NYC Midnight 100-word story that didn’t make first round cut: “Lunch Mate”

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Advice for writing thoughtful rejection letters (essay)
GROUP
100
GENRE
Romance
ACTION
Crossing a bridge
WORD
phase

There were an average of 63 submissions per group.  I was in group #100.  I had 24 hours to write a 100-word story with the following guidelines:  It had to be a romance that included crossing a bridge and the word “phase” in it.  This is the story I wrote:

Lunch Mate

He was in town for a merger. She, to do Phase I site assessment for a library. Both had decided to eat their lunches in the park.

They met over an escaped puppy. Buddy, the nimble young spaniel, bee-lined it to her walking taco, nabbing it from her lap – just as he nabbed Buddy.

Both now laughing, their eyes met. They walked the bandit back to his relieved owner.

Coincidence that each had crossed the bridge of grief a year before — or something more? We may never know; yet we do know they were blessed to love again.

The following is the feedback I received today on the story:

The feedback from the judges on your 1st round submission from the 100-word Microfiction Challenge 2021 is below.  You should be proud of rising to the challenge and we hope you find the feedback helpful.  Thank you for participating, stay safe, and we hope to see you in a future competition!

”Lunch Mate” by Jade Li –     WHAT THE JUDGES LIKED ABOUT YOUR STORY – {2074}  The story has a cute meet with the escaped puppy that is both amusing and endearing. The information of each of them recently emerging from grief helps to connect them and alerts the reader that they may have a solid future based on a  connection of their shared trauma.   {2059}  I loved the amount of plot you were able to fit into this short story. You do such a nice job of weaving in very specific details that make both of these characters feel very specific. By the end of the story, I was rooting for this couple and that kind of emotional investment can be hard to achieve in a piece of microfiction.  {1943}  I was captivated by this delightful romance. I loved the way the couple met over an escaped puppy. The image of the spaniel nabbing her taco was adorable. I enjoyed the description “They walked the bandit back to his relieved owner.” I really wanted to see more of this cute couple and to see their romance blossom. Well done!   WHAT THE JUDGES FEEL NEEDS WORK – {2074}  Naming the characters would help to clarify moments in the story as well as make the characters feel  more grounded and real. The sentence structure of the part of the story surrounding the lost puppy is a bit confusing at the moment and could be edited to add clarity.   {2059}  I really was hooked for most of this story, but the last line (“We may never know; yet we do know they were blessed to love again”) didn’t quite land for me as a reader. It took me out of the moment and made me more aware of the fact that this was a fictional story. I appreciated this unique way of concluding the piece, but I do think that zooming out to a bird’s eye view has advantages and disadvantages (and for me, it didn’t quite work, though I am just one reader).  {1943}  I was curious about the meaning of ” her walking taco”?

I wasn’t sure that you needed to use so many words with general comments about their love at the end. My preference would be to stay with the couple and show us more. Maybe you could use the words to show us more with the puppy, describing the struggle to walk him back to his owner? This was where the story was very active and engaging, so I would build on this part.

27 Comments Add yours

  1. Jen Goldie says:

    I’m not sure what to say Lisa. My feedback was similar. Maybe it could have flowed better. I dunno. I wanted to know more about the Puppy. Somehow I was expecting “Puppy Love” as in their love.
    It’s really a challenge!!!!!
    The first paragraph could have been tighter, using less words.
    ~sigh~ I dunno.🤔💜🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Thanks Jen. Onward!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Jen Goldie says:

        And upward! 👍

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Paula Light says:

    The ONLY criticism I agree with is “walking taco” ~ dunno what that is & it jarred me. The rest is perfect. Their names don’t matter in a flash this short, plus not naming them underscores that they haven’t introduced themselves but are bonding first over the doggie. Like the ending too!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Thank you, Paula. Maybe walking tacos are a local phenomena to this region? Good to remember. Have you ever entered any of their contests? It’s a little disappointing not even making the first cut 😦

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Paula Light says:

        No. I should just for the critiques. Got a link?

        Liked by 1 person

        1. msjadeli says:

          The formats rotate, but you can check it all out at:
          http://www.nycmidnight.com/

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Carol anne says:

    it was a great story! I loved the image of the pup stealing the taco! Lol!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Thanks, Carol anne. They asked a lot for 100 words! I guess that’s why they call it a challenge.

      Like

  4. Sadje says:

    I loved your story Li. The judges gave good, constructive comments.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      I thought they did also. It was nice to have unbiased critique on it. Thank you and glad you liked the story.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sadje says:

        You’re welcome! Yes, unbiased and positive feedback helps us improve.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. badfinger20 (Max) says:

    I don’t think naming the characters in this short of story would matter…but they were constructive in the way they handled it. I do like the story though as is…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Max I agree with you, they didn’t need names. I didn’t realize walking tacos wasn’t universally known. Good tip to remember. I like the way it ended but understand where they are coming from.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. badfinger20 (Max) says:

        Yea I had to look that term up…I didn’t know. Giving them names would be wasting words to me…in this case. If it was longer I would agree.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Fandango says:

    I thought you fit a lot into 100 words and I enjoyed the story over all. It’s tough to paint a vivid picture in 100 words. I thought you did well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Fandango, thank you very much for your kind words. I am always curious to see what stories win.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. J. says:

    I like the story as it is… I don’t feel the names matter. But that’s just me. I’ll need to look up a walking burrito, though.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      it’s walking taco 🙂 Thank you for the support!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. J. says:

        Sorry – I realised that after I typed it… it’s cause it got me thinking of Mexican food and maybe a lunch burrito! 😂

        Liked by 1 person

      1. J. says:

        I’d utilised Google and thought I’d need to give that a try. Definitely not something that’s ever made it’s way here!

        Like

  8. memadtwo says:

    It’s nice that they give you feedback, and constructive feedback too. We can always improve. (K)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      🙂 Yes the feedback was worth the $15!

      Liked by 1 person

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