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TheKyleBTM's picture

Family Tradition

By TheKyleBTM in Arrest Us

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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.


Everyone has to get by.


My first attempt at uploading this seems to have hit a formatting issue, this is a secondary attempt to upload it with a different file type. hopefully this will solve the issue and now will properly display.


Geert Mostrey's picture
Geert Mostrey from Belgium is reading Gone Girl June 5, 2014 - 9:00am


Overall I like the approach to this story, telling it from the point of view of the criminal.

Sometimes I found it a bit dificult as you write both in first, second and third person. This tends to make the piece a bit less accesible. Also I would try to have less telling but more showing, meaning that instead of just letting your main character tell what is happening, it would involve the reader more if you would show us, let us see what he sees, let us feel what he feels. It would greatly increase the pace and the tension.

But overall it's a thumbs up for me.

TheKyleBTM's picture
TheKyleBTM June 5, 2014 - 10:56am

Thanks. I wanted to change the voice from first / second / third person to try and allow all sides to the story as possible, as the main character shows no remorse for his actions, going so far as to almost enjoy the job he does. I still wanted to try and preserve the human element by showing the effects of victimization on Franklin, even when he has an opportunity to put the criminal in prison, he backs down out of fear.  

W.a. Warner's picture
W.a. Warner June 5, 2014 - 9:07am

I liked all the details. The concept was interesting. I tend to be easily distracted by typos and punctuation issues, but still enjoyed this. Thanks for sharing!

TheKyleBTM's picture
TheKyleBTM June 5, 2014 - 4:05pm

Thank you, I looked over it and revised (hopefully, most of) the typo's and punctuation. Punctuation being admittedly one of the biggest problems I have with writing I am always overlooking something in that aspect.

Joe P's picture
Joe P from Brainerd, MN is reading Wheel of Time June 5, 2014 - 11:06am

What makes this story work is the perspective. I'm always leary of anyone who tries anything other than past tense, but you stuck with it and pulled it off. That, and the "this is my life, this was your life" time of story being told by the MC to the secondary character makes it all work. Nicely executed.

Thanks for the good read. Good luck!

TheKyleBTM's picture
TheKyleBTM June 5, 2014 - 4:07pm

Thank you, I was a little unsure of it knowing the perspective bounces in a wierd way, but I'm glad to know it worked.

Robert VanCleave's picture
Robert VanCleave from The Land of Ice And Snow is reading "Sex Lives of Siamese Twins" by Irving Welsh June 5, 2014 - 5:22pm

I've always been a fan of robbery stories, combining elements of action and suspense together, and you pull that off brilliantly here.  I like the second-person narration.  Personallized the story.  The dialogue felt natural and channeled the heavy emotion present in the scenes articulately. 

The only hangup I had was the heavy comma usage.  Roadblocks in the middle of the action.  And to the best of my research (unless I read this wrong) fences don't pay anywhere near 5K for a single wedding band. 

TheKyleBTM's picture
TheKyleBTM June 6, 2014 - 1:33am

Thank you very much! I was hoping the shifting perspectives would translate well, glad to hear that it managed to work. I will be editing and searching for places I can cut commas along with maybe (as you correctly pointed out with the ring) lowering the overall payday of the robbery.

Grant Williams's picture
Grant Williams from Wichita, KS is reading Friday June 9, 2014 - 5:59am

Good story. I liked the perspective shifts, bit could use a bit more showing as mentioned above. I would have liked to have known how they got picked up and put in the line up, but other than that you laid out the important details. Good job.

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) June 11, 2014 - 8:52am

I enjoyed this one. You’ve done a good job of making me root for the criminal, without really giving him any obvious redeeming qualities. That’s quite a tough trick to pull off, but you manage it very well.

There were only a couple of trip points for me. The sudden switch from 1st person to 2nd threw me completely on the first read-through. I’m not sure if there is a way to properly smooth that out. I’d usually have no hesitation in suggesting you pick a POV and stick to it, but the switch serves a purpose here. I think you are going to split people with that. I’m kind of split myself.

The other trip for me is the flow, but I think that’s completely down to formatting. Your paragraphs are fairly uniform, even those with dialogue within them. If you introduced each piece of dialogue on a fresh line I believe it would help the flow and rhythm of the story. It’s not that it flows poorly, but you could do with changing the rhythm at times.

Letting Frank go is a huge risk, and I kind of doubt that the majority of people in that situation wouldn’t just trust to the police to keep them protected after the fact. There is a contradiction to Frank though. This is a guy who pisses himself with fear one moment, and then tries to take the burglar down, even though he’s holding a gun. This is not someone who can be trusted to take the safe option, though I understand that he needed to fight in order to necessitate the hurried escape. I think the only way I’d have trusted him to keep his mouth shut, is if I had something on him, seen during the robbery.

Was it meant to be a surprise at the end that Jerry was his son? I had just assumed all the way through that this was the case. The title and the talk at the beginning about it passing from father to son just had me think immediately Jerry was related. Talking of the beginning, one robbery every three days? That doesn’t seem enough time between given how meticulously the robbery seemed to have been planned.

These are all fairly minor issues and wouldn’t take much to resolve, if you wanted to do so. For me the story works and these changes would just be the difference between a good story and a very good story.

TheKyleBTM's picture
TheKyleBTM June 11, 2014 - 2:49pm

Thank you, I will look at the formatting and revise it to try and make it flow better, I did notice a little bit of an issue with the rhythm.

I wanted Frank to both show the fear and anxiety of the victim, but I wanted him to fight back at the time I figured he thought he had the best odds, as the MC is Jerry's father he is a little older and with Jerry upstairs at the begining of the fight Frank would see the one-on-one with someone (potentially) older than him, as being a decent gamble, though I probably should  put more explaination into that moment.

I wanted Frank to let the MC go at the end, mostly out of fear, seeing him again and not seeing Jerry, the actual person that threatened his family. The line "Go home, your family is waiting for you." is meant to give the impression that had Frank identified him as the robber, they might not be. Again, maybe this could use some more explaination.

It wasn't quite supposed to be a surprise that Jerry is his son, more of a confirmation of the suspicion, along with the recognition that the MC sees this as his family life and still is concerned with normal things like making sure his son is ready for school in the morning while also taking Jerry out to burglarize homes and letting Jerry take a bit of control by leaving him in charge of Frank at the end, completely able to kill him if he wanted to. Kind of a moment of pride on the fathers behalf seeing his son chose not to kill, but has also been more than capable of completing the job at hand.  

Seb's picture
Seb from Thanet, Kent, UK June 16, 2014 - 11:14am

I like this. It needs some grammatical revisions, but the voice is great and the twist is simple yet brilliant, and although you hinted it I still was grinning when it was revealed. Another draft and this will be amazing.

Todd Morr's picture
Todd Morr from Colorado Springs CO is reading Notes From the Internet Apocalypse June 24, 2014 - 11:11pm

Well done, I like the criminal point of view, my only complaint would be directly addressing the reader which I'm not a fan of.   When I read 'You do this' my initila reaction tends to be "No I did not, or, why would I do that?', which can take me out of the story.

TheKyleBTM's picture
TheKyleBTM June 26, 2014 - 1:43am

Thank you for reading and the review, I have gotten mixed comments about the perspective, i was hoping it would help immerse you into the story but understand it can be distracting and thus can have the opposite effect.

Liam Hogan's picture
Liam Hogan from Earth is reading Hugo Nominations July 17, 2014 - 9:58am


It's a bit short on punctuation. I read this and didn't know when to breath! It does click along as a result, but it's an awkward read, and the whole gun/fire/car jacking/pillowcase over head is a bit meh. Especially as it is done largely po-faced from the criminals. You could get more out of this piece, or justify your particular style choices, as it is it's a borderline thumbs down (harsh, perhaps, but there needs to be a bit more to this story, IMO!)

Bit odd to find money in the nightstand drawer?

Odder still to leave the wedding ring behind - and it's not as crucial to the story as the note on the fridge.

The switch to 2nd person POV is a bit jarring. The switch back - the effective repetition of the note on the fridge makes the point overlaboured. I think you can do it without - if the robbers see the note, and the sports bag next to it, perhaps?

China? Electricals I can believe... but china? (Fine crystal glasses, maybe? Even then, the value is so very low on a resale of stolen goods...)

When he attacks the narrator, "it doesn't catch me off guard" - well it sure as hell sounds like it!

They seem to keep being five minutes away from leaving the house...

Did Jerry get the money?

Does it make sense transferring Franklin to the sports car? This whole thing has gone wrong, at which point is it JUST a cut and run?

Once you're on the bus and Jerry and Franklin are left behind, the POV inevitably shifts again.

Hard to believe the police allow the line up people out before the victim has a chance to get clear of the station!

It's a nice enough wrapped up story, the family tradition bit is perhaps a little book-ended (not worked in anywhere else in the piece), and for his son to be old enough to help, he has to have been doing it longer than 10 years? And you never quite justify the use of the 2nd person for the victim. Family tradition means this is something he does often (a thousand times... without being caught, once?!) but this particular job goes pretty sour, so maybe the POINT is that this is the first such job where his son has been in on it - a baptism of fire, and he's proud of the way his son has handled himself? The twist that he is his son, by the way, isn't quite strong enough to sway me on the point of this story... sorry!

Hope you bash this one a little into shape - it's got potential, just keep at it.


kevymetal's picture
kevymetal from Halifax, NS July 24, 2014 - 4:50pm


I liked this a lot. It got right into the swing of things and didn't let up until the end. I was involved enough that I forgot the name of the story and Jerry being the narrator's kid was a surprise (though a title change might be necessary to sustain that twist for more astute readers). 

Criticisms: I didn't see the original pre-revision version, but I might throw a few commas back in, as there were times where I had to re-read sentences to be able to separate what was happening. Also, a sentence like "When your phone rings the preset ring tone for the song from titanic your wife programmed tells you she is calling and you are immediately aware that you forgot your wedding ring" could be changed to something like, "Your phone starts singing that song from Titanic, telling you your wife is calling, and you are immediately aware that you forgot your wedding ring."

All in all: good pacing, and the switch from 1st to 2nd gave the husband more of a character than if we'd just seen the narrator's perspective on everything. Well done (and thumbs up). 


Cmangano's picture
Cmangano from Maine July 28, 2014 - 1:35pm

Nicely done, I think this style can be tough sometimes, but you pulled it off. In the beginning your MC says he's done this a thousand times and then goes into vague details. I wasn't sure at first if when he was saying "you" he was using it specifically or generally, using details like pictures on a wall to generalize the type of every-man he robs. Other than that, nice work. Thumbs up from me.