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564 Public Reviews Given
565 Total Reviews Given
Review Style
I am thorough. The technical aspects are important to me as much as if the story makes sense. The word "cruel" has been used before when responding to a review I've given, but in an appreciative and kind way.
Favorite Genres
Fantasy, Comedy
Favorite Item Types
Short stories
Public Reviews
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1
1
Review by Than Pence
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: ASR | (4.5)
Hello, and thanks for contributing to the Cramp. I submitted the other entry for this prompt.

You mentioned you were trying to establish your story with as much dialog as possible. I, too, wrote a story where I let dialog guide me. What a fun coincidence.

I liked your piece. I am just getting back into writing and your choice of language was really inspiring. The descriptors at the end with the pair at the bar helped paint a picture. And the overall humor was fun. Thank you for sharing your piece with us.


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
2
2
Review of Voodoo Saints  
Review by Than Pence
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
Hello Kotaro

On behalf of the "WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group I'm giving your story a look since it's an "Action/Adventure" piece. And who doesn't love Action and/or Adventure?!

The description of the African landscape is nicely done. The standout line for me is this: Termite homes dotted the land like giant blades stabbing the blazing heat.

Imagining the interior of their home as well as the seer's home is very easy. You've done a great job in setting the scene here.

The doll was cold in her hand. Putting her back to her brother she put it under her blouse to warm it. -- This is a tender moment that speaks to the innocence of childhood in general and of Jamila's goodness specifically: she thinks the doll is cold and want to warm it.

He saw a solution. -- This is an interesting solution, but the very next scene appears to take place somewhere far removed from these children. A section break might be helpful in telling the readers you've shifted not only perspective but the location, too.

The death is nicely done.

He hung up and prayed...Let this be the end to tyranny. -- I would also suggest the prayer be italicized. Abdul has a private verbal thought as well that could be typed in italics.

This is an unexpected piece. I was wondering if the seer was the tyrannical leader in some way. When Jamila found the doll, I half-assumed that her putting it in her blouse would inadvertently smother the seer. Knowing now that it is the representation of the truly tyrannical leader, I wonder why it didn't smother HIM?

I can see that this piece is a winner of the Weird Tales contest. Congratulations on that! You must've been excited! I enjoyed what you've presented here as it is but also know that just a few things could make it even more enjoyable for the reader.

Your scene-setting is enviable. I could be so lucky to do it as effortlessly as you!

Take care, please, and also keep writing!

Join us and have some fun while reviewing and writing!


Than Pence


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
3
3
Review by Than Pence
Rated: 18+ | (3.5)
Hello Leif the Lucky I read the first piece of this story in "The Halloween Event

I provided some feedback and you asked me to take a look at the second and third parts of the story. I'm doing so now.

I like the the summary of the story so far. It reads more clearly about what happened than what I remember from the first part, making me thinking starting this story at this point would be a better idea.

It was 24 April 1067, nearly seven months since the Halloween Event. The vision Ray has is powerful and raw - and then we end with this bland sentence. If you feel the need to set the date for the reader, I would suggest doing so at the beginning of the section. It could act as a section sub-header to give the reader a reference point. It being a statement made by the omniscient narrator is distracting.

Shaking hands was dangerous now that hygiene was rare, and toilet paper was a positive luxury. This is not only comical but also a well-reasoned statement.

The mention of British political figures (be they past or present) still kind of confuses a simple American like myself. I'm hoping that, with time, they'll become more familiar.

When Odo goes to meet with the PM in her cell, the story perspective shifts between the pair. Try to avoid that. We should only know what one or the other is thinking and feeling, not both in the same section.

Over the following days, they were lightly trained and debriefed. This seems like an understatement, and I would assume they'd be debriefed first. Plus the training they're going through doesn't seem "light". They are being groomed as soldiers: Gordy says as much.

In the first part, the casual pop culture references were minimal and didn't distract. In this segment, they are rubbing me the wrong way. I'm a big fan of Jurassic Park, Star Wars, and Game of Thrones but these references feel out of place. Are they only there to help the reader feel more familiar with the characters? Comic relief? An easier way to describe the situation(s)?

He did not notice the dark figure sitting in the pews until it was too late. This is an example of the form of storytelling that's happening here: the reader is being told everything that's happening. We don't feel an intimate connection with any of these characters yet because we're only watching it unfold like a serial rather than experiencing anything alongside them. The ideas being presented here are like flashes of something that should be encompassing more than a handful of short stories.

I am kind of enjoying the battle at the wall. The action seems believable and fast-paced. But near the beginning, Gordy wishes Freefall was there with him but says how he knows he was needed somewhere else. And then, after the Molotov cocktails start being used, he's there. Where'd he come from? I think you might've meant "Kevin" in that moment.

After finishing the actual battle, I come away feeling good. The events depicted flowed smoothly from one to another and it was easy to follow all of the action. I didn't find myself caring about Lady Nicola at all, possibly because she had only been introduced during Gordy's training montage.

The ending is a bit of a cliffhanger, but I guess that's expected. I was expecting something with V.M. and his "identity", although the reader knows exactly who he is. I do have trouble believing this larger woman in the end has maintained her weight during her across-the-ocean voyage. And that her glasses are still intact since she's not really surrounded by the comforts of modern day life.

All in all, this section is titled "The Battle of Hadrian's Wall" and that's the most exciting part. Everything else felt expository, like we were being given snippets of the larger story that was happening to other people.

I'll continue on to the third section, "Invalid Item I hope questions are answered. I see that part is twice as long as this one, so there's plenty of room to do so.

Thank you for continuing to share your work with me. I know I'm not much of a writer myself, but I like to try and help others as best I can. Take care, and I'll see you in the final act.

Than Pence


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
4
4
Review of No comparison  
Review by Than Pence
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (4.0)
Hello erbiage I saw your piece for the Cramp and am offering my thoughts.

I like when people really stretch beyond the box for the prompt. I would suggest that you bold the line(s) within your piece (as per the contest rules). Without the bold font, I had to search for what you stated was within. And tell them how many lines you're using.

As for the content, it is a little wacky. I like the presence of a potential samurai threat and how they have the power to interrupt a simple form of play - rolling through tall grasses near the river.

Good luck with this and with all your writing endeavors here. Take care!

Than Pence


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
5
5
Review of Toward Darkness  
Review by Than Pence
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 13+ | (3.0)
Hello 🌕 HuntersMoon I saw in the Newsfeed that Angus was asking that we drop a review for you. Using that as inspiration to read something new, I opened your port and came across your "What a Character! : Official WDC Contest entry. How exciting!

Now I know I'm a little late to offer anything that might be used for improving the piece (if that's even necessary) but I know I always like just getting people's thoughts in general so I'll add mine. So here we go!

...causing a passerby to start and take a wide berth around him - This is a funny image and it helps set the scene up in so few words. We know that he's in a public space, most likely on a sidewalk in front of storefront window. Very nice setup.

He found himself at the steps leading to Saint Ann’s Cathedral. - This is a small suggestion, but I'd consider changing "to" to "into". I think it's just an aesthetic choice for me, though.

Growing up a Catholic, I remember that a mass was offered for each day of the week, and it was always super early. How does he distinguish which day of the week it is by these people leaving the building? Unless this particular church follows a more protestant approach and has Wednesday evening masses as well? - I guess I'm trying to say that I do like that the church door opening is what helps progress the narrative, but I didn't think Bob associating it with a day-of-the-week identifier was believable.

"Oh Lord," he muttered, "Is this an answer? Or, is this a test? Why do you tempt me so?" I like this line.

At least I did that much, he thought, feeling both relief and a little self-righteous as he hurried away. I also like this line. It really speaks to his character. I would've expected "self-loathing" to be there instead of "self-righteous" but the fact that he doesn't feel that kind of loathing really helps you know the kind of person we're dealing with here.

How about another round?” - This needs an opening quotation mark.

The second part turns around and doesn't focus on Bob at all. It makes me think of the TV show The Good Place and also how the Demons in the Xanth series of novels act when it comes to predicting what mortals will do.

I feel like the second half was added for political commentary rather than trying to continue a story about a man and his moral failings. I was genuinely interested in trying to follow Bob and see how he dealt with his situation:

Did he feel regret and change his mind? Did Tom Rogers appreciate having the checkbook returned but hated how his money had been stolen? Do the two eventually cross paths while one is on the upswing and the other is on the down with both being a direct result of Bob's actions? I was hoping something like that would play out here.

I read in your port that you usually write poetry and have only started writing short stories relatively recently. Personally, I prefer writing stories but I am not an expert by any stretch of the imagination. Something that I really liked (that some people think is cliched but is really, really effective) is your inclusion of famous quotes as a means of helping tell the story.

In conclusion, I'm glad I got to read this story of yours. I hope you get other positive feedback and help grow your short story writing abilities. And, again, feel free to ignore my comments. I'm just a guy. Take care, and have a great weekend!

Than Pence



*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
6
6
Review by Than Pence
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (3.0)
Hello ~Lifelessons~ I'm taking part in the Flash review fun and giving your piece here a read!

I have my I pod with me Did this autocorrect you from iPod to I pod?

I definitely like the progression of this story. The flow from one event to another is an indication of natural progression and we follow the narrator from one place to another.

What I don't like is the grammar and tense changes. Mainly the grammar. Specifically, your punctuation. I know a lot of writers on the site will tell me they weren't worried about the punctuation when they wrote it, but it is distracting.

Near the beginning, you put a question to the reader that doesn't end with a question mark. And near the end, I have to wonder why you used italics during the quoted parts. I could understand using them when the voice was disembodied. But once the boy was within plain site, I would change it to regular looking dialogue.

I held my breath wanting to coax him back up the tree to safety. Anticipation takes over with feeling that he might not be able to do it. This is an example of your tense problem: "held" should be "hold" in the first sentence to keep in in line with the tense before it and with the sentence right after it. This is common throughout your piece.

I see that this is an award winning item, but I also see that it was only edited once just after creating it (judging by the timestamp). I'd suggest giving this piece a through polishing. It needs it if only for the sake of sharing a nice story that turns into a heroic story.

Thank you for sharing it either way, and please keep writing!

Than Pence

image on share


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7
7
Review by Than Pence
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: ASR | (4.0)
Hello Maryann ! I'm leaving you a Flash Review since we didn't get to play GOT this year!

“Coming right up Mrs. Casey,” I muttered as I poured... Should she be muttering this? Muttering always has a negative association (for me, at least) and whenever I see it, I interchange it with "grumbling" or "mumbling". But that could just be me.

Carol must have taken five whole minutes to tell us that, and I’m not really sure what she was talking about. This sentence made me laugh out loud. I am sitting her imagining a three year old him-hawing over a story and wondering where it's going. Very nicely done *Smile*

Overall, this is a cute little story. Looking at the copyright, I also see it is one of your earlier stories and it definitely deserves the ribbon that adorns it.

Thank you for sharing this, and I hope you continue to have a great night and a good weekend of writing!

Than Pence

Shared image


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
8
8
Review by Than Pence
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 18+ | (4.0)
Hello Leif the Lucky You read one of my lengthier pieces and provided me helpful, honest feedback. I asked what I could do in return and you directed me to this story and asked what I thought of it.

My first impression of the story is that it plays out like a history lesson. The story itself is somewhat enjoyable but the only "thrilling" part is when the ferry is attacked outside of Dublin early on.

I do enjoy historical fiction a little but this needs more excitement.

Grammatically, I see no errors.

After starting with Gordy, you came back to him one more time. The piece is structured around small, individual narratives and then an over-encompassing description of the events that have happened. I think focusing on just a few people and not worrying about the entire country is the better option.

If you feel you have to do this to set the stage of the country as a whole, I'd suggest indenting and italicizing the "where we stand now portions" and treat them like they're clippings from a newspaper articles.

And your audience is smart. I knew exactly who the Blue Man was before his name was stated. I would guess others did too. If you left his name out of it and simply continued referring to him as "the Blue Man", do you think that would've worked? I only mention this because the scene has pretty good dialogue, and a discussion (possible critique) of Star Wars: Episode III. Based on what he's talking about and how his wound is described, we know it's Ray. But when his name was mentioned by the omniscient storyteller, it didn't make me feel justified; it made me feel like, "Well, yeah, I guess I like knowing I'm right, but I could've been content knowing I was POSSIBLY right.

The end is a little confusing (though I do see the story continues). In the end, Mike Pence makes an appearance outside of Westminster Abbey and he then introduces Harold II Godwinson to everyone. How did Mike Pence get there? Did the time become displaced once again after history had been altered? In the story, the rest of the world is normal and Britain has been dumped into the past. If boats approach Britain in the "present", do they cross into the past as well? Is that how Mike Pence arrive there? It sounds like whenever a boat is approaching Britain, they are usually old, wooden boats.

Thank you for sharing this piece with me. While it is an interesting idea, I wish it had been paced a little better. And that I had at least one character that I could try to relate to, rather than many characters that are mostly points of reference from historical documents.

You can also ignore my ramblings and tell me to read the next part if I want answers so bad. Good luck with this story, and keep writing!


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
9
9
Review of Celestial  
Review by Than Pence
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 13+ | (3.0)
Hello, Nikki Collins I'm here to provide you with a review. I saw your story on a list of suggested items associated with the "August Super Power Review Raid and decided to give it a go.

Right off the bat, I can tell changing the format of this piece will help it out. When editing, change the spacing to "Double Space Paragraphs". It makes it easier to read.

Your opening sentence wants to convey some mystery and excitement, but the punctuation is holding you back. Here's what I would suggest:

“You’re lying,” he whispered. I could hear hesitation in his voice. He wanted proof that I was what I said I was: a monster. That’s what I thought I was. My mom thought I would be the world's savior.

“Rhys.” A whisper came out of my mouth, fifteen ... that had been laid on me from the moment I turned ten. - This is a very confusing statement. Or it's just muddled. This boy that's talking to her is her brother? And he doesn't believe her powers. Does he not normally live with her or did he move off before her powers materialized at the age of ten? It could also be confusing because it's one long run-on sentence. I'd attempt to clean it up and make it clearer what statement you're trying to get across with this passage.

Saying the brother can't "handle the pain" makes it sound like he either knows she has a power and chooses to ignore it, or she thinks that he isn't ready to know anything about it. That does take away from the beginning, though, since it sounds like she's trying to tell him about her gift and he doesn't believe her. Again, a clearer message here would be helpful.

I heard the shattering of crystal, making my heart skip a beat, Rhys wasn’t strong enough to break the pinkish glass. - This is a nice, ominous line. It even manages to build a little suspense.

...Rhys was yelling at me to stop... - This is stated during a memory recall, indicating Rhys knows about her gift. Then why is he calling her a liar in the beginning and demanding proof?

...made the hair on my arms stand up, as if it should hold some meaning to me, but it didn’t. - End this sentence with "meaning to me". Saying "but it didn't" made the sort-of bond that's already forming between these two dash away quickly.

...like the killers in horror movies wear. - Change to ...like what killers wear in movies. - It's a creepy depiction as well. It gives this stranger a menacing presence right off the bat.

I brought the sword of death high over my head... - Referring to a scythe as a "sword" is confusing for the reader's mental eye. The two objects are very distinct. "Weapon of death" sounds better.

This time it was my turn to smirk as I forced the scythe to disappear into a pile of crystal needles, then re-materialize in my outstretched hands. - Imagining this happening made me smile, made my flesh prickle. It's described very well *Smile*

“I look like an anime girl!” - This does not seem like an appropriate statement for her to make. She just went through an heady ordeal.

Why isn't Rhys even trying to comfort her, or say anything to her in her moment of need?

When the fox-boy showed up, his hair is described as being similar to Celeste's. That made me think that the two were related more than anything. And she has a power over generating crystals and forming them into predetermined shapes. If they share similar physical qualities, why can't he control another form of matter, or she also turn into a fox (or some other creature)?

What significance does the cape play? She snapped her fingers and it whooshed to her like Dr. Strange's cloak. The presence of the cape makes me think that there should be other magic artifacts available to her... and the cape itself isn't very helpful. It is as if it doesn't belong in the story.

Another logistical question arises when it comes to all of these crystals. What happens to them after she had her episodes? She acts like this particular "outburst" has happened before and it appears to have generated many crystals. Where do they all go? Does she have to clean them up and dispose of them? Do they melt away? Does she leave them and is forced to move somewhere?

This story feels like a rough draft for the prologue of something larger. I'd recommend cleaning it up, starting with the punctuation. Too many commas and run-on sentences.

I can see you're relatively new to the site here. I hope you're having a good time or learning a lot about how to hone your craft. Or both! That happens a lot! I know a review like mine can feel like I'm coming down hard on you, but I'm impressed that you came this far with this piece. Now you can go further and make it into something exciting and full of mystery and action.

Take care, and keep writing!!

Than Pence

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*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
10
10
Review of Never, And Again  
Review by Than Pence
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
Hello James Heyward I saw this in the By Online Authors section and it intrigued me with the description.

This is a piece worth remembering and it speaks to many people who actively have to see this firsthand every day.

The implication for this piece comes across as a form of Alzheimer's, or dementia, or both. Does Abbey feel anything besides this once-happy moment? If not, it kind of points to her suffering a traumatic state of shock (like PTSD). With diseases like those mentioned, more than one range of emotions is to be expected.

It is very easy to feel sorry for Arthur, and the fact that a tear sits in Abbey's eye as she's speaking makes me think this is a form of PTSD, since she knows on some level what's really happening. And it's effectively done.

I did notice a spot near the beginning where a stray quotation mark needs to be wrangled in.

This story, after reading it, brought to mind a short, short story I wrote years ago: "Baby Boys

Thank you for sharing your work. Keep it up, and keep on writing!

Than Pence


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
11
11
Review of Reaper  
Review by Than Pence
Rated: E | (4.0)
Hello HeLl'sAngEL437 I clicked on Read & Review and was brought to your piece.

The dark, brooding, almost playful tone of the piece is easily picked up and enjoyed.

One part where I was hung up was "over the flicking life". The "the" doesn't feel like it needs to be there, but it doesn't stay as cohesive without it. That is just a small conundrum.

Looking at your port name, I can see that you're relatively new to the site. So, welcome! I hope you enjoy yourself here! I could recommend "The Writer's Cramp as a nice place to contribute items for fun, daily writing. And "The Shameless "Plug" Page is also a good place to promote your own works.

Or you can click Read & Review and randomly find someone's wonderful read as I did. Either way, have fun with all of it, and keep writing and sharing your work, please!

Than Pence


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
12
12
Review by Than Pence
Rated: E | (4.0)
Hello Greg Schuler } I saw this was your entry for the July round of "The Dialogue 500

What a delightful twist on the contest! It is very entertaining. "Crackers of graham and juice of the apple" made me smile. "On the ground of play" also brought out a chuckle.

This piece is imaginative and a lot of fun to read. I pictured tiny children dressed in Victorian garb.

I did notice one typo: "Good sir, thought it would be... "Thought" should be "though".

I did not see myself entering this particular round but I've done so in the past and I know writing these dialogue-only pieces is both a challenge and a pleasure. Thank you for sharing it and good luck!

Than Pence


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
13
13
Review of Flashback  
Review by Than Pence
Rated: 18+ | (4.5)
Hello Angus You've offered thoughts and comments on several of my pieces over the years and I've always appreciated it. I saw that this was your entry into the Lodestar Contest and I thought I'd give it a read. I know it's too late to make any edits at this point, but that's not necessary.

This piece is delightfully crazy and plays out like an Inception sequel or an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Dream sequences can be a lot of fun to work with and when the reader is genuinely left wondering what's happened afterward, that's a lot of fun, too.

This also kind of reminds me of the type of story where the character ends up living multiple lives in the span of just a few days. It's very engaging. The reader wants to keep reading to see where the next dream shifts.

When Sophie kept trying to make an appearance, I thought that was very nice, but I was also expecting the dog to be named Sophie in the next dream sequence, just as a means of changing up what's real and what isn't.

Stylizing the flashing clock time with red was another nice touch.

Your tag-line asks us to speculate whether or not Jerry won the lottery. I am guessing the ambiguity might mean you also aren't sure if he did or not. If you have a definitive answer, that's fantastic, but not knowing helps the reader carry the mystery with them with speculation: "Did he win it and go crazy?" "Did he not win it and dreams of being crazy?" "Has he never even entered the lottery in his life and he's secretly living with his Aunt Sophie 30 years in the past and this whole tale is one long, fanciful notion of what his future may store?"

Something that I did have a little trouble with, character-wise, was how blase he was about the horrible wreck just a block from his home. Does it occur so much that he just doesn't care anymore, or is the fact that he's clouded by the dream forcing him to be less concerned? He doesn't KNOW it's a dream at that point, but the dream could be shaping his emotions. But if that was the case, it really does help indicate his negative character trait: when he dreamed he won the lottery, he was jumping up and down like crazy.

This are just my random thoughts and reactions to your well-crafted piece. I enjoyed reading it and look forward to reading more from you. Thank you for sharing, and good luck with the contest!

Keep writing!

Than Pence


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
14
14
Review by Than Pence
Rated: E | (4.0)
I see this is your entry for the Cramp today. The cadence and story helps pull the reader along. Personally, I kept reading to see this despicable person forcing a kitten onto an unsuspecting household and if she was going to get away with it *Wink*

One change I'd make (which probably won't affect the judging) is with this line:

...pick him up, cuddle, and accept." - You could easily take out the "and" and it would read a little easier and still make perfect sense. While I was reading at least, I did find myself halt for a beat since it kind of felt out of place.

Otherwise, good job, and good luck with the Cramp!

Than Pence


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
15
15
Review by Than Pence
Rated: E | (3.5)
Hello! This piece was in this week's "Fantasy Newsletter (July 4, 2018) and I'm giving it a read today.

This was a cute, quick piece that briefly analyzes the communal structure of neighborhood pets. Of course, it doesn't sound like it STARTS that way: it sounds like we're going to take a trip down Civil Rights Ave. But we don't.

In the end, I smiled imagining the cat walking toward a food bowl, only to have another one dart in and start eating. It brought to mind a kind of "cartoon" quality that was appreciated.

I do wish the setting had been fleshed out a little more. I'm having a hard time imagining WHERE these animals are having this session. I'm also not entirely certain about what the Black Cat has been accused of. It jumps straight from that to describing how an old woman's home is suitable for multiple animals.

Thank you for writing this piece.

Take care, and keep writing, please!

Than Pence


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
16
16
Review by Than Pence
Rated: 13+ | (3.5)
Hello again Breach I was pleased to read Chapter 7 of this story before and I look forward to see what Chapter 8 beholds.

Faldashir looked a little defiant -- Personally, I don't like the use of "a little" here. Faldashir, so far, has seemed like the kind of guy who either is something, or isn't.

Some of the other soldiers leaned forward in their saddles to look as well. -- Take out "Some of the" and start with "Other" for this sentence.

At this point, the dragon mark has been mentioned. Seeing as I started with Chapter 7 and am continuing through 8, I'm not sure if I'm missing mention of the mark from an earlier Chapter or if it is new to all readers at this point. Either way, the intrigue is well placed.

Really? I doubt it,” the captain replied. -- Just before this, you mention Branston's horse attempting to ward off other animals. Mentioning how the captain pays no attention to the action could help define his character. Visually, I can see the captain on his horse standing standing beside Branston, who is equally mounted. I can see his horse neighing and stomping and then I wonder to myself, "Why didn't that make the captain even flinch for a second? Or why didn't Branston point out the captain's unwavering stance toward it? Do dragon marks really hold THAT MUCH interest?" Something along those lines.

Olivar was silent. -- What was Faldashir's answer? Did he swear? Say "No"? Was he also silent, but not as silent as Olivar? I ask because they answered the other question in unison.

Faldashir and Olivar got the same treatment... -- Don't use "got".

...as the captain called them–followed, giving warnign glares to Branston. -- Change "warnign".

“So don’t think you can escape. You or your friends. Let’s ride!” The last was for his company. -- I'd alter the last part. "You or your friends." Raising his voice, he yelled, "Let's ride!"

His smile deepened. “What have you heard?” -- Such a sinister image is pushed here. It's nice and chilling.

“You’re one of them.” Them was filled with contempt. --Italicizing "Them" will help with aesthetics.

His shoulders prickled, Tyollis had a reputation for being harsh... -- Change the comma to a period or semicolon.

He met Branston’s eyes, his dark eyes studying Branston. -- The captain, Tyollis, was mentioned as having blue eyes when he was staring hard at Branston earlier, after the dragon mark was noticed. Are they dark blue?

Branston frowned quizzically, did he see regret in the man’s eyes? -- No comma here. Make it a period or a semicolon. Your comma usage can become distracting in spots like this.

He strode passed Branston without a word, and Branston followed. -- Change the comma to a period. Cut "and". I've bypassed excessive comma usage and didn't point it out. It is distracting. In many instances, you use commas to break up sentences that don't need breaking, or they can truly stand as their own sentences.

I notice a lot of "was" too. Past tense usage like this for your verbs has the potential to diminish the action. It is not as common as your commas, but it does show up.

At the end of this Chapter, I can say that it did not hold my attention as well. It could be the action of Chapter 7 was traded for subtly and intrigue. I do enjoy a nice pace of exposition and hints of menace, but it was harder to focus this time around.

The logistics of the Second World have been explained a little but, but it only brings more questions to mind. Branston can travel through the Second World physically and end up somewhere else in the Real World. If he appears in the Real World and converges with another object, he'll die. Can he see trees or rocks or buildings in the Second World? I would hope so. Otherwise he's just moving around on faith alone. That does speak to his bravery, but it all speaks to his recklessness.

Thank you for sharing Chapter 8. The introduction of the dragon mark has helped pique my interest a little more. The Dragon Guard sounds like an interesting order of people. Captain Tyoliss is an abstract person so far, and he appears to suffer mood swings. Irrational villains are usually the most fun to read in the long run

Take care, and good luck with this story!

Than Pence


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17
17
Review by Than Pence
Rated: 13+ | (3.5)
Hello Prince of Dhump I was invited to read this piece and give my thoughts.

The first sentence is a bit long and wordy. I like what it's trying to say, but I had to re-read it two more times to follow the pacing. I would suggest this:

It's appropriate to compare an office employee with their boss roaming nearby to a beauty stranded on Skull Island with Kong, a king who could enjoy her dancing as much as the meat on her bones. But in the case of the employee, there's no hero waiting in the wings.

I feel like the second sentence is mixing metaphors. Kong is mentioned and it could be a reference to either King or Donkey but it's not entirely clear. And the actions sound more like Bowser either way.

...somehow get the boss like and enjoy your stupid yet cute moves... -- Add "to" after "boss".

Don’t get frustrated of continuous shouting and... -- Swap "of" for "by".

It is Ann Darrow who gets the Kong killed in the end, and has the last laugh. -- Either use "the King" or take out "the" before "Kong.

Side note: Ann Darrow did not have the last laugh. She was crushed by the death of King Kong. That is a mild digression, but one I felt I should point out since I loved Pater Jackson's movie so much.

...wearing a jacket to work or just a formal shirt, leaves sharp after working hours... -- Change the comma to a semicolon.

You have got to play smart by not revealing... -- Take out "got".

The last paragraph has a lot of "woulds" in it. Change them all to "will".

This piece does ring true regarding some boss-employee relationships. The writing is a little loose but the humor and tone suggest that's not too important initially. You asked for my thoughts and I probably gave more on points of grammar than anything.

Someone who really dislikes their boss might stall at taking the advice because they were stuck laughing about their boss acting like King Kong. I know I was envisioning my own boss most of the time and smiling.

Other than my suggestions, I find it to be a sound piece. Thank you for sharing it.

Than Pence


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
18
18
Review by Than Pence
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
Hello Breach I was invited to review your piece. I've decided to give it a read and my thoughts as I go along.

At the beginning, the names are distinct and unique.

So they dismounted and led their horses forward. the soft snow crunched under Branston's boots. -- Take off "So" at the beginning. And either capitalize the T at the start of the second sentence or change the first period to a semicolon.

Had they left the arms’ domain. -- A question or a statement?

“We don’t know how fast the arms can appear,” Faldashir said. -- Change "said" to "reiterated", maybe.

With no rests we should reach it a few hours before dawn. I don’t think I could sleep.” -- A pause between theses sentences can help convey how uneasy he is, even to the point of not being able to sleep. ...before dawn." He sucked in a breath. "I don't think I...

Faldashir tone was flat. -- This could use some alteration. Ever stoic, Faldashir spoke plainly.

The man moaned and pulled free of Branston, raising his fists weakly. -- Take out "of Branston".

What was he supposed to, fight it? -- Add "do" after "to".

“All right.” His voice was still shaking, and he was shivering. -- End at "shaking" and start a shorter sentence. He shivered. It's more direct.

A tall person stood with long-sword in hand a dozen yards away, it didn’t move; it only watched. -- A powerful, simple sentence that gave me chills. I could clearly see a figure in my mind.

We need to leave! These horses can’t outrun it. -- The second sentence should go. It almost made me laugh because the man just told them that he ran from it earlier. All the reader might think of is "He thinks he can outrun a horse now?" and that's a terrible distraction from such a tense moment.

...yest he could see his companions as clear as broad daylight. -- Should "yest" be "yet"?

The landscape is the same. The river is too our right; the forest, our left. -- Just for clarification: can Branston and the others SEE the river and the forest, or do they merely guess at where they are in relation to where they were?

No sun marked the sky, only more fog. -- Remove this sentence. It's already been established by this point.

I've finished this chapter and have enjoyed it. The Second World is an engaging idea and it doesn't sound like it's common enough for the people to actively cross over and walk around in it. It seems to instill fear into even the hardiest of people.

In reading further, I understand that the land seen in the Second World is definitely like that of the real world. It's just harder navigate because of the fog. Are structures represented in the Second World? Is the idea tackled where they might exit the SW, only to find a building in their path? That seems like a notion that could help them out of a prison at some point, but I guess that's jumping ahead.

Your grammar is mostly spot on. I've pointed out some instances but there are a few that I left alone.

I jumped into Chapter Seven and I feel like I have a grasp on theses characters for now, but I might find time to visit them in Chapters One through Six at some point. This world, though brief, is entertaining.

One final thought: why didn't Branston drink from his canteen and then refill it in the river, making it full? He obviously didn't think the water was bad since his horse drank it, and he hadn't seen the dead people in it yet.

Thank you for sharing this. Good luck with further chapters!

Than Pence


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19
19
Review of Lights Out  
Review by Than Pence
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
Hello again BlackAdder This piece was pointed out to me and it sounded like I might enjoy reading it. I see it was written for a Sci-Fi Short Story contest. Seeing as how it was written in April, I imagine the deadline is past but I'll give it a go.

The first thing that jumps out is varied use of punctuation. And you're using it properly. I like that.

It was a rung on the ladder... -- I think "It" should be "I".

...looters were everywhere, shooting off their guns and their mouths... -- I like this line for some reason. It sticks with me.

The words that came with were sharp-edged and ugly. -- I always like when people imply bad words being said rather than saying them. It calls to mind a dozen different profanities but doesn't distract the reader.

In finishing the story, I do like the setting and descriptions of this pair's night, but why did they feel they had to do it? I guess, specifically, why did Rohan feel it was his obligation to open the emergency release? One is a banker, the other in IT. They don't seem like the kind of people who seek wrongs to put right.

The beginning of the piece strikes a resonance with today's society very nicely. A program on NPR recently discussed "robot-proof" jobs and in talking about all the jobs in the future that AIs would end up doing brought that program to mind.

Thank you for sharing this engaging story. I wonder if it's part a larger arc of stories set in this near-future society. I hope it places well in the contest.

Than Pence


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20
20
Review by Than Pence
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
Hello, BlackAdder I saw this piece in last week's "Short Stories Newsletter (April 26, 2017) and decided to give it a read. I noticed this was designed for a contest whose deadline has passed so I probably cannot offer any helpful advice.

The language of the piece does feel authentic and archaic. It is not common enough in modern-day writing but it is enjoyable and makes one appreciate the nuances of language even more.

Aideen seems like a complicated character. She's powerful but she worries what others think of her. That's not a typical witch, which is refreshing. She doesn't want to be feared but wants to remain mysterious.

The battle with the Shade was very nicely done. It was a battle of eerie silence, but for the splash of foul water... This line really jumped out at me. The imagery it invokes sticks with me.

I also liked how the Shade seemed to grow faster during the battle. Cadoc is slowly paring it down and it's becoming more nimble for his effort.

Thank you for sharing this. I enjoyed it and hope you do well in your contest. The title of the piece is what drew me the most. It reminded me of my own story "Under Shadow of the Moon but the language in yours is much more poetic.

Take care!

Than Pence


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
21
21
Review by Than Pence
Rated: 18+ | (4.0)
Hello Snow Valentine I'm reviewing your piece for the "I Write in August-September-October contest.

... felt like a dish rage that was used... -- I think you mean "dish rag". I do like the image of using a dish rag to clean tires. It makes me smile.

...and then sit down at the kitchen table. "How are things going here in Muster Junction?" -- Change "sit" to "sat" and "Muster" to Munster. I assume it's meant to be a play on her name.

...felt the bed move. I sit up. -- "sit" to "sat".

...it was hoping across the floor... -- "hoping" to "hopping" although I do like the thought of a bed hoping for something *Wink*

There are a few more instance where "sit" should be "sat". I only point it out because I think this particular contest holds grammatical and punctuation errors into account (I've been considering entering it myself)

The story is a good beginning for a supernatural mystery. Is the town infestation recent, or has it always been that way? What's causing it, and why? Do all under-the-bed monsters travel to protect their imagining creators? Are they, in fact, created by the imagination or are they always there and the kids just know it? These aren't questions that necessarily have to be answered by your story, but they do bubble up.

I like the descriptions of Auntie Pearl being cold as ice and drinking "tomato juice". I'm pretty sure it's something else.

Is Rosa a possible victim of her Auntie? The idea that she leaves her door unlocked can indicate that the vampire infestation has been around for a while. Common myths state that they can't enter dwellings uninvited. Would the same rule apply to the zombies that are inhabiting this town?

Knowing that Pearl was handing out religious pamphlets for years also tells me she's been silently waging this war against the unholy for a while now, but may have recently lost. Is that the case here? Is this the beginnings of a final product for the contest? I can see several more items being revealed before too long.

Good luck with this, and with future contests! Take care!

Than Pence


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
22
22
Review by Than Pence
In affiliation with I Write  
Rated: E | N/A (Review only item.)
Hello 💙 Carly I'm reviewing your piece with regards to "I Write in August-September-October

Your story follows the prompt very nicely: tell the tale of a haunted Irish castle, but from the castle's point of view. What an interesting topic. The details are described with flowing ease and you really feel the castle's loneliness and then joy when the Lady appears.

The delight that is felt when the actual "hauntings" occur brought a smile to my face. Of course it's just the wind, ha!

I'd only change one part: ...and those scavengers of movie producers and actors... It kept catching in my mind and I think changing it to ...and those scavenger movie producers and actors... might help with the dreaded sense the castle is feeling about such intruders.

Good luck with this contest. I skimmed through the basic rules and was curious if other people might've chosen the same subject, or if everyone gets a different topic. It's always interesting to see what others do with the same starting point.

Take care, and keep writing!

Than Pence


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
23
23
Review by Than Pence
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
Hello, Angus ! I saw your submission to the Dialogue 500 contest and thought to give it a read.

This is a funny piece! The comedy is right there to be scooped up. And I love that the character thinks being agnostic or atheistic would have an impact on the outcome. The urgency for the Grim Reaper to be NOTICED is palpable to the point that you might want to slap the main character and tell him to pay attention!

I did notice a little typo: Now will you let me get me back to this story? -- Take out the second "me".

The religious undertones really open up an intricate world for the Grim Reaper here. A "mix up in the paperwork" brings to mind that it's more than just God and the Devil arranging for the collection of souls. There's a whole bureaucracy implied and that's where the true comedy stems from.

Good luck in the contest. I hope we both do well! Take care, and keep writing!

Than Pence


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
24
24
Review by Than Pence
Rated: E | (3.0)
Hello Stowe_Evermore I stumbled upon your piece here and thought I'd give it a read and share my thoughts.

The woman wasn't a bad person but right now she is the face... -- Change "wasn't" to "isn't" for tense.

The real and true bane of my existence Lacy Thorston co-worker, evil incarnate, or just a she-demon take your pick the woman was all of those. -- Generally, this sentence can be cleaned up.
The true bane of my existence, Lacy Thorston: co-worker, evil incarnate, or just a she-demon. Take your pick. The woman is all in one. It helps carry more pointed remarks.

The comma usage so far, in general, is lacking. Several sentences should have them for spacing and pacing reasons. That's just something I've noticed in the beginning so far.

I like the name of the company. "Graves Island Marketing"

...service/sales teams at GIM the mouse that hides behind the jello. -- The final part, after "GIM" can be easily set about with a semicolon.

People's names are dropped, both first and last. Then three descriptors are given of each character as if they're going to play a major role throughout the entire piece, even when they're not present. This is not necessary. We don't even need last names every time, or the history of one building or another. At the very least, if you do think giving brief histories is important, give them their own paragraphs to separate them from the action they've found themselves within.

I know that they are having a mystery competition if you want to meet us there. -- I have a feeling this will be significant to the plot. And maybe a twist.

"Yeah I'm with Brett, Prang does not seem the type to hide from a good fight and the things that Marcus said about Ms. Prang should have ruined her not elevated her. Unless she had a hand in what was being said and used it to her advantage." I said. -- I'm going to use this paragraph near the end as an example for how many things in the piece can be corrected.
"Yeah, I'm with Brett. Prang doesn't seem the type to hide from a good fight. And what Marcus said should've ruined her, not elevated her. Unless she had a hand in what was being said and used it to her advantage." Commas placed sparingly but effectively help the reader find the flow and follow along much easier. Contractions in dialogue should also be encouraged. We naturally use them all the time. A lot. Frequently. And each block of exposition from the main character doesn't have to end with "I said." It is often clear who is talking when all the other paragraphs have notations about who is saying what in them.

There is no story behind the crime." Detective Thomas Shereborne said as he entered the apartment. -- This feels awkward. The detective just walks in? I know that he's becoming close with the group, but it seems very improper from someone these people are only supposed to have known for a month. The "shock-factor" is supposed to be present, I believe, but it doesn't feel natural. Just the afternoon before, he was politely knocking. Grammatically, the period after "crime" should be a comma.

"Thank you for liking them. What about our theory?" Emmett said finishing off his lair. -- An instance where the dialogue feels unnatural. "Thank you for liking them" could be "Thanks. What about our theory?" This is a digression, but what's a "lair"? I'm not familiar.

Grayson Porter had finally decided to make an appearance... -- What an awkward scene. Why isn't there more of a reaction from Brett? Did he already talk to Grayson? Does Brett want to ignore him and hope he disappears?

In finishing the piece, I have my thoughts: it is quite long. For the reader, adding a header/subtitle to each section will help them scan ahead for a break that's coming up.

The length isn't a problem for someone who enjoys mysteries. The punctuation was the biggest problem for me, personally. Run-on sentences distract the reader and in the beginning, I felt like I was having to struggle through the piece to see what was happening. The quick backstories for each character could've been spaced out more naturally in conversation, if they were important, or left out. The entire first part taking place in the call center doesn't feel necessary at all in hindsight. The characters can just appear at the diner and explain how they left work early and what they saw (the "mystery" that kicks off this Scooby-gang's adventure).

Toward the end of the piece, I found myself wondering about character actions and reactions. Namely the dynamic between Brett and Grayson, but also the sudden change between Thomas and Brett. Regarding the detective, stating that he's only known the group a month feels like it's not enough time. How many cases could they have been questioned about/snooped around in a month? For plausibility, I'd suggest that he have a longer history with these characters. Maybe six months, or a year.

In glancing at your port, I noticed that Part 2 of this story is there, and that it looks to be just as long. I'm not sure I'll pick it up any time soon. The ending for this one is almost as satisfying for the reader than if they learned who actually committed the murders in the first place.

I know going back through a piece and editing the grammatical and structural errors can feel like a beast in and of itself. I often think, "But I already wrote it! I shouldn't have to do anything else!" In the end, it will be easier for the reader to enjoy. Go through it and see what could be trimmed, too. As stated already, little backstories for the characters don't have to be dispelled. Oftentimes, a waitress is just Megan the waitress.

Good luck with this and your future endeavors. I honestly can't recall exactly how I came across this story. It might've been in the By Online Authors section, or maybe under Read a Newbie, but I can't be sure. I know that I saw the title and clicked it and decided to commit myself. In mentioning the title, I'm now wondering what it is in reference to and am subtly realizing the answer may rest in Part 2.

Take care, and keep writing, please!

Than Pence

PS I was hoping the mention of the "mystery competition" would reveal that this entire story was one big ruse designed to be revealed and solved for fun at the competition. So far, that doesn't seem to be the case *Wink*


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25
25
Review by Than Pence
Rated: ASR | (3.0)
Hello Howler of the Moon I was invited to review this poem and decided to give it a go.

The first stanza is well and good. Nothing to change, except for the punctuation, possibly. There's only one period and it is in the first line. I'd suggest using no periods through the piece. In poetry, it isn't that necessary.

Alone, alas, he did not wish to be
Below the fig tree.
-- The 2nd line feels abbreviated. At least one of two more syllables are needed to help with the flow.
Alone, alas, he did not wish to be
Below the solitary tree.
Just a suggestion.

A lass did pass indeed,
One of a higher class breed.
-- 2nd line feels awkward here.
A lass did pass indeed,
Of higher class, a noble breed.


The 4th stanza down, starting with Many a day did the fiddler play. the first line seems to follow the rhythm but the other three in the stanza seem short. I few syllables added here or there can help, or remove some from the first line.

As love is your eternal law.
It all went awry
-- An extra space is needed to help maintain the physical appearance.

Upon a horse who raised the sky. -- It's not clear to me what "raised the sky" is in reference to. The first notion is that he's inspired the fiddler to "raise the roof", but that could be my own silliness. My ignorance could also be pointing to horse-related terms that I know nothing about.

The fiddler’s heart fell in a pitfall
When he felt the appaul.When he felt the appaul.
-- Change the first line a little. And you probably mean "appall" instead of "appaul".
His heart fell into a pitfall
When he felt the appall.


The ending is bittersweet, but it doesn't really explain how she came to fall in love with this fiddler. One stanza, spoken to the fiddler, tells him he's seen a "lovely dame" but that only says that she's lovely to behold. I don't see anything that says she would love him.

At times, it almost seems like the fiddler is imagining his love with this dame, but that can't be proven either. The ballad is sad and unfortunate. Another stanza indicating their reciprocating love before the fiddler hangs himself would help make it more tragic. But that is my two-cents worth.

Good luck with this piece, and keep writing, please!!

Than Pence


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