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

Earlier this week, Olivia posted my response to our first writing prompt and her critique. As promised, here’s her response and my critique — remember, rule #1 is be kind.

“Have a seat.” Gareth turned away from the window and waved towards a chair in front of his desk.

I squeezed past the desk and settled between the chipped maple arms, onto the seat made of worn office-blue fabric with tiny pink dots. He pulled the tall leather chair back from his desk and sat, gazing patiently at me from a chair set at considerable height. I felt like I was visiting the principal’s office, seven years old, sulking in cheap mass-produced furniture.

“I made some calls.”

“What did they say? Will he live?”

Gareth shook his head, almost shrugged. “They still don’t know.”

We sat for a few seconds in empty quiet. I let the image of Igor, surrounded by doctors, sink in.

“But he’s in London?”

Gareth nodded, his eyes betraying a feint surprise – perhaps that I was still there.

“Getting the best care, at least.” My words felt flippant, revealing how much I wanted to pretend that everything was okay.

“Anna, I think you should go –” he glanced around the room, pausing deliberately “– on the business trip. That we planned.”

“We – um, did?”

“The meetings in London?” He nodded, eyebrows raised.

I frowned, shook my head, then belatedly noticed the way he’d left spaces between the phrases, like signs in the words, to lead me through the conversation.

“You have two days. After that, I can’t guarantee anything.” He pulled open the drawer, pulled out a folded piece of paper.

“It’s your ticket.”

I smiled at the ink-jet-printed page, with its black and white Russian airline logo. As if nothing on the internet was real unless it was transferred to paper.

So, in terms of comments:
  • First of all, I love the way the information unfolds in the dialogue, in little stepping-stone bits. It’s a dynamic way to move the scene along. We don’t know where they are, or what the relationship is between Anna and Igor, but we get hints.
  • I like how this motion is echoed in the phrase, “I frowned, shook my head, then belatedly noticed the way he’d left spaces between the phrases, like signs in the words, to lead me through the conversation.”
  • I also liked the comment about nothing on the internet being real unless it’s transferred to paper.
  • I’d like to see other senses pulled into the descriptions — maybe convey the cheapness of the chair by describing how the fabric feels, rather than looks.

Remember, this is really draft and we haven’t particularly edited it – we wanted to be genuine with you! This is a great way to realize that everything can be revised, that each comment isn’t a way to say you can’t write something, but just a suggestion for how to make it better in the next draft.

We’d love to hear your responses — send them to us and let us know if you’d like them to be featured on the show.

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