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

TITLE: Everyone is a Critic
By Patricia Protzman


It took me two years to write my first book. When the time arrived to publish my treasure I knew who to contact. A friend of mine, Jill Fleming, worked as a literary agent for a well-known publisher in New York City. She agreed to accept my manuscript but said it might be five or six months before she could find time for a review.

Three months passed without a word from Jill. I thought the worse, doubted my abilities as a writer, and surmised she had thrown the manuscript in a corner and forgotten it.

One rainy afternoon I fell asleep in a rocking chair and entered dreamland. I stood in a nebulous hallway and heard voices. Peeking inside an empty, shadowy room I saw a book with a spotlight aimed on the title. I discovered it was my new novel.

As I turned a page seven year old Cindy emerged, stood in front of me and asked, “Why didn’t you give me more toys to play with and, I wanted a baby sister, not a baby brother. Boys aren’t any fun.”

Before I could answer she disappeared into the book and another character sprang forward.

Amelia, an aged woman asked, “Why didn’t you portray me with more wisdom and why do I shuffle, I know how to walk?”

Jeff, an adult male appeared and said, “I don’t appreciate your choice of cars—a sedan which isn’t cool. Next time let me choose my wheels.”

Lucy, a teenager complained, “I prefer my boyfriends to have black hair and blue eyes. Don’t put me with another blonde-haired guy with brown eyes.”

Several minor characters surfaced and spoke at the same time. The room buzzed with their voices and Mandy, the Golden Retriever, barked nonstop.

“Stop!” I yelled, with both hands raised. Darkness surrounded me, the voices stopped.

“Hello? Is anyone here?” I asked.

The spotlight re-appeared. This time in place of the book perched twelve men and women emotionless in a jury box. The sign above them read, “Literary Agents.”

A tall, bearded male stood and asked, “What prior experience do you have as a writer?”

I opened my mouth to speak but a young, blonde woman asked, “Why didn’t you develop your characters better?”

An older woman said, “You used poor grammar in the first paragraph in chapter four which interrupted the flow of the story. You should have proofread better.”

A young man asked, “Your point of view changed from first person to third person in chapter eight. Why didn’t you catch this?”

Each person continued to ask questions, did not wait for my answers, and soon the twelve stood and spoke at the same time. I covered my ears and yelled. “Please, one person at a time.”

Again, the room darkened silence followed. Someone shook my arm, called my name. I awakened to see my husband Greg and to hear the telephone ringing.

“Lee, when you dream, you don’t mess around; you asked questions, swung your arms, and yelled a lot.” Greg said as he answered the phone.

“Hello, Hi Jill, how are you? Great, yes, she’s here. Jill wants to speak with you, Lee,” Greg said as he handed me the phone.

My heart raced. I thought, Is this a personal rejection notice?

“Hi Jill, it’s great to hear from you. Hey, that’s fantastic, thanks. I’ll watch for it in the mail. Yes, okay. I understand. Talk with you later, bye.”

“Guess what, Greg? She read my novel and loved it. The editor critiqued it, made a few changes, and mailed it to me. There’s a strong possibility the book will be published. Jill didn’t have much time and said she would call again in a day or two. I’m overjoyed.

Lee wrapped her arms around Greg’s waist and they twirled around the room a few times.

“I’m thrilled for you, honey. You’ve worked long and hard. I’ve prayed you would get published.”

Jill gazed into Greg’s brown eyes and tousled his blonde hair. I don’t care what Lucy said, I love blonde hair and brown eyes.

A perplexed expression came over Greg’s face and he asked, “Who is Lucy?”

“Oh, she’s one of the characters from my book.”

Greg slipped his arms around Lee’s waist, pulled her close, and said, “So what, I only care what you think.”

“Here’s what I think,” Lee whispered as their lips met.

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Member Comments
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Beth LaBuff 05/15/10
Great title! Lee was really interrogated by her characters! :) I had to smile at their complaints. Creative work on this!
Gregory Kane05/16/10
You lost me a bit with quite so many characters but I enjoyed the self-doubts and the eventual positive outcome.