At every writers' workshop there will always be at least one 'Virginia'.
“Now, tell me,” said Virginia, as she read her story out,
“if there are any flaws that I should know about.”
And so we listened carefully, each jotting down a hint,
Hoping that our comments would see her work in print.
“I think,” said Sonia Fairclough, in a diplomatic tone,
“your plot is too confusing. I’d cut it to the bone.”
“Oh, but,” said Virginia in a most defensive way,
“that’s how the readers like them. The twists will have to stay.”
“Another thing," said Carol, careful not to hurt,
“your characters are static. Take for instance, Bert.”
“Oh, but,” said Virginia, “Bert takes a minor role.
Surely it won’t matter, when viewed against the whole.”
“And what about your theme?” asked a kind and gentle Sue.
“Is it triumph over evil? I really have no clue.”
“Oh, but,” said Virginia. “I had no theme in mind.
It’s just a piece of fiction – not a moral grind.”
Then Eleanor spoke up, about her favourite gripe.
“Your story has no atmosphere, no mood – it has no life.”
“Oh, but,” said Virginia, “In a novel maybe so.
But not in my short stories. It’s their pace that makes them flow.”
“Well, what about your flashbacks?” said Gail, “without a doubt,
they always slow a story. I think I’d take them out.”
“Oh, but,” said Virginia, “The readers like to know
what went on beforehand. There’s no way they can go.”
“Your dialogue is wrong,” ventured timid little Jane.
“It doesn’t quite ring true. I find it quite a strain.”
“Oh, but,” said Virginia, “I know that’s how they speak.
I’ve listened very carefully. My dialogue’s not weak.”
“I’d watch those long transitions,” said a worried Mabel Dick.
“Your scenes should change much quicker. Try the four-space skip.”
“Oh, but,” said Virginia, “They’re surely not a bore.
My hero’s inner monologue will even up the score.”
“And what about the opening? It should balance with the end,”
said an agitated Ethne. “They’re both supposed to blend.”
“Oh, but,” said Virginia, “That’s a lot of rot.
Who’s ever going to notice when they’re following the plot.”
“Are you sure that it’s a story, not an incident you’ve told,”
asked nervous Mavis Withers, surprised she’d been so bold.
“I’m quite sure,” said Virginia. “I know what I’m about.
I’ve had a story published in my church’s mag ‘Devout.”
“I thank you for your comments. I’ve learned a lot today.
But I won’t make any changes, till I hear what editors say.
And so Virginia’s story was altered not a jot
And as for being published, it didn’t have a shot.
But confident as ever, Virginia sent it in,
The only one dumbfounded, when it ended in a bin.