Thanks to everyone who read "Tangles." I got a lot of good insight, including some great feedback from Jim and Ian on ways to improve the story. So, many thanks!
From my viewpoint, the reason Melissa didn’t take the shampoo was because, after seeing Tina watch her husband hit on someone right in front of her, she realizes that Tina sent her to Kevin’s shop knowing full well that he’d make a pass at her. And, after Tina’s watching her cry over her husband dumping her for the past year, Tina knew Melissa was in a fragile state. So she feels like she was kind of thrown at Kevin like raw meat, to distract him from other prey, like Katherine, who might represent more of a threat to Tina.
But the cool thing is, if that’s not what you got out of it, then your version was about something different. Because it’s only when the written words are interpreted that the story is complete. And each reader translates it differently.
Like many writers, I started out over-describing things, because I wanted to be sure that the reader saw MY vision. Over time, I’ve grown more comfortable just sketching in the outline and allowing the reader to fill it in. The fiction classes I’ve taken say it’s important to do this, because, if the reader isn’t asked to participate in this way, she won’t really connect with the story.
It wasn’t until I wrote "Tangles" that I really understood how true that is. Because I found that, no matter how direct I was about why Melissa refused to take the shampoo, every reader still had his own theory. I shared one draft where, in the final scene, Melissa thinks to herself, “I’m not taking this shampoo because I resent the fact that Tina sent me to her husband’s shop knowing how fragile my emotional state was and knowing that her husband would probably hit on me.” And still, when I’d ask, “Why wouldn’t Melissa take the shampoo?” most people would answer, “Guilt.”
Okay, enough of me yammering on about something you’ll have to learn for yourself anyway.
There were 6 entries in this week’s contest and I would have been comfortable choosing any one of them as the winner. Each had an interesting twist and was strong in its own way. In the end, I chose Jim Styro's because it was funny (and I love funny) and because it was grammatical, correctly spelled, had good punctuation and a single, solid point of view. (We’ll talk a little about POV next week. It’s an important concept in fiction writing, and one you don't learn much about until you reached advanced writing classes.)
As neighbors go, the Canadians seemed like all we could hope for: distracted, docile and dumb.
Until the Great Hockey War of 2013.
Some say it was the Red Wings’ seventh straight Stanley Cup victory that set them off. Others think it was Obama’s health care plan making theirs look so feeble. Whatever the reason, Homeland Security was completely unprepared for an attack from the Great White North.
Once Buffalo, Detroit and Seattle fell, defeat was inevitable. Who knew they had turned hockey pucks into incendiary devices? It was devastating.
But…now we have pretty money.
Next week’s prompt: Oh God, the smell….