This short story, “Difficult Choices,” was submitted by a 19 year old, Australian writer who has asked for feedback and is happy to share that feedback with an audience so that other young writers can benefit. I will not be correcting grammar and spelling, just the telling of the story.
- This does not fit the current draft because only 10% of the story is about her decision – it should be 90% about her decision. And she makes only one choice, not “choices.”
The Rose Adagio. How many times had I performed this routine? I was the Princess Aurora in my ballet school’s production of ‘Sleeping Beauty’. Dancing the lead in this production would open up many opportunities for my future. As I finished the dance, the adrenaline filled my veins and the rush of excitement overwhelmed me. - I’d like a bit more description here to set the scene in the dance studio – awaken my senses more – take me into the ballet world.
“Very good Rosie,” said my teacher, Madame Hayes.
My cheeks flushed with pride as I walked over to the barre to do some quick exercises. As I plied I thought about my boyfriend, Mark. He was the best boyfriend anyone could wish for. He understood my passion for ballet, he sent me flowers when I was sick and he treated me as an equal. I was looking forward to seeing him in the front row on opening night.
“Class, your attention please!” said Madame Hayes. I snapped out of my daydream and concentrated on the announcement.
“I have some very good news. I received a telephone call from representatives of The Australian Ballet. On the opening night of ‘Sleeping Beauty’ two members will visit and observe our performance. They will be choosing one person to do a workshop with them and go on tour with the Ballet this summer!”
The class squealed with delight. This was the opportunity of a lifetime. The things we’d see, the things we’d do, the things we’d learn! Whoever was chosen would be on the fast track to becoming a professional dancer. An experience like this would count for so much.
“This is such as honour for our school. But rehearsal is over so go home and practise, practise, practise!”
As I walked out of the studio, I felt like I was dancing on air. I couldn’t believe what had just happened. I grabbed my mobile out of my bag to call Mark and tell him the good news. - rather than a phone call, I would have him meet her at the studio so they can have a face-to-face interaction
“Mark! Guess what! Madame Hayes made an announcement today. She said that at opening night, members of the Australian Ballet were going to attend!” I squealed. - reader already knows this
“Wow,” said Mark, “To perform for them is such an honour. And you’ll get a lot of exposure as a dancer!”
“But that’s not the best part! They will be choosing one of us to attend a workshop and to go on tour with them in the summer!”
“That’s amazing! I am so proud of you.”
“I haven’t been invited yet,” I said.
“You’re playing Aurora. You’re the best dancer at the school. Why wouldn’t they invite you?”
“You are so sweet.”
“Do you want to go out for a celebratory dinner tonight?”
“I’d love to, but I can’t. Opening night is in a couple of week and I still haven’t quite gotten the hang of my first number. I really need to practise.”
“Okay then. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
- this dialogue does not advance the plot or deepen our understanding of the character – needs to be rethought or perhaps cut
After we’d hung up the phone, I ran home and down the stairs to the basement to practise. I was still a little wobbly on the glissade and I knew that to be invited on the tour, it had to be perfect. I danced well into the night.
“Today class, I want to run through the Lilac Fairy’s dance. Everyone else can do some tour jetes until I am ready for you,” said Madame Hayes. I love tour jetes. They are one of the easier moves but can be a little tricky at times. When they’re done properly, the dancer looks like a bird, gliding on the breeze. Whenever I dance I picture that in my mind, hoping that I too look like that. - now I’m really starting to wonder what the story problem is – why am I reading this?
After the tour jetes I ran through the movements of the Rose Adagio again. I was lost in my own little world full of fairies and flowers when Madame Hayes voice snapped me out of it.
“Rosie, can I speak to you please?” she asked.
“Rosie I am very pleased with your dancing. You know the routine almost perfectly. I am suggesting that the Australian Ballet members watch you very carefully tomorrow night. I think you have a very good chance of being chosen.”
“Wow! Thank you Madame Hayes,” I exclaimed.
“But keep this to yourself. I don’t want the others to know.” - this could come in the first scene
Nothing could wipe the smile off my face.
That night I called Mark again.
“Mark! Madame Hayes is going to recommended me to the Australian Ballet!” - repetitive, we know this
“That’s fantastic! See, I told you that you would be chosen. You should listen to me more often.”
“I know, I know. Listen, I’ll see you tomorrow. I need to get some sleep.”
“I love you.”
“I love you too.”
I barely had any sleep that night. I was too excited. - where is the tension? the conflict?
The next morning, I went straight into my usual routine. I made my breakfast and then switched on the morning news. The reporter was announcing a special bulletin. - this could come much sooner in the story so that you have more space to show her struggle to decide
“We interrupt this program to make a special bulletin. A car accident occurred late last night. Two men survived with minor injuries but the third, a teenage boy, is in a critical condition.”
“Oh no,” my mother said, “That poor family.”
I shrugged it off. I had more important things to worry about. Anyway, it wasn’t like I knew any of them.
Throughout the day, I heard more about the accident. Slowly, the more information I heard, the more the pieces were staring to fit together. Until mid-afternoon, when my mother rang.
“Rosie, I am so sorry. It was Mark in the accident.”
“No!” I cried.
“He’s in the hospital, Room 207.”
“I’ll go see him right now.” As I hung up the phone, the tears spilled over. I rushed to the hospital.
“Which way is room 207?” I asked a nurse.
“Down this corridor, turn left at the first reception desk and straight ahead.”
When I got to Mark’s room, a doctor coming out of his room stopped me.
“I’m sorry miss, only his immediate family are allowed in.”
“But I’m his girlfriend. I’m like a member of the family!” I argued.
The doctor sighed. “Mark isn’t up to it now; his condition is still quite unstable at the moment. But seeing as you’re his girlfriend, you can come back later, after seven.”
“Is that the only time?”
I walked out of the hospital feeling crushed. I needed my mother.
“Mum? They won’t let me see Mark until after seven. But that’s when the performance starts. What do I do? This big opportunity, I can’t drop the performance. This only happens once in a lifetime.”
“And boys like Mark only happen once in a lifetime too. Sweetheart, I can’t make this decision for you. You have to make it yourself. Do what you feel is right.”
This was the biggest decision I’d ever have to make. Should I give up any hope of becoming a dancer, for love? What if Mark and I split up? Or should I forget about Mark and follow my dreams? – tell me more about her struggle to make this decision – this should be what 90% of the story is about
The summer I was touring with the Australian Ballet should have been the best summer of my life. I learnt so many valuable lessons and my dancing improved immensely. I was even offered a position on the Ballet that I could have when I was older. Yet, the realisation that Mark was gone, hit me hard and fast. Never again, would I see his sweet smile or his twinkling eyes. Never again would I feel his arms around me or his soothing voice, telling me that everything was okay. I couldn’t believe that I had been so selfish. I never even said goodbye. - I would cut this entire paragraph and show rather than tell
More Feedback: This is a well-written story in the rough but with an idea and internal struggle that is worth developing. I recommend more showing instead of telling and much more tension in the dialogue.