Welcome to the 7th episode of #Pyro! The rules are short and easy: your job is to read this story and critique it! Please remember our purpose is to HELP the writer, so (1) focus your comments on the story, not the writer; (2) try to address story elements specifically (WHAT works/doesn’t work, and WHY/HOW); (3) be honest but kind (imagine someone is giving you this feedback). Ad hominem or mean-spirited comments will be deleted. And now, here’s a story for your reading & critiquing pleasure, with many thanks to the writer who courageously volunteered it.
The Baby Shower
Written by One of You 🙂
Karen forced a grin and thanked Ginny for the invite. Handing over the bag Karen felt the weight leaving her, the heft from her bank account.
“You look great,” she said.
“I look like a whale,” Ginny replied. But thanks for the gift.”
“It’s from the list.”
“Come through and meet the rest of the girls.”
Ginny’s apartment had changed since Karen was last in it. The vaguely pornographic Vargas print was gone, the cupboards had small white clips on them. Instead of the angular writing desk Ginny had commissioned to fit by the window there was an old battered bureau with soft rolling edges.
Karen recognized some of the women. None of them were close anymore. It was the baby divide. Karen was right in the middle. Either her career was ahead of the women who’d had their beloved offspring and never intended going back to work, or it was behind the ones who’d dropped in for an hour before heading back to the office, knowing that the nanny would have the childling walked, fed, washed, and put to bed before the adults wanted to eat and discourse. Of course, it wasn’t just that which separated her.
“Hi, I’m Irma. How do you know Ginny?”
Karen turned to find a thickset woman who held a large glass of orange juice and a plate of finger food. She was taking large sips from her glass.
“I’m Karen. I work with her.”
Irma brayed, tilting her head and displaying large white teeth. “Worked with her, you mean.”
“You don’t think she’s going back to work is she?”
Irma laughed again. “You think she’s really going back?”
“No,” Karen looked around the room. “Probably not.”
“Damn right. She’s got a baby-daddy. Means she don’t need to work, she can lunch.”
“So what about you?”
“I ain’t never worked. You?”
Karen smiled. “It’s not an issue for me.”
“Maybe not now. But sometime you’ll be deciding if you’re a momma, or a mommy. Staying home worrying about play dates and school intakes, or letting the interns worry about that crap.”
“What d’you mean?”
Irma sipped her orange juice and dropped her chin theatrically. “I reckon you’ve not decided if you want to stay home and look after the baby-daddy’s sprog, or if it’s the full on Nanny McPhee service for you. Of course, if it’s the second you can enjoy these.”
She offered Karen the glass. Karen too it and drank. The orange juice was fresh, but the vodka was stronger.
“I really don’t think it’s going to be a problem for me.”
Irma’s eyebrows arched further.
Karen drank again. The vodka was more pronounced further down the glass.
Someone approached from the side. “Colin? Sorry, Karen.”
Karen bit her lip and tried to ignore Irma’s wide eyed gaze as she took her glass back.
QUESTIONS you may wish to address:
- Does the first line catch your interest?
- How is pacing — does the story move smoothly from beginning to end?
- Does the dialogue sound realistic/natural? (If not, which lines?)
- Are the characters developed effectively within the confines of this piece? Are they realistic? Sympathetic/resonant?
- Is point-of-view clear and consistent? Is the voice unique, interesting, compelling?
- Is the story mostly free of grammatical/punctuation errors?
- Is the plot clear and believable? Are there any plot holes that need to be addressed?
- Does the story follow the rules of its genre? If not, were the rules broken well?
- Is language used well: does the story rely on cliches and too-common devices, or does the story contain striking imagery, colorful and vibrant descriptions, powerful metaphors?
- Does the last line effectively conclude the story?