Write It Sideways

Excerpt Critique: “Mr. Chang’s Tomatoes”

Please welcome today’s anonymous aspiring author, ready for a peer critique.

Take a moment to read the excerpt and leave some thoughtful feedback in the comment section below.

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Mr. Chang’s Tomatoes

Short Story

*Please note: This excerpt is taken from the beginning of the work.

Li Chang peeked out the kitchen window of his son’s apartment at the next-door neighbor. The fellow was middle-aged, at least twenty years younger than himself. Mr. Chang smiled as he watched the man watering his tomato plants. There were five of them, swaying on an overhanging shelf just outside of his basement door. It was obvious that the man had done this before, but his method, Mr. Chang thought, was a bit amateurish. So typical. Americans did everything so large and complicated; all that was needed were the methods that farmers like himself had used for centuries back in China. 

Mr. Chang’s eyes misted over as he thought about his homeland. He probably would never see it again. His beloved Wen had passed on two years ago, and his son had arranged for him to come to America to live with him and his family. Oh, he was happy to be near his son and to see his two granddaughters raised up well, but he did not like America. For one thing, there was not enough green for someone who had been raised in the countryside of Beihai in the Guangxi province. He missed the flow of the River Li in the mornings when he would awaken early to be down at the river before sunrise.

When he was young, he’d been a fair artist, had wanted to travel to Shanghai to become famous. Then he met Wen. They married and made plans to escape their small existence in Behai. When Wen became pregnant, their hopes to travel down the mountain to the big city were lost.

Potential Feedback Prompts

When you respond, you might consider:

  • your immediate reactions
  • likes and dislikes
  • anything that seems unclear
  • language issues
  • point of view
  • voice
  • inconsistencies
  • general encouragement