“He’s With the Band” by J.M. Hardin is a short story available in Kindle format. It’s the story of a sound technician for a Christian rock band that finally decides it’s time to start his own band and step up to the mic. The story is a good read for the most part. A beginning author should be proud of it, but the story skips a few beats, meaning that it has a few problems.
First, the author didn’t check to make sure that all of his verbs agree. Third person is written in past tense, meaning that all of the verbs should end in –ed. The author switches from –ed to –s, from past to present tense, in the same paragraph.
The other problem is that the ending isn’t satisfying. This is a little harder to explain, but a satisfying ending uses the basic rule of physics that every action causes an equal and opposite reaction. This law is commonly demonstrated with a model that has five metal balls hanging from a frame. Pull the first ball out two inches, and the last ball will bounce two inches. Pull the first ball out three inches, and the last ball will bounce three inches.
This law also relates to the emotional conflict that the characters feel. A simple problem will have a simple solution. A big problem will have a more complicated solution. When a simple problem has a difficult solution, or when a difficult problem has an easy solution, the reader ends up feeling cheated. It creates an impression that the character made a mountain out of a mole hill.
In this story, the main character hasn’t dated women for five years. He’s never found the right woman, and so he finally gave up on the search. This is a serious reaction, meaning that it must have been caused by a serious failure. He must have fallen flat on his face more than once to make such a drastic decision. Then he meets Linda, is attracted to her, and changes his mind. It is an easy solution to a difficult problem. This part of the book would have been better, in my opinion, if it was a simple problem; he hasn’t dated in one year, but he’s still looking.
The main character is also shy. He likes being in the background, and is embarrassed when the band announces that he wrote the song they are singing. Then the lead singer insists that he get up on stage and sing the song himself. He does so with a little hesitation. Then Linda suggests that he start his own band, and he changes his mind. This, again, is a simple solution to a difficult problem.
Being shy is a serious problem. It can be crippling, especially when it gets to the point of social anxiety. A big problem needs a big solution. Just changing his mind isn’t enough. I would have liked the story better if, after having seen how his songs touch people’s hearts, Linda sings a song of her own to him, and it touches his heart with a strong emotion—an equal and opposite reaction. Or, Linda offers to be his lead singer, and they start the band together because there is safety in numbers and he won’t feel so vulnerable if they do it together.
The solution should be realistic and in keeping with the intensity of the problem; an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. Sometimes, the reader has a problem like that too, and a good author will touch their heart and instill the courage to change in much the same way this band’s songs do.