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Lee Matthew Goldberg's picture


By Lee Matthew Goldberg in Arrest Us

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I am submitting my entry "The Desire Card," which is a chapter from around the middle of my novel. 

Any wish fulfilled for the right price. That's the promise of The Desire Card.

Harrison Stockton has lived an adult life of privilege and excess: a high-powered job on Wall Street along with a fondness for alcohol and pills, and a family he adores, yet has no time for. But all of this comes crashing to a halt when he loses his executive job and discovers he has liver cirrhosis with mere months left to live.

After finding himself far down on the donor list, Harrison takes matters into his own hands. This decision sparks a gritty and gripping quest that forces him under The Desire Card’s thumb.


jorjon21's picture
jorjon21 from Wisconsin is reading Shotgun Lovesongs June 24, 2014 - 7:07pm

Interesting concept, but I wonder if it works as a short story. Who is The Boss? There is tension around this character, but The Boss is never introduced. Good snippet though from your novel. 

Lee Matthew Goldberg's picture
Lee Matthew Goldberg from NYC is reading Shotgun Lovesongs June 25, 2014 - 6:33am

Good point. I changed the submission to just an excerpt from the novel rather than a short story. Thanks for the input.

Hector Acosta's picture
Hector Acosta from Dallas is reading Fletch June 25, 2014 - 10:42am

Hey Lee,

I read this keeping in mind that it was the start of a novel rather than a short story, so I'll try to critique it as such:

I'm really weird about first chapters, as I probably put too much value on them. But when reading/writing one, I always do the "would I read more than the first page" test.  I think that your story here definitely passes the test, as I was intrigued enough to keep reading past the first page. Unfortunately though, you sort of lost me as the chapter continued. 

I think that while this could be a good set scene, it feels like there's too much going on right off the bat. I don't see why I should care for Harrison, or why it matters whether Naelle lives or not. I don't know any of them yet. I would have preferred if you eased us into Harrison's life--showing us his normal day to day, or even his first meeting with Naelle, and then ramp up the action and tension. 

That said, I did really like the introduction of Naelle:

Bleeding out on that operating table was his once powerful Naelle. He had paid for a night of her love on the day he got his doomed diagnosis; but that didn’t mean that it wasn’t actually love.

That last line is killer. I'm not sure what type of genre you're working on, but this calls to mine noir and pulp, while the rest of the chapter seems more like something out of Bourne Identity.

Also, it's a small thing, but do they make Rita Heyworth masks? I'll admit that this little detail took me out of the story as I tried to think about it. Might just be me though.  

Lee Matthew Goldberg's picture
Lee Matthew Goldberg from NYC is reading Shotgun Lovesongs June 25, 2014 - 12:17pm

Hey Hector,

This is an excerpt from the middle of the book, I should've probably specified that. Thanks for reading.

Seb's picture
Seb from Thanet, Kent, UK June 27, 2014 - 12:28am

There was a lot of interesting stuff in this, and as an extract it's pretty good, but it doesn't really work out of context. The action and scene you evoked works really well, but we neither know, not get to know your protagonist, as his character arc is part of a much larger work. As such I can only judge it as an extract, as you have stated. In that sense it is strong and has some great ideas, but feels like it's from a first draft of a novel. There's a bit of work needed to iron out the prose and tidy it all up, but that's something you will do when you redraft the whole book. Anyway, I liked it for what it was.

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) July 7, 2014 - 3:50am

Context is king - without the rest of the novel to sit alongside it, reading an extract is not going to give the best flavour of your writing. There are some good ideas here on display, and certainly I like your synopsis. Without an arc to follow though, it’s really difficult to give you any useful feedback. I wish you all the best with the novel, I just don’t think this contest is the best place for you to showcase it with a middle chapter. It’s interesting enough that I’d certainly consider reading it in the full format though.