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JustMotz's picture

Right Round

By JustMotz in Arrest Us

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The DJ is stuck at a wedding. In a barn. In a snowstorm. Three hours from home. For a hundred lousy bucks.

But The Best Man promises to supply you with beer. And pills. And...$10,000?

And all you have to do is...kill The Bride?

He might be joking. But The Maid of Honor might have a counteroffer.

Make up your mind, kid. You're spinnin' like a record but "Billie Jean" is coming to a close, and you need a new song--and a plan--fast.


Neil Krolicki's picture
Neil Krolicki from Denver is reading Consider This, Heartbreaker & Want Me July 4, 2014 - 7:47pm

Hey Motz (if no one’s using your last name as your nickname they’re straight up missing a choice opportunity),

Not sure why you haven’t had more critiques on this story, man, I found it to be a fun read right off - for me,  it’s great to open a story that’s starting with a humorous voice or at least one that’s not trying to be the most dark/hardcore it can be.

The opening paragraph is great, but I lost the narrative a little when I hit “maybe the best man is right…”.  Since I read your story’s synopsis I had a feeling what you were leading up to, but it reads a little tricky.  It might help you out to ground the scene in a couple more of the bride’s actions before you bring in the bit about the best man:

“The bride’s currently screaming at a waiter, poking a french manicured nail an inch from his eye, for almost spilling a drink on her dress. Her bridesmaid/handlers are trying to talk her down, gently pulling on her other arm, but she just shoves the waiter back against some of her newly married into relations.”  - You establish her as a bitch really well later, maybe graft a few of those lines to the beginning so we already start to hate her.

I think you’re characterization of the best man is really good, the ‘too many’ solo cups, the sunglasses at night.  I’m a fan of establishing through actions whenever possible, so IMO you could help set him up without flat out listing that he’s ‘doughy’, ‘beer flushed’, etc. An example:

“Setting down another solo cup of stale keg beer, the purple and pink strobes are reflecting off the sheet of sweat on his forehead. Bouncing off his mirrored wayfarer sunglasses that haven’t left his head even though the sun’s been down for hours. He swipes his doughy cheeks with the cuff of his tux….” - Building him up, but also beefing up details on your scene setting.  Love his exchange with the narrator, signing off with ‘peace in the middle east’, that’s great - instantly makes him such a douche.

The narrative voice gets ‘choppy’ at times and it seems like you did it on purpose, but I’m not sure it serves you better than just saying the entire sentence. Like, “Underneath is a small ziplock bag. Look back at him” - for my money I think you just say “Underneath is a small ziplock back. I look back at him”. It gets a touch ‘caveman’ sounding otherwise.  There are a bunch of instances of this throughout you might think about revisiting.

(Spoilers ahead) I understood that most of the propositions to kill folks (bride, then groom) turned out to be just a prank. But somewhere along the way it seems like there were real bullets introduced into the equation somehow and I missed where and why that happened. I think this is where the ‘choppy’ narration style is actually hurting you.  It really keeps things moving, I’ll give it that, but moving so fast I think I missed details that end up being crucial to your climax - because I arrived at the end thinking ‘is this dude going to open fire on these people with real bullets?’ — ‘why is he going to kill them?’

I’m sure if I read it again with a keener eye I could track it better, but I think taking just a little more time to set up the actual mechanics of your exchanges (who’s giving exactly what to the DJ when) would make it easier to follow.

I really enjoyed your dialog volleys, I think those are awesome and it shows that they’re something you like writing (and have a knack for).  That’s a lot harder to get right than scene setting, I think, so the heavy lifting’s already done in this story - it just needs a pump of the breaks in the later pages to solidify some building action stuff and it’s good to go.   Really solid humor in this and fun to read - I hope some of my comments help you in the rewrite. If you do re-submit, hit me up and I’ll gladly give it another read.

If you’re inclined, you might enjoy my story submission ‘Poachers’:

Thanks for sharing - NK

Scot Moore's picture
Scot Moore from Minneapolis, MN is reading The Sun Also Rises July 5, 2014 - 9:59am

This is really good stuff, Motz. I think your voice is very unique and filled with loads of personality. It almost forces to the reader to keep turning pages, if not to find out what's ahead - as you also hold your cards close to the vest - to hear how you spin it.

Very well done, sir.

Casey Hicks's picture
Casey Hicks from Brooklyn, NY is reading American Gods by Neil Gaiman July 12, 2014 - 1:26pm

I really enjoyed how the joke became a bit less of one as it went on. Your voice is very grounded in the present, very jarring, but there were times when I really wanted you to throw in a subject in your sentences. It was just too abrupt at times. I think it would work better if you crafted full sentences in the beginning but began to drop the subjects as you went on, indicating more intoxication/stress. Of course, that's just my opinion.

Overall, I really did enjoy the story. Referring to people as their titles rather than their names worked for me. And your title is a damn fine choice considering the ending. Well done.

Seb's picture
Seb from Thanet, Kent, UK July 20, 2014 - 6:17am

I liked this, it was fast paced and spiralled out of control well. There were a few moments when your minimalist prose was so sparse it was tough to follow what was actually happening, but all in all a good story. Nicely done.

Hector Acosta's picture
Hector Acosta from Dallas is reading Fletch July 20, 2014 - 6:40pm

I thought this was pretty good. It's a very quick story, and you do a good job of keeping us inside of the character's head.

For a while there I thougth you were breaking the 'no hitman' rules,and honestly I'm still not sure if you did or not. Part of this is because I'm kinda confused by the ending. The way I understood it to be is that he was originally contracted to kill the bride via poison, got a counter offer to kill the groom, but then it turns out it's just a joke being played on him. Except it's not, and the gun has real bullets that were loaded by the maid of honor?

Again, I'm still not quite sure if this is what you intended, but the bigger question is 'why?' If I'm misreading the story I apologize, but I was left wondering why they were playing a joke on the DJ, why the DJ thought it was perfectly normal to propose to kill someone, and why the Maid would load the bullets. I think that without at least some of these questions being answered (even a comment or two how the wide and groom are into weird shit) would make this feel less like an unfinished and rushed piece.

Writing wise, Neil covered quite a bit of the stuff. You have some good lines-she's fluid like fucking poetry- was a favorite of mine, but often times you go for a minimalist style that wors half the time, but also leaves a lot of things unsaid and confused.

I think a second pass in where you flesh out the motivations of the party and make the story a tad clearer will help. You already have me with an interesting narrator.


Grant Williams's picture
Grant Williams from Wichita, KS is reading Friday July 22, 2014 - 6:55am

That was a fun read.  It paced really well and the tension built in a natural progression.  Not much to offer up the way of suggestions, as I found it to be a solid piece.  Some of the sentences were short and jarring, but I think that's more your voice than anything so it works.  Well done and thanks for sharing.

Cmangano's picture
Cmangano from Maine July 22, 2014 - 10:58am

I found the beginning of this story confusing. I didn't exactly know who was who. I love stream of consciousness and internal monologue but I had a hard time with your style. It was a little too vague and disconnected. I do think you had a strong ending though it seems like the DJ would have tried to get out way before most of this ever happened, including the bludgeoning of the best man.

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) July 22, 2014 - 1:38pm

I found this one hard to follow. The motivations are what really kills this for me. Why are they messing with the DJ at the wedding? If it’s just pretty much a joke, why are there real bullets? Why would the DJ get involved? It’s a big leap from needing cash to agreeing to kill someone for a wad of it.

By the end I’m not sure what has happened, who is alive, who is dead, or why I should care. I don’t know the DJ well enough to have any sympathy with him at all, though I’m not even sure if he did anything anyway. I don’t understand the Maid of Honour’s role in all this particularly. Perhaps if one of her “reasons” rang true a little, I’d get it. I don’t take issue with them being called after the roles rather than names, but I do think you need to make them much more rounded and understandable characters.

There is a great dark concept here, and with a little work, this could really shine. As it is, it just doesn’t work for me personally. This is all subjective though, and I may just very well not get what you are aiming for here. Either way, best of luck with the story and the contest.