flying Challenge and I must say that I loved this story. Although dragon stories are very common in fantasy, I think the quality of your writing and your characters make this a unique and fun read. Below is a break down of my thoughts. Please use whatever comments you find useful, and ignore the rest!

*Quill* Plot: Pell and his dragon, Shadow, compete in a flying competition, where they have to catch a lance out of mid-air. I loved your descriptions in this excerpt, particularly how you showed the physical effects of flying on Pell - how the turbulence turns his stomach, how the wind forces him to squint, how grabbing the lance hurts his hand. I could imagine the sensations so well that it felt like I was Pell. When a story can suck me in that far, I know it's a real gem.

*Quill* Style & Voice: I really like your writing style and how the third-person limited narration put me directly in Pell's head. You do a great job of using imagery to describe Pell's experience and put the reader in his shoes.

*Quill* Scene/Setting: Your setting is a bit hard to describe, because they are basically flying through empty air, but you did such a good job of describing what flying is like for Pell, particularly the effects of the wind and Shadow's dive. I also liked your description of the ground swelling closer as Shadow rushed towards the ground.

*Quill* Characters: I felt like I got to know your main character well just in this short excerpt. I also got an idea of what his relationship with his dragon is like through their conversation.

*Quill* Grammar: I didn't notice any grammar mistakes and I don't have any word choice suggestions. The quality of the writing was excellent.

*Quill* Overall Opinion: This is a really exciting and vivid story. When I go to the end, I found myself wishing that I could read on. I think many young adult fantasy lovers - myself included *Wink* - would enjoy reading your novel.

If you have any questions, comments or requests feel free to e-mail me. Thanks for sharing your work!

Ali

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Review of The Meadow  
Review by Alexandra Jones
In affiliation with  
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
This is a great little piece of writing. I can see why you won! It's hard to create an entire story in 300 words, but you did it well. Your use of description in this piece is really great. You created strong visual imagery throughout, but I particularly liked your descriptions of nature.

I also love how you incorporated the use of the prompt word 'malfunction'. You did a nice job of transitioning from the grand sweeping nature scene, into the enclosed industrial space (I'm assuming it's the cock pit).

The impression that I got was that the captain uses the simulator to help pass the time on a long flight. It's an interesting idea, but I was left wondering how she could be in her simulated world and flying a ship at the same time. Of course, since you had a 300 word limit, you obviously couldn't explain everything. It also may be that I misinterpreted, and the captain isn't actually flying the ship.

Your grammar and spelling were perfect. The only thing I would consider changing is your use of the word 'cacophony'. The word refers to sound and you are using it to describe light. Part of me likes it as a stylistic choice, but the other part of me says that it doesn't make literal sense.

Other than that, you did a really nice job on this. I hope you find my comments helpful; I send them with that intention. Congratulations on winning the contest!
~Ali

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Review of A Fishing Haiku  
Review by Alexandra Jones
In affiliation with  
Rated: E | (4.5)
I love this haiku! It is so simplistic and yet you manage to capture both sides. I envisioned the fishermen in their boats enjoying the sun, as they fish with their friends. And I imagine the fish below the surface, enjoying themselves until they are suddenly hooked and their lives are changed forever. I imagined all of the fish as being constantly wary and afraid, because of the humans. It's amazing what a story you can tell with so few words. Well done!

~Ali

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Review by Alexandra Jones
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
Hey there!
So, I know that I am a week too late to start the prep challenge, but I was wondering if you could make an exception. I only just decided today to take part in this years NaNoWriMo. I am fully aware that I wouldn't be eligible for the final prizes; the reason I want to take part is for the motivation, not for the prizes. I think I could get caught up within a couple of days. And perhaps I could still be eligible for the contest rounds. I understand that I'm asking you to break your own rules, so I understand if it's simply too late for me to join.
I appreciate your consideration, whatever you decide.
Thanks,
~Ali
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