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Brandon D Christopher's picture

The Nick Nolte of Kenya

By Brandon D Chris... in Arrest Us

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Description

Diamond Eddie Productions has a great idea for making movies even more realistic: Adding in actual scenes of violence and carnage. But when they can't find any actors willing to take the part, they're forced to hire a down-on-his-luck Kenyan, who doesn't really understand what's about to happen. But he soon will....

Comments

Devon Robbins's picture
Devon Robbins from Utah is reading The Least Of My Scars by Stephen Graham Jones June 20, 2014 - 9:24pm

Hey Brandon,

You've got an interesting premise here, but it needs a little work. Your first sentence is 55 words. As a general rule, if you can't read a sentence aloud without taking a breath it's too long.

As far as the plot goes, everything seemed to happen too smooth. The characters didn't face any hard choices, making the flow seem contrived. There would have been a lot more tension if they would have tried to trap Chiboi when he ran, or tried to chase him or something. 

I assume that you're going for humor with this, and it's there. And I'll be the first to admit that humor isn't my strong suit. You've got something here. You just need to tighten it up.

Tim Hennessy's picture
Tim Hennessy June 21, 2014 - 7:49am

Brandon,

I agree that you've got a really interesting premise, and the dialogue works well at carrying much of it. Structurally your story needs work. Other than losing their shady business, what else do Diamond Eddie and Sid have to lose? Their failure seems inevitable, and they are a funny duo, but what else do they have at stake? Giving them, or at least one of them, more conflict will up the tension. With Chiboi, there is almost too much exposition. He's a guy who regrets his choice and now he's got to find a way to at least stay employeed. Is there a way to interject some moments of humor in his pretty dark circumstances? Maybe in addition to his much greater need to leave the country, he's trying to get some extra money for something simple, something we'd never see as being an extravagance. It could shed some light on his character and show us how he maybe copes with being alone in an unfamilar country that he really dislikes. 

You also have a challenge writing with a close third person and switching back and forth within such a small space. In many cases with shorts that do this, there's just too much jumping backing and forth to service the story; although Chuck Hogan's "One Good Day" (was in one of the Best American Mystery anthologies) did it well. Might be worth experiementing with other points of views in future revisions to get a better sense of what will work best. It's a tricky beast for sure. You have a really great premise and a comedic tone that will make this a distinct, memorable story with some more work. 

Chris Barnett's picture
Chris Barnett June 22, 2014 - 8:55pm

Hey Brandon,

I really enjoyed your work. I consider myself a fledgling writer and appreciate the fact that you didn't fit this story into some predictable framework. Very funny stuff and I look forward to reading more of your work.

Laurie Heath's picture
Laurie Heath from Seattle, WA June 24, 2014 - 10:42am

Brandon,

This is a fun twist on the crime story and it has a great sense of humor, I do like the movie-making backdrop. I'd agree that it might benefit from an increase in tension between the main characters, perhaps by allowing them to be in the same space for a little longer and ratcheting up the intensity. Working with multiple points of view when your word count is limited isn't easy and I can see how you could expand on this. Overall, nice work.

Seb's picture
Seb from Thanet, Kent, UK June 25, 2014 - 7:53am

This was interesting and different, and had some great ideas, but as others have said there wasn't really any tension, as the guy we are rooting for is barely involved. There's a great story in here, it just needs to be drawn out.

Hector Acosta's picture
Hector Acosta from Dallas is reading Fletch June 26, 2014 - 1:25pm

Brandon,

I think you have something here, but it needs a couple of more passes to make it really stand out.


After reading the story, I'm still not quite sure why you put Chiboi in your story. Right now, he seems completely superflous to the main plot, and more glaringly, it feels like you're using the foreigner archetype but not really saying anything new with it.

I prefered Diamond Eddie's story, and I will admit to laughing at some of the dialogue between him and Sid. Feels a bit like you were trying to do a riff on Elmore Leonard's Get Shorty, and that has potential. I also liked Eddie's business and the what happens to him at the end, but like others have said, it feels too pat. There's really not much tension in the story.

My recommendation is to use on Chiboi only if you're willing to flesh him out into a full character that the reader can relate to in some level. Otherwise, you might be better off dropping him completely and rewriting the story from the point of view of Eddie.

RhysWare's picture
RhysWare from Worcester, England is reading The Warriors June 28, 2014 - 3:21am

Hi Brandon,
Like the general consensus here, I like the idea. I think it's original, and your writing has a good sense of humour.

Diamond Eddie and Sid are a good duo, and they have some good conversational pieces. The dialogue helps the story flow, and I'd say it's a strong point in your writing. Continue to focus on it.


With Chiboi, I understand why you have him in the story; you want the readers to have a fear on what exactly with happen to him. However, it doesn't really work. I think, like Hector said, you need to either flesh him out more or abandon him and focus on Sid and Eddie.


Also, some minor things: would Chiboi really be fired for eating some food left on a plate? I know someone who worked as a dishwasher and he did this time and time again, with no repercussions. Not saying I'd do it myself, but hey, each to their own. Perhaps you could add some realism and more diversity to it by having him steal bits of food from the kitchen itself in order to eat as he can't actually afford to with his low wage?


Also, I think near the end Eddie and Sid lost a little believability. They were straight with all their other actors about what they'd be doing, but when it came to Chiboi they turned a little more antagonistic and decided to not tell him, at first anyway. Perhaps show us they're shadier a little earlier, so when that happens it's not so much of a jump in character.


Overall, I think the idea's there, and this could be made into a good piece. Work on the characters a little, either flesh out Chiboi or abandon him, and I'd say focus more on Eddie and Sid. Make it more about them.


Good luck with this one, there's still time to edit!

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) July 4, 2014 - 1:22pm

There's a lot to like here, even if it isn't wholly successful. Chiboi has some potential to be a good character, and I can see what you are trying to say when you have him as a character. This is someone who emigrates to America believing it to be the land of opportunity. He comes from extreme poverty, but ends up realising it's a better life than the madness he finds stateside. It's a nice comparison to make.

I understand and agree to an extent with other comments on Chiboi though. He needs developing because at the moment he's a plot point instead of a character. We don't spend enough time with him to feel the tension when he's going to be stabbed. The incident is dealt with in a very matter-of-fact way, and it is quite passive. That's the moment to build on. Make us care about this immigrant, and fear for his health and safety.

Sid and Eddie are a great double act, and you give a good flavour of the desperation in their situation. I can picture Eddie being played by Paul Giamatti. A lot of the humour of the piece comes from them, and the ridiculousness of the situation. I would honestly consider boosting the humour levels and making this a lot more satirical. As it is, it's light and amusing, but you could add some real bite to it.

Upping the humour would also make me pass over one of the main issues I had with this. This is a crime contest, and the central premise presumably is the criminal activity. It's a good one, in this age of the internet and the bumfights etc. I just don't buy into Eddie actually telling the studio guys how they are producing the special effects. It's an obvious crime. The scene with Meyers isn't funny enough to get over this fact, though I loved the totting up of the bill in his head. The ending is perfect though.

I did like this, and I did give it the thumbs up, because though it doesn't quite work right now, there's enough here to suggest you could turn this into something very good indeed.

Josh Zancan's picture
Josh Zancan from Crofton, MD is reading East of Eden by John Steinbeck July 22, 2014 - 1:09pm

Brandon,

Most of this half-worked for me.  I may be echoing the others, but I liked the characters and the concept.  I especially enjoyed the dynamic between Sid and Diamond - you really nailed the false bravado of American business.  

I thinks this needs more Chiboi, and less Sid and Diamond.  As much as I liked Sid and Diamond, I'm wondering if you would be better off focusing almost solely on Chiboi, giving a sincere depiction of a struggling immigrant in the beginning, and then slowly fading into the satirical elements as he gets more familliar with American life, then introducing Sid and Diamond and presenting them as Chiboi experiences them.  I think that would hold a better mirror to the subject you're trying to satire, rather than just having a couple colorful characters.

With how you have it now, I don't think the way the story was presented all that effectively, for a few reasons.  

1) It seemed like Chiboi's story was sincere, while Sid and Diamond's was satirical, and it's tough to set a tone for a story when that's happening.  The second time I went through it, I got it more, and sometimes it's okay to need a few reads to grasp the concept of a story, but I don't think this is one of them.  2) Everything sort of breezed through.  Everything was a coincidence, even the solutions to the Chiboi's problems.  3)  There were some choice things that I was a little cynical towards.  Even though I liked the concept, a studio isn't going to actually do any of these things.  You gave a little insight into the nature of the beast, but I largely had to take it on faith that this was a shady-yet-practiced film tactic.  Why is it this way?  Of course, it's a satire, but you still have to sell it.  Otherwise, if you want us to take it on faith, don't focus on it too much (which builds on my comment earlier about focusing on Chiboi and leaving Sid and Diamond as small characters).  

Solid ending to the story.  It was all for nothing: perfect.

Hope this helps,

Josh