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

Adam Jenkins's picture

North of the River

By Adam Jenkins 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.

Description

North of the river belongs to the family, but with the police keeping close tabs on them it is getting harder to exert their influence. When a young man is brutally murdered on their streets, an example must be made. Hab keeps himself strictly on the legal side of the line, and he doesn’t believe that anything can convince him to cross over.

Final draft added 30/6/14

Comments

Grant Williams's picture
Grant Williams from Wichita, KS is reading Friday June 3, 2014 - 5:31am

Solid story Adam.  I was a bit confused in the beginning with the large cast of characters, but when it cut down to the duo it seemed to smooth out.  It definitely got better as the pages went.

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) June 4, 2014 - 8:41am

Thanks Grant.

madsmaddox's picture
madsmaddox from Berkshire is reading Fated June 3, 2014 - 6:15am

Adam,

A solid and entertaining read. The start in media res does initially seem confused but finds it bearings quite quickly and as such, it isn’t confusing for long, in a way, it does match the chaos that happens in a club (I've worked security, I know this lol). It’s a very honest story without gimmicks and I commend you for that. I did like the ending but the karma is linked to an understated (but cool) moment. If this was intentional it works perfectly, personally I would have given this sequence more gravitas to it. However the line ‘I moved to London’ is perfect and a great way to end that scene.

I did enjoy reading this, and it got better as Hab and Sean took control of the story. The police were a little mechanical, felt like an episode of the Bill (ever watch that?) but again, perhaps this was your intention, to make the law faceless / machine like?

I gave this a thumbs up as it made me ponder writing more honest tales grounded in reality so thanks for the lesson. One thing as well, the pace is very good, it is digestable without being force fed, something I can learn from too.

All the best, keep up the good writing and have a good one!

Mads

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) June 4, 2014 - 8:49am

Thanks Mads.

Funnily enough, most of this story is grounded in reality, so that probably helps from an honesty perspective. The character of Hab is actually based on a guy I used to work with in my London Bouncer days when I was at Uni, and he really did go to prison for helping a close friend with a hit. He used the same excuse as Hab, and ended up with a relatively light sentence.

The police are very generic here, but again they are based on dealings I had with them from the club. They are very mechanical, though I did once deal with a very nice and relatively talkative female officer, who makes it into the story.

Luckily I have an excellent reader who goes through my stories and helps a lot with the flow etc.

Loved your story by the way, as you can tell from the review.

All the best

Adam

big_old_dave's picture
big_old_dave from Watford, about 20 miles outside London, Uk June 3, 2014 - 12:30pm

Hi Adam,

Really liked way you brought over the north london setting and made dialogue believable, I hear the voices in my head. The central character was fresh and intresting and avoided a lot of the "lock stock" types that pop up in London crime fiction over and over again,

What I really needed more clearly defined was Sean's decision to carry out the shooting, maybe have it because to pay off a dept or he knew that gut that got murdered, at the moment his motivation does seem a bit flat, unlike the main character's attempts to stop him.

Great job here mate and a thumbs up from me :)

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) June 4, 2014 - 8:53am

Thanks Dave. I guess the downside of working on a fictionalised version of a (helf-remembered) true story is getting the motivations right. I'll have to work on Sean a bit more.

I posted about your story on the main forums by the way. Very harsh to get no reads (yet), and a thumbs down. We had that issue in Teleport Us, and a guy got kicked out of the contest for it. I'll be aiming to read yours soon!

big_old_dave's picture
big_old_dave from Watford, about 20 miles outside London, Uk June 4, 2014 - 9:08am

Hi Adam ,

Yeah starting to worry a bit over here that I've dumped a right stinker into the mix, cheers for the post mate, anything I can do to let us know. Just noticed it's swapped over now, so I've one managed to get one like :)

 

 

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) June 4, 2014 - 9:19am

Looks like the 'perp' has reversed of their votes. My thumbs down has vanished too.

Jonathan Riley's picture
Jonathan Riley from Memphis, Tennessee is reading Flashover by Gordon Highland June 3, 2014 - 4:32pm

The pacing of this was a little slower then most of the stories I read and I immediately noticed why. All the other peices had been first person and all but one were first person present tense which seems to be common in noir/crime fiction. I haven't read much in the genre but I'd heard that and so far in this competition it seems to hold true. Which is great. Makes for fast paced story telling. 

I was a bit worried reading these as well because the story I'm working on to submit is in third person so I'm glad I'm not the only one that chose that route. Of course I could change my mind before time to submit lol. 

All that said, I really enjoyed this pace for a change. I agree the beginning had me fighting to find my bearings as it did with other readers but once I figured out who's who and what's what it was a great read. A little more depth in this one too as you explore your protaganist's past a bit. 

I like how he falls on the grenade sotospeak, for Sean at the end but I'm left wondering if the police are going to let him off the hook so easily. I mean Sean has a gun too right? Or did I miss something? I can't imagine they wouldn't search him as well but also I don't know if crime officials are more leniant in England than in the states. Or for particular parts of the country where it may varry like in the states. So I guess if you could have it end so that the reader feels satisfied that Hab's chivarly does actually pan out in Sean's favor I think it'd hit harder for the reader and for Hab himself. Maybe that's not what you were going for at all but I felt like it was. 

I too loved the line, 

"I moved to England."

At first I was really expecting/wanting a scene where Sean and Hab got the "knifer" but after recognizing the direction the story was headed in and that it was more about the friends' relationship than their allegance to the gang I was quite satisfied with where you took it. Thumbs up from me Adam. 

--JR--

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) June 4, 2014 - 8:58am

Thanks Jonathan

I've written the odd story in first person before, but those haven't been my most successful pieces. Third person feels natural for me. Also Hab was closely based on someone I knew (and the whole piece is based on a true story), so I fell into writing about him, rather than from his perspective.

I'm glad mine won't be the only one written in the third person!

I was a bit clearer in previous drafts that there was only one gun, but that must have ended up being cut. In real life the Sean character didn't get so much as a warning, but "Hab" went to prison for a little over a year (clean weapon, never fired, used much the same excuse).

Thanks for the read and the thumbs up. Will look forward to you finishing yours and submitting!

Chacron's picture
Chacron from England, South Coast is reading Fool's Assassin by Robin Hobb June 7, 2014 - 1:53am

HI Adam,

I liked this, even though some things were unclear to me, specifically: when Sean talks about being 'so close' at the beginning, I wonder what he's talking about and I guess it might be getting 'made' into this crime family, or whatever their equivalent is, but this never gets developed and I felt like it should. Hab's 'friendship' with Sean seemed uncertain to me as well (more specifics in the LBL) and so did Hab having the gun when it seemed he gave it to Sean along with the holster.

One change I'm wondering if you could make is to have Hab volunteer for the job instead to keep Sean safe (or is this what you implied by making him the one with the gun by the time they get to the car.) 

I like the way smoking is used in this story, probably because it's a trope I use a lot myself: if you're badass, you smoke. It's been used a hell of a lot but perhaps that's because it just works, even in the day and age of smoking bans. It works well with these characters and you use it effectively in dialogue tagging and to show their feelings. I used to smoke myself, and it feels like these guys always reach for their cigarettes at typical moments.

I get the idea of seeing Hab in action at the start of the story but after that scene I got the feeling the story was going to take the line of some sort of retribution happening for Hab getting heavy on that guy, then it took a different line altogether. Not sure how to fix that to be honest, because I think you do need that kind of introduction to Hab and Sean. Perhaps work in a connection between someone they kick out of the club and the murder.

Also, why did Tommy Adams get so angry about the murder? Again, some detail of a connection might help rather than just the idea that it happened on his patch (although this is believable because gangs are always sensitive about territory.

You have an ending that fits well enough but I still felt slightly disappointed in it because I thought the stakes could have been higher. More detail on that in the LBL.

Hope this helps.

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) June 9, 2014 - 1:01am

Hi Chacron

I’ve been reading some of your comments on other stories, and had my fingers crossed you would find your way to this one. The LBL is especially useful.

As I’ve said in reply to some of the other comments, this is based on a true story. I got to know the real ‘Hab’ in my days as a door supervisor in North London. A lot of what I’ve put into the story is true, except for the backstory I’ve alluded to. ‘Hab’ was a lovely guy, very friendly, small and scrawny but I’ve seen him put down guys more than twice his size in the blink of an eye. He really was connected to the Adams Family (I’ve used the more locally popular A-Team here), and introduced me to Tommy Adams at one point when he made an appearance at our club.

The bones of the story are true. He lived platonically with someone who wanted to climb the ranks of the family. While he never said as much, I got the distinct impression that he was somewhat in love with his friend, and that he ended up going on the hit to protect him. He insisted on carrying the gun because he felt he could conceal it properly. While I’ve set the story quite recently leading up to the fall of the family in Operation Octopod, the real events took place in the early 90’s. They were stopped by the police due to sheer dumb luck, and ‘Hab’ took the full blame. He ended up in prison for a little over a year.

I can see where you are coming from regarding the action at the start of the story. I was going to do it so the guy he kicked out of the club ended up being the stabber, but my main reader put a stop to that when he replied with a one word response – “Spiderman?” I may change the victim to make it more personal, as there have been comments as to Sean’s motivations.

Thanks again for your comments, and I’ll certainly be using these as the basis of another draft. I saw from the thread on the community section that you are thinking of entering the contest too, and I sincerely hope you do. I’ll look forward to taking a read of your story.

EdVaughn's picture
EdVaughn from Louisville, Ky is reading a whole bunch of different stuff June 7, 2014 - 9:23am

Hey Adam, this was really good, I enjoyed it a lot. I had no idea where this was going. The characters were good, the story had me interested and the crime world you have created is cool. The only problems I could see, and they're not even really problems, were some cliche sayings and...the ending. I'm sure things work different in England, but when you get pulled over in Kentucky a cop would never let you just get out of your car. They would immediately become defensive and order you to get back in your car or get on the ground. In your story Sean just steps out of his car to talk to the police, no problem. That scene came off a little unbelievable for me. Other than that little exchange I didn't see any major issues. So yeah, good stuff man. 

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) June 9, 2014 - 1:07am

Thanks for the comments Ed, I’m glad you liked it. I’ve been stopped by the police on too many occasions, both as driver and passenger (though not for a few years now luckily). On most of the occasions I’ve got out of the car without any issues. Having got lost a couple of times in the States (once in Miami and once in San Antonio) and stopped to ask directions from the police, I would definitely not be getting out of the car if I was pulled over on your side of the Pond. Over here it’s completely different still.

EdVaughn's picture
EdVaughn from Louisville, Ky is reading a whole bunch of different stuff June 9, 2014 - 6:38pm

Okay, cool. I figured it was. Yeah, my window in my car doesn't roll down so the last two times I was pulled over (expired tags) I had to open my door to give the cop my license and registration and he puts his hand on his gun and orders me to stay in the car. They get all nervous that way.

W.a. Warner's picture
W.a. Warner June 10, 2014 - 11:42am

Good story. Cool characters. The ending feels very real, albeit a tad anticlimatic. I felt the heart of the story was the discussion between friends about commiting a murder. In fact, I wouldn't have minded a little more of that, how it would change them, more hesitation or compunction. The London setting was also fun--the details felt real to me.

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) June 11, 2014 - 1:45am

Excellent - thanks for the read and the comments. Those were nice to read.

Matt A.'s picture
Matt A. June 13, 2014 - 3:55am

Hey Adam, I gave you a thumbs up on this a few days ago. I've been on the road, though, and am just getting to my comments. Sorry for the delay.

I have kind of a soft spot for cautionary tales. That's what my submission is, and with yours (at least in my eyes) it seems to be the case with "North of the River." Basically, you hang with shady characters and eventually your going to burn.

The strongest point in this story is your authority. The dialogue and setting and shady goings-ons seem extremely authentic. I almost wonder if Mr Adam Jenkins was actually one of these characters. Ha, I just re-read your previous comments and see that this is based on reality, so well done transferring it to an entertaining story.

This is one of the better stories I've read so far, so I don't have much to offer. What I am getting ready to suggest are just sylistic choices and all could be thrown out. Maybe something will be of use:

In the last two minutes two police cars and an ambulance had gone screaming past the club, lights flashing and sirens blaring out into the cold night air. Nobody noticed. It was just another Wednesday night.
“You’re a bloody idiot, Sean,” said Hab.

--In this passage, it's hard for me to get grounded in the "where" of things. The exterior action of sirens and simple sentence of "Nobody noticed" makes it hard for me to picture where we're at. Because it's a crime story, I can guess what type of club, but guessing isn't what you want. In other words, who's "nobody?"--a packed room of stoned ravers or a few drunk guys at the bar of a blues club? I believe you mention later, but maybe it can be moved a little earlier. Because you jump into the middle of a conversation here, which is tough to pull off, I think it's best to get a clear idea of where we're at and how these two fit into things.

Hot knife through butter?--I'm the last guy to say never to use cliches, but just consider a better more unique way your POV character might say it (through the narrator in the case of third person)

There were two types of club security; tanks and talkers. Both had their place, but Hab always tried to use discretion as a first choice. He walked directly over to the man and smiled with as much warmth as he could muster.                                                                                     --Nice bit of exposition vs action here. Well balanced pacing.

The man had at least half a foot in height and a good four or five stone on Hab.

--You could probably cut stuff like this down. "The man had at least least half a foot anf four stone on Hab." Reading out loud to myself helps me cut out redundant words in mine.

Hitting the nerve, the knife dropped from the man’s grip, and Hab butted him in the face. As his hand came up to his face, Hab grabbed his arm and twisted, locking his shoulder. 

--There's a few sections where words are repeated that don't need to be. Here it's "face." I think these are good opportunities for writers to stretch their skills and mastery of synonyms. I try not to use the same nouns and verbs in consecutive sentences. If you read this out loud, maybe you can see where it sounds repetitive.

This could be a rough neighbourhood.

--Is this wrap up sentence necessary? It seems that by hearing about the kid being stabbed 17 times we could make that assumption.

Nat was his sister,

--Alfie's or Hab's? Also, I wasn't quite following this exchange and what was meant, starting with the "batting for the other team" comment. Okay, just read the part about him being queer. So, did his mention of being jealous about Maria mean he likes Sean a bit? Just consider how necessary all this is to your story. It involves a lot of names that are only mentioned in passing. I'm guessing you feel like this is Hab's motivation for accompanyng Sean on the hit, but I'm not too sure.

The dialogue without tags, where Sean is telling Hab he's going to do the hit, works great. The back and forth flows well. Consider amping up the tension a bit, though. It's too conversational. Maybe someone gets in the other's face or slams their hand down or something, just to show it's a little more charged. If Hab's got a gay crush going with this guy, maybe he'd be a little more emotional about it?

Pg12:

The followed him down the road

--add a "y" to the first word.

Well, I was really digging deep here. Other than the last typo I just mentioned, it's all your choice to use or not. It's a great story. Let me know if any of this needs clarification.

Good luck!

 

 

 

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) June 13, 2014 - 4:57am

Thanks for the comments, Doug. I’m glad you liked it, and those comments are very useful. I’m planning another run at it in the next week, and really it’s to tie up some motivations issues for Sean’s character. I’m looking to give the stabbing more of a connection to these guys. Originally it was based on the Ben Kinsella murder. In that case, despite him having nothing to do with the family, they issued a hit threat on the killers that led to them handing themselves in. After the comments I’ve had, and discussions with my main reader, I think the story would be strengthened through greater connectivity.

As you’ve seen, this is all based (albeit loosely in places) on truth. “Hab” was a bit of a mentor figure for me I guess. When he told me about his part in the failed hit he was vague on why he did it, but the way he talked about “Sean” made it pretty clear to me that he was at least partially in love with the guy. He was always a protective guy, and while he was someone that didn’t like resorting to violence, it was in his nature to acts of impulsiveness to help his friends. I hope I’ve done his character justice, even where I’ve steered from the truth.

I’m certainly going to keep your suggestions at the front of my mind during the next run through.

Thanks again!

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) June 13, 2014 - 4:57am

Ignore - posted by mistake

Geert Mostrey's picture
Geert Mostrey from Belgium is reading Gone Girl June 16, 2014 - 11:56am

Hi Adam,

I really enjoyed reading your story. Normally I'm not a big fan of gangster / mob gigs but this one did it for me. I particularly like the way you manage to make Hab and Sean real life persons, allowing the reader to actually like them, regardless of what they may have done or be doing.

The story paces well, hangs together and begs for more.

Maybe because of the subtle ambiguity  of their relation  it reminded me at times of an argentinian movie " Plata Quemada ".

A clear thumbs up from me.

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) June 17, 2014 - 12:18am

Thank you for the read and the comments Geert. You are actually the first to read this after I made a few changes, so I'm really glad it seems to have worked. Plata Quemada sounds interesting. I had to wiki it, and there is definitely some connective tissue there. I'll have to check it out sometime.

Cmangano's picture
Cmangano from Maine June 16, 2014 - 5:11pm

The dialogue here is really believable. The back and fourth between Hab and Sean made me wonder at first if they were actually brothers, Hab constantly looking out for Sean. Later I realized that the two have a strong and complicated friendship and appreciated the time you put into making their relationship feel real. I assumed that, because you were mentioning a crime family,  this would be a sort of mob story. I was glad when it turned out to be more about a specific crime and the connection between the two main characters. As well as being an engaging crime story it seems that this piece is about love; brotherly or otherwise. Nicely done.

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) June 17, 2014 - 12:20am

Thanks for the read and the comments. I'm glad to get some positive comments on dialogue, because it's usually an area I struggle with. I certainly wanted love at the centre of the story. Love is complicated, especially when it is unrequited.

Seb's picture
Seb from Thanet, Kent, UK June 18, 2014 - 8:03am

Nice character-driven piece. It felt authentic and I enjoyed reading it. My only thought is Sean's sudden volunteering, and refusal to back down, without being coerced or manipulated into it. He didn't even think about it. Perhaps a line of dialogue hinting at his true motivation would be beneficial; it felt like his claim to righteousness was covering something deeper, like revenge, even if it was just against dealers in general. The avoidance of cliché was excellent and the details were very neat. Like it a lot.

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) June 18, 2014 - 8:23am

Thanks Seb. Sean's motivation is a common issue seemingly. I did write a fresh draft that went into much more depth, but it was pointed out to me that the story then became more about Sean, and less about Hab. I'm still pondering how to close the issue without changing the entire focus.

Devon Robbins's picture
Devon Robbins from Utah is reading The Least Of My Scars by Stephen Graham Jones June 20, 2014 - 8:13am

Hey Adam,

You've got a good story here. Cleanly written and put together well. I don't really have any negatives, but a few suggestions to consider. I saw this as a sort of heart-felt story. I would have like to see more of the character's actions to reveal some character. If you could show Sean doing something or a little back story, to show who he is and why he wants to go through with this, it would create more tension between the characters. 

Maybe Sean just had a shitty hand in life and wants more, maybe he has other motives: protection, money to take care of someone... You could do little things to make it make sense in his head, in turn, making the reader want him to go through with it.

Just a suggestion, of course. Good job on this, and good luck.

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) June 20, 2014 - 8:17am

Thanks for the read and the comments. I've certainly tied with making Sean more prominent, and even wrote a draft which went more into his motivations. Ultimately I decided that this was Hab's story, and going into more depth on Sean changed the dynamics of the story completely. I'm toying with the idea of building on this piece, and throwing in a load of other stories from my London days. If I do that, Sean will certainly have more prominence and backstory.

Thanks again!

Devon Robbins's picture
Devon Robbins from Utah is reading The Least Of My Scars by Stephen Graham Jones June 20, 2014 - 8:21am

I see your point. Regardless, good job. I'd like to see some more when you get to them.

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) June 21, 2014 - 2:35am

Thanks Devon, I'm grateful for your comments!

Dino Parenti's picture
Dino Parenti from Los Angeles is reading Everything He Gets His Hands On June 20, 2014 - 10:07pm

I really dig this, Adam. Hab and Sean's relationship feels natural and unforced, which can be an issue in stories like this. It's also written sharply but cleanly. "Hit the right pace and you could pass through the crowd like a bullet through flesh," is a great noir line because it doesn't really feel set up, but out of the situation. I do agree with Devon's suggestion of giving some deeper reason for Sean's insistance on taking out the knifer (sorry, I don't remember the name). As it reads now, he sounds desperate to do it--as if a serious reason exists--but we never get one. I think that's something that can be explored a bit in their heart-to-heart when Sean asks him if he'd ever shot anyone (and yes, the London line is perfect.). Maybe he starts to tell the reason, and you provide just enough detail where the reader can infer most of it. It would be in keeping with your tone and style which reveals little in the best possible sense; the unsaid is always better IMO. Short of that, this is a really first-rate draft with only a bit of polish left to go.

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) June 21, 2014 - 2:34am

Thanks for the read and the comments Dino. Coming from you, these positive comments really do mean a lot to me. I'll break out the Pledge and a duster and give it another buffing.

Aud Fontaine's picture
Aud Fontaine from the mountains is reading Catch-22. Since like, always. June 23, 2014 - 8:08pm

Adam,

I really enjoyed your story. I especially liked how it managed to be a crime story without a single crime actually being committed. Well, aside from a minor traffic violation and the illegal carrying of a weapon. I thought that was really clever. The only things I would have liked more of would definitely be more focus on the Hab/Sean relationship. I don't think I've ever read a hardboiled story like this featuring gay characters and some more insight into their bond and takes on masculinity would've been very interesting to me. It's such a cool idea that I think a closer look would greatly benefit the piece as a whole. I was also a little unclear on the reasoning behind the hit. That might have just been a lack of comprehension on my end but I didn't fully understand why the family needed to get involved with the knifing of a random kid. Was he connected to the family in some way or do they just not tolerate any unauthorized crime in their area? Was the guy a threat to them somehow? I also would've liked more on why Sean was so set on carrying out the hit himself which is something I think has been brought up by other commentors. Maybe it could somehow tie into his latent homosexuality? He could be using murder as a way to cement his masculinity despite his orientation that might otherwise be seen as a weakness in his line of work, perhaps? Anyways, these are just some suggestions. Overall I really did enjoy the piece. It was very strong and compelling. Great work.

Aud.

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) June 24, 2014 - 8:06am

Thank you for the comments, Aud. I found your comments on Sean’s latent homosexuality to be particularly interesting. He was not written to be anything else other than heterosexual, but there is perhaps a softening of that at times. I like the idea that he would want to take this job on because of a need to feel more masculine.

The actions of the family are loosely based on the Ben Kinsella murder. A teenager was murdered savagely for little to no reason, and the family (who are very real) did announce a hit on his murderers, calling them all marked men. They always were very territorial, but when the murder occurred, the family were under a lot of police pressure. Terry was in jail, and his brothers were under constant surveillance, though it took another 6 years for Operation Octopod to finally shut them down. The failed hit the real Hab and Sean went on was in the 90’s, so I’ve messed with chronology a fair bit. I’ll drop some more hints as to Sean’s motivations on the next run through.

RhysWare's picture
RhysWare from Worcester, England is reading The Warriors June 27, 2014 - 2:35pm

Hi Adam,

Great little piece, this. It's great to see a story firmly based in reality, with realistic characters and a realistic plot.

Most people seem to have a problem with the motives of Shaun, whereas I do not. I understand that mostly people want some serious reason for a character to be driven, but I think the fact that Shaun wants further in with the family is one enough. I think Shaun's impetus is fine, but, perhaps you could add in a sentence or two to expand that little bit more, just to please more of your audience.

One thing I was certainly impressed by was the dialogue. It's great, very realistic and very truthful. Being English myself I could hear every word spoken in perfect accent, and it really helped with the flow of the story. I also loved the fact that it is quite heavy with dialogue. I much prefer stories that are dense with dialogue than ones that use two paragraphs to get the same results.

I've used the word to describe your dialogue, but I'll use it again to describe the story itself. It's honest, and that's a great thing.

Good luck with this one, mate. You've proven, contrary to a comment I left another submitter, that your story doesn't need to be layered with excitement. It's fresh-flowing, and great for it.

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) June 28, 2014 - 2:15pm

Thanks for those comments. Sean has been doing my head in, so it's nice to see someone who isn't bothered by the motives. I'm still aiming to get a final final final draft posted before the deadline. Thanks again, I really appreciate it.

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) June 30, 2014 - 1:52am

Final draft now up. Hopefully it deals with the Sean motivation gap that lots of you have mentioned.

madsmaddox's picture
madsmaddox from Berkshire is reading Fated July 1, 2014 - 6:39am

Adam,

the polyfilla works! Personally I didn't have an issue with the original draft with regard to Sean, this isn't his story, its Habs, but the additions certainly do smooth things for Sean's motive.

All the best and best of luck in the contest!

Mads

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) July 1, 2014 - 7:54am

Thanks Mads. I figured I'd do the extra polish while editing was still possible. It was a fine line between having Sean be a motiveless antagonist and not having him take the story away from Hab. I struggled, but luckily I have a quality reader who gives me good steers a lot of the time.

Hooper Triplett's picture
Hooper Triplett from Tucson, AZ is reading Fever Pitch June 30, 2014 - 10:17pm

The pace and the action was smooth through the first part in the club, but things got bogged down in the middle with so many names and relations to track.  Some of the dialogue felt more written than spoken but that may be a regional/national difference.  I also wonder if that's a result of the third-person narration.  Ultimately I wanted to know more about the main characters, and that's a winner for me.

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

Thanks Hooper, I really appreciate the read and the honest comments.

Damon Lytton's picture
Damon Lytton from Augusta, Kansas is reading Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow July 2, 2014 - 4:58pm

Adam,

I once had a screenwriting teacher tell me that a script should be ninety percent descriptive action and ten percent dialogue.  I always resented him for saying that because I love dialogue.  Some of my proudest moments as a writer are when I manage to write two pages without anything but dialogue - in scripts anyway.  Now I know the screenplay format is much, much different than prose, but I couldn't help but think about that ridiculous ratio as I was reading your story.  On the one hand, I am incredibly envious that you were able to rein in your descriptions and just let these characters talk to each other.  On the other, I feel like this story might just be a little claustrophobic.

Marius Marais. Parents were South African. His dad got carjacked over there, and they moved over here because it was safer. Safer. What a joke that is. We were close; practically brothers. One night we went out for a few drinks, went our separate ways afterwards. He didn’t make it home. Stabbed in the fucking heart."

I feel like this is a moment.  I want to see Sean as he's saying this; I want to see Hab reacting to it.  Letting dialogue drive this story is great, but I think there are times to let a moment breathe on its own.  Otherwise, the effect could become stale for the reader.

The only other caution I would offer concerns distance between truth and fiction.  I don't know you or the true story (and I could be completely wrong), but I feel like you're maybe too beholden to what actually happened in real life.  I think it's okay to keep the essence of the event and stretch the limits of truth into more fictional parameters to tell the best story possible.  But again, I could be seeing more signs than are actually there.

Other than that, I liked your story.  If this review seemed negative, it's not how I meant it.  I think maybe I just want to love it and for some reason I can't.

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) July 3, 2014 - 12:21am

90% descriptive action? In a script? I don't tend to dabble in writing scripts, but I do like reading them, and I don't think I've come across any that conform to that percentage.

Funny you should mention widening the gap between fiction and truth, because you aren't the first person to mention that. My reader said the same thing, and that I was holding back and going for a safe option. I think you both have a very fair point.

For the paragraph you picked out, there is a reason that I kept it throwaway and chose not to develop on that moment. It's not a good reason though (quite the opposite).

I really do appreciate the honesty in your comments. Like anyone, I'm happy for people to tell me how much they love my story, but it's critique's like yours that ultimately make stories stronger.

Damon Lytton's picture
Damon Lytton from Augusta, Kansas is reading Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow July 3, 2014 - 2:49pm

Regarding the 90% to 10% ratio, I think those teachers were reacting to novice screenwriters' tendency to overuse dialogue in what is a very visual medium.  I've never heard that as a rule outside of that teacher, so I'm sure he was trying to overcompensate by straight-up lying.  Most of the scripts I've read are closer to 50/50.  This was really off topic but I thought I'd reply in case anyone thought it was interesting.

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) July 3, 2014 - 10:39pm

Yup, definitely interesting!

Motor-Psycho's picture
Motor-Psycho from Montreal is reading Everything By Willeford July 2, 2014 - 9:01pm

The 'he replied' 3 times in the first paragraph really made me doubt the story. Then the 'show of force' was heavy-handed, like the 'this is a tough guy' intro of a Hollywood movie. I also read it in Ken Bruen's London Boulevard where his Protag breaks the arm of a squeegie kid for no reason other than to prove to the reader that we r dealing with a badass. cliche IMO.

And the pusher selling pills with no connection to the club, and pulling a knife made it less believable for me. 

I liked the banter with the club owner and the dialogue was really mature and believeable, shame the following scene was so melodramatic and cliche re: you dont have what it takes to kill a man.

Alot more "he replied" here and if anything, I think you should delete that word from future work.

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) July 3, 2014 - 12:26am

Thanks for the comments. You can't float everybodies boat, but I'm grateful you took the time out to tell me what didn't work for you. It's always more interesting to read these types of comments, even if it isn't quite as ego-boosting.

Can I ask one question though? You say the "he replied" three times in the first paragraph made you doubt the story. I think maybe you didn't mean first paragraph, as that is:

"In the last two minutes two police cars and an ambulance had gone screaming past the nightclub, lights flashing and sirens blaring out into the cold night air. The punters waiting in line to enter barely noticed. It was just another Wednesday night."

Did you mean first section? I do note that I have three in close order at the bottom or page 1 and the top of page 3.

Motor-Psycho's picture
Motor-Psycho from Montreal is reading Everything By Willeford July 3, 2014 - 6:12am

Yeah. I cant remember ever reading he replied in fiction before. Journalism maybe. I need to trust in a writer - and to be honest Ive read better work here than in Thuglit - and there wasn't much of an original voice here. Take the opening paragraph and give it to your favorite authors: Outside club; Action; On a Wednesday - and think about how yours would measure up.

I suggest you wasted your opening on telling us things are chaotic in clubs on a Wednesday. Recommend using this valuable spot to intro Hab ( I love that in comments above you say he was perhaps gay) or as a better intro into your world. 

 

Think about why you are the best person to tell us this story and turn every 'ordinary' sentence into little pieces of You.

PS. I had to Google what a punter is and it just means customer? 

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) July 3, 2014 - 2:31pm

Yes, punter basically means customer, though there is a slight negative connotation to the word. Given the tale is set in London, I've used the local vernacular. Club-goers were never referred to customers; they were always punters or Joe (Joe Public). Incidentally the use of the word tourist later on doesn't mean someone who is on holiday. Tourist (or more usually 'bloody tourist!') is more a derogatory term meaning someone clueless.

I realise that being from Canada some of these things may not have hit home as they would have done for someone over here. I've got a friend that moved out to Nova Scotia, and it's certainly a different world. It'd be nice to live in a country where you don't get random thugs whipping out knives in clubs. It didn't happen often when I worked in London (we usually found them before they brought them in), but when it did happen, it got a little bit scary. I was always glad when the guy Hab was based on was around. He was a scrawny little bloke, but he was fantastic in a fight.

Anyhoo, I'm rambling. Thanks again for the comments, they are all greatly appreciated, and I'll keep them in mind if I ever come to do another sweep on this one. Best of luck with your story. I'm trying to get through everything in date order, but I'll get there eventually to return the favour.

Motor-Psycho's picture
Motor-Psycho from Montreal is reading Everything By Willeford July 3, 2014 - 2:43pm

Most clubs here have Hells Angels and/or Mafia dealers selling inside. I would assume most clubs in big cities have the same set up. Independent drug dealers would be beaten and robbed if they tried selling on someone else's turf. Thats what I meant.