Tag Archives: Constellations

Group Writing Critique: “Abandon Hope” by Jilanne Hoffmann

Welcome to the dogfight! Here’s a snippet from a short story by Jilanne Hoffmann, followed by critical comments. Dogpatch Writers Collective occasionally posts these excerpts of our group critiques of work in progress, and your comments are welcomed!
  • From “Abandon Hope”

I flip through the pages until I find the map of hell I’d been trying to draw. I trace the outer circle that says “Limbo” with my finger and then spiral through the circles until I reach the Circle of the Violent and remember Henry memorizing, “But now look down the valley. Coming closer you will see the river of blood that boils the souls of those who through their violence injured others.” I look up quickly to see if Henry is sitting in a dark corner of the basement waiting to jump out and scare me, but he isn’t. I haven’t seen Henry for two days, and I’m ready for this game to be over. Maybe if I just sit and wait he’ll surprise me. So I slam the book shut, squint my eyes real tight and sit there, trying not to breathe. Then I turn off the lights and stare up at the constellations. In the dark I can pretend he’s right here with me.
  • Comments from the Dogpatch:

Dear Jill: This story is sick! You’ve created a truly tragic scenario in this story, made more so by the restraint with which it is told and by the narrator’s own lack of understanding of the true implications of her own innocent actions. Pile on that her mother is completely shattered by her own historical grief and unaware of who her daughter is, and this is a story that sticks with a reader long after the pages have been put down. You do an amazing job of allowing the reader to correctly intuit what the narrator herself doesn’t know, and that makes the heartbreaking effect of the story even stronger. Nicely done! I hate you! Continue reading


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