Death Of 1000 Cuts – Season 2 Episode 29 – The Dentist (by Morgan)

In today’s episode I look at the first page of a listener’s story and suggest ways of making it better.

This is a great episode to listen to if you want to know:
– how can I get some tips for editing my novel?
– how can I write a great first line?
– how should I describe my characters?
– what makes good dialogue?
– how can I think about the flow of a sentence?

If you’d like to submit your work for a future show, you can do so via the ‘Contact Me’ link in the right-hand column. Details at the end of the show, or you can read the submission guidelines here. They’re from the old blog but they’re exactly the same for the podcast.

If you’d like to support me, please buy my novel, THE HONOURS. It’s temporarily unavailable on Wordery, so here’s a link to wonderful UK indie bookshop, Mr B’s Emporium, who ship worldwide:

Finally, you can support the running of the show directly via my Ko-fi page:

Thanks very much for all your encouragement and help. Oh, and – before the more analytically-minded amongst you write in – I realise now that ‘against’ is a two-syllable word. Oops!

And here’s today’s extract:

THE DENTIST (by Morgan)

Joy wore a short, black, cotton dress, her hair tied back in a blond ponytail. Around her neck was a thin, golden chain with her star sign, a ram’s head. I had given it to her when we first met. I wore an open-necked, pale blue shirt under a dark-blue suit. It brought out the color of my eyes.

We were celebrating my first proper television role. The restaurant terrace shimmered gold, the candle flames restless in the breeze from the ocean. The crashing waves drowned out the piano tinkling through the speakers.

“I’m proud of you, honey,” said Joy. “A speaking role.”

“Let’s hope I don’t develop a stutter.”

“Aw, that would be adorable!” said Joy, pinching my cheek.


“Oh, sorry, honey, is that the bad side?”

“It’s okay,” I said, “I’m just minding it, so it’ll go away sooner.”

“You know…” started Joy.

Our starters arrived, ending the conversation. I had curried oysters, Joy had asparagus salad. My mouth throbbed. I’d almost gotten used to it. I was pretty sure the tooth was rotten, that the cure would be worse than the disease. Lost in these thoughts I bit down on a mouthful and a sharp pain jolted my head.

There was a hard lump in my mouth. I held my cheek and went to the bathroom. At the mirror I picked a cracked and rotten piece of tooth from my mouth. It was laced with blood and the smell of seafood.


  1. Morgan says:

    Thanks for the feedback Tim. It was really helpful. And a great experience to start learning to receive criticism

    My favourite suggestion was on how to structure the story so it starts with conflict in the narrative present and then continues smoothly on. If I start with conflict my default style/habit is to jar into a flashback afterwards. You discussed this in a previous episode (called Hold Your Nerve) but thanks to the example in this episode the penny of understanding has finally dropped into the slot of how to do it. No more waffley openings for me (pardon the expression – you know what I mean).
    Thanks so much!


  2. Rui says:

    I just thought it might be helpful to point out that my own biases made me believe the narrator was a woman because he cared so much about the color of his eyes. It’s a very sexist thing to think, but my brain just went that way.

  3. Morgan says:

    Thanks Rui, thatÄs good to know!