Meghan’s December writing response with Olivia’s comments

Here’s Meghan’s prompt response, with Olivia’s comments. These were aired on Episode 18, in case you want someone to read it to you. (I love being read to.)

It’s not too late to join in — just head to the open thread for December to share yours, or send us an email.

First, here’s the prompt:


And here’s Meghan’s response:

“Yes Mama, ok. I will. Yes, I love you, too. No, just because I’m not looking for a husband doesn’t mean I want you to find one for me.” Sharon brushed her bangs out of her eyes and turned around. “I have to go. There’s someone waiting for the phone.  zài jiàn. Bye Mama.” She hung up the pay phone and heard the clunk of her quarter landing somewhere in its metal belly. “Sorry,” she said, turning to the boy waiting in line.

He was Asian, and she wondered if he was Chinese, if he’d understood what she had been saying to her mom, and her face burned. The boy smiled. He was cute — his eyes crinkled up at the corners and his black hair was gelled up in the front. Sharon fiddled with her earring, a long turquoise feather, and cleared her throat. “Well, I’ll let you use the phone.”

She knew he had understood both what she’d been saying to her mom, and what she felt about it. She shifted her backpack up on her left shoulder. Maybe she wouldn’t go to the studio after all. The light was fading anyway, and she had time to finish her painting later. She got a Coke from the machine and settled in at a table in the student lounge. With her sketchbook open, she studied the boy at the payphone, the back of his neck tan, with a strip of lighter tan around his hairline from a haircut. His scuffed Doc Martens didn’t quite match his button-down shirt and pressed gray trousers, and she wanted to know more.


Olivia’s comments:

As Meghan already said, this was a hard one for us, but we still felt it was a meaningful and helpful critique session. I have posted our usual mix of positive and constructive comments. This time, I felt that my constructive comments were a little unfair – basically asking for her to do more than what a normal person would do for a writing prompt – but Meghan made the good point that these comments are supposed to tell you where you can go with it if you want to continue.

Here we go:

  • I liked the sequence. There were relatable late teen or early 20s feelings, and they felt both universal and unique; they felt real.
  • Meghan always has good details on the people she describes, which place them in a place/time and also give you a feeling for them. In this case, I liked the turquoise feather and the crinkly eyes.
  • She also didn’t have any obvious cliché words.
  • At the same time, I felt I she have gotten more out of the scene – everything feels sort of squashed into these three paragraphs. I don’t mean that negatively, just that splitting up the action or taking us more deliberately through it would have given us more.
  • I wondered as well if she could hint a bit more at what they learned from or about each other? Or what will happen? Some foreshadowing or linkage to the fate of these people? It felt like it was sort of hovering in space, in some senses. Again, that’s what happens in a writing prompt!

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