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Review Requests: ON
159 Public Reviews Given
548 Total Reviews Given
Review Style
In a single word, thorough. I will turn your piece upside down, shake the change out of its pockets and look at even the most minute details. I can be technical but will do so when emphasizing a larger point about the piece as a whole.
I'm good at...
plot structure analysis, technical/formatting issues, character development commentary (especially checking for continuity), diction and dialogue
Favorite Genres
political, dark, dystopia, speculative fiction, plotty erotica, some sci-fi, anything with emphasis on social science
Least Favorite Genres
teen, young adult, romance, most erotica, anything ultramilitant, (creative) non-fiction
Favorite Item Types
novellas and novelettes, short stories over 3,000 words, poetry in challenging forms
Least Favorite Item Types
flash fiction, short stories under 3,000 words, full novels, short poetry
I will not review...
anything with a subservient female character, nature poetry, stories with happy endings
Public Reviews
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Review of Her T  
Rated: E | (2.5)

I must say your brief description got me to click on the link to this piece. That's not always an easy feat to accomplish. The problem is, I'm not sure if it's actually the right brief description for this piece. It may be something to think about after going through the rest of the poem and making adjustments.

Truth be told, I am torn on what to address first: the structure or the diction. I think both aspects need to be reconfigured almost across the board. Both are also getting in the way of your poem's imagery, such as the analog clock reference in the third stanza. The reference's potency is neutered between the overly long line and the use of the word females (in addition to the misspelling of TikTok). I do think that there is solid potential for more detail with that analog clock reference, which makes me inclined to focus first on the structure.

While this is labeled as poetry, the line length currently comes across as prose. This structure helps keep the rhyming couplets in tact. I'm not sure if rhyming couplets are the best set up for this piece. Even splitting up the lines to make four line stanzas with rhyme scheme [x]/A/[x]/A (and subsequently [x]/B/[x]/B, etc.) would make for easier reading. It would also give you more room to add details about what people are supposedly looking at for validation. Likewise, the capitalization of each line may not be necessary, although this is a secondary concern. Splitting up the lines will likely involve revisiting the capitalization piece organically.

Now it's time to look at the diction. While I have no qualms about firing up Urban Dictionary when I come across unfamiliar slang, I feel like that should not be required for a third of the words used in any piece. Other readers may likely feel the same way. I also feel like leaning on slang comes across as an attempt to convey imagery; this attempt can fall flat or be bewildering. This crops up very early in the poem with this phrase:

In our lives we remove v's for various reasons

There's not a lot of context for readers to even know what you are referring to when you say "v's". I think it might be useful to be at least a little more specific at the outset so readers can get some idea of what's being removed. Frankly, I'm taking a wild guess with this suggestion:

In our lives we remove posts and people for various reasons

Like I said, that's a guess, and I'm willing to bet I'm wrong. Ensuring that others are not wrong will require some changes to reduce the slang in the piece. Barring that, if the slang needs to stay in place, I think providing a brief explanation can help. Here's one example:

knowing he's looking at the BBL's

After double checking with Urban Dictionary, I think I can put together a suggestion that boosts the imagery in this part of the poem (among other things).

knowing he's looking at the BBL's—a perky rump filling the frame—caring less....

Right now, without more descriptive words and phrases, it's very unclear what kids are seeing that is causing them to look for external validation. Setting aside the fact that seeking external validation is an issue across all generations, it would help readers to see what the kids are seeing (or supposedly seeing) so they can follow how such videos can lead to self doubt or other mental health issues. Imagery may not completely resolve that issue, but it's a substantial first step that should be taken.

In the end, I feel like a lot of opportunities were missed in this draft of the poem. At least there's a decent framework in place, so you have lots of avenues to explore in the rewrite of this piece. It may end up that even the brief description merits reconsideration, and really, that's okay.

A brand new siggie from the Stik!!
Rated: E | (3.0)

I've read through this poem a few times to try to figure out how exactly I feel about it. There were some interesting elements to flesh out tone and rhythm through repeated statements. On the other hand, the imagery could have used more description to really bring both the sorrow and repetitiveness to life. Since these things equally weighed on my mind as I read this, I ended up feeling ambivalent about the poem overall.

To me, the imagery will be both the easiest and most useful aspect to tweak. We know that this is addressed toward people in fields, but aside from barren, what do those fields look like? Are there remnants of brown, dead plants? Or are the fields just soil that's gone sandy in texture? Since fields play such an important role in this poem, I think it would be beneficial to show us what's happened to them to make them barren. It might even be worth considering dropping a phrase or two in there to show readers how the fields got this way.

Aside from fields, there is one line where I think some more concrete imagery can be used.

We're simply too old

I feel like this is a great spot to show how one is too old to make change. After all, aging is moving at a different pace in the 21st century for a lot of reasons. I've seen people over 50 become smartphone dependent while youth have been picking up "older"/analog technologies. With this line, maybe showing some physical signs of aging that prevents effecting change can paint a more evocative picture (and give readers a bit of insight on the narrator's experiences).

Our skin has cracked, hands unable to bear the cold
So now we tell the young ones

While I created an example that adheres to the rhyme scheme in the second half of the poem, I encourage you to play with the imagery first and see if maybe the rhyme scheme needs to be reconsidered.

Speaking of structural components, I'd like to take a look at the "today/tomorrow" lines. On the one hand, I do like the approach of using these repetons to set a cadence for the piece. I also appreciate the variations on these repetons later in the poem. That said, I feel like they feel a little heavy handed in a poem this brief. To me, it feels like the focus on these repetons comes at the expense of imagery. I can see two ways to address this: removing one or two of these repetons or expanding the poem by a verse or two to give the repetons a bit more space. Either of these options should work well and give you more chances to have more detail to depict the scene/the narrator's regrets/the response of the youth/whatever you'd like. If you do opt to remove a repeton, I'd say lines five or nine are the best bets.

I'd be curious to see what comes of revisions to this poem. I think there's plenty of room for expansion to truly evoke a sense of tragedy and cyclical habits that contribute to it.

A brand new siggie from the Stik!!

*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
Review of Birds  
Rated: E | (4.0)

I ended up clicking on this link because of the unique brief description. It's great to see a newer member (or really any member) putting some thought into the brief description. So often I see people put in descriptions such as "This is a poem about [blank]". I find your description to be intriguing, as it sheds some light on what we might find in your mind.

As for the poem itself, since it's so brief there's a bit less for me to say than I usually might put forth. Oddly, it made me think of helicopter parents, something I did not have but know it was common among my peers a generation ago. So for that bit alone I rather enjoyed the message. I feel like right now we have a lot of people learning to metaphorically fly much later than expected, and the unintended consequences of that have been a lot for the rest of society to bear.

That said, I'm not sure how I feel about the lack of punctuation and capitalization of every line. The lack of punctuation insinuates to the reader to read the whole line in one breath without a pause of any length. Myself, I think a comma or two will give readers a split second break that will allow the message to resonate more thoroughly. Likewise, I also think putting a period at the end of line two and removing "For" in line three would lend the poem additional gravitas.

In the end, I appreciate the message in this poem. Some style tweaks will give it a little extra resonance and perhaps make a longer-lasting impression on those who need to hear this the most.

A brand new siggie from the Stik!!

*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
Review of Zombie Acitvists  
Rated: 18+ | (1.0)

Wow, what a terrible poem about zombies and zombie activists. It is so tempting to riff on the phrase "zombie activists", but that's neither here nor there. I will say I wondered what the activists (and zombies themselves) consider brain food. Is brain food stuff with a lot of good fats in it? Do they know? I felt like them giving even hints as to what to eat would have made the pleas a bit clearer. It also means that the zombies might have had a chance to eat sharper brains. *Wink*

So, um, bad job! Here's to hoping that minor tweaks can make it even worse. *Bigsmile*

A brand new siggie from the Stik!!
Review of Defined  
Rated: E | (4.0)

First, having read "The Ballad of J. Alfred Prufrock", I had to open this up when I saw the description. *Bigsmile* I will say you recreated the tone of that piece pretty well (and do so in a more compact fashion that I feel is more appreciated by today's readers). Your technique choices are intriguing, and I think a little bit of cleanup in that regard will improve an already steady rhythm.

*Burstg* There are a couple areas where I feel like punctuation use merits a second look.

Under lamp-post stars,
I paused.

In this case I wonder if it would make more sense to drop the comma at the end of the line. Given how commas are used to indicate short pauses, it feels a bit clunky to have one at the end of a line so early in a poem. It prompts the reader to slow down before they've really gotten started on the piece, and that can make some people lose momentum when following along. This is a reasonable strategy to use further in a poem, but I feel like it can make readers stumble if it's used too early in a work.

I step once more through lamplight
and watch my outline fall away
for a moment

On the opposite end of the spectrum, this trio of lines kind of bleeds together with too much forward momentum. It impacts the whole stanza, but I think even just adding punctuation here would make a difference. Given that the stanza that follows does use more punctuation to provide breaks, the lack of it here causes even more whiplash when reading.

I step once more through lamplight
and watch my outline fall away;
for a moment

*Burstg* There are a couple places where you have capitalized a couple words at the start of a line in a way that doesn't make sense compared to other lines. Both happen to be in the last stanza.

Yet I cannot escape myself
For I am again defined;
Though light might touch
Only half of who I am,

I was taken aback a bit by the capitalization of "For" and "Only" here, as similar lines earlier in the poem don't have capitalization at the beginning. I have included an example of such a similar situation below.

I have changed it all
if but for an instant.

I feel like the "changed it all" pair of lines uses capitalization better to maintain a consistent rhythm. Toward the end of the poem, the capitalization suggests a new thought for the second and fourth lines even though those lines make more sense when connected to the previous lines. I think removing the capitalization in these areas makes the most sense.

As I've stated, I think the overall rhythm of this poem is solid, and the use of parenthetical statements is great. It both fits with the techniques used in the original poem and also reminds me a bit of my own journal writing. I'm clearly a huge proponent of parenthetical statements. In any case, once some technical cleanup is done, the poem will flow even better.

A brand new siggie from the Stik!!

*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
Review of Roles And Rules  
Rated: 18+ | (2.5)

I decided to check this out because of the brief description, a brief description that I feel could use a bit of reworking. After reading it, I feel like this could be a good free form poem. In its current state, though, it gets a bit wrapped up in trying to sound important. This ends up making the piece less interesting than it could be. Shifting away from this kind of tone can be accomplished in a few ways.

*Burstg* Imagery: The first line actually starts off with some enticing imagery (a smiling child and the different reactions it evokes). This is a good start, but I feel that the rest of the piece lacks the punch delivered in the first two lines. Adding a few descriptions to some of the subsequent lines would help hold people's attention. A couple lines stood out to me as being ripe for beefing up said imagery.

The dress codes at school that stand for nothing but a man’s pride.

I feel this line has the most potential for creating great images for readers. While some may focus on how schools use dress codes to police young girls' bodies, there are definitely other angles that can be covered here. It could be the strain of the tight neck of a polo shirt or pointing out the odd colors of school uniforms. There are a lot of ways to play up this line and make it show how much "pride" can be at best irritating.

The dress codes at school that stand for nothing but a man’s pride:
strangling collars of maroon polos, stick straight grey slacks, closed shoes chafing toes

...and leaves a little sting wherever you go.

That sting represents society and it’s fucked up roles.

The second part of this example is textbook "telling" in a piece, something that contributes to the muddled tone. I'll touch on that shortly, but I also bring up this line and a half to look at how the imagery of the sting can be tweaked. It's a good image to keep in the piece but again could use a little expansion. In particular, stating where someone feels that sting would be effective here. It reminds me of one of my favorite lines from The Matrix: "a splinter in your mind". I feel like that may be where this bit about the sting is going, but that is definitely my bias showing itself. If that isn't where this is going, spell it out. Maybe the sting is something that strikes a person in the chest and lingers as a dull ache. I think something like that would really show readers how the effects of roles and rules linger with a sense of at least annoyance (if not frustration or worse).

*Burstg* Tone: As I touched on a bit ago, there are some lines that force feed opinions/feelings to the reader. This kind of phrasing tends to lead to a piece trying to sound important but not succeeding instead of delivering a message/persuading a reader to shift their perspective. Imagery can fix a lot of this, but it's not the only thing. Let's take a look at this line.

And that is how things work ladies, gentlemen, and everyone in-between.

The rules and roles of society.

To me, this line comes across as haughty and forceful. The fact that the effects of the rules are not all that well described earlier in the piece makes such forcefulness downright baffling. This is a case where the tone can benefit from both a bit of softening and clarification of how you feel about these rules. Here's how I see these lines having more of an impact on readers.

Wandering the world, I've seen that this is how things work.

Ladies, gentlemen, and everyone in-between,

I present to you the rules and roles of society.

This change shows that everything you've stated before is based on your observations. If readers have even a little understanding of how you reached a conclusion on something, they're more likely to be sympathetic and/or open to your message. Since you mention what you would like to do, bringing the poem back to your point of view at the end will also make it clear that this is how you feel rather than you trying to push people to accept an idea that may conflict with their experiences.

*Burstg* The Brief Description: This is an area that everyone has to complete when creating an item but consistently underestimates how important it is. One of the most common things I see in this field is "This is a poem/story about [a certain concept]". That phrase gobbles up quite a few characters and leaves you with little room to create and engaging hook. Dropping that phrase is an easy first step to making the brief description more eye catching. It also gives you more room to make it clear what the readers can expect. Even something like "How exactly does society reflect on people?" would work here. That said, I think the "society reflects on people" part if a bit unclear. What part of society reflects on people? It seems like the rules and roles that promote conformity are what you're tackling here, but I can't actually tell. The brief description gives you a chance to clarify that. You could say something like "Here's the problem with fitting into society's roles". That's both engaging and makes it a little clearer what readers can expect from this poem.

There are some other formatting issues that could use attention, but I suspect those can be addressed after the imagery and tone are tackled. I do hope you tackle it. I'd like to confirm (or be surprised by) what you find frustrating about social rules and roles. Once that is clear, this poem can stand well on its own.

A brand new siggie from the Stik!!

*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
Review of Black Baccara  
Rated: 13+ | (2.5)

Having written a piece titled Black Baccara myself (granted, after your story), I was pulled in by the title. I think it's a catchy title with lots of strong accents and vowels. It's really captivating. So of course I clicked in and took a look.

The very first thing I noticed was the formatting. I can understand why you'd go for double spacing, and that can certainly help readers with significant vision issues. However, in that case, there will need to be more defined spacing between paragraphs. Right now everything blends together, making reading a physically difficult act. The use of khaki font complicates this even further. I think those two changes (spacing and font color) are the most important for making the story more readable.

The biggest aspect of this story that stood out to me is imagery. The imagery used in your story is a bit all over the map. The first line could use a lot more of it. When you say she moved "eloquently", what does that look like? Does her pace glide? Is she holding her arms to her chest, or are they at her side? Where is her gaze fixed (if it's even fixed at all)? The lack of imagery in that opening line can cause some readers to lick out of the story right away, so they'll miss the stronger examples like "pink laced lamp" and "the wind is her slim finger tip". Another imagery concern is that there are places where the imagery goes a little over the top. Here's one such example:

I place her chestnut colored hairs away from her face and I cover her flush lips with my hands.

I feel that the description of her hair and face at this point feel ham fisted. The descriptors could be taken out without changing the ominous tone of the sentence all that much. When it comes to imagery, you may want to focus on swapping over adverbs for more concrete details and play around with removing a few adjectives. These steps can help strengthen and balance the imagery in your story.

I admit I also wasn't convinced of the young woman's innocence. Sure, she had an innocent look about her. However, it seemed like this was the only basis the narrator had for declaring her to be naive and innocent. Given that the brief description states that this is "a taboo love affair", I feel like there should be more to her innocence than her looks. The "help me, mommy" line hints at it. The story could use more references like that. Otherwise, the story reads less "taboo love affair" (which implies both parties consented to the relationship) and comes across more as a stalker of the underaged. If it's the latter, that actually should be made more apparent in the story. Even a line or two about the circumstances where he first saw her would be sufficient in this particular endeavor. Meanwhile, if it's a taboo love affair with consent on both sides, it would be worth contrasting the "help me" line with a past instance where she welcomed the narrator's advances/actions.

On the whole, the story has a noticeable element of darkness in tone and some of the stronger examples of imagery. However, a lot of the elements feel very disconnected even when a reader takes the time to push through the challenging formatting to work on absorbing the story. Don't be afraid to make sizable changes to this work. That kind of push will ultimately give the story stronger legs to stand on its own.

A brand new siggie from the Stik!!

*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
Review of Gush Me No Gushes  
Rated: E | (4.0)

I have read over this piece and find I largely agree with the points you made. The piece made me reflect on my (very long) time as a member of Writing.com. The points you made are familiar to me, as I've been involved in discussions of reviewing practices throughout the years. I have heard people state that in-depth reviewing is still found on the site. However, a lot of it is not public, and I think that's a problem. While I can understand J.B. Ezar's comments on individual goals, I think that misses the point of being public with in depth reviews. I think it's critical to have diversity in reviews on the public page, and I try to reward those that I think are worthwhile. That's actually been more difficult to do lately, as I've seen a lot of gushing even when I filter for reviews that are a minimum 1000 characters in length (which I use as a starting point for finding in depth reviews).

That leads me to a couple points about this piece. I appreciated that you pointed out what you consider to be the most helpful kind of review. Were any of those reviews made public? If so, I think providing a link to one of those reviews would give other readers of this piece an example to consider if they want to strengthen their reviews. Seeing public examples may also help newer reviewers explore ways to talk about things they like or don't like in a piece. It also can give them ideas on how to organize a review beyond the templates that dominate the public review page. I know that when I review I tend to keep my focus to two or three aspects of the writing so I can both go in depth and not overwhelm the recipient. Someone seeing one of my reviews could either decide to take that approach or opt to pay attention more to an aspect I cover (for example diction).

The other point I want to bring up is the title. I can appreciate the riff on the idiom of "ask me no questions and I'll tell you no lies". However, the "gush me no gushes" phrasing feels awkward, especially if I try to say it out loud. I feel like I stumble over the hard G sounds in relatively quick succession. I admit I'm a big fan of punchy titles that get to the point. This title to me falls short. Even something like "Gush Me No Lies" (to retain the gush aspect) may feel less awkward.

In the end, I too hope that we can effect some changes in public reviews by more openly discussing the downsides of fluffy reviews and elevating the reviews that aren't afraid of digging deep. Here's to hoping that we can both build these habits and help others do the same.

A brand new siggie from the Stik!!

*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
Review of The Treacle Well  
Rated: E | (3.0)

As someone who finds the word treacle to be woefully underrated, I figured I'd take a look at your poem. I feel like I'm almost reading two poems here since there's a bit of a style split between the two stanzas. That style shift hits me with two different approaches to imagery and tone. Of course, it so happens that the tone and imagery I like better do not happen to be in the same stanza.

When it comes to the first stanza, I like the tone a bit better. There's a cynical edge that really stands out with the line "If that’s what you’re wishing to find." I like that pushing of toxic positivity away from you and onto the reader. I think we need to see a bit more of that in all forms of written work. That said, I do think that the line "Let’s go with the sweetened stench of treacle." takes a bit of that punch away. It sounds apathetic, a bit of a departure from the purposeful cynicism a couple lines earlier. I thinking describing the qualities of the treacle will both beef up the cynical tone and clarify the use of the word "treacle" for American readers. I will admit I looked it up since I was unaware of it being an actual foodstuff; I'm much more familiar with its use as an unflattering term to describe overwhelming sentimentality. So perhaps a beefing up of the treacle imagery can help in this regard. Here's one idea.

*Bulletg* At bottom of the well pools a dark patch I can't see,
Sweet, sticky with the viscosity of rubber cement

Speaking of imagery, the imagery is stronger in verse two. Some of the imagery is pretty pat (such as describing the sun's qualities), but it at least paints an understandable picture in the mind's eye of the reader. Still, pumping up the imagery with more specific details can sharpen the contrast of the actual mood and the mood you would like to have. Adding a couple unexpected twists could also give the imagery more impact, as shown in this possible rewrite.

*Bulletg* Can’t see blue sky on a clear winter’s day,

Likewise, the last line may benefit from a slight tweak to remove a preposition that makes the rhythm falter a bit. The line will still work pretty well without it.

*Bulletg* Brings me a smile, a comfort where there are none.
or alternately
Brings me a smile, a comfort where none exist.

I think what you have here is a good start in describing the difficulty and futility of escape from depression's low points. However, there are stylistic conflicts between the stanzas that make the message a bit muddled. Each stanza has strong points. However, it is ultimately up to you which strong aspect you want to highlight (and thus use as a guide in rewrites for this piece).

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Review of Selfie Someone  
Rated: ASR | (4.0)

The alliterative title caught my eye on multiple levels. I'm a big fan of both alliteration and photography, so this seemed to be right up my alley. It was an entertaining read that I feel will be even better with some tightening.

One thing that stood out to me was the adverb use. Adverbs get a bad rap, and I know I'm guilty of taking the "banish adverbs" advice to the extreme. That said, it's still worth finding a few places to rewrite the section to remove the adverbs and better establish the mood of the piece. Let's take a look at the second paragraph.

All through his waking life as an ambitious travel photographer, he would lead his equally ambitious bunch of photo hungry Turks who would crisscross the entire length and breadth of the Gulf every Friday, seeking out unique places completely off the map while unlocking new vistas for exploration and adventure.

Of the two adverbs here, I see a stronger case for leaving the phrase "equally ambitious" as it is. With "completely off the map", there's some room to play around with imagery to show how remote these locations are. Describing the landscape would be a good place to start; you could show if there are any animals out there and how quickly they try to hide from the horde of photographers (if they're not used to seeing any humans around). You could also talk about the rocks and how they might experience wear differently between wind and human touch. This stands in contrast to some great imagery a little bit after the paragraph discussed.

Suddenly, blue bolts of lightning crackled like St. Elmo’s fire, static from the Kodak camera in short bursts, scurrying out across all directions, amorphous, amoebic brilliant light like radiant claws reaching as if to hold on to something in sheer desperation…finally finding its most obvious source, the unsuspecting Canon in one powerful umbilical connect.

A steady stream of crackling blue light poured out, emptying itself from the Kodak camera into the Canon.

Aside from (maybe) rewriting the initial adverb here, the descriptions here are great! I am a big fan of the word scurrying; I find it to be evocative in ways many words dream of being. It works well here in describing the frenetic, random nature of the lightning. Using this level of detail in place of some of your adverbs will cultivate even richer mind's eye images for readers.

I was somewhat confused by the sender and the sender's grandfather. While we readers may not need to know the sender's name, it's not always clear if Allan recognized the sender. I also wondered how he knew the sender's grandfather was in the photographs. I also wondered who might have taken the photos of the sender's grandfather due to lines like this.

Lifting the cup, jumping to dunk in an ace shot, standing in the center of the court his lanky imposing frame eating everything around him, after party celebrations…a king of the sixties basketball craze.

Since we have no clues of how Allan recognizes the subject of the photos as the grandfather, we readers could think that the grandfather was taking these actions shots and that the subject was someone else. The sender's note about his grandfather being into wildlife photography is almost a red herring in this case. The question is how would one resolve this confusion and still keep some of the details a mystery? The one thing that comes to mind is including a last name in various areas (such as on the photo subject's jacket or a label on the camera along with something included in the note. If you decide that doesn't fit in your story and that Allan gets the answer in a less concrete way, perhaps including him hearing the clue in some way would be useful. Maybe he hears a random whisper and assumes that whisper is telling him the subject is the sender's grandfather.

You have an entertaining story well in place. With some additional imagery and clarity, you'll be able to take this story to the next level. I'm glad you took the time to share this with us!

A brand new siggie from the Stik!!

*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
Rated: ASR | (3.0)

I admit I stopped in because of the title. For someone like myself (where caffeine/theobromine sensitivities are strong enough that I can't eat chocolate without heart problems), the idea of a world without chocolate actually sounds like a good thing. I figured I'd still take a look at a perspective that's the opposite of my own.

The thing that stood out to me the most when reading this was the rhythm and punctuation. The line breaks felt random much of the time, and this made the rhythm feel disjointed. Some of the line breaks could be kept as is but with punctuation that signals a more definite stopping point. This would make a huge difference at the very beginning of the poem. Let's take a look.

Global warming,
destruction of the rainforest,
all have consequences

I see a couple potential options for punctuation here. You could leave the commas in place to ease the reader into thinking about these ideas all at once and then end line three with an em dash. I think an em dash would better relay the change in focus from listing various phenomena to pointing out what they all have in common. The other possibility would be to swap the commas for periods to deliver each idea with a greater impact, make the reader consider them with greater gravity since they're more singled out.

The third stanza, meanwhile, feels like a really long sentence since the punctuation is really sparse.

A world without chocolate,
where trees die
for lack of water
or because the climate
in which they evolved
becomes too hot
or too cold
for them to survive.

Here I feel that if you want to leave this stanza as is a simple punctuation change would make it more readable. Since the climate factors currently read like a list, a colon might be more effective. A more forceful stop somewhere in this stanza would encourage readers to not skim over these possibilities.

The other thing I noticed is there are a lot of possibilities for making the imagery more concrete. While you do a good job of pointing out what factors could make chocolate extinct, there is a lot of potential to make this information visceral for readers. Let's go back to the first three lines. What does global warming look like? Is it footlong cracks in depleted soil? Is it a proliferation of heat mirages around the world? Is it an increase in tans and browns in the landscape? Whatever that looks like, kick off with that! The reader's mind's eye will be engaged at the outset, which will keep them in tune with the rest of the piece. Providing concrete images for the rainforest and deforestation will further engage readers. I will say that since there are some similarities between these concepts you may want to invoke the sense of hearing in creating the rainforest imagery. I see a silencing of a rainforest species that spreads cacao seeds (or something similar) being particularly effective here. In addition, there is some slightly confusing imagery in line five courtesy of affect versus effect. Since effect as a verb is about bringing something to existence, I was thrown by how deforestation brings the appetite of the body into being (although that would actually be an interesting idea, now that I'm thinking about it).

I think the poem is off to a good start, but there's a lot more than can be done with it to get chocolate lovers and chocolate loathers alike to more deeply contemplate the loss experienced in a world without chocolate.

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Review of school  
Rated: E | (2.5)

It's been many years since I was in school, but I still keep track of how kids feel about it. After all, my taxes go to funding it. I want to make sure it works. In that vein, your last sentence struck me. I reread the piece and realized I had a lot of questions.

*Bulletg* Are there any resources made available at your school for mental health issues? While not all schools have groups for mental health, it is something that more schools and students are actively working on changing  .

*Bulletg* You ask what 14 year old likes school? I can think of a few examples. Kids who are homeless or lack a stable home life structure will see school as a refuge. Their levels or learning motivation will differ, but even the less ambitious students appreciate the sense of routine (and access to food). Similarly, kids who like to learn but may not have the executive functioning skills to create their own lessons will appreciate school. School can help develop those executive functioning skills that foster independent learning.

*Bulletg* What do you think needs to change? To me it feels like you cut off your piece at the knees without delving into what you think should be different. I get the impression from the rest of your piece that school needs to change from an interpersonal perspective. Still, since you never outright state that, it would be helpful to clarify if that's the case. If you are indeed referring to social aspects, it's time to expand on that point! It would also be interesting to see your thoughts on some of the suggestions people might make (out of habit) to address the lack of friends issue. Everything from taking on extracurriculars to cafeteria arrangement seems like fair game. I think it's wirth exploring.

*Bulletg* If you're not going to expand this piece (which would be a shame), what do you want readers to get from it? Is it an article or a different kind of "Static Item? What genres should it have? While the piece currently feels more like an opening paragraph to me, I acknowledge that you may think it's complete as is. If you think it's complete, adding some genres and clarifying the type of this piece will help the right people locate it on the site.

Bottom line, I think there's more than can be said on this subject. I also think hearing more about why you feel this way would help us readers better understand your predicament. In the end, I recognize that it's your decision what we get to find out. However, a little bit more detail can make a big difference.

A brand new siggie from the Stik!!

*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
Rated: 13+ | N/A (Review only item.)
Hi, there!

I love intentionally bad poetry, especially any that tackles Valentine's Day. Your piece is no exception. The first line was a solid start to this piece (although I think switching the order of the words would make it an even stronger opening line). From there, the descriptions drew chuckles from me. I especially enjoyed your calling Cupid "Baby-clown"; that was an inspired choice. Your disdain of Cupid is clear and understandable throughout this piece. I approve!

A different kind of review signature
Review of When you find me  
Rated: ASR | (2.0)

I've been deliberating for a bit on how to approach this piece. When I read it, I saw a lot happening that I felt deserved attention. My overall impression is that the narrator's focus felt really scattered. I could tell that a lot of the story was being told in flashback, but it didn't feel like there was a solid sense of significant amounts of time passing.

These structural issues were enough to distract me from the characters. It seemed to me that we started off with exploring who Ashley was before segueing into reminiscing about Mr. Nutty McDoogie. However, I feel like there was more space devoted to actively developing the dog. While I'll delve a little deeper into discussing my impressions of each character's development, I want to state now that I think the best way to address some of the structural issues is to tell Ashley's story in reverse chronological order. This also gives you an opportunity to unravel her identity in a more engaging manner.

ASHLEY: The first introduction we get to Ashley is a list of defining characteristics.

...a vibrant and beautiful girl loved by everybody. She was good at everything she did, she was caring, compassionate and an advocate for everybody who was mistreated. She was the biggest animal lover and took in every stray dog that crossed her path.

Starting off with a textbook example of telling in a story means a (potential) loss of readers very early in the piece. With these traits being duly assigned to her, interest in finding out more about her (and the narrator's relationship to her) falls by the wayside. We're not given as strong of a reason to care about Ashley or what she does. I would consider having the narrator delve into an act Ashley committed that highlights her skills (such as helping the narrator understand a geometry concept). If we readers see Ashley in action at the outset, we'll be much more curious as to why she suddenly took off, not to mention better understand the narrator's confusion and sadness. Going back to the reverse chronological order tactic I mentioned, perhaps you could have the narrator looking over something that Ashley helped her with and being interrupted by the news that Ashley disappeared.

MR. NUTTY MCDOOGIE: Out of all the characters, I'd say I actually understood Nutty the best. While there was still a plethora of adverbs that were distracting, I saw some concrete nuggets that showed me the personality of this dog that meant a lot of Ashley (and actually seemed more memorable to the narrator than Ashley herself). These lines gave me understanding of this character, because it seems Nutty truly was a character. (Note: I included some suggestions to tighten up the sentences to improve pacing.)

He always had one ear up and one ear down, giving him an eternally goofy looking appearance that begged for you to cuddle with him.

His threatening growl grew silent over the time, but the hair in his back was still raised and his eyes was watching my every move, making me wonder uncomfortably, what he would do if I make the wrong move...

All seventy pounds of him would jump on his hind legs in an awkward series of weird exuberant bounces, his ears and tongue flopping along.

These lines prompted vivid images of the dog and his bond with Ashley, something I feel is this piece's strongest aspect. Your use of action here is something I would encourage you to apply to Ashley's characterization and perhaps even the narrator. On an unrelated note, I feel like everything about Nutty could stand alone as its own story, if you ever decided to explore Nutty further.

ASHLEY'S MOTHER: While Nutty struck as the best developed character, I'd say that the most developed human character was Ashley's mother. I find the awkwardness between her and the narrator believable, and I could at least appreciate her sadness. Her reticence goes a long way in showing her emotional state and is effective. That said, I'd have liked to see a little more attention to details when it comes to Ashley's mother. How did the narrator learn of her true occupation? Was it through spying her uniform somewhere in the house? I also wondered why she let the narrator in her home when the two had never met before Ashley's disappearance. Is she so bewildered by her daughter's disappearance that she's willing to let anyone in who might have some answers? I would consider detailing the moment when the narrator meets Ashely's mother the first time. It will help readers better understand the mystery of Ashley's disappearing act and provide greater credibility to everyone involved.

Overall, I feel your characters are believable and have the capacity to be engaging. At the moment, though, there's not quite enough action to give readers enough insight to truly buy into them. I would also consider which character you want to be the focus of this piece, as it currently comes across as Nutty being the focus. Showing Ashley in action aside from bonding with Nutty would help bring a greater amount of the reader's focus back to her and better show the narrator's connection to this long lost individual.

A brand new siggie from the Stik!!
Rated: E | (2.0)

There's a lot going on with this particular piece. It was actually a bit hard at the very beginning due to the formatting of the text. I presume this was done due to space constrictions, which is understandable. Once you have rewritten this piece,you may want to consider some portfolio reorganization to free up some space. I would wait to do that until some editing is out of the way first. That being said, the formatting did mean a bit more effort was needed to complete the reading. This brings me to the story itself.

The beginning of the story feels like a lot of information is being spoonfed to the reader. We're given description in a manner that feels more like a checklist than anything. Diving into a flashback right away also prevents the reader from being immersed in the story right away. I barely even know what Andrea Sinclair's is like before I'm being moved along into Don's mind as he reminisces about getting the dress for Sally. There's not enough information given for me to care. You could always try something like this, adding a sentence that lets the reader know what the restaurant serves or who else is there.

Don is sitting at a table in Andrea Sinclair’s, a very posh upscale restaurant in town. Groups of men and women in satiny dresses and men donning sport coats share Veals and champagne at surrounding tables.

With this beginning (if you choose to use it, and I'll address that in a moment), I feel adding even just a couple details about the restaurant will interest readers and also help us believe that Don is in the right state of mind to remember something pleasant about Sally. Right now, I'm not getting any of that when reading through the first paragraph, which actually does seem kind of short if you want to have this scene serve as the prologue. That could discourage readers from going any further with this story.

As I read further, I found myself more engrossed by the scene at the Cotton Gin. Here you did a fantastic job of evoking the mood of the bar and the personalities of the patrons. I got a better understanding of what Don was feeling and who mattered in his life. I feel like this might actually be a better place to start the story, with details of the rejected proposal being sprinkled in the story later on. It would be a good way to detail his reluctance to acknowledge Darlene. Here's a possible place to weave in such information without giving too much away.

Don turned his chair so he could watch the door for the first good looking Doe that walked in. As people wandered in, he'd sit up a bit if he saw any flashes that looked like sea foam green. However, as luck would have it this was not a very good night for singles it seemed that all the good-looking Doe’s brought their bucks. And the ones that came alone were either over eighty or under age, and Brenda was sending them back out the door.

It may not seem like much information, but it would give readers something to look forward to as they read. They might wonder about the sea foam green bit as they read, but with more details being mentioned in the story they'll start to put the pieces together in a more natural way. Then their understanding of Don will evolve in a rewarding fashion.

One other thing that stood out to me was the point of view. It switches from Don to Darlene and back at times during this chapter. I certainly don't mind shifting points of view, but doing so in the first chapter can confuse other readers. This area is where I first noticed.

Darlene somewhat disgusted that Don hadn’t even looked at her walked off. Darlene had always liked Don. But Don never gave her much attention. Don turned his chair so he could watch the door for the first good looking Doe that walked in. However, as luck would have it this was not a very good night for singles it seemed that all the good-looking Doe’s brought their bucks. And the ones that came alone were either over eighty or under age, and Brenda was sending them back out the door. The girl just didn’t have a sense of humor when it came to minors. Taco had just finished singing “House of the Rising Sun” when Darlene brought him his drink.
“Here you go Don that will be two-fifty please.
Don laid three dollars on the table. “Keep the change Miss.”
“Thank you, Don.”
Don still had not looked up at Darlene, and she was really disgusted and walked off. As she reached the bar Tammy was standing they're, taking a break. Darlene threw the tray up on the bar and turned her back to the bar and climbed on to a barstool. She turned to Tammy.

By this point I'd already gotten used to seeing things from Don's point of view, so the switch to Darlene was a little bit strange for me. On top of that, the point of view switch provided a bit of an information dump about Darlene's feelings toward Don that I feel could have been revealed later or scaled back. I'd concentrate in this particular part on detailing what Don observes of Darlene's behavior and then let her overtures directed at him reveal her intentions.

Don felt more than heard Darlene leave, her footsteps almost stomping back to the bar. He turned his chair so he could watch the door for the first good looking Doe that walked in. However, as luck would have it this was not a very good night for singles it seemed that all the good-looking Doe’s brought their bucks. The ones that came alone were either over eighty or under age, and Brenda was sending them back out the door. The girl just didn’t have a sense of humor when it came to minors. Taco had just finished singing “House of the Rising Sun” when Darlene brought him his drink.

“Here you go Don," she chimed. "That will be two-fifty, please.

Don laid three dollars on the table. “Keep the change Miss.”

“Thank you, Don.”

He heard her sigh but kept his eye on his screwdriver. Picking up the glass, he took a sip and spotted Darlene at the bar out of the corner of his eye. It looked like she was talking to Tammy, but he couldn't figure out what they were saying. Don shrugged and continued staring at the stage.

The more I read, the more I could be immersed in the story (although it took a little effort to keep track of everyone in the Cotton Gin from time to time). I even chuckled a bit toward the end of the chapter. That said, there's going to need to be some cleanup in terms of formatting and creating a stronger hook at the beginning in order to really bring this story to life. If you'd like I can take a look at the chapter after you've made some changes and do a more detailed review to pick up punctuation/wording errors that I spotted. While I did see them in this version, I feel that the top priority with this story should be taking a look at where detail works/doesn't work and securing the reader's attention at the very outset.

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Review of Un-Fair  
Rated: 18+ | (3.0)
Greetings! I read this piece a couple times before gathering my thoughts. It was engaging to a point, and I thought the narrator's voice was well developed. There's a lot to like in this piece (including the title), but I felt there were some areas that derailed the momentum of the story's pace. There are also some formatting issues that I spotted along the way that you'll want to keep in mind for rewrites and that I wish to discuss fairly in-depth because I feel this story can go from good to great when these issues are tackled. I think when these items are tackled the humor in this story will be more apparent and feel more natural for the characters (as well as the reader).

*Bulletb* Four years of near-perfect grades (save, of course, for ninth grade PE) and I’m somehow still not exempt from doing volunteer hours. I just don’t understand why someone like me has to volunteer at dismal jobs to graduate high school. People who think and learn the way I do don’t need conventional jobs; we get through university on scholarships and get high-paying careers where we never need to learn how to socialize.

I didn't think too much about this when I read the story the first time, but it jumped out at me the second time around. Though I didn't have perfect grades in high school/secondary, I was in IB, which had a 50 hour volunteering requirement that was non-negotiable. Even if that wasn't the case, a number of students who were earning such high marks usually participated in volunteer activities to increase their odds of getting into their first choice of university. Part of this stemmed from recommendations from parents and guidance counselors, but some of it was also peer pressure (not necessarily of a bad sort). My memories of that made me stop short when I read this paragraph because I wanted to know more about how Jane's attitude took form. How long did she know the volunteer hours were required in order to graduate? What exactly made her try to fight it? Most importantly, what makes her think a university is going to accept her based solely on grades? Considering how early this paragraph appears in the story, it sets up Jane's character and has the most immediate impact on her voice. It does a good job of crystalizing Jane's cynicism/borderline antisocial stance. However, it does so with raising a lot of questions about her attitude and how flexible it really is (which makes a big difference as the story goes on). I think some aspects of this paragraph might need to be reexamined to clarify why Jane fought this so much. It could be tweaked to give rise to an unreliable narrator, although that might be a bit much for a comedy piece. As it is, this part gets a little too serious (at least for me).

*Bulletb* One thing that you may want to try to give this piece a little more levity is adding more physical components. In particular, I'd like to see more details on the body language of the characters. This is especially true for Evan. Here are a few places where I think body language/physical actions would be beneficial. I offer some suggestions here, but you might come up with something better if you decide to detail more nonverbal communication.

“I’ll tell you some stories about him. We’re actually supposed to be heading outside for a tour of the fairgrounds, but clearly you’re not one to spend your time listening during job training, so we’ll chat instead.” Sounds adequate.

Instead of saying "Sounds adequate", why not show a little activity on Jane's part?

“I’ll tell you some stories about him. We’re actually supposed to be heading outside for a tour of the fairgrounds, but clearly you’re not one to spend your time listening during job training, so we’ll chat instead.”

I shrug and take a half step toward the exit.

He tells me, “Try squire. I'll have to follow one of the knights around all the time.”

This would be a great place to show a facial expression.

He grimaces. “Try squire. I'll have to follow one of the knights around all the time.”

“What are you doing?” He definitely isn’t smiling at me now.

I think describing Evan's face here is crucial. Reversing the positioning of the dialogue and action may also help keep the pace from halting (which I'll discuss in more detail momentarily).

He narrows his eyes. “What are you doing?”

*Bulletb* Pacing is another aspect of comedy writing with an importance that can never be understated. If you've ever watched stage performances of The Taming of the Shrew (which this story nicely echoes), you'll find that rapid fire banter between the characters and swift action engages the audience both in laughter and emotional investment. With this story, I feel there's space to eliminate some areas that read like transitions but aren't and to clarify the transitions that should be there. The first concept comes up mostly in the form of splitting up paragraphs that should be combined. Here's one example.

A week later and my slack-witted parents still firmly agreed with the dolts that make up our education system. By then the only jobs left for me to choose from were police officer-in-training or wench. That’s right. Wench.

But the only thing worse than being a wench is a physical stamina test. Which is why I’m sitting on this bench being trained to serve people that would all be working for me, were it not for my youth.

Starting a new paragraph after wench feel awkward. I feel combining these two paragraphs would allow readers a bit more time to digest Jane's reasoning before jumping to a new idea. This split prompts readers to shift to a new idea that's actually linked to the previous paragraph, which can be a little jarring. Here's a possible way to approach combining the two.

A week later and my slack-witted parents still firmly agreed with the dolts that make up our education system. By then the only jobs left for me to choose from were police officer-in-training or wench. That’s right. Wench. The only thing worse than being a wench is a physical stamina test. Hence I’m sitting on this bench being trained to serve people that would all be working for me, were it not for my youth.

One thing that confused me a little bit was the passage of time with the following section.

Evan’s saying good-bye and meeting up with some blonde girl who’s all breasts and butt, Brett’s joined a bunch of muscular guys who all look obnoxious, and I have absolutely no knowledge of how to do my job.

Thank God I truly don’t care.

And now here I stand, in a tattered floor-length skirt, with a fake missing tooth, on my first day working at a renaissance fair. With that idiot Evan handing me a flower and smiling at me.

I actually found myself wondering how much time had passed. Was it an hour? A day? Adding to the confusion was the fact that Jane mentions blowing off two hours of training but later on states that only one hour has elapsed. If this difference stays unreconciled, it's going to pull more people right out of the story. Any levity present in the story before this point will be forgotten, and any levity after this will go unnoticed. As a side note, I would be very surprised if the training was not considered in the total volunteer time. When I did my volunteer work in high school, the hours spent training to complete certain tasks (e.g. plant care steps at the nature conservatory) were included in the hours.

Related to this phenomenon is how some characterization is relayed. While the reader finds out the protagonist's name right away, how does Evan find out? Likewise, how did Jane find out about Evan's childhood time in Manchester? Was that something Brett mentioned, or did Evan bring it up? Did Jane happen to overhear some other workers gossiping about Evan? The way it's currently presented makes it seem like Jane pulled all this information out of thin air. Even a passing "or so I heard" entered in there would tie up this loose end and keep the action moving. It would also show the degree of detachment Jane feels from this environment. Heck, it might even show the opposite, which would actually make more sense considering her change of heart.

*Bulletb* I have to admit the ending felt very strange to me for two reasons. First, even though Evan's persistence in socializing with Jane has been well developed, his motivation is still somewhat obtuse. Why is he so interested in Jane? Is it because she took to Brett first? That's the impression I'm getting, but by the time I'm reaching that conclusion it almost feels too late. When am I reaching that conclusion? It's around this line.

“I know,” Evan tells him. As soon as Brett starts talking to him he gets this uncomfortable look.

This could be fixed fairly early in the story where we first see Evan. When you say Brett gives Evan a weird look, describing what his face looks like would provide a bit of foreshadowing that's not too obvious but still provides a reason for the reader to at least understand Evan's motivation. It can still be funny, such as Brett's eyebrows scrunching up in a manner that reminds Jane of something that might be cute to most people but strikes her as absurd (squirming puppies, for example).

The other thing that was even more unclear to me is what caused Jane's attitude toward to complete a 180 in such a short period of time.? Now there are some moments where I could really see her conflict with regards to Evan (such as the part where she ruminates on Evan actually thinking he's a knight). Those lines do show her at least considering him, but it's almost too subtle when later on her attitude shifts almost immediately for suspicion to compliance. She goes from swinging a fake sword at him and saying she doesn't trust him to her breakdown and inability to apologize in the space of about twelve lines of dialogue (which also includes Brett). That feels very sudden, and I'm not sure if many readers will be able to suspend their disbelief without one of two things happening. The first is more hints at the underlying tension between Evan and Brett. The second is making the story longer. Going back to The Taming of the Shrew, the taming of Katherina takes place about halfway through, and we see more of her transformation into a more docile character. In this case, while Jane is no shrew, perhaps it would be worth considering taking a little time to elaborate on Jane's transformation into someone starting to understand the value of socialization. I didn't see that so much with this ending (which got a little rambly in regards to Jane's internal thoughts).

*Bulletb* There is one minor detail that's bugging me a little bit.

“Welcome to the county fair!” they all shout in unison.

Some American readers might become confused by the use of the phrase "county fair" to describe this medieval themed event (as Americans will call these medieval fairs or even ren faire despite that name's era being a bit different in terms of costuming and popular activities). If medieval fairs are actually called county fairs in certain regions, you may want to consider adding a footnote to explain that or use a different term.

When it comes down to it, I did enjoy the story (albeit more on the first reading). I felt that the characters were engaging and worth following, and I got a pretty good feel for the setting. Bolstering the actual story components (fleshing out motivations, smoothing the transitions) will make this an even more compelling work that will leave readers wanting to know even more about Jane's change (or if she even succeeds in changing).

A brand new siggie from the Stik!!
Rated: 13+ | (2.0)

I commend you for taking on the topic of food safety in your piece. It's a discussion that has uneven coverage at best and should be researched on an individual level. That said, I got less of a research vibe than a propaganda one while reading this item, which will work against getting people on the fence to hear you out. In the internet age, it is a lot easier to find information to reinforce already held beliefs and thus play to a single person's confirmation bias. If you want to break someone from that trance, you will need to polish this piece and leave no stone unturned. There are a few areas in particular that I feel merit special attention.

*Bullet* CITATION: My biggest issue with this piece was the lack of citation for any quote or statistic used in this item. Let's take at the beginning of this piece.

Top FDA bureaucrat admits:

"I'm not telling you it is a system that is optimal for consumers..."

Who was this individual from the FDA? It he or she was kept anonymous, where did you pull this quote? Pulling such statements without providing additional context is great for propaganda but not for a piece that is intended to get people to reexamine their food consumption habits. More cynical readers will even dismiss the piece right off the bat because of the lack of citation. If you at least state the name of the publication in which this quote was related (even the title of a YouTube video or radio broadcast), that gives people something to research independently, which I gather is a step in the right direction for your purposes. You will want to do this for a number of quotes and statistics scattered throughout this piece.

*Bullet* SOURCES: Speaking of sources, there are a lot of quotes mentioned in less than 800 words. If you want to keep the item within that word count bracket, you may want to consider using fewer sources to avoid confusing some readers. It will also lessen the workload for those who decide to continue researching on their own. There is a possibility that you may find yourself in a position where you will need to make a pervasive change to the piece after tracking down the sources. I can see this going one of two ways: narrowing the scope of the piece to focus on either detailing the problems with the food supply or expanding your word count to roughly 1,000-1,500 words to accommodate both topics.

*Bullet* WORDING: My other major concern with this is the tone used. It struck me as very heavy-handed and came across as "my way or the highway", if you will. If you want to truly get people on board and not potentially have this dismissed as propaganda, I would strongly consider backing off a little. In other places, it gets a little too casual, which can also earn detractors. This part in particular stood out to me.

My system is to buy or grow organic foods and become a vegetarian. Paul Mc Cartny has an interesting video called, " If Slaughterhouses were made of glass, we'd all be vegetarians. It's on my facebook page under Les Kilpatrick.

The Facebook quote embodies the too-casual aspect that I mentioned, while the first sentence is an example of the more aggressive language that carries hints of stubbornness. (On a side note, the organic foods mention brought this article   to mind. I think equating organic foods to food safety is a bit risky, especially if an organic farmer unknowingly spreads contaminated manure. It's much easier to filter that out for an individual tending his or her own plot, but even in urban community gardens this can be a potential pitfall.)

*Bullet* PRESENTATION: I also noticed that this piece was designated as an "other" static item with educational as all three genres. I would consider determined what specific kind of static items this is (article? essay?) and at least look at adding Food/cooking as a genre. Determining the exact item type will help you refine the piece and give more structure, while adding a different genre or two will allow more readers to find it.

Overall, I think that your choice in a troublesome topic was a good one. I just don't think this piece has quite enough going for it to make it as effective as you'd like.

A brand new siggie from the Stik!!
My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Go Noticed.
Review of The Emetic  
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)

While I've read a variety of works on numerous eating disorders, this is probably one of the most visceral works I've read. It's downright haunting, in fact. There are a lot of things that work in this piece. In particular, your use of the verbs "muffle" and "grate" in the fourth stanza give this a powerful sensory punch. There are a couple places where I think a little tweaking would tighten this piece. These things should also be considered in your future poems.

*Burstg* Enjambment: I see enjambment in quite a bit of poetry I read, but it's rare when I see it used effectively. Most of the time, it makes the poem feel like a run-on sentence. Here is an example:

begin to leak onto what
is no longer a face

and I am as blurred

Sometimes it's worth entering a pause, if nothing else to signal to readers to stop for a second and let that line mentally percolate before continuing. The pause can be indicated with a period, semicolon or comma. I feel a period after face would be appropriate here, especially since the last two stanzas are all part of the same, complex thought.

*Burstg* Word choice: There were a couple times when your word choice created images that didn't always fit into the greater scope of the work. One such example comes from the following line:

I moan the cry of the
cows that haunt me through

Given that cries are generally associated with a higher pitch, I find it to be a jarring juxtaposition when moan is used in the same sentence. Sure, moans and cries can both come out in such primal forms of emoting, but they're generally not simultaneous. This particular section suggests a singular expression, and I think "moan" is the better word used to describe the noise in this part of the scene.

Overall, I think this is a very vivid poem, one that details that ongoing anguish of the narrator without leading the reader to draw a specific opinion about this struggle. There are aspects that can be revised to elevate the poem to an even more powerful piece, but you certainly have a good start here.

A brand new siggie from the Stik!!
Rated: 13+ | (3.5)

I actually read this a while ago but haven't had a chance to really think it over. To my surprise I enjoyed it. Then again, I like unconventional love stories. That said, I'm going after the details since the story and main characters have a solid shape.

*Bulletg* Adverbs: Sometimes I found the adverbs took away from the descriptions in the story. When used in this way, they struck me as redundant. Here's an example.

Arms akimbo, and glaring as if looks could kill, a pale, puny boy approaches them menacingly.

I thought the glare helped craft the image of Jimmy's approach, so the adverb seemed out of place. It could be replaced with some descriptor of Jimmy's posture or other nonverbal cue that involves something besides the face. You could also remove the adverb without taking away from the description of the approach. Each sentence containing an adverb would have to be handled a different way, and you might find that the adverb is beneficial. I would still consider removing a few of them in places where they echo a previous description or could be replaced with a more active description.

*Bulletg* Secondary characters: Though the story is from Arvind's point of view, I felt that I learned more about Jimmy's family. While we find out that Arvind has a sister and that his mom gets along well with Jimmy, we don't really see them at all. In fact, the most I really get to know about Seetl is in Act III when Arvind and Jimmy discuss the rumor started about Arvind and the college student. I wasn't really able to grasp the age difference between Seetl and Arvind or how close/distant they were on an emotional level. I'd have also liked to see a moment showing the chumminess between Jimmy and Arvind's mother. Likewise, you could throw in physocal descriptors of them in Act II, maybe by having Jimmy note a physical feature he likes about Arvind that is similar to his mother.

*Bulletg* Setting: This is the one component I felt got the least attention. I mean, we get some physical description of the neighborhood where Arvind and Jimmy grew up, and there was the scene at the cafe where we saw people outside of their social circle notice them. The MIT bit hinted at a general location for Acts IV and V, but is that area the same setting for the first three acts as well? I couldn't really tell. Maybe in Act I you could describe the exterior of the houses a little more. The natural weather conditions of Act II suggest part of this story takes place outside of Massachusetts (if one uses the barometer of school starting after Labor Day ans six weeks after being somewhere in the middle of October). I actually pictured these parts taking place in the cookie cutter towns of South Florida, even though I'm guessing that wasn't the intention. Besides, even though Arvind and Jimmy get caught up in each other much of the time, Arvind at least strikes me as more observant than the average person. I'd think he's notice some unique characteristics about the place he inhabits.

*Bulletg* Nitpick: There were a few mechanical/continuity things that stood out while I was reading.

1. He's wearing a blood red shirt, and maroon jeans that not only clash with it, but are a little too long, besides.

I'd trim this down a bit to chase off those errant commas that love to crash parties.

He's wearing a blood red shirt and too-long maroon jeans that clash with it.

2. From Act I: He looks like he might be eight, three years younger than Arvind...

From Act III: In it, thirteen year old Jimmy is grinning, and greatly resembles a Croc, himself. Next to him, fourteen year old Arvind looks sweaty and miserable.

I'm thinking Jimmy's age might need to be bumped up a couple years in Act I.

3. In Act II, Arvind's empire on Grand Strategy has two names. I wasn't sure if it was supposed to be either Arvindia/Arvindorinam or one was the official name while the other was an epithet. It struck me as a little inconsistent, although if one is an epithet it's not all that clear.

Overall, I did enjoy the story and just think it's a matter of detail work at this point. Well, that, and I'm interested in reading about Haley's life. I'm really curious as to how that goes.

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Review of Bent and Blind  
Rated: E | (2.5)
Greetings! I see a good poem lurking in a scattering of words and images that all clamor for my attention. When I read this, I wondered if, when writing this, you wanted to take a chance with this poem structurally and emotionally. Sometimes, it felt like you wanted to but couldn't quite do it. It can be hard to do, especially if you're not used to making your thoughts and/or feelings public. That said, there are some aspects of the poem I think you ought to take a look at in revision.

*Idea* LINE LENGTH - The strongest poetic works find the balance between long lines and extremely short ones. In your particular case, I would recommend trimming some fat. Here is one example and a possible way to trim it down while retaining the original idea.

It badgered my mind, it scattered my thoughts, it warped my world to white.

It raped my mind, scattering thoughts, warping my world
(What exactly do you mean by warping your world to white? That's another thing to consider, which will be covered in another section.)

If you're not sure where to start when shortening lines, think of it this way. Does some part of the line appeal to at least one of the five senses? If so, hold onto that part and rewrite the line around that word or phrase.

*Idea* IMAGERY - Just about every poetry reader I've come across touts imagery as either number one or number two on the list of things he/she considers paramount. There were some moments where you flexed some imagery muscle, such as the example below.

As I plunged into the depths of my own sickly mortal veins.

Bodily imagery, when done in a matter that's not crass or gory, can be an effective way to get a reader's attention. I'd like to see this poem have more of those moments. Here's a place when an abstract idea would benefit from a strong image to convey the idea.

You can become a slave to it, this world becomes a lie,

When abstractions show up in poetry, many readers feel as if they're being spoonfed information, which kind of takes the fun out of reading verse. *Wink* So whip up some more images to process. Here's what I might do with the above line.

I work under its under its crushing hand, enduring its sugary lie,

*Idea* RHYME/STRUCTURE - While there are plenty of readers who seek out strict rhyme and meter, it feels like you're trying to appeal to them and readers who prefer fewer structural restrictions. I think some of your line and imagery issues stem from trying to fit everything into a particular rhyme scheme. Instead of having every line have the very end rhyme exactly, play around with slant rhymes. You can also try having similar (but not the same) vowel sounds or other types of rhymes that aren't an exact match. I think if you do that, the revision process will be easier for this poem. I think it will also make your four quatrain followed by a couplet structure easier for people to follow.

*Idea* PUNCTUATION - You will hear a lot of different opinions on this subject. However, as a very detail oriented person, punctuation in a poem makes a huge impact on me. The way I see it, it tells readers when to stop reading, take a breath, pause or even how fast they are supposed to read the verse. To me, the speed of this poem was in a constant state of flux because of the punctuation. You started off ending each line with a period, which resulted in a slow but steady speed. That's fine, but when I get to the first couplet (which was not punctuated at all), I zipped right through it. If you're going to use punctuation, do make an effort to adhere to standard grammar rules. While some poets bend the rules, it tends to backfire when the poem is being read due to speed issues.

I think you have a good start to a poem. To make it more effective, you'll have to be willing to take some risks when revising it. That's okay, though. Taking risks in writing is what keeps it interesting for all of us involved in the craft.

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Review of Luck  
Rated: 18+ | (4.0)
Greetings! There's always something fun with humanizing abstract ideas such as Despair, Luck and so on. I even started a novel with a similar concept. And I'm amused with this new take on the slice of life writing style. It almost begs for a sequel. I got a pretty good idea of where the characters played.

As I read, a few detail oriented things stood out. It might not be a bad idea to detail the casino a little more so people don't get the idea that it's similar to a typical place on the Strip. (Never having been to Fremont myself, I was at a bit of a loss when it came to really grasping the feel of the place.) There was also one part of the dialogue toward the end that didn't quite read right to me.

“I got an email on my Blackberry, he’s vacationing in the Caymans. So, what’ll it be?” I spilled the remaining ten one-thousand dollar chips from one hand to the next.

“Steak or Lobster?”

I gathered that the first line was being spoken by Luck, but it seemed like the second line would be a natural extension of his question. It didn't quite seem like it would be a good follow up by Lust, especially since it's spoken as a question. Here's how I would imagine that particular instance of dialogue.

“I got an email on my Blackberry. He’s vacationing in the Caymans. So, what’ll it be?” I asked, spilled the remaining ten one-thousand dollar chips from one hand to the next. “Steak or Lobster?”

This could also be broken up with a short acknowledgement by Lust when it comes to Wisdom's whereabouts.

Speaking of Luck, what does he look like? I know we don't always get to see the narrator in first person stories, but there's always room to throw in a key detail about his physical appearance. Perhaps he (or Lust) tugs at his shirt, and he might mention what the shirt looks like. Or Lust could ruffle his hair (if it's not cut too close, that is). While I certainly understand not bombarding readers with a boatload of physical detail about Luck, a tidbit or two helps those of us looking in get an idea of who the narrator really is.

Overall, I found this to be an enjoyable story. Some bolstering of the details will make this an even stronger piece, and that would certainly be a good thing. And if you ever decide to expand upon this concept of humanized abstracts, I just might have to take a look. *Smile*

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Rated: 18+ | (3.5)
Greetings! I enjoy writings inspired by fun juxtapositions. In this case that juxtaposition is the slow drive on the fast highway. You brought it up in your brief description, which made me wonder how much more I'd see of it in the poem. Honestly, I saw less of it than I was expecting. Here is one place where you could expand on the imagery to highlight the fast/slow contrast.

lay on their horns all day
while I busily enjoy the scenery;

Aside from the fact that busily enjoying the scenery seems to not fit with the other relaxed attitudes the speaker has on this drive, I think some description of the scenery would make this pop. While I see the surrounding environment while driving on the highway, I know I'm not always paying attention to how the leaves dangle on the branches or how the dirt swirls in errant breezes when I'm flying down the road. Pointing out little things like that in a line or two will add a more visceral touch to this contrast.

The other thing I'd like to mention is the structure of the poem. Even this can be used to build a fast/slow contrast. Whenever I've read poems that are a little lengthy yet condensed to one whole stanza, I feel reading them is kind of a rushed experience. That seems a little contrary to the theme of slowing down that permeates this poem. *Smile* I think breaking it up into even two stanzas will make it feel less rushed. Here's a place where I might put a break.

couldn't keep me
at bay-red tacks on cities like lite-brite

couldn't keep me at bay-

red tacks on cities like lite-brite

Another structure-related thing I noticed while reading was the following three lines.

'cuz i'm my own man visa
the rest of the earth

I'm just curious as to why you had the 'vis' in 'vis-a-vis' on its own line. If you wanted to shorten the poem a little bit, this might be one place to tighten things up.

Overall, I enjoyed the defience and contrast displayed in this poem. WIth a little more concrete detail and structural alterations it will be the poem it's meant to be.

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Rated: 13+ | (3.0)
Greetings! Before I begin, I do have a quick question. When you say "Gay Marriage: The Cancer That Has Infected America’s Morals", is that supposed to be a restating of the title. I thought that was your intention but couldn't tell for sure. If it isn't, I think choosing one over the other will make your opinion more focused. Likewise, is this an essay or an editorial? It could work either way. If you wish to have it as an essay, I think your arguments need some fortification. With that out of the way, I read this and realized there's a lot I want to say in regards to content and structure.


*Bullet* When it comes to the Bible verses quoted, which version of the book are you using? There are slight wording changes among them, and we all know that different words lead to different interpretations of the same verse in the English language. My parents have a King James Bible, but the version I received as a gift from my grandmother is international (I think. I know for sure it's not King James, though). Though not likely, you might encounter some people who will debate with you how these verses were interpreted, and they might do that because their version phrases them a little differently. If you mention the version of the Bible you quote, then people can go directly to that book and see the text for themselves. It helps in giving opinions stronger credibility.

*Bullet* Anyone who claims to know my God and my Jesus yet still accepts gay marriage is a hypocrite.

That's a tough sell. Ruling out Unitarian Universalists, there are those in the conservative community that support gay marriage because it would support the notion of love as a sacred sanction and bolstering fidelity. Here's one such argument along those lines.


With Christianity being so large and diverse in its sects, there will be numerous opinions on how best to promote Christian values. Some will see permitting gay marriage as a way to bolster marriage in general. I think it's an opinion that both Christians and people in general should at least consider.

*Bullet* Societies have gone for the entire length of human existence without it, why the sudden push?

I have to admit this is a good question. I'm glad to see you brought it up, because it is something both sides should consider. I think this debate has been going on for so long both parties may have forgotten what sparked it in the first place (especially among those for gay marriage). I would like to see your answer to this question (instead of just skipping to the point of keeping the status quo). It's the one part of this essay that truly got my attention, and I would have liked to see you delve further into it. It could be in this very work, or it could be another editorial altogether. The choice is up to you.

*Bullet* Even harder pressed is the fact that there is proof that opposite sex marriages are not as stable as same-sex marriages.

This whole paragraph had me scratching my head. I reread it a couple times and realized that the point gets lost in mixed up phrases and the statistics being cited by a vague link that doesn't show readers exactly where to view the original information. Normally I would save this for the structure section, but here the structure affects the content more than anywhere else in the piece. The sentence I quoted above is a good example of this. I'm guessing that is supposed to have "same sex marriages" first followed by "opposite sex marriages". The way it is now almost advocates gay marriage. *Wink* Here is another sentence where wording muddles the argument you're making.

In Sweden, where gay marriage is allowed, the divorce rate among men is one and a half times higher than that of their straight marriage counterparts.

While I figured you were comparing the divorce rates of gay and straight men, the lack of the word "gay" does look a little odd in that sentence. Finally, I noticed that you cited Imapp.org. It's certainly okay to use internet sources in any writing, but a URL by itself doesn't cut it. Where on the website did you find these statistics? Most citation styles (MLA, APA, etc.) will cite by either author or the title. If you can find that information, that will help readers find the information so they can view it themselves. I'll include a link to the MLA electronic sources citation guide. The site also has information for APA, which might be more appropriate.


*Bullet* Right now I have...is not already married.

You piqued my curiosity, so I pulled out my copy of the United States Constitution (which is located in a book containing Supreme Court opinions and dissents on over one hundred rulings in the nation's history). I combed through the document and checked for any relevant Supreme Court cases that would pertain to rights. While it establishes that all citizens of the age of consent do share certain rights (namely voting), I did not see anything pertaining to marriage in there. If you are going to mention the Constitution, it is paramount that would mention the article, section and any key clauses involved. The Constitution is actually a fairly easy read, so providing this information gives readers a road map to finding it, if you will. I could see the Ninth and maybe Section One of the 14th Amendment being used in your argument. Otheriwse, it seems to me you might be confusing the Constitution with more specific US (or even an individual state's) codes of law. If this is the case, I would recommend finding the specific law number and citing it. My go-to place for this information is the Libray of Congress. If you check out THOMAS, that system will have summaries, complete texts, and (co)sponsors of US laws. It's good stuff. Since you do attempt to introduce preexisting US law into the debate (which I never see, so kudos to you), I think some additional research will make your argument stronger.

*Bullet* Have you considered taking a financial angle on this issue? I admit the Biblical argument bored me a bit, as I was thinking I'd heard this before. The non-Biblical arguments did catch my attention, and I think exploring this issue from a financial standpoint would be a breath of fresh air in the debate. You might be able to weave the Constitution in there (although that still would require some work).


*Bullet* Watch your indentations. They are inconsistent, which can confuse readers. When I stumbled upon an unindented paragraph, I wondered if the points could be combined. One such example is the line starting "The city of Sodom..." To me, it seemed that part could have been combined with the previous paragraph. On the contrary, the line starting "In conclusion..." clearly shows a transition in thought and should be indented.

*Bullet* With an essay, you should have an introductory paragraph where you succintly state your point in one sentence and provide some context. The first three lines are a good base for this paragraph, but they should be set apart from the Biblical argument. That paragraph should also state that non-Biblical arguments against gay marriage will be made so we readers have an idea of what to expect (namely, something rarely seen on this side of the debate).

*Bullet* Now I know there are those that won’t accept the word of God, but I see this as one of the most compelling arguments against it.

When I first read this, my first question was "Against what, exactly?" I figured the "it" in question was gay marriage. With the way this sentence is worded, however, "it" could be accepting the word of God. It wouldn't hurt to clarify that.

*Bullet* Watch your sentence fragments. These two stuck out at me, and they think they could be combined with the preceeding sentences.

Such as the fact that we simply don’t need gay marriage.
Such as the argument that it is an equal rights issue.

Overall, the first paragraph almost made me apathetic, and I think any strengths in this piece stem from the presence of non-Biblical arguments. Right now, your arguments are not the strongest they could be to persuade others (either those for gay marriage or those apathetic to the issue) to even consider them. Some research and careful rewriting will make this piece stand out. For right now, though, it almost feels unfinished.

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Rated: E | (2.0)
Greetings! When I read this, I couldn't help but thinking it wasn't quite finished. Though I've seen it in poetry review forums, is it really poetry? Or would it work better in actual letter format? I'm inclined to say the latter based on what I see here. However, since it's not complete, I'm just taking a guess. Here are some things to consider if you decide to recraft this as an actual letter to your soul.

*Bullet* Make the second person point of view richer. This will involve more than adding "you" and "your". Add some details that the other entity will understand better than anyone. This can come in the form of anecdotes where your strength has been tested in the past. With that, put a little more of your current self out there for your past self to see. Try and answer one of the questions you throw out there. It can be as simple as one sentence that starts "I now believe..." and then goes on to briefly state your answer on a particular topic.

*Bullet* If it's a letter, say so! There are many static item subtypes available on the site, and letter/memo is one of them. Aside from that, you can either add a salutation or "sign" the letter, if you will. Such little details might seem silly, but it makes readers feel like they're stumbling upon a secret. It addresses some of our natural voyeuristic tendencies. *Smile*

*Bullet* You might want to consider expanding upon the following line.

Losing the only reasons I had to live are why ill end up losing my life.

How does that work? You've started to address that in the proceeding sentence. Then you jump to saying you wouldn't take your own life. That's a little bit assumptive. Losing your life could in fact not be your decision to make. At least that's what the italicized line suggests. Tell your past soul what's going on, what actions you're kicking around. You've started to do that, but there's still room to expand on that idea.

*Bullet* Since you have the opportunity, be sure to clean up the details. In the line I discussed before, be sure you capitalize and make that the contraction I'm guessing it's supposed to be. Also be sure that you're not mixing up homophones (your and you're, for example). It almost looks as if this was typed up on the fly. When you're ready to make this a finished product, be sure to check out these easy to miss details.

To me, this piece is like raw furniture. It's a little rough in spots but can be turned into something beautiful and durable. A little shaping and polish will help you get it there.

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Rated: E | (2.5)
Greetings! I've been meaning to review this for some time but have just gotten around to it. Though I'm not a reader of the children's genre, I thought I'd drop off some thoughts on the construction of the story. I liked Lisolette and wanted to get to know her more. Outside of her, I felt like a lot of things were missing from this piece. Children's stories still merit thoughtful character development, easy to folow dialogue and rich settings like other stories, and those are the primary topics I will address.

*Note* CHARACTERS: As I said, I did get a glimpse of Lisolette, and I liked her. Though she may seem childish in comparison to 14 year olds today, I felt her personality fit with the era in which the story is set. The problem is, she struck me as the only character with any really depth. Though several others played a role in the story, none of them really struck me as memorable. I kind of understood that Frau Keltzer was rigid yet not unyielding. However, I felt like Lisolette's parents were almost cardboard cutouts, and the others all blended together. Some physical description couldn't hurt. More to the point, describing their body language would be a great way to reveal their personalities in the action of interrogations. I see the beginnings of this when you describe her encounter with Frau Schmidt ("She looked really elegant and kept her head high."). With the others, you could note if they fidget, twitch or maintain a certain posture. Likewise, you could have Lisolette note either to herself or mention it to someone else if this fidgeting seems out of the ordinary for any of the characters. Right now, though, the characters aren't exactly well distinguished from one another. Perhaps you should spend some time with them to understand how they tick. Asking them questions and having them respond could be helpful.

*Note* SETTING: One thing I remember from reading stories in my childhood was being lost in the settings. They were well described, even if they weren't in fantasy worlds. (If you ever want to see an example of this, pick up a book from The Baby Sitters Club, which shows detailed settings in a non-fantastic world.) Aside from the fact that it's 1892 and that Lisolette's house lacks some of the new household technology available to those of her family's economic status,I have no real concept of when or where this takes place. The parts about Lisolette getting her Sunday dress dirty and Herr annd Frau Wolff enjoying the afternoon sun suggest to me that it takes place in the spring time. Is that the case? Perhaps you could describe new flowering plants growing along the road or stubborn piles of snow that refuse to melt. How about Frau Keltzer's house? Other places where you might not think of adding description (but certainly would enliven the prose) include the beginning during Lisolette's birthday supper. I was eating when I first read this, but I wondered what they had. It seemed like a special occassion, so what did they have to celebrate? And what was the dining area like? These descriptions reflect on her family's status, what their neighborhood is like and other details that children her age would notice. With older children being somewhat sophisticated in those matters nowadays, they might notice if these details are missing. What does that look like? While it can be easy to go overboard with description, there's very little in the story as it is.

*Note* DIALGOUE: The longer the story went on, the more rushed the dialogue felt. It did give the impression of Lisolette abandoning her responsibility of buying milk, and that's where it was most successful. Otherwise, the waves of spoken lines confused me. Two straight pages of it is a real test for readers! If an adult has a hard time following the dialogue, imagine how kids would feel. I do see early on you take a short paragraph to allow Lisolette to collect her thoughts. You should do this more often, and don't be afraid to allow more time in between discussions with other characters. Another option is to reduce the number of questionings Lisolette conducts. Either way, Lisolette is clearly an amateur with an inside track into the adults' lives. She'll need more time to think over the conflicting information she's given. Such non-dialogue paragraphs will help her and the readers keep track of what's happening in the story.

*Note* DETAIL WORK: This section mainly concerns structural issues I noticed throughout the story.

1. I noticed quite a few comma splices. I recommend "Comma Splices and Fused Sentences for suggestions on how to rectify them and will present a line where I spotted the error.

I smiled as I neared the living room, I knew I was faking it but I couldn’t help it.
Note: I think a period instead of the comma would be appropriate here.

2. On a similar note, some of your sentences ramble. Splitting them up into two (or more) sentences will cut down on headaches and make the point clearer.

I laughed; she always had such a fashion sense, maybe it’s because she goes to the School Of Fine Arts.

I laughed. She always had such fashion sense, maybe from attending the School of Fine Arts.

3. Be careful about the spacing of your paragraphs. In some places you have the right spacing while others get lumped together when they should be split. Here's an example of where space should be added.

“You know each other?” Papa asked angrily.
I quickly went to the kitchen without answering his question.

I think you have a good base for a mystery story aimed for a younger audience. I would suggest a rewrite to add some more description and to make it easier to follow. From there, if possible, try to determine what age your audience is (and it makes a big difference in children's writing). Once you determine an age range for the readers of this story, have some kids that age read it. Ask them some questions (e.g. "What do you like best?" "Did you like a particular character more than others?") so you can get a better idea what kids want from a story such as this. It has some work ahead, but I think there's potential for this story to entertain a young audience.

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