Reply To: A Blank Piece of Paper (short Story – critique)

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Hi Elle, thanks for posting this, I really enjoyed reading it. There were some lovely lines. I liked ‘The ends of his sentences never curved into questions’. I loved the structure and the slow reveal through the different episodes. As Jane said, I’d never have known it wasn’t written by a native English speaker. Part of my ‘day job’ is editing books written or translated by people whose first language is not English, and I’d still never bave known. There were only a few tiny grammatical things that might benefit from some tweaks.

‘You met him at a party a friend dragged you along’

Might be better as ‘along to’, or possibly just ‘to’

‘the eager student you were paying attention, eager to please.’

Doesn’t quite work for me, grammatically. Perhaps ‘ever the eager student, you were paying attention…’ – and I’d suggest not repeating ‘eager’ so soon. Would be easier to change the first eager for something else, enthusiastic or diligent maybe?

‘Sam found smoking deeply unattractive, so you gave up that part of you for him.’

Substitute ‘yourself’ for second ‘you’?

‘You tended to them like your grandmother had looked after her bonsai trees, with minutia and care.’

Is minutia the right word? I know what you mean though. Fastidiousness perhaps?

‘lighting on a cigarette the first one since Sam ended things.’

No ‘on’ necessary, comma after ‘cigarette’

‘which helped you hide pretty well your under-developed cooking skills,’

Would read a little more smoothly if it was ‘which helped you hide your under-developed cooking skills pretty well‘

‘turning the artic drawers’

Should be ‘Arctic’

Hope this is helpful