A group of writers in a living room looking bored

Fiction critique

Pat’s story

First line: “I am a liar.” Pathological liar? “I am a recovering liar.” Interesting character.

Nativity Egg in the curio cabinet. “For inexplicable reasons, I needed to examine the egg by myself.”

Details: “Old Hickory offense.” Mother’s spankings.

“Flatulence at every spank.”

James and John. Twins.

The way you go from subject to subject works well.

“The risks of the game.”

Mrs. Strauss’s garden–tribute to her father.

First-person works.

Forsythias and lilacs, white cedars. Real level of detail.

Listing of preserves: good.

I was eager to get back to the lying. I lose interest once the story goes to Nanna’s baking.

“Karma is a bitch.” Good ending.

Lanna’s story

Blood red van with black windows.

Hermia with Auburn hair.

Good description of neighborhood: very impoverished, ominous.

Sun: strawberry blond.

Sound in the brush.

Smell? How do Hermia’s wrists feel? Assault part.

“Anonymity of night.”

“Her fear slackened.”


Elsie’s story

Jan and Mark

“Wind snatching at the seeds. … Steak.” Alliterative.

Description of gardening: variegated ruffles, sunshine sweet.

“I am afraid.” Where did the blue paper come from?

Mark’s character’s skepticism: too predictable. Jan and Mark’s convo too summarized, slowed down story.

Good job building suspense.

RUE (Refuse the Urge to Explain).

Jan wanted an excuse to look for more blue papers.

Jan and Cathy’s convo: builds mystery.

Physical descriptions. Were there any?

Should Jan really get all of the story from Marian or just bits and pieces?

Conclusion: blue paper pad.

Jill’s story


“Troughs of dried grease” under his fingernails.

A street trumpeter.

(Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery”?)

Jamie (girl) and Vince.

Auditorium. Jamie’s hubby died.

Lots of characters. More indicative of a longer work.

Vince and Stephen.

Hanging earrings, Jamie alternating her crossed legs.

Jamie = stepmom.I like the back and forth between Vince and Sarah at the graduation ceremony. “Life as a grease monkey.”

Maybe give each character a distinction when you introduce them like Vince’s receding hairline.

Abusive father?

Aisle in barn parallels auditorium aisle.

“Early summer victims.”

“Ceremoniously lit the fly tape.” Surprising.

Alan’s story

Gianna. Piano player. Long black hair.  A barrier.

Ringo = puppy.

A loner. “Ice queen.” An introvert.

Dad: jazz saxophonist.

Adagio Cantabile.

Description of bird calls. Eerie. Good building of suspense.

Speaking loon: humorous.

Synesthesia: good. Buzz of cicada: squiggly yellow line. Her tune: burnt red bricks.

Musical advice from a loon. Gianna gave it the finger.

“Locker was being stubborn.”

Characters all seem real.

Sound of ice cubes sliding around.

Creepy basement: good. Piano made of ice. But how did the piano feel? Was it cold? How did the keys feel?

Beach? Ending? She drew a piano. How does it sound?



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