Tough Love

So, some of my 2009 writing goals are off to a really fucking bad start. Life and death sometimes get in the way of writing, which is fine. But the good news is, I’ve thus far managed to keep my goal of writing one story a month, even though part of me thinks a 1,400-word story feels like cheating somehow, compared to last month’s 3,000 words. Then again, February is shorter.

Anyway, I finished and polished the bulk of this short-short story the night before yesterday’s critique group while watching the director’s cut of THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY on AMC at 2:00 AM. Hence, the many problems spotted by the eagle-eyed writers in my biweekly crucifixion session.

The Good

  • The “switch” i.e. the change of direction at the end of the story
  • The rhythm of the writing in some spots
  • One pop-culture reference spotted
  • The main character’s arc

The Bad

  • My second paragraph should’ve been my intro paragraph.
  • The fantasy element, telepathy, needed a bit more definition/consistency for one person
  • One paragraph on an ex-girlfriend mentioned only once (among other things) could be nixed.
  • I never named the story’s supporting character.
  • My experiment with not using quotation marks for dialogue was a fail for one reader.

The Ugly

  • A major plot point about what people think of the main character might’ve been a little negative when usually, the truth is that most people don’t think about us nearly as much as we think they do.
  • …leading to the question of whether the main character is actually reading minds or seeing a reflection of his own POV.
  • Another lively debate (like in the last group), this time about my use of the generic THE OFFICE/OFFICE SPACE/DILBERT cubicle-hell setting and how the protagonist’s co-workers were all painted as mean and blackhearted in some cases. One person strongly felt it was “overused” while another felt it was “awesome.”

I can definitely see both sides of that last point. The good news is that I think it’s all fixable.