My ‘hone your skills’ Blogfest entry.

I’m not quite clear anymore on why I signed up for this blogfest.

The thing is, I don’t really write short-short stories that often, and out of the complete stories that I have that are about the right length, I’ve already shared most of them on this blog since I started doing ‘Sharing Exercise Friday.’ And I didn’t really want to do a repeat for a blogfest.

But I found this little piece in my files, it was from some kind of a prompt at the Chester’s Beers of the world Hamilton Writers group. It’ll be interesting to hear what you think.

On the Halos of a Dilemma.

She hesitated at the post box, not knowing if she should really send the letter.

This was one of those moments where you normally pictured an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other, Caroline thought. The problem was, at the moment, she had two little critters who both appeared to have white robes and halos arguing with each other, and she couldn’t really tell if one was a devil in disguise, or maybe they were both well-meaning angels who happened to be having a difference of opinion over her tough choice.

“You have to tell her,” the voice from her right shoulder told her. “There are certain things that you have to do if you want to do the right thing, and this is one of them. You’ve stumbled across a secret that’s about your friend’s life, and you can’t keep it from her. You have to let her know somehow, and this is the best way – anonymously, so that she isn’t hurt by finding out how you know, on top of everything else.”

“Oh, yeah, let’s start there, shall we?” came the reply from left shoulder. “So that she isn’t hurt. Isn’t it better to start with sparing Lizzie as much pain as you can, rather than inflexible rules? If you tell her this, then you’re causing her pain, and not sparing her any further down the road. There’s no upside except keeping your own conscience clear of keeping the secret, so just suck it up and do what’s best for Liz.”

“That’s just a load of rationalizing…” Right shoulder started.

“You can’t attack a valid argument just by calling it a rationalization,” Left called back. “Either point out the flaw, or go on the attack by saying right out why you think I’m making this up…”

“I’d be delighted,” Right called back, and leapt onto the mailbox so as to most effectively taunt the other angel, since Caroline’s blonde hair got in the way otherwise. “You’re just more comfortable when anybody stays out of other people’s business, and…”

Just at this point, an older man in a snappy gray suit walked up and waved a slim parcel meaningfully. “Oh, by all means. I’m on the horns of a dilemma here,” Caroline mumbled, stepping away from the mailbox. Unfortunately, gray suit opened the door so firmly that it shook the box slightly, and the angel from Caroline’s right shoulder lost her footing and tumbled down into the mailbox. The angel from the left shoulder immediately went into a very exuberant victory dance, shouting ‘in your devil face, loser.”

Caroline shrugged and dropped the letter into the box, holding it open for a little white-robed figure to fly back out as she did so. She was pretty comfortable with inflexible rules of right and wrong, actually, and she hated people, or apparently even angels, who acted that smug when they thought that they’d won. 

7 Responses to My ‘hone your skills’ Blogfest entry.

  1. Shelli says:

    Cute and imaginative interchange between the two angels. I enjoyed the humor in the ending. The writing is great; my suggestions would be more of a technical nature. I got a little lost figuring out which angel won. I would have the line about the victory dance as its own paragraph, and I would change the word “from” to “on.” It just gives some physical space and helps differentiate the two angels, making them easier to keep track of.

    Also, I found the title a little off-putting. When I read it, I had no idea what the story would be about, and it seems more suitable to an artsy poem than the down-to-earth gem that you have.

    Good work!


  2. This is the kind of story I read and then immediately ask myself: how could *I* not think of that?
    Your idea is very original, and aside from a little bit of confusion in the end there for which I re-read it just to make sure I got it right (like Shelli mentioned as well) this is a wonderful piece!


  3. Jane Still says:

    I thought the story was creative and it definitely painted a picture. I was also a little confused at the anglels and who. Perhaps if they each had something distinctive like milk white wings as opposed to wings with a little sparkle or a halo a little askew or somthing that you could refer to with the right and left angel. LOVED the humor. Also liked how she finally made the decision.


  4. Trisha says:

    Hehe, this was cute – I like the fact that our protagonist is hating part of her own mind, essentially, the part that was all victorious thinking it had won. 😛

    I think the dialogue is quite wordy but then that’s probably quite an accurate reflection of how our thoughts can be going at miles an hour sometimes.

    I like the “pun” with “horns of a dilemma”…ya know, devil horns. 🙂

    I wasn’t sure about the title either, and it wasn’t clearly a title as it wasn’t bolded or anything.


  5. RosieC says:

    Well, despite your not knowing why you signed up, I’m glad you did. Thanks for sharing. This was cute, and I love how you took the old angel/devil on the shoulders and tweaked it to make it unique. Plus, the twist at the end in which she didn’t really listen to the “victor” was great. Kudos!

    As for suggestions, I’m a little conflicted with how you start with Caroline, but she has very little to do in the story. She seems virtually insignificant to the whole thing, sort of, as she’s completely overshadowed by these dancing angel-devils. They represent her internal struggle, but they take on such a life of their own. Is there any way we can see her reactions/interactions with them more throughout?

    Also, I’d like to know what the actual problem is that Caroline is considering telling Lizzie about. The argument seems so theoretical that I felt a little lost as to what’s at stake for Caroline.

    All in all, I really liked this. Thanks again for joining!


  6. LOL, I’m glad you participated anyway! This was really fun. There’s not much that I can add to what’s been said already.

    You have a unique take on the angel/devil dilemma which is great. So often we have to choose between two good things and its hard to figure out what’s best.

    I liked the banter between the angels, but think it could be tightened a bit by using shorter sentences. I get that this way is more like stream of consciousness so I could be totally wrong, but when people argue they use short choppy sentences and interrupt each other a lot.

    You could also work Caroline into the conversation so she is more a part of the story. Have her ask questions or have a third reason for doing or not doing this.

    I’m also with Rosie, I want to know what the secret is! But then again I’m a total busybody.


  7. Thanks everybody. The suggestions about doing some more characterization work on Caroline and both the angels are good, I’ll keep that in mind.

    Shelli – I didn’t have a title for the piece when I wrote it, and decided that I wanted to give it one for the Blogfest, so I fell back on my usual forte of cheap wordplay, with the line about being on the horns of a dilemma, and substituting halos for horns. I guess it didn’t work great as a title, but I’m not sure what else I’d call it.


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