Writing Prompt 1: Meghan’s response & Olivia’s comments

As promised on today’s podcast, we are posting our responses and the mini-critique comments we discussed on the show. Of course we’d love to hear your responses as well. The rules of the mini-critique are that you should pick out something positive, and then where you see potential suggestions or improvements, be constructive. Basically, like in so many spheres, the rule is “don’t be mean.”
October writing prompt: Your boss calls you into their office. What happens next?
Anyway, this is Olivia – I am posting Meghan’s response* and some comments below. So first, Meghan’s response:
“Roz.” Margot beckoned from the doorway of her office. Her face was blank – for me, or for my coworkers’ benefit, I couldn’t tell. I unhooked from the network and stood.
I waited in front of Margot’s desk while she closed the blinds on both the office-facing window and the one that overlooked the street outside. Margot shut the door.
“There’s been a mistake,” she said. Then she disappeared.
Just — gone. I ran over to her desk and looked behind it, frantic. I crawled on the floor — maybe she was hiding under the desk — but she wasn’t there. There was no sign of her, nothing left behind, except me.
Sweat rolled down my sides from under my arms, and I sat back against the gray steel cabinet in the corner to think. No one could know. I had to get out, fast.
The handle of the cabinet dug between my shoulder blades and I turned. The drawer wasn’t closed all the way. Something [[i don’t know what – I haven’t figured that out yet]] was wedged inside. I pulled it out and slipped it in my waistband.
With one last look, I slipped out of the door. “Thanks, Margot,” I said as I closed it. “Yep, I’ll take care of that.”
I couldn’t leave right away – I needed to know if Margot’s absence was discovered, and I couldn’t look suspicious. I needn’t have worried. The afternoon crawled by and by the time I left, I was a wreck. I hadn’t done a thing, unable to face connecting again in case someone was able to read what had happened, and I had no idea how I could find out about the [[[whatever thing]]] I had found without being tracked.
As soon as I got home, I checked both rooms in my apartment, every cupboard, every corner.
So, in terms of comments:
  • First of all, I really liked how the suspense builds here, and the way the reader is drawn into a world and infers so much from the scene and the setting just from the small amount of text here.
  • I also really liked the image of the “afternoon crawling by” – it’s not a phrase I’d heard a lot and it’s a really good image.
  • I thought, in terms of things that could be done differently, I am a little bit weird in that I have a logistical mind, and so I spent quite a bit of time trying to figure out where the door was, compared to the desk and the window. I couldn’t imagine it, so I suggested to take another look at that part at the beginning.
  • And finally, there were a few points where I liked the phrase, and they short cut us to the feeling we need to get, but I thought they could be more vivid. For example, “by the time I left, I was a wreck” and the word “frantic” in the fourth paragraph. What did that look like? What would it smell or sound like? And so we talked on the podcast about the importance of being in touch with all your senses in describing something.

But overall, we really enjoyed this process – although it was scary – and we look forward to hearing from you all.


* As we said on the podcast, this is really draft and we haven’t particularly edited it – we wanted to be genuine with you and hopefully to get you guys to participate with us in future ones!


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