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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: The Critique/Review (for writers) (05/06/10)

TITLE: I'm Just Saying
By Sarah Elisabeth


I watch the corners of her mouth. That is where the first signs always appear. A slight twitch, lips tighten, corners bend down just a touch.

After I read all I can from her lips, my eyes move up to hers. Focused, unblinking, scanning a single sentence a dozen and one times. When her brows knit together, I know something major is coming. I pretend to busy myself reading another copy while I search her face for further signs. I finally speak.

“Well?” I count the seconds. The longer her reply takes, the worse the answer.

“Hmmm.” My editor never says much at first. I try to swallow my impatience.

“What do you think? Is it any good, or should I just throw it out and start over?” I’m careful not to say too much. My editor can lose her train of thoughts rather easily sometimes.

“Well, let’s see.” Another long pause. Her slow response is not encouraging. I suppress a sigh as I wiggle slightly in my chair.

“So you don’t like it?”

“I didn’t say that.”

“I know. But that’s what you want to say.”

“It’s not that I don’t like it. It’s just this one part that’s bugging me.”

“What’s that?”


I resist putting a hand on top of my head to keep it in place.

“It’s just this part about the brother coming home. I mean, he gets on a bus and his sister just happens to be at the bus stop when he gets there? It doesn’t seem realistic.”

I squirm. “But that’s the whole gist of it. She’s goes to the station every day, hoping he’ll come. She almost doesn’t go that day, but something prompts her to. That’s why I had that phone call in there, to show what was going on instead of telling it.”

“Well, I’m just saying, it doesn’t quite work. Something isn’t flowing right. Maybe you could have it where she runs into him at the hospital where he finally arrives to see their dying father. I mean, that is why she’s hoping he’ll come. Then you can tie that whole scene together and save word count. You have to keep it under three thousand and you’re at three thousand eighty-six.”

I avoid my editor’s eyes. But I want them to meet at the bus station. Otherwise, I have to figure out how to squeeze that wise bystander into the hospital scene and that won’t work. Or will it?

“So,” I say, “you think the woman who talks to them about God could be at the hospital instead of catching a bus to reunite with her husband? Why would she be at the hospital?”


I continue, “Okay, how about this: the sister is about to leave the hospital for the day and runs into her brother in the parking lot. The woman could be a nurse at the hospital and that’s where she meets them on her way to leave for the bus station.”

My editor’s mouth twists to one side. After working with her for nearly twenty years, I know this to be a definite sign she isn’t getting the picture – or doesn’t like what she sees. I must wait for her feedback without speaking.

“That might work. What about the phone call and all of that?”

“It can still be a part of it. I’ll just add another twist.” My words are more confident than my feelings.

After an hour of re-work, I am once again studying my editor’s face for honest reaction. I see she is focusing on one line. I know what the problem is.

“You don’t like the word I used there, do you? ‘Reserved’ for the sister’s reaction?”

“Well, I think we could find a better one.” And we do. Half an hour later.

Suffering from emotional exhaustion of the roller coaster story I’ve produced, I prop my head up with one hand before asking, “What do you think? Is it getting close?”

“Well, what about….”

Two more hours pass. My editor’s stamina and patience never cease to amaze me.

“This is looking really good.” I sit up straighter at the first praise of my piece. My editor’s words carry me through the next hour of tweaking and proofreading.

“I think it’s ready. You’ve written a great story, Lu.”

Beaming, I wrap my arms around my editor’s neck and kiss her cheek.

“Thank you, Mama. I couldn’t do it without you.”

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This article has been read 651 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Dana McReynolds05/13/10
I love the surprise ending!
Beth LaBuff 05/16/10
Ah... love this! The working relationship was a bit stressful/frustrating to your MC.. then learning the identity of the editor was priceless. I found myself totally immersed in your story.
AnneRene' Capp05/17/10
Sweet...all around!
Amanda Brogan05/17/10
I can totally relate to the main character in not really wanting to re-write like the editor wants but knowing she's probably right. Especially since MY "editor" is also my mother! ;) Great ending! It had me smiling.
Karen Macor05/17/10
I've never had an editor so found this interesting and a little intimidating. Liked the story and the ending.
Lyn Churchyard05/18/10
That was a surprise ending, but a good one. That is the sort of editor we could all do with at times-honest, fair and encouraging. Well done, right on topic.
Sara Harricharan 05/19/10
Heehee! I love the editor bit in here! Great twist--especially the fact that the mother was the editor! Made me smile at the ending--lucky girl! ^_^
Verna Cole Mitchell 05/19/10
Ahhh you got me! I really enjoyed the editing process here.
Carole Robishaw 05/19/10
You did a great job of catching the pain and terror of being reviewed and edited. Loved the twist.
Lisha Hunnicutt05/19/10
You hooked me in! I agonized with the author waiting on the edge of my seat for the editor to get to the point. That's good writing when you can make the reader feel what the MC is feeling. Well done!
Mona Purvis05/19/10
On topic, refreshing and a killer ending. Believable.
Very well-written. Sarah, I've noticed so much growth in your work in such a short period of time.

Marita Thelander 05/19/10
I generally don't let my husband read my stuff too much anymore...he doesn't "get it" when I try a creative angle and his suggestions are generally *whispering* dumb. I'll keep Laury around as my editor.
Rachel Phelps05/19/10
Oh, Sarah, this is one of my favorites that you've done. Your writing has improved immensely lately. Excellent creativity, lovely descriptions and some awesome characters to boot!
Cindy Barclay08/18/10
Awesome! I was living the agony and then laughed out loud at the twist in the ending! Great job.
Rachel Phelps06/29/11
This remains one of my favorites from you, Sarah. Such awesome humor and tight writing - and very relatable subject matter. Love it!