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jmacfee's picture

Successful Losers

By jmacfee in Arrest Us

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A karaoke singer and a deadbeat dad seek to change their fortunes via one "big" score.


Joe P's picture
Joe P from Brainerd, MN is reading Wheel of Time June 2, 2014 - 4:58pm

Nice job man. Good opposing characters that highlight there characteristics. A nice twist at the end. I enjoyed it!

Lawrence's picture
Lawrence from Dallas, Texas is reading Mr. Mercedes - Stephen King June 2, 2014 - 7:48pm

Damn, that was fantastic. I loved the pacing on the third act. The characters were all fleshed out and I was wrapped up in the story enough that I never saw the twist coming. Well played.

Also, I'm from Plano too. Small World. North Dallas now but grew up there. I felt like this took place at Sherlocks in Addison where they have over the top cover bands all the time or a place they used to call The End Zone. 

Raphaella Von'Mercer's picture
Raphaella Von'Mercer June 2, 2014 - 11:42pm

I really enjoyed reading this. It had just the right amount of detail and not a lot of filler.

Grant Williams's picture
Grant Williams from Wichita, KS is reading Friday June 4, 2014 - 7:59am

Very nicely done.  I especially enjoyed the pool scene.  

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) June 5, 2014 - 9:04am

The strength here is in the pacing. It has a good flow to it, and when you need to up the pace to increase the tension, you do it very well. The end scene is key to the story; if that falls flat, the story wouldn’t work. It’s a good ending. Most readers will anticipate a double cross, but maybe not in this way.

I do think there are some weaker sections. The opening is not the strongest for instance, and you could lose that easily without detracting from the overall story. The hops in perspective are a little jarring. Personally I would have preferred to follow it from Landon’s perspective as the more hesitant party to the crime, and have his opinion of Sparks drop as the story progresses. That’s just personal perspective though, and you could go either way.

I wasn’t wild about the descriptive names used – Longhair, Tattoo Girl, Cowboy Hat. These distracted from the story, though that is just my opinion of course. I wasn’t sure as to the point of Tattoo Girl in particular. If it is to give Landon a further grievance against Robbie, then it needs to be made more of, or I would consider dropping her completely.

The line, “Sparks had chatted up the long-haired dude before” confused me. Over this side of the pond that would be quite suggestive, as if Sparks has a romantic or intimate inclination towards Landon. I’m guessing that is not the case as there is no real hint of that elsewhere in the story. Maybe consider changing to “chatted to”, though ignore me if it’s just a language variation.

These are all relatively minor issues though. Overall you have a good story that stays compelling to the end, and that end is strong. If you cut the extraneous elements, make it a little leaner and develop that central relationship more, this would be very good indeed.

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal June 9, 2014 - 7:32am


That's funny, I liked the descriptive names, thought it was a good way for the character to look down on other people just a bit.  Also painted a picture just enough, but fell far short of overbearing details.  

For some reason I really liked the pool scene, it just worked, made it so real and taught so much about Sparks.

For me, and this might just be me, I had a little trouble at first following who was who, and there were some slow parts that plateued for a moment instead of building.  Minor stuff though.

Generally the pacing was good, I felt for the poor losers, and I very much liked the ending twists.

Seb's picture
Seb from Thanet, Kent, UK June 18, 2014 - 6:22am

In places this was excellent. From the pool scene onwards it really comes into it's own, but the opening lets it down. The shifting perspective is nicely done.

Dino Parenti's picture
Dino Parenti from Los Angeles is reading Everything He Gets His Hands On June 22, 2014 - 12:45pm

I really liked much of the clipped dialogue, which flowed with the pace of the story. As some have pointed out, the beginning section almost feels extraneous, and I wonder if strating the story at the beginning of following section might not work better in immersing the reader, then braiding in the stuff about his ex and child throughout. In any case, a fun, fast read.

Cmangano's picture
Cmangano from Maine June 30, 2014 - 9:34pm

Like Thuggish, I was confused about which character was which when Landon and Robbie were first introduced. I had to go back a couple of times to say "okay landon is long-haired guy and Robbie is cowboy hat guy". I'm not sure why it was confusing as you gave each of them specific defining traits. Other than that bit of confusion I think this piece flowed very nicely. I like that you cut down Robbie's ego in the narration, " He was from cape cod. He was no cowboy." "The cigar was a Swisher Sweet. Robbie wasn't fooling anyone." It characterized him as a sort of classic jack ass, and provided a bit of humor in my opinion. It was nice that you delved briefly into the lives of more than character and were able to develop them in such a brief amount of time. Great work.