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Daniel Culver's picture

Mabel's Suitcase

By Daniel Culver in Arrest Us

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Description

Colton is a recluse. Colton has Asperger’s. Colton likes comic books and good grammar, and dislikes bad manners and noisy neighbours. So when Colton gets too nosey, and witnesses his neighbour's murder, he decides to investigate, instead of, you know, leaving it to the professionals. But maybe he’ll give the culprits a good telling off. Only, somehow, he ends up with the body in his own apartment, his prints all over her bedroom, and the police at his front door. How is Colton going to luck his way out of this one? .

Comments

Devon Robbins's picture
Devon Robbins from Utah is reading The Least Of My Scars by Stephen Graham Jones June 18, 2014 - 9:15pm

Hey Daniel, 

I liked the style you went with on this one. It worked really well for the character. The beginning of the story was really strong, but the ending sort of drifted away from me. It wasn't a deal breaker, but after the protagonist escapes the apartment, it felt like things started to fall in to place too conveniently. The way things fell into place— sock guys leave the apartment, protagonist slips back inside, real cops come to the door— killed the tension for me because I knew then that everything would be okay.

There are also a few typos in there.

If you want me to expand on my thoughts a bit more, let me know.

Daniel Culver's picture
Daniel Culver from London, UK is reading White Teeth, Zadie Smith and Don't Point That Thing At Me June 19, 2014 - 11:43am

Hey Devon

Thank you for taking the time to read it - I've never written a short story before, and this was oriinally intended as part of a full novel-length narrative, so I sort of cheated and edited it down to fit the word count - I guess I lost a lot of the tension trying to wrap it up so quickly (It's almost bang on 5000 wrds), but was a fun challenge anyhow.

Must've missed the typos, though I might have let a few UK spellings slip through, and there are a few other coloquial spellings too.

Really appreciate your comments.

Best

Daniel

 

Geert Mostrey's picture
Geert Mostrey from Belgium is reading Gone Girl June 19, 2014 - 10:01am

Hi Daniel,

You have a creative story and it certainly has potential. I also believe you had a strong opening paragraph creating interest and tension.

Somehow however from there on it kind of slips away, so I believe that you would need to have some reediting to do to make it into a really captivating read. At times it doesn't really flow, the meandering of his mind interrupting the continuity of the story. Also I think you should make the tension of the whole situation more tangible. At times I got the feeling your main character could just as well be telling about a day of proofreading.

The ending was a bit too neat. Maybe you can have your main character discover rather than everything being told ?

All in all, I believe you can make a good story out of this, but it still needs some work on it.

Brandon D Christopher's picture
Brandon D Chris... June 20, 2014 - 5:04pm

Hi Daniel,

Like the other reviewers, I enjoyed your opening very much, but I felt the story turned into the narrator telling us what was happening instead of the story telling us what was happening. You really described the thoughts of your protagonist very well, and I found myself laughing at many of the thoughts running through his head, but I just didn't feel a sense of tension from the story itself. Great premise, though. 

Seb's picture
Seb from Thanet, Kent, UK June 24, 2014 - 2:28am

I enjoyed this. As the narrator is on the autistic spectrum he wouldn't know what was appropriate and what wasn't, even in a voiceover narrative. He also wouldn't be too good at explaining, instead he'd recount what happened as a list. You fit just enough description and show to keep the story afloat without quashing his voice, which I liked. Nice one.

Hector Acosta's picture
Hector Acosta from Dallas is reading Fletch June 28, 2014 - 7:12pm

Daniel,

I agree with the consensus here. I really liked the beginning of this story. It felt like you had a really good grasp of the narrator's voice-it was entertaining without being grating, and the events were interesting enough to ignore the fact the voice was a little bit passive.
 

The issue for me at was that the voice might be too much of a good thing. As you really don't have a lot of interaction in this piece, we're forced to be in Colton's head constantly, and his asides and jokes began to become too much for me.

I think the story could be a lot stronger if instead of starting with Mabel already dead, you build up to that moment. Yeah, you lose the great beginning you have here, but it also allow you to not to have to focus so much on Colton and Mabel's backstory.

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) July 3, 2014 - 5:56am

There are some interesting concepts here. I like the idea of having the protagonist be autistic (explains why he creeps into her flat too), and him accidentally stumbling onto a murder and trying to thwart the escape. I’d really consider dropping the autism angle in much earlier though, or at least making it more obvious.

Unfortunately having the narrative come from such a protagonist makes the read difficult at times. It was hard to grasp what was going on, and what the time frames were. Opening with him hiding under a bed is strong, though the unanswered questions you begin with are very cliché. The format of the story seriously affects the flow. You have a lot of single sentence paragraphs, and I found that broke up the narrative and became disjointed.

Tension was an issue, and I note that’s been picked up by others too. He’s under the bed with the killers right by him, but there’s no feeling of imminent threat. Your protagonist seems more concerned with babbling about being a firefighter than he is about the owner of the socks who will surely kill him. There are some clever twists with the police, but again there’s an odd absence of danger. That may be another issue from the formatting and the voice. It’s a unique voice, but it lacks the moments of quiet where you can really build tension.

This really does have a lot of potential. I can see you building up the threat/tension, or I can see you making it a farce and going for all out humour. I’m fascinated with the idea of you maintaining this kind of voice for a full novel. It would be hard to pull off, but well worth it if you can do it. You’ve clearly got talent. Best of luck with developing this one.