Reviews for Perfect Paper Folding
Sidekicks-anonymous chapter 1 . 8/12/2014
Very dramatic. It had a cynical and proud edge to it that reflects the narrators voice. it makes me want to know more about the narrator. Why is he in this class? Why did his teacher throw away his "perfect" work? What happened on that one afternoon, three years ago? It piques my curiosity. Overall, a very compelling piece of work.
alltheeagles chapter 1 . 11/27/2013
For the Review Game

The first thing that is notable about your story is that it is memorable. The core of the story is very clear - it is about a boy folding the perfect origami rose. The memorable part comes when the rose is simply thrown away; this is an anti-climax after all the build up of tension. You carefully describe the attention given to the folding and the final check, and that leads us to expect some kind of 'wow' reaction, but instead we get a casual disposal. And so we start to wonder, and that wonder makes the story memorable.

Focus on the description of hands/fingers (as requested): I would say first off that there aren't as many descriptions of hands and fingers as might be expected. The first five paragraphs barely mention hands at all. The phrases used are appropriate, but not unusual, eg you compare his hands to those of a surgeon's - that's not out of place, but neither is it as outstanding as say, comparing his hands to a worker removing the precious stigmas from a crocus to make saffron. I also want to point out the connection between the boy's emotional state (nervousness?) and the description of his hands as skillful, adroit, flying - why is he so nervous if he is so accomplished at folding? Shouldn't his hands be shaking or a little clumsy if he is nervous? Or is it arrogance that you are going for, suggesting that he KNOWS he is skillful and adroit with his fingers, and thus he's expecting the ending that came? In which case, that did not come across strongly enough in the non-hand related description.

I enjoyed reading your story and I think you should expand it even further to answer all those questions that you raised.
De chapter 1 . 11/25/2013
I think you can improve your descriptions for the hands; they are constantly referenced throughout the story.
"A pair of hands, worn with age" - Worn with age is a pun, but it doesn't justify its position in replacing [potentially beautiful] description.

"meticulous hands of an operating surgeon" - You can simply say "hands of an operating surgeon" and it would have said just as much but with less words.

There was a grammatical error where you missed out a verb: "Before deciding it would proper to go home".

I left this one last as I think this one is simply too subjective (to agree completely).
When you allude to "botanical museums",
I didn't understand how children could be "sick" of it. I actually found botanical museums really exhilarating when I was young. Perhaps for you, not for all.

Overall, I enjoyed the story and will be waiting for your next release.
p.s Keep it up Meng En.
Dr. Self Destruct chapter 1 . 11/23/2013
Character: There is one part of this story where the character's disposition sort of changes very quickly and it I found it jarring in a way where it made his character seem a bit inconsistent. It's mentioned near the beginning, in the first couple paragraphs, that he loathes the part of the paper folding that he's working on, which I believe is the crux of the origami piece. Then later on, about halfway down in the paragraph that starts with "Summoning his mental barriers once more..." it seems the student gets a lot more into the origami, and what I first thought was something he didn't enjoying doing seemed to be something he loved. So maybe have a sentence where he reflects back on his attitude in the beginning? Maybe mention the more broader folds he doesn't enjoy, but when he gets into the specifics is when things start to pick up for him and that's where this sudden excitement seems to come from? Or maybe he just feels satisfaction in seeing his fellow students being disciplined, whereas he knows his own creation is perfect and he's not going to have to worry about it. I guess what I'm suggesting is, get a little closer to him in this paragraph and help me understand his train of thought better, because there's a big shift in his demeanor and I'm not sure what triggers it.

Writing: On a whole, you have very smooth syntax and I really appreciate your diction. However, there are a few parts where I feel like the language might be a little too...elevated, I guess. For example, the sentence: [The fatigued fingers that caressed the young piece of artistry now were very much different from the swift ones that had created the model.] This sentence sounds a little too stuffy, too long-winded, like the piece is taking itself too seriously all of a sudden. If I were to make a suggestion, maybe something like: "The slow fingers that caressed the origami were now very much different from the swift ones that had created it." Fatigued gives more of a sense that the teacher's fingers had been exhausted due to recent labor as opposed to her fingers just being slow in general. Also, I think being a bit tighter in that sentence and just saying "origami" instead of "young piece of artistry" strays away from some potential purple-proseish writing. This entire paragraph feels a bit more elevated than the rest of the piece, now that I read it again. Too formal, maybe. But other than this paragraph and a couple other sentences, your writing on a whole is very strong and I love the rhythm behind it.

Theme: I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that the theme of this story is about the attention sometimes required to perform small procedures. I also get this sense of exposing the reader to a type of society and social norm that is demanded of these children that not everyone experiences - that is, this sense of nothing below perfect being acceptable. It's an interesting theme to approach, considering how open to failure (or sub-par performance) a lot of schools are now. No longer are we punished so harshly for being below average, but that's more a mentality of the US - I'm not sure if these kids are like the kids here.

Setting: I'm really curious as to where this takes place, because I can't really see this happening in the US, and if it is it's going to take a bit of convincing for me to believe it, I think. So I wonder if putting some attention on the broader setting might help add something to the themes you're working with - I'm not too sure. The metal cane makes me think of Catholic schools in the past when they used to hit a kid's knuckles with a ruler (no idea if they still do this), so I'm really curious as to what type of school this is? I know origami originated in Japan, so you could even use descriptions of the people in general to get across the setting and whether or not this is happening in Japan. Clothing, facial expression, that type of thing. Considering the only line of dialogue in this is in English, I'm just a little confused as to where they are. When it comes to the classroom, though, I think you have a wonderful atmosphere. I really love how you describe the chairs scraping across the floor when the kids stand up, and you address more than just sight, but sound and touch. I really appreciate that because it makes the story more immersive.
The Autumn Queen chapter 1 . 11/23/2013
Opening: It's interesting how a normally quiet sound becomes so dominating in the first line. What though I find a little offputting is the two "the"s in the sentence - not so much on their own, and unlike commas I have nothing personally against them either, however it seems to imply the reader should know which specific papers and classroom is being talked about. The classroom is fine since it doesn't change, but the papers do. Does it matter if the papers or their sound are specified or generalised? Probably not, but I find I prefer reading it without the "the" at the beginning.

Characters: a specific student, student in general and the class in general - you've illustrated them all quite nicely. In the context of this piece I can feel the care the student takes - almost OCD like - in completing his origami project, and how (somewhat) fatalistic his view is within the classroom. It makes me wonder what the state of the rest of the world is, if this is the strict regime a classroom of students follows in /art/, something usually freer. The teacher is an interesting character as well; the slips of information at the beginning didn't prepare me for an old man at all, and it makes me wonder how a student's mind has warped this fatigued figure into such a stern general-like one. Whether the teacher is as harsh as he thinks or if it's some other thing from another circumstance drilled into him. But it does make it interesting when the teacher finally physically appears - because something about the way you wrote didn't make me want to accept him the way the teacher portrayed him. The way the language shifts to reflect his age and fatigue is beautiful as well. Describing the boy right at the end as "small" does seem a little late to add descriptions to a mental abstract image though.

The way the flower ends up in the trash can is...interesting. Since it is not really extended upon but rather accepted as normal, I once again have to wonder what sort of school, and class, this is. What sort of student as well - it almost reminds me of a detention, but what would a student that takes so much care in that origami be doing in detention in the first place? Though the hints of punishment through this fic also seem to imply that.

Setting: you've done a good job in segregating the outside world from the inner, however it does make placing the fic into a context somewhat difficult. There is normalcy and repetition in the piece, however some of the ideas you've brought out contrast with the society we live in now - punishing with canes doesn't happen in very many places, and throwing out a student's hard work? I have to wonder what sort of larger society this is.

Ending: I rather like how there's sound in both the beginning and the ending paragraphs; it ties the piece nicely together without relying on just imagery. The paper repeating itself is a nice one as well - somewhat ironic as he tried to detach himself, through that omnipresent narration, before. The way it reflects on the student is clever as well, giving his origami folding a somewhat automated feel after three years of it - though I feel I would have enjoyed it more if I knew what the purpose/reason of that class was.
sophiesix chapter 1 . 11/21/2013
Opening: I liked the use of noise and concentration in the opening, it drew me in and set the scene and atmosphere well. I didn’t like how the first three sentences had a similar rhythm to them, each being in two parts and fairly long. ‘some art’ was a refreshing break from that. The third sentence for me is the weakest, being the longest, having the three ‘of’s, and with the repetition in ‘always hated’, ‘tedious process’ ‘tiny paper crux’.
I thought the setting was described in just enough detail for the needs of the piece – I wouldn’t want any more description of it. The characters of the student, his peers and his teacher are convincingly drawn, and the pace is masterful. Though slow and deliberate, you keep up a tension through that means the pace never drags but is compelling.
In general I think your writing is powerful and works really well to convey the scene, the concentration and the emotion. But I also think using a slightly cleaner, simpler, tighter style might better support the strict atmosphere of the story.
In particular, watch your descriptor use such as repeated adjective-noun combinations: use these more sparingly so they are more effective when you do use them. For e.g. ‘tiny leaves’, ‘meticulous hands’, ‘operating surgeon’ would work well to emphasise the pernicketiness of it all if the prose beforehand was more in contrast . For me, ‘adriot fingers’, ‘smooth crescendo’, ‘flowery spiral’ ‘every pocket’ and observed artistry’ was too much in the one sentence.

“He didn’t even want to begin thinking about how long the cluster of petals that were to encircle the core was supposed to take”. Try simplifying a little, something like: ‘He didn’t even want to think about how long the cluster of petals encircling the core would take.’
‘a sudden yelp of pain was heard…’can you change this to an active construction? A yelp sounded/snapped/ rang or whatever – it would get rid of sudden and let that be felt rather than told? Like you do later in the piece.
Likewise ‘fellow’ feels redundant in ‘his fellow classmates’
Had made a mistake – missing ‘had’?
‘he grimly remembered…’ I think this sentence would flow better without ‘his own experience, just going straight to ‘the thin metal cane…’ maybe a stronger verb than descending? Not something over the top but just a little stronger to give the sense of the bruising
Likewise you could cut out a few words to improve the flow in the next sentence, something more like: His classmate should have checked his work before…
“He shook his head…” I’d look for a stronger verb so you can get rid of violently. To me, you also don’t need ‘in an effort’ ,‘his vision’ (maybe just concentrated?), or ‘set of’.
Not one mistake could be spared. This sounded a little odd to me. Not a single mistake could be spared? Not a single mistake was permitted? Not sure, but thought I’d flag it anyway.:)
I don’t think you need both ‘formidable’ and ‘resounded’ in the same sentence. ‘Smack’ is powerful enough to carry the sense of ‘formidable’, to me. Likewise in the next sentence I think ‘emotionlessly ‘ is understood from the context. In the same sentence: ‘rolled’ should be ‘rolling’, I think? Next sentence , missing word ‘of’? a couple of newcomers? To me ‘at the sight’ is unnecessary because the reader is well within the context by now (well done!)so we know what they are wincing at. Also ‘that sat’ was unnecessary to me.
Next para I didn’t think you really needed both ‘little’ and ‘miniature’. It works as is, but to me works better with one or the other.
‘model at level with his eyes’. ‘level with his eyes’ sounds smoother to me
‘summoning his mental barriers of focus once more to shield him’ sounded a bit overworked to me. Something more succinct like ‘summoning mental barriers’ would work better for me. ‘he direction his attention to the task at hand’: to me, the impact would be more powerful with a shorter construct: as we already know what it is he’s doing, I’d suggest something very simple such as : ‘he began.’
“the student allowed himself a smile to play across his face’ to me, better as either: ‘the student allowed himself a smile’ or ‘the student allowed a smile to play across his face’ (the latter I like better). Having ‘himself’ and ‘his face’ together didn’t work for me.
“scraped gratingly” either scraped or grated works for me, but both concepts ae too similar to be needed together like that, in my mind.
The eyes of his neighbouring friends grinded slowly against the rooves of their eye sockets. Loved that, the slow motion-ness of it and the tangibility. Though for even more effect I’d choose either neighbours or friends, and use ‘ground’ rather than ‘grinded’. I loved the slow motion deliberateness of his steps towards the front of the class too, I had my heart in my mouth that he would trip or something!
‘he placed the origami piece…’ to me, better without ‘before the old man’, because we know he’s there and its spookier if the hands just come.
‘have created the model’ should be ‘had’, I think?
‘would languished’ no ‘ed’, or else no ‘would’
‘lazily inquiring each other’ ‘inquire of each other’ or ‘asking each other’
The second ‘exhibition’ in that para would read better as ‘exhibit’, to me
‘they continued to make several stops…’ this sentence is awkward. Its overlong, I think there’s a missing word or two (‘it would ‘be’ proper?), and the comma is misplaced. So I’m not sur if I got the gist of it right, but I think it might read more easily something along the lines of: ‘They made several more stops across the tiny exhibit, pausing to comment on the dimensions, before deciding it would be proper to go home now and rest before the next showing.’ Or ‘They made several more stops across the tiny exhibit, commenting on the dimensions, before deciding it would be proper to go home now to rest before the next showing.’
I loved how the ending brought us back to the beginning. But it also reminded me of something and so left me a little confused: the student had been hit before, so he had made a mistake before. Yet the feeling in the teacher and the classroom’s reaction to his assessment was that he never had?
Overall, I really enjoyed this piece, and think it well deserves being just a bit more polished so that its perfect – I think The Student would agree too ;)
Oscar Floyd chapter 1 . 11/14/2013
I like the diction and descriptive imagery that is present in the story. The setting of the classroom is described excellently with the gloomy imagery. Unfortunately though, I think too much emphasis or effort was put into creating the setting and bringing it to life. There's little plot to the story, hopefully, this will be built upon the solid and believable setting.
Guy who may like dragons chapter 1 . 11/13/2013
The first thing I thought while reading this was that the mental tone of the boy changed significantly during the chapter. In the start he seems disinterested and impatient, and at the end when he has gotten praised he seems proud and ego-centered, while starting to fold a new paper. Something felt amiss. It's not a lack of continuity but more a feeling that somethings is off with the boy. If you plan to continue this I wouldn't be surprised to see him become a murderer, or simply depressed. Conclusively what I found odd with this gave him some mystique.

A metaphor I liked was "... like exhausted children who sickly followed their parents in botanical museums." It is pretty easy to imagine and gives a great picture. But, I wonder if 'sickly' was necessary in this one, since it adds about the same as exhausted to the picture. Although sometimes it's nice with some extra sugar on top of the cake. :P

"... was suppose..." First paragraph, should probably be supposed.
Epic Myth chapter 1 . 11/13/2013
Epic Myth from the Review Game!

A story with one portion of dialogue, now this is an unusual one for me! Starting with the beginning, I like how it draws me into the world of the student where the origami is most prominent... that and perfection. The play on senses like sound was a good technique to color the setting of your story too.

Another thing I like is the pace, how it smoothly carried me through the story as the student worked intensely on his creation. It got to the point that he ignored the other students who were smashed by the cruel cane. It makes me wonder if this is set in a country where teachers are /legally allowed/ to deliver punishment and that this old rickety man isn't just a crazy mofo. I can imagine a number of countries that could do this to. Something tells me it's mostly Asian... but I could be wrong, lol.

As for the character, the perfectionist, he's compelling and I like how he holds no remorse for anyone who makes mistakes. It's the sort of set up that I enjoy because if you do follow up with this story, you can write about how one mistakes destroys him... His ending was cool too and while normally, in real life, I would hate a person like this, as a writer I can see ample use for such a character.

I can't find anything wrong with it. Maybe it's a tad bit flowery but the word usage and vocabulary is pretty spectacular.

Good stuff.
freddyburn chapter 1 . 11/7/2013
[[Characters]] Wow, what an impression the character makes. The central character seems to love what he is at, and enjoy it. However, he was so dedicated, so single minded, it was a little scary. As the reader, I feel a little sympathy for him, because this dedication seems to stem from fear of punishment from the teacher. For such a short story, this character makes a great impact.

[[Enjoyment]] I enjoyed this story very much. I enjoyed it because of the character and his view of the world. I love seeing his world through his eyes with no outside influence. Because he is unnamed, I could put myself into his shoes. This story drew me in and I just had an urge to continue reading, and I loved that feeling as well.

[[Pace]] The pacing was excellent. Maybe it was the length, but the pacing wasn't slow and tedious. I have read short stories where the pace made me go "no, I can't continue reading this." Your story isn't like this. You obviously had a plan for this story, and that helped. The story is quick, snappy, a begining, a middle and an end. Bravo.

[[Setting]] Given the subject matter of the story, the setting is realistic and it suits the story. I would like to see a small expansion of the setting, however. Apart from the floor, we don't get a sense of the Art Room. The only problem I could see with this is that it would hinder the way you have presented the character.
maybejnb chapter 1 . 11/7/2013
I found your story to be very intriguing. At first I really didn't have a clue what was going on but your words eased me into the story. Your descriptions were very detailed which I find many people have trouble with. I also enjoyed how suspenseful it felt for only being a short story. I only wish that I had found out what happens after he presents it to the teacher.
Jitterbug Blues chapter 1 . 11/7/2013
I enjoyed the opening line in this story – very visual and detailed, as well as tangible (because you mentioned the papers fluttering). I like how tense and stifling this piece seems; I really could garner an impression of how the main character *feels* in this piece – from the meticulous way he’s going about his work to the way he scoffs at how others are being punished for their misdeeds. You manage to say a lot here without telling too much – namely that the main character feels fear, and is doing his best to avoid drawing any attention to himself. He also comes across as arrogant and bit high and mighty and full of disdain not only for the other students, but the teacher as well. I like that; it makes for an interesting read, because I do feel that such detached characters are a rarity.

Otherwise, you just describe things well, and have a few lovely lines here and there, especially towards the end. I also think you describe the whole act of folding origami well, which I don’t think was an easy feat at all (you also used poetic language here and there, which I liked – you also did it well because you didn’t come across as too flowery).

On the criticism front, I really think you *should* break up your paragraphs more, especially when you mention your main character thinking. It’s a bit jarring to read otherwise. Also, while I’m not sure whether this was intentional or not, I feel you repeat the same sentence structure too much, especially in regards to always mentioning to the main character as ‘the student’ (but, on the other hand, it does give this story a very suffocating atmosphere, so it’s not really ‘criticism’; I just feel that it makes the story less emotionally compelling too though).

Still, I feel you could have packed so much *emotion* in this story by having more variation in your syntax. I think I can see what you're trying to do with this piece, and it's interesting, so I'd just advise you to maybe liven up your prose a bit more. There’s a grammatical slip up to somewhere towards the end, where you use the present instead of the past tense (PM me and I’ll point it out to you, FP won’t let me c/p).

It’s not a bad start for a first story at all though!