David sat nervously in an overstuffed chair. The furnace had started blowing warm air toward where he sat, making him all the more uncomfortable. A few feet away, sitting behind a large mahogany desk, was his mother’s friend, and now his new editor, Grace Smith. She’s taking too long.
Mrs. Smith had called David earlier that day and asked that he come to her house for a review of his work-in-progress, which his mother had given to the editor, after mentioning his work while she attended the Monday morning Martha Circle at the First Methodist Church. His mother told David about the Circle meeting and consequential contribution of his manuscript, and the hiring of Mrs. Smith, only after David had torn apart his room and half the house looking for the oblong box containing his writing.
Mrs. Smith looked over her half frame reading glasses. “The story has merit. However, your opening leaves a lot to be desired. ‘Leonard knew his work was dangerous.’ That opening does nothing for me. I am paid to tell you the bitter truth. This story lead has “ow” factor, not “wow” factor.” She fastened the lid on the box. “You’ve been through one edit, yes?”
David sat up on the edge of his seat. “Yes, Mr. Page, at the Community College, gave it a grammar check.”
“Yes, the grammar is generally correct, though the flow reads more in the nature of technical writing rather than narrative fiction.“
“Sorry, madam. I meant ‘oh?’”
“Anyway, here it is, if you want me to look at it again after you work on it, just bring it by, or you can put it on a floppy or flash drive and save a lot of paper.”
She pushed the box across her desk and indicated for him to pick it up. The phone rang and Mrs. Smith answered and held her hand out to David at the same time.
David was glad to leave Mrs. Smith’s house but dreaded the thought of yet another re-write. He was still a little upset with his mother for distributing his work without asking him. Though technically, she had told David she was taking it to Circle to show someone.
David mounted the steps to his house. The driveway was empty meaning he would be alone with the computer. His little brother was in school and his mother was not at home.
David sat at the computer and pulled up a screen with the work in progress. He read the opening lines like he had a million times before. “She’s right. This stinks. As she said, it has the “ow” factor tied up.” He pulled up a blank frame and started brainstorming openings. “Lord, I am struggling here. I really do want to write for Christians.” David stomped away from the computer and into the kitchen.
He opened every cupboard looking for munchies, and finally settled for a fruit bar and a glass of iced tea. “Maybe I am too boring to write mystery.” He walked out to the back porch and opened the lid to the trashcan.
He peeled back the paper on the fruit bar and began to toss it into the receptacle. Suddenly, his eyes plaid a trick on him, he thought he saw a big letter “D” on the wrapper. He grabbed it and examined the paper. “Just an optical illusion.”
Then, a thought struck him. He ran to the computer and began typing. Finally, he leaned back in his chair. “What if my lead character picks up a candy wrapper off the street, and inside is printed his name and the words, ‘must die.’
A week later he stood in Mrs. Smith's parlor and read her the new opening line from his manuscript. “A cold wind sent a candy bar wrapper sailing through the air and sticking to Leonard’s leg. Leonard peeled the paper off his pants and gasped as he read a hand written note on the wrapper, it said, ‘Leonard must die.’”
Mrs. Smith smiled. “Better; a little ‘wow.’ Not as much ‘ow.’ Keep writing."
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