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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: The Reader (04/15/10)

TITLE: Every Writer's Nightmare
By Caitlyn Meissner
04/19/10


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Snuggled into the depths of my armchair at the Write Club, I glanced up as the junior member stomped into the room.

“He’s done it again,” Junior announced, frowning.

“Who’s done it again?” a senior member asked, looking up from his newspaper.

“The Reader,” Junior said, handing me a review torn from a magazine. “He just trashed your book in his article, Ace.”

“No!” I cried, snatching the page and scanning it. It was all too true.

“That man thinks he’s better than the rest of us, sitting up there in that office of his,” Senior growled. “What does he say this time?”

“You tell him,” I said, looking at Junior.

“Well,” Junior said, clearing his throat, “The Reader calls the story a ‘poorly written hodge-podge’ and ‘a driveling fairy tale.’”

“Ridiculous,” Senior said.

“And when he read MY story,” Junior added, “He said he’d seen ‘less blood in a butcher’s shop’ and thought I’d ‘probably never owned a dictionary, or even seen one.’”

“The man’s a nightmare,” Senior moaned.

“He said even worse things about YOUR story though,” Junior reminded him. “He called your story a….”

He stopped short as Senior frowned and I began coughing into my fist.

“Just another of his lies,” Junior muttered, shutting up.

In the silence, I asked “Can’t we do something about The Reader? He’s turning our club into a laughing stock. No one will want our books now.”

“You’re right,” Senior said, standing up. “Perhaps it’s time we talked with this ‘Reader.’”

Junior and I nodded our agreement, and followed Senior out.

We were silent in the limo on our way to The Reader’s headquarters. In the lobby a girl directed us to his office. Fourteen floors up we left the elevator and walked down a hallway filled with fluorescent light. Senior knocked on the fifth door to the right, and someone yelled “Come in!”

Inside we found The Reader behind a desk stacked with papers, magazines, and coffee cups. He looked like your average bookish college student with dark hair, thick glasses, and keen blue eyes. But what really caught my attention was his neon orange T-shirt that said “When I read what I like, I like what I read.”

“Gentlemen,” The Reader said, beaming, “what a pleasant surprise. Come for a chat?”

“You could say that,” Senior mumbled, taken aback.

“Have a seat,” The Reader said, gesturing to two folding chairs, one piled with newspapers, the other sporting a dirty coffee cup.

Senior and I cleaned off the chairs and sat down. After some hesitation, Junior took a seat on top of a low filing cabinet.

“Now then,” said The Reader, settling back in his swivel chair, “how can I help you?”

“You can tell us what you meant by writing this article,” Senior said, taking the paper from me and waving it in The Reader’s face.

The Reader took the paper and scanned it. “I think it’s pretty self-explanatory,” he said, “I read the story, and I didn’t like it. The characters were weak, the plotline insipid, and the story had no meaning.”

“If that’s what the public wants….” Senior began.

“Hold on a second,” The Reader demanded. “Do you think people actually care about your boring characters?”

“Well….”

“Or want to buy stories with no storyline?”

“I….”

“Do you think we don’t have the sense to tell bad stories from good ones?”

“No! I mean, yes! I mean….”

“Or realize that you’re just trying to make a fast buck?”

“Now just a minute….”

“What you don’t seem to realize,” The Reader said, eyes blazing, “is that I’m not the one giving your books a bad name. You’ve done that all by yourself, as you’d know if you cared enough to ask us, your readers.”

“Insolence,” Senior said, rising from his seat. “I’ve heard enough of your insults. Come!” he called, stalking out into the hallway, while we followed close behind.

As the elevator door opened, however, I grabbed Senior’s sleeve and said, “I just remembered I left the article with The Reader. I’ll run back and get it. Wait for me in the car.”

Before he could reply, I turned and dashed back to The Reader’s office.

He looked surprised to see me. “Forget something?” he asked.

“Yes,” I said as I snatched the article, tore off the bottom left corner, and scribbled my e-mail address on it. “Send me a message. I want to know how you think I can make my story better.”


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This article has been read 565 times
Member Comments
Member Date
AnneRene' Capp 04/22/10
Great message and what every writer needs...a humble heart with the willingness to learn!
Amber S. 04/24/10
Nice! Good message. -nods-

The ending seemed kind of abrupt... But with short stories it is kinda hard not to have an abrupt ending. -_-

Good job! =D
Ruth Stromquist04/24/10
A very fun and engaging piece that kept my interest throughout. For some reason, the ending did feel somewhat off-pace somehow, but not sure why.
Catrina Bradley 04/26/10
Very creative! I love the anonymity of the characters, and the ending is awesome. Good job!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 04/27/10
This is a great story. I especially liked the implication that some writers may have a big head and only want praise. You did a great job pulling me into the story.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 04/27/10
After reading the above comments, I personally liked the ending, but I think something as simple as "The Reader looked at me with a smile and said, I see you understand. I can't wait to read your next book. " or something similar to that might make those who felt it ended abruptly feel satisfied. Any way I still like it and think you did a great job.
Beth LaBuff 04/28/10
ah... very clever work! ...and a message every writer can take to heart! I totally enjoyed this!
Karen Macor04/28/10
The abrupt ending didn't bother me. Rather it sort of smacked me in the head and emphasized your point. Good story.
Amanda Brogan04/29/10
All right! First place two weeks in a row! Can't beat that! ;)

This was a clever take on the topic and I enjoyed it. THIS reader gives your story a "thumbs up" review!
Beth LaBuff 04/29/10
Caitlyn, super congrats on your level placing AND Editor's Choice with this wonderful entry!
Fredrick Nicholson04/29/10
Congratulations on your First Place Entry!! Thanks for your feedback on "Gentle Messenger". Be Blessed!
Terry R A Eissfeldt 04/29/10
Congrats!
Good lesson in humility. Thanks.
Joan Campbell04/29/10
Congrats on your 1st place and EC, Caitlyn. This was well written and thought provoking. I really enjoyed it!
Jackie Wilson04/29/10
What a delight to read. Loved your characters. Congrats on your First Place and EC placing!
Eliza Evans 04/29/10
Creative! Good job!

Congratulations! :)
Patricia Turner04/29/10
I think I sensed the turning point at the limo ride. Great story with a punch of a message. A big Congratulations on 1st place and your EC!
Catrina Bradley 04/29/10
Congrats on your EC Caitlyn!!!!! Woo hoo!!! I just read your comments and see that I'm one of the very few who liked the ending. I KNEW it was good. :)
Charla Diehl 04/30/10
Congrats on your EC and level placements. Great message for all writers who allow pride to get in the way of honing their craft.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 04/30/10
Congrats on your 1st place and EC Very impressive indeed. You'll be flying up the levels in no time!

One of the reasons this story is excellent is you show the reader what is going on, instead of telling us. That helps the reader connect with your story right away!

I need to work on doing that more myself. Again great job:)