Friday, November 20, 2009

Monday Morning Quarterbacking XVIII

Happy Friday, readers.

"That Delicate Membrane, the Heart"
By Kim Barnes

How convenient -- a father/daughter essay in Modern Love, appearing just as my own father/daughter essay is rejected by same. Really, very thoughtful of ML to not only tell me no, but publish an example by which I might see clearly my own shortcomings.


Well, there’s no way around this.

As I read the two side-by-side, I can see the differences. Here are the biggies:

Dramatic setting: Hospital room versus family vacation. Which one has the more intense natural tension?

What’s at stake? Routine family dynamics versus life or death.

Dramatic characters. Pentecostal mountain man versus professorial poet. Okay fine, I’m seeing the pattern. I’m picking softer subjects.

Moment of realization: Actually, this one is interesting. I think I do have a moment of realization in my own piece, but Kim Barnes is explicit about hers. “I came to understand that my father was my antagonist.” That’s an interesting choice as a writer, to tell rather than rely on showing. (Which is not say she doesn’t show. She does. But she also tells.) That might make sense for me to try.

And onward.

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