Under the Microscope extra: Game of Mass Destruction

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A reader's novel opening gets an editorial critique

Read our suggested rewrite of a reader's first 300 words and for the full critique, see the September issue of Writing Magazine.

Game of Mass Destruction

Original, by Chloe Gilholy

Two photographs nestled between Sia Buck's laptop. On the left was a shattered wedding photograph. The right picture was faded picture of three women on stage, each of them wearing tank tops embroidered with their band's name: Pussy*Pussy*Meow*Meow. "Those were the days," she said to herself. Head tilted back, she placed her cocktail glass by the wedding picture. The dark fluid blurs the facial details of the man in the picture. 

It had been years since she had a ring on her finger. Three decades ago, at the young age of 22, she founded the controversial reality TV show in the world. Even before her show, technology had advanced in haste. Reality TV was out of control. The robot population increased. Governments feared the robots would take over and lose their jobs. 

When she pitched her idea, she never expected that world leaders would be so generous. Like a baby, Sia had nurtured the show into the government-funded staple show. Since becoming an overnight sensation, it became the staple TV diet of every Netflix subscriber on the planet. Sia baptised the show as The Game of Mass Destruction.   

Sia Bucks had an array of staff at her disposal; military members handpicked by a perverted sergeant, a weatherman whose coarse language prevented him getting a job with the BBC, and camera crew who never revealed their faces. 

The G.O.M.D team and the contestants over the thirty years became her extended family. Twirling her heart-shaped locket, she scrolled through profiles that her team had created. Even though the contestants had already been chosen, the nominations could still go forward to next year's show. 

Taking a sip of her drink, she opened her locket. Her daughter, Harumi whom she hadn't seen since she was two. Her ex-husband had remarried and Harumi was brought up to believe that his new wife was her biological mother. 

Sia Bucks had the biggest salary in the world, but she would give it all up for another chance to watch her daughter and granddaughter grow up. Returning to her files, she discovered the twenty contestants that had been selected. One of the names made her shiver. 

It would have only had been a matter of time before people she knew would have been contestants on the show. 

 

McCredited version

The two photographs stood either side of Sia Buck's laptop. On the left was a wedding picture with cracked glass. The other was faded picture of three women on stage, each wearing tank tops embroidered with their band's name: Pussy*Pussy*Meow*Meow.

Those were the days.

She placed her cocktail glass by the wedding picture, the dark Manhattan blurring the man’s face

It had been years since she’d had a ring on her finger. Three decades previously, at the young age of 22, she’d created what was then, and what had continued to be, the most controversial reality TV show in the world. Even before it, interactive entertainment technology had advanced to a frightening degree. Reality TV had been out of control for a long time. More extreme. More exploitative. More popular then ever. Governments feared the increasing robot population would take over and that the politicians themselves would lose their jobs.

She ‘d been dubious that the world leaders controlling TV back then would be so generous. Sia had nurtured the show like a baby into the government-funded staple. After becoming an overnight sensation, it had gone on to become the essential viewing of every Netflix subscriber on the planet. Sia had christened it The Game of Mass Destruction, or ‘GOMD’ as the fans preferred to call it.

Sia had an array of staff at her disposal; military members handpicked by a sergeant too perverted to serve in any army, a weatherman whose coarse language kept him away from civilised TV, and camera crew who wore masks when filming. The GOMD team and the few surviving contestants over the thirty years had become her extended family.

Twirling her heart-shaped locket, she scrolled through profiles that her team had created for this year’s draft. The contestants who hadn’t made it this time could potentially still go through to next year's show.

She sipped her drink and then opened her locket: her daughter, Harumi, whom she hadn't seen since the girl had been two. Her ex-husband had remarried and Harumi had been brought up to believe that his new wife was her biological mother.

Sia was rich beyond dreams, but she would have given it all for another chance to watch her daughter and granddaughter grow up.

 

For the full critique, see the September issue of Writing Magazine