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Simon McCullagh's picture

Character Assassination

By Simon McCullagh in Arrest Us

How It Rates

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Once you have read this story, please make sure you rate it by clicking the thumbs above. Then take a few minutes to give the author a helpful critique! We're all here for fun but let's try to help each other too.


This is a short comic tale about various levels of stupidity.  I hope it makes you laugh.


Amy Taylor's picture
Amy Taylor June 23, 2014 - 11:43am


Thanks for sharing your story. I liked it and thought it had a great use of tension. I wasn't expecting what was coming and it most certainly wasn't predictable. 

I didn't really like Brett. I'm not sure if I'm meant to like him so maybe that's a good thing. When I was reading the beginning I thought agent jones was a phoney so the language used was spot on.

Interesting read and good use of speech. Well done. 



Simon McCullagh's picture
Simon McCullagh June 23, 2014 - 12:17pm

Thanks very much Amy, I'm really glad you liked my story ;-)

Joshua Chaplinsky's picture
Joshua Chaplinsky from New York is reading a lot more during the quarantine June 24, 2014 - 2:42pm

Hey Simon,

Welcome to the competish. Hope my comments are helpful.

I'll come right out and say it—this story is pretty sophomoric. I'm not saying that as a negative or a positive. Just as a point of fact. Certain people will go for it, others will write it off. Me personally, I enjoy a good dose of the lowbrow from time to time. Comedy and Crime go well together. That being said, some of the jokes worked for me, and some of them fell flat.

Humor aside, this is a quick, easy read, and you give us a couple nice reversals towards the end. I think the first half of the story could do a better job leading up to that. As it reads now, it seems like an excuse to relay a series of dumb pranks. There is a tenuous progression up to the assassination plot, and you give us some motive for why Bret and Max might be in a prank war against each other, but I think it could all be woven together better. Make the story about more than just silly pranks. Make it about one-upmanship, a series of escalating events that get out of hand. Make it build. All the pieces are there. You just have to fit them together properly.

Another thing I noticed is that you really like your dialog tags. I think you could ease up on those a bit. (My personal favorite: ‘Sir, is there anything I can say so that you won’t hit me again, please?’ squirmed Bret.) Also, I find your science of air and dicks highly dubious, but I'm not a scientist, so what do I know?

On the formatting front, it doesn't look like you double-space, which might drive some people crazy. Here is a good formatting resource. Other than that, there were a few minor typos, but nothing major.

That's about it. Again, I hope you find this helpful. Good luck with it!

Simon McCullagh's picture
Simon McCullagh June 25, 2014 - 7:40am

Thank for your thoughts, think you missed the point a bit (it's not about one upmanship it's about the powers that be being akin to jackasses messing with each other and having a laugh along the way) and the tenuous progression up to the assassination plot is supposed to be tenuous, these are two idiots messing about. But we always look at a story and think how we would do it differntly, I do that all the time. The humour is definately low brow, it suits the nature of the two main characters and of course it isn't for everone, I would challenge anyone to find a joke that everyone thinks is funny. As for the air and penis thing, that actually happened to a friend of mine. Your point about the dialogue tags is a good one, that's something I need to develop in my writing.  As for the typos, I might have made some mistakes because I'm Irish and writing for an American audience with this piece, I may also have just made some mistakes ;-)   Again, thanks for your thoughts!

Joshua Chaplinsky's picture
Joshua Chaplinsky from New York is reading a lot more during the quarantine June 25, 2014 - 8:11am

Never fear, the jackassery of the Powers That Be definitely comes across. I just think you could have more rising action and less aimlessness in the early parts of the story without losing any of that.

Hector Acosta's picture
Hector Acosta from Dallas is reading Fletch June 25, 2014 - 5:24pm


There were some good throughout this, but the whole stor itself unfortunately didn't click with me. I don't require my characters to be likeable, but Bret to me didn't have much depth, and that made it hard for me to care about what happened to him.

He has some good lines in his dialogue with Agent Smith, but since almost everything he says is a joke or a smartass reply, they start to get overwhelming and run together. The other thing is that if Bret isn't taking the situation seriously, nor even showing any kind of internal monologue that he's worry about his situation, why should I?

The plot has a lot of potential, including the reversals, but as it's currently written, they happen too fast one after the other, without enough build up. Then the ending comes out almost out of nowhere. And what happens to Max? I would like to see more focus on him, or for him to be featured in the story as an actual character, considering how much the story talks about him.

Hope some of this helps.

Seb's picture
Seb from Thanet, Kent, UK June 26, 2014 - 11:56am

This is an interesting story. The majority of it happening in one room with two guys is a great idea, and then the ending is a nice echo. Also the double Matrix joke is quite funny, the self-aware use of Smith, then the eventual reveal of the protagonist's surname. The dialogue was good, there were a couple of lines that didn't feel authentic or seemed forced, but mostly it was natural and tongue-in-cheek, which I enjoyed. The dialogue tags, however, exhausted a lot of the energy you built up, and a lot of them seemed redundant (whimpered, shouted, squirmed, etc.). Take a quick look at this, it may help. I liked the idea of using almost entirely dialogue, but the story still needs a little work. Finally, the bottle story had me laughing. Read Guts by Chuck Palahniuk, if you haven't already. I have to say that the bottle story, combined with the lottery prank (which is genius) won me over, but I think you've got a lot of work to do before this is ready. Best of luck.

Simon McCullagh's picture
Simon McCullagh June 30, 2014 - 1:56pm

Thanks for the thoughtful feedback ;-)

Rakib Khan's picture
Rakib Khan from Bangladesh June 29, 2014 - 7:36am

Well, I had fun reading the story. The simplistic approach of having only a few characters and being humorous with poking fun at typical secret agent/spy trope was excellent. I really did like your jokes a lot but your prose seems to need a bit of work, in my opinion.

Simon McCullagh's picture
Simon McCullagh June 30, 2014 - 1:57pm

Thnaks for your feedback, there's a pattern developing in what people are saying, think I rushed parts of this a bit.

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) July 7, 2014 - 3:43am

This story is wholly dependent on the humour. If you find it funny, you’ll like the story, and vice versa. Both fiction and comedy are very subjective things, so it’s not a big surprise to see this one is split down the middle in terms of votes. It is very hard to write comedy, so kudos to you for trying it. The central idea is far from a bad one – an escalating series of pranks becoming more and more elaborate.

Unfortunately, I just don’t find it funny. I have no doubt there will be those who like it, but it just doesn’t run to my tastes. There were a couple of parts that I liked (best was probably “Do I exist?”), but it was more miss than hit for me personally. There seemed little internal logic besides setting up the next funny retort. Bret is purely there for humour reasons, and we don’t know him as a character, which means there is never any tension in what happens to him. It’s hard to take a character seriously when he tells what he thinks is a government agent that all he wants to do is go home and jerk off (twice).

Ultimately you can only write for yourself, and if others are on the same wavelength and enjoy it, than that’s a success. I think you’ll find an audience. Best of luck with this one.