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Avery Quinn's picture


By Avery Quinn in Arrest Us

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Dear Editor and Readers:

Please consider my story, "Bloodsake," for Litreactor's Arrest Us Crime Fiction Writing Challenge. It is a revenge story about family and consequences.

Thank you very much for reading,


Avery Quinn


Damon Lytton's picture
Damon Lytton from Augusta, Kansas is reading Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow July 6, 2014 - 2:12pm

Howdy Avery,

I liked this story.  It was simple in its premise but filled with consequence.  The dialogue was good for the most part, although there are a couple of spots where it seemed a bit unnatural (but maybe that's just dialect).

I would have liked to see more description in here and definitely more backstory.  I understand why the boys want to get back at the step-father, but I'd like to know why the father wants to.  Does he know how the step-father treats his boys?  Is it just a territorial, or is it something more?  Another problem I have is the father using the car's air vents as the delivery system for the poison.  After seeing his kids ride in that car the previous day, didn't he think it was possible they'd be riding in it the next day.  It seems like he's playing kind of loose with a lot of lives.  I'm not sure I'd ever take any chance poisoning my kids - not that I have any.

Other than some of these points, I really liked how this one played out.  Sometimes characters are trying for the same things but are working against each other to get there, resulting in unintened consequences.  Good luck in the future.

Avery Quinn's picture
Avery Quinn from Little Elm, Texas is reading Hot Water Music, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, July 7, 2014 - 5:01pm


Thank you for your insights on the story. I agree with you about some lack of clarity on motive and circumstances. I think I took certain parts of the plot and characters for granted and failed to make them clear for the reader. Regardless of what happens with this story in the contest, I really do appreciate your input and will keep them in mind when revising this story.

Thank you for reading.

Hector Acosta's picture
Hector Acosta from Dallas is reading Fletch July 7, 2014 - 9:36am


I really enjoyed this story. Your writing is strong through most of it and helps to create this foreboding mood through the piece that I think really works. The dialogue shines in a lot of parts- especially with Senior, and damn if that wasn't a perfect ending that wrapped things up without spelling them uot for everyone.

I thought that the beginning was good, but also slightly awkward. For example, I THINK I get what this lines mean, but they're written feels like it's missing a word or two.

At last the oldest grades meandered into the grass and broke apart, came together again in new groupings. He watched carefully, though he knew the moment well. When the one with his face and his eyes and the one with his gait and manners would find each other and wait on the curb for the white car to take them away.

I like the 'with his face and eyes.." bit, but again, I had to stop to figure out what exactly you were saying and how it correlated with the sentence before it. You might want to try a second pass to make it as smooth and seamlessly as possible.

A lot of your description is good, but I think it could be cut down just a tad. For example:

He led them through the hall, to their room.

I would change that just to "He led them to their room".

They pulled into the driveway and the oldest hopped out to open the garage. The LTD pulled in and parked and they followed the stepfather inside

I'm not sure you need all that description. At best it's superflous, and at worst it lulls the reader into a state where the story feels like 'this happened, then this happened, then this happened'.

Like I previously said, your dialogue is really good, but as the story continues, it feels like too much of a good thing. Everyone begins to speak in the same style, and instead of making them distinct, they all started to sound exactly the same. I would advise for you to maybe pull back a bit on it. Give the reader just enough so that they can get an idea of how they're supposed to sound, but then allow them to fill in the rest themselves.

I'm kinda split about the section with the MC and Senior. I can see that it's important and provides a path towards the ending, but at the same time it felt a bit meandering and it was hard for me not to want to skim over it. I wonder if maybe you can try a bit of their dialogue and focus only on the raticide as well as the conversation at the end about what he's been doing (both which I felt were really strong.)

These are just small nitpicks and things I feel will make the story stronger than it already is. Good job on it, and thanks for sharing.

Avery Quinn's picture
Avery Quinn from Little Elm, Texas is reading Hot Water Music, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, July 7, 2014 - 4:57pm


Thank you very much for all of your comments. I greatly enjoy writing dialogue and a lot of what I write is centered around conversations, so I especially appreciate your point that each character began to sound the same. That's something I've never really noticed about my writing but now I will be sure to keep it in mind.

As I said, thank you for all of your comments, I very much appreciate your insights. Thank you for reading.

Zack McCormack's picture
Zack McCormack from Indianapolis, IN is reading Empire of the Sun July 14, 2014 - 9:32am

Avery, I really enjoyed the story! You have a knack for writing dialogue. That was probably the point that stood out most to me.  I found myself really getting into the back and forth between the father and Senior despite the conversation having a fairly reserved tone. Kudos.

I think my main problems were already expressed by Damon for the most part. More backstory into the why the father hates the step-father as much as he does would be beneficial. It’s fairly clear why the kids hate him, because he beats them, but how does the father know this? I guess you just assume that he has been spying on the family for quite a while now, which would make sense if he has been able to get a key that works for the step-father’s LTD.  It then strikes me as curious why he would go about using the rat poison strategy to kill the man when it would seem that this would have such a large potential to kill his boys. It is stressed how powerful this stuff is so I feel that just generally targeting the powder at the driver would effect everyone in the car. In addition, references are made to “14” years or presumably however long the step-father has been involved. I feel like there needs to be more justification for the father to still be this invested in the situation.

All that said, I really did enjoy the story and gave it a thumbs up. If you have time, I would appreciate any feedback you could give me on my story, “A Christmas Story” Being a beginning writer, I’m just looking for ways to improve.(
Thanks for the read and your time,

Seb's picture
Seb from Thanet, Kent, UK July 17, 2014 - 7:57am

about 3,0000 words

That worried me, but I presume you meant 3,000.

Anyway, very nice work, well-written and excellent dialogue. Like it.

Avery Quinn's picture
Avery Quinn from Little Elm, Texas is reading Hot Water Music, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, July 20, 2014 - 10:24am

Yep, I noticed that once I had already posted it.

Thank you for the feedback, and thanks for reading.

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) July 18, 2014 - 12:54am

There’s some good stuff here, and I liked the concept.

I note that some comments have latched onto why the father hates the step-father. I take a slightly different view. His wife has shacked up with someone else, and he doesn’t get to see his kids anymore. I don’t think he needs any more reason than that to hate. I think his actions are extreme, but not unbelievable, and I don’t think there is any need to expand on that relationship.

My one quibble here is with the stepfather. I was perhaps a little disappointed that he was violent towards the boys. The evil step-parent is such a well-worn trope. I think it would have been a different take if he’d been more… normal. He doesn’t have to be benevolent, but having him just be a normal guy trying to raise kids that aren’t his, that would feel fresher. Having him be a beater just excuses the real dad’s actions. He’s attempting murder, but he knows nothing of what is going on (as far as we know). He also can’t know that nobody else will be in the car.

The father is desperate, but there has been a lot of time passed. Senior says the step dad has been something to the boys ten times as long as the dad himself was. That’s a long time given the boys rough ages, so why wait this long to do something? What is the catalyst here? There needs to be a tangible reason for him doing this. The ending is nicely tragic depending on how you read it. Personally I see it that the step-dad and all three kids are going to be poisoned. I think the tragedy would be stronger if you took out the step-dad’s abuse, and ratcheted up the father’s desperation.

Solid thumbs up as it is – best of luck with this one.

Cmangano's picture
Cmangano from Maine July 23, 2014 - 12:07pm

I think this is well written. You lose me for a bit when your MC is talking to senior, there's a lot of catch up and extra discussion that slows down the tension that's built up them saying they need to "talk" and going out back.I know that you meant to leave the ending ambiguous but my take on it is that he purposely poisons both the Step-father and Children, so that (if he knows about the abuse) they don't have to be abused, or because he feels entitled to them as their father and "will stop at nothing" to insure no one else gets to raise them. This seems out of character for him though.