Welcome to the 8th 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.
Written by One of You 🙂
“Sell it.” Memaw Marilyn’s lavender eyebrow told us she wasn’t playing. That was hardly necessary; she never played. “For good this time. It’s a thing of excess.” Things of excess were worse than things of sentiment.
Tailfins twinkling, Pawpaw’s mint cream Chevy Bel Air sat beneath the elm tree. I peered into the back seat and found a tie crumpled on the leather.
“And you, young lady,” – Memaw’s eyes, a practical grey, pegged me—“need a more ladylike hobby than fussing over vehicles. Have you done anything with that cross stitch set I got you for Christmas?”
I chewed the sounds so I could give an honest answer and still avoid the whuppin, “Hmfmmfnahma’am.”
“When I was your age, I could cook, clean, and sew better than most women.”
Nine-year-old Memaw had wrinkles deep as canyons, I was sure.
“Anyway, it’s got to go. To an out-of-stater, this time.”
“Lot of good that’ll do,” Pawpaw Sonny mumbled under tobacco breath. He pulled a cowboy boot, half-singed, half-soaked, out of the fender.
Yesterday, he’d sold it to a mustachioed gentleman from Texas – a full two states over and down – with the same results. He knew better than to argue with a teacher, though.
“Frankie, check the glove compartment.”
“Frances!” Memaw threw her hands to the sky. “Lordy, Sonny, if you keep calling her a boy’s name, she’ll keep actin’ like one.”
She stomped toward the house while I slipped into the front seat and opened the box. Clean and unsigned, the title lay tucked inside the manual. Pawpaw took it.
“What I can’t understand is why they don’t never ask for a refund,” he said, and then kick dust all the way to the barn.
I would’ve told him but he never could hide anything from Memaw. And if a car was a thing of excess, a dragon had to be a sin.
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?