Reviews for Foster's Gambit
Complex Variable chapter 3 . 9/26/2012
[He leans in the doorway, his elbow grinding in God-knows-what muck is slathered on the frame..] - - - 1) either you had an extra period, or, you need to add one more to complete the ellipsis. 2) this sentence doesn't make sense. XD

I don't like the way you info-dump here, and on multiple levels.

1) It's a little confusing, the way you do it. First off, you introduce WAY too many new terms in too short of a space: "Transit", "Veil", "Earthgate", "Hellgate", "Other Side", "Transit(ing)", "other worlds", "possession", etc. Also, from what I can gather, you're not using "Angels" and "Demons" in the tradition sense; they seem to be more like creatures from another dimension/universe rather than the familiar supernatural beings from Christian folklore/mythology.

2) Considering how hush-hush Foster's narrative has been with respect to details so far, it seems highly out-of-character for him to just dump all of that information on us.

3) It's done in far too compact of a space—too short a span of time. It's both overwhelming and amateur-ish—no offense.

What I would recommend is that you SHOW these things—Gates, Transit, the Other Side, etc.—happening, rather than just tell the reader about them. Have a Demon or an Angel appear through one of those Gates right in front of Foster's eyes—have him give an explanatory quip or two. Break up the info into pieces, and scatter it about; convey it through a mix of explanatory narrative/character reflections, character dialogue, and action/imagery/description, etc. Don't be afraid to insert a little more descriptive information that normal (for example, of what a Gate looks like as it opens), if it means that you can piggy-back some info-dumping on that description. As a rule, try to construct your plot/sequence of events in such a way that the progression/playing-out of the story and its imagery reveals the information. In other words: don't force an info-dump to occur; let them happen because the STORY wants them to happen, not because YOU want them to happen.

Also, you need more dialogue tags. I'm getting lost in the conversations. Maybe it's just because Sebastian and Foster sound so similar, but, I think you should add some more, regardless.
Complex Variable chapter 2 . 9/25/2012
[I think it's like being a cat lady; it just starts with one.

Well, it takes just one to reverse the damage. Just one aching back, that is.] - - - I would write:

"I think it's like being a crazy cat lady; it starts with just one.

It ends with just one, too; one aching back, that is. " (Especially with minimalistic writing, playing around with repetition and rhythm is required to offset the inherent slimness of your prose's volume.)

[Being Warders, we live light and travel light.] - - - I suggest "and travel even lighter."

[It's not been out long enough to turn to vinegar, at least.] - - - although I don't think that this is wrong, it is definitely awkward. I would write "It hasn't been out long enough to turn to vinegar, at least."

[Books, a few toys, a few knick-knacks.] - - - Since the number 4 is important in the paragraph this sentence is in (you repeat "four" several times), I would try to do things in fours—i.e., add another "memory." "Four years" matches up nicely with four memories.

[half-hearted review.] - - -"review" just doesn't sound right—it seems too formal, or... something. I can't help but think that you could use a better word, here.

["In case I upset the balance in the Force or something?"] - - - just want to point out that the "correct" way of using this line is to say "I cause a disturbance in the Force"; Obi-Wan's line is "I sense I disturbance in the Force."

[Pack more clean shirts, in other words.] - - - I would re-order it to read "In other words, pack more clean shirts." I just like it that way. :3

[And Benji, her rat-dog.] - - - what is a "rat-dog"? Is it a dog that looks like a rat? Is it a rat with a leash on it, like a dog? Is it a sickly looking dog? I would use a different term.

[If anyone looks like a cat lady, she does, especially the curly brown hair under that peacock of a silk scarf.] - - - I would insert a "witty" remark that shows the irony in Mrs. Hooper looking like a (crazy) cat-lady, even though she owns a dog.

[row, and she's kind of .. ] - - - 1) you forgot an extra "." in your ellipsis; 2) there is no break between an ellipsis and the word that comes before it... see? You do this in other places, too.

[I feel devastated that Ms. Latham is gone, too.] - - - I would remove the "too"—it upsets the minimalist flow you have going on.

As to fitting in a description of Mrs. Hooper (for some reason, I want to write/say "Cooper", hmm...), why don't you compare/juxtapose her looks with her "rat-dog" You already compare her action's to Benji's, so why not go all the way and compare her looks to Benji, too.
Complex Variable chapter 1 . 9/24/2012
Logistics:

[gunmetal grey] - - - I would make it "gun-metal grey", or even "gun-metal-grey"

[My pea coat's rustle as I shrug seems to echo in the cavern.] - - - "pea coats"

[Annoyance in his stare stabs me.] - - - I would add a "The" before "annoyance"

Serious stuff:

Personally, I would remove the entrance/mentioning of Sally and Lex from this Chapter. I would either keep them out entirely, or, put a bit more elaboration on this "Madison" character that both Angelo and Foster mention. Sally and Lex are just fixtures in the background of this scene, and, since your narrative doesn't give much emphasis to the background—virtually no description of it at all—I wouldn't mess up the flow by adding background characters; it's unecessarily distracting, in my opinion.

I like the way you establish the personalities of Foster and Angelo in this chapter; it's done quite well—an accomplishment made even greater by the fact that your prose has a slightly minimalistic bent to it.

One more thing: [Why, yes, actually. But again, I'm not going to tell him that part of my past, either. I just shrug. And wait.] - - - You already make this part of Foster's character clear when you say [I wasn't. Then again, I'm not going to tell him that.] earlier on in the chapter. The second instance is both redundant and awkward-sounding; I would remove it.

This looks like its gonna be interesting: just the right amount of info-dumping, overall.

CV
Dr. Self Destruct chapter 1 . 12/30/2011
Very interesting start here! Considering this has angels and demons in it, you've snagged my attention right away - I'm always a sucker for any story with angels and demons. Not to mention a main character who sounds like he's a demon hunter - count me in!

Thus far Foster also seems like he'll be a joy to read about, what with his snarky sense of humor and sarcasm. I'm eager to see how he works and if he turns out to be more of an anti-hero... and from some of the random comments throughout the chapter in regards to the opposite sex, I'm wondering if he's somewhat a perv. Of course, being a perv is never a bad thing. ;) Also, it'll be fun to see him in action. I'm wondering if this is a more realistic kinda deal where he fights demons with holy water and crosses and stuff like that, maybe even performs some exorcisms, or if it's more drastic with magic and stuff, like in Van Helsing or Castlevania.

Angelo is a very intriguing character. I do like how you give him some human characteristics, like the eye rolling and how he tries his hand at humor a little further down the chapter. I'm very interested to see if all these angels act like this (possess a stiff spine and a kinda 'holier-than-thou' attitude), or if the others are completely different. The thought alone that he's down here on earth says something already. I'm wondering if he's only concerned with seeing demons killed or if he's really concerned with the safety of humanity. I also like how you don't use contractions in his dialogue - gives him a very formal and authoritative tone.

I do have some suggestions in regards to the pacing and a few technical things:

The first half of the chapter is very well done and helps paint the scene as well as build the characters through their dialogue, but I felt the second half (once they start talking about who Foster is going to recruit) gets a little too fast paced. It could just be me, but while they're talking I would have liked a little more detail as to not only what their surroundings are like, but some more explanation on what the characters themselves look like. Of course this doesn't have to be addressed in a shopping-list type of arrangement where you just list off what their eye/hair color is and what they're wearing, ect., but instead you can subtly insert it between the dialogue. Just like before where you mention Angelo's coat in a subtle manner, maybe while they're talking have Angelo push a lock of his (blond?) hair behind an ear in one of his speaker tags - it'll give you a chance to address his appearance more specifically and almost invisibly, helping the reader visualize something without realizing they're learning something in the process.

I've learned that giving physical details for the main character is difficult in first person, so that doesn't really have to be addressed right away. But I feel like little details, no matter how arbitrary they may seem, might help flesh out the second half of the chapter and make their conversation more engaging for the reader.

Also, addressing the senses helps as well. What does the bar smell like? Is there cigar smoke? Does he smell alcohol? What does it sound like? Is there music? Do they have to talk louder to be heard over the conversations of the other patrons? Maybe there's a live band playing in the corner? What does it feel like? Is his glass cold? If there's music, is it trembling between his fingers? What does his drink taste like? If it's alcohol, is it strong? Does it make him wince when he takes a swig? Little things like that help a lot with the immersion.

On the more technical side, I do like how your sentences are very tight and have hardly any unneeded pronouns. The flow is very well done and the narration itself is engaging - Foster has a great voice and he's a joy to read as a first person narrator. I also like that you gave him an unusual (yet realistic) name because it makes it easy to remember - and I have a terrible time with names. I think it also shows that you have them address each other by their names a good enough amount to help the reader get acquainted with their identities.

One little nit-pick I do have is that I noticed you sometimes use the word 'seem' or 'just'. I've always been told to be careful of those words because they can be seen as filler words. Normally it's best to eliminate them... if something only 'seems' to be a certain way, this can give the impression of uncertainty. If you want your message to be firm and grounded, taking out words like 'seem', 'almost', or 'nearly' and replacing them with stronger verbs will help in this.

Other than that, I only noticed a couple stray commas where they shouldn't be. Let me see if I can find an example:

[There might be hope for him, after all.]

This comma puts an awkward pause in this sentence. Remember: a comma is like a stop light to the reader telling them to pause and take a breath (amidst its other technical uses). Reading through this sentence I didn't feel a natural impulse to pause here. I noticed this a couple more times throughout the chapter, mostly at the end of a sentence.

Anyways! I'm sorry, I didn't mean for this to be such a long-winded review. I really did enjoy this first chapter and I'll be sure to return for some more in the near future. Now that the holidays are over, I can finally get back to reading and commenting like I used to. .

I hope you found this review helpful! I know it's been over a year since it's been updated, but I do hope you find this useful when you go back and edit. :) And I do apologize if I took anything out of the wrong context or overlooked some details - please feel free to correct me if I made an ass of myself (it wouldn't be the first time, trust me xD).
sophiesix chapter 17 . 12/5/2010
I love the little slip ups he keeps making with regards to Maddison. And Brynn’s insistence on helping is endearing too, she’s so spunky she's real ;) I wish he'd just trust her and give her a go. I don't believe him :)

So, great dialogue, characters, relationships, as always, but I would've like just a sentence or two more on setting?

Bring on Oklahoma!
C. Tattiana H-H chapter 14 . 11/28/2010
I love your metaphors. They’re always creative and clear, and explain and contrast things in a really interesting way. And, of course, it’s always imbued with Foster’s awesome tone of voice.

Things are definitely getting more interesting (as if they weren’t already). I was wondering about security cameras. I’m glad to see he didn’t get out of everything scot free. It definitely keeps things entertaining.

Review courtesy of The Review Game’s Review Marathon. For more info, visit the link on my profile.
C. Tattiana H-H chapter 13 . 11/28/2010
I like how Foster interacts with Brynn. I really wasn’t expecting him to be so sensitive, but I think your wrote it gradually enough for it to seem realistic and mesh with his character.

I especially enjoyed the part where she pointed out that thieves were stealing the car and he simply said, “That’s nice, dear.” It was a hilarious moment that contrasted nicely with all the other downer stuff that had been going on.

Review courtesy of The Review Game’s Review Marathon. For more info, visit the link on my profile.
C. Tattiana H-H chapter 12 . 11/28/2010
There I times gotta learn to keep the big mouth in my head shut, too.

-Edit: This sentence is a bit mixed up. I think you want the beginning to read, “There are times I gotta...”

Another wonderfully written chapter. Again, I like how you made me feel what the character’s were feeling. It definitely makes reading this difficult at times because Byrnn’s had such a dark past and feeling her fear and horror tugs at me, but it makes for an engaging read. I like how you ended it with a bit of a high note. Especially after such an emotional chapter, it was nice to have things end with a glimmer of light.

Review courtesy of The Review Game’s Review Marathon. For more info, visit the link on my profile.
C. Tattiana H-H chapter 11 . 11/28/2010
Following them is a rent-a-cop playing Carol of the Bells on his keyring, trying to find the right one.

-lmfao. Your descriptions are always so creative, which make them such a joy to read. Ha-ha.

I barely keep the picture from crashing as I let it scrape it down from the wall.

-Edit?: I don’t think you want that second “it”.

I would have liked a tiny bit of description about Byrnn in this chapter because I found it a bit difficult to visualize her. I know she’s young, but I keep forgetting her age and exactly what she looks like.

Review courtesy of The Review Game’s Review Marathon. For more info, visit the link on my profile.
C. Tattiana H-H chapter 10 . 11/28/2010
What you have, lady, is a blank business card. What we have, however, is a situation.

-Ha-ha, oh, dear. I was just thinking we had ourselves a situation. A serious one at that. I don’t like this case worker at all. There’s something about his tone I just don’t like. I do, however, like that you’ve managed to hint at something being up through his tone. You haven’t revealed anything outright yet, but there’s definitely something up.

Hear that flat tone, the clipped cadence?

-Oh, yup. Ha-ha. You described it in the next paragraph. Brilliant. I definitely did hear all that, and I’m impressed that you managed to make me hear it so clearly.

I like how you still haven’t told us exactly what happened to Madison. Every chapter, though, you drop little details into the narrative that hint towards what transpired. Excellent use of suspense throughout.

I think I missed a description somewhere. One minute he’s trying to prove he didn’t kill the man, the next, the demon’s contained within a sphere and they’re safe. I dunno, I’m re-reading it but I think it could use a bit more of a transition; it just seemed so sudden. Other than that, great chapter. Highly engaging, as always.

Review courtesy of The Review Game’s Review Marathon. For more info, visit the link on my profile.
C. Tattiana H-H chapter 9 . 11/28/2010
What you have, lady, is a blank business card. What we have, however, is a situation.

-Ha-ha, oh, dear. I was just thinking we had ourselves a situation. A serious one at that. I don’t like this case worker at all. There’s something about his tone I just don’t like. I do, however, like that you’ve managed to hint at something being up through his tone. You haven’t revealed anything outright yet, but there’s definitely something up.

Hear that flat tone, the clipped cadence?

-Oh, yup. Ha-ha. You described it in the next paragraph. Brilliant. I definitely did hear all that, and I’m impressed that you managed to make me hear it so clearly.

I like how you still haven’t told us exactly what happened to Madison. Every chapter, though, you drop little details into the narrative that hint towards what transpired. Excellent use of suspense throughout.

Review courtesy of The Review Game’s Review Marathon. For more info, visit the link on my profile.
C. Tattiana H-H chapter 8 . 11/28/2010
I'm not sitting in the lobby to just give it the Lysol test, though. It has free wi-fi, and I need data right now.

-Ha-ha, I love that. The previous paragraphs were written brilliantly written and drifted into some of the supernatural elements of the piece, but then you brought us back to present time and basic reality with the wi-fi bit. I thought that worked really well and was a great way to provide readers with a bit more information without dumping.

It's an eyedropper to a parched throat, but it reminds me why I'm do this crazy job.

-Edit: The last part of this sentence should either be, “reminds me why I’m doing” or “reminds me why I do”. :)

Holy intense chapter. It was so engaging because you imbued it with such strong emotions. You wrote them expertly and without them becoming repetitive or boring. There wasn’t a lot of action, but there was a huge internal struggle going on that was its own little action sequence. Brilliant work.

Review courtesy of The Review Game’s Review Marathon. For more info, visit the link on my profile.
C. Tattiana H-H chapter 7 . 11/28/2010
The beginning of this chapter is awesome. You somehow imbued it with a dreamy quality that made me *feel* how tired he was and how he was struggling to stay awake while fighting off sadness. The pacing was awesome, too, because it was in sync with the scene and carried the through the narrative perfectly.

Still, it's preferable reliving me watching that Demon possess Madison .

-Edit?: I feel as though there should be a “to” after “preferable”. Also, there’s a space between “Madison” and the ending punctuation.

Review courtesy of The Review Game’s Review Marathon. For more info, visit the link on my profile.
C. Tattiana H-H chapter 6 . 11/28/2010
Another wonderful chapter. I really enjoyed the interaction in this chapter especially, because there were sparks of attraction between the two. You managed it in such a subtle way that made their exchange more realistic. As always, I love Foster’s tone because you’re so consistent with it throughout and no matter the situation, he always has a bit of humour to go alongside whatever’s happening.

Review courtesy of The Review Game’s Review Marathon. For more info, visit the link on my profile.
C. Tattiana H-H chapter 5 . 11/28/2010
No, I'm not full of shit, if that's what you're trying to say, lady. "No, no. Everything's, ah, smooth. I'll just be a moment."

-Aha-ha-ha. I love this exchange because the awkwardness is so palpable. You hinted towards something being up in the previous chapter, so I wasn’t really surprised when it turned out she had invited a lady friend to join them for dinner. I was surprised, however, at how damn well you wrote the awkwardness. I’m cringing as I read this because I can’t imagine how I’d be able to stand being in that situation.

I wouldn't be surprised if there there an Aaron to Irene in the family, just that they moved out.

-Edit: I believe this sentence is a bit mixed up. It’s not reading properly to me.

I really enjoyed the further description of Foster in this chapter. Again, you wrote it in a creative way that read smoothly and didn’t wave flags at the reader. You also, as usual, write interactions really, really well. I’m curious to see if anything more will develop between these two.

Review courtesy of The Review Game’s Review Marathon. For more info, visit the link on my profile.
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