The Official Writing Challenge
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Wow a very powerful story indeed. It was well crafted and seems so real.
I liked this. You have to suck me into the story at the start or you've lost me and I was in the cell at the end of the first sentence. Well done. I love that the sword in this piece is sword of forgiveness, of mercy- and isn't that what God's sword is all about- not cutting down, but freeing? Are you ready for my red pen? Okay, thick skin on? In the letter- I know it feels like in a Christian piece you need to be explicit about 'the path to salvation'(I feel like we all worry about this, what if this is the only time someone has ever heard?) but I feel like if I was someone still lost to God, you'd have to approach me differently, Jesus had so many ways to say it in the Bible, it wouldn't be bad to try and say it another way. Also- Amanda's parents need names. I got to the end of the letter believing it was them- and then it's signed "Amanda's Parents"- just giving them names would have made it just that much better. I love that what this family has given your MC is hope. Overall, it's very well done. I love your tone and voice. It's a good piece, you should be proud.
Great development of the MC and giving enough details to set the scene and tone. The story flowed so well and had me believing every word, until...John's response to the letter. His change of heart seemed too instantaneous, too sudden, too "now I understand everything and all is well". Seems like, with most of us, it is a process, maybe even a struggle to grasp who God is in light of our sin and forgiveness. I guess it seemed just a bit too good to be true (although it does happen like that with some people.) And I do agree with Lynn, use the parents' names at the end of the letter. Tweak the ending, and you have one great story here! Definitely on topic.
Very well done indeed.

However, I would have to say that I disagree about using the parents' names. I think HE would think of them as "Amanda's parents".

Great choice on the topic.