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Tom Lydon's picture

Exit Interview

By Tom Lydon in Arrest Us

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Description

Christina's on the run in Thailand, hiding among the crowds of a temple festival - but her asshole drug-dealer boss isn't far behind, and really wants to know what happened to all the money and drugs she stole...

Comments

warrenpawlowski's picture
warrenpawlowski from Connecticut is reading The Dark Tower series June 30, 2014 - 10:23am

Enjoyable read, with some quick cuts I could see as though this were or could be a short film. I was very happy you explained the setting and the festival by the end, as that was a mild point of confusion until then. A few other points I think could help:

  • the ending was a little telegraphed by Mike's comments regarding claiming power, which could probably be cut or added to Cristina's revelatory speech near the end. 
  • the section after the third break begins from her perspective, but ends in his--not sure this was intended, as the other breaks seem to pinpoint a switch. It also starts with dialogue I can't quite place in relation to the story.
  • the exposition and dialogue is, at times, a little unbalanced, and while it could be revised somewhat, it works as it is.
Tom Lydon's picture
Tom Lydon from Britain July 5, 2014 - 7:32am

Waah - catching up on comments! Sorry for the delay in replying.

Thanks for your feedback. I know what you mean about telegraphing the ultimate ending - to an extent, I wanted a feeling of inevitability about it, but maybe it needs to be a bit less obvious. Also agree on the exposition balance.

The POV thing someone else mentioned as well - I went back and checked, and it is consistent, but evidently it looks like it switches. My indicator for this is internal thoughts, vs observed and interpreted actions - but I think some of Mike's observations about Christina make it seem like it's her POV. Will go back and rework...

Thanks again!

Hooper Triplett's picture
Hooper Triplett from Tucson, AZ is reading Fever Pitch June 30, 2014 - 7:14pm

The level of description detracts from the movement of the plot.  It was very difficult to engage with the storyline when I spent most of the time digging through the details of the scene. 

Minor quibble but there is some spelling and grammar stumbles that take you quickly out of the story.  Needs another read-through.

Tom Lydon's picture
Tom Lydon from Britain July 5, 2014 - 7:33am

Thanks for your feedback - the description thing really seems to be dividing people. Will look at it again...

Kip Casto's picture
Kip Casto from Norfolk,VA is reading Jonathan Kellerman Novels July 2, 2014 - 4:08pm

Fun to read. I enjoyed the pace and the banter. The set up and pay off worked very well, meaning that I disagree with Warren's review, the revenge of Mike worked great. The dialog seemed to drive the story and at times was a bit "try hard" but overall worked. I would have like to see a more physical revenge or set up for Mike, putting him in a "Locked Up Abroad" situation, since you are in Thailand. I give it a thumps up! 

Tom Lydon's picture
Tom Lydon from Britain July 5, 2014 - 7:36am

Thanks for the feedback - glad you liked the setup, and as I replied to Warren, I was going for a feeling of inevitability. Will look again at the dialogue - someone else mentioned the characters needing to sound more differentiated.

On the Banged Up Abroad style ending, I wanted to avoid this - both these characters are long-term operators in the country, and also the absolute last thing Christina wants is Mike in custody, talking to the Thai police... But perhaps the ending does lack a certain amount of drama.

Thanks again!

Seb's picture
Seb from Thanet, Kent, UK July 4, 2014 - 3:42pm

I have to agree with Hooper, I found this very difficult to get through due to the dense nature of the prose. It's well-written, but could do with streamlining. The setting was detailed and immersive, and the dialogue was good, it was just tough to engage with. I think, as mentioned, this could do with another revision, but that's just my opinion. Best of luck.

Tom Lydon's picture
Tom Lydon from Britain July 5, 2014 - 7:38am

Thanks for your feedback - I will definitely go back and look at this again. I was hoping to get across a sense of what was (to me) a fascinating and immersive event - but I don't want it to get in the way of the story. Thanks again!

Aud Fontaine's picture
Aud Fontaine from the mountains is reading Catch-22. Since like, always. July 4, 2014 - 8:49pm

Tom,

This story was pretty predictable but still fun nonetheless. I don't really agree with your other reviewers; I liked your descriptions. When you're setting a story in some place as exotic and beautiful as Thailand it's kind of nice to get a fuller sense of what's going on. Not many stories take place in Thailand and those that do are usually designed for Thai people so when one's directed at foreigners, I think it's great to have details. It makes reading more of a vacation. In my opinion. I especially liked the callbacks to the monk chant. You also had a lot of details in here that I found fun like Vin's existence and having Mike call that poor little boy "it". For a short story you do a pretty great job of developing your characters. Christina was actually the only character that felt a little flat to me. Maybe if I knew a little more about her and Nat and her backstory wasn't approached in such an expository manner she'd feel a little more likeable. She's nice as is, just not as memorable as, say, Vin. I really got a kick out of Vin. You also might want to try reworking the ending so the gum thing isn't so obvious. I don't know how you might do it but I saw that coming pretty much as soon as she asked for the gum. Maybe have him go through his bag, looking for weapons or something, and then decide to take her gum? Just one suggestion. I'm sure you can figure something more fitting out. Overall though this was a really fun story. Well done.

Aud.

Tom Lydon's picture
Tom Lydon from Britain July 5, 2014 - 7:41am

Thanks for your feedback - especially on the gum thing. I'm really happy to hear how you felt about this, as it was one thing I really struggled to read neutrally, after writing, so I wasn't sure how obvious it would be to a reader. Will go back and dissemble a bit more.

Agreed on Christina's character - this is partly a function of her being pretty straight (emotionally, at least), but I realised when I'd finished that she wasn't really clicking as a protagonist.

Thanks again!

Tom Lydon's picture
Tom Lydon from Britain July 5, 2014 - 7:51am

Oh - also, really glad you liked Vin. I liked Vin, too.

Hector Acosta's picture
Hector Acosta from Dallas is reading Fletch July 5, 2014 - 4:41am

Tom,

Good story. I thought overall it was a fun read that moved smoothly. I personally didn't have an issue with the description at all, and think that with something like this, where you're setting is going to be unfamiliar to so many people, description is going to play a large role. That said, clearly it's a stopping point for some reader, so maybe go back and try to cut more of it to streamline the story.

What I liked about your writing is that it was confident enough to never get in the way. I've read too many stories where it's clear the writer is trying to impress the reader, and it just ends up getting in the way. Here, you kept thing relatively simple, which works really well, especially in the beginning when Christina is on the run.

I personally wasn't a big fan of POV changes, and would much rather you keep the story solely on Christina's point of view. I think there's still ways to get everything across that you need to from Mike's section (especially his management style, which is important for the ending) without changing POVs.

If you do decide to keep the changing POVs, make sure it's consistent. On page 14 you switch to Mike's pov an then return to Christina's.

One thing that I couldn't help but notice is how Western all the characters and story read. I would like to see more attention put to the characters, maybe make Mike a different nationality. This would allow the dialogue to stand out, as right now all your characters have a similar voice

You also weren't able to get me to fully buy Christina's reason for starting on the drug trade in the first place. The funny thing is that I really wasn't questioning her reasons for starting out until you shone a light on them. I think you need to either expand on this - right now it reads like she was on vacation and decided to just start doing it. If that's the case, we need to see more cases of her being impulsive, or more talk about how she's not finding a job elsewhere- OR just not mention it at all.

Like I said, I enjoyed this story, and I think it has potential to be a lot stronger with a second pass. Hope this helped.

Tom Lydon's picture
Tom Lydon from Britain July 5, 2014 - 7:50am

Thanks for your feedback. The POV thing I flip-flopped over quite a bit before deciding to commit to having both Christina and Mike. On the consistency, as I noted in another comment, I think this is a case of it being consistent to me, but not appearing that way to others - so definitely in need of revision. I may go back and rationalise the switches to just one transition between the two.

Agreed on Christina - as noted elsewhere, I realised I have some work to do on her character, and backstory.

Also agreed on the western-sounding nature of the two leads - this was partly deliberate, as I liked the idea of having contrasting outsider viewpoints, but they should sound more differentiated. Will have another look at this.

Thanks again!

Ziggy17's picture
Ziggy17 July 6, 2014 - 1:54pm

Tom,

I liked this story a lot and enjoyed the description - indeed, even more detail about the local colour would have been good and might have added depth to Christina's outraged moral/spiritual senses. (BTW, it feels mean to be picky, but do lesbians have post-coital moments, strictly speaking?)

Thanks for a good read!

mattymillard's picture
mattymillard from Wolverhampton, England is reading Curse of the Wolf Girl - Martin Millar July 8, 2014 - 5:05am

Hi Tom,

I really enjoyed this story, I thought the characters were good, it was smoothly written and well paced.

I saw the ending coming, but that didn't matter to me at all - I don't think it needs to be hidden. The only comments I have are minor ones, which are:

I didn't think that the I "heart" Thailand t-shirt needed mentioning twice (even though they are everywhere!!) to know that Mike was close to Christina - you've already told us that. This is an opportunity for him to push past a market seller or curse at an elephant or something to add even more colour to the surroundings.

The spelling of "manouvre"

The “So, where do you put the shit?” conversation didn't quite run smoothly for me. It might just be formatting, or a lack of a "she said" but it felt like Christina was talking when Mike should have been.

"Such fun" just sounded out of place here, it's too easy to hear the character from Miranda saying this!

As I say though, only very minor comments - a very enjoyable story!

Cheers,

Matty

Jay Parekh's picture
Jay Parekh is reading Fight Club July 9, 2014 - 8:04am

Hey Tom,

Very entertaining read for sure. I also liked how you developed Christina and Mike. I wasn't a very big fan of Vin because he seemed to have no purpose in the story. If he was cut, aside from a few gags, your story would stay the same. I think there should be something for Vin to do, and I was hoping he would be the unexpected wild card in the story. I was dissapointed that he never grew to take a larger role.

The other thing holding your story back is the way the narrative unfolds, the plot becomes very predictable. You focus mainly on the character backgrounds, and Thailand etc, so when you focused on the gum, I instantly knew there was something up with that - I was expecting it to be something other than poison, ironically because poison was the most predictable thing it could be. When Mike ate the gum, I knew that was it, Christina had won, and I found myself reading faster to finish up. 

The suspense could have been built better, perhaps by not treating the poison gum as a twist, but rather by the poison being the plan right from the beginning and whether Mike would take the bait or not as a matter of suspense. Vin could be the wild card who maybe knew about the poison but had to make a decision between keeping his mouth shut or ratting Christina out. This would have further increased the tension. - Well, I am not saying this would have been better then your way, but as far personal preferences are concerned, it would be more my kind of story.

Apart from that, the writing was simple but top notch, I liked the discriptions of Thailand (I have never been there but the imagery from your writing was very clear in my minds), I liked how you handled the characters and I liked the different POVs. If Mike wasn't such an asshole I would have been in a dilemma on who to sympathise with between Mike and Christina, which I think would have made the ending more interesting. 

Your story isnt bad, its just been done before, albeit with the details switched around. However it is well written and a fun read, and so I have given it a thumbs up.

 

PS. I'd appreciate it if you could give my story a read and let me know your thoughts in the comments section - Que sera sera.

Thanks!

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) July 11, 2014 - 7:53am

Good story. I had no issues at all with the level of description, because if you are going to set a story somewhere specific, you need to make the most of your location. I think you did this just fine. You never went overboard, but it gave a good sense of place.

Character wise I agree that Christina was slightly under developed, but not hugely. Mike could be a stereotypical arsehole, but I think you stay the right side of the line there. I couldn’t help but wonder what the story would have been like had we seen it all from Vin’s perspective. If he’s the muscle as he appears to be, then he has very little to do in the story. I’d have liked to have seen him get a moment in the spotlight.

The ending is inevitable of course, but I don’t think it necessarily detracts from the piece. You can know where a story is headed without knowing how we’re going to get there. I’ve read countless stories where the fun is in finding out how the character is going to get out of the fix they are in (unless it’s George RR Martin in which case they probably won’t). The chewing gum is a clever move, though I’d be tempted to pull back the explanation of why he takes stuff. The bad man-management stuff isn’t really necessary, and it highlights that move of him taking the gum. You don’t want to be shining a spotlight on that move. You want the reader as surprised as Mike.

Thumbs up from me.

YouAreNotASlave's picture
YouAreNotASlave from Birmingham United Kingdom July 11, 2014 - 8:58am

Enjoyed this. Very good in terms of plot; it's all very character driven, and each one is most certainly unique. Christina's plan works because of the kind of asshole that Mike is; we see the tension underlying her decisions and you develop character motivations and setting very very well. The action is well executed also, and tension/structure again I really enjoyed: nice use of the *'s to break up action and segue between flashbacks. Very well crafted piece overall and a thumbs up.

One thing I thought could hav been done better is the backstory between Mike and Christina; we follow Mike during the chase and get told he is confused as to why she betrayed him for quite legit reasons; then following the beginning of their confrontation we're given Christina's side. Considering they're sat together for a decent time anyway I would maybe have liked to seen this backstory emerge in the form of an argument between Christina and Mike. Obviously it would have to be abbreviated to be part of authentic conversation but that may work a bit better.

Another option may be to have Mike ranting to Vin about it, and then in the Christina Nat flashback have her explain more of her frustration to Nat instead of the reader being told it by the narrator. I say this because I found the flashbacks, and the rapport between Christina and Mike, to be really well written dialogue and I think a lot of the details may be more immersively executed through that. 

Another final point was I'm not sure I 'got' Vin as a character, he seemed a bit harmless and comic to be the supposed 'muscle'.

But yeah, really enjoyable story, thanks for the read! 

Tom