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Jake E Sampson's picture


By Jake E Sampson in Arrest Us

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The disjointed memories of a potential killer send Sean back and forth within his own lifetime. Had he witnessed a crime or had he commited it. 


Lawrence's picture
Lawrence from Dallas, Texas is reading Mr. Mercedes - Stephen King June 2, 2014 - 12:08pm

Jake, thanks for posting your story. I thought the dialogue felt authentic, strong, and flowed well. The structure you're playing with works well for these types of stories.

The things I would clean up would be the overall narrative. The style relayed the feeling of confusion and inebriation in a way I think you meant to but I felt myself getting a little too lost at times. I’m also all for breaking the generic rules of writing but beginning a story with dialogue with characters unknown to the reader, especially a back and forth, is a hard to trick to pull. I think it usually works much better in film than it does in text.

Overall I really enjoyed your sentence structure, style, and metaphors but your dialogue was definitely the strongest part of the story for me. 


EdVaughn's picture
EdVaughn from Louisville, Ky is reading a whole bunch of different stuff June 2, 2014 - 5:39pm

Man, I loved the voice on this one. Great neo-noir style. Good structure too, but on the down-side some of the breaks had me a little confused as to what was going on. Also, I'm not sure naming the months toward the end was necassary especially since you don't at the beginning. Speaking of beginning, the opeing paragraph could stand to be re-written a little. As of now it's just some disembodied voices talking. Describe the setting and characters instead of just having the conversation. Otherwise though it's a great story.

Cmangano's picture
Cmangano from Maine June 2, 2014 - 7:34pm

Well done. You've done a nice job of keeping things a mystery. I think that the writing style, (especially having an interior monologue) lends itself to this particular genre. Overall I found myself compelled to continue reading the whole time; wanting to know how it would all end.

Grant Williams's picture
Grant Williams from Wichita, KS is reading Friday June 3, 2014 - 10:27am

Really well done.  I thought that from the very beginning your voice was clear and established.  It wasn't obvious where you were going the entire time and even the hazy bits were good enough that you (the reader) don't mind being confused, if that makes any sense.  You definitely had room to spare word count wise, but I think the fact that you didn't need the extra space speaks volumes.

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) June 5, 2014 - 12:51am

Stylistically this is very good. I think you nailed the drug/drink/insomnia confusion throughout. As has been mentioned elsewhere, the dialogue is very strong, though it was hard to follow at times. Without tags it wasn’t always clear who was talking.

I did find it very disjointed, and difficult to read at times. The numerous breaks affected the flow of the story, and added to the confusion over what was going on.

Overall though I liked it. I think you could do with tidying up some of it, tagging the dialogue a bit more and maybe making it flow a little smoother, but it holds the interest and the voice is compelling.

Joe P's picture
Joe P from Brainerd, MN is reading Wheel of Time June 6, 2014 - 9:26am


I think I agree with a lot of the comments above. Your voice and writing style are solid. Dialogue is good and the overall feel is realized. However, it's so disjointed I couldn't follow the story or grasp where you were going with it. I couldn't follow the plot and the constant jumps from one unrelated scene to another were too distracting.

I get that you're going for confusion and a untrustworthy narratory, but for me it was too much. Some minor tweaks may give this the solidarity it needs.

Dino Parenti's picture
Dino Parenti from Los Angeles is reading Everything He Gets His Hands On June 18, 2014 - 8:25pm

You nailed the disjointedness of his state-of-mind really well. At first I thought about nitpicking certain typos and punctuation errors, but as soon as I allowed my eyes to tune into his speech pattern, I bought it. The actual plot progression is a bit dodgy and kept losing me. I think if you can tighten that up a bit, then you can really have fun with his "narrative" voice. I do agree with one of the above statements that you really don't need to use the months unless you did it for the whole thing. It is a bit jarring, especially since you can relay passage of time with one really well-written line. 

Seb's picture
Seb from Thanet, Kent, UK June 19, 2014 - 8:26am

Nice. A few missing commas, a few others that shouldn't be there, but very odd and intriguing. It feels like part of a larger piece. Like it.

Liam Hogan's picture
Liam Hogan from Earth is reading Hugo Nominations June 26, 2014 - 4:42am

You've aimed for a voice which is strong and colourful, but there's a few places where it grates early on, which lessens the effect: "overpaid pig cop" - pig is usually used instead of cop, not with. "raw as a topside beef" - i'd be tempted to lose the "a" - or change to a side of beef, or slab. (A topside doesn't seem to work). "slowly perspiring" - why slowly? Why not just perspiring?

These can be weeded out by a careful edit - make sure each bit of colour is working for you, and for a narrator like this, works read aloud. Would catch the typos "setteling" and "he eyes looked up" as well!

These are minor "craft" issues, but alas what readers tend to notice first.So, the story. Having read it, I don't know what the story is. Which is a problem. Insomnia and drugs will lead to an unreliable narrator, but the reader has to glimpse the bigger picture, and I don't. I don't know if this is an afterlife, I don't know why it is set in the future, I don't know the connection between Mallory, June, and the girl he wakes up next to.

Also, I don't see what the "june" and "august" headings give you, except as a quirky "june, that was her name" - which isn't enough to justify it.

Finally, the start makes it obvious he's done time (a career criminal) before, but from the waking up and finding the dot of ink, his voice/thoughts don't seem that of a criminal. All in all, it needs a smoother flow, or a lot longer treatment to allow the shape of the story to emerge under the delusions and hallucinations.