Last night, I attended the Issaquah Writers' Group meeting. The people were congenial, and I felt welcome right off. I got my times mixed up and showed up a half an hour too early. So the host and his wife, fed me dinner while we got to know each other. It was a smaller group than normal last night--one lady is a CPA, busy, busy. Actually, this worked out well for me. It's hard to be the new person in a large group.
The interesting thing about this writing group is that they don't pre-read the work. Each writer reads his/her work aloud during the meeting and then the others critique it. I presented the short story I included here on Wednesday. I knew, before I went, that the piece needs work. It moves too slowly in places for a short story. Their critiques were gentle, yet spot-on about what I was seeing, but there were comments that I hadn't considered, like moving things around to allow the description to stay but to speed up the pacing. (Thank you all!!).
The one thing I didn't realize is that--understand that I'm the only Southerner in the group--no one else in the room knew about oven vaults and the "year and a day" for crypts in New Orleans. My friend Steve calls this the curse of knowledge. He says, and I agree with him, that we tend to assume that others know as much as we do. Well, that theory works for all of us except those sadly pathetic people who have to be the smartest person in the room. (No one in my writing group falls into this category, thank you God.)
When I explained it about New Orleans burial practices, the creepiness of the opening was more evident, and I went home trying to figure out how to expand that section without having to do an information dump. Somewhere in the process of letting this information percolate in my head today, I realized that I could expand this story significantly, minimum to a novella.
Just to give you an idea, I'm thinking about having the protagonist learn how to lay bricks. Does that give you a hint?