Story 12 – The Bloodswamp War (part 1) @Sudsinabucket this is a fantastic first entry. Massive kudos for biting the bullet and putting it out there, you did yourself proud. TECHNICAL: The story line is good (and you have quite the vivid imagination when it comes to the Lizardmen torturing captives!!!) and your work to give your main protagonist a back-story to go with his name is good. There are some good descriptions of environments (and this is particularly good in the letter from Sumerfeld’s brother) and it follows itself nicely. The main critique from on this story is that it is written in the present tense and this, unfortunately, spoils your story telling. “The blade whistles past his face as he gets his breath,” should be written as “The blade whistled past his face as he caught his breath.” It’s a bizarre fact that no matter what time the story is set in (past, present or future) it is all written as if it has already happened. Check out a couple of professional authors, 99% of them all do this. There is definitely a style of writing in the present, but I have only personally seen this in rare occasions and in Oriental Poetry. There were several instances where you had actions happening, but not the resulting effect: the best example of this being when Sumerfled pulls out his Mace and slams it into the table. Like I’ve mentioned before in other story reviews, you can do the bouncing ball visualization on it. If I pull out a mace, what happens? How does it sound when it splits the air and what is the sound of the impact? Unless this is some seriously strong table, will parts of it fly off? If you can’t visualize it, then try looking it up on YouTube. I haven’t watched any of them, but there are many videos about Medieval weaponry, which would probably give you a good idea. For this one, you are missing a good impact sound (“Sumerfeld’s mace, seemingly magically appearing in his hand, impacted on the table with a sound like a thunderbolt. As the echo of the sound died, so he found that the arguments had died also.”) and possibly a little description wood chips flying as the mace embeds itself in the table. When you talk about emotion being expressed by body parts (in your example, Anger pouring out of his face), you should choose adjectives that relate to what is happening. For the mouth and eyes, you could say that an emotion poured out. For the face, you would be looking for something like being “anger etched into his features”. Anger can reasonate in a voice, or make a voice sound differently, but (and again as described many times earlier, ignore this if it doesn’t help. If it does then great!) pouring would be used with someone “filling up” with anger. Take whoever your favourite author is and look at how they do it, it's what I did with mine (Robert Jordan with the Wheel of Time). The only other points I would say is that Sumerfeld’s name is based on him holding back a Waagh! with no reinforcements, but then you say that Astra helped him? Otherwise, like @Scalenex said, it is a little unrealistic that a small boy would be able to escape the city, swamp and make it back to the city to deliver the message. PERSONAL: I would really like to have read this with all of it in past tense. I thought you did a really good job of depicting a soldier losing a loved one and a chance at redemption being grasped fully. You should start a writing blog and do a couple of stories to try this out. I don’t really have anything to say about your story-telling on a personal basis as I thought otherwise that you did a fair job.