deletedMay 2, 2022·edited May 2, 2022
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Enjoyed the feedback as always, Chuck. Quick question. It might not be a strong issue you have to deal with but here it goes. How do you deal with jealousy toward another writer? Like watching your peer succeed, get published, and so on, and you want to be happy for them but at the same time it's so hard to when you still haven't really gotten far yourself. Asking for a friend. Alright, I'm the friend lol

When I read submissions, I just think, "Gee, my work is nothing like that, how am I gonna measure up?"

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Incredible piece Maeghan! Use Chuck's great advice, though-I read this before I knew about the prompt and was lost. Brilliant analysis Chuck. Was wondering about the "demonstrates" thing also.

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This is great! Thanks Maegan! Thanks Chuck!

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So happy to be seeing some of my favourite people receiving the exposure they deserve, thank you Chuck, you are doing the world a favour!

Anyone who isn't already subscribed to Maegan's substack really should be. Same goes for Kerri's. Great writing on both counts.

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That's a great one Megan.

That snap making the nail pop image is haunting.

As usual, these tips will be usefull for everyone.

I hope my short story will be picked too.

Thanks Megan, and thanks Chuck.

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Pinch yourself.

Yep, you’re really here. Really reading feedback on your story from Chuck The Legend Palahniuk.

Chuck, thank you so much for taking the time to help me improve my writing. Excellent points.

I too was worried about the story still having legs if the reader had not known about the radioactive prompt. Your suggestion about the thumbnail/fingernails falling off is brilliant. For one, whole nails coming off is practically my least favorite thing that can happen to a body (just typing this makes me cringe), and for two, that detail will really help to set the tone (hi folks, horror story here!) And the glowing Josie in ceramics. Bringing the roses in more… Great suggestions!

I also spent a lot of time him-hawing over which tense to use for the flashback to ceramics class. Sometimes I’ve heard people tell stories in this way: “And I SAYS to him, blah blah blah” and so part of me was trying to emulate that a bit and the other part was trying not to lose story momentum by going into past-tense flashback. But it helps to get your read on it, and maybe it is OK to use the past tense after all.

Thank you for the reminders:

-Include attributions

-Don’t evaluate for the reader

-Gerunds, check (Although I may have sort of intentionally put these in my latest story on the new call--eek!)

-Abstracts: This one is big. Thanks so much for pointing some of these out. Sometimes in my head I get so used to looking at something one way that I don’t even realize it is abstract!

You suggested using the tv show Hee Haw to measure time (loved that show as a kid!) Is to OK to use names of real TV shows/radio songs in fiction? I’ve always worried this might be faux pas. Should I be dating my story with a show from a different decade?

Thank you for the rose symbolism information.

Finally, Josie and the queef. Yes, she is meant to literally be on the floor like, here listen to the sound I can make with my body. Josie is meant to be a little wild, but in a lovable way. The narrator looks up to her, thinks of her as a legend. I put the search history thing in because in the days of internet, I worry people would say, why didn’t she just look it up on the internet. Well, 'cause she didn’t want her strict mom to find out, that's why... But noted to revisit this section and work it out better.

Thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you.

This feedback is so incredibly helpful, valuable, and I cannot say enough how glad I am that you are offering this learning opportunity.

Have a great weekend,


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Great job!

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Maegan I really enjoyed this. I had no idea it was from the writing prompt and got some satisfaction as I began to realize where this was going. This is so small, but I really love how you used the word ‘goes’ in dialogue attribution. It sounds so much like how a teenager would retell a story. It really builds the voice wonderfully. I find myself defaulting to ‘says’ a lot and while that’s not necessarily bad, it’s also not contributing to the voice of the character. ‘Goes’ is a nice alternative -- especially for this piece. It makes me think of kids retelling a story to their friend over a land line.


Everything here was helpful to see, but this portion really hit home with me:

“Radioactivity should be coded into as much as possible. Including the warmth of the driver’s seat, as the narrator feels the body heat left by Josie.”

There are instances in my writing where I wonder how much is too much and it seems here that you are encouraging us to hammer our themes/storylines. I forget the writing term for over-explaining, but I know it’s a big no-no. But this feedback helped me to understand that you can subtly sew the information in without hitting the reader over the head with an explanation. That comment really has me churning over a new question I’m going to ask myself going forward -- what do I want the reader to take away from this?

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Hi Maegan. I didn't recall the writing prompt and managed to read your story to completion without ever figuring it out. Blame me, your slow-witted reader. Even without 'getting' it, I don't feel cheated. Your story was captivating. Scenes were vivid. Your language flowed. And if I were to get the payoff at the end too - Oh boy. It's a keeper. I hope you post the revisions. As always, thanks, Chuck. I'm learning so much.

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I absolutely loved your story Maegan! Reading Chuck's insightful polishing tips is such an amazing tool and treat. It's incredible to see someone whose work I've always admired taking the time to help guide and mold other great minds. After reading through everything, I do totally see the need for more emphasis on the radiation poisoning. As I was personally unaware of radioactive properties in old countertops. I chalked up the sickness to it being caused by the "honey wagon" human waste after the flashback to the FIPS right at the end there. I had acknowledged the weather change from Indian Summer to the Snow so the roses being in bloom didn't strike me as odd because I attributed it to the snow coming in for a day or two and then melting again. I live in Tennessee so that's not an uncommon occurrence for the temperature to go from Summer to Winter and back again in the same 24 hours. Other than that and some other minor tweakings I hope to see this published for all to see somewhere soon. Thanks for sharing this! Best of luck to you!!!

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Excellent work here Maegan! I can't add any more constructive criticism (for obvious reasons) but I really enjoyed your story. I kinda wish I'd've read it in its entirety before reading the notes but either way, good job!

I'm weirdly proud of all the stories getting critiqued, I feel like we're all in it together, everyone cheering everyone along.

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Just got my package in the mail.

A bigger box!

Thanks so much!

Lots of cool stuff in here.

Your packages are always a barrage of great smells!

Love using the little soap.

And mints for days!

But my favorite will always be whatever is in the manila envelope.

Personalized stuff FTW

And also...more magnetic poetry! I've been wanting some more words for the fridge.

The little wrapped red box...I hated cutting the ribbons to get at the inside :(

Gave Snow her dog toys and mom the pill box. Although mom might need another six of them haha

While messing with the fish, this little bag fell out and we thought you send us weed. But it's catnip. Which is kinda like weed...but for cats lol

Thanks again, Chuck!

<3 <3 <3 <3 <3

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Wow! This is a great story. The dialog is so natural that it’s as if the characters are leaking out of the page. It pulled me right in and kept me there. The initial flashback did throw me off at first, but once you established the “Pinch me” cue, everything else flowed nicely.

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Great story, Meagan! Thank you for submitting it for a deep dive. I learned loads from this critique.

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