By Linda Donaldson
Eight authors’ selections were sent for comments this month at our Zoom meeting. Anne Kaler reminded us that as members of The Writers Guild we all provide a valuable sounding board for each other’s stories and writing techniques. We support and encourage and benefit from the critiques of our writing colleagues.
We started with the Jane Bleam revision of her WWII story of a brother missing in action and the family’s reaction. To aid in expanding the story from her child’s point of view, it was suggested that she outline the story from an adult, factual perspective and then go back and elaborate on each scene showing her feelings and thoughts as a child, adding more descriptors of the various people and settings.
Bob Mc Crillis shared another several short scenes of his Western romance that filled in some backstory of how Georgie’s family got the farm, and introduced a “citified” hapless suitor who, when attempting to manhandle Georgie got his comeuppance from Carstairs. Nice slow-developing attraction between the main characters and Bob was assured that his writing from a woman’s point of view was spot on.
In another chapter from her novel Vincent, Joan Marriotti introduced a manipulative new boyfriend, Tommy who takes advantage of Janice who had returned to campus after recovering at home from her rape attack. Bonnie is approached by this fellow, when Janice isn’t in their dorm room, and rejects him, further complicating her friendship with Janice. Nice foreshadowing of how vulnerable women tend to become targets of predatory men.
John McCabe struck a chord with several readers in his story The Pit about returning to the neighborhood of one’s childhood. His observations included some classic lines: “No one we knew lives there anymore.” And “Just don’t go back. It doesn’t exist in real time.” Suggestions to layer in some names to avoid using “he” or “she” too often.
Daphne Freise wrote about the airline flight attendants’ pre-flight duties and onboard challenges managing the Muslim “hajjis,” or devout pilgrims on their sacred trips to the Haj in Saudi Arabia, many of whom had never flown before and who spoke a myriad of foreign languages making communication near impossible. Readers all remarked at Daphne’s vivid descriptions that appealed to all the senses, immersing them in this unusual culture’s food, dress and level of devotion.
The backstory to the vanishing mother and wife from the Megan Monforte story, Dear Mrs Stover, who has retreated to the beach and is not answering her phone messages, shows her email exchanges with her child’s teacher and texts from her husband. Slowly the clues point to her personality and perhaps why she has “run away from home.” The contrast of being approached to record on her camera phone a stranger’s family member being proposed to, while Laurie’s own “whereabouts” are “unknown,” is deliciously ironic.
Karen Edwards writes again about the balancing act when grief brings family members on different healing paths together to cope with illness and impending loss. Readers loved her analogies: “desires packed away like Christmas ornaments in tissue” and “unfulfilled dreams that creep up like bunching underwear.” Bob particularly loved the description of the niece on the Ring camera “sneaking away in the wee hours in an outfit that could be described as slatternly.”
Lastly, a December 2020 diary entry from David Werrett concerning his one-day-at-a-time approach to coping with the profound loss of his beloved Peg. David’s transformation into words of his feelings and gradual healing is a powerful reminder of the strength of character it takes to exist alone after your partner is gone from this world.
Next month’s Guild meeting is September 19th. Look for a link from Cindy Louden for September’s Zoom meeting. Remember to add your email address to your selections and send them to me at email@example.com by September 12th.
The deadline for our Fall Issue of the Literary Journal is September 30th. The theme is Revenge – Sought or Untaken. Click here for our Submission Guidelines.