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Hector Acosta's picture

False Impressions

By Hector Acosta in Arrest Us

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Spencer finds himself in the middle of a turf war between two competing backyard wrestling promotions. 


Jonathan Riley's picture
Jonathan Riley from Memphis, Tennessee is reading Flashover by Gordon Highland June 25, 2014 - 12:38pm


Oh man, I'm the first. That's always intimidating. But I digress.

The last story I read of yours starts with kids battling it out and this one is just as intriguing though it goes in an entirely different dirrection. And I love them both. 

You start with a great hook. You actually have six well developed characters, all very different and that's bloody difficult as hell to do in a 5000 word story. Bravo there. 

I really like the brother dynamic between Billy and Spencer. It feels very real. Also, how he likes his brother's girlfriend Tori. That only seems natural, but they still have a healthy bond despite not having the best living situation. 

The crime element in the story is simple and I think that's what makes it so great. You didn't stretch or force anything. Everything is very believable. I didn't doubt a bit of it. I especially love how Terry's father puts him in his place. I like how they forgot and left James and Carlos behind. The fact that I can remember all the characters names is a testament that you really rounded them all out nicely. 

So yeah, this story is fantastic. By far one of my favorites. 

I did an lbl sweep. Just some notes I made as I read where I feel it can be improved a bit. Especially, where you changed the names of couple of the characters. Well, used different variation of the same names that were already established. I think it just confuses things and would be better off if you stick to the same thing. 

Great work Hector. Can't wait to read more from you. Good Luck!


Joshido's picture
Joshido from Northwestern America is reading Rant June 26, 2014 - 9:52am


I agree with JR. Great read and a good hook. With all the stories out there about kids battling each other, this one stands out. It's unique and like JR said, you did a good job creating a cast of unique characters in 5000 words.

As far as critiques, I did notice you used the adjective "small" when describing Spencer and Billy's apartment quite often, perhaps add some variation in your descriptors throughout. I know I am guilty of this as well until I draft something a few times.

Also, I want to add that you do very well in describing action. Good read, thumbs up from me!

YouAreNotASlave's picture
YouAreNotASlave from Birmingham United Kingdom June 28, 2014 - 1:18pm


I really enjoyed this piece. The set up and escalation  were well paced from the reveal of the bag's contents to the confrontation at the end. I especially liked how you used the fact the antagonists and protagonists were all ultimately children as to move the plot. The 'kid-like' nature of the wrestling contrasted well with the seriousness of the criminal paraphernalia.

Overall the strongest aspects were the dialogue, which seemed very real, and the fact that the story was very character driven. I find a lot with crime stories that the plot becomes externally motivated and 'problem-solving' oriented when it's a detective/cop faced with a murder, with little character development. What I liked about this story was ultimately about the relationship between the main characters and how it was stressed and altered due to conflicts with others. Spencer's growing unease towards the whole wrestling thing and his apparent decision to write it all off at the end, and the changing relationships between himself Tori and Billy were very well executed. 

A few (hopefully constructive) criticisms, which are mostly cosmetic:
--At some times there's more 'telling' than 'showing' --- not always bad, as I felt it worked and was necessary for parts of the backstory. But sentences like 'All this makes Spencer love her even more' / 'Billy has always been impulsive' seemed to be unnecessary as you'd established well the triangle between Spencer Tori and Billy/Billy's impulsiveness (and with the impulsiveness you go on to talk about it regarding backstory, which I felt was fine without the prelude of 'he's always been impulsive'). But mostly this stuff is conveyed well through showing-- i especially liked the description of spit drying up in Spencer's  mouth. 

--The story would have benefited from more variation when describing the passage of time. I think you use 'a few minutes' three times--I only noticed as it's a problem I always face when describing lulls or pauses which need to be explicit.

--You establish Tori's skin colour early on, then regarding backstory refer to her as a 'black girl' across the road. Nothing particularly wrong with this but I felt the use of black here was superfluous as Tori is the only woman in the story and her race had been established. Although I think it's good to have diversity in stories I prefer it to be established and then left, otherwise there is a tendency -- very present for example in Murakami's work where he always goes on about every female characters breasts -- to 'over-mark' characters who aren't straight, white male. Tori's a strong character and I feel her racial ID only needs to be established at the beginning, and subsequently where it is relevant to the story. I should add that I don't feel Tori was 'over-marked' and was a well-fleshed out character. Just something to watch out for I suppose, and feel free to disregard this point as it may just be a pet peeve that I have from reading too much Raymond Chandler.  

Overall, very enjoyable read, thumbs up!

Erik Carl Son's picture
Erik Carl Son from New England is reading Sunset and Sawdust by Joe Lansdale June 30, 2014 - 7:33am

Nice work, man. As the story evolves the writing style grew on me and helped propel the story.

I really enjoyed the change of Spencer through-out the story. As the crew enters WT and examined the ring, it becomes clear he isn't going to be leaving the same kid. Tori and the rest of the gang all have unique voices and stand out from each other.

I personally love stories that begin with something small (a grudge, a stolen belt) and blossom into a larger, more serious issue. This story reminds me of Shotgun Rule by Charlie Huston (which is a compliment btw). That said, I feel the ending resolves too quickly. The father comes out and seems to punish them as if they found his nudie mags rather than his sellable weed and (unlicensed?) gun. I wonder if there was some way to rebuild the suspense here. Increase the sense of dread and potential urgency. Perhaps leave us with the sense that Terry is doomed when they leave.

I understand the limitations of a 5,000 word piece. This doesn’t feel like a 5,000 piece. The world well-crafted and the reader gets a direct sense of who these kids are. Well Done.


Lawrence's picture
Lawrence from Dallas, Texas is reading Mr. Mercedes - Stephen King July 1, 2014 - 9:29am

Hector, I really enjoyed your story. Spencer was a great character and I feel like I've lived in one those apartment complexes. I will agree with some of the other reviewers that the tension in that last scene doesn't last long enough. I didn't have enough time to feel like something really bad was going to happen. All in all I dug the setting and the pacing. 

My nit picks are mostly with the dialogue. Not how the dialogue is written, it feels authentic, it's the tag lines and the way you like to break it up with exposition. I feel like it messes up your flow. I've attached an LBL with lots of comments. There are missing words here or there and hopefully I have helped you catch some of those. 

Thanks for sharing your story. It's good see another writer from Dallas!

Seb's picture
Seb from Thanet, Kent, UK July 1, 2014 - 2:05pm

Love it, great idea and a nice turn at the end. Very thorough, very real, and the characters are all well drawn out. There were a few typos but nothing drastic. I really enjoyed this.

Chris Irvin's picture
Chris Irvin from Boston is reading Eyeshield 21 Vol.1 July 2, 2014 - 12:22am

"ECdub or what?" hah

Well done, Hector. Really enjoyed this one, both for the story and as a wrestling fan. I didn't expect the characters to be teenagers when I started reading, but that worked very well, obviously becoming a major factor in the story. Could definitely see this in more of a novella/novel format and expanding on the coming of age themes.

Loved the ending as well, the entrance of the father, the end of their wrestling dreams and the kayfabe/reality with Tori.

Great stuff.

NikKorpon's picture
NikKorpon from Baltimore is reading Book and books and books and July 2, 2014 - 12:00pm

Very cool. Hector. I dig it. A lot of the commentors above hit the points I would highlight as well. That steady escalation of events is fantastic and plays well off the pseudo-love triangle, each one pushing the other farther as they become more strained. I think the word limit hurt the ending because it could've used a bit more space to breathe (my story was dick-punched by the word limit too, I suspect), especially for how well paced the rest of the story was. I don't know anything about wrestling but I was able to hang with the story, and the dad coming in as kind of the big baddie was a nice touch.

That said, the dad was the one character I had a problem with. Probably also a victim of word limit. The fact that he would come in and be so blunt about the scene is great characterization (though it felt a hair like he was ticking all the boxes of a negligent parent) but there's no real reaction or payoff to him. What do the trio think of Terry and his father as they're leaving? How does that new dynamic play out (I'm thnking Terry's dad, not the trio)? Might be personal preference, but I always like a mostly happy ending with one ominous things hanging over them, like they got away with it but they'll never get away, you know?

Anyway, well done.

RhysWare's picture
RhysWare from Worcester, England is reading The Warriors July 2, 2014 - 2:50pm


Finally got round to reading this one.

Overall, I really enjoyed this one. Good opening, had me from the first sentence. Idea's original, I personally have not read anything like it, so kudos for that.

I think I would have liked maybe a little longer with Terry and the conclusion within the room, and perhaps have the dynamics between Billy, Spencer and Tori draw out a little longer at the end in the apartment, but still, it was good.

The writing was strong, and there were some great direct lines. I particularly liked: Terry Tornado is an asshole. However, there were a couple I didn't like, such as this, where you use engine in the same sentence twice: They were like the engines of a monster truck revving its engine just as it’s about to crush a line of cars.

There were quite a few typos and minor mistakes here, but nothing that couldn't be fixed easy.

Overall, it's a thumbs up from me. Something I really enjoyed, and I'd definitely like to read more of your writing.


Neil Krolicki's picture
Neil Krolicki from Denver is reading Consider This, Heartbreaker & Want Me July 2, 2014 - 3:18pm

Hey Hector, 

Really interesting story idea and a unique setting in the opener - can’t say I can recall reading any stories that have touched on the ‘backyard wrestling’ idea at all, so cheers for creativity.

You dropped three names into the very first sentence, which I think is a tough order for readers to have to start remembering the whole crew right off.  Making my way through the first paragraph I found myself having to refer to that opening sentence to see who did what to who.  You might consider spacing out the intros, like 'Spencer brings the florescent bulb down hard, splitting skull meat as it explodes.' - 'Blood makes webs from the shaved top of Carlos' head where the bulb connected.' - keeping your action but giving a little breathing room to the intros.  

The dialog has some funny bits, but it doesn’t feel organic overall - I get stuck on this too and reading it out loud (literally) is a good way to ‘hear’ what’s not hitting true to the ear. 

The narration has several instances of retelling details already know about,  you could really economize your word count by stripping out some of the exposition that tells what you’ve already shown.  I was anxious to find the meat of the story’s conflict so I was really pushing quickly through the exposition between 6 and 10 quite a bit - could use some compression there, IMO.

Why Billy would try to set up a sell-back of stolen goods with Terry was really lost on me - it’s an action that I just couldn’t imagine so that set a tone of skepticism for the rest of the story.   Once Terry got the call that his bag was stolen by Billy, wouldn’t he instantly go over there to violently reclaim it? (based on the characterization you’ve built for Terry as a thug)? 

There’s some good writing here, but you might do another pass on the dialog and see about revisiting the motivation leading to the climax. Hope some of this will be useful to you in the re-write.

Thanks for sharing - NK

madsmaddox's picture
madsmaddox from Berkshire is reading Fated July 3, 2014 - 5:04am


thumbs up! The first 5 pages were a little potboiler for me (I would've preferred some better action with the backyard wrestling sequences), you hit your stride after this and it picks up, when this happened I really got into it. The essence of the story I've seen elsewhere but you put a fresh spin on it. The ending was handled with such maturity and works perfectly.

Take my comments with a pinch of salt.

Good stuff!

All the best


Liam Hogan's picture
Liam Hogan from Earth is reading Hugo Nominations July 3, 2014 - 5:18am

Hi Hector,

Nice intriguing start, strong writing, and a fun world to set the story in.

Do we need to find out what RBWL stands for earlier? You get it in there, but 5 pages in.

Cause of hubris - "case" perhaps?

Not sure I buy Tori listening to a full account of the days proceedings. It'd be like someone describing the football game they just saw - either you saw it to, or it's a bore to relate. Even someone who is a fan. You could probably have Spence start, and Billy interrupt? Might use that to show (more) the hurt that he wasn't there?

Ultimately the conceit is that teenagers can set up their own wrestling league, and in the WT version, complete with champs belt. To drive this forward, you need to make that believeable. Maybe have it starting to be a big success before WT turn up (as they would then have cause to jump on band wagon? As it is you have the weed dealing cover, which is great, but to start it in the first place?) And do we believe people getting hurt (glass in forehead!) though unpaid? Also - betting? In addition to a fiver to attend, is there a betting element?

The other conceit is neatly deflated at the climax - these teenagers seem to be living in an adult-less world, right until the real thing steps in. On that matter, do you need to do something with the belt? What's the belt doing in the bag? If this was his dad's belt, say, and the Woodland Terrace is also "attached"? Or if Terry is Terry Junior?

Jaime / James. Decide on one?

It ends a little abruptly (word count limit?), though the last line is cute - perhaps re-inforced if Terry's dad echoes the "unreal" sentiment - "living in a fantasy world - when are you gonna get real?" comments?

All in all, a good piece, there's a sense of genuine menace at Terry's appartment. You could heighten this a tad - by having a more visceral reaction to the implausibility of a gun (these estate kids - it's not that bad an estate...)

Thanks for the read,





Hector Acosta's picture
Hector Acosta from Dallas is reading Fletch July 3, 2014 - 6:32am

Hey everybody,

Just wanted to give a big thank you to everyone that's read this so far. There seems to be a consensus about the meeting with Terry and his dad, so I'm planning to rework this. I might play around with the beginning half-maybe have Spencer already be aware of the theft so I can cut a lot of that conversation (much as I like it) which would give me more room on the back end. Also considering trying to make this into a novella.

Either way, like I said, all your comments and thoughts are much appreciate. If I haven't reviewed your story, or you have something else you rather I look at, let me know, always happy to repay the favor.

tooth's picture
tooth from Dallas is reading City of Thieves July 3, 2014 - 6:11pm

Hey Hector. Greetings from Dallas.

This is a cool story. I haven't read any backyard wrestling stories, it's a nice original piece. I like the characters. They're all fairly distinct. Carlos and James (sometimes Jaime?) seem about the same, but that's probably OK since they feel like comic relief to me.

Tori is a good character. Billy contrasts with Spencer well.

I like how things escalate to the point that you forget these are all teenagers, and then the dad comes home and everyone is a kid again. I like that Spencer takes a stand at the end, but wasn't crazy about him crying with his eyes closed while doing it. I don't expect him to kick ass, but I'd rather have him sit there stone cold and then maybe piss himself when it's all over.

The idea that Tori used the key from her ex-boyfriend's dad's apartment to steal the bag seems a bit too far fetched. I'd rather she just sweet talked Terry while Billy slipped in the back or something.

I'm not sure what year this is... but would Spencer be video recordining as well as taking notes?

Overall, good stuff. I give it a thumbs up.



Devon Robbins's picture
Devon Robbins from Utah is reading The Least Of My Scars by Stephen Graham Jones July 4, 2014 - 3:44am

Hey Hector,

This was just a fun story to read. I don't really have anything to add, other than a missing word here and there. One thing is the split dialogue. You used it perfectly, but maybe a bit too much. 

I agree that the character development was really good in this. You didn't even have to state the age of these characters. Just the way they acted had them painted clearly in my head. The relationship dynamic, with the pointless for-fun sex, is very relatable. All the pieces of the teenage reality fit just right.

Good job. And good luck with the story.


Chacron's picture
Chacron from England, South Coast is reading Fool's Assassin by Robin Hobb July 4, 2014 - 10:17am

Hi Hector,

I didn't get on with this at all. I thought I was just in the wrong mood for it during my first read, but I always go back for a second go before doing the crit whenever that happens. Second time around, I couldn't shake that feeling that this story simply didn't hold my interest. Here's why it wasn't really my thing:

I was reading about wrestling, which doesn't interest me, and the details in this story didn't make me change my mind about that - sometimes stuff I don't really seek out can suddenly become engaging to me through the right words, but that didn't happen with this story. I couldn't get into the feeling behind these guys in the ring, or the rivalry between them and the other wrestlers down the road, and because that's what the rest of the story hinged on I was probably lost as your reader straight away.

With a title like False Impressions and the opening with people smashing stuff into each other, I wondered if I was reading about a magic show to begin with. When I realised it was wrestling, I just didn't feel the guys reactions were right. You've got one guy writing in a notebook while the others are having a fight, and then you switch from present tense to past and I can't figure out if this is a mistake or to show that part of the conversation happened before the events unfolding in the present, like a flashback moment of sorts. If it's the latter, I don't usually mind that, but I don't find it works for me with present tense narratives; instead of present / past I find it's usually more effective as past / pluperfect. Now that I write this, I'm not sure this is a story that works well in present tense at all. Perhaps if it had been past I might have felt differently about the feel of it.

The idea of Billy selling Terry back his own bag of weed is frankly ridiculous. I don't get the impression Billy is a dimwitted character, and would surely figure that if Terry has noticed a bag of weed going missing and suddenly got a call about a weed deal from the opposition down the road, then he's going to put two and two together, therefore the meeting will be a setup. In the end, this is exactly what happens and nothing about that surprised me. I was already safe in the knowledge that I was going to watch these guys get it all wrong, and maybe even get themselves killed, and at that point I was almost hoping they did.

That leads me into the next point: the part that did get me interest and then my attention was Terry's behaviour - the tough guy act, and being the one smart enough to know he was getting taken for a ride by your story's main characters. Then that's followed by Terry's father getting involved, and the roles getting reversed. I liked that idea, and you did a good job of making me feel something for Terry and gave me an emotional investment in this story for the first time. This is where I started wondering what it would have been like if you'd told the story with Terry as the main character - I liked the bad guy who gets taught a lesson by someone higher up the chain far more than the guys I was supposed to have sympathised with.

As a suggested change to the story, that's a pretty big one, and if I were receiving that kind of advice I'd think long and hard before probably not taking it, but there you have it. I haven't read any of the other reviews, but it's had enough up votes to make me think that perhaps I'm just that minority you're not going to reach with the story you want to tell this time around.

Hope something here helped. -C.

Tom Lydon's picture
Tom Lydon from Britain July 5, 2014 - 10:00am

I really, really liked this. I thought it was a great little slice of human drama, full of dumb teenagers making bad decisions in an entertaining way. I thought I was going to be put off by the wrestling aspect - but you draw the characters and the situation so well, this transcends a lack of interest in the overall setting, for me anyway.

Like others have said, the climax could be expanded. You suggested you might cut Spencer hearing about the theft - I really liked this bit, and I think it does a good job of illustrating Spencer and Billy's characters.

I would definitely read a longer novella-version of this, if you ever get around to it. Thanks for a great story...!

Eddie McNamara's picture
Eddie McNamara from NYC is reading High as the Horse's Bridles July 7, 2014 - 11:43am

Hey Hector,

Big opening line. Perfect for this story.

I enjoyed the world you chose to set the story in. You did a very credible job of world building. The teenagers seemed like dopey teenage backyard wrestlers. 

There were some tense changes that jarred me out of the story for a second. 

I think it would work better if you either expanded the story to 7-10k words and gave more detail or machete edited it and told the story at a frantic pace. 

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) July 8, 2014 - 2:25pm

I was a little torn with this one. There’s some good stuff in here, but it didn’t quite grab me as I’d expect. I like the backyard wrestling angle, though I thought the action could have been a little more dynamic. You keep cutting to Spencer writing in his notebook, and the affects any flow you build with the action sequence. It’s a little efed-lite. It could be a really strong first paragraph, but that first line is strangely passive.

What you do very well is create good characters. I can believe in these people. The dialogue is pretty strong too, and I do like the elements of humour that creep in. Carlos and James are clearly only good enough for taking shots to the head, and both of them come across as realistically dim-witted. These are all boys playing roles, whether it’s wrestlers, Vince McMahon, or wannabe gangsters. The dad appearing at the end punctures their games wonderfully well.

The idea of selling the stuff back to Terry is a strange one, even when you consider that it’s a teen, or at least a very young man, who comes up with it. It’s a hard one to buy.

Ultimately it gets a thumbs up from me, because the parts I like outweigh the parts I don’t like so much. Character is everything here, and you nail that. I wish you all the best with this one.

Joe P's picture
Joe P from Brainerd, MN is reading Wheel of Time July 10, 2014 - 5:04am


This is a good one. Your characters came off very real and authetic. Each characters was unique and brought there own piece to the story. Spencer has a nice arch. I loved that.

The ending did leave me hanging a little bit. I guess I imagined the competition escalating between the two federations. But I've never had a gun to my head and Spencer's conclusion that there wrestling isn't "real" fixes the theme and his arch. Maybe what's missing is some foreshadowing that Spencer is ready to leave the backyard wrestling world behind and move on to bigger things.  I get the competition between him and his brother and his desire to lose weight, get cut and get girls, but before the last paragraph it seems like his only motivation was to make RBWL more successful than it's ever been. We see his compulsion right off the bat as he's taking notes during the match. That is an engaging character trait, but in order for us to feel like he "wins" at the end of the story, I think he has to feel a little tired or jaded with the backyard wrestling scene. Just some thoughts.

Your writing flowed nicely and I enjoyed your dialogue a lot. Awesome setting. Overall, a lot of fun to read. Good luck in the contest!

Joshua Chaplinsky's picture
Joshua Chaplinsky from New York is reading a lot more during the quarantine July 10, 2014 - 3:12pm

Hey Hector,

I'm here because you were (still are) such a presence in the official Arrest Us thread. You are right: being shameless and participating does work!

On to the story. I liked the simplicity of the crime, and the world you chose to set it in. It was all integrated well. None of it overshadowed the characters themselves. The story wasn't about wrestling, It was about Spencer and Billy. And even though I don't like wrestling, I could still enjoy the story.

It also had good momentum. Things could move a bit quicker in the beginning, like some people pointed out, but I always felt like the story was going somewhere. It had a purpose. The character's had goals. And at least Spencer (who I viewed as the main character) had a character arc.

Couple criticisms:

Spencer doesn't address his brother's truancy until later in their initial conversation, and then it is almost an afterthought. I would think that would be the first thing on his mind. If Billy cared as much about wrestling as we are led to believe, I think he would have chosen a different time to steal the belt. And I think Spencer would have been anxious about his brother not being at the match.

Also, even though he seems like a trouble-maker, I think Billy showing up at a rival wrestling match and calling them wanna-be's is a little thin as far as a catalyst for the rivalry.

Why would they wander around looking for Terry's place if Tori knows where it is? I know Billy is being stubborn, but it just seems silly. They could still walk by/discover the wrestling ring even if Tori is leading them directly.

I think Carlos and James are kind of wasted when you leave them at the ring. And the way they are left behind. It makes them seem extraneous to the story, and it also seems convenient for what happens in the apartment.

"You heard the dad, the gun wasn't even loaded!" —actually, I think it was Terry who said that.

As far as the ending, some readers commented on it feeling a bit rushed. I didn't have a problem with the amount of involvement Terry's Dad had. I like how this is a "children's" story, and their world is invaded by an adult at the end. But I did think Spencer's realization that "wrestling wasn't real," came a little out of nowhere. I didn't see that coming, didn't feel like it was built to as well as you built to the climax of the action. I think it needs to be a more gradual process. You could definitely trim the first half of the story and spend some more time there.

Anyway, hope some of this is helpful. Good luck with the contest!

Tim Hennessy's picture
Tim Hennessy July 11, 2014 - 9:26am


I like the concept of rival backyard wrestling groups and the dynamic between Spencer, his brother and Tori. I especially liked that Tori was into wrestling too and was a participant.

The story's voice is, for the most part, strong and clear.
As someone else pointed out there were a few instances when you jumped around a bit with tense, which was confusing. The instance that stuck out for me was in the opening scene when Carlos is picking the glass from his head, rushing to James and then there's a flashback to Spencer explaining the concept of hubris and it's relation to his motivation.

It's a funny scene that with some reworking will help smooth out the jumpiness. What I love the most about this story is the tone. There are so many great subtle comic touches that add such a distinct personality and relatability to the characters.

The notion of hubris is introduced and runs throughout the story. It's something you could work with more.
Maybe the blinding effects of hubris are also more evident in Spencer. He may think he has related to Tori on a more intellectual level than his brother, his affection for Tori along with his hubris of getting her in way not like his brother, might blind him to Tori’s ulterior motivations. He might get an idea that Tori might've been setting them up in the final walk home. That realization might hurt him worse than his brush with death.

Tori is a great character with unrealized potential. She’s character with vague motivations that you could better define and use to create more tension and perhaps a better payoff to the end of the story. While in the apartment after the Terry pulls the gun and threatens Billy and Spencer she seemed not bothered to be sticking around Terry. Her nonchalant response to the ease of Billy leaving her seemed to rings false. Or underdeveloped. It’s a scene where you build tension and then it deflates. It’s a scene where hubris is at work and kids are playing adult without any thought of the consequences – how could you escalate this further? It doesn’t have to end in a shoot out or massive bloodshed. I like that the stakes involved with this story are “smaller” and more of the everyday petty crime variety, because it allows the characters instead of crime to be the focus. Narratively speaking, you could play with the expectation that something bad will happen to these kids in the apartment as they all try to be something they’re not yet. The fear may be more impactful than bloodshed and the realization that Tori or Billy might have had more menacing motives might be a better ending that the one you’ve have. How many times as kids did really bad shit almost happen and it was just as memorable as the moments where shit went down? Like I think Nik suggested the “We got away with it but they’ll never get away” kind of ominous ending would be more impactful.

This is a very dialogue driven story and it’s certainly one of your strengths and one of the aspects I enjoyed most. I know the comment had been made about splitting dialogue and it’s a stylistic choice that you do well and think you should stick with. It gives the delivery pauses and a more natural rhythm while allowing for description or action to occur. The one thing I’d suggest watching out for is getting too descriptive with the dialogue attributes. Use that moment to show the reader how the dialogue was delivered.

Overall, I enjoyed this story a lot and think with a few more drafts you’ll have a very distinct fun story that we don’t see often enough in crime fiction.

Let me know if I can be any further help. 


Cmangano's picture
Cmangano from Maine July 11, 2014 - 3:16pm

Good story. All of the major characters are particularly well developed. I found the beginning paragraph a little confusing as the three boys were introduced so close together. I had to go back to try to give each on a face, which I found a little distracting. After that everyone is clearly described and I had no trouble keeping track of the characters. I like that you mention Spencer's knowledge of wrestling regulations like how far from the ground the ring should actually be. It's a nice touch in pointing out how serious he is as a fan.

There are a few hints peppered in about Spencer growing up. He's thinking more about girls and is starting to think that "playing wrestling" is a little silly. I would like to se a few more lines about this change in him, just to bring the point out a bit more.

Along with a few spelling and grammatical errors, I noticed that you call James Jaime a few times and then switched back. I don't know if this was intentional, but it was confusing for me. Similarly I noticed that you call Billy Bill twice in a row, after only ever referring to him as Billy. Even though it's a nickname, it tripped me up, but that might just be a personal thing. Another edit would have probably cleared these problems up.

Thanks for the story, good luck.

big_old_dave's picture
big_old_dave from Watford, about 20 miles outside London, Uk July 12, 2014 - 8:51am

Hi Hector, 

A really intresting and orginal idea you've got here and some great character conflicts too, At first I throught Tori was setting them all up for an ambush but it sterred away from that and went in a really intresting direction. 

I like the idea of teenagers on the edge of a larger dark world filled with criminals. The last lines are really good too. 

On the downside, there are a few typos and sentence structure issues and alo the opening fight the way it is at the moment did take more than one read through to understand. 

Great stuff mate, A thumbs up from me. 

Alec Cizak's picture
Alec Cizak July 15, 2014 - 9:27am

I think there's a great story here.  I do think, however, that writing it in the present tense puts limits on it.

Hector Acosta's picture
Hector Acosta from Dallas is reading Fletch July 15, 2014 - 12:09pm

Hi Alec,


Can you elaborate if you don't mind? I generally write past tense, so this was my first attempt at present tense and am curious what you felt worked/didn't work.


kevymetal's picture
kevymetal from Halifax, NS July 16, 2014 - 2:42pm

I dug this. I especially liked how "hubris" really nailed what being a teenager is like. Of course the Woodland Terrace ring has gotten complaints (rather than daring people to complain). Of course Terry's gun isn't loaded and he actually has very little power in his own home. Even, as Spencer points out, wrestling itself is scripted and entirely fake. The action and the theme work really well together. Nicely done.

Aud Fontaine's picture
Aud Fontaine from the mountains is reading Catch-22. Since like, always. July 16, 2014 - 9:08pm


I probably started, abandoned and came back to this story more times than all of the other stories I've had misgivings about combined and now, having finished it, I'm still not entirely sure how I feel about it. Aside from the occasional typo ("as" instead of "an",a missing or unnecessary quotation mark here and there, sentences missing conjunctions, etc.) it's a very well written story. You clearly have talent and I think in the end that obvious presence of talent is what made me dislike it simply because, not to sound rude, I was bored. I was really, really bored. The entire time I was reading I found myself struggling to finish all the while thinking "This guy can obviously do way, way better." You have a solid premise, a good handle on your characters but in the end I just could not bring myself to give a fuck. Again, I am so sorry if this sounds harsh, I don't mean it to be. You kept setting up these situations that had so much promise and they always seemed to end in anticlimax. For instance when you unveil the bag of weed and have Billy (sometimes Bill) adamently declare that they're going to use it to turn massive profits somehow only for him to turn around one scene later and decide to take it back to Terry. What kind of deal did they really think they were going to get? Then you had the scene at Terry's house which was just overflowing with potential for high stakes tension only to turn into a "Damn kids!" moment. I can see what you were going for and can appreciate the kids playing at being grownups angle but as it is it just feels like another let down. Why not let someone actually get hurt? Doesn't the dad coming home right at that second feel a little too coincidental? I just feel like you could've driven your point about cocky teens much deeper if you'd actually shown some of the consequences of what happens when kids start playing with guns and big ol' dufflebags of weeds. 

I really did want to like this but in the end just felt disappointed. Feel completely free to disregard my comments though as I can see that I'm clearly in the minority. You're obviously a very gifted writer and I wish you all the best. 


Damon Lytton's picture
Damon Lytton from Augusta, Kansas is reading Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow July 19, 2014 - 8:55am

Hi Hector,

I liked this piece.  Well-drawn characters.  Great dialogue that always felt genuine.  And a viewpoint that is universal.  I love how important all this feels.  Cross-town rivals and giant bags of weed would be big events for these kids - even if they were forgotten for a few moments of bouncing breasts.  And the theme of the story is hammered home by the image of the "black notebook ending up at the back of his closet, waiting for him to hopefully rediscover in a couple of years and laugh at how dumb he was back then."  Like the notebook, I can see Spence stumbling upon this memory years later and realizing how small it all was.  But in the present (which is why I think it should stay present-tense) it's the most important moment in these characters' lives.

All of the story's wrinkles have been pointed out above, so I'll just add that I think you could do with a bit more tension between the brothers.  We see it from Spencer's POV, as we should, but I could use just a few more highlights of how close they used to be and how close they aren't now.  Also I think Billy should take a stand when the gun is pointed at his brother's head.

Other than that, it was a thumbs up for me.

Zack McCormack's picture
Zack McCormack from Indianapolis, IN is reading Empire of the Sun July 23, 2014 - 6:00pm

Hey Hector,I enjoyed the story man. I’ve always found it hard articulating certain concepts from a child’s perspective as one has to maintain a degree of innocence, but I felt you did an excellent job of this. The pacing was good and the characters were well developed. The bouncing chest portion as well as “drenched in sweat and shame” line made me laugh. Thumbs up from me.

One thing to possibly build upon is developing the tension at the end of the story more. I’m trying hard to discern my reasons for making this comment but I feel like the climax of the story seemed to come fast and go by quickly. More tension between the brothers and between Terry and everyone else could have enhanced the moment. My only reservation about saying that is that most of the other stories I’ve read are much more over the top so I think I was expecting something drastic to happen at the end. That said, this general change of pace was something that appealed to me.

Anyway, I did enjoy the read. [Upcoming shameless self-promotion] If you have a chance, I would appreciate any feedback you could give me on my short, A Christmas Story (

Thanks for read,

Bob Pastorella's picture
Bob Pastorella from Groves, Texas is reading murder books trying to stay hip, I'm thinking of you, and you're out there so Say your prayers, Say your prayers, Say your prayers July 29, 2014 - 7:09am

Nice story. Thumbs up from me. Didn't really see anything wrong other than some typos, the usual stuff. It flowed well and the characters came alive on the page. Not much I can add that others haven't already addressed. Well done, sir. 

herlit's picture
herlit August 23, 2014 - 12:58pm

Hi, Hector

Nice hook, strong story. I think you could've stretched tension at Terry's place. 

In the end, I'd join this two paragraphs and add some sensory detail-her perfume, skin.

She ignores Billy and continues to hug him. After a few seconds, Spencer hugs her back. They stand on the sidewalk pressing their bodies together.This is real, Spencer thinks, hugging Tori tighter. This is real life.

Tori is hot!