The dreaded feedback! (Run for your lives!)

Okay, so, I have fantabulous news! My story took third in its group (out of around thirty entrants), and the top five go onto round 2, so I’m in this! Round 2 starts tomorrow at midnight, when I’ll get my story assignment.

In fun news, I won a bet against both my dad and my friend Jennifer about when the results would come out. Jennifer said they’d be late. My dad said they’d be on time (within a fifteen-minute window on either side of midnight). I claimed they’d be early. And I won! Results were announced at 10:35.

I’m so psyched. Then, just now, I got the dreaded judges’ feedback. There are three judges per story. Each judge must say something good and something bad. I’ll copy/paste below with my running commentary in red ink. I haven’t edited the judges’ feedback except to correct a typo I noted, and I changed their numbers so none of them can hunt me down, and a few formatting issues.

Oh! For those of you who haven’t read my story, it was about a little girl who gets a magical chance at understanding her life better. The story had rainbow candy, a magical creature, magicians, pets, and all sorts of multicolored whimsy.

Dear Meg,

The feedback from the judges on your first round submission from the Short Story Challenge 2020 is below. Congratulations on rising to the challenge and we hope you find the feedback helpful. Thank you for participating and stay safe! You’re welcome. And no worries! I’m a total safety girl. 

Taste the Rainbow” by Meg


{Judge #1} The craftsmanship of the prose is quite impressive. It’s error-free, approachable and engaging. This story is rather heartwarming and exudes a certain tenderness that I found appealing. Oh, thank you! That’s very kind! I always try to write with good flow! 

{Judge #2} I liked that the reader doesn’t really know what kind of critter Starburst is, but just has to go by short descriptions dropped here and there. Farting rainbows and giving the kid the invisibility superpower were imaginative touches. It was a fun story with heart. YAY! Thank you!! 

{Judge #3} The child’s voice here felt really authentic. I thought the author did a great job of situating me in this unique POV. Thank you so much! I’m in touch with my inner eight-year-old. 


{Judge #1} Two vital dramatic questions must be answered: why Polly? Why now? Why does this specific event happen to this specific girl at this specific point in time? Well, what’s the meaning of life? I have no clue! I had a difficult time figuring out the world of the story. Magical realism? It doesn’t quite bear a recognizable reflection of reality. Thank you! It was a fantasy. Also, nothing I write is all that realistic. My very own universe is tinted by my warped view of reality. The running theme of foul smells and flatulence isn’t quite suited to my taste and that quality pushed me away a bit. Oh, my. (There are, I’m sure, many readers who would disagree.) Raise your hands, everyone, if you disagree. Ohh. Who isn’t wearing deodorant? Another challenge I would recommend is starting off with a protagonist who wants something specific. Give your main character a goal. Things “happen” to Polly in this story, but she doesn’t exactly drive the plot forward with her direct actions. I’m sorry, but I completely disagree. I’ve heard this criticism aimed at other writers before, too, but in my opinion, allowing life to happen can lead to a great story. The appearance of the dad (Danny) toward the end felt contrived. Is it necessary? Well, the whole story was contrived, but no, it wasn’t necessary. The point was that her dad was a clueless clod who she saw around town regularly, but he was always so self-absorbed that he never saw her. I don’t think that makes it too contrived, since it happens to the little girl quite often. She’s used to seeing him here and there and not being seen by him. 

{Judge #2} Maybe it was intentional, but Polly says she doesn’t know what kind of animal this is, a guinea pig or a hamster… and then later, it’s described as a foot tall with ears and a tail, but it chirps like a bird. Weird, but like I said, maybe that’s what you wanted. HA HA HA HA! I have no clue. I only know what my characters tell me, and Polly didn’t know what the creature was, either, and the creature himself wasn’t telling. I was not sure what you were going for. It seemed a little odd that the mother didn’t mind Polly bringing home… well, basically a little nondescript smelly monster. HA HA HA HA! Oh my gosh, good point. The mom just went along with it! That’s hilarious. I have no clue how to explain or justify that. Good point. 

{Judge #3} I thought the subtextual, emotional stuff was really strong here. Thank you! Polly was really interesting. But I think the emotions could’ve been pushed a little farther. Polly wasn’t really put through the ringer here and her change felt a bit too easy. Higher drama really could’ve taken this to the next level. Many thoughts. The assigned genre was comedy, so I had to keep it whimsical and upbeat or risk being disqualified. But I see what you mean, and I agree. If the story were to  be expanded, I’d want to take your advice and delve deeper into that. 

Okay, so there we have it! The first judge has a notorious reputation on the forum for being harsh. HA HA! Oh my gosh, I can’t believe I got the harsh judge! (I don’t mind, because everyone in my group had the same judges. This keeps it fair.)

10 thoughts on “The dreaded feedback! (Run for your lives!)

  1. That sounds like you’ve got great feedback overall. Congrats! 🙂 Now that I think of it it’s indeed kind of weird that Polly’s mum didn’t even seem to care about Starburst suddenly appearing in her house. But I think fantasy can be more flexible with such things, especially that the story is from Polly’s perspective, and children often don’t see the very subtle reactions of people. Perhaps mum did react in some way that wasn’t obvious but Polly just didn’t notice or didn’t care about her reaction because she was too absorbed in different things, and she had a lot of stuff to be absorbed in at the time so I guess that would be plausible.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. HA HA HA! Thanks, that works for me!! Honestly, one of the hardest things about writing is keeping everyone’s reactions “normal”. (If someone’s reaction is unexpected, you have to say as much, like, “In an uncharacteristic fit of rage, she picked up the book and hurled it against the wall.”) And that’s hard for me, because my mind is always, like, going off to Meg-world reactions, and such. But your interpretation also works, and I agree with it!! Indeed, even with the creature being magical, he could’ve appeared normal to the adults as part of his charm. Thanks for your comment!!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Heck yeah nice job! Sounds like you didn’t a pretty darn good job. Sounds like their criticism was at least constructive, showing further that you wrote a good story. And nice going with the bet too! 🙂 I applaud you for taking their critiques and for showing up in the first place.

    High five and best to you in round two!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you!! HA HA! I was so excited to win that bet. I just asked myself, well, with social distancing, surely the judges’ schedules are now wide open, right? 😀 And I was right! Oh, you could enter these contests too!! That would be fun!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, I would love for you to enter the contests! I’ll check back in with you before the next one starts midyear!! They’re just too much fun, and if you go the distance (which I hope to do someday), there are cash prizes!!


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