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mattmyth's picture

Firewood

By mattmyth in Arrest Us

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Description

Colin is in trouble- a car full of buck shot and a mess to clean up. But it shouldn't be anything manipulating three kids in a car park on nightfall can't fix.

Comments

Tom Lydon's picture
Tom Lydon from Britain July 1, 2014 - 8:42am

Wow... I have to be honest, I felt a bit sick after reading this one. I think the graphic gore in the last third was way too much, and just ended up being very offputting (to me, anyway).

As to the overall premise, it didn't really come together. Using the kids to do Colin's dirty work seems like a very convoluted and risky way to get rid of Wallace and the evidence in the car. What if they talk to the police? What if they don't finish off the car properly - given they have no experience in doing this? There are just too many variables, especially for a character who seems so calm and collected.

The writing was pretty good, although felt rather stilted at times. It seemed like this was set in New Zealand - I think this could have been made clearer earlier on, as I spent a lot of the first half working out where the story was set. Also there were a lot of NZ-specific proper nouns, which brought me up short. The very specific references to politics very early on were a bit baffling as well.

Overall I think this has promise, but right now it just doesn't gel very well.

mattmyth's picture
mattmyth from Rotorua, New Zealand is reading Child of God by Cormack McCarthy July 4, 2014 - 2:33pm

Thank you for the review.  I think the loose ends need more clarification in places.  Making someone feel sick isn't necessarily a bad thing as the person it centers around is a monstor.

The main thing is to get the characters right so the reader cares what happens to them.  

This is why there were specific references to politics, so the reader can see the world as Colin does.  It also describes the setting, which is in an economically poor area, and the effect of people who live there, hence the sort of people Colin comes across.

I will look at re-working the idea.

Mojopin12's picture
Mojopin12 from SA is reading Wheel of Time Book 7 July 1, 2014 - 7:03pm

I really enjoyed your writing style. The brutality at the end was a bit squimish, but it didn't bother me so much. The boys taking on the act of killing a man so readily and without regret was more disturbing, but I suppose that's why Colin chose them.

I thought the dialogue between the boys and Colin seemed very real, with the only exception, for me being what comes after Colin jokingly unziping his pants.  

Overall, your story was very entertaining. I liked the parts about Colin's father and the wood cutting. I really enjoyed the writing in dialect. I wasn't able to place the setting though. I thought it was somewhere in the UK, although someone mentioned it was NZ, which I never would've guessed.

mattmyth's picture
mattmyth from Rotorua, New Zealand is reading Child of God by Cormack McCarthy July 4, 2014 - 2:25pm

It is in New Zealand, yes.  There a few bits for me to tidy up, areas to strengthen it.  Thank you for the help.

Hector Acosta's picture
Hector Acosta from Dallas is reading Fletch July 2, 2014 - 3:32pm

Matt,

I quite liked this story, primarily due to Colin's voice and how control of it you are. Almost from the beginning he has a voice unlike ones I often read about, so that mae me stick through the story, even when things got a bit confusing.

Your writing is strong, and you for the most part keep us in Colin's POV which is good-there's a few moments when you slip and show us somene else's POV, I'd watch out for those. Sometimes it feels like you're missing a word or two, and I can't tell if this is a consious decision or not. For example:

He had heard them before he saw them, voices piercing in their pubescence, drifting up from the far right in fragments of abuse and laughter they used at each other’s expense.

I feel like this would be a bit clearer with "...them, their voices piercing"

One of the things I'm curious about is Colin's age. A lot of his thoughts, his remembering the old days and his dad would make me think he's in his forties or older, but then you have this bit:

If Colin were a woman, he would have got lipstick on his ears the way he grinned when Grahame asked him to do the job.

Colin had looked Grahame right in those steely grey eyes, man to man the whole time.  Not many blokes would have had the bottle for that, they’d have been bloody “yes Grahame no Grahame” the sycophantic cunts.  The old timer wouldn’t have respected that, not by a dog’s show.

This makes me feel like he's new in Grahame's world, as if he's itching to make a name for himself. Not saying it has to be one or the other, but some clarification would help, I think.

Something that ended up becoming a bit of a sore point with me is how often the kids go for the gay insult. Not so much because I was offended, but just because it became kind of an old hat that ends up screeching any kind of character development out of them. They become really just a chorus of insults for most of the story, and while that has its meritis, I'd like to see you devote the attention you did with Colin with them as well. The most we get is when it's the Lackey that ends up killing Wallace.

That brings me to the greater sticking point- The set up is a bit hard to swallow. I think the idea of him looking for scapegoats and finding the kids is good, but I'm not sure I buy the whole tying them up and forcing/goading them to do it. Maybe have Colin already be familiar with one of the kids, due to him always going around acting tough, and then having Colin basically say "you want to be tough? Here's your chance," or the like. You sort of get to this in here, but I think there's just a lot of other stuff going on (being tied up, the constant insults, etc) that it gets a bit lost.

I did like the end though, how Colin shifts the trouble to them, and I think that's a strong way to end it. Hope you take something from my comments, and good luck

 

mattmyth's picture
mattmyth from Rotorua, New Zealand is reading Child of God by Cormack McCarthy July 4, 2014 - 2:24pm

Thank you very much for the feedback, much appreciated.  I was at the point where I wasn't sure how to move forward with this, and now have directions.  Perfect review, cheers!

 

Seb's picture
Seb from Thanet, Kent, UK July 4, 2014 - 12:17am

Very nasty, very dark. I like it. The dialogue and descriptions all sounded British, things like 'station wagon' sounded American, but looking at your profile I see you're from New Zealand, which makes all that make sense. Nicely done.

mattmyth's picture
mattmyth from Rotorua, New Zealand is reading Child of God by Cormack McCarthy July 4, 2014 - 2:34pm

I need to be a lot clearer with where the story is set.  Thank you for reading my story, glad you enjoyed it.  cheers

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) July 11, 2014 - 3:34am

I do like your premise. The idea of Colin having to get kids to clean up his mess is good, and there are some decent interactions between the characters. I like the way you show the differences in eras too, comparing his childhood to theirs.

For me, this shows a lot of promise but it’s not quite there yet. A large part of this is due to that final third, though I had no issue at all with the gore. I’m not sure why he didn’t just get the kids to burn the car, with Wallace still in the boot. He doesn’t need to be battered to death first, when they could burn him without getting his blood and faeces all over the park. There is a suggestion that Colin wants physical evidence on the boys, but I can’t see what sense this makes. The kids could finger Colin at any time, and he must have forensic evidence on him from manhandling Wallace in and out of the boot.

I think persuading the kids to carry out the crime would have been better. The kids are so quick to shout paedo, that this could probably be tied into it if you really want them to beat Wallace to death. Maybe have a high profile paedo incident in that location, and have Colin present them with the “perpetrator”. He’ll let them finish him off, just be sure to burn the car afterwards.

Whichever way you take this, I don’t think you are a million miles away from a very strong story. Best of luck with any further edits.

mattmyth's picture
mattmyth from Rotorua, New Zealand is reading Child of God by Cormack McCarthy July 13, 2014 - 8:36pm

awesome thanks heaps Adam!  much appreciated