This is an excerpt from a novel about a homeless bookstore owner.

1
Overall

Because this right now is only a small part of a novel and mainly dialogue at that I'm not going to go into an "advanced" rating as I really don't think it would be too beneficial. Instead I'm just going to focus on the dialogue because it seems to me that's what you're really wondering, the whole "does this work" question. Correct me if I'm wrong.

I should say I'm somewhat interested in the idea of seeking out a self-published man for whatever reason. I'm interested in John's motivation for that, so that's a good thing. But dialogue wise, it's my opinion that you're sinking into a bad territory of being too direct about your own personal views of the publishing industry in your dialogue. I can't say that's true because I don't know what you actually think about the publishing industry, but I can tell you that it was the first thing that popped into my mind as I read this piece. That can be a good thing, but it's also insanely problematic. Your characters should try and be as detached from the author as they can be in their dialogue. Dialogue like this seems really forced. Your characters shouldn't naturally be pointing out all these faults or ideas, or if they do, they shouldn't be articulating it in this "I agree with everything you said" way. 

That's really the main problem with this. The dialogue isn't reading as natural to me because it seems so focused on criticism. Criticism isn't bad, if a person's novel can't make a point about something, what's the point of even publishing it right? But there's a difference between making a point and telling a point, which is what I fear this dialogue leads towards. I can't suggest any one way to fix it, that would be too problematic. They are your characters and I lack too much background to give them a convincing dialogue. I would suggest going over the dialogue with a critical eye. Analyze the importance of what these characters are saying for the progression of plot. Are they saying these things because they need to be said or are they saying them because you want them to be said. There's a big difference, and while it's fine for you to want your characters to say these things, I really feel you have to make your audience want these characters to say them too. 

I know that's a bit cryptic, but hopefully you can squeeze some goodness out of it. 


A mother takes her kid and they run away. But worse things happen.

2
Overall



What this piece honestly suffers from is a love for the dramatic. I know this might be what you wanted given the intense nature of the plot, but goodness this piece goes from one extreme to the next without a bit of room to breathe. I could really see this working as a script honestly, that sort of over-the-top dramatic dynamic without any build up is especially popular within the context of modern TV, but for a short story, I don't think it works too well.

It's not as if the story is bad, you've clearly got an interesting dynamic going on, but to me it seems like you didn't want to bother with the build up. That might be simply because this is the end of a work, if that's the case let me know, but if this is the completed work you're giving your audience everything from the very beginning. There's clearly abuse and the kid-narrator doesn't observe it in a hypercritical way just observes it, the mom clearly shoots herself and once again the kid doesn't observe it in any hypercritical way, it just happens.

The absolute best part of this piece is the whole part "I did as I was told. I heard a noise through the music that sounded somewhat like a crash. And in that moment, I felt on top of the world. It felt like a roller coaster ride."  with such an intense descriptive voice you should be littering the story with these observations. Instead there's just dialogue which while giving you the benefit of progressing the story plot (a chief function of good dialogue honestly) progresses it forward too fast. To tell the 100% truth when it came time for the mother to shoot herself my mouth was open not out of suspense but wonder. There was nothing that presented that level of drastic action within the character. There was no build up; these characters are virtually unknown and non-descriptive. 

That's not always a bad thing, I personally like to keep my main characters somewhat ambiguous, and a lot of authors use this as a way of connecting with a wider audience, but for such drastic actions to occur, for the audience to really feel for the tragedy, there's got to be some build up. I think the story has a lot of potential but you've really got to reach back and find a way to make the audience feel for the characters, who are they, why are they doing this, what's the tragedy. You have that ability with the short story, honestly you do. Right now your piece is only clocking in at  624 words. Short stories range anywhere from 1000-5000 words, sometimes more, very seldom less otherwise it crosses over into flash fiction. Use that to your advantage, go back over the lives of these characters with a fine tooth comb. Analyze their habits, understand their tragedies and bring them out to the reader. Let your kid-narrator do what they do best: observe the world through a non-inhibited lens. That's what's so great about child narrators, they're blank slates which allows for a much more intricate look into the instabilities of the world 


Too much information can be worrisome at times, although employees are humans and have human needs

Overall



I want to start by saying I'm always weary of reviewing any sort of humor piece because humor is very subjective as it stands. However, I also think it's important for people, especially in the humor category, to be upfront about if a joke works or if it doesn't. To me the joke didn't work, to me it wasn't too humorous, but I can understand why people find it funny and actually I would probably find this humorous within a grander context as an example of a character's own paranoia or neurotic tendencies. As a stand alone piece it's not hilarious, it's just lighthearted which isn't a bad thing actually.

The main problem I had with this was the use of ellipsis. Why I don't think you used them wrong in all honesty, you just used them so often. I became aware of your use of ellipsis throughout the work, almost every paragraph ended with them. I understand that's a characterization thing, clearly your main character suffers from bouts of disjointed ramblings; my own mother is guilty of this and it annoys me to no end. It's a great way of crafting a character, but it can get to be a bit much. If you're going for that slight frustration from reading the piece then that's great, some author's love doing that; using grammar and language to taunt their reader's into feeling somewhat annoyed. It can work, and in this case it does for me, so if that's what you're attempting to do, bravo. 

The almost Sherlock Holmes style of observation that doesn't necessarily justify the main character's concerns are actually pretty humorous. There's a strong sense of "oh this character is clearly over-reacting" that comes from those descriptions and logic-trains so I think you do a good job of balancing that with plot. It flows actually pretty well, perhaps aided by the ramblings, it never seems to miss a beat, so that's also rather refreshing.

My biggest question is what purpose does this piece serve? Is it supposed to be a stand alone piece or part of something more? As a standalone piece I'm not sure just reading it would give the same experience. I could see it in a collection of stories revolving around paranoid characters, as part of a novel, as part of a short story addressing the character's quirks, but in it self, I'm not sure if it really even is a short story. 

I know that's a subjective thing to say because you're asking "what is a short story" but I don't really get that sense of conflict or struggle that's overcome through the narrative that's common in the short story. I sort of just see an isolated fun anecdote that while crafted rather well, doesn't really leave that gut-punch impact that short-stories can be famous for. I'd strongly consider trying to tie this into something else. Maybe try figuring out what the main character's larger struggle would be and how this fits in?

 


The juice ran down Elenor's chin from the cantaloupe.  It was second tier to strawberries, but she would eat anything in the summertime.  She offered a piece to Emily, but ...

1
Overall

Are you going for flash fiction here or are you simply labeling that because it's an excerpt to something else? I only ask because it changes the dynamic of the story and your author's note suggest this is perhaps a start to something else. 

I'm kind of curious to what age/who Emily is. It almost seems like she's a child in this one due to the whole "dropped Emily on the floor" bit, but the sentence structure seems to denote some other form of an adult. It's not clear what Elenor was doing with Emily, was she holding her or picking her up or is Emily something else? You might want to work on a bit of clarity just to that, which, if you're making this any longer I'm sure will come.

Is it worth doing something with though? Sure, it depends on what you're doing with it though. If this is the entire piece, there's simply not enough context to craft a reasonable story/ piece of flash fiction with. There would have to be more, a quick anecdote about eating fruit isn't anything too spectacular honestly. But what it reads to me is a good introduction to a short story. You've already got action going on, two chief characters, a setting, and seemingly a plot developing. I'd run with that if anything and see where it takes you.


A short story that came from a dream of mine.

2
Overall



I'm going to separate this by category, leaving the general impression for last as it sort of ties everything together.

Originality 
I realize that originality is sort of a tricky subject for writers because, as a general rule, most things have already been done. Of course part of originality is presenting old tropes in a new and engaging way, which is something that's just as equally hard to do. There are all sorts of famous writers and scholars who have claimed there are only a few types of stories and that's important to keep in mind when writing a piece, don't try and make the general story different, just make it fresh and engaging. I gave you two stars because there's not a lot that's fresh here. Your story's been done before and what's bad about this is not that its been done before but that I realized it has been done before. As a whole you're playing on these particular literary tropes and archetypes that are rather conventional, I won't go into the character dynamics as there's a whole other section for that, but the general plot of the story is too obviously conventional as it stands right now. 

Your ending is one of the few parts that stands out as fresh, new, and engaging, but tucked in with the otherwise conventional metrics of the previous paragraphs it doesn't seem to fit. When you're editing this try and twist the typical narrative you have going on. Do they have to be set in this time period? Does it have to be told in this particular scenery? Simple changes could drastically effect the originality of your work for the better. 

Language Rules

I'm not going to put too much focus on this one, you understand the language rules enough to get your point across, it's hardly your biggest problem. However you do slip up and forget quotation marks in some places. While quotation marks aren't needed (a lot of modern writers are now doing without) if you're going to use them or not, simply stick with it.

Flow 

The flow of your work is nice but at times it can feel a bit slow to start. It actually puts me in this strange sort of environment (think Disney's accounts of early English life) and that can be a bit problematic as you're not attempting to tell a nice story but a powerful one. The ending unfortunately doesn't flow at all. There simply, in my opinion, isn't enough build up to the dramatic moment. In fact, I wasn't even sure I was reading the same work. Try and work a bit more suspense into your work, something that allows the reader to at least somewhat expect the unfortunate change in events. 

Characters/Dialogue

This is the area where you need the most work hands down. Right now your characters are two-dimensional and bordering on static. They don't appear to be anything but stock characters, which is problematic as your main characters should feel original and compelling. Try and add some depth to your main character, who are they and what drives them? Try and tone down the bleeding-heart niceness your character presents. Not all characters should be perfect, they should have some sort of fault, and while your character might have some later on, right now they seem too perfect, too flawless. 

General Impression

While your story as it stands right now shows a promising plot progression, it's hindered by its static conventionality. Your promising writing is being overshadowed. Really hone in on your dialogue and your characters, play around with their perfectibility and their sensibilities, ask yourself what their past life is. As you think more about your characters think about how you're presenting them to the world and why. I'd strongly suggest looking into the time period you present this piece in and asking yourself if it really is the best time period to present this work in. Play around with all of these things and I think you'll be on track to unlocking the true mastery of your words.


A book list is devoted to random excursions through my bookshelf and in no way presents complete, well-thought out collection on any particular subject. Expect lists devoted to travel, adventure, ...

1
Overall



I'm insanely interested in the concept of this, I should start by saying that much. What you've got in front of you is a miraculous start and the biggest obstacle for you right now is the lack of information, ultimately you simply need more to make this piece work. 

You're presenting a collective of books in relation to yourself, that much is evident within your writing, especially the last line which denotes a personal attachment to the books. Don't do away with that, roll with it, let it become more embellished. As it stands right now the most interesting aspects of this piece are your personal attachments to the books. Using this as a guideline you could easily create not just a collective of powerful books but rather a collective of your own life through the lens of books, an almost study into the importance of reading or the literary world. It's something that's been done before, but it's always a refreshing dynamic.

As far as the book reviews/explanations go, these could use some work. They're great starters but they don't begin to express the intricate natures of the book's you're reviewing. A good review should touch upon moralistic themes, ideas presented within the book, language rules, pacing, appearance, but most importantly the reviewer's own attachment to the book. Ultimately when someone reads a book review what they want to know are two things: should I read this book, and, why should I read this book? When crafting this piece further, focus on those things. Your strongest answer to those questions is more than likely going to be your own personal experiences.

However the most needed thing for this piece to succeed is a larger volume of works. It's simply impossible to catalog independent or underground culture using only 4 books in the current format. Now provided that you actually do make this a more personalized experience, four books could work, but if you're simply presenting a book list, you're going to need more, right now this is simply a book-list teaser to me.

I'm absolutely interested to see where this goes, and would love to see other book suggestions as I've already taken notes on the one's you've mentioned above (with the exception of Orwell which I've already read)


4.45am, and I was kicking about waiting for sleep to come but it wouldn't. My friend told me about this restaurant - what's it called now? oh yeah, the Duck ...

1
Overall



I'm going to review this with the idea that it is supposed to be a flash fiction piece, so let me know if you have any plans on adjusting it further in the future and I might be able to tweak this review just a bit. 

I appreciate what this is doing, it's playing on the whole "let's take a common moment within someone's life and use it as a jumping point for a story" and you work that rather well in this piece. The sense of voice is the most impressive aspect of this, whether or not this is a true story or not, it felt true, I believed the character was actually experiencing or at the very least recounting these experiences. 

I've noticed a bit of, I don't want to call them grammar mistakes, but rather stylistic choices that could have gone the other way. The use of hyphens throughout might actually be just a deal with the system not allowing for em dashes, but in this case it seems strongly like you should be using em dashes as your sentences are basically breaking through the main narrative with an interrupted thought, which is one of the main uses of the em dash in the literary world. There's also in one sentence at least what seems like a punctuation confusion, "I mean truffles for God's sake--for 11 quid." Personally I feel as if this is expressing at most surprise which might warrant an exclamation mark, and at the least a question of ambiguity as if the narrator isn't necessarily sure if she/he believes the statement; in that case a question mark would seem more appropriate. Of course that's not entirely necessary, the paragraph is still readable regardless of whether or not those things are in place--the audience still understands your point. 

My main qualm with this particular piece of flash fiction would be with its message or theme or rather plot as denoted by my rating above. Its not necessarily as if the piece doesn't reach a definite conclusion and definite conclusions are needed within the fiction world (I don't believe that) it's simply as if it doesn't reach the conclusion necessary for this piece. As it stands the message is one of monotony but it just doesn't seem, to me at least, to end with that strong umph that flash fiction is so famous for. I think that's the biggest hurdle this piece faces, while it's structured well and its voice is a welcoming change from the usual literary voices, the ending doesn't leave the reader with a strong sense one way or another. It just ends.

I don't want to say it's a bad ending either, I think it works, I just think it could work better though I know that's a bit of an annoying statement to work. In retooling this I'd work on creating a stronger narrative sense, what significance does place have to the narrator, and if there is none, consider re-structuring the work as a whole. I think perhaps this might work better as a collection of flash fiction pieces formed together with other monotonous bits in a longer quasi-short-story. You might be able to gain some real traction out of combining this piece with others.


listen, sometimes, your worst days won’t be the ones when you feel sad, depressed, lonely, frustrated or even stressed with all work you need to get done. your worst days ...

1
Overall

I'm going to admit this from the get-go so you understand where I'm coming from, prose writing that attempts to mimic the form of the letter is hard to truly "review." I'm rating/ reviewing it with the assumption that you're looking for honest critique on how to better accomplish the merits of the letter, but if you're seeking a form of publication with this particular piece I'd be happy to critique it in a different manner.

Right now you have a clear thesis of what you want your faux-letter to be about, which is great, but as a standalone piece this does little to illicit that emotional response within the reader. I feel this is more than likely a piece of a longer collection of letters and in that regard it would probably work best sandwiched halfway through the entire collection as a short burst of near poetic prose to break up the longer pieces. 

The sentiment is a beautiful one but it's very direct for a standalone piece. While it might be problematic of me to suggest this, people seek out literature for a certain reason; they expect a certain level of the fantastic, of the philosophical, and of the grandiose--not much, but some. As a standalone piece this piece is too direct to accomplish it's core goal, which I can fully admit might sound strange, but to me as a blind reader of the piece, I feel no compassion or no weight in these words. Perhaps if I had already been upset I would find a great deal of wisdom in these words which is why I believe it would be best served as a sampler within a larger work that's already ellicited that sad and worthless emotional response within its audience. 

I also have a bit of a grammar problem with the lowercased I. While certainly it's a convention that works in some respects, ask yourself are you using the lowercased I for a tangible reason that's crucial to your prose, or are you attempting to make the lowercase I more important than it is. There's a huge range of literary theory that has argued the significance of the I in retrospect to our own egos, and in this piece it could work rather well to minimize the importance of the ego-imporant I when someone is giving advice in lieu of the smaller less dominating lowercase i. The same goes for your general lack of capitlization. Make sure you're not doing it to give your piece more weight but because it is something that's crucial to your piece. If your piece can rely without it, go for it. Or rather, if your piece doesn't make it clear why it is that you are not capitlizing, do away with it, publishers are not alway so understanding.

I'd be interested to see what you do with this as it presents itself in a very intriquing way to me.


And then she sighed at length in some bid to get his attention but he left that somewhere back in July and there wasn’t any going back, back to when ...

2
Overall

Honestly I think this piece is one of the few pieces I've seen that has the potential to work at just this length. The dreamy and vague prose style that you're using with just a hint of hyperanalyzation really seems to work in benefit of the larger theme of Sex Vs Love, abtly placed on February 14th. It's always interesting to examine the dynamic of relationships through the lens of sex vs love, or at the very least, the decline of relationships through an uninterested male and an invested female but of course it can be a bit problematic.

While it's not inherently bad to suggest that a male can feel like the woman is the cause of the relationship, it might be an interesting idea, just for the sake of practice, to invert the dynamics of the relationship. So much of literature is written from the perspective of an uninterested male that it can be easy to fall into the traps that particular theme has to offer. Switch the roles and write from the woman's perspective. Try and figure out what it is that's really caused this relationship to falter; try and get a broader picture of what the relationship dynamic has been up till now, who's been in charge, who's given and who's taken. I feel that it might give a greater weight to some of your already pretty emotionally charged statements. 


A quick personal piece about praise and blame.

1
Overall



I think you've got something here that could be a real solid start to something else, but as it stands right now it doesn't feel rounded enough. The prose isn't the problem, though the repetitive use of she [insert thing she did here or thought here] can be a little passive and repetitive, but it's not the main issue here.

Your character is passively observing things within her life, which isn't bad as people do observe things in their life, but there's got to me more action to get behind. Characters have to do something to catch the audience's attention, and while there is action in this piece, it takes the background to the observation/feeling of the main character. 

As for the central theme of this piece personally I think it's too upfront. That's not always a bad thing but the problem with presenting your theme up front like this is that it lessens the impact the story can have on the audience. When the audience understands what it is that's trying to be displayed often times it can distract from the magic of the story. In this case, the theme of a failed artistic ability/ability to create is rather common within the genre of prose, especially the fiction. Try seeing what would happen if you didn't make your female character a writer or a guitar player. Try seeing what would happen if their skill that made them important wasn't artistic. I think it might actually help you create something more powerful. It would allow you to answer the question of "why is this important to them" as well as allowing you to really dive into why it's a bad thing that she no longers has this passion or this ability in her life. 

After you've done that take a look at your story and see if it's better without the artistic ability. If it is, that's great, if it's not, then add the artistic ability back in and this time, use what you learned to make it better.

Keep up the good work, you've got some real interesting things going for you here.