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Anonymous's picture

How I Ended Up Out West

By Anonymous in Arrest Us

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This chick ends up in juvenile hall after killing the men who beat her father and shot her dog. Then she gets out. She has some farts and adventures.


TheKyleBTM's picture
TheKyleBTM June 6, 2014 - 6:07pm

Great story. for the first few pages I was questioning it as it tends to ramble on in parts but this worked well with the voice of the girl, especially at the end. I love the idea of her finding her own way and accepting the world as is.

Devon Taylor's picture
Devon Taylor from Allentown, PA is reading Doctor Sleep June 6, 2014 - 10:16pm

This was a really great story. The narrator was quirky and had a lot of interesting things to say. It may have been a little rushed, though. I think if you expanded on it and really refined the narrator's voice it could be a really awesome longer story, or maybe even a novel. My one big nitpick I guess is that aside from the murders at the beginning and the narrator's stint in juvie, I'm not really sure how this fits into the crime genre. This may be more of a literary piece. Either way it was a good story. Thanks for sharing!

Liam Sweeny's picture
Liam Sweeny from Albany, NY is reading Country Hardball June 7, 2014 - 1:03pm

I really liked the rushed pace of the narrative. The way it winds fits the character. I enjoyed this.


Grant Williams's picture
Grant Williams from Wichita, KS is reading Friday June 10, 2014 - 9:30am

Quite an enjoyable little story despite its dark tone.  It starts off dirty and grimy but becomes more hopeful as it goes along.  I'm glad she doesn't run off an do something terrible or foolish which is so often the case in stories that start off in such a dark place.  Well done.

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) June 13, 2014 - 2:09am

There is a lot of story here, and there’s some good stuff thrown in. This is a voyage of discovery for your protagonist, and it is nice to see her attain a level of peace at the end. The voice is consistent, and crucially it is believable. I can believe in this character.

Unfortunately I’d say the story lacks dynamism. It is written just the way that girl would tell the story, and so you end up telling us the story rather than showing. The action at the beginning is dealt with in such a cursory way, that it barely feels as if it is a turning point in her young life. A fifteen year old kills two men and you write about it in the same way as if she’d walked into a shop and bought a soda.

I agree with the comments from Devon. Everything that happens here could easily fill a novel if fleshed out properly. In a short story you want to take just one little part of it and expand on it. Given this is a crime writing contest, you should take those first 200 words and turn those into the story. Don’t tell us what happened, show us. Use the natural tension in the situation. Go into how she felt walking up to that door. Let us see how it changes her irrevocably.

It’s clearly a good concept and you just need to add the craft to it. First person is hard to write in; I rarely do it myself. It is too easy to slip into telling. When done right it can be full of tension and emotion. This reads more like a novel outline than a short story.

I can see you have your own collection available on Kindle, and I presume this is one of the stories in that collection. Clearly if you’re doing well and it’s selling well, then you can safely ignore my comments. These are all subjective anyway. I think you have a good foundation and a lot to work with here.

Seb's picture
Seb from Thanet, Kent, UK June 15, 2014 - 9:13am

I like this. It feels cold and detached, as the narrator has already become jaded and desensitised. Nice hint of light towards the end, just enough to show redemption without becoming cheesy.

Liam Hogan's picture
Liam Hogan from Earth is reading Hugo Nominations June 17, 2014 - 4:02pm


This one's a bit under the word count, a fact the PDF disguises, but I don't mind that. (Used to writing 2000 word stories myself!). While there's a distinct voice in here, (a rambling one, but that's a voice too) there's very little tension, very little evident emotion from the narrator. Animals dominate the story telling, though there's a confusion here for me at least in what happens to Jason. (seems to vanish from story when she meets Frank.)

It's tricky to suggest what to do with the story. We probably want to know what she was doing when the hoods came to collect, we want to know what she feels when she shoots them. There's a moment when we might get to see what she feels about Frank's passing, only it is interrupted in a coarse fashion. The question is whether doing that changes the voice too radically, and makes it a completely different story.

Ultimately, the ending is rather soft. She gets a break, and might in fact live happily ever after. I'm not sure I buy that, and it seems to be more what the author thinks the narrator deserves, than what she'd probably get.

Finally, her dad is written out after having his legs broken. That's a cold distance too far, for me!


Cmangano's picture
Cmangano from Maine July 28, 2014 - 3:30pm

I think this piece needs a bit of work.  I think that killing two people would get even a juvenile more than three years, not to mention copious mental evaluations. When your character gets out there are a couple of paragraphs that change setting (past and present) without any explanation. There's very little information given about the jail and I was surprised her father never came back into the story. Why would she not want to go back to her old home and see him? I think that the police would notify Frank's parents upon finding out who he was, certainly before a few days.

This story takes a hard turn on the ranch and feels like a completely different piece. It's cool that you MC finds happiness but nothing is really happening in the end. I think that your story telling voice is strong and think you could have a great story here with some time and editing