Creative Writing Course – Week 3, Assignment 1

It’s week three and I am whizzing ahead for a change. 🙂 The assignment this week was to write a short story (350 words max) for peer review.

This was the story I submitted:

The smell of cooking wafted through the cafe, making Dave’s stomach rumble. As if on cue, a middle-aged waitress meandered over to the table, the hem of her a-line skirt hanging mid-calf. A name badge stood to attention on top of her left breast – “Chrissie”.

‘You ready to order?’ Chrissie asked, as she pulled the nibbled pencil from behind her ear and poised the lead against the order pad.

‘Hello Chrissie. I sure am!’ Dave said, eyes leering at her curves. Chrissie had seen that look before on other men’s faces and it made her stomach lurch. A forced smile crept onto her face, weary eyes poorly hiding her true feelings. She was fed up of sleazes, but she maintained pleasantries. ‘So what can I get you?’ she asked, in an attempt to hurry the conversation along.

‘I’ll take a cheeseburger with chips and a strawberry milkshake,’ Dave responded. His eyes soaked up her ample curves as she headed to the kitchen and she caught sight of him licking his lips. He made her skin crawl.

‘Be generous hunny,’ she said, turning her attentions to the chef. She slid the small vial of poison through the food hatch, a wicked grin creeping onto her face.

I then received some really helpful feedback from a fellow course student:

How was the central character portrayed and was this portrayal clear and interesting?

The portrayal of Chrissie is very strong, creating an instant image in my head, which is great. The wide range of emotions and descriptions (stomach lurch, weary eyes, fed up, then wicked grin!) leaves the reader puzzled as to her motivation (which I’m sure is the point at this stage).

What made you think this piece was a story and did you want to read on?

It’s very hard to make a story in 350 words, but this comes close, ending with plenty of cliffhanger questions: Is Dave a relevant central character or just unlucky picking that cafe today? Is Chrissie a killer with a vendetta against just Dave or all sleazes? Or all men? Or all patrons of the cafe? Is the cafe an establishment that kills people as a matter of course? I’d like to know what the chef thinks. I wanted to know what happens next.

What were the most, and least, successful aspects of the writing?

Most: Depiction of Chrissie, with her clear inner struggles and action in the final sentence. Least: The POV switches between Dave and Chrissie throughout. Is it possible to achieve the same thing from purely Chrissie’s POV?

The feedback on point of view was particularly useful from my perspective, so I edited in light of this and this is the result:

The smell of burnt grill wafted through the cafe as the clatter of diners throbbed through Chrissie’s head. It was nearly the end of her double shift and her feet were sore and aching. She was getting too old for this job. She sighed as the bell signalled a new customer entering and she watched as the man took a seat in the corner booth. On cue, she meandered over to the table, the hem of her a-line skirting mid calf.

‘You ready to order?’ she asked, as she pulled the nibbled pencil from behind her ear and poised the lead against the order pad. The man peered at her name badge, which was stood to attention atop her left breast.

Hello Chrissie. I sure am,’ he responded, eyes leering at her ample curves. Chrissie had seen that look before on other men’s faces and it made her stomach lurch. She forced a smile to creep onto her face, but her weary eyes poorly hid her true feelings. She was fed up of sleazes, but she maintained pleasantries. ‘So what can I get you?’ she asked, in an attempt to hurry the conversation along.

‘I’ll take a cheeseburger with chips and a strawberry milkshake,’ Dave responded. She felt his gaze soak her up as she headed to the kitchen and caught sight of him licking his lips. He made her skin crawl.

‘Be generous hunny,’ she said, turning her attention to the chef. She slid the small vial of poison through the food hatch, a wicked grin creeping onto her face.

 

 

 

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