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Jay Parekh's picture

Que sera sera

By Jay Parekh in Arrest Us

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Description

Sometimes our choices don't matter. We kick and scream at life, putting all our energy behind working for the one thing we want most, we bet all the cards. But sometimes, life deals us a shitty hand and rewards us by taking it all away. Maybe its luck, maybe fate or destiny or maybe God just has a really bad sense of humour. Oh well, Que sera sera - Whatever will be, will be. What can you do? Right?

Comments

Turtlethumbs's picture
Turtlethumbs July 1, 2014 - 5:11pm

Hi Jay,

At first I downvoted, having read only the first few paragraphs. At first I thought your writing style was too cliche, but I kept going because I'm trying to get better at reading other people's work. I'm really glad I kept going! It's a wonderful story. I enjoyed the tragic, morbid bits quite a bit. Almost hoped it would end as sad and unfair as the first two acts. I sort of knew where it was headed once he put the gun down, but I didn't see it going as far as it did. Very pleased it went in that direction. So after reading through more of it I changed my vote to an upvote. Awesome story. Definitely needs some editing, because there is a lot of telling and potential for much of it to be a lot stronger. One example is the "hot and humid like the Amazon" sentence. That kind of stuff needs changing. But the story idea is very good and I'm glad I read it!

Max

PS. Please read my story and let me know what you think! http://litreactor.com/events/arrest-us/born-again-packaging

Jay Parekh's picture
Jay Parekh is reading Fight Club July 1, 2014 - 9:08pm

Thanks Max! I appreciate the kind words and the feedback! I am at work at the moment, but I ll definitely read your story and leave my comment later on in the day.

Damon Lytton's picture
Damon Lytton from Augusta, Kansas is reading Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow July 3, 2014 - 5:22pm

Hello Jay,

Well done on a compelling narrative.  I thought you created realistic character and gave them all natural dialogue.  The tone in this story feels so real to me that I can't tell at all what direction you're going to go.  In Act I there are moments that are funny to me for some reason.  When Harry sits on the hot hood of his car, then jumps up and is shot for his trouble (all of which is followed by three shrill screams).  That section I laughed at.  I'm not sure if that's something you meant to do.  The thing about reality is that comedy and tragedy are intertwined in a troubling embrace that can be viewed as one or the other depending on outlook.  This all seems like I'm bashing your style - and if it's unintentional maybe you should take a look at that - but I like how these moments of humor are followed immediately by darker actions.

The big thing I would say is holding this story back is the focus.  I think Act I goes on for a bit too long, Act II not nearly long enough and Act III is about perfect (though I think you could lose the Epilogue completely).  Though Harry is important to this story and needs to cast a long shadow over everything, his death is just a beginning.  For me, this story seemed to really be about Samantha and her respective act is the shortest of the bunch.  I'd like to see more of her dealing with the fallout of Harry's death, the trial and the acquittal.  Maybe plant a few seeds of her possibly not being happy with Harry, so the reader might believe a little more that she could fall for Brady - give that rug-pull a little more force.

That's about all I've got.  I think there's a lot of potential in this story and another pass or two should really make it shine.  As a last remark, if that comedy bent I'm seeing isn't really intended, it's probably just me.  I tend to find humor where most others wouldn't.

Jay Parekh's picture
Jay Parekh is reading Fight Club July 4, 2014 - 10:13am

I am glad you liked it Damon! 

To answer your question, yes the comedy was intentional. If I had to categorise this into a genre it would be satire.

And Damon, I think you've hit the nail right on the head as far as the weakness of this story is concerned. Its definitely the focus, more specifically its the weakness of Act II.

When I was writing this, originally Act II was just meant to be an interlude between the Act I and Act III. That's why its also predominantly telling. But, as it is in writing, things changed and the story morphed into what you read but Act II stayed the same, only adequate enough to be a narrative bridge. Thanks I appreciate this point, since I hadnt seen it till now, and it makes perfect sense.

And yup your right, after finishing, I too realised this story is primarily about Samantha, infact I had considered titling it "Samantha's last resort" for awhile.

Cheers!

 

PS. I ll have some time tomorrow to give your story a read. 

- Jay

Aud Fontaine's picture
Aud Fontaine from the mountains is reading Catch-22. Since like, always. July 4, 2014 - 12:43pm

Jay,

I really liked your overall story. I always enjoy a good "Fuck Tha Police", fuck the system tale 'cause, you know, the system fucking sucks. However, and I hate to say this because it's been said to me so many times so I know how frustrating it is, I think you should really work on showing instead of telling. There are so many instances in this piece that I think could really benefit from a little subtelty. When you just lay all of your cards out there it makes it for a less involving read than when you make the reader work a little harder and in a story like this that has the potential to be really emotional I think you should try to take advantage of that. Exploit the reader's inate instinct to empathize with fictional people. Exploit the hell out of it, man. I'd also suggest working on the dialogue a little bit. As it reads right now, the dialogue and narrative both sound very similar so you might try humanizing the way they talk and maybe making the narrative a little fancier. You have some serious five dollar words thrown in there (I actually had to look up callipygian) but the rest of your narrative is pretty much sugar cookie normal. I'd suggest going with one or the other. You also have a few typos in there. I saw the wrong "its" at one point and "gauge" instead of "gauze" and a few others here and there but nothing big. That said I'm still upvoting it because your story is a very fun read and you have a great idea, I just think you should work on making it more cathartic. Best of luck, with another pass I think this could be really awesome.

Aud.

Jay Parekh's picture
Jay Parekh is reading Fight Club July 6, 2014 - 12:34am

Thanks Aud, I appreciate the feedback, although I am not exactly sure on how to make the piece more subtle. I guess I ll have to figure that part out.

I do understand what you mean about the prose and I 've also got similar feedback from friends so I ll definitely work on that. I like your suggestion of humanising dialog and making the narrative fancier. That sounds quite satisfying from a witer's point of view aswell.

 

Hector Acosta's picture
Hector Acosta from Dallas is reading Fletch July 4, 2014 - 5:51pm

Jay,

I unfortunately wasn't able to get into this story. To me this felt like a very rough draft writing and plot wise. You have some good ideas and moments, but at the end I felt like you were trying to do too much, and there were some errors in the writing that would make slow down your writing.

Your punctuation within dialogue could use a second look. Here's a good website in case you're no familiar with all the rules: http://theeditorsblog.net/2010/12/08/punctuation-in-dialogue/

In the story, you mainly run into this:

“You were going pretty fast, in a hurry there, sport?”

“Slow down, Harry! What’s the rush?! We’re early today.”

“Today’s an important day, sweetheart. I can’t be late."

I bolded the commas that should be included before the name(Harry, Sport, sweetheart).

The dialogue also needs to be corrected in the following examples:

“See? You were going too fast,” Samantha said.

“Not now Darlin,” Harry said, eyes rolling.

If the tag directly follows the dialogue, there should be a comma, not a perid. You would use a  period when the tag comes before the dialogue, like:

Harry said, "Not now Darlin."

Was there a particular reason why you capitalize 'Officer'?  I noticed you also capitalized 'School'.

I think the flow of the story would be helped if you choose just one point of view rather than jump from Harry to Samantha to the officer. Right now, the way its structure, the switches break the flow of the story, and don't really add much to the story.

In the first part of the story, none of the actions of the characters made any sense to me. They felt unrealistic. I didn't understand why Harry was being such an asshole to the cop- Yeah, he was making him late to work, but his reaction seemed a lot more intense than just that (keeping the POV entirely on him might help this). Why was the officer giving Harry such a hard time? You later on try to make it clear that it's because he thought/knew that Samantha was being beaten by Harry, but in the first part you never get me to really believe this. Samanta was the most frustrating to me though. According to the officer, she cries, then looks relieved when the officer is going to take Harry to jail, and then one line of dialogue letter, you say she looks bored, and somewhat curious (two emotions that are contradictory)

Be careful about trying to do too much with your writing. Often times, the best description is the simplest one. This line:

Harry had a momentary lapse of judgment as his conscience prevented him for going in for the Officer’s gun and shooting two rounds right in the back of his head so he could be done with this trite and get back to what was really important, the ASSDEK men.

Is typical of a lot of the ones you have through the story. It's overly written, and doesn't really make sense. How can he have a lapse of judgment AND have his consience prevent something? Generally a lapse of judgment ignores a consience.

I just couldn't make the jump that the officer would kill Harry like he did. It felt like an authorial decision, rather than a decision the character would make.

The middle chapter doesn't really feel necessary. What we as readers need to know -the not guilty verdict and the fact Harry's name was put through the mud could be referenced in the Third scene. But again, I couldn't really believe what happened. The way Harry was shot would be really hard to explain in a court of law. There's a difference between death by cop, and assasination, and what the officer did would be consider an assasination. There would be a lot of evidence that would point to that.

I think that you need to decide who your main character is in this story, and what you're wanting to say. At the end, I couldn't even figure out if I was supposed to feel bad for Harry or not. Same with the officer. And I spent so little time with Samantha that I didn't care about here at all. That's why a focused POV would help things. You have a good idea with the story, and the potential to take it a lot of different ways. Is it the officer's story, a story about one bad decision he then has to live with? Is it Harry's story, about a cop that seems to have it out for him for no reason, or is it Samantha's story, a story about a woman that looses her husband and plans revenge? All seem to be in this story, but they're shortchanged due to the lenght and structurued of this.

I'm sorry if this seems like a negative review. Keep in mind that it's only one reader's opinion. I hope I was able to help.

 

Jay Parekh's picture
Jay Parekh is reading Fight Club July 6, 2014 - 1:17am

Hi Hector, I ll address everything you said, point by point:

Dialog Punctuation - Truth be told, I've never read into this, and I am glad you brought it up and gave me that link. I guess I have some studying to do. Thank you.

I capitalised officer, because I refrained from giving him a name till we reached his act, in an effort to keep him distant from the readers. He was still an important character though, so I guess it was an arbitrary decision to give him importance. I didnt realise I capitalised school. Thanks for pointing that out.

POV switches - This was never planned. It just sort of happened when I read and reread the story, I decided to name the separate acts with the characters names because I noticed each act began with one character wanting something and ended with him or her not getting it and then the aftermath of that was covered in the next act. This was sort of a common theme, and the title 'Que sera sera' sprung from there. I guess I focused on one character each time I started writing, and from the beginning I wanted to emphasize the view points of each of them so as to illustrate to readers how different people have different perspectives and how these perspectives govern how they behave

I guess I didnt want to spell out the characters to the reader, but rather show it through their dialogs and actions:

Harry is a rising executive in a large corporate firm that licks up and kicks down. His ambition to rise is all thats important to him which is why his Boss is the priority. Its also why he's prejudiced against and rude with the officer, viewing him as a lower social class, categorising him as a GI JOE motherfucker. Its sort of like a "move along peasant, I've got more important fish to fry" kind of an attitude. I was trying to show this without telling, I guess I failed to do that in your case.

The reason why Brady gives Harry a hard time has alot to do with who Brady is as a person. He's very righteous, strongly opinionated character, whose convictions are so strong they often border on delusional. When he first met Samantha and saw Harry yell at her, he'd already positioned himself as her knight in shining armour. We never get an inkling of this in the first act because Harry never gets an inkling of it. Harry's not preoccupied with Samantha, he doesnt even notice how beautiful she is anymore because his mind is set on something else. This is also why we never see Samantha in a good light in the first act is because its entirely from Harry's perpective and he's bored of her and views her as an anoyance and a hindrance. 

When we see her in the third act from Brady's pov, we see an overly exagerated romanticised version of Samantha. She's basically an angel till the end. That's Brady extreme delusional way of filtering the people and events in his life. He convinces himself that things ARE the way he wants them to be. 

Event within the Acts, the conflicting actions by the characters, ie. Brady mentioning that Samantha looked relieved, while the narrator saying she looked bored, is there to illustrate that Brady is either (1) dishonest or (2) delusional.

With Harry's lapse of judgement line, I was trying to again highlight Harry's personality, where he quite often does things against his own conscience because it would benefit him. It's also not entirely serious and sort of a satirical line, more like Harry going "Yeh I know its bad to kill, but if I could I would kill this guy so I can get on with my life. Drat! There was my opportunity and I missed it! Oh well, maybe I wouldnt do it anyway cause I'd go to jail but I wish I could even though I know its bad...."

Anyway, That was the intention, I guess the execution wasnt up to mark. 

Also I know what you're saying about the story's focus. I guess I got so caught up in creating characters that could seemingly behave in opposite ways because of the situations that they are in, that the focus sort of wavered. If you ask me, it's Samantha's story and I should have spent more time with her in the narrative (as others have also stated in their reviews).

Well thanks for the time to write to me in detail, Hector, its going to go a long way in helping me improve for my next story. You can count on it!

 

 

 

Cmangano's picture
Cmangano from Maine July 7, 2014 - 6:05pm

I really enjoyed your story, Jay. The scenes with the trial were believable and were a nice addition to motivate Samantha's eventual hatred for Brady.

The fact that Harry is in a rush to get to work, I understand, is crucial to the rest of the story line.The beginning, however, seems to fall flat in comparison to the rest of your narration , which I found to be one of the most effective and natural feeling narrations I've seen so far in the contest. Act I felt almost like a parody after getting into the bulk of your story, where you were able to show off some of your skills.

Aside from personally liking a surprise femme fatale, I think that the ending was perfectly executed, giving Samantha's character some more meat, solidifying her devotion to her husband even after his death.

Very well done overall. Thanks for submitting and good luck.

 

 

 

Jay Parekh's picture
Jay Parekh is reading Fight Club July 8, 2014 - 7:00am

Thank you for reading!

Yes, the first half is a bit of a parody on all 3 of the characters, and things start out light before they take a darker turn. However, you are not the first person to tell me that it doesn't fit in quite as well with the rest of the story. Something for me to keep in mind in the future.

Thanks again! 

Liam Hogan's picture
Liam Hogan from Earth is reading Hugo Nominations July 10, 2014 - 7:26am

Hi Jay,

Upvoted, it's got issues (much like the characters) but it's still a largely enjoyable read!

You could do with a bit of an edit - "unloading it’s bleeding cargo" should of course be its, and the first paragraph, while possibly attempting to sound hard boiled, misses. "With expert precision his dexterous fingers opened the glove compartment and pulled out his aviators" - this is funny because it is so over the top, but it could still do with tightening up to avoid the audience thinking that this is simply someone who's forgotten when to stop. (How many times do you say the word "Today" on the first page?).

This is particulary muddled : "Harry was glad that he was being pretended to be ignored; now he could ignore her in peace".  It's a nice idea, but phrasing the first clause from Harry's perspective makes it clumsy - "Harry was glad she was pretending to ignore him" is smoother, though it still butts up against the 2nd clause without something in the middle ", it meant he could ignore her in peace". probably works, though the double use of ignore means "in return" might be better still.

A minor detail - his wife is in the passenger seat. Where's the glove compartment? Is he not reaching over her each time?

"petrescence" - I had to look it up. hate having to look stuff up. It's why I don't like literary fiction. "petulant silence" might just be acceptable... ;) callipygian I DID know (and is a great word) but again, might be a little at odds with the tone of the rest of the piece. (In particular, would Brady know it?)

ASSDEK - AASDEK. I assume the alternates are deliberate?

The moment he puts his hand on the hood has to be done carefully. He hasn't done so before this moment, and if you can get the right reaction it works perfectly. Have him shout as well, perhaps. (He likes to swear mentally, if he gets burnt, he's going to swear out loud).

the police office stood "petrified" - this turning to stone business? A bit too much unless you're going to introduce medusa later on.

Although "Act 2" is titled Samantha, it isn't really from her point of view. (it's from the reporters sort of view) The more you can make it so the stronger this act becomes.

Act 3 : Alcohol was of no help to his visions since he was a teetotaler. - yes, but wouldn't he be driven to alcohol? And is he teetotal because he had a previous drinking issue, wouldn't he relapse?

"Que Sera Sera as the track restarted for the third time" - just how long did it NOT take them to have sex?

If she's going for rape, then maybe have her do something that makes the scene looks more like that, (the smashed plates besides; too many of them?) like rip some of her clothes off or even just the energetic (bruising) nature of their love making? She rakes her nails down his back, say, or something he thinks is a bit strong but which later serves to show she tried to fight him off? It's a detail, but it might foreshadow what is to come. Or have him arrive at the house, and the door is broken which she explains away?

Ultimately, you haven't quite explained why Brady shot the husband the final two times, while leaving a witness, (if delusional, then echo the delusion).  You have the perfect chance to do so, given Act 3 is in his perspective. And I think I'd like to see the strength in Samantha earlier in the piece, to do what she has done.. and what she ends up with at the end... isn't much of a life.

Wasn't sure what country this was in, by the by. The "Sport" suggests antipodean? But the car is American?

Liam

Jay Parekh's picture
Jay Parekh is reading Fight Club July 10, 2014 - 8:04am

Hi Liam, 

Thanks for reading and I really appreciate the in detail review. Every criticism is fair, and to be honest I wished I had submitted my entry earlier and have you review it first. That way I could have changed these things up (and really, most of them are easy fixes, its just that I didnt see them at the time).

Regarding the Que sera sera restarting for the 3rd time, I am glad you spotted that because not a single person caught that (on the internet and IRL). The line highlights just how out of touch Brady is with himself. The track is just short of 4 minutes if I remember correctly. I should have had it restart once more right before the sex scene, my bad... But yeah, you get the picture.

Thanks again!

mattymillard's picture
mattymillard from Wolverhampton, England is reading Curse of the Wolf Girl - Martin Millar July 10, 2014 - 1:03pm

Hi Jay,

You have a good idea for a story with twists and turns here, and some characters whose fragile mindsets you can really explore in here. I'm afraid though that it felt under-developed so this didn't quite work for me. I had lots of issues with the first half which had this not been a competition for helping each other out, would probably have stopped me from finishing it. The ending was better though, it felt like you had found the characters here. A few of my thoughts on the first half are below:

- I didn't find it believable. I just couldn't understand why the cop turned on Harry so easily, and I couldn't understand how he got away with it so easily. Why would the jury believe the cop so easily over Samantha (maybe she has a dodgy past?). If Samantha was livid, she'd have been shouting her argument in court, not being cut off after "yes - but".

- It was too slow. The first two pages were about someone driving quickly because they were in a rush, and his wife not liking it. This could have been ok if the language was pacy and snappy, but I felt there was an overuse of commas and description - for example I didn't feel that this description added anything to the story, except that it slowed it down. "Her gaze fell on the passing pavement, the blur of buildings, the iron gates and trees, a park, a crying child, a blind beggar, the hospital, a parked ambulance unloading it’s bleeding cargo and an old couple seated on a bench, the gentleman with his arm around the lady."

- The dialogue seemed very formal and wooden - until the epilogue when I felt that Samantha got some personality. Jeff was good too, their dialogue worked well.

When you got to part three, some interesting parts of the story started to show through which have lots of potential - but still everything seemed to easy. The twists held my attention, but maybe it would have been good to see Samantha go through therapy and really understand her and the difficulty she had in getting over Harry's death. The cop visiting her house is a good idea, but is it realistic - especially her lack of reaction to him turning up? Arranged through a therapist as part of Samantha's treatment maybe, and then this would give her chance to plan something for the meeting?

There's definitely a plot in here which could really work, and some really interesting inter-character relationships which you can explore. Sorry if my review seems negative, but hopefully my feedback helps - feel free to ask if you'd like any clarification etc on anything!

Cheers,

Matty

YouAreNotASlave's picture
YouAreNotASlave from Birmingham United Kingdom July 11, 2014 - 11:06am

I really liked this. I found the cop over-reacting and shooting Harry quite believable; and I liked (in terms of realism) that the cop got away with it. See cop murderers popping up over and over again in the US and UK and I think you displayed the culture of cops and the crim justice system looking after their own well here. Samantha's anguish is well played out, and I like how you humanise the cop too: it seems the message here that violence and power corrupt all those involved, victims, survivors and perpetrators and you conveyed that well through Brady.

I understand why Brady went to Samantha's house, but I do doubt if his local police force would allow him to invite himself there. Similarly the sex to get a rape charge didn't really ring true, I don't see why that would significantly help the self defence charge and it seems a lot of Samantha to put herself through. Also regarding the third scene Brady just seems a little too soft and acquiescing towards Samantha's comfort, I just don't believe he wouldn't have been *made* harder by the local police force and told to keep his head down and not mess around with Samantha. 

But apart from these minor problems in the last bit, I liked it. I liked the pacing, I thought it was well described and I liked the characters. A unique take on crime drama, thumbs up.

Tom

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) July 13, 2014 - 1:00am

This one certainly gets better as it goes on, but I’d say the first section in particular is a little too weak. I see from your replies to comments that you see this as satire. That didn’t come across well for me (though that could well just be me), and I can’t see too much else in the story that comes across as particularly satirical.

The weakness for me is in the cop’s actions. I get completely that this is written purely from Harry’s perspective, and therefore his positioning himself as the knight in shining armour isn’t seen by either Harry or the reader. What that means is that the reader has no idea why he does what he does. Harry shouts at Samantha, but there’s little else to suggest he may be a wife-beater, so what does Brady see that we don’t? We finally start getting hints in the third act, but not overtly enough to really cover it off.

Having read the story, I’d have most been interested in seeing all this play out through Brady’s eyes. He’s the one that carries out the crime and has it covered up, and that would give us the ability to understand the actions early on, and to get some measure of sympathy for him. As it is, shooting the guy for leaping off his hot car comes across as overkill. Of course you could stick with the current structure and really ramp up the satire levels, turning this into a Bonfire of the Vanities type story, which is certainly a more than valid way to go.

There were a few things I highlighted when reading through:

“His sudden outburst shocked his wife into petrescence.” Use of pretrescence here seems out of place. Not only does the word not feel like part of Harry’s vocabulary (and we are following him here), but it also doesn’t feel like a good fit. His sudden outburst turned her to stone. I’d consider keeping the language as simple as the character you are following.

When talking about the guys coming into his work, you slip on the second abbreviation and call them ASSDEK instead of AASDEK. You also refer to them as such when Harry is considering going for the cop’s gun.

The wet spot growing like an amoeba seems wrong as well. That image to me has a spot growing larger and then splitting in two.

The second act is giving to Samantha, but a lot of it describes what is happening to her, rather than giving us any particular insight into her as a character. It’s important to know what is going on to make sense of the third act, but there is a fair bit of tell over show here. The third act is much stronger, and there is some really good writing on display. I did see where it was going, but I thought it was well done, and I was glad you made the choices you did.

Ultimately it is up to you to give what weight you wish to give to any comments. I hope at least I’ve been able to explain why certain parts didn’t work for me as a reader. I think you have a good foundation here, and I do like the idea of Samantha’s revenge. All the best for this one whichever way you decide to take it.

Seb's picture
Seb from Thanet, Kent, UK July 15, 2014 - 2:55am

Nice, although the opening needs a little work. Some of your prose was a bit clunky, for example:

Samantha was in the passenger seat. She was his wife.

This could be combined with the next line, something like:

“Slow down Harry! What’s the rush?! We’re early today.” Samantha, his wife, from the passenger seat.

There's a few other sentences that don't quite work, for example:

The engine roared, the wheels flew in circles and his 2012 Cadilac propelled forward faster than it had ever been since Harry had bought it off his bonus the previous year.

The third section was by far the best, well written with rounded characters. The epilogue felt a little contrite, but I see why you did it. The problem I find is the officer doesn't match Brady, they're too much like different people. Perhaps if you told the story from just two perspectives, the wife and the officer, and tell that same sequence twice with differing accounts, that might work better. Anyway, nice job and an enjoyable read.

Jay Parekh's picture
Jay Parekh is reading Fight Club July 27, 2014 - 4:21am

Hey guys,

First of all I'd like to apologise for not getting back earlier.

I appreciate the feedback given and I am going to incorporate all of that into my writing.

However, as it often is with us part time writers, 'life' has really made it very hard for me to devote much time here. 

I've had a rough few weeks, and things arnt getting easier. 

Hopefully I ll have just enough time to return the favour to anyone who bothered to read and review my story.

Thanks again!

- Jay