Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: The Critique/Review (for writers) (05/06/10)
TITLE: Egg On My Face
By Angela M. Baker-Bridge
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Browsing the results of my Google search, I discover several groups in my county.
How cool, this one’s really close, meets this Saturday, topic “The Query,” blah, blah, bring twenty copies of a work in progress for critiquing.
“Yes! Critiques too,” I leap out of my chair to do my happy dance and sing; “I’m in the money. Oh, look out honey. You’re gonna read the world’s next best selling whatever rhymes with money.”
Taking deep breaths, I pass out copies of the first two pages of my novel. While proceeding to the lectern I clear my throat. I scan the room before unveiling my firstborn.
The group leader thanks me for reading my work and turns to the members. “Okay writers, who would like to go first? Remember, critiques should be honest but laced with grace.”
“I will,” volunteers a man whose gray hairline has receded beyond his ears, and whose jowls touch his chest. “First, your introduction is not typical.” I smile while nodding my head in agreement.
I knew I’d wow them.
He continues, “I would like to hear more showing and less telling.”
“Okay,” I whisper.
What an idiot. Can’t he tell this story is for adults? This isn't a show-and-tell kid’s picture book. Jerk.
A matronly looking woman wearing red-rimmed bifocals repeats the old guy’s sentiments.
What are they? Children’s book writers? Or maybe illustrators for baby board-books?
She goes on, “I couldn’t sense your voice on these pages.”
Is she kidding? A voice is heard, not sensed; listened to, not read. What planet is she from?
“Perhaps giving each speaker their own lines would make them easier to follow,” offers a man with jet black hair and a beard.
Duh, of course each speaker should have their own lines, what should they do, use somebody else’s lines? It’s called dialogue, buddy.
“The best way to become a good writer is to be a good reader,” interjects the group leader.
I thank everyone for their feedback, promise I’ll return next month, determine to never waste three hours with these wannabes again, and crave chocolate.
Next to the ice cream shop is a bookstore. Maybe I’ll salvage the afternoon and buy a writer’s critique book.
The store is the biggest bookstore I’ve ever seen. A smiling clerk approaches me.
“Can I help you?”
“I’m looking for a writer’s guide book or a book about writing, not about penmanship or anything like that, but about actual book writing stuff.”
“If you will follow me I’ll be glad to help you. We have an excellent selection, and we can order whatever isn’t currently in stock.”
Walking to the back of the store, I see a whole section on writing. The clerk reaches for a book on a top shelf and hands it to me. I flip to the Table of Contents and find the list interesting. I thumb through the 250 pages before I turn the book over to read the back cover.
Hum, by Dr. Jonathan Greenaway. Where have I heard that name before? I open the back cover to read the author’s bio. There’s a picture of a man whose gray hairline has receded beyond his ears, and whose jowls touch his chest.
The clerk interjects, “Dr. Greenaway is from these parts you know.”
“Yeah, I know,” I mutter.
On the shelf in front of me I see a college literature textbook. I grab it and place it on top of the book I’m already holding. I immediately go to the back inside jacket and see a husband and wife couple. She stares at me from behind her red-rimmed bifocals; his pearly whites are sandwiched between his jet black hair and beard.
“The authors are professors at our state university.”
“Of course,” I shrug. “Any chance Miriam Manning’s a published writer?” I ask with sarcasm in my voice, referring to the writing group’s leader.
“Oh yes. Her series is over here.”
Following the clerk, I scrunch my forehead. Her series?
The huge book display surrounds Miriam’s poster. “She’s doing a book-signing for the release of her fifteenth installment of 'The Restless Retiree’s Rendezvous'.”
I place Miriam’s first five books on top of the others I’m carrying.
I gotta read these before next month’s meeting, and wash the egg off my face.
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