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Ben Solomon's picture

Ernest McKeever Pays Hell

By Ben Solomon in Arrest Us

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Ernest McKeever Pays Hell
By Ben Solomon
About 3,500 words

Ernest McKeever didn't blame his mother for dying. He never understood why she had to, but he never held that against her. Like so many times before in the McKeever household, there was hell to pay, and she died. That changed everything in Ernest McKeever's life. Some things more so. And for the first time in his life, he thought of a plan. If the plan worked, he'd never have to pay hell again.



Joseph Huckobey's picture
Joseph Huckobey July 1, 2014 - 6:36pm

So, I have a few different thoughts after reading your piece. First, I think you do a good job with pace and voice. I can sense the feeling that you're getting at. I like the story that you've set out. An abused boy framing his father for murder of his bullies. That's pretty good stuff.

If I have anything to offer it would be that this story could use another read or two even. There are some grammar errors and awkward phrases that take you out of the story. There is also a lack of dialog in there, and dialog is a good way to give your characters a voice.

I enjoyed reading your story.

YouAreNotASlave's picture
YouAreNotASlave from Birmingham United Kingdom July 6, 2014 - 12:01pm

Wow, really impressed with this. At first Iwas unsure if the lack of dialogue and detached style would work, but the story is very well crafted and the style makes it read almost like a fable or spoken story. Thestory itself is harrowing, old man mckeever is creepily believable and the tension is well maintained throughout, i reallyfelt and understoo ernests dread. Nothing much to say in terms of critique except for a few grammar and spelling things thatim sure youll pick up on a re read. A final thing i really enjoyed is that this story violates the show dont tell rule a lot -- and it really works. You take a straightforward plot and make it super original with this style. 


So yeah, v impressive and v enjoyable read. 


Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) July 13, 2014 - 5:12am

I’m going to have to give you an opposite view to Tom, while covering some of the same ground. There is a good story here, but I couldn’t engage at all with how you tell it. I really don’t think the tell over show works at all. There is no sense of tension, and very little characterisation on show. This is the kind of story where I really want to get into the head of the protagonist. He’s desperate, stuck between a rock and a hard place without any real way of getting out. I want to explore that, rather than be told in a dry way what he did about it.

The constant repetition here also niggled at me. Your protagonist is named constantly throughout, and always using his full name. Including the title there are 50 mentions of his full name. I get that it’s a stylistic choice, but it did grate on me a little.

There was one logic leap as well. His father beats on Ernest when he’s late, because he is needed to look after Franklin while he goes to his taxi job. Yet when Ernest calls from school, the dad is out and has left Franklin behind on his own. So clearly the father doesn’t actually need Ernest to be home necessarily, as he’s already shown he is willing to leave Franklin home alone.

Also, how is the father going to be fingered for the murders? You have a gun with no prints, because Ernest has polished them off. Presumably the gun is registered to him, which is why they turn up to arrest him, but he’ll have no powder residue on his hands (Ernest will), and so the evidence will be purely circumstantial.

Ultimately it’s up to you to decide what weight to put on any comments you receive. You’ve had two pretty much opposing views, so you could go either way. However you take this, best of luck with it. Keep writing.

Seb's picture
Seb from Thanet, Kent, UK July 15, 2014 - 6:35am

I hated the title. Then I read the story, and now I love the title. I liked the repetition. The story itself is full of clichés, but your style bulldozes through them and makes this intriguing and memorable. Like it.