Nannies, Purple Mohawks And the Meaning of Life: By SUSAN PARKER

Tuesday November 02, 2004

San Francisco State  

MFA Fiction Workshop 803 

Fall, 2004 


Requirements of this course include the submission of two works of fiction no longer than 20 pages, double spaced, plus one rewrite. Also required is a critique of fellow workshop participant’s creative works using the following format: What this story is about; What I liked; For the next draft. Use thoughtfulness, sensitivity, and attention to detail when critiquing. 


Hi Brad! 

What this story is about: Two surfer “dudes” (their gender is unclear) who go to Ocean Beach for a day of surfing and wind up on an island somewhere (Pacific? Atlantic? unclear). They have traveled in a time warp of some sort (forward? backward?) and are searching for something (gold? life’s answers? the perfect soy burger?). Along the way they meet many odd people and creatures and the story ends when they run into a surfer chick (small child? mermaid?) who shows them where to get a soy burger (could be the symbol of life?). 

What I liked about this story: It’s really creative! 

For the next draft: I think it would be helpful to the reader if you were more specific about the gender of the characters, where they are physically in time and place, and what they are searching for. Other than that, I think it’s great and that you should keep going with it! Good luck! 


Dear Marcy, 

What this story is about: This is the poignant tale of a young, attractive nanny who can’t do anything right in the eyes of her wicked, (and I mean wicked), employers. Although the nanny loves the two beautiful, needy children she takes care of, she is having a difficult time getting along with their parents. The mother of the children is skinny, self-centered and spends most of her time doing yoga and getting her nails done. The father is rich, successful, cold and may have the hots for the nanny. When the nanny breaks an expensive, ostentatious vase in the solarium, all hell breaks lose.  

What I liked: Very realistic! 

For the next draft: I think you need to develop the relationship between the nanny and the father of the children. Maybe there could be a scene where he forces her against her will to have sex with him, (think in terms of Kobe Bryant!). Or if you want to go for the Stephen King/Rosemary’s Baby thing, you could have the nanny become possessed by some kind of evil, demonic being, kidnap the kids, and join a satanic cult. Also, although you did a great job with physical descriptions, (I really know what’s inside that house in Beverly Hills!), I think the nanny should look more like Jennifer Lopez or Halle Berry, and less like Jennifer Aniston. It’s people of color who often do this kind of work! Great start! Keep at it! 



What this is about: This is a stream of consciousness tale about a kid who takes a lot of drugs and questions his identity, gender, and reason for being. It chronicles his involvement in Goth clubs, his first year in community college, his sex life, (or lack thereof), and his suicidal tendencies. He is very unhappy, and yet there is a spark of positive, vulnerable optimism beneath his weird haircut and black trench coat! 

What I liked: I really liked the scene where he tries to get into his parent’s Saturn with a Mohawk and so has to drive with his head sideways. Hilarious!!!! 

For the next draft: I’m probably not the best person to give you advice on this piece because I don’t know much about Goth clubs, and to be honest, I like stories that have a definitive, happier ending, but if you are going for the post Columbine or Generation X genre, I think you’ve nailed it! Does Josh get laid (and if so, by whom?), get another tattoo, tell his parents he wrecked the Saturn, drop out of school, change his haircut, or commit suicide? It may be that you want to leave readers wondering and, if so, you have definitely achieved that state with this reader! Thanks for the interesting, thought-provoking story! Yeah for purple Mohawks!›