Firstly Andy Lamb thanks for sharing your exercises. They’re fascinating in that they tie together and dictate that the author modulate from two perspectives for a single scene or overall event.
Some observations on your writing. In regards to the waiting story, what stuck out there was your use of repetition. In the first instance of it with the “is a complete dump.” statement, it didn’t add to the impact of the description of the place. I was trying to figure out why, and I believe that it is because the paragraphs that it served as a bookend for were descriptive in nature. Thus, it was akin to if you had repeated that it smelled of lemon detergent. It felt redundant when I read it.
On the other hand, your repetition of the “again” in the list of probable causes of Jim being late was effective and not only emphasized who Jim was, but also the nature of time involved in the two characters relationship. It also gave a bit of a comic effect, as in it held a sensation of a minor farce.
The most profound repetition that you employed was the “I have caught a Turk and now he won’t let me go”. There was a significant and in depth story between the repetition of that phrase and it acted as both a prologue and an end note which gives the reader a phrase to move forward with. Things like that are what will stick with the reader.
On to the story of Jim. Maybe it’s a matter of taste, but I don’t believe that Jim’s story needed any action to remove him from his state of self pity, from the point of writing a story at least. As readers, we almost always want to see ‘broken’ characters become whole again, I proffer that as the explanation for the the issue that your peers had with that story.
My issue with it is that I didn’t feel the haze of a hangover come through the words. Nor did I get a sense of the panic that Jim had in realizing that he was late.
Writing from the perspective of someone who is partially incapacitated is extremely difficult. Because one goal of a writer is to put the reader into the character with clear and concise descriptions or to incite emotions via the narrative or the relationships, etc. Putting a cloud between the reader and the inner mind of the character is something that I’ve rarely seen done well or done well myself.
Speaking of being inside the mind of a character, from the first person perspective it’s almost always more effective to describe the physical sensations that define a state of being then to outright declare that state. RE. the phrase, “I feel sick”. There are hundreds of ways that one may feel sick, but there is only one way in which Jim felt sick. One or two sentences which described the feelings enough to make the reader start to feel sick would be much more effective.
It’s that ancient writer’s saying, paraphrased here, “Don’t say ‘The coffee tasted good’, let the reader taste the coffee and make them tell you that it tasted good.”
I like the second half of the Jim story, the sense of urgency does pick up, especially when you elaborate on why Jim actually cares that he’s late. Not simply that he is supposed to meet someone, but why he cares that he is making that person wait.
Anyways, I had fun reading the stories Andy, along with exercising the critical approach to reading, which is essential if we want to improve. Thanks again for sharing it.