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Improve & Encourage #7: Genie in Flames

Renee Stevens


I hope you all enjoyed the last Improve & Encourage feature, because it's time for another one. These features are meant to both provide feedback to authors and, similar to story reviews, point out stories that readers might not otherwise have found. It's similar to a review, in that the person doing the critique tells you what they liked about the story, but it differs in that they also provide constructive criticism. Each author signed up to participate, and sign up's are still open!  These will post once a month until we no longer have content. Once that happens, I will critique the last author that posted. If you'd like to provide a critique for the blog, sign up in the thread. I'm hoping to have a lot more authors sign up, and just remember, by signing up, you are also volunteering to have your story critiqued and featured.


Genie in Flames

Wicked Witch


Critique By: Comicfan


Please give us a short summary of the story you chose.

Jo is a young boy who is lonely. He is dealing with coming to terms with who he is, but wants someone to talk with. He makes a wish upon a star and a genie named Yaidul comes to talk with him. I don’t want to go into too much detail and rob you of the reading pleasure, but this one leaves you feeling for the main character.

What do you see as the strengths of the story/poem?

Jo is shown to be a lonely soul. He has no one to talk to and is shown immediately sharing his fears with the fire. Wicked Witch gives many traits to Jo in a very short period, displaying the child’s generosity, thoughtfulness, and worry. This brings his loneliness and fears into sharp focus. This accomplished within a short period and with an economy of language.

What so you see as the weakness of the story/poem?

If there is a weakness in the story it is its brevity. You know poor Jo is worried about his future. While there are mentions of Jo’s parents, as a reader you desire to know more. What have they said that worries Jo? Why is this poor, sweet soul seemingly without friends? As a reader you just want more.

How do you think the story/poem could be improved?

I believe it could be improved greatly by tying Wicked Witch to a seat in front of a computer and keeping them there until a second chapter is completed. Barring that, just going back to expand and include a bit more in the details. Overall, you are easily drawn into the world Wicked Witch created for Jo, but you so want more of it.

What was your favorite part?

I’m a sucker for anything that pulls at the heart strings and Yaidul’s final line, “I’ll be here as long as you need a friend to talk to, Jo,” just breaks my heart. It leaves you feeling so sad for Jo.


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I read this story this morning. It's well done, sweet but I think Wicked Witch's Yaidul is just right. I understand people wanting more, but as a lover of good short stories, sometimes less is more. Yaidul is pure and has an innocent's logic. I'm not sure i think there needs to be more. This is beautiful as it stands, in my opinion.

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I liked this story too, and I'm sort of split between finding it perfect the way it is and wanting more.

It was a good critique, and I hope you get a response from the author. I'm still a bit bummed Mann never reacted to my contribution. :( 

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Thanks guys! Sorry I've been out of existence for the last while. I really really appreciate your words. I have had lots of ideas for Yaidul's second chapter but nothing concrete has some into being yet, so I won't promise anything.

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5 hours ago, Wicked Witch said:

 I have had lots of ideas for Yaidul's second chapter but nothing concrete has some into being yet, so I won't promise anything.


Well, at least you're considering a second chapter, that will please your fans. And until then the story works as it is.

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