When The Music Plays by SM Prasad-FINAL

FINAL DRAFT Leena poured herself another cup of coffee on a worn-in, lazy Sunday afternoon. She’d known the neighborhood ladies around her table since they were all newlyweds eighteen years ago.  Leena nipped a delectable sugar cookie from the passing dessert plate which drew tut-tuts from the forever-fasting-fit-females. Their conversation basked in the complacent tones...

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Sophia Bonnie Wodin
10 months ago

AW, lovely! Thank you for the easy ending.
You captured the essence of emotion really well. The sense of betrayal from the husband; the desperation of having to accept the younger girlfriend; the feeling of being left out by the neighbours; the affirmation of ‘I can do it!’; the embarassment of failing; the shoring up of oneself in the face of expectation; and of course, finally hope.
You packed quite a lot into 1200 words!
Having been through all of those phases, I was with Lena throughout.

10 months ago

Well that was quite a journey. I think the piece works strongest when you bring to life moments we can relate to – those real, tangible moments. Like that prolonged silence when you realise your friends know something you dont. The claim on the right of passage for any mother to go shopping with their daughters for bras. That awkward moment up the ladder when someone tries to help. These are great and take the reader right into Lena’s world. In terms of making the piece stronger, I feel like some elements are a little to explicit for the reader. Can you pare things back so we have space to determine some of the story – trust the reader to get your character and the moment and what’s happening. I’d also think you could help the reader by making key scenes were a little more distinct. You roll really rapidly from Sunday afternoon with friends, to bed, to a text, to an interplay with the ex’s girlfriend to shopping to repair the toilet. I had to hang on hard to stay with Lena. Especially after an opening line that felt lovely – a worn in, lazy Sunday afternoon – which made me expect a leisurely paced story. Finally, I was stopped a few times by double and multiple description…eg worn in, lazy, ; foreever fasting-fit; painted on, frozen smile; haggard, decrepit mum. If you chose the right word, and one descriptor or none at all, I would find it easier to read and would paint my own pictures of what you are showing me. Anyway, hope this helps – Thanks for sharing your first draft and I reckon its got the ingredients of a great read.

10 months ago

A totally relatable story, SMP, and quite enjoyable. It did feel a bit like a rollercoaster ride of emotions, but I suspect that is exactly what you intended, given all that Leena has been through over the last 2+ years. I didn’t really understand the text, and think you could strengthen the story by removing that altogether and instead use the words to tighten up her feelings about seeing Owen again the possibilities he brings to her life. I very much enjoyed your story, though, it was an easy read with a happy ending. Well done.

Hyle Bathurst
10 months ago

Hey SM,
Love the details and the emotions in this story. This chick has had a hard life and she reunited with someone she cares about. Construction-wise, I think it’s laid out fine. Going from having friends that seem to have a better home life and still feeling that gap inside and then moving to talking in depth with someone who understands the things she’s been through; it fit really well.
I do agree with Adam that the transitioning is a bit bumpy. I got confused when they were talking about the party and then she has a flash back of meeting her ex’s new girlfriend.
I love the story. I would love to read further about Leena and Owen. I can imagine them gaining a really heartfelt relationship.
Thanks for sharing!

10 months ago

Hello SM and thanks for a great story. You got the intro spot-on with that moment when Lena finally figures out what every one els e knows and the phrase “forever-fasting-fit-females” is perfect. You don’t need to say much more about her friends, the picture is painted. I figured out the text message after a couple of readings but I struggled a bit with the logistics of her adventure on the step ladder. I presume the “platform” you mention is the one at the top of the ladder? How did she get a rolling stool up a step ladder? Sounds pretty suicidal. Perhaps I am not getting the picture right? Also maybe you don’t need a step ladder at all? She could have had the incident standing on a rolling stool on terra firma, I think? I really liked the sentence that ended “….shuffling through the aisles and trying not to find what they were shopping for.” It puts us in Lena’s mind and lets us know juts how lonely she is at that moment. Nice one. The flashback when they are at the coffee shop is a cool idea but I regret I missed the importance of the sentence “Beautiful music breaks your heart with its anguish. Can’t know what the coda will bring.” Are these lyrics to a song that should mean something to them both? Sorry if I missed a clue. I really liked the hopeful note that the story finished on. Thanks for sharing. Regards, Seyi

Carolyn Dekat
10 months ago

SM this story is fabulous. You managed to strike a universal chord, I think. Being abandoned and lonely is not a pleasant thing, and when that light shines that begins to bring us out, how marvelous it can be.

I think the other comments have pretty much covered some of the transition difficulties, and that comes for me with word count limits. Deciding what to detail and what to leave to the imagination can sometimes be a little daunting. At least for me.

I enjoyed this story very much, especially the feeling of hope at the end.

10 months ago

This is a lovely story and one that is so relatable in its emotions. Leena is a likable character and I was hoping for good things for her throughout the piece.
My advise echos Adam’s above, about paring down some of the descriptors so they can shine a little more, and tightening the writing just a little bit. The pacing at the beginning is perfect, but as the end nears, it speeds up in a way that feels a little off to me.
Overall, this is a great story. I really like the way the story ends with hope and how real Leena seems. Great work!!

Charles R.
9 months ago

Dear SM Prasad, I thought this was a well-done story that brought your MC full circle in her relationships with men. While there was tragedy in their lives – you gave the reader a sense of hope that maybe happiness was in store for Leena and Owen.

Paul J P Slater
9 months ago

Hi SM,

Congratulations on delivering an enthralling read that not only kept me in the story but wanting more. The emotional roller coaster for the MC is clear, she questions her friends and suffers from unwanted text messages from the GF. Well done.
I agree with many of the comments above. Always a challenge in a tight word count.

Thank you for sharing.


R.L. Nel
9 months ago

Hey SM, this is a wonderful, highly relatable story! Loved it! You managed to pack a lot of story into the word count – so I’m very impressed. I never read your first draft, but I had no trouble keeping up with the scene transitions. I also found Leena to be a likeable character. I too wished her all the best and was so happy that she found something sweet in the end. Good luck with the competition. I hope that you’ll do well!

9 months ago


This is a powerful tug on the emotions throughout. I’m not sure if I understood it all, but I was super-impressed at all the action you squeezed into the word count.

Good luck in the competition!