Review of: Panama 

reviewed by gagliano on 01/27/2008
Credited Review
gagliano
A few loose ends in Panama Credited Review
Read your piece, and I’ll venture a few comments. As a new site member, this is a fledgling review, so please take with a grain of salt and discard what is not relevant or helpful!

First of all, banal as it may sound, run your piece through spell check and grammar check and even have a trusted pal proof for things that spell check may not catch. I noticed many typos. For instance: pg. 4 “Regan-era”, pg. 5 “half-hardily”, also careful with when to use “you’re” instead of “your” and “it’s” instead of “its”.

I really liked the idea of opening and closing with the hobo character. Nice touch! He was a good backdrop to your main character, and a good commentary on your theme.

Curious - who is your intended audience with this piece? It takes place in an elementary school setting and involves several student (albeit minor) characters so one might assume based on a synopsis that it’s a “family friendly” kid flick, but the language is strong.

I guess one thing that hindered the read was that your characters seemed rather undeveloped to me. I wasn’t sure where Luke’s character was coming from. Was he unhappy with his life as a substitute? Was the opening scene with the cereal bowl showing he was sort of an “I can’t win” character? Yet he obviously was successful as a sub (favorite substitute awards), and successful as it turns out in his one day at Panama. Did he learn to love teaching during that day at Panama? It would have been interesting to bring out more strongly how his character changes or develops because of his experience. At the end, I wasn't sure how this day affected his outlook or his life, but it seems it should have.

I also wasn't sure who the main antagonist really was... was it Willis or was it the principal? That made the progress of the plot somewhat disconnected - like a series of strange encounters that didn't play off each other very cohesively. You go into great detail with physical descriptions of your characters, but I didn't get a sense of believable people from the dialogue. Have you messed around with writing a brief background for a few of your key characters? (i.e., typical day? or what was their interview with the principal like? Whatever.) You might not use this material (or you might!), but it could help you bring more dimension to these folks within the story if you do some rewrites.

For example, although the dialogue briefly describes their meeting, I found it very unbelievable based on what I knew of the characters that Dana would date Willis. So the breakup between Dana and Willis was just too completely predictable... although having Carl pocket the ring was quite funny! Also, wouldn't it be more interesting if Luke was somehow forced to play the football game instead of strangely wanting to? It didn't make sense that he would go along so willingly with something that was so unethical.

Good luck with this! I thought your story idea had lots of promise.

Other Reviews by gagliano 5

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