To read this story or to participate in this writing event, you only need a free account.
You can Login with Facebook or create regular account
To find out what this event is about click here

jorjon21's picture

Home Invasion

By jorjon21 in Arrest Us

How It Rates

Voting for this event has ended
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.


A drug traffiker is the victim of a home invasion, and the perpetrators are not the typical felons.


Devon Robbins's picture
Devon Robbins from Utah is reading The Least Of My Scars by Stephen Graham Jones June 21, 2014 - 7:12pm

Hey jorjon,

You've got a good story here. Good pacing and a decent amount of tension. You've got a bit of driftwood in there and I've left some suggestions for tightening up the prose in the lbl. Nothing too major. 

When the attack happens there is a grenade. If it was supposed to be a flashbang, that needs to be cleared up, seeing as how Marvin didn't get hurt. Probably just a hiccup.

The end didn't really do it for me. It was too mundane. I sensed something personal in the way they handled the exit, but in the car they acted like it wasn't even a big deal.

It's a good story. Give a good polish and you're in the money. Good luck.

jorjon21's picture
jorjon21 from Wisconsin is reading Shotgun Lovesongs June 22, 2014 - 12:48pm

Thanks for the feedback

Aud Fontaine's picture
Aud Fontaine from the mountains is reading Catch-22. Since like, always. June 24, 2014 - 10:15pm


This was a really cool story. It was well written, compelling and I really liked the twist at the end. The only thing that was a little irksome was how many times you used the word "meth" in the beginning. I understand you were talking about meth but the more you say meth the sillier meth sounds, you know? Maybe you could use a few euphemisms or something just to make it a touch less repetitive. Other than that the only thing I can think of to suggest is maybe flushing out the cops a little bit more. It's fine the way it is but I found them so interesting it would've been kind of neat to hear more about them outside of what they can cover in dialogue with each other. Overall, I really liked it. Great job.


Hector Acosta's picture
Hector Acosta from Dallas is reading Fletch June 25, 2014 - 10:21am


The story didn't come together for me as much as I would like. I think you have the start of an interesting concept here, but there's several things that held it back for me. As with this things, keep in mind this is my opinion only. Take what you think is useful, disregard the rest:

I think a second pass at the writing with a critical eye would help. You can trim a lot of the story down by trusting the reader. For example: 

Lights were on inside the trailer indicating the occupants were home,

I would take out the 'indicating the occupants were home" bit, as the line prior pretty much tells us this. The same goes for 

Inside former meth cook and current meth distributor Marvin Hockers

Instead of just coming out and telling us what Marvin is, show us. 

Also, try to steer away from passive voice:

and slowly inhaled the smoke that was curling up the stem of the glass pipe from the lighted meth rock.

Marvin had begun using meth years before when he was working the line at a factory on C shift.

Marvin’ vision was returning and the ringing in his ears was starting to subside

Generally speaking, you want to about using 'was' as often as possible. An example of the way the first sentence could be rewritten isL

and slowly inhaled the smoke curling up  the stem of the glass pipe

It's a small chance, but IMHO it changes the dynamic of the sentence and makes it stronger. 

You might also consider mixing things up and playing with sentence lenghts and construction. Take a look at your document again, and you'll see that there's a form to it- Big blocks of paragraph describing action, followed by lots of one lines indicating dialogue. This can make the reader fall into a lull, and instead you should be wanting to suprise them at every turn. 

The story itself, like I said, has some potential, but it didn't quite do it for me. None of the characters were as sketched out as I wish they could be. I never really know much about Marvin, Chastity, and the guys that rob them. In fact, regarding the robbers, I'm still not quite sure if they're doing it out because they're greedy, or because Marvin was selling close to the kids. 

The reveal itself about the robbers happens too early in the story. It feels like this is the big moment, and once it happens, I lost interest, partly because I could sort of see that this was coming. I think I would be more interested in reading a story from their point of view rather than Marvin's. 

Again, sorry if this all sounds negative. I do think that there's something here, it just might require a second pass.

Joshido's picture
Joshido from Northwestern America is reading Rant June 25, 2014 - 11:41am


Smart story. So you get a thumbs-up from me. I enjoyed the ass-whooping you graphically detailed and in the end, the moral of the story was strong and entertaining.

Overall, I would have to agree with the majority of the feedback you have already recieved. Largely, your prose feels "pushed." You could omit many words throughout, combine some sentences, and mix up some of your descriptors to better the flow and quality of your narrative. (I have to do this SEVERAL times when I write something.)

I also saw it coming with the robbers being cops, you may want to omit the use of the flashbang. Or, remove the line about selling meth to kids. Or have them seize the drugs, I am pretty sure cops would have taken the meth.

Also, perhaps consider making Melvin and Chastity a bit more mysterious. Perhaps a paragraph on how they've been dealt a raw hand and that's why they are selling meth. This might help the reader care a little bit about two meth heads getting the piss kicked out of their bladders.

Again, it has a lot of potential so you get an approval for me, I would very much like to see a revision before July 1st. I could also use more feedback on my story if you got a second or two. Happy writing!


jlowes's picture
jlowes June 25, 2014 - 3:13pm

Hey Jorjon,

Just finished your story. You have a decent framework going here, and some great potential. If you cleared away some of the extraneous driftwood cluttering the story and reworked a few of the scenes I think you'd have something.

I've attached an LBL with some suggestions. One thing I would definitely point out as needing an upgrade is the dialogue at the end--check out this essay regarding how to rework dialogue so it sounds more genuine and natural, instead of just telling us information we could be learning in much more intersting way.

Overall, good start. Thumbs up.


jorjon21's picture
jorjon21 from Wisconsin is reading Shotgun Lovesongs June 26, 2014 - 6:17am

Thanks everyone for the constructive feedback.  This is the first time I've ever submitted my writing, and your advice is invaluable.  I will work on corrections this weekend and re-submit before July 1.

Seb's picture
Seb from Thanet, Kent, UK June 26, 2014 - 7:22am

Nice idea, and your story itself is short and punchy, which is good. I like the shift in focus from one character to another as the story progresses, this is nicely and smoothly done. The main issue, in my opinion, is that you constantly tell us what is going on and hardly show us anything. The suggestions and advice you have already received are exactly what this story needs, if you combine that with your ideas and the smooth perspective shift this will be a really good piece, it just needs a little work.

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) July 7, 2014 - 2:57am

There is a good basis for a story here. I like the idea of the cops being the robbers and targeting criminals. It’s an almost Dexter-like idea, and it works. I do agree with a lot of the other comments, especially regarding show and tell. It provides a barrier to getting the reader sucked into the story, because it feels a lot more passive telling rather than showing. I’d possibly consider re-writing this from one of the cops’ perspectives. Most of Marvin’s backstory can be lost anyway, because it adds nothing to the story. The only salient point here is that he’s in the meth business, not why he got into it.

Speaking of meth, Aud is right, there are a lot of mentions early on. If you type meth into the navigation bar (Ctrl F), there is a lot of yellow revealed. You hit seven mentions in one paragraph, including two sentences with two mentions each. You may want to cut back on the mentions anyway, because stories involving meth are very prominent thanks to a certain TV show. It’s not all that pertinent to your story anyway.

I don’t think you are a million miles away on this one at all. Another edit or two and you’ll have this one polished up quite nicely. Best of luck with it.

Ethan Cooper's picture
Ethan Cooper from Longview, TX is reading The Kill Room, Heart-Shaped Box, Dr. Sleep July 15, 2014 - 11:22am


Thanks for sharing and letting me read your story.


- Your opening didn't grab me like it should have. I think it's primarily that it's general enough that I couldn't immediately identify any character. You use words like "one of the men" or  "their target." If you're deliberately hiding information from your reader, I'd recommend giving some sort of description or identifying info that can help your reader assign value to characters you're introducing--something to make them less faceless.

- Personal pet peeve: starting stories with descriptions of the weather. It's as much small talk in a novel as it is in conversation. Sure, describe the environment so we can get a picture, but those opening sentences should grab me, and talking about wind doesn't really do that. Take those two sentences out and see how much better even starting with "Two masked men dressed in dark clothing crouched in the late evening shadows watching the trailer." is. That's probably not even your best opening, but it is immediately more interesting and I have a ton of questions as a reader at that point (that's a good thing!).

- The first paragraph with Marvin is excellent. You told us a ton of information right there. The next few paragraphs derail your narrative however, giving us backstory we don't need to know right then. If you feel all that info is necessary, hand it out somewhere else in the story, but as soon as he takes that puff then BAM, the intruders should come busting in.

- I really liked that the home invaders were cops.

- For me stories have to have a beginning, middle, and ending. I'd argue that what you're missing (and this is rare) is your beginning. From a story standpoint, your ending works, but it doesn't tie back to any other part of the story. I think if we actually saw crimes being committed, and our two vigilantes witness it, it would justify the ending you've written. I'm sure your writer's mind can figure something out here to make the story cohesive from start to finish. Within the confines of this challenge you have almost 2k more words to play with to flesh out anything that might need fleshed out.

I think there's a bit of work to be done on this one, but I did enjoy reading what you have!

Liam Hogan's picture
Liam Hogan from Earth is reading Hugo Nominations July 19, 2014 - 3:31pm

Hi JJ,

I think you need to get more out of this story. It's a little reporter-y, and if you wanted to put a weird twist on it, then having the masked robbers being school teachers would work one hell of a lot more than the vigilante police?

Not personally a fan of starts that describe the scene like a shopping list, want something that brings that to life a bit. Plus, I can't imagine a trailer that you can see "most of the interior" from any vantage point outside.

Then we get Marvin's full story. You need to know this, to know your character. The question is, do we? You can show him using, perhaps, but his dealing, this is going to come up when the two masked men make their entry I'd guess. So leave it until then? A lot is said about show and tell, too much perhaps, but don't go infodumping big sections like this. Drip feed what you can't show.

Decent dialog work, during the robbery and later on.

This is a tricky one to stay with one POV, so you probably make roughly the right choices. You could stay with the masked men throughout, but I suspect you wouldn't feel the drama of the "Home invasion"

You don't bother telling us WHY this is happening. Why do they go vigilante on this one character? Is is unprosecutable? This isn't something they've done before, will they do it again? And they seem to be getting off on the violence - towards Marvin's girlfriend as well.

If they don't think this is going to get reported by Marvin, then the precautions seem a little over the top?

Hope some of this helps.



Cmangano's picture
Cmangano from Maine July 20, 2014 - 5:41pm

It took me a little while to get into this one, but I did come around. Marvin's back story felt like it took a long time and, while it served to characterize him I wasn't very interested. It felt like you were just going through the motions during this part. The repetitive use of the word meth has already been mentioned, you also repeat ear several times on mage three, where I found it more distracting than effective. You certainly won me over with the action scenes. The invasion is so immersive. Great job with that. I think that, although the story is complete and doesn't necessarily need anything, it would be nice to have some greater development. It seemed just a little bare to me, but maybe that's just because I've hit a list of particularly long reads recently. Nice job, good luck