5 Tips for Surviving Criticism of Your Writing

by Monica M. Clark | 81 comments

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A while back I attended a novel-writing workshop. Each week we read thirty pages from two students and spoke about them in depth during class, offering helpful feedback and criticism of their writing.

Criticism Writing: 5 Tips for Surviving Criticism of Your Writing

After the second or third week, it became customary to ask whoever had been up for a critique “are you OK?” after class. Sometimes I saw tears. I myself felt overwhelmed by the amount of work I still had to do and my classmates’ brutal honesty.

5 Strategies to Survive Criticism of Your Writing

We all know workshops and editing are crucial to the writing process. Writing criticism is essential. But man, that feedback can be hard to hear.

Here five survival tips.

1. Turn to Someone You Don’t Know

Hire an editor, sign up for a class, or search the Internet for an editing partner (we're partial to Becoming Writer, our online community of writers!). At the end of the day, your work is going to be read by strangers, so you might as well hear what they think when you can still make changes.

Also, it’s easier not to take criticism personally when it comes from someone who doesn’t know you!

I suggest finding someone who you can trust knows what they’re doing, like a writing teacher or an editor.

2. Turn to Someone You Do Know, Also

As a general matter, I recommend seeking feedback from a diverse set of readers. Yes, it’s good to hear from strangers, but you can also benefit from the perspective of someone who knows your story, if you’re willing to share it with them.

Friends and family may know why you wrote this story, and what you're trying to do with it. More importantly, they know you. You may be surprised by what they have to say.

3. You Don’t Need to Accept Every Change

You definitely do not need to accept every change.

My approach is this: I send my work to multiple people and review their comments with an open mind. If everyone makes the same comment, misunderstands the same character, or finds the same section lacking, then I know I need to make a change, no matter how much I may not want to.

(And, by the way, if everyone compliments me on the same technique or loves a certain character, I accept that feedback as well!)

If one person randomly hates XYZ (which inevitably happens), but no one else did, I usually let that comment go.

4. Remember, Giving Feedback Takes Time and Effort

When you see that a person has torn your document apart, instead of getting pissed, try feeling grateful. It takes a lot of time and effort to provide thoughtful feedback to another person.

In other words, they’re giving you a lot of comments because they care.

Take a breath, review, and then follow up with any questions, if you can.

5. Find Your Favorite Author and Read Their One-Star Reviews

This was a game changer for me. Reviewing the one-star reviews of books I love really put things in perspective.

Not every book is for everyone, and that’s OK. Some people will love what you wrote. Others won’t. The goal is to publish the best piece you can.

Bonus: Embrace the Process

I get that it’s hard to give what essentially is your soul on the page to someone to critique. Receiving writing criticism can be a painful process.

But the truth is, that feedback will improve your work and ultimately make you a better writer. Embrace it!

Do you have any tips for surviving criticism of your writing? Let us know in the comments.


Today, it's all about the feedback. Post a section of your work in progress in the comments below. Then, take fifteen minutes to read other writers' pieces and give them feedback.

If you don't have a work in progress, take ten minutes to write a new story based on this prompt: a character is on a journey, but just realized they didn't bring enough supplies. When you're done, share your story in the comments and take ten minutes to leave feedback for your fellow writers.

Remember, great feedback does three things:

  1. It points out something good about the writing.
  2. It identifies a weakness.
  3. It mentions another thing that works.

You might be surprised at just how helpful your fellow writers' comments will be!

Free Book Planning Course! Sign up for our 3-part book planning course and make your book writing easy. It expires soon, though, so don’t wait. Sign up here before the deadline!

Monica is a lawyer trying to knock out her first novel. She lives in D.C. but is still a New Yorker. You can follow her on her blog or on Twitter (@monicamclark).


  1. Jennifer Shelby

    Great post! I’m not going to post anything from my WIP because I need to keep my first publication rights, but you’ve hit the big stuff here. I also find it helpful to keep a record of the truly terrible suggestions I’ve gotten. Helps put things in perspective when the sting hurts.

    • Monica

      Interesting…I just try to forget those terrible suggestions! Haha.

  2. drjeane

    This is very helpful. It even applies to me as an editor of a professional journal. When I get detailed negative comments from a peer reviewer on an article that I had felt was in good shape, I really have to take a step back and appreciate the effort that went into the critique, then take another closer look at the comments and suggested corrections.

    • Monica

      Yes, I feel the same about critiques at my day job as well. If my boss gives me a lot of comments, I try to see it as an opportunity to learn. That said, I know others get really annoyed by that type of thing!

  3. Gary G Little

    This is set in the future, on the moon, called Luna by its citizens. They call themselves Lunies. No not Loonies, and yes they can tell the difference in how you pronounce it. It takes place after a major battle for a Free Luna State with Earth-Gov forces. These two characters work for the Mayor of a small town just on the otherside of the right hand rim of the moon as seen from Earth. The work is titled Down is the Moon and has been posted in the Workshop.

    “Don’t push,” Jonathan managed to gasp.

    “I ain’t a pushin’,” Sandi remarked and broke down into great heaving sobs.

    Jonathan extracted himself from the door frame and that great obsidian table, took his friend in his arms, and quieted her, as best he could, as she spilled her grief into his shoulder.

    “There, there, my lady,” he said placing his hand on her gray curls.

    “They found Ted today,” Sandi sobbed.

    “I know, I know. And Peter. And Captain Daniels. And Sergeant Woods.”

    “Such a bloody god damn waste,” Sandi said wiping her eyes with the tail of her apron.

    “It always is. Now let’s get this table put away. The Colonel will be here soon.”

    • Amber

      I really like this! There’s a lot of characterization in these few sentences. If I had to criticize anything, it would be minor grammatical errors, such as the lack of a comma between “said” and “wiping.” Otherwise, I enjoyed reading this piece!

    • Sarah Purcell

      Good work. I would loose some dialogue tags. “I ain’t a pushin’.” Sandi broke down into great heaving sobs.
      The next paragraph is on very long sentence – consider breaking it up.
      “There, there, my lady” He placed his hand on her gray curls.
      “Such a bloody god damn waste.” Sandi wiped her eyes with the tail of her apron.
      That changes the ‘he said, she said’ into action and puts us more into the story.

    • Nana

      It´s short but there is really a lot in this passage!
      The first time I read it I wasn´t sure what the passage is about.

      However, the surprising thing is that I still could picture the scene and the atmosphere- I could see a little film clip playing in my mind!

    • Monica

      Love the concept!

  4. Amber

    “I HATE YOU!” I shrieked, hair muffling my sobs.
    I stormed up the hill, furiously scrubbing at my mouth. I felt the thick red lipstick smear across my cheek, and the tears coursed even more swiftly down my face.
    “Novalie, I need to tell you something!” Dakota yelled, tramping up after me. His coat flapped, and his hair was pressed flat against his head.
    I reached the top of the hill, panting, and realized I couldn’t climb any higher. I whipped around, raking at the tornado of hair suffocating me. “GO AWAY!”
    Dakota stopped about ten feet away from me, arms extended.
    There was nothing he could say to make me feel better. Nothing.
    “Novalie, I love you!”
    Nothing except that.
    All my defenses dropped. I realized my mouth was hanging open and quickly snapped it shut. Hands on head to keep my dancing hair away from my face, I gaped at him.
    He staggered toward me, and I did not retreat.
    Tears froze on my face as we gazed at each other.
    Somehow, we ended up hugging. He silently led me back down the hill, holding me warmly the whole time.
    I couldn’t wipe the stupid wide-eyed look of shock from my face. We were both crying a little.
    We reached the camp and stood just outside the entrance.
    “I don’t hate you,” I squeaked, looking at the ground.
    “I know.” He gave me one more squeeze and escorted me into camp.
    I held my head high and walked stiffly across the clearing, not caring in the slightest what the others thought about my smeared lipstick and tear stains.
    The wind didn’t bother me now, just the storm inside of me. Forget butterflies, there were wild horses stampeding around my stomach. My heart was pounding so violently I thought it was going to knock me over.
    That walk to my tent was the longest six seconds of my life, and as soon as I was inside, I collapsed on my sleeping bag, thankful nobody else was inside.
    Actually, I wouldn’t have cared. I didn’t care about anything much at the moment.
    He loved me.

    • Gary G Little


      Very good, and I mean that, very good. Great line: Forget butterflies, there were wild horses stampeding around my stomach.

      If I may make a suggestion, drop all the capitalization and use punctuation to indicate the shouting. “I HATE YOU! I shrieked”, is overkill. The “!” tells me the volume was quite high, and then use “shriek” as a dialogue tag. I have always believed the loudest shout is underwhelmed by a well placed whisper.

    • Amber

      Thanks for taking the time to read that! I really appreciate your encouragement and advice.

    • Sarah Purcell

      I also thought it was very good. I would change a couple of instances of passive voice.
      1. Instead of ‘there were wild horses stampeding’ – Wild horses stampeded around my stomach.
      2. Instead of ‘heart was pounding’ ‘was going’ – My heart pounded so violently I thought it would knock me over.

    • Amber

      Thanks for your thoughtful advice!

    • Nana

      I liked the story, and honestly: I don´t have any concrete critism.
      But I could imagine that you could put more emphasis on the turning point of your story, the love confession, for example by making the contrast between before and after stronger. Anyways, amazing work!

    • Amber

      I love this idea. Thanks!

    • Monica

      I read somewhere that you shouldn’t begin the story with a quote. I think it’s because the reader doesn’t have any context to work with yet. That said, I’m not sure if I agree or not lol. Other than that, I will say I was compelled to keep reading, and am really curious about what happened!

    • Amber

      Thank you! I haven’t heard that rule yet, but will keep it in mind.

    • EndlessExposition

      This might sound like an odd compliment, but I think you use great verbs in this piece. It’s really hard to find alternatives to the same generic verbs for describing basic actions, but you pick vivid, highly specific words that really allow the reader to picture the exact way your characters are doing something as small as moving their hair. I agree with Gary and Sarah’s criticisms that the use of all-caps and the passive voice are detrimental to the piece. Overall though I think this is really good, and I’m curious to know the rest of the story.

    • Amber

      I’ve never gotten that compliment before; thanks so much!

  5. Sarah Kidner

    From the corner of the room, there’s a wheee like a balloon letting out air. My grandfather jumps out of his chair, ricochets to the stove and removes the kettle from the hob. The whistling is replaced by a glug as he pours water into the waiting mugs. Carefully now he carries the drinks to the table one for him and the other for Eva, my grandmother. She blows at the steam, takes a sip and then sighs. Grandfather grins and rips a chunk from the breakfast loaf; as he does so he sends crumbs spraying across the table, and mother clicks her tongue.
    The routine is comforting, familiar. My grandparents’ traditional tea dance and mother’s gentle scolding from the sidelines; years from now this is how I’ll remember her, fingers stained orange from the paprika, knife rattling across the chopping board, and the sound of the meat sizzling in the pan.
    “Breakfast,” she says.
    I cut some bread and dip it in the fat, roll it around and around in my mouth until it becomes a soft doughy ball, and then I swallow hard.
    “Have you finished your homework?”, she asks.
    “Of course, he has,” grandfather says.
    “Yes Pops, all done.”
    “Then hurry up, or you’ll be late.”
    “Indeed,” says grandfather. “It would be rude to keep a lady waiting.”
    He winks at me across the table, and blood rushes to my cheeks. I grab my school bag, kiss mother goodbye and walk out onto Forget-me-not Street where Syeira is, as Pops predicted, waiting. She’s wearing a long flowing skirt pinched in at the waist, and a white cotton blouse; her black hair is pulled back in a ponytail, tucked in beneath her backpack. The bag bulges with books but I don’t offer to carry it; experience has taught me better.
    The street is quiet.
    Quiet, but not deserted.
    Somewhere in the early morning shadows, he’s waiting.

    • Nana

      I like the descriptions in your work.
      While reading it, I understood the relationships between the family members as well as what the protagonist (´I´) considers familiar.
      On the other hand, there might be too many descriptions, especially in the first part. I think it would help if you would shorten some sentences, or put some short sentences between long ones.

    • Sarah Kidner

      Thanks for the suggestions and the reply. This is the opener to something I have been working on for two years but I am a terrible self-editor and so progress is slow.

    • EndlessExposition

      This is good! The level of detail brings the scene to life. It’s very easy to picture what’s going on here. My only criticism would be that the piece needs some editing for grammar. Placement of commas, capitalizations, etc. But those are things that I generally don’t worry about till the final draft, as they don’t have much impact on the essential content of your story. Good job overall!

    • Dan B.

      I enjoyed it and saw some subplot opportunities developing between the characters. The “he’s waiting” ending was a little obvious. I wonder if there’s a more subtle way of building suspense. Same kind of goes for me with the early description. Grandpa sounded a bit animaistic hopping to the stove and ripping bread and crumbs flying everywhere. It seemed a little exaggerated and unsbelievable to me. Most Grandpas I know are funny, quirky and kidders like this one, but they don’t hop (they’re too old and stiff) and usually have table manners, although rough around the edges, having been trained by their wives. Thanks for sharing.

  6. nancy

    Turning to a stranger is therapeutic for me. They are trying to help and have nothing to lose. I only use friends for line edits. The reason: most of my thrillers begin with a real event in my life. People who know those events already have plot expectations. When the fiction takes over and goes down a different path, these friends are disappointed. I prefer to test out my plot on strangers. When I get comments from them telling me to change things that aren’t even in the manuscript, I can write that off to: well-meaning but inexperienced.

  7. James Wright

    Beautifully written. Great information. Keep up the great work.

    • Monica

      I accept your feedback. 😉

    • Monica

      Of course it’s OK. Thanks!

  8. Nana

    Great post! I´ve never published or posted any writing but I´m sure that the post will help me to survive -on the other hand, I´m already scared of getting feedback.

    Anyways, the following is an extract of something I wrote, and I appreciate any feedback I can get; I´m rather new to this whole thing:

    Every family has it´s problem.
    But in Tokyo, the capital city of Japan, many families had the same problem: Children.
    Japan had the second lowest birth-rate in the world for a reason.
    People aspired for the better things in life: Justice, honour, money, alcohol, party and more- not a child. The potential parents knew that a child meant sleepless nights, investment of time, money and -most importantly- putting aside their own agenda for the child.

    But there were also the couples who gave it a try.
    Like the rich couple living next to the Takaido station in Tokyo.

    They weren´t confident. Still, they decided to become parents. They didn´t think too much about their doubts and fears, or the consequences- just let´s get over with it.

    As such, the cute couple the Mister Donuts worker saw was now the happy family. The mother was carrying a baby with her and cooing at it (“Oh, what would you like to have, sweetie?”) while deciding which donut to put on the tray. The father was just standing at the side,
    smiling. Oh, the Satos looked so happy, maybe a family wasn´t that bad, the Mister Donuts worker thought.

    Unbeknownst to him, the doubts always reappear at night at the Sato´s apartment:

    “Was it really a good idea to get Fumie, anata?”, the mother asked.

    The father frowned, “Are you regretting it now, woman? It´s too late and you should be proud of being a mother!” He was unsure just like her but he was now a father, dammit.

    “I understand, anata”, and the conversation was finished.

    Little Fumie would grow up in this family, even if there were doubts and conflicts- time didn´t stop moving.

    • felicia_d

      I like this and it has my attention.

      You refer to the rich couple as the Satos, but as individuals they’re “the mother” and “the father”. I believe personalizing them more would give the parents more depth and allow the reader to connect with them. The infant is referred to by name and I connected with that. I already feel bad for little Fumie. Sounds as though having him was given as much thought as having a tooth pulled.

      Good job!

    • Nana

      Thank you for the feedback!
      I will think of some names 😉

    • Zoe Ramey

      I like it! It drew me in immediately with the “Every family has its problem.” I was a little confused about the POV. Is the whole story in omniscient, or does it move on to a single character later? Other than that, I thought it was great. 🙂

    • Nana

      Thank you!
      It will be about Fumie later, and I will adjust the POV a bit, so it’s mostly from her perspective 😉

  9. ChocolateChipApostasy

    I think it might help to have a strong grasp of the meat and bones of writing, like plot structure, character development, etc. Sometimes, when we perceive something, our brains are interpreting information we don’t consciously pick up, so we might say “I like this, but don’t like this,” without being able to specify the reason.

    When I studied graphic design in college, I found that the most effective and least personal critiques came from those students with a solid knowledge of the principles of design and marketing (tact did come into play). Even when a student received a scathing, unstructured, or ill-informed critique, if they were well-armed with the basic principles of style and layout, they could interpret a very personal-sounding critique in a more impersonal way. Thus enabled, they could actually extract a great deal of helpful information from even the clumsiest critique.

    • Monica


  10. felicia_d

    Love this post, Monica! Thank you!

    Excerpt from current WIP.

    I should have put a bullet in his head. It would have ended things faster, and I wouldn’t be sitting here now because of him.

    With him.

    For him.

    Quinn Landon’s jaws tightened. Annoyed with the rhythmic hums and beeps of the medical equipment that filled the room, she stood and walked over to the window. Despite the window’s darkened tint, she could tell it was past dawn. A new day had arrived. For the first time in months, Quinn dreaded the coming day. Her shoulders sagged as a weight she believed was gone for good bore down on her.

    How long have I been here, nine…ten hours? No one has updated me on the case since I arrived, or even offered me a lousy cup of coffee. Honestly though, I don’t care and would rather be at home enjoying my own coffee. Not here.

    Not with him.

    For him.

    Turning, Quinn glanced at the man laying in the hospital bed. Technically, Oscar Landon was still her husband. He’d run out of second chances and Quinn had gone through with the divorce filing. But with the help of his support team, which included a pretty damn good attorney, and BOTH their mothers, Oscar had managed to drag out the proceedings. At each court appearance, Quinn silently prayed for the drama to end and finally free her of nine years of betrayal and lies. But, Oscar always made a new request through his attorney. Condo appraisal, vehicle appraisals, review of both their health and pension plans – he truly believed he could wear Quinn down enough for her to change her mind about the divorce.

    Quinn was pushed to her breaking point during their last…and final mediation…meeting. While Oscar sat back smugly and watched, his attorney laid out their latest proposal…twelve weeks of marriage counseling, which included a one week retreat.

    “Mr. Landon doesn’t want this divorce and hasn’t from the beginning. He feels if he and Mrs. Landon enter into open, honest counseling with a licensed therapist of the court’s choosing, they can save their marriage.” He then sat back and matched the smug look Oscar was wearing.

    She glared at Oscar. He’d gone too far. It was time to put an end to the foolishness. With one quick glance at her attorney, Quinn returned her glare to her husband. “That’s never going to happen, Oscar.”

    “I love you, Quinnie. I will not let you go without a fight.”

    “A fight? What is there to fight for? This sham of a marriage? Why can’t you just sign the papers? What is the problem? You’ve had seven affairs in nine years, Oscar. I should have walked away long ago. But you and our families team up to browbeat and shame me into staying. All your talk about loving me is just that, Oscar…talk. You have no intention of honoring your wedding vows, so why can’t we put an end to this farce and each get on with our lives?”

    “Marriage is for life, Quinn. I may not be perfect, but you’re my wife, and I do love you. I’ll never sign those papers.”

    Quinn Landon guffawed before she could stop herself. “Oh my god! Don’t you ever say that to me again! You do NOT love me and I have doubts that you ever did. You want the thought of marriage…not to mention the appearance of a stable home life.” Her voice turned hard and took on a menacing edge. “You can’t have the school district thinking one of its lead administrators is anything less than solid.”

    Oscar leaned forward on his side of the conference table. Their respective attorneys exchanged nervous glances. The arbitrator and the stenographer leaned back in their seats.

    “Yes, my love. Appearances are very important, but nothing is more important than us working this out.” Quinn leaned forward on her side of the table.

    “Not. Going. To. Happen…and, I’m not your love!” She nodded to Morris, and sat back in her chair, arms folded across her chest.

    The attorney silently removed a document from a folder and slid it across the table. Quinn could tell by the look on the man’s face Oscar had not been honest with him. Oscar finally broke his gaze from to his wife to see what the document was. One glance and he grabbed it from his attorney’s hand, leaping to his feet.

    • EndlessExposition

      I really like this! Your descriptions flow very naturally, and you have some great turns of phrase. In particular, the repetition of “with him, for him” really stuck out. My one criticism is that the dialogue is a bit stilted and comes off as telling rather than showing. You do show both Quinn and her husband’s personalities very clearly in that flashback, however, so all I would advise is a bit of editing to make the conversation more realistic. Good job overall! This sounds like a great story.

    • felicia_d

      I wrestled with that flashback like you wouldn’t believe! LOL! That scene was longer and I cut it – obviously in the wrong places! I should have asked for feedback before the edit. Thank you!

    • Nana

      Just like EndlessExposition, I´m amazed at the way you describe the scene, it is very smooth.
      In the third paragraph, you change from a 3rd person POV to 1st person POV. This at first was a bit confusing- maybe you could add “Quinn thought” somewhere, so it becomes clear.
      Wonderful work!

    • felicia_d

      Never even saw that. Thanks, Nana!

  11. EndlessExposition

    My WIP is mostly in the research stages still. So I’ve been writing little stories to help myself develop backstory for my main characters. This is the beginning of one. Reviews are always appreciated!

    Alicia had never believed in God, but found herself praying nonetheless that her phone wasn’t about to go flying at the next patch of rough road. Her duffel bag – dumped in the passenger’s seat – bulged from being packed carelessly in haste; she’d put her Blackberry on speaker and jammed it under the bag’s straps to leave her hands free. She drove with her right and smoked with her left. The night rushed to meet her car with hungry alacrity, inky blackness flooding past the windows with no end in sight. The only sounds were the ringing on the other end of the line, and her own agitated chant of, “Pick up, pick up, pick up, pick up…”

    And maybe there was something to this praying lark after all, because the ringing stopped. At first there was only static, and then a groggy voice mumbled, “Hello?”

    Alicia released the breath she’d been holding. “Jim. Thank God.”

    The Blackberry groaned. “The hell, John? It’s the middle of the night.”

    “Morning, it’s three A.M. Look, I’m on my way over. I need a place to stay.”

    “Is everything okay?”

    “Everything is fucked.”

    “What happened?” Jim sounded awake now. Alicia Cameron dropping an f-bomb denoted a state of emergency.

    “I’ll explain when I get there. I’m breaking the speed limit and I need to keep my eye out for troopers.”

    “Some cop you’re gonna make. Alright, I’ll be outside waiting for you. Be careful getting here, yeah? Last thing you need –”

    “Is another accident, I know. Thanks, Killer. See you soon.” The call ended with a click. Alicia took a deep drag off her cigarette and allowed herself to relax a little in her seat. She had never believed in God, but her faith in Jim Tsosie was absolute.

    • Fabio Salvadori

      I love the way you let the characters introduce themselves through their behaviours.
      There are a few sentences in the first part that are not so fluid. Like “The night rushed to meet her car with hungry alacrity, inky blackness flooding past the windows with no end in sight.” I found it a bit artificial, like if you spent to much time to refine it. Consider that I’m Italian so maybe it’s just me finding easier to get caught by simpler sentences.

    • Nana

      Good dialogue! The last part of the phone call makes a very authentic impression.
      However, in the first paragraph it is a bit hard to get into a nice reading flow- maybe shortening some sentences will help!

  12. Stephanie Warrillow

    This post is very helpful I am just at the very early planning stages of my first book

  13. James Alfred

    Where to start? Hmmmm Okay you asked for it.

    Hank was always getting himself in all kinds of trouble. He would go off on wild goose hunts, looking for place that were off limits or shut off for whatever the reason maybe. Hank heard about a government building that was just shut down. It was only about 5 hours from where he lived.

    “Well I am off to see what I can find. I have flash light. Backpack with food and water. Rope if I need it.” He said.

    He looked over his maps and knew that the site wasn’t even on any map. ” It gotta be a good place if they tried to keep it a secret.” He said out loud.

    He left a note on the table telling his wife and kids that he loved them and would be back soon. He hit the road not even looking back. 5 hours of driving and he knew he was close just had to find that road that wasn’t on any map. ” Oh look there a dirt road that goes back into some trees.” He said.

    He followed the dirt road back deep into the woods. It just kept going and going. He drove for more than 10 mile back on this dirt road. Woods on both sides. He was so deep back in the woods that the sun light couldn’t really be seen. Then he came to a stop just before a hit a gated fence. He jumped out off his car like his butt was on fire. Opened the trunk of the car and grab the bolt cutters.

    “Snap.” goes the lock. But here where more road blocks. Cut down trees and big rocks were moved in the way of the road. ” Well I guess I will walk from here.” He said.

    • Nana

      Your writing is very easy to read
      – the only things which stopped me while reading are the “He said”s, especially because they are all at the end of a paragraph. Maybe you could substitute them with, for example: “Well I guess I will walk from here”, he shrugged.
      or something like that.

    • James Alfred

      Thanks for reading it. Yeah I didn’t play that out to well. It is somewhat hard when you try to stick to 15 mins of writing. But you are right it doesn’t make much since.

  14. Fabio Salvadori

    Ok, I try. 10 minutes it’s not much time. I’m not a native English speaker so I’m a really slow writer.

    “Is it all here?”
    For someone who doesn’t now Jack, his voice may seem normal. But Jane has spent more than 20 years with the man. The way he slowed down on “all” was a sign he was upset. And if the voice wasn’t enough, he was doing that thing. That small movement with his fingers, rubbing the thumb and the index like he was peeling something.
    “Yes, why?”
    She had to force herself to avoid smiling. He’s so funny when he’s angry.
    “There are only fruits and nuts in this bag. Don’t tell me you thought we can live three days in the woods with this food for squirrel!”
    “Why not? It looks like you have quite a reserve in your belly! A few days of diet won’t do you any harm.”
    Now he’s really upset. When his ears turn red, he’s really pissed off. Jane couldn’t help but laugh at him.
    “You’re crazy! And I’m not fat!”
    “Come on, you’re the king of wilderness. Don’t tell me you’re scared for so little.”

    • Nana

      Even if it´s short, I enjoyed reading it!
      I can imagine Jack and the protagonist so well, just by reading your writing! Even their relationship to each other become clear. Very good characterization!
      The small comparison (“like he was peeling something”) in the description of Jack´s gesture and the ways that `she´ comments on that (“He´s so funny when he´s angry”) makes the passage really alive.
      Overall, it is also very nice and easy to read- so I can´t find anything to criticise.
      Maybe someone else finds something to nag 😉

    • Fabio Salvadori

      Thanks Nana

    • LilianGardner

      I like your story, Fabio, because it gives me a clear picture of your characters. Good dialogue, too.
      Keep writin. Best of luck.

    • Fabio Salvadori

      Thanks Lilian

    • Dan B.

      I liked the interchange. You could tell there’s a relationship there. It’s definitely from Jane’s point of view, so was wondering if it should be in first person, rather than the narrarator being inside Jane’s head. Thanks for sharing.

    • Dey

      I’m interested in why you think tight third is inappropriate?

    • Dan B.

      Not necessarily inappropriate. Just wondering why or what the benefit is. It might be you want to give some distance to the character or maybe you’ll be changing perspective to another character later, or to a n all-knowing narrarator later.

    • Fabio Salvadori

      Honestly, I didn’t plan it. I just wrote and it came out like this. I do it often though, being the narrator inside the character’s head. Maybe it’s because I’m not able to fully immerse myself into the shoes of some characters.

    • Dan B.

      Sounds good. I was just wondering. Doing so might open up other possibilities, like those I mentioned. Shifting perspective from one character to another seems to be in vogue right now — Gone Girl, Girl on a Train, for instance.

    • Dey

      You do a nice job of presenting character in a short time. That’s skill. The issues I see are tense related and likely do to English not being your primary language.

      For someone who didn’t know Jack…
      But Jane had spent
      She forced herself not to smile
      He was (He’s is — he is)
      (Either) food for squirrels or squirrel food.
      (leave off in your belly) You have plenty of reserves
      A few days of dieting
      Now he was really upset….ears turned red

      But to me the most important part is the interplay of these to characters and you nailed that. So good job.

    • Fabio Salvadori

      Thank you so much for your feedback, really helpful. I definitely have to improve my English and these kind of feedback are what I need to identify my weak spots.

  15. Bisma

    Why me? Was all chris could think about. What did a teenage boy do to you? He sighed.
    ” are you ok chris”said a deep voice from behind “what are you doing here?” He finished
    Chris turned to face the stranger . The stranger was tall and broad with curly black hair.
    “Who are you. ..and how do you know me” was chriss reply.

  16. Zoe Ramey

    Thank you for the post! Here is the first chapter of my fantasy trilogy.

    Chapter 1

    Shade’s dad appeared at the doorway of their small cave. His face was regretful and he was empty-handed.

    Shade’s hope was crushed as fast as it had risen.

    There would be no food tonight, just like the day before.

    It had always been a struggle to get food to eat for the Shapeshifters. Shade was no stranger to hunger.

    “You should go to sleep.” Mystery placed his sack on the table. It carried all of the wooden tools he for trading. “I’ll try again tomorrow.”

    Shade’s stomach rumbled, but he gritted his teeth and tried to ignore it.

    He rolled up the scroll his had been reading and leaped onto his sleeping ledge. His brother, Dusk, slept above him, while his sister slept on the ledge below him.

    Shade tucked the scroll into the small rack on his ledge. He only had five scrolls because they were expensive. These scrolls weren’t really Shade’s though. They belonged to the whole family.

    He slipped under his quilt his mom had made him and rested his head on his furry, gray paws.

    Nightingale, Shade’s mom, walked into their cave. She held a couple coins.

    Shade’s ears pricked up. Whenever his mom got coins, they almost always got food the next day. She made quilts and sold them, just like his dad and his wooden tools. Dad always bought the food though.

    The white fox dropped the coins into Mystery’s paws.

    “I sold two, but I’m afraid I didn’t get as much as I should have. We need the money.” Her voice was anxious, as it always was.

    Mystery placed the coins in the back of the room, where they wouldn’t be found. “We’ll have food tomorrow. That’s what is important. Soon it will be winter and your quilts will sell quickly.”

    Nightingale pulled the cloth over the doorway and walked to the sleeping spot on the ground for the two of them.

    “Goodnight,” his mom whispered to them.

    Shade watched as Mystery blew out the candle and laid next to Nightingale.

    The gray wolf had been looking forward to eating a potato or carrot all day, but that hope was all gone.

    Doing any school tomorrow would be difficult on an empty stomach.

    He closed his eyes, rather unwillingly, and tried to fall asleep, but his longing for food kept him up. Most of the Shapeshifters lived this way. Spending the day trying to get food to eat. It wouldn’t be so hard if it weren’t for the fact that the Shapeshifters were never allowed outside. They were told it was dangerous out there. It was too risky because they might be seen. None of the animals out there knew the Shapeshifters existed. If they ever found out about them, they could become afraid and do horrible things to the Shapeshifters.

    But not all the Shapeshifters lived this way. There were the Shadow Hunters. They lived in a different section of the caves than the poor Shapeshifters. It was bigger, so they didn’t have to cramp into a small cave like everyone else.

    The Shadow Hunters were allowed to go outside too. They provided the food for the rest of the animals. But there were so many that needed food that the Shadow Hunters had a hard time providing all the food, and Shade had heard it was hard to find things to eat outside anyway. The caves were in a swamp. Nightmare Swamp.

    Its name was not ignored. Animals avoided this place, but that wasn’t such a bad thing. If the Shapeshifters wanted to stay a secret, other animals couldn’t roam around their lair, or they might discover them. But it didn’t help with the food problem. They couldn’t catch small animals to eat. That’s why the Shapeshifters mostly ate greens.

    But the Shadow Hunters always got enough food. That was part of the benefit of being one.

    They were heroes. They kept all the Shapeshifters safe from the other animals and protected them from any danger.

    That’s why it was Shade’s dream to become a Shadow Hunter.

    However, that dream seemed far away. Shade continued to do his lessons and help his dad make tools every day. There was no time to train to join the Shapeshifter army.

    Shade closed his eyes and waited for sleep to come.

    When he woke up, it was to the sound of a Shapeshifter running down the hall, yelling.

    • LilianGardner

      Hello Zoe,
      A good story! Thanks for sharing. It is interesting and nicely ‘told’. That’s it! You are mostly ‘telling’ and not’ showing’.
      Perhaps you could add some twists by showing the expression in your character’s eyes, and using catchy adjectives to show their actions.
      There are some errors, which I won’t point out because I’m sure you’ll spot them when you read through your post again.
      Best of luck! Tell us more about Shade.

    • Zoe Ramey

      Thank you! I did reread it, and I spotted – hopefully – all the errors. 🙂

  17. LilianGardner

    Thanks for your post, Monica, which I appreciate.
    I had awful feed back to my short story, (one I wrote six years ago). The reader criticised just about everything. I was stunned but not enraged.
    I read through her feefback thrice, and saw she was right with about fifty percent of the manuscript. I wrote back to thank her for her help in improving my story. I learnt a lot from her ruthless critique.
    The laugh is that she was as much taken aback by my thanks and appreciation.
    I will read member’s post and leave feedback.

    • RAW


      Your reader was surprised you wrote her back? Are you friends now? Did she invite you over for coffee?


      R. Allan Worrell

    • LilianGardner

      Hi RAW.
      No, the woman did not reply. She was probably peeved at my reaction, or overwhelmed, or maybe, didn’t care a damn.
      However, I got (lousy)feedback.

    • RAW

      Lilian –
      Oh the nerve! ha, ha, ha!
      Some people just have no couth… or manners! She missed a great opportunity to know you. Just think, you might have used her as your editor, and she probably would have liked that job! ha, ha.
      Keep on writing Lilian! Never give up. Never say die!
      In my experience, persistence is the key to success in almost everything! That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it!
      R. Allan (aka, Big Al)

    • LilianGardner

      Big Al, hi!
      I love your reply. You encourage me.
      Never give up is a splendid motto.
      Mine is, ‘Where’s there’s a will, there’s a way. It keep me going.

  18. TerriblyTerrific

    Yes. Okay, I did get some criticism from no other than my ex-. It was tough. He is usually judgmental, critical. (He gets it from his Mom.) Don’t tell him I told you. And, some from my friends. It was both positive, negative. But, it is helpful. Thank you.

    • Sherrie

      Good advice about accepting and rejecting feedback. I would advise that any writer take heed to these important pointsabout surviving criticism.
      Your piece drew me in and made me feel for this little girl with no friends. The contrast between the familiarity of her old neighborhood and dreariness of her new one works well. I also enjoyed the piece from Dickens.
      How about more physical description of your protagonist? Do you add to the image of her blue eyes later on?
      Thanks for this great beginning. Will send along the next installment when you have it?
      — Sherrie

    • bernadette

      THIS ,lol, sounded like the start of an interesting story 😉

  19. Dan B.

    Thanks for posting. Here’s my contribution. Hope it’s not too long:


    The soft rain dripped from the leaves overhead and onto the bowed, bared heads and bonnets of the dozen or so men, women and children that gathered around the gaping rectangular hole in the earth, gazing downward as though it was a doorway to another world and another time from which they expected life’s mysteries to be answered. They stood on the edge of the cemetery with an open, already-harvested field, as ones come lately to a party of the past. Behind them stood an array of gray tombstones like silent witnesses to the proceedings. Opposite from them on the other side of the grave lay a coffin made of newly milled pine, darkening in the drizzle.
    “Dust to dust, ashes to ashes,” intoned the dark-suited preacher, standing at the foot of the grave and holding a prayer book beneath an umbrella held by a young man in his 20s. Behind them stood the disinterested but dutiful pair of gravediggers, who politely bowed their uncovered heads too, leaning on their shovels.
    The man holding the umbrella handed it to the preacher as he closed the book. He walked over to the coffin, limping noticeably, and picked up a rope on which the coffin was laid. He was joined by two other men, one of them barely out of his teens, it appeared. Three more men took up positions on the other side of the grave and were handed the other ends of the ropes and they began lowering the coffin into the dark.
    The black eyes of the mourners followed the descent of the coffin and its contents. A middle-aged woman stood in the center of the group, dressed in black. A younger woman, also dressed in black, leaned against her, their heads touching, with an arm around the older woman’s shoulder. One the other side of the woman was a younger boy, perhaps 13 years old. She held him close to her and with her other hand lifted a kerchief to her face, as though forming a mask to protect her from inhaling, or releasing, harmful spirits.
    There were no bursts of emotion or wailing. The faces were grim, as though acquainted with grief, like an unwelcome visitor who regularly comes to call. Their story was known to all. Previous spouses gone and buried. Children lost to disease, or stillborn. Young men killed in battle. Young women widowed. Children orphaned. Near starvation. Homes, where their family had lived for generations, abandoned. Long journeys across vast oceans and strange lands. Farmers, hands roughened and faces lined and furrowed, who had seen many a lean year.
    After a few more words from the preacher, the men ceremoniously each took a turn to shovel dirt onto the coffin. The group began to disperse and the older woman finally turned and walked away, walking through the tombstones, heading for the collection of farm wagons and tethered horses at the cemetery entrance.
    The young man with the limp lingered behind as the laborers finished their business, filling the hole in the ground until the coffin and its contents disappeared completely, as though nothing had happened and the man in the coffin had never existed. He limped over and knelt by the tombstone, rubbing his fingers on the lettering. It cost them extra to etch the whole thing on the stone, he thought, but it was important to tell the story:
    DIED in Iowa
    October 29, 1866
    61 Years
    7 Mos
    21 Days
    Native of Middle
    Barton, Oxfordshire,
    Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord.

    Wisconsin in the fall, after the leaves are gone and before the snow falls, is pretty dreary — the grass is brown, the skies are gray and temperatures are colder than anything Katie had ever experienced in San Diego, where everything was sunshine, sand and shorts.
    It’s an especially bad time of year when you’re a fifth grader, the new kid in town and school started over two months ago. It’s hard to make friends and fit in.
    Katie had got to know a couple girls in the lunchroom and in her classes. But it was too late to be involved in any sports, not that she was any good at anything, and she couldn’t sing well enough to join chorus, and math and science club were not, shall we say, her strong suit. She liked to read. A lot. Not exactly the best activity for a girl in need of new friends.
    Katie had her family all around her, but she felt like she was 2,000 miles from home. Because she was. They moved to Wisconsin after her Dad got laid off from his job in San Diego. After a few months of working part-time and temporary jobs, he got an offer in Milwaukee.
    She missed her old neighborhood – the Clarks, the nice elderly couple next door, and their teenage grandson, Shauntay, who had taught her brother how to throw a curveball; the Nieto family, whose mother Rosalinda didn’t know how to speak English but who, with her husband and six children, threw Katie a big birthday party every year in their back yard with a pinata and whose teenage daughter, Ariana, would play dress up with Katie; Otis, the boy down the street; and Nita, who had given her first bike to her when she was 5 years old, and was like a grandmother to her.
    Most of all, she missed Katalina, her best friend, who had the same name as her, only in Spanish – Katalina Estrella vs. Kathleen Stella. She still talked to Katalina on the phone after they arrived in Wisconsin. Her parents let them talk even Skype a couple times.
    They could have moved somewhere other than Wisconsin. Katie had heard her parents talking about job opportunities for her Dad in Los Angeles and Houston. They might have been able to stay in San Diego, too, but the economy wasn’t good and so there weren’t a lot of prospects.
    So when the offer in Milwaukee came, he took it. One good thing is that they’d be closer to her grandparents, Grandpa Wendell and Grandma Lene, who lived in Iowa. They usually only saw them once or twice a year when they would go to Iowa to visit or her grandparents would come to San Diego. Now they would be able to see them more often.
    One Friday night after talking on the phone with Katalina, Katie was feeling sadder than usual. That day had been a rough one at school. One of the girls was having a party that weekend and Katie wasn’t invited, but everyone was talking about it. Katalina, meanwhile, told Katie about the fun she and Katie’s other friends were going to have that weekend at a birthday picnic in Balboa Park.
    Katie was in bed, awake. She could hear her mother downstairs in the kitchen cleaning things up before bed and her father’s voice down the hall as he said good night to her brothers. Katie’s little sister breathed softly in the bed next to her, already asleep.
    She heard her father say, “Good night” to the boys and come down the hallway to her room.
    “Katie, are you still awake,” he whispered as he poked his head in the door.
    “Yes,” she said.
    “How are you doing?” he asked, as he came around to her bed and sat down next to her, slipping his arm under her head and holding her close.
    “OK,” she mumbled.
    He rubbed her shoulder and squeezed her just a little.
    “How come your eyes are so blue?” he asked her. She knew what the answer was; it was a question he often asked, ever since she was little. A tender little joke, that she was sometimes tired of.
    “Because you love me?” she said, mopefully.
    “That’s right,” he said. After a pause, he went on:
    “It won’t be long and you’ll make some new friends and you’ll have lots of fun with them. And you’ll find lots of new things to do and get interested in. You’ll still miss Katalina and all our friends in San Diego – I miss them too – but you won’t feel so bad. I promise.”
    “I guess so,” she said.
    “How about I read a little. OK?”
    He got up and bent down and kissed her on the forehead.
    “You’re my favorite,” he whispered. “But don’t tell the others.”
    Another little joke. Katie smiled weakly. Her Dad told all the kids that. Her little sister, though, still believed it. She and her brothers hadn’t the heart yet to tell her yet that he said that to all of them. In a way, deep down, she understood what he meant, though.
    “Get some sleep. We’re going to Iowa tomorrow to visit Grandma and Grandpa for Thanksgiving,” he said. “It will be a long drive.”
    Katie turned around to face the window again as he turned off the bedside light and went out. She looked out at the street light and began to drift asleep dreamily. The house was quiet; there was no more noise coming from the kitchen and the TV in the living room was off. Then her Dad’s voice came from the top of the stairs in the hallway, where he sat, speaking just loud enough so both she and her brothers at the other end of the hall could hear:
    “Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show. To begin my life with the beginning of my life, I record that I was born (as I have been informed and believe) on a Friday, at twelve o’clock at night. It was remarked that the clock began to strike, and I began to cry, simultaneously.
    In consideration of the day and hour of my birth, it was declared by the day and by some sage women in the neighborhood who had taken a lively interest in me several months before there was any possibility of our becoming personally acquainted, first, that I was destined to be unlucky in life; and secondly, that I was privileged to see ghosts and spirits …” ; both these gifts inevitably attaching, as they believed, to all unlucky infants of either gender born towards the small hours on a Friday night.” (Charles Dickens, “David Copperfield,” Chapter 1)

  20. Slater

    My name is Slater and I’m 19 years old from South Africa. 25 minutes

    How would you react when you found out that your mother has passed away. Born 1997 Slater was raised by his half sister Viera who is twelve years older than him, his mother(Valentine) died when his was six years old and he never knew his father.
    His father steven used to come around to visit the mother when she was still alive, he never bought toys, clothes or food for his son he just watched as if he was a stranger from Moscow. After the death of his mother in 2004 he lived with his grandparents for 4 years in rural areas, while his sister went to Johannesburg to look for a job. She was nineteen at that time. Four years passed the sister was working temporary jobs and finally got a job at Nike, she then decided to fetch the little brother, raise him as her own son because she loved him too much she did not want him to go through the struggles she went through and give him a brighter future. Everyone criticised her. They told her that your little brother will not finish school, he will dropout, start doing drugs join gang members and make a girl pregnant. Everyone who surrounded her gave every reason for her not to fetch the Slater. Despite living in a single room, having little money to support herself and she was pregnant at that time. Viera ignored every single criticism, went to fetch Slater and stayed with him. Slater was eleven years old when he came to the city of Johannesburg. They looked for a school for him and start grade five, bought clothes for him, taught him about life and he got used to the city life. After five months she gave birth and did not go to work for the next three months. She was worried how slater will go to school, how she will pay her school fees and how she will provide food on the table because everyone refused to support her even the boyfriend but never the less she never gave up. For years they struggled and struggled financially. There was a point in life where viera decided to turn her back on slater because she thought that slater cursed her. He was now alone no support from the sister, he never experienced the mother’s love and has no father figure. There was a point in life where he almost committed suicide.But the teachers at his school kept him going, he was lucky enough to get good friends who kept him out of trouble, his friends supported him financially and motivated to stay in school. In 2015 Slater finished high school and went to university now he is currently studying in University of Johannesburg.

  21. Jason Bougger

    Great advice. Another thing to do is to make sure you are getting the right feedback. If you’re having another writer review your work and all he wants to do is rewrite it as his own, then he’s not helping you at all.

  22. youmitsumi

    Here is the beginning of my story

    Twilight’s grandfather always expressed
    hostility towards her. From the time she could remember, he always had
    something harsh to say. She tried her hardest to avoid him as she explored the
    massive castle, but one way or another, she would almost always bump into him.
    Like today for instance.

    Today was a beautiful day. The birds
    were out singing, the servants were running about doing their day-to-day
    duties, and her mother was busy doing whatever she needed to do. Today,
    Twilight decided to play out in the enormous eastern flower garden. Everything
    was massive in Twilight’s eyes. Everything touched the sky and everything
    spread out as far as her eyes to see. Typically, it took about ten minutes to
    get to the eastern flower garden if she was with her mother or her mother’s
    retainers, but since Twilight was alone, it took her about two hours- not
    counting getting lost and almost pooped on by a huge skarglarion. Twilight
    tries to avoid skarglarions because they have razor sharp teeth, huge bodies
    that are covered in long droopy fur, a spine like tail that could easily impale
    someone as small as her, and small beady blood red eyes that can give
    nightmares to even the mightiest of small explorers of the castle. To properly
    compare how massive a skarglarion is, their poop- which is generally squishy
    and not lumpy- is taller than Twilight by five feet (Twilight’s current height
    is four feet two inches) and is approximately four pounds heavier than her.

  23. George McNeese

    Troy wiped the sweat from his forehead. He remembered the rest stop two miles away. He thought he should have stopped before the car broke down. It was too late. He had no gasoline can, no snacks, no battery charger. And his phone died while the GPS gave him directions. He carried the phone regardless. He felt raindrops pelt his head. Small, at first. Then, it turned into a shower. He ran as fast as he could, but stopped to catch his breath. He tucked his shirt under his head, giving him little cover.
    Troy looked up at the street exiting into the highway. To its left stood the gas station he passed before. Troy caught his breath and ran as fast as could for as long as his legs would carry him. When he reached the station, he uncovered himself and shook the door. He saw the sign flash “OPEN,” but it looked like no one was inside. Not even the cashier. He turned back until he heard the door unlock. The cashier flung the door open and Troy paced in. He searched the store, then approached the cashier.
    “Do you have any gasoline cans?”
    He shook his head. Troy sunk. He needed fuel more than anything else. But he grabbed some bags of trail mix and bottles of water.
    “Where are you going?” the cashier asked.
    “Woodbridge,” Troy replied, sprawling his intended purchases all over the counter. “We got stuck in the middle of the highway.”
    The cashier stared at Troy. His eyes vibrated at his response.
    “Where at?”
    “Just past this exit.”
    The cashier slammed his hands down on the counter.
    “You need to go, now!”
    “That’s the worst place to be stuck at.”
    Troy backed away and exited the station. He saw a billow of smoke where his car stood.

  24. Deena

    Love the idea of reading a favorite author’s one-star reviews. Thanks, Monica. I always love your posts. Deena

  25. Sherrie

    Hello Everyone —

    This short piece needs some feedback. Thanks for any help you can give me with gaps or ideas about structure.
    The formatting messed up when I pasted it in. Sorry if I don’t get all the snafoos fixed.
    — Sherrie

    Shopping Cart

    Jasmine flung open the front door.

    “I found a shopping cart,” she announced, breathless from her search under the hot
    afternoon sun. Sweat ran down her
    mahogany face and neck, dampening the front of her pale pink t-shirt boldly
    stating “The Run” in hot pink letters.

    It’s almost four.” Danny threw two backpacks toward the open door. “Set these
    outside. Those’re our clothes. Yours in the blue. Mine in the black one. Two
    more bags in the bedroom,” he explained, rushed down the hallway of the two
    bedroom duplex apartment, and then rummaged through items scattered on the ceramic
    tile floor.

    “Did you get my work shoes?” Jasmine called, slipping the heavy backpack onto her

    and deodorant and stuff’s in the outside pocket.”

    “I’ll check the fridge,” Jasmine patted the arm of “Goody,” their nickname for the
    worn green sofa purchased at Goodwill for ten bucks just a month ago. She
    pulled a plastic grocery bag from a kitchen drawer and stuffed it full with an
    open pack of ham, some sliced cheese, a yellow plastic squeeze bottle of
    mustard, three cans of soda, and half a loaf of sliced bread. She tied the bag up
    and set it on the card table they had been using for a kitchen table. Two folding lawn chairs leaned against the wall.

    “Good,” Danny said, leaning his head into the kitchen to review Jasmine’s progress.
    “Grab all the food you can. We’ll tie the bags on the side of the cart if we
    have to. “ Danny disappeared back into the small living room, dragged a bag
    across the floor, and hefted it into the shopping cart waiting just outside.

    “What about the furniture?” Jasmine yelled after him.

    “Just have to leave it. Can’t haul it.”

    Jasmine froze with two apples in her hand, then placed them, along with three tangerines
    into another grocery bag that already held small boxes of crackers and cereal
    picked up at the Community Food Bank just last week.

    “I’m sure not leavin’ all this food, Danno.”

    Jasmine had dubbed him ‘Danno’ the night they met at the coffee shop near campus. So
    clean cut with that curly red hair cut short and those freckles, he reminded
    her of Danny Williams, one of the main characters in that old TV series,
    “Hawaii 5O. But she had fallen for him because he had the heart of a rebel,
    always looking for causes to fight for or against. He had told her that he wanted
    to be a lawyer someday.

    “Okay, but hurry up. They’ll be back at five to lock us out,” Danny snapped.

    She had moved in with him just after Christmas. Danny shared a two bedroom unit
    with Diego, an old friend from the neighborhood. Danny and Diego worked in the
    kitchen and cooked at a nearby buffet restaurant. Amber, Diego’s girlfriend,
    cashiered at the dollar store around the corner. Jasmine attended classes and
    clerked part-time at the college book store. Everything seemed to be working
    out just fine, until last Saturday.

    About6:15 Saturday morning, police officers came to the door. They had a search
    warrant, put Danny and Diego in handcuffs, and looked for stolen property. By noon, Diego was arrested for breaking into several homes in the neighborhood. On
    Monday, the landlord had given them a notice to move out.

    Jasmine surveyed the almost empty refrigerator, closed it, picked up the coffee maker,
    and then put it down. Her heart raced inside her chest. Tears began to stream
    down her face as she opened, and then closed each oak cabinet door. They still
    smelled of lemon oil and gleamed from her fastidious polishing. She
    straightened the blue dish drainer and folded the matching dishcloth over the faucet.
    Dark curls clung to her forehead and neck. She used the tail of her t-shirt to
    wipe away the sweat and pain. Eyeing the partial roll of paper towels, she jerked
    them from the counter, crammed them into her half-filled bag, scooped up their
    supplies, and then headed for the door.

    “Where’s the key?” Danny asked, adjusting the load in the cart and tying the bags of
    groceries on one side.

    “I left it on the kitchen counter. Did you check the bathroom?”

    “Yeah,” he grunted. “Time to go.”

    “Where do we go?” Jasmine whispered, closing the front door. They stared at each other
    as a dark cloud floated over covering the intense summer sun. Danny pushed the
    cart down the driveway and onto the sidewalk just as the constable pulled up.
    The retired sheriff rolled down the car window and waved Jasmine over, then
    handed her a paper that read ‘Community Resources’ across the top. Jasmine turned away, holding the unread paper in one hand, and followed the thump, thump of the wheels as
    Danny made his way down the sidewalk with everything they owned in a shopping cart.

  26. Dennis Fleming

    Useful information. I was fortunate to attend the Wash. U. St. Louis summer writers institute and particularly a classes taught by Kathleen Finneran (The Tender Land). I really liked her method. Ten students. We would cover one students work each day in the following order. 1. We went around around the room and each of us had to describe an image in the story that stayed with you after reading it. What party of the story touched you? What image recalls the story best. No one could use another student’s image. If you’re was used before you were called upon you had to go with your next best image. 2. We went around the room and each of us had to tell about the part of the story that reached than the most and why. Again no repeats. 3. Went around the room offering constructive criticism, what part was weak, didn’t reach you a suggestion on how to work it. 4. The last round was Katherine’s comments where she agreed with students or about most powerful image for her, where the stenghths not and why and her



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