Thursday, April 17, 2008

Make It So | The OS Workshop Blog

At Our Stories we believe in rewriting. We built our literary journal with the philosophy of always giving something back. Every short story that is sent to us receives feedback. We are committed to all of our writers, not just the ones we decide to publish. The next step we see in this process is to do a live review of a story that we believe in. Every quarter we will pick one story that has magic but isn't finished. Every member of the Our Stories staff will give their own thoughts on the story, on how it can be improved--suggestions for a rewrite--and then we open it up for your comments and opinions. When the writer is ready, after they've synthesized all of these thoughts they will work on another draft. Finally, after all is said and blogged and our writer has rewritten their piece and both the staff and the writer feels proud of it, it will be published with Our Stories.

This quarter's story is Make it So, enjoy.


Make It So

GOLLD'N'S CAR WAS ON EMPTY WHEN THE TWO OF YOU, OUT OF CASH AND WITH A MAXED OUT CREDIT CARD, REACHED THE BORDER PATROL STATION ON THE ARIZONA-CALIFORNIA LINE. You told the Border agent your impending problem and asked for directions to the nearest gas station. It was around midnight, so the agent led you to a nearby truck stop. You don’t think he understood that without cash or credit, you couldn’t actually buy the much needed gas. Your hope had been that the Border agent would act as a gas emergency fairy and just give you enough gas to make it home. That offer was never made and the agents didn’t appear to have a magic wand or wear a tutu, so you guessed that free gas was not going to appear.

As you followed behind the Border patrol jeep, you hatched a new desperate idea with Golld’n. The two of you had a receipt from your dinner in LA with the private detective Golld’n’s mother had sent after you that had the detective’s full credit card number listed. If you could get the gas station employee to punch in the numbers without the actual card being presented, you could get some gas. It wasn’t actually stealing because the P.I. would eventually figure out the charge and bill it to Golld’n’s mother, assuming that the detective was worth the large sum of money Mrs. Himmings was no doubt paying him to find you. You decided that if you ever dropped out of college and ran away again, you weren’t going to take someone with you that came from money because then you had problems like private detectives tracking you down.

Golld’n sent you in to the station to try to talk the attendant into your scheme. Her theory was that you were better looking so you would have a better chance of cajoling the worker into doing what you wanted, assuming the employee was male. When you walked in to the fried chicken grease and smoke laden air of the truck stop, you saw the guy behind the counter and knew that your plan wouldn’t work. You didn’t have a lot of experience with drugs or people on drugs, but you could tell from twelve feet away that the young employee was not going to be able to say hello to you, much less figure out how to manipulate the credit card machine. You were desperate, though, so you tried anyway. Eyes glassy, a little drool leaked out the corner of his mouth and it had nothing to do with your good looks. You presented your problem and showed him the receipt. He looked at you and over at the credit card machine and shook his head. He didn’t even try. You couldn’t really blame him. If you were that high and strung out, you wouldn’t have tried either. Defeated and beating back a severe anxiety attack, you went back to the car. “It won’t work,” you told Golld’n.

She started to cry. Through her crocodile tears, she blubbered, “I can’t sleep here. I can’t even go to the bathroom. We have to fix this. I can’t be homeless.” Seriously, the situation was bad, but she didn’t need to be a drama queen about it. You leaned back against the navy velour fabric seat and tried to think. You had always been taken care of and had a dad, a brother, one of dad’s employees, or a friend that would bail you out of bad situations, so this was a new experience – to be desperate and alone. You were fully aware of the irony of the situation – you ran away because you were being smothered and now you needed the very people that smothered you.

“Call the apartment complex and see if someone will help us,” Golld’n sniffled.

“What, exactly, would they do?” you asked her. “We don’t know anyone there. It’s after midnight and we’re four hours away.”

“OK….let me think,” she closed her eyes and took deep breaths. Golld’n had lived a rougher life than you. Her parents had plenty of money, but she had dabbled in drugs and was sexually active in high school. You were pretty sure she was dealing drugs from the kitchen at the Olive Garden where she worked, but you needed the money so you weren’t going to ask. Paying rent and utilities was taking almost everything, so any extra money was used for food. The two of you were currently living on Bisquik and dollar store peanut butter. Oddly enough, despite the surgeon general’s recommendations of four food groups and a balanced diet for healthy living, you were losing weight on your carb and cheap fat diet. While you liked the way you were beginning to look, you suspected that you might have an eating disorder. However, you didn’t really have time to worry about that while working three jobs just to survive.

Possible starvation was one of the reasons you agreed to meet Mrs. Himming’s PI. When your uncle, the only member of your family you were talking to, called and set up the meeting with the P.I., he said the P.I. offered to buy you dinner and you weren’t going to turn down free food. Your brilliant idea had been to have him meet you as far away from your actual location as possible. That’s how you ended up having lunch with him in LA. Your apartment was in the ghetto section of Phoenix, and in your supreme ignorance, the two of you thought the P.I. wouldn’t figure that out. That was kind of his job, though.

Golld’n put her hand over yours and patted it. The crocodile tears had stopped. “I have an idea, and I need you to listen before you object. We’re in a bad situation, and we’ve got to do something to get out of it. I would never ask you to do this normally, but I think it might work. And you don’t have to do anything really bad, just enough to get $20 or $30 so we can make it back to Phoenix.”

You looked at the eighteen wheelers around you and pondered the merits of hitch-hiking.

“Hang out by the front door for a while and see if anyone talks to you. If they do,” she said, “and they aren’t too awful, why don’t you offer them a few minutes of your time?”

You looked over at her to see if she was kidding. She wasn’t seriously asking you to prostitute yourself. Really? REALLY? No. Nope. No. That was not in your realm of possibilities.

“You really want me to go sleep with some nasty trucker?” you asked her.

“You don’t have to actually sleep with them. There are other things you can do for that amount of money. Usually you would make at least a $100 for actually sleeping with them and we don’t need that much.”

You didn’t want to know how she knew something like that. Maybe she just watched too much t.v.? Golld’n’s face was only illuminated by the light from the car’s digital clock, but you could see that she wasn’t looking at you as she talked. She should have been afraid to look at you. She was your best friend, and that was her brilliant idea to save the two of you. You felt the need to vomit, preferably on her.

“Um, no. No. I’m not going to do it. If it’s such a great idea, you do it. You’re more experienced at those things anyway.”

Golld’n didn’t seem offended that you had just implied she was a slut. “You’re more the type that would be picked up here. I’m more of an acquired taste.”

The crappy, crappy part was that she was probably right. She was 6’1 and 15-20 pounds underweight with gorgeous ebony skin and extremely short dark curly hair, closer to a buzz cut than any Hally Bery inspired look. On first impression, most people labeled her gay. Whether she was, wasn’t important, especially not then. How big a hole do you have to be in to be disappointed and bordering on heart broken that your best friend can’t pimp herself out?

She started crying again, and you got out of the car. You’re pretty sure you weren’t going to go find someone to pay you for night time services, but you’re not sure what you were actually going to do. You had the credit card receipt in your jeans pocket. Maybe you were going to try the gas station attendant again and try to beat into his head how dire it was that he helped you.

Even at that late hour, eighteen wheelers and cars were moving in and out of the pump lanes with surprising consistency. A black Rolls Royce with dark tinted windows pulled into the pump closest to the station door. Staring at the car under the flickering neon lights, you decided that if you had to be with someone to get gas, it was going to be the Rolls Royce person. You figured that someone with the money to get that kind of car would probably take regular showers and have enough self respect to not have any communicable diseases or at least be medicated if they did have some nasty rash or unhealthy bumps. You couldn’t really do it, though. The idea was so awful that it couldn’t fully penetrate your head.

You aren’t sure how long you stood by the gas station door trying to separate yourself from the noxious smells and disease-ridden expectations around you, but it was long enough to make Golld’n get out of the car to join you. “If you’re just going to stand there, you’ll miss out on the fast money,” she complained to you.

You stared at her. Who was this person?

“I’ll find someone for you,” she told you. “Just keep standing there and close your mouth. You look special or something.”

You went into the station to get away from her. You were guessing that the devil would be sucking her into hell soon and you didn’t want to fall in with her. Through the greased streaked door, you could see her talking to a man, dingey blue suspenders bowing around his bulging stomach, that had just gotten out of an eighteen wheeler. You would rather stab yourself in the eye than have dinner with him, and dinner wasn’t what Golld’n was most likely setting up.

The gas station worker was going to have to come down from whatever drug induced high he was on fast because he was going to have to save you. You put the receipt on the counter, warmed by the heat lamp in the glass display case filled with day old hot dogs and fried chicken with skin thickened by congealed grease at least a week old, and pushed it toward him. “Ok,” you tried again. “I need you to try this, please. Work with me.” His eyes rolled in your direction but his skeletal face didn’t turn toward you. “Can you please, please, punch these numbers in the machine over there? I’m out of gas and this is all I’ve got.” You heard your voice crack and you could hear your thoughts like they were voices outside of you, apart from you. Desperation was burning your stomach and filling your lungs with thick darkness, causing your breathing to be rapid and shallow. Maybe you would hyperventilate and pass out. Then you couldn’t perform any soul damning actions.

Your vision narrowed and you might have been close to blacking out except that you were still aware of the smell of the sweaty attendant and the exhaust from the idling trucks. Then you felt a hot, heavy hand clumsily pat your shoulder. You didn’t turn around. You couldn’t. You didn’t want to see what man Golld’n had sent in for you. It couldn’t happen.

“Go get the gas,” the man said. With those words, all of the hope, safety, warmth, and breath evaporated from your body. You couldn’t breathe, but you couldn’t find the thoughts or energy to care. You couldn’t focus on any thought and you weren’t sure if it was because your mind was racing or if your brain had just shut down.

Despite the overwhelming despair taking over your body, you still had enough muscle control to turn around and face your tour guide to a world where being a good Baptist girl that graduated at the top of her class and went to church every Sunday was not exempt or somehow above this seedy situation.

You knew immediately that the guy was in the mob. He fit all the stereotypes – greasy, over-weight, gold chains, purple velour jogging suit, slicked back, thinning black hair, and hairy knuckles. Your dad had once run a trucking company that was owned by the mob in Detroit, so you knew the type. People say the mob is gone, but that’s a lie. Not only was it a lie, but you were about to be sold to a member of the mafia family. Maybe you could be a mob princess. You bet that when mob princesses run out of gas, they snap their fingers and some goon shows up and takes care of everything. They never have to talk to drugged out, skinny, nasty smelling gas station attendants who don’t have the brain power to properly use a credit card machine. They probably…okay, focus. Focus. The guy was looking at you like you might be slow. You were feeling a tad slow, so it was appropriate.

Hell. Hell. Hell, hell, hell. You were being pimped out by your best friend to a mob guy. You probably didn’t even know how to do any of the things he would expect, even for $20.

“Go get the gas,” he said again. “I’ll pay for it after you fill up.”

Curse words flooded your brain but you managed to ask, “What do you want?” You knew the answer was going to be your soul even though he probably wouldn’t call it that. Your life was about to become an after school special on the dangers of running away and having a drug dealer as a best friend. You hoped the dark headed chick from Saved By the Bell would play you.

If you sold yourself due to desperation, was it still a damnable sin? But, then, were you actually, really contemplating damning your soul to hell for a tank of gas? You were sure that if you were rational, well fed, and not sleep deprived that you could come up with a better solution. Right now, though, you couldn’t figure it out. You guessed that you really needed a more noble reason than a tank of gas. Noble desperation canceled out unimaginable acts, right?

The man shook his head at you and pulled out a roll of money held together by a rubber band. “Just get the gas and go. If I see you again, you can pay me back.”

You tried to hand him the credit card receipt. “Write down your address and I’ll send you the money when we get home.” You didn’t want to owe him. You knew from watching Al Capone movies that it was a bad life decision to owe the mob.

He shook his head again and repeated himself. “Just get the gas and go. If I see you again, you can pay me back.”

You should have questioned why the man was willing to pay, but you didn’t. He was saving you from having to take up the oh-so glamorous and upwardly mobile profession of prostitution, so you did what he told you.

You joined Golld’n in the car. She tried to say something, but you told her not to speak to you. You filled up the car, not explaining to her, and looked back to see the mob guy in the gas station before you pulled away. You wanted him to know you weren’t just some deadbeat kid that bummed money off of strangers on a regular basis. You came from a good family. You had good manners and suspected that this situation required a special kind of thank you note, but you didn’t have his address. You wanted to at least wave, but when you looked back, the strung-out station attendant was alone at the counter.

--- Caroline B.


A. E. Santi said...

I admire the second person form and the range that you have working with it. Second person always stands out in my mind, though not everyone can take it as far as you have here. Bravo.

Unfortunately, I think you’re too shy in this draft of the story. Right now it is not pushed far enough to be considered an excellent short story right now and excellence is what you’re aiming for not just “good’ which is where it is at right now. You need to consider 1) the senses and scene making and 2) taking the plot to the point of danger and true frustration and horrifying your audience. Why stop at begging to run a credit card? The logistics of which were shady, at best by the way. Why not actually get out and be more in dire straits, walking to the truckers? Have that moment of exchange of horror? Increase the tension and the story will flourish, at the moment it is too safe, too guarded and not desperate enough. I think the friend is an essential character here that is not used to push the story enough as well.

Further, how the peril is met is a bit out there, I mean they ran out of gas, right? It begs the question, how do they have a car in the first place, right? You don’t up and decide to travel this far without having the thought “how am I going to fill up the tank?” So, what happened to their cash? All of this either needs to be scaled back to just show the voices of the characters or it needs to be explained in greater detail—to leave it in between (in its current state) would mean that it is not where it needs to be. I look forward to seeing another draft.

JenKnox said...

Dear Caroline B. -

You've painted a picture here of runaways in a car, out of gas, scared, self-righteous; and you've put it all in my perspective. Good idea to run with. As a reader, you had me almost prostitute myself, you told me about my home life and how much I miss it, and you've given me the gamut of teenage emotions, many of which I remembered when I read this with horrifying clarity.

So, for all the above, applause! It is good that you were able to incorporate so much emotion, detail, and so vivid a scene into your story.

I agree with A.E. that your scene raises a lot of questions. How'd you get there? What exactly pushed you to runaway (you tell us you were smothered, but that's very vague)?

Other places for improvement? Pacing. Lack of action.

In the beginning of this piece you tell me so much without showing me any of the scenes behind the details. It would make for a smoother story if you picked the pertinent details and showed them with slight action, not tell me why things are happening. Theoretically, I'm there, right, so I really don't want to be told. This is why it's difficult to write in second person.

When you go back through this story, look for places to insert more action, extract explanation. A good place to watch is descriptive sentences that have the word "because" in them. They usually indicate that you are trying too hard to tell me what's going on. Show me instead.
A good way to sneak details into a story without the reader feeling told is to use dialogue. More dialogue in this piece would add depth to the characters as well, establishing their relationship better. This way your story won't read like an essay.
Also, give the reader credit. Let her figure things out for herself, as a runaway girl. You’ve set the tone of this situation for me (I'm the one experiencing it, right?), so you really don’t have to tell me that it's so. You start a paragraph with “The crappy, crappy part was that she was probably right.” It seems as though you are trying too hard to tell me, the reader, what to think. Saying, “She was right,” and ending the sentence there would be enough. Then, as a storyteller, work out whether Golld'n really is right through action.

You should go through each section of this story and look for places to insert this action I keep asking for, eliminate description. Then, give me more of a reason for the situation at hand. You have a lot of really good ideas, and you have a believable situation. Now you just need to work on grabbing the reader and really placing him or her in this teenage girl's role.
Don't just make me recall my teenage confusion and rebellion, make me relive it through this character. You can do this! You have a good start.

justin nicholes said...

A lot to like here. The potential for suspense and character development, both virtues stemming from profluence, is all here. I agree with A.E.: the second person is effective in a way that's rare. Still, some of the questions A.E. and Jen raise, I think, have to do with that p.o.v.

Here are my thoughts before I read A.E. and Jen's comments:

Think about the purpose of the story and if the second-person p.o.v. works in service of that purpose.

The p.o.v. distances readers from You's story, and the story's final paragraphs lead me to believe this is not the story's purpose.

First, look at tone. In the first paragraph, the narrator’s attitude towards the subject is mocking. We mock with friends sometimes, playfully banter, and laugh about how ridiculous a friend acted one time. The first paragraph also shows the narrator exaggerating—no one REALLY would expect the border patrol to give away gas, and at the end of the story, it’s difficult to believe You’d be thinking about mob princesses (and actually the mob paranoia is too much at the end). We can’t take the narrator’s words seriously all the time, or at least we’re looking out for hyperbole.

Another way the p.o.v. creates distance is through abstractions. Notice the abstract conveyance of character, such as when You goes into the gas station. “Defeated and beating back a severe anxiety attack…” (emotions that are told instead of shown) prevents readers from feeling, exactly, what You is feeling. Also “You looked at the eighteen wheelers around you and pondered the merits of hitch-hiking” is abstract with the latinate “merits,” a word that (along with “pondered”) distances because of its formality. Finally the narrator, sometimes, doesn’t seem to really like, or at least seems unwilling to take seriously, the characters’ conflicts. For instance, when the narrator says, “Through her crocodile tears, she blubbered…” we’re given first a cliché then a verb, blubber, so loaded with negative connotations we impulsively draw back from the story.

Finally the p.o.v. seems to encourage filtering while discouraging careful description. For example, in “you saw the guy behind the counter...” we’ve got one instance of filtering. Next, part of creating that perfect dream is describing exactly. Saying it’s night isn’t enough: we need to feel it’s night.

All this tends to keep readers from participating in the fiction. Instead, readers embody a seemingly biased, sometimes sarcastic narrator, not bad necessarily, but again the question workshops always help a writer ask is whether or not the effects of the story work in service of the story's meaning and purpose.

Based on this draft's final paragraphs, I don’t think rendering the narrator’s private vision is the story’s chief goal. It seems You’s realization and change matter most.

Think about changing or simply improving the p.o.v. usage.

mmdevoe said...

Very brave of you, Caroline B. to be the first up in the open blog. Kudos and may that self-confidence never wane.

I, too, will start with a fairly sweeping statement. Make it So, a practically trademarked Star Trek phrase, needs a new title. That said, I liked the story, the characters, and the concept behind the plot. Your writing is strong and vivid.
If I only had one word for you, it would be "more."

I normally love second person, but in this story, I think a more immediate connection to the main character is needed: I need to know she's a girl, she's a friend, she's at least one economic strata lower than Golld'n and I need it right away. First paragraph, tops. All this is easily accomplished with a character name and some dialogue.

(Golld'n's weird name is incidentally, misspelled in the very first sentence, which pissed me off and made me dislike it--if the author can't keep these things straight, why should the reader be asked to?)

The second person is holding you back from creating scenes that jump off the page. The first paragraph should be a jumping-great scene. We should hear You talk to the border patrol agent, and discern from her voice what her gender and personality is like. And we should know with some immediacy whether she's a victim or instigator in this relationship.

I also have a fairly major verisimilitude issue with this piece: if they are actually desperate to go home, why can't Golld'n simply call her mother and ask for some cash to be wired? after all, she's willing to pimp out her best friend, why not tell a lie to her mom? "yeah mom we're coming home, just send me some cash, we'll be right there."

One more, while I'm being picky: why is the rich Golld'n working in an Olive Garden if she's also dealing drugs? I'd think drug dealing would pay much better than a kitchen job at a low-end chain restaurant (if she actually needs the money) and if she's already rich, why on earth take a job like that?

In my opinion, this story needs more history. I want the backstory to come out, in dialogue, in a fight or some other dramatic scene. Why are these girls traveling and why together? What keeps their friendship going? Why has Golld'n (who clearly has financed the trip beginning to end) suddenly lost interest in funding You?

Well, those are my two cents. Incidentally, having now read the others' comments, I tend to agree with most of what people have said. Great setup. Nice imagery. (greasy chicken so thick you walk thru the smell? sweet) Pace that could be picked up a notch.

That's it for me.
Keep writing. Thanks for sending.

A. E. Santi said...

that may have been my mistake on the Goldn' name switch. MM, as I copied it wrong.

mmdevoe said...

AH!! and there is is: the writer does her best and the editor of the piece makes an error and isn't this the state of the publishing industry--???

OK--so the spelling error aside, I still wonder why the name has to be so complicated. Even though the spelling error was Alexis', the fact that in the very first instance of her name there are two apostrophes in it definitely acts like a stick in my eye. Why not just give her a vowel--an e or an i or even an o? Golldin Gollden Golldon, or just Goldn...? Okay, maybe you worked long and hard to come up with the cooler, more punctuated spelling; okay, so change that first sentence so that it doesn't have a possessive in it. It's the only possessive in the whole story using her name, incidentally.

DKH said...

Dearest Caroline:

Thanks for posting this story. I am glad to be the fifth reviewer for your piece, largely because I disagree with nearly all that has been said. I trust that my critique will give you (and other writer/readers) some insight into the difficulties of MFA workshopping. With so much advice and with so many minds and opinions, it can be really hard to figure out exactly what to do with your own story. So, my own first bit of advice is this: OWN your story. Remember that it is truly your own work of art. All that we can do here at Our Stories is attempt to understand your vision and, with great effort and intuition, push you closer to it.

That said, I'll begin.

Probably the most memorable characteristic of this piece is, and always will be, the fact that it is in second person. If we can't remember the title later, we'll say, "You know, that one that was in second person?"

From the first paragraph, I was intrigued. I knew, of course, that I was going to be put in "someone else's shoes" -in this case, the person who almost prostitutes herself. While I loved the beginning, and I love the idea of second person (I really do), for me there lies the issue that to tell me that I am doing something, makes me have to continually stop reading and say, "That's right, this is supposed to be me." In fact, as others have said, it does not bring me closer to the story, it takes me away from it. It does not take me away from it simply because it is unusual. It takes me away for a few reasons. One: it is, however accidentally, manipulative. I'm glad that you made me the more attractive one, yes, that felt good for a moment, but in our culture, when we use the you-form, we tend to, again, try to force someone into someone else's shoes. We are trying to force the reader into a sympathetic state. The wonderful thing about reading and movie-watching is that, once we get into the story, we do become the characters. We automatically empathize. Our bodies respond –without out intent—to car chases. We cry when the characters cry because, essentially, we can't help but feel that we are each character in the story. We do this anyway, and don't need to be turned into a You, to make that happen. Second: Every time I get to "you," I know that it is not really me. I do not feel as though it is me at all. It is someone else and I am fully aware of this as I read. So, I have to say "you=some other person." I am speaking simply because it is actually a little difficult to explain. By writing in the second person, you ask a lot of the reader's imagination. She has to hold onto more than one idea at a time. She has to hold onto the idea that this is supposed to be her, while she has to recall and collect all the characteristics that are NOT hers. It stops the flow, and again, however unfortunate, makes her feel a little used. I wish that wasn't true because, again, I love the idea.

What if this were a letter? Perhaps even an accusatory letter? If it was, you could keep it in second-person and the reader would not have to continually do a little POV dance. We would know the "You" is another person, and this might also let us know why the story is being written.

Others want some backstory. I really agreed that I wanted to know the sex of the characters and the relationship between them right away, along with their differences in class and/or culture. It seemed that Golld'n came from a wealthy family while You came from a supportive family, yes? Unfortunately, it is easy to confuse these two. We often think of the wealthy family as being somehow more supportive. Though it's not true in this story, it might be good to give us some memorable details that help us keep the families straight.

I think you have an excellent voice. I love the sarcasm, the repetition of ideas and characters (the gas station attendant, the receipt). I actually like the alligator tears although I didn't know what they were. I loved the way You stood outside so long that Golld'n eventually got out of the car. I enjoyed that they were ignorant enough to believe the Border person would give them gas. In actuality -that is not all that ignorant. (I'm disagreeing with myself here.) I know that -at least- police officers can give you free gas, or bring you to the station where you can get a gas voucher. Most police stations have emergency funds for travelers.

This story is rather suffocating. Perhaps that is a positive effect of the second-person narrative. I have to admit, even with the POV mind-bend, I did feel like I was stuck. I felt that, while being the reader and the character all at once, I was not able to make the decisions I would want to make. I was forced to do whatever You would do. Perhaps this is part of your vision? I would like to know the reason you chose second-person. Would the story be less interesting to you, as the writer, if it were in third-person or first-person?

If you were to change the POV, it seems to me that the story really would need more –as the others have asked for.

Thanks again for going first. I hope we can help you inch closer to what you wanted to accomplish with this piece. Despite my issues with the POV, I really enjoyed reading it. I enjoyed the details, the scene, and the characters. I would like to see more of your work in the future. Good luck!

C said...

After much wrestling with the story, I will try to respond to a a few of the comments/questions. The main concern is my choice of second person. I love second person. I like the way it makes the reader more active in the situation. You/I can't sit back and watch someone else deal with running out of gas. My goal was to make my reader live it rather than watch it. Another reason I chose to use "you" is that this story, in first or third person, could veer dangerously into the after-school-special world. For me, the second person kept the story safe from Tori Spelling or any other "90210" cast member popping into my head as I read it.

As a side note, I had no idea "Make It So" had anything to do with "Star Trek". I'm playing with titles and I'm open to suggestions.

Many of your comments, mainly needing more and that I was too shy in this draft, echo my own thoughts. I am working on making "you" more concrete and including background without bogging the story down in explication. I wasn't in love with Golld'n's name either so I am changing it.

I love the suggestions and comments. This is more valuable to my writing process than any other educational or workshop situation I have encountered.