Tough Love

Finally finished the work in progress and brought the ending to the biweekly abatoir that is my critique group.

Remember the last few times when the Win list was longer than the Fail list? Not this time, but that’s okay. It’s called a “puke draft” for a reason. Not only that, I brought about 3 times as many words as I’d brought before–of course the Fail list was going to be longer!

For the Win

  • Folks liked my description of the painful way the protagonist “solved” his problem.
  • Those scenes had a “feeling of menace and chaos.”
  • Praise for how I cashed in on a couple of plot points from the beginning of the story. (It’s funny–I had no idea I was gonna do that.)
  • The usual praise about dialogue, prose, etc.


  • Unresolved question #1: What are the stakes? (Yikes!)
  • Other unresolved questions:
    • What exactly is the protagonist’s motivation for getting involved in this “strange, new world” in the first place?
    • Why does he choose such a drastic solution to an unclear problem?
    • In fact, isn’t he making matters worse?
    • What’s his sister’s motivation, ‘cos the way she pushes the protagonist and where she pushes him to makes her look like more of a bad guy than the bad guy?
    • What did the bad guy want that was so bad?
  • I definitely strayed from the idea of “cultural tension” that I started out with in the beginning.

The entire puke draft clocked in at over 7300 words, so there’s a lot of tightening and rethinking to do. In a way, this piece is a victory because it’s been so long since I just cranked out a first draft of a “full-length” story with as little looking back as possible.

I’ve got a good feeling about this story though. I know all the pieces are there, even if they’re in a jumble.