The Official Writing Challenge
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Thank God for the work of the salvation army. Sad but beautifully told.
The imagery in the second to last paragraph is strong and smoothly delivered. Beautiful!
Well written and quite interesting. The Salvation Army is truly a Godsend to many; it would be a great loss if they were unable to continue their work in the present recession. I live in an area where charities are struggling; let's all remember to give generously to the soup kitchens and others.
Great idea! Really lovely. Wish I would have thought of it. :)

I will tell you something though. If this wasn't a Challenge - I wouldn't have read through it. I'll tell you why.

I am a really lazy reader.
Your sentences are way too long - one after the other. Long sentences actually make the reader work-- and some of yours are very long!;)

Your second sentence is 37, your fourth is 37.
The sentence "Dinner would always ..." is 46 words!

Personally, I don't think sentences should ever be that long without some kind of break.

This sentence is 45 words. Then, when I felt the moment had come, .... But it's better because you have at least given us a break in there. That makes such a difference. Whew! :)

A long sentence is generally considered anything 20 words and above. (I think)

Mix it up a bit. Short, longer, medium length sentences. Best of all read it out loud. Listen to the rhythm - if you're out of breath and running to catch up .. the reader is, too.(wink)

Have someone else read it over, if you can.

Incidentally - shorter sentences can often pack more 'oomph' For example - I like the line I always loved those ginger snap cookies. :)

With all that said .. I know you are on your way to being a wonderful writer. The ambiance is gorgeous. You just need to clean up the technical stuff (that's the easy part!)and you'll be flyin'. I mean it! :)

In fact, I'm sort of jealous because the actual story part seems easy for you. Beautiful job. I look forward to more.:)
This is truly a stellar piece of writing. Your tenderness and loving attitude towards the men in the shelter melts my heart. You have tremendous talent.

Don't worry about the long/short sentences...I teach an Institute for Excellence in Writing course to home schoolers (IEW) which allows any length sentence as long as it is grammatically correct (Hemingway once wrote an entire opening paragraph as one long sentence). Only rule is, don't string too many long ones together without what IEW calls a VSS (very short sentence) to give the reader a rest. Actually, I didn't find that your sentences detracted from your piece at all. They were beautifully written.

Keep up the great work!
I agree with Sonya.
Mix it up. :)
That's the key.

And I did admit that I am lazy. :)

It's been a long time but the reference to Hemingway twigged a memory. Funny - but is he not known for his short sentences? Was that not even one of his personal writing rules? (I could be wrong)

Anyway. I hope the writer of this piece is not confused or discouraged.

I want to encourage you to stay true to your wonderful voice and convictions. Take what serves you .. and chuck the rest.

I really love your writing!! It's wonderful!
I am a lazy reader too. (That's my fault!) I noticed myself skipping over some words to get the message. The message is wonderful and the Salvation Army is a picture of how the Kingdom of God works in the hearts of people that want to serve God.
I found this lovely, from the title to the last word.
Absolutely excellent. Loved it.
Hey, you have done really well here for constructive criticism. Fantastic! I don't think that I need to add much at all except to comment on your title. What's particularly moving about the story is the way in which you play with light and shade to add some great atmosphere, something that is reflected (no pun intended) in your title. Well done indeed
I don't think you have to be lazy to stumble over long sentences. I also felt that did detract from this piece.
But still, this is one of my favorite entries this week. I could really see the scenes being played out.
Congratulations on your highly commended. I loved having this inside look into the Salvation Army. And it's written very well. Great job with the topic.
Congrats on your placement. I liked Wild Eyed Jack and would recommend making him the focal point of this story (or another) and using him in the beginning. There were structural problems with sentences and flow, but this piece was full of promise.