Gerry B's Book Reviews

Finding Forever (an unpublished short story) by Jacqueline Castillo

A discussion on ‘the short story’



Story blurb: Jess and Amber are two gal friends who are off on a vacation under the hot sun of Cuba. Jess is just recovering from a break-up with her longtime boyfriend Chris, and not quite ready to sample romance again, while Amber is making a meal of it and urging a reluctant Jess to do the same.

Enter a handsome Cuban entertainer named Vincente, with dark eyes and a gentle but persistent nature. Add a few Cuba Libres to the mix, and the ingredients are set for Finding Forever.

I don’t usually review either individual short stories or unpublished works, but with finding forever by Jacqueline Castillo it gives me a chance to talk about ‘the short story.’ 

In my opinion the key word is “short;” which means that the writer must step in with a hop-skip-and-a jump, deliver their best shot, and then step out with a resolving kiss or a tear. All in quick-quick time.

Overall Finding Forever is an admirable effort for an unpublished writer, and shows great promise. Jounalistically, it is well written, the sentences flow, the description is colourful, and the dialogue is realistic and meaningful. However, what is lacking is any real sense of drama or tension—i.e. the “punch” that leads to the resolution, and without it the story doesn’t reach its full potential.

Very much part and parcel with the above are the characters. Jess is pretty, Amber is precocious, and Vincente is dark and handsome, but these characteristics alone don’t make them interesting. What’s going on inside them? How deeply is Jess grieving over the loss of Chris? How shallow is Amber’s idea of happiness? And how smitten is suave, handsome, Latin Vincente? In a short story these have to almost literally jump off the page to grab the interest of the reader.

Nonetheless it’s a great start, and the key to good writing for first-timers or pros alike, is: rewrite, rewrite, rewrite!

 Still awaiting Coming of Age on the Trail from the editor, but making progress on The Brit, Kid Cupid, and Petunia.

December 1, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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