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for Superstition

4/5/2015 c1 14Shampoo Suicide
Deep, deep apologies for the belated review! Don't know where my mind was! Congrats on your February WCC win, it was a great piece :D

The opening, and introduction to Cassie, is wonderful. I like that she evokes the spirit of a pet almost at first, the bell around her neck, cuddling up in response to thunder, and of course never speaking yet somehow being able to communicate somewhat effectively. It's an interesting concept to think about, and definitely makes for an intriguing character to build a story around.

I also really appreciated the technique of weaving in the superstitious sayings and how they moved the story along and were set out separately to really emphasize their importance both to the work and to the characters.

The ending is sort of incredible and unexpected. It's really remarkable, because you built this ominous mood throughout yet made it still feel so grounded and understated that I never really felt like I was expecting a certain kind of ending, wasn't waiting for any of the superstitions to portend danger. It's compelling to wonder more about both Cassie and the grandmother as a response, and if this is some sort of supernatural universe. I really love that you pull off an unexpected ending that feels still totally natural to the story and is in no way a cheap way out or overly shoking or anything, really, other than absolutely right for the work. Outstanding.

I don't have any real constructive feedback to offer in the way of improvement, so much. If this were expanded I'd say maybe focus more on the narrator if possible, but as is I think it was the right choice to let Cassie shine through the narrator's words instead. It could be interesting, though, to learn more about this family overall, the father and grandmother. I think that's another testament to how good this is, that in such a short piece you've developed a compelling family dynamic I want to see more of.
1/7/2014 c1 13IronicPuppies
I like how you use superstitious sayings to not only build up to the ending but to shape the relationship between the two characters. At first it shows that the narrator cares for Cassie because of the way she indulges Cassie’s superstitions, despite not believing them, in order to calm her down, then of course it creates tension when Cassie runs out into the storm on her own.

I also think you were able to establish an intriguing background for the characters. The family members you mention make me wonder more about the kind of family these characters have grown up with. Apparently their grandmother is very superstitious and their father has a temper. It makes me wonder where the mother is, why their father is like that, and certainly if either of those have to do with Cassie’s silence. Good job on describing their home life while still leaving room for the reader to wonder and speculate about more intimate details.

One thing that did make me stop to think was the fact that Cassie does not talk and yet clings to these superstitious sayings. It’s clear from the story that she can understand English so there’s nothing inconsistent about it, but thematically it struck me as odd that a girl who takes phrases so seriously would never say them out loud. I didn’t personally find any kind of explanation why Cassie is mute in the story, so that detail just sticks out to me, and I kind of wish there were some hint as to why she doesn’t talk at all. I think you could achieve the same effect if Cassie was just a very quiet girl as opposed to one that didn’t talk at all.

Finally, great ending, but even more so I liked the build up to the ending. While I was reading I kept debating whether this was a piece meant to expose the naivety in superstitious belief or if it was building up to some catastrophic end. Not that it had to be either one or the other, but I like that I couldn’t really make up my mind until the end. I appreciate any piece of writing in which I can’t really predict the ending and yet when the ending comes it fits with the rest of the story, so good job with that as well.
12/28/2013 c1 1k+Faithless Juliet
Hello and congratulations on winning WCC!

OPENING: I like how you played with foreshadowing in this opening section. I like the hesitant footsteps and how on edge Cassie and her sister were (out of fear of their father waking up) which immediately puts the reader into the mind frame to also be on edge, because it’s clear from the beginning that something is afoot, and not quite right about this.

CHARACTER: Cassie (Cassandra, how clever) kind of stole the show. She has a very vibrant personality, even though she’s a child, and nothing is really explored in too much detail you really manage to create a lot with so few words. I also thought it was good that you didn’t go into too much back story about how she *knew* to get out of the house and STAY out. I think it works better that its implied that something internal told her to run outside rather than having a full on “she’s having a vision” moment.

OTHER: The only thing I wasn’t clear on was the bell. In my mind I imagined it was a necklace jingling, but I was never really sure. I would recommend going into more depth with this since it’s mentioned a lot. Why does she have a bell? Does she have a history of wandering off? Things like that. It’s also unclear why she would be tinkering with it at the beginning when she’s trying not to wake their father up.

ENDING: Really great job with the ending, I think it really delivered a nice punch. I do, however, think that the piece as a whole felt a bit short at the end. I think the opening has a lot of steady development but the ending section felt just a bit rushed. I think you have a lot of space to move around in terms of word count with this beginning the skeleton of the story so a few more paragraphs could really add a lot. Keep up the good work.

12/9/2013 c1 deadaccount2019
There wasn't anything big that stood out in this respect. Little things that could use a polishing, such as removing the unneeded commas (particularly the first in the first sentence, and the first comma when Cassie points to the seagulls). The other thing would be to go for an em dash instead of brackets when doing the acorn cutaway, as it would emphasize a more natural pause. There were also a couple points where sentences ran a bit and I thought perhaps you could go with a semicolon instead of a comma, but that could be a personal taste thing.

I love how the setting seems to have a lot of detail, but doesn't ever feel like it's bogging down the story. It's very vivid and at times I find myself thinking of one of the houses my grandparents owned while I was very little.

Overall I enjoyed the writing. It's very straight forward and never strays from a young-ish sounding voice. About the only criticism I could offer on this is to watch wording. As an example, "Cassie says nothing, but I don't expect it." The wording makes it sound as though the Narrator wasn't expecting her silence. Something along the lines of, "but that is nothing new." would help with the confusion.

The only place where the story seems to lag is during the outside pursuit. I think perhaps this is simply because I expected it to be shorter (being a short story and all), so I would take that criticism with a grain of salt. As a whole the story's pacing is quite good. Everything seems to flow at a steady pace, never getting stuck on any particular theme, which keeps it as a whole feeling fresh.

Overall, I really enjoyed the story. Great job! :)

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