Hi FrostyDuf ⛄❄
Thank you for participating in the July round of "The LGBT Writing Contest" . I'm reviewing your entry, "The Blind Date" , in my role as the judge for this round.
This contest requires two main things from an entry. Clearly identifiable LGBT characters and the plot written to a prompt. I think you’ve made it nicely clear from the beginning that the two main characters are LGBT. And having half of the story plotted around a date and situated in a gay bar (hmm, it might just be me presuming that based on Laura’s meat-market comment) helped reinforce the LGBT theme. I liked that you further highlighted this – and thickened the tension/conflict – through the arrival of a drunk man who thinks he’s god’s gift and can turn any woman ‘straight’, giving the story a darker side. Laura shouldn’t have to defend herself against him, verbally or otherwise, yet I’m sure that goes on all the time, and it should make the reader feel just a little bit uncomfortable that we can still marginalise people who we think aren’t like ‘us’. I felt angry for Laura and was totally rooting for Elizabeth later on!
The single-word prompt “fear” was, I thought, pretty open, and I thought you worked it in well with this story. You started off light, though we already get a sense of Laura being uneasy about going to The Club. We almost get the feeling she’s not had a good time there in the past. And when she and Arlene get to the bar and are up on the balcony we get that sense again, so I was beginning to think that something was going to happen. I did not expect the man’s arrival, funnily enough, so I liked that hook. And… you made it an unpleasant encounter but we weren’t really freaking out so we got lulled in a sense of ‘okay’ and with Elizabeth’s arrival we were back on track with the plot – the blind date. and then you whammied us with the fear again, and I’m sure everyone’s experienced the ‘am I being followed’ feeling so we could all relate. You gave us physical and emotional fear, and both fitted in with the story, didn’t feel forced. The outcome was just as smooth and realistic. I liked how you portrayed Elizabeth as the shaky one in the aftermath. She didn’t show fear during, but afterwards she’s the one with the tears in her eyes as she lets that fear out. That felt real; once the adrenalin’s gone, shock gets in and we realise how damn scared we were.
I thought this story was a well-rounded whole, provided plenty of conflict and action (physical and emotional), and also gave us a happy ending (yes, I do love my happy endings!) Laura’s supporting her friend as she goes on a blind date, which turns out to be someone Laura knew (and later we find out had a crush on) a long time ago. A part of me was very satisfied at the whole ‘love will win out’ feeling I got from this story, and of course the satisfaction of a total twit being put in his place! I found myself a little bit upset for Arlene who ended up the third wheel, because that’s always a bit uncomfortable, though she sounds as if she had a better time afterwards, anyway!
The conflicts within the story were pretty much the plot, and I felt they worked together really well, moving seamlessly from one to another. It kept me engaged right to the very end. And I really liked how the ending brought us back to a calm moment – Laura learning how Elizabeth came to her rescue and the pair discussing their feelings, with a little bit of backstory. Of course, it does make me wonder how the pair went separate ways after high school since they were both sweet on each other! I also enjoyed how you brought the blind date back into the story, albeit totally different from that one at the beginning .
Laura’s our heroine in this story but about the only thing we ‘see’ of her is that she’s wearing a red dress. We’ve no idea what she looks like, or the other two girls for that matter. There is a rather distinct lack of description of them. I’m not expecting screeds of info but there are places you can drop it in – hair colour, hair length, flashes of memory from Laura over Elizabeth even (maybe what she remembered from graduation day). Rick calls Laura beautiful but show us that. For that matter, Laura calls the man ‘nice looking’ – show us that too. What’s nice looking about him? The more we can ‘see’ of the characters the more the reader can get to know them and feel for them.
The Technical Things
Just a few odds and ends I picked up. It looks worse than it actually is!
You have a tendency to have a dialogue tag at the end of very long moments of dialogue, which ends up reading a little awkwardly. An example is this one: “Hey beautiful. I thought that was you. I’ve been trying to catch up. I guess I missed a turn,” said the guy from the bar. One possible way for the above is “Hey beautiful,” said the guy from the bar. “I thought that was you. I’ve been trying to catch up. I guess I missed a turn.” The follow-on from this – Laura’s and Rick’s again – both also suffer from this late speaker identification. And in some cases you don’t need the dialogue tag. You’ve got action straight after that highlights the speaker. So when Laura responds to the above she does a lot of talking before you get to the ‘said’ part and noting that she’s backing away. Laura backed away would work as a speech-splitter, without the need for ‘said’. Eek, that’s a ramble. Something like this… “Hey, uh, listen. Like I told you, I’m not into guys and, yes, I’ve been with a guy before.” Laura backed away. “Doesn’t do anything for me, sorry. I’m really tired so I’m going to go.”
deep bass that could be felt in your chest – the ‘could’ makes this very passive. We’re in Arlene’s POV moments before and after so make this a feeling of hers. Or of Laura’s, since it’s quite clear she doesn’t like being there. Something like (but better, of course) The music’s beat was fast with a deep bass that Laura was sure would thump her heart right out of its regular rhythm. I’ve just been reading a book on settings – and involving the senses and this club is a prime example of where you could go to town with such things – sound, sight, smell.
She started walking toward home as she didn’t…. – though I’d use ‘because’ instead of ‘as’ here I’m not mentioning this sentence wholly because of that. More because I got confused about what Laura was doing. The sentence before she’s waiting for a cab, now she’s walking, next para she’s back to thinking about the cab. It’s just a little confusing, and I wonder if that’s all caused by the very first sentence starting She closed out her tab… – it sounds like she’s also waiting for a cab, though a re-read makes me think she’s just outside and it’s others who’re waiting. Just needs a little focusing, I think.
Bent over the curb, she thought, maybe it is that creepy guy. – the way you have this written, it makes the whole thing read like a thought, rather than just the last half being the thought. And the very next sentence is a real thought (italics) so it was a little puzzling. Perhaps lead off with something like Bending over the curb, Laura wondered if it was that creepy guy.
She could only make it a few yards before she would think… – it’s the ‘could’ again that makes this awkward, followed by the double use of ‘would’. Make this sentence a little more active/real-time. Let the reader feel Laura’s fear, so don’t just say she was frightened, show us (the throwing up does this well, but show us more).
…took her hand is his and shook it – ‘in’ rather than ‘is’.
Where does Susan come from? It’s been, what, perhaps an hour from Laura starting to walk and the police taking Rick away. Now, we know that characters have lives ‘off screen’ but she does kind of come out of the blue with Arlene, especially since Arlene was initially on the date with Elizabeth (though I presume these two had clarifying words!) The timing felt a little odd again when Laura asks Elizabeth if she wants to go for dinner. If all the bars are closing, I’m presuming it’s fairly late at night. Would they really be going to dinner then?
Two final things. I don’t think this needs to be GC rated at all. 18+ is fine, and think about your genres. You’ve got two ‘other’. They won’t sell your story. Drama and Emotional or even Gay/Lesbian or Romance would be just as good fits (make Contest Entry your third genre).
A nicely told story, Meduf, from end to end. I thought the LGBT characters tied in with the prompt really well, giving us several aspects of fear but keeping them under control and believable. This is the kind of story that I’d like to read more of – backstory for Laura and Arlene’s friendship and what happens next with Laura and Elizabeth.
Thank you so much for entering "The LGBT Writing Contest" , and we hope you come back again! And - if you have any queries about anything above, don't hesitate to get in touch.