1. Michaela, Write to Me Essay: The first critique I found with your essay is that the beginning paragraph does not really establish the central theme of the story which is the war Damien has faced and Samantha reading a journal that wrote to him from a year ago. Instead it just explains more about where the journal is. It probably would be better to establish and describe some context to the story so the audience would understand what Samantha experienced first and then establish where the journal is. In between each letter you write to Damien try to have a paragraph describing what Samantha is doing or feeling when experiencing these events when she writes to Damien. The story themes are based on war movies where the love interest writes letters to someone who is off at war like Cold Mountain but the key differences are that she is reading her journal after he is dead, and the male love interest is already dead which creates some originality even if it is not much. With that said I liked how the letters describe the experiences Samantha had when writing to Damien. Another thing I liked was the ending and how it reveals the fact that Damien is dead giving the audience a sense of closure about what happened to Damien.
2. Natalie, Greyson Heights Academy: My first critique of your story is that you do not establish the main character and the school that she goes to but immediately go to Dakota Pierce stealing the apple. It would be better to start the story is building up to Dakota Pierce stealing the apple by establishing the main character, describing who she is as a person, the school that she goes to first and describe who Dakota Pierce is as a character. Either create a new chapter and make chapter 1 that you have written before chapter 2 or expand on the chapter 1 you have written. Another critique that I have is that the main character is established at the end to have gifts that she is not even aware of but it is not shown in the story about what gifts she possesses or show events that she takes for granted which would make the reveal at the end more satisfying when it comes to brining closure to the main character. Instead she is abruptly said that she has those gifts from the event at the beginning of the story where the main character made an assumption that Dakota Pierce stole an apple which does not really prove anything. Throughout the story make events where she can sense something but decides to take it for granted. This story has some tropes from shows targeted at teenagers from the ordinary high school student who figures out he or she may possess some special gift. The story also possesses trope elements from other stories with Dakota Pierce having the Byronic Hero trope where he is charismatic to the main character about an abnormal organization called the Gifted, the Big Man on Campus trope where he is considered the most attractive male in the school despite being a loner, and is the Chick Magnet where the girls are attracted to him. I liked the originality that comes from the perspective of the main character having an everyday experience at a normal high school and not some over exaggerated version of high school until the end goes into the realm of Fantasy where some supernatural themes are explored like the ability to get a heightened sense of awareness from a specific group and wielding ice. Another thing I liked was the ending on how the Gifted are being introduced and would be expanded on if the writer chooses to write more.
3. Shirley, Dries Short Stories: The first critique I have is that you do not describe what you are going to write about or what influenced you to write about your experiences. You could create an intro paragraph that could describe why you picked these events specifically in order to help the audience connect with you on a personal level before reading the short stories. Another critique that I have is that there is no ending paragraph that takes all of these events into consideration and what you thought about them. What makes these short stories original is the experiences the writer experienced themselves but the way it is written is nothing new because many writers have written short stories about their experiences like Stephen King. What I liked about these short stories was the honesty that you put into your thoughts like when you said “The perfume bottle in the left pocket of my car, I want to burn it, shed it’s skin, watch the ashes dissolve a once innocent world” where you did not want to go out with that 17 year old boy and you wanted to be treated as a human not a sex toy. Another experience that I liked was how you described your father because I can relate to what you said about your own which was "Look into my eyes because I want you to love me and you are asking for it, you are asking for me" that was what he recited to me as if it was written in a play or an old book of fables that made little kids believe anything they were brainwashed to” because my father wants the same kind of respect even when he does not earn it because he is too lazy to communicate his thoughts or feelings on an even level with me. I also like how you establish your own sense of goals for your life such as “I get up and prepare myself to once again face the world with a pretty mask of deception and leave my real world in the place I felt a sense of home” which is an interesting form of introspection about what you want to do for the rest of your life.
4. Cory, Tracks in the Sand: The first critique I have with this story is the fact that you did not really describe the narrator in the beginning of the story only the environment by not addressing himself as “I” to indicate that he is in the story setting. Describing the narrator in the story would get the audience a sense that the person has experienced the event happening and is not just describing the setting. Another critique I may have is the fact that the ending ends on a cliffhanger with the clothing store because there is no feeling of a satisfying resolution to robbing the train but instead another story that would be made in the future. The third critique I would have is that you did not describe the train in enough detail to discover the themes of the story. There is not much originality in the story since the themes of train robberies are nothing new in cinema but the idea that a Horror appearing from the train, destroying it, and forcing the rest of the crew into the desert is an interesting twist that manages to change some story elements from the typical robbers loot train story we have seen multiple times before. What I liked about the story is the action being described in narration where I can imagine how the action would go down if it was in movie form. The twist where they discovered the Horror is also interesting because it changes the focus of the story from the robbers trying to loot the train to just trying to survive from the Horror.