Letter to B

November 18, 2008

Dear B,

First of all, it was VERY difficult for me to read your work objectively because I know the story so well. Over all, it’s very YOU. Your voice comes through and the emotions of Ann are very true to how you felt them. But i think this is the trouble. I think (and we’ve discussed this before) that you wrote it too closely to how you lived it. If i read this completely objectively (or try to), Tom is using Ann. He could care less about her. You can add things like his tenderness to the mix, but overall, you haven’t convinced me that he’s looking for anything but a fling. Not only that, but he’s brutal. He bruises her. He knocks her off the bed. He shoves her. He doesn’t look at the care she took in selecting her undergarments, he sleeps through all the noise she makes, until he is directly addressed. He doesn’t TALK to her at all. Basically, the reader will define him as a beast. That being said (and all that is FINE, until…), you then try to add a touch of personal, deep, tender sentimentality by drawing on the fact that Ann’s husband recently died. When you give her this sort of complex emotional issue but throw her into bed with someone who is clearly using her for sex, it undermines the dynamics between the couple. It makes him look more like an ass and it makes her look foolish, used. I know (as we have talked about your plans for this piece) that you wanted it to be more of a feminist thing, where she is trying to experiment and “find herself” by being fly-by-the-seat-of-her-pants by having a fling. I know that Ann is back in the “singles” world and doesn’t really know how to be or what to do. But you don’t give her enough admirable qualities. The allusion to the bruises is stellar. But when she “snuggles” with him at the end, I cringe. By then, I am embarrassed for her. 

I’d really like to see you take this piece further, I would definitely like to see more character in the characters. I don’t really know them. I want to know them. I want to know more about HER. It’s OK that he is brutal. And i like that about him. But she is the one that i need to know more about so that I can have either sympathy, empathy or hope for her- not humiliation. I don’t think that was your intent. 
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