As I had mentioned, I have already submitted this story to the NYC Short Story challenge and received my results. I came in 3rd in my heat, not bad for a first contest submission, I think. (Never miss an opportunity to pat your own back.)
Even so, I sent the work off to my friend Catherine and she gave me some excellent feedback. Since she gave me a good chunk of work I’d like to break this post into two parts.
I’ll begin with the scene of writing and then follow with Catherine’s comments.
“Rodney,” He called out. He waited for a few seconds then called out again. “Damn cat,” he mumbled as he walked to the bathroom, stripped off his clothes, and stepped into the shower. [ … ] As he stood in the doorway with his briefcase he glanced around his apartment one last time.
There was no sound of a meow, or the sound of the dish scraping across the floor. Rodney tended to nudge his dish with his head, moving it around the room as he ate. It was strange, Rodney not coming to eat.
* That last graf before you leave rodney i believe is unnecessary. i think it’s the lit equivalent of beating a dead horse. i definitely knew something was sort of up and thought maybe we’d return to rodney. in the end of course, that’s unnecessary. but i think leaving it at ‘Rodney?’ is sufficient.
Gunther was a routine man. He took the same route to work, stopped in the same coffee shop, got the same type of coffee, and the same croissant with ham and cheese, all to go, all paid with his bank card every work day. He had been doing it so long that he didn’t even have to say the order. He’d just walk up to the counter hold out his card, and the cute red headed barista would say, “Hi Gunther, the usual?” And he liked that. Gunther liked routines.
* The paragraph beginning ‘Gunther was a routine man’: i don’t think you need the last ‘Gunther liked routines.’ I feel i know a bit why you put that there. but it’s repetitive. you could even move that sentence to the front and begin the graf: Gunther liked routines. It’s active and better than the passive ‘was a routine man.’
In the bank he requested to use one of their phones in order to contact his work.
“Good morning, Seagul and Blu insurance-“
“This is Gunther McWilliams, I’m having some problems with my bank and I’m running a bit late. I’ll be in as soon as I clear up this fiasco. Thanks, bye.” He hung up. If he had remained on the phone he would have heard Linda ask, “Who is this?”
* The exchange with his work. Consider doing something like this in order to keep the narrator out of it, as well as keeping the perspective with gunther:
I’ll be in as soon as I clear up this fiasco. Thanks, bye.” He hung up. If he had remained on the phone he would have heard Linda ask, “Who is this?”
“I’ll be in as soon as I clear up this fiasco,” he said running his hand alongside the top of the phone and wondering why it was so clean.
(I mean, okay the phone box thing was a stretch but i used it for construction purposes, and you might hate this but it’s a thought.)
This is the type of constructive criticism that is so, SO helpful. It shows that the reader put a lot of thought into your work, and wanted to give the best feedback that would help your writing come out stronger. And, in writing is all take it or leave it, I don’t have to follow Cathi’s advice but after reading over what she wrote me I happen to agree with her.
To be continued ….