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9 Public Reviews Given
9 Total Reviews Given
Public Reviews
1
1
Review of Manakin  
Review by William Cole
Rated: ASR | (5.0)
Thanks you for posting this story! It's really well done.
Your characters act and speak very believably, and it's filled with lots of steampunk-themed goodness.
I enjoyed your explanation of how the Manakin works, from the distilled phlogiston fuel source to the navigation through echolocation. It's well delivered and shows the secret brilliance of Prof. Exeter.

I have a couple of teensy tweaks I want to suggest to help elevate the work even higher.
Firstly, it might be helpful to go back over your POV. It seems to be in third-person close - we mostly get Exeter's point of view - but a couple lines stick out as head-hoppy:

He was already calculating profits and plotting to gain control of Exeter’s designs.

Mosbach felt a sense of elation as he took the firm textured grip.


These are in Mosbach's head and,

Microboilers, omniversal joints, phlogiston? Perhaps Exeter had something after all.

seems to be in no one's head.

This is my personal preference, but I'd rather have the entire piece be in Exeter's head. The second example could be Exeter's thoughts about how he's said the right buzzwords to get their attention, eg. That could show his cunning and cynicism towards the Society, if you like.


The other thing that stood out to me was the conclusion. I like that Exeter uses Manikin to get revenge. It's somewhat expected, but you made it feel good anyway. The last line is my issue. I can't express enough what a cool line it is, but it doesn't fit the theme of the story, in my opinion.
Something that might stick better in the reader's mind would be some kind of threat to the rest of the Society, or even just turning to the society and casually asking, "So, any questions?". I don't want to be too prescriptive - it's your story, after all. But, I think you should revisit exactly how the story ends.

I'd really appreciate if you took a look at my submission for StAG too (The Baron of New Decaport). Given the quality of your writing, I think you'd have some really helpful feedback. Thanks again for posting!


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
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Review by William Cole
Rated: E | (2.0)
Hi Igor! Thanks for sharing this piece. I've been really getting into Steampunk lately, so it's nice to read someone else who shares a budding passion for it. If you're interested in writing more, I want to recommend the StAG Firebox contest (https://www.writing.com/main/forums/item_id/178144...). I just posted my own submission last night.

I have a couple thoughts that might help you grow as a writer. As with all advice, take it or leave it as you see fit for your writing style.

Firstly, your opening sentence:
"The rain had been pouring down for days, a never-ending deluge that seemed to have no end."

When writing flash fiction like this, it's important to pack as much as you can into each sentence, so you can make as much as possible out of the small space. What does this sentence tell us in plain language? "It's been raining really hard for a long time." You essentially tell the reader this no less than three times. Especially noteworthy is that you describe the rain both as "never-ending" and as "seem[ing] to have no end." That's a lot of repetition in a small space. I'd recommend shortening the sentence.

Secondly, I want to discuss the difference between scene and summary. Scene is writing where your characters appear in a specific setting and it covers their actions, thoughts, and dialogue (though not all three are required). Summary is writing which is much broader, where entire events can be expressed in one sentence.
Summary is useful for the beginning of a story, since it allows you as a writer to establish context for the story. Textbooks and news articles are usually written entirely in summary for the same reason. In your piece, describing the rain and the city's inability to handle it is the perfect use for it. Likewise, the ending describing the success of the pump, could definitely be written in scene.
Scene should make up the bulk of your story as it allows you to build tension and emotional closeness with the characters. This is where we get a sense of their personality. It also puts the reader into the story and helps them imagine what is happening. Scene is what makes stories unique and impactful.

This piece is written entirely in summary, and so it reads like a textbook entry. It's an interesting story about a city struggling to handle its environment and one tenacious citizen who stood above the rest and saved everyone. However, I don't know anything about Lena except that she's a talented inventor. I'd really like to see more detail, especially when Lena has her eureka moment and tests out the new pump.

The opening could be phrased as Lena watching rain pour down in sheets from her room in an attic, for example. We get her thoughts on the rain, her desire to do something about it, and whatever else you want to include.

I hope this helps! I'm excited to read more of your imaginative work.





*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
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Review of The Mad King  
Review by William Cole
Rated: 13+ | (5.0)
Thanks for sharing this! It was a delight to read. It sort of reminds me of a short story I read a while back called "Provenance" by David W Ball. It can be found in the collection Rogues, if you're interested.

The dialogue is excellent. Even without too much information from the prose, I understood immediately that Phyllis was upset with Herman. If anything, I'd say it might be good to take out some of that non-dialogue explanation. We can tell that Herman is on thin ice by the fact that Phyllis didn't make him breakfast too, and that she leaves without so much as saying goodbye. The fact that Herman isn't really fazed by this tells us that it's something he's been experiencing for some time.

In essence, you do a great job of "Show, don't tell", but then you add in a bit too much telling, if that makes sense.

Likewise, the conversation with Kasper feels realistic, and you do a fantastic job of mixing action into the dialogue (He smiled. "xx." He patted Herman on the shoulder., eg), which keeps the pace moving and makes the characters dynamic and visual.

I also like how Herman lights up when someone finally takes an interest in his research. He probably doesn't have anyone to share his fascination with, so it makes sense that he'd be giddy about getting to do so.

It's well paced. You hit the beats perfectly following the typical 3-Act structure. Conflict is baked in and has impacts throughout the story. No criticisms here.

One issue I have with this story is its portrayal of Phyllis. Phyllis is portrayed very much as greedy and cold hearted. And maybe she is. But to me, it reads as though it's playing off of the b***h ex-wife trope. From the very beginning it seems like the only thing that she ever liked about Herman was that he was a provider. We don't get anything about how Herman loves/loved her, what Phyllis likes about Herman, etc. We also don't know if Phyllis has a job. I'd be pretty upset too if the breadwinner of the family suddenly decided to quit to finish his book, and he was never able to get the money. It's just a bad financial decision.

In short, she's a very flat character, and as the face of the conflict of the story, it makes that conflict ring a bit hollow.


A couple of suggestions for changes, take 'em or leave 'em:
- Phyllis as a sympathetic character -> She has a job, but can't pay the bills herself. She supported Herman's decision to quit, but her patience is understandably wearing thin. Herman loves her and wants to win back her love by proving that he can sell his book. This also shows Herman as being flawed, which is always compelling in a protagonist.
- Phyllis as an utterly unsympathetic character -> Herman really wanted to be a father, but Phyllis singly decided not to have kids. There's the suggestion that Phyllis has been cheating the whole time. She's been spending a lot of money despite not having a job and despite Herman's complaints. Before she leaves, she tells him she found out about the fact that he's out of publishers and she knew his book would fail - who cares about a bunch of dead people anyways? Really sell that she is just awful.

Otherwise, the morality of the story feels too shallow. The moral of her story here is, "Be patient with your husband who makes poor financial decisions because he might be the great-great-grandson of someone with a surprise inheritance." That's fine if she's truly awful, but as the story stands, I think she's quite justified in asking for a divorce in this circumstance.

I hope this helps! Again, thank you for sharing this piece. I really really enjoyed it.


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
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Review of Bees  
Review by William Cole
Rated: 18+ | (3.0)
Hi! Thanks for sharing this piece. It's an interesting tale of murder and with a karmic ending. I have a couple of things to share about what I liked/disliked to help you improve.

First, the opening scene is well done! The twist was unexpected but inevitable - it's foreshadowed with the sugary tea, but it's not obvious at all. Then, we have the flashback, where we learn why Melody is doing this, then catching up to the present day, where she receives her karmic comeuppance. This structure is unique, interesting, and kept me engaged.

On a line level, you could make some improvements to your writing. The main pitfall I noticed was how often you used the sentence structure: "As character did X, Y."
For example, "Smiling, Melody said __"

'Spying outside her old house one night, she watched Jim rushing out of the house carrying a blonde woman. She followed Jim as he turned into the local hospital's emergency room, pulled the woman from the car and rushed inside.' has this twice in a row.

Being so common, I found it pretty distracting. Make sure to change up your sentence structure to avoid this. The second example could be changed to something like,

'Melody watched Jim rushing out of the house carrying a blonde woman. She decided to follow him, leading her to the local hospital. He pulled the woman out of the car and rushed inside.'

Another issue I found throughout the story was a lack of internality. We don't get much perspective on how Melody feels throughout the piece. How did Melody feel when she discovered Jim's affair? Was she jealous, betrayed, angry, numb? Did she suspect something was going on? How a character reacts internally is really important for us as the audience to understand them. Even when they're doing heinous things (like murder), it builds sympathy, which makes the whole piece more impactful.

Those are the biggest points. Personally, I find it really helpful to rewrite a story after letting it sit for a bit, but that's entirely up to you. Thanks again for posting! Keep it up :)
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Review of The Caring. Soul  
Review by William Cole
Rated: E | (4.0)
You have a beautiful, poetic writing style that I've noticed in your reviews, too.
My favourite line was "Lola means Grandma". It's a simple translation for people outside The Philippines, but it carries so much emotional weight. It's like the children were inviting her into their family.
Thank you for sharing this story. I look forward to reading more from you!
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Review of The Decision  
Review by William Cole
Rated: E | (4.5)
This was a nice piece of flash fiction. You do a great job of setting up Jay and Malcolm's relationship, and the tension builds nicely as we understand that Jay will need to choose whether or not he will head the company. We are faced with the consequences of his choice as well - to take a position you really don't want, or to potentially doom hundreds of people to a lesser quality of life. We all need to make decisions like this in our lives (though maybe not on this exact scale), so it has a good universality to it.

I do feel that it's a bit frontloaded with summary rather than scene. What I mean is, we are getting a very zoomed out version of most of Jay's life and his relationship with the factory. We don't get into scene until the fourth paragraph, which is pretty late for a story of this length. I'd like to see a bit more of Jay's character fleshed out through a more zoomed in lens so that I can get more emotionality out of him.
Thanks again for submitting this!


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
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Review of Breakthrough  
Review by William Cole
Rated: E | (5.0)
This was very cute! Thanks for posting it.

The title fits, but I think a better title might communicate that the story is told from the point of view of a dog. Maybe something like "Master has a Breakthrough"?
The sentences are well written, with good variety in length and the vocabulary fits with how I would expect a dog to think in stream of consciousness.
I also like that the story begins and ends with the same sentence. It has a nice irony to it that his master has just figured out a major scientific discovery, but nothing has really changed for the dog. As well, the fact that he did do a bad thing by knocking over the ink and papers, but since something good happened to come out of it, Master is actually happy with him. I'd think he was a funny man too.

The setting was very nice and comfy. The dog has a pretty chill outlook on life except the cold outdoors, and that's reflected well in how you write the setting. The only thing I want here is for the doggie to have a bed to lay on!

I also like the way the characters move. I can tell that Master is working very hard on something very important to him, that he's upset when he's upset and happy when he's happy. This is SUCH a nitpick but... dogs can't see red! He doesn't know what colour his master's face turns when he's angry! Maybe describing that his face is all scrunched up or something would be more accurate.

On plot, a couple notes. One thing is that I don't know why the dog started barking in the first place. Maybe I missed it? I assumed he was barking at his Master, but then he would have mentioned seeing his Master through the window. And if so, why would he have gone outside? Some clarity on that would be helpful. Secondly, and this is fully just my opinion, but I'm not a fan of the reveal that the Master is Einstein. It just kind of felt contrived to me. I like the idea that the dog did something that accidentally caused a breakthrough, but having it be Einstein just doesn't work.

Your pacing is really great. It's the perfect length for this story, and it has a good flow. Great job on this!

Overall, a very cute, fun story. I enjoyed reading it and reviewing it thoroughly. Cheers!


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Review of Poke Your Eye Out  
Review by William Cole
Rated: E | (4.0)
Thanks for posting this story! I thought it was really clever, with some good dialogue and a funny ending. However, I think you could do a lot of tightening up to make the story really shine. Please keep in mind that this is meant to be wholly constructive.

Mechanics
I didn't really get the title. I know it's the phrase on Rachel's jersey, but I don't see what that has to do with dodgeball, or their plan for success. This one could be me though. As far as communicating the vibe of the story, I think it works well as a title.

Character & dialogue
You have some really good dialogue. Starting with dialogue here gets me intrigued about the rest of the story. It makes me ask "What is the jersey's job and why does it have to be conspicuous?" That's great! Likewise, I enjoyed how the girls played off each other and made jokes. I actually laughed out loud about Johanna shooting the judge!
I had a hard time telling the girls apart. Given that the piece is so short, you have to be really strong with characterization. We don't get much physical description of the characters, so I'm stuck with just the dialogue to go off of. One thing I like to do is give a strong metaphor or symbol for the character when I introduce them. Even changing it to "Jessica was like a neon sign. [brief description of how she's energetic, gets your attention, etc.]" implants the connection in my head - Jessica is the neon sign.


Plot Structure
The plot here is really cute. You start at the right place, and the ending is both surprising and inevitable. My main note here would be that some of the exposition is clumsy and detracts from the flow of the piece. The first example is in the explanation of the school. The reader doesn't need to know it's an all-girls school, and the unorthodox teaching style could be communicated through dialogue. Maybe one of the girls is new to the school and bewildered by their electoral system?
The second is that the girls' original plan doesn't need to be explained. Doing so halts the action of the dodgeball game. It's a fairly simple plan that can be communicated through the players' actions. They're clearly teaming up to get Rachel to win.

Grammar and punctuation
I'd suggest giving the story a once-over for grammatical mistakes. It's fine if there are only a few, but there's enough here that it can be a bit distracting. For example, the opening paragraph should be:

"Like my armor?" Jessica asked with a huge grin.
"You're definitely not inconspicuous," Joanna, her roommate, replied.
"Then it's doing its job."

Grammar can be finicky and annoying, and it's definitely secondary to any other part of the story, so long as errors aren't so abundant that they interfere with your delivery.

Overall, I liked the story, and I think if you incorporated some of my suggestions you could make it even more enjoyable! Cheers.


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