Reviews for Storm-Drains
natalieward chapter 1 . 7/1/2012
Setting: I thought your descriptions of the drought and then subsequent rain and flooding were very good. You really set the scene and it was easy to picture the initial despondancy at the drought and what it was doing to the farms. The constant "We need rain" was a good way to reinforce that and then somewhat ironic when the rain finally did come. I like how you wrote this too, the initial joy at the rain, the children playing etc and then the fear as it continued to pour and coupled with the storm, signalled doom.

Writing: couple of grammatical errors I noticed:
[clean water became hard to get by] - come by?
[to ward of any chill] - ward off
The second sentence of your opening paragraph is very long and could perhaps be split up a little. It doesn't quite flow nicely and I think some pauses would help this.

Pace: while the story was very descriptive and certainly set the scene of a family stranded in a flood, I did feel it was a little drawn out and as a result quite slow moving. Even when something exciting or tense occured, such as the front door caving in under the weight of the water, you lightened this tension with the reference to the narrator's grey hairs, which I think detracted from the impact of this scene.

Dialogue: maybe this is just me, but I did feel like the whole story was narrated in a very formal manner, which just didn't suit a farming family. This also diluted the tension as it almost read like someone was recounting the event rather than taking part in the event.
Whirlymerle chapter 1 . 7/1/2012
Returning your review. :)

[It were times like that where we'd cultivate the best of our crop and heave in loads of freshwater fish who came with the rain after suffering through the first few weeks of diminished supply as the fruits of our labour, that beyond the cane and rice that barely managed to support us in the worst of times, slowly began to grow under heaven's merciful tears.] This sentence is quite a mouthful. Firstly, I fell like "times like THOSE" sounds better, since "that" is usually used singularly. I also think this would read more smoothly if divided into two sentences.

I liked the repetition of "We needed rain," to stress the importance of the idea. I also liked this for the ironic effect.

[Nihar heard his mother, and the thudding about stopped] comma not necessary since you're not joining two independent clauses

Interesting idea. I like the theme of man versus nature and nature's supremacy over man. I think you do a great job detailing the family's troubles.

Still, while I appreciate your attention to detail, I feel like your pacing was ultimately a little too slow. There were times where I felt like I was rereading the same descriptions about the mud and the house flooding and the kids crying. You narrator is a farmer, and based off what he said about education is important to get a life outside of farming, I'm assuming that he didn't get the same opportunity. Yet, (and I hope I'm not sounding conceited) there are some lines that he says like "…that reinforced the notion" that sounds like something coming from an academic journal instead of something an uneducated farmer would say.

Overall though, cute story—great ending.

Merle
BethanyWrote chapter 1 . 6/30/2012
I like the opening, it sets the mood. However, I don't like how the first sentence ends with "or so" because it sounds... less professional, I guess, and the second sentence doesn't make much sense, but I might just be reading it wrong because I still get what you're getting at. Also, in the first sentence of the second paragraph you say "of so" rather than "or so". There are a few times that you use a ... for a pause, and I think it makes the flow a little awkward. You could probably use a comma instead. "We drank a little water too, but it was far from appetizing..." This seems like a strange way of putting it. Perhaps you could rephrase it, say "the water had little appeal because...". "It was almost funny. They hysterical sort of funny that is." I think you mean to say the ironic sort of funny, or any other kind of funny.
I have to ask, where is this set? The mention of malaria and the names make me think Africa, but poor African farmers (who were still farming by hand!) make me question this because of the electricity, the truck, and the other modern things. Also, there aren't palm trees in Africa. However, I don't know where you think all these modern things are happening while people are still hand-plowing their fields with hoes and doing it with only a father and a single son to work the land.
Sorry if that seems critical, I just think that more description should be added to give the readers more of an idea of the area and more research should be done on whatever area it is.
The flooding part is accurate, but I don't think it would have been dragged on for so long. A few years ago the rain from a hurricane came up near my area and within a day the end of our street was flooded so much that the water was up to the top of a car (granted, it was a recess and it was between the banks of a tiny crick) but my house got the least of the rain. In the city, the rivers flooded and entire houses were underwater, and these were houses on hills and such that had more than one level.
I feel like the climax of the story wasn't really there. It was just the water slowly, slowly rising, them staying pretty calm about it, then their lives being threatened and the narrator still being mostly calm and saying it was funny. You should try to put more emotion in, maybe make it so that one of the characters almost doesn't make it. But that's just my opinion.
Overall, it's a good story, though. It just needs some polishing.
this wild abyss chapter 1 . 6/25/2012
[Opening] It was probably a wise decision to explain typical weather in the beginning. It set up for a contrast to what actually happened in the story. However, I feel that a lot of your information was unnecessary.

[Writing] As always your word choice is very formal your images are prone to lengthiness. My own personal tastes do not run toward this, and I found that I wanted to get on with things more often than not, rather than flounder on.

[Plot] There didn't seem to be much of a conflict with this, other than the flood and how it affected the family. And while I think that could be a good premise for a short story, I wasn't drawn in or engaged by your story.

[Pacing] This felt very slow and meandering. I never got engaged because you had the same slow pace throughout. There were some scenes that should have been intense but weren't.
Velvet Vixen chapter 1 . 6/25/2012
This was an interesting read. I thought you described the fear and the rising water well and I was able to immerse myself in the story which is what made me happy that the ending wasn't tragic. As someone else mentioned, I felt sure you were building up to them all dying but I think that perhaps, in not doing that, you've added more bleakness - they may be grateful for their lives but now they have to think about what they will do in the future with no home, no farm, no income, etc. I think this made it all the more realistic to the scenario rather than being hugely dramatic which I thought was good and left me with something to think about.

The only thing I would say bothered me a little bit was the repetition of some of the imagery - the children dancing in the rain and the sowing of the seeds, for example. This is fairly minor but as I was starting to get immersed, it was sometimes jarring and felt as though you weren't sure of any other points you could make about their situation and as another reviewer mentioned that too, it must be something noticeable.

Overall it was a piece that was full of depth and I think, for the message you were trying to convey, you did well. It left me with a lot to think about and I felt a connection with the characters.
Pho Shizzle and Ace chapter 1 . 6/24/2012
I was intriuged by your opening sentence, but I personally found that the rest of the opening paragraph lacked a hook. I also find it a tad confusing.

On a more positive note, I enjoyed the second paragraph. The use of literary devices such as anaphora, "We needed rain..." was also splendid. It gave me a much better outlook on the story and really gives readers a much better understanding of the situation.

I must say I love the amount of detail that you had put into the story about the floods. It seems great and adds a lot of reality to the story, and I was honestly intrigued about this information rather than feeling sleepy.

You characterisation is also very well done. They are believable and have depth, and I as the reader can understand them and sympathise them (especially the children)

Overall great job with the story and I hope you continue to write more!
Dr. Self Destruct chapter 1 . 6/4/2012
Characters: One of the things I noticed about halfway through the story was how the water itself seems like one of the characters because of how it's continually mentioned and addressed. I feel almost like there's a change in the water's mood, too, as things progress and it continues to rise, almost a menacing feeling like it's out to get them. I thought that was done very well. I don't think I've ever really read anything that made water into a villain, but I definitely get that feeling when reading this.

Pace: I noticed a couple times you went on tangents about things that didn't seem too important at the time, or details that kind of dragged the narration out when I imagine times like this, where someone is stuck in a perilous situation, you'd want to keep the pace faster to help the reader feel what the characters feel. I think the best example of what I'm talking about would be this paragraph:

[She continued to cling as Shashi pried the wooden window open with the pole we used to keep it as such.]

And the sentences after it. I got about halfway through it and skipped the rest when I realized it was all about how hard a window is to open during certain climate conditions. I understand the climate is harsh on them, and I think you've effectively portrayed it up to this point without needing to address something so simple in the middle of them trying to escape a rather serious flood.

Ending: I enjoyed the ending, because I was partly expecting this to end tragically but I was happy to see that wasn't the case. I'm a sucker for happy endings, what can I say? I also thought it was nice to see Nihar get up there on the roof, because I thought it showed a lot of strength in his character. It was refreshing to see him step up when his father was unable to perform, and I can imagine he'll have quite the story to tell when he finally does go back to school. Oh, and I was also happy they didn't leave Doggy behind - for a second I thought they were going to have to, but then I saw mention of a harness.

Grammar/Spelling/Style:

[But as I said, it had been quite dry for the last month of so.]

Edit: 'Or so,' not 'of so.'

[Clean water became hard to get by.]

Edit: 'Come by' instead of 'get by.'

[We needed rain to recultivate the land.]

I really enjoyed this section of the more larger paragraph near the top, mostly because of how you repeat the first few words in the sentence to drive home the meaning. My suggestion, though, is if you want to make it even more prominent and dramatic, perhaps make it its own paragraph and separate it from the text before it.

[dressed them warmly to ward [of] any chill they might have contracted.]

Edit: 'Off' instead of the bracketed 'of.'

[In the end, the four of us crowded into the same bed…after I took the raincoat and let the dog inside.]

Style: I don't think those ellipses are necessary since the following sentence isn't really that dramatic to warrant them; at least, it didn't seem dramatic to me. Perhaps a dash instead.
lookingwest chapter 1 . 5/26/2012
Opening-It didn't quite hook me as it was so heavy on description for the first two paragraphs and lacked anything that made me want to continue since I already knew this was about flooding-I wanted something else besides what I already knew to keep me reading and I didn't find it there. Starting when the flood actually does start would've been a better place for me than where you started. It wouldn't jumped me right into the action-I almost think you could cut everything beforehand, even the mention about the kids playing in the rain, because you eventually describe that again anyway.

Characters- I have to say, I was a little lost on the exact time, place, and relation that the narrator had to everyone else. I got that the narrator was a woman, hopefully, and that she has two children, but then there was another woman who had a child too?

Actually, upon me just thinking about this before I hit submit-the narrator is the "Dad" isn't it? I think my problem was the names-they're all very unfamiliar to me and I'm not sure which ones are male or female. And Shashi is the wife, and then Anika and Nihar are their children. Apologies. For some reason I thought the narrator was the wife? Silly, I know, as I look back on the dialogue/sentences I can see that you have it stated to reveal that the narrator is the father by for instance, when Nihar is about to crawl out the window.

Setting- I feel like the setting got the most attention in this short story. I liked some of your descriptions, but moments like "heaven's tears" to describe the rain kind of came off as a little cheesy to me, or at least erred on purple prose. I think you did a good job focusing completely on the setting throughout this whole piece and the situation. It was a shame they couldn't get on the roof faster, as I've also heard that being in water like that for an extended period of time is very bad. One thing I will mention that I feel this lacked was bugs. I don't know about Australia, but shouldn't there have been mosquitoes or gnats or bugs that would've liked the water and followed it to eat anything they could find? Also the heat. Was it hot or cold? I feel like this lacked that too, I didn't get a good sense of it. I've read some accounts of for instance, the New Orleans flooding, and it was so humid and hot, including the bugs that were attacking, that some people just died of the heat and bug bites. But anyway, that might give you a bit more to work with as far as the description of the setting by use of the five senses too. Overall though, the setting was my favorite.

Ending- I didn't like the ending of this short story because I feel like it didn't end. The sentences of description just kind of stopped, and it left me wanting something more final, like a last bolder sentences or something to sum things up a bit better. Where it's at now is a haunting description but still left me wanting more.
Brendan Rizzo chapter 1 . 5/21/2012
At first I thought this was a story based on the Biblical tale of Noah's flood... but then I realized it's set in modern Australia. But of course, flooding is a timeless phenomenon that affects people's lives no matter who they are or where and when they live.

All else I can say is that your stories are excellent when I can understand what you're saying.
Animel chapter 1 . 5/20/2012
Hello there! Thanks for writing!

() I was immediately gripped by this story. It really draws you in right away because I genuinely didn't know where it was going and at once could relate to the plight of being victims to weather and how real that helplessness is, even before the characters were introduced. This story captures a highly specific incident very well, while still being relateable to a broad audience thanks to the more general themes-a child's belief in their parents' ability to keep them safe, bravery and sacrifice, simultaneous pride and fear, an ordinary people being thrust into an extreme situation.

(-) There are some odd grammatical and wording mistakes or choices that made things difficult to understand at times. For example, the sentence about not being able to stay in town was confusing because at first I believed it to mean they were going to leave the town, not that they couldn't stay somewhere in the town other than their house, which I understood after reading it a couple of times. Another example of odd wording is the second half of the first paragraph.

Overall I enjoyed it, a highly dramatic read that kept me on the edge of my seat.

Hope this was helpful and best wishes!
TinfoilKnight chapter 1 . 4/18/2012
Thanks for reviewing! :)

This is an interesting story. Where I live we worry about tornados, not floods, so I've never seen weather like this. Good job showing the emotions of the characters - the details relating to the children added a lot of emotion to the story. Oh, and I wanted to kick those people irritated at the dog in the helicopter. What, should they just let him drown? Dogs totally count as family...

Couple spelling errors, but nothing major:

"We needed rain to raise the spirits of our tired children who every day stared at the son..." 'Sun.'

"At some point in the night, the riverbank broke as wel..." 'Well.'

Nice job! :) Keep writing!
Rogue Energizer Bunny chapter 1 . 4/13/2012
Oooh! I like this!

I guess I never thought about how scary floods could be. To have water rising in your house... I just can't even imagine.

-REB
Tim Cummings chapter 1 . 4/11/2012
Excellent tone, pulls exceptionally well on emotional response over a good range; obviously the fear in a life threatening situation, but the anxiety/pride of a child stepping up to responsibility, and the security/bonding of the family (including the dog, which I personally appreciated)are also really well done.

There are some mechanical incongruities that detracted from the flow for me. Most notably the 'earthen floor' in the house 'up on its four posts' and the kerosene lantern making its first appearance as an everyday light source in the house which had news before the power went out. Small things, but as a reader if some part of me is solving puzzles the story presents unintentionally then what is intended is diminished.

I look forward to reading more of your work.
Takano-Isorokyu chapter 1 . 4/11/2012
Well done - a bit stilted in parts, but it adds to the realism - reminds me of the words of a fellow I rescued from a similar situation during a flood in Mississippi. I've always been the rescuer and not the one being rescued, but I think you've captured the situation pretty well.