Judge Feedback on Done Deal

The feedback from the judges on your 2nd round submission from the Short Story Challenge 2021 is below.  You should be proud of rising to the challenge yet again and we hope you find the feedback helpful.  Thank you for participating and we hope to see you in a future competition!

”Done Deal” by Mary Lamphere   


Katie has a clear conflict and choice to make. MerriLee is well-drawn through her details, actions, and dialogue. Active writing and vivid description brings the dinner to life in the reader’s mind. The subtle back-and-forth between the women creates tension. 

It was interesting to see how MerriLee’s character evolved over the course of the story. At first, she is vapid and spoiled–but one thing she is sharp as tack about, it’s getting Katie to vote “yes.” By the end, we discover why: she’s desperate. 

The playfulness between Katie and Merilee is funny. Their body language has a little bit of frenemy energy, and the “edge of her friend’s tone.” The realization that Merrilee might be going broke was dramatic and surprising. 


The conflict facing Katie might need to be a little more developed, as she makes her final decision easily. If there is a moment in which she genuinely considers helping MerriLee or feels guilt over her impending decision, there is more opportunity for tension and conflict, as well as character development.  

The implications of Katie’s vote are vague. In revision, focus on making the objectives of the Trust less abstract.

The dialogue between Merrilee and Katie in the beginning sounds unnatural. Cutting right to the matter of her vote would be best. There are places where I got confused about who is speaking, like on the 4th page, at “No, you don’t understand.” The waiter returned… I imagined for a moment that the waiter was in on it, and was going to pressure Katie to vote yes too. Which is silly, but also maybe a funny addition?