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After The Madness Workshop # B-9

Friday, 30 March 2012  |  Posted by Brenda Drake

Welcome to day five of After the Madness Workshop! Shelley Watters, Erica Chapman, the writers at YAtopia, and myself will critique the first 250 words of  two brave writers’ manuscripts per day for the next seven to eight days. There are four blogs joining in to offer up suggestions. Click on my partners’ sites in my sidebar to view the other critiques.

And next up is …

B-9 Meagan Rivers 
When he smiled, I saw only teeth. Clean, white, perfectly straight, flawless teeth. Everyone else saw it from a mile away — the jagged bottom tooth that jutted out at an awkward angle. I couldn’t see it, even when it was inches from my face.

B’s notes: I like this. It’s funny how she’s so enamored with him that she doesn’t notice the tooth that juts out.

“You were attracted to his teeth?”
“No. But I never saw the crooked tooth,” I said.”Not until that night.”
The woman before me nodded, because that was one of the things she did best. Don’t get me wrong, I’d struck the therapist lottery. Colleen understood me. She knew when to say all the right things. But nodding could be annoying when I needed her to talk.
“When, exactly?” she asked. 
I shut my eyes and tilted my head as though the images would tumble forward, fall into place. “When the light from Adam’s back porch lit up, it shined off the crooked tooth. It must have been the lighting.”
“Bonnie,” Colleen said with a warm tone of warning,”Matthew wasn’t perfect. It’s good that you could finally see some of his flaws.”

“But only when…” I paused, pressed above my collarbones until my pulse beat into my fingertips. “He had his hands around my neck.”

“The illusion broke,” Colleen said. “You’re sitting here because of it.”

The air in her office cooled my lungs. I’d known on the first session that someone who kept bushels of eucalyptus was the right person to help me.

“I should have realized it sooner. Everyone else saw it.”

B’s notes: Great writing. You had me in the beginning and lost me a little at the end. I thought she was seeking help because she chooses the wrong man all the time (Hello? Been there). But she’s talking about a guy strangling her and the therapist simply says the illusion broke. It’s so nonchalant. I’d think Bonnie would be crying and shaking. Maybe, we need more actions to see how she feels about this incident. Bring in the emotions to this scene because at first I thought it was going to be a light romantic comedy or something. 
I hope this helps!

Remember this is subjective and others’ may feel differently. So I’ll now pass it on to the readers to critique. Please leave your comments, and remember the rules of critiquing … be nice, which I’m sure you all will be, but I have to say it … you know.


Filed: Misc, Workshops

  • Hit and miss with me. The begining read like a constructed begining line. I completely agree with B on the disconnect in response/revelation in the final paragraph. Unlike B I had no sense (my Mrs. says I haven’t had sense in years) of exactly what kind of story I’m reading. Not the end of the world in the first 250 pages as long as the 250 has a consistent tone which this doesn’t.

  • Amber says:

    Brenda nailed this on the head! I love the voice!! But when mention of her being strangled and the therapist replying ‘the illusion broke’ I was lost. Other than those, I really liked the writing. It flowed beautifully, and did I mention I love the voice? 🙂

    I would suggest the mc closing her eyes and having a flash- seeing, feeling his hands tight around her throat (this pulls us in to the tough situation) You use the dialogue to TELL us. But I want to feel the mc’s pain. I felt the strangling was passed by so seemlessly.

    Example- ‘I closed my eyes. I could still see his face so clearly, feel his hands so strong, rough, squeezing the life from my throat.

    My hand went to my throat instinctively. I sighed, thankful it was only a memory….

    just a way to make us feel for the mc a little more 🙂

  • Ooo, I like Amber’s suggestion of a quick flashback–allows you to keep a sense of distance and maintain the rest of the tone.

  • Great idea about the flashback, Brenda. I really enjoyed this and your comments. However, like Amber above, “. . . the illusion broke” lost me as well.

  • Meagan says:

    Thank you all for the comments and feedback! I really like opportunities like this, they are always so helpful.

    This is from a rewrite of a formerly “finished” project and I keep forgetting that I have to be more direct with the things that I put in. This is a great reminder.

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