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Carmine Raimondi's picture


By Carmine Raimondi in Arrest Us

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Two petty thieves and a criminal mastermind try to pull off the largest heist of their careers. They must fight both time, emotion, and an unknown enemy who is out for their blood! Will they succeed?


Carmine Raimondi's picture
Carmine Raimondi July 1, 2014 - 3:04pm

I hope you guys like this!

This is my first submission to LitReactor and I look forward to reading and discussing on this site!

Casey Hicks's picture
Casey Hicks from Brooklyn, NY is reading American Gods by Neil Gaiman July 12, 2014 - 9:34am

Hi, Carmine. I have to say first of all that I found the formatting a bit distracting. I don't know why the dialogue has the left line indent whereas the paragraphs of action just have the first line indented. You don't have to set off the dialogue like that. On that note, I felt like way too much of the story was told through the characters' conversation. Show us what's going on rather than having them narrate. For example:

“This person or persons is messing with us before we get killed. The torturer or tormenter”, said Ricky.

I don't think anyone would talk like that when fearing for their lives. While I do appreciate that you threw in swearing since that feels more natural with the tension, you don't have to censor yourself. I think we're all adults here and can take it.

Overall, the story didn't come together that well for me. The ending felt like too much of a coincidence, like a slasher film without quite setting Dwayne up as a serial killer. And the Christmas conceit felt very unecessary given the direction that the story took. It made for some cutesy metaphors that didn't add to the story, but that's all.

I think you have raw potential here. Maybe after the hardware store, your gang of thieves could receive some threatening message or a sign that they're being stalked. Give us some hint as to how Dwayne knows where to find them. Short, quick dialogue will help the pace along and increase the tension, and you'll have more space to play around with the action. Give the reader a visual.

EdVaughn's picture
EdVaughn from Louisville, Ky is reading a whole bunch of different stuff July 12, 2014 - 9:46am

Hey Carmine,

Sorry to say I wasn't digging this too much. The plot is a good idea but the execution was flawed. No offense but the dialogue isn't very good at all. It sounds like everyone is high-society, country club type people. Not very realistic for criminal characters with shady backgrounds.The punctuation is off also. You use a lot of ellipsis instead of just periods. Also, why are all the cuss words censored? There's a lot of expositional dialogue, too, with unnecassary information. For instance this paragraph sums up what I'm trying to say:

 “No! The cops were accusing us transporting a schedule II drug… And our whole plan if we got caught was to say we took the car for a joyride, and that we were going to return it at the end of the night… We didn’t touch that stuff back then. Drinking and pot, yes. But cocaine, no way!… Stan’s bosses would have beat the shit out of him if they thought he was using while he was working jobs for them… I was lucky, since I was fourteen I went to juvie for a little while and got probation after that… he went away and did a long sentence… Haven’t heard from him since”, said Tara.

So, an interesting story with flawed details. Or maybe your voice just didn't jive with me. Either way good luck with the re-write.

Seb's picture
Seb from Thanet, Kent, UK July 20, 2014 - 8:07am

Nice idea, but it needs some work.

Meet our three celebrants of this day.

I love this line, it sets your tone immediately. However, the next bit you should drop completely, and just go straight into the dialogue. It's all very tell and no show:

Ricky is the ring leader; highly intelligent but with some possible psychopathic tendencies. Willy and Tara are his gophers; not stupid themselves but their desperation has caused them to lose control of their own destinies.

As for your dialogue, people rarely say each other's names, particularly if they've known each other for a while, and definitely less than your characters do. Try using tags to identify who is speaking, and if necessary who they are speaking to, for example:

​“Isn’t it an old school building Ricky?”, said Willy.

Remove Ricky from this sentence and it still works. There was also a lot of exposition dropped into the dialogue, particularly during the heists. It reads like a script, whereas dialogue should flow naturally. You remove all action and have your characters explaining what is going on instead of showing us, for example:

“We’re going to also need some safety goggles, some utility gloves, and… grab those coveralls. We’re going to need to protect ourselves from debris, security cameras, and from leaving evidence… Quick, let’s get this stuff in the truck… we need load up the backseats… the hatch is all smashed”, said Willy.

Show us this happening. We don't need them to narrate it - you're the storyteller, you narrate it.

Don't censor your swear words. If someone says 'fuck', write fuck.

Where did Ricky get schematics from?

... Screw them!”, exclaimed Ricky as he ended his rant.

Try just using 'said Ricky' instead.

Why are they worried about passers by seeing their flashlights, when they've just blown open a wall with C4? That would shake the buildings down the street.

​Ricky shot three shoots into the end of the corridor. Just after that a Molotov Cocktail consisting of a burning open can of kerosene was tossed toward their end of the corridor.

This is supposed to be the most tense part of your story, but it reads very detached and passive.

The twist is an interesting idea, but doesn't quite work at the moment. I think that might be to do with your characters narrating everything instead of you showing us with description. It's almost like you've written a radio play, which is fine if it is a conversation based piece, but this is all action, and should read as such.

What happened to the money?

There's a few typos (steel instead of steal, cloths instead of clothes, crowed instead of crowd) and a few too many exclamation marks for my liking, including in the title, but this isn't a bad story. It just needs a lot of work, in my opinion. Don't take any of what I said as negative, it's just my thoughts on identufying areas you could improve. Read the craft essays on here. Best of luck.

Cmangano's picture
Cmangano from Maine July 20, 2014 - 4:19pm

Hi Carmine,

A lot of things stood out to me in this story.

Like Seb, I thought that you didn't need to describe the characteristics of each person in the first paragraph. If they are a certain way it will come across through their actions and dialogue throughout the story. Ricky's explanation to the other two are very long and seem almost robotic. I understand that he's the brains of the operation but he probably wouldn't have to spell everything out to his friends. The story of Tara's first arrest is also long and the parts about the boyfriend seem to take too much priority.

"So while most people were celebrating this holiday week by visiting friends and family, sipping eggnog and munching on fruitcake, Ricky sent Willy and Tara to do some Christmas shopping for him."

This sentence is almost identical in style and effect as the first. I would pick one and re-work the other.

Why do they choose to back the car into the store? They could break in a lot easier and not risk destroying their only means of escape. I kind laughed at the "sex scene". I hope that doesn't offend you. If anyone fed me the lines they were feeding each other I would laugh at them too.

I'm confused by where the C4 comes in, it almost seems like Ricky pulls it out of his back pocket. When the characters suspect that someone is screwing with them they spend a lot of time talking to each other and making plans, more likely they would just try to get out of there. The ending comes out of nowhere and seems like like a soap opera. There are way too many coincidences. It feels like you rushed it and were just trying to find an ending to wrap things up.

Please don't become too discouraged by negative feedback. I am also new to this and believe that all advice can be useful in becoming a better writer. you have a decent base story but I think this still needs another draft. Happy writing and good luck


Josh Zancan's picture
Josh Zancan from Crofton, MD is reading East of Eden by John Steinbeck July 21, 2014 - 8:54am


I couldn't get into the story.  Not because the story itself is bad or uninteresting, but narration would go a long way with this.  The dialoague is the both the main approach and also the biggest weakness.  Lines like "I plan on using your safe cracking expertise," "I love the way you look behind the wheel of a large SUV like this one," and "Willy how about this. ‘Circular Contractor Saw’… with a carbide blade," and many others are things I can't see anybody saying to another person, at least not in that way.  It's like they only exist to give the reader information that would otherwise be expressed through narration. 

I'm going to break my own critique rule and give an alternative approach (just as an example, this is by no means the "right" way to do it): 

"Willy, how about this?" she said, holding up a circular contractor saw.  Willy eyed the tool and nodded. 

"Yeah, grab that."  The carbide blade would be useful for cutting through [whatever material].  "And some extra blades too.  Pliers, sandpaper..." 

Something like that in terms of approach.  Maybe she wasn't holding up the saw, maybe she just pointed to it on a shelf and Willy was standing next to her.  I have no way of knowing.  But the fact that the characters are constantly explaining to each other things that they already know, are describing physical things that they are already aware of, or including unnecessary details in their dialogue was a strong put-off for me.  The narration that you do have is good.  Embrace it!

Hope this helps,


P.S. Not a writing critique, but for future reference, you don't need to censor your curse words when submitting.  Especially in crime stories.  Criminals say the word fuck, and that's perfectly fine.

Grant Williams's picture
Grant Williams from Wichita, KS is reading Friday July 21, 2014 - 9:55am

I've been thinking about this one most of my morning and I'm giving it a reserved thumbs up.  It doesn't deserve 0 likes, but it does need a lot of work.  It seems that the number one rule people throw around these days is show don't tell, and I'd say that usually applies to the narration, but cramming it all in the dialogue isn't the answer.  The reviewers above have done an excellent job of pointing out the weakest parts.  I would suggest picking one or two items and scrub your story to specifically repair those issues.  Start small by putting the cuss words in.  Then maybe tweak the formatting and spelling.  After that, remove some speech tags.  In no time I think you'd have something far more solid.  Don't be discouraged.  This is an amazing community and is a great tool for elevating your writing.  Best of luck.

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) July 23, 2014 - 1:58am

I’ve used the same metaphor a few times in my comments on contest entries this year, mainly because I think it is spot on. Writing is like building a sandcastle, and the first draft is just collecting the sand and dumping it in the sandbox. Over subsequent draft, the castle begins to take shape. I think what your story looks like, is an early draft, and apologies if that is not the case. You have the bones of the story, and you have the information there that you want to show. It’s just a little too rough right now.

Dialogue is key. You need to write it as someone would say it, otherwise it stands out for all the wrong reasons. The dialogue has lot of information dumping at the moment. They appear to talk for reasons of exposition. There is a tendency towards passive voice, especially during scenes of tension or action.

The good news is that these are not all that hard to fix. You have the potential, you just need to keep shaping it and polishing it, and you’ll get there before too long. Keep at it!