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Chipped Gears's picture

The Purge

By Chipped Gears in Arrest Us

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Description

A Cold-Case. A bender. A renewed promise to the dead. This is what friends are for.

Comments

jorjon21's picture
jorjon21 from Wisconsin is reading Shotgun Lovesongs June 15, 2014 - 6:24am

Good story. Sounds like the beginning of something longer. The conversation was a little confusing at points, but overall a good read. 

Chipped Gears's picture
Chipped Gears from New Jersey is reading the charges against them June 15, 2014 - 11:39am

Thanks Jorjon21. We'd love to know where the conversation goes astray so we can tighten that up.

jorjon21's picture
jorjon21 from Wisconsin is reading Shotgun Lovesongs June 16, 2014 - 9:19am

Page 8 - Denni winds up the story about his dad in Vietnam, and then the next line is clearly his (“You know, my dad didn’t drink often, but on occasion he’d get a few in him and that’s when this story would come out.”), but since it's a new paragraph the reader assumes it's Rocco speaking.   The converstation ends quickly after that, but it is a little confusing.

Chipped Gears's picture
Chipped Gears from New Jersey is reading the charges against them June 16, 2014 - 9:57am

Got it - thanks for the follow up. I see exactly what you mean. We'll work it.

Maie Davis's picture
Maie Davis from Yeppoon, Australia is reading Catch 22 June 17, 2014 - 5:25pm

I've read a few things by Chipped Gears, and I think you're really getting the hang of the short story rhythm. I think the dialogue works well between the characters Denny and Rosco, it definitely helps build their back-story without needing to go into too much detail.

I do feel the paragraph describing his father in the war is a little wordy, it's not conversational enough for me. It doesn't read as though it's being spoken by someone, rather it's almost like it's taken from a biography. I don't know. I'd like it to feel more emotive, I think.

Chipped Gears's picture
Chipped Gears from New Jersey is reading the charges against them June 17, 2014 - 5:51pm

Thanks Maie. We'll take another run at that section.

Seb's picture
Seb from Thanet, Kent, UK June 20, 2014 - 6:01am

This started out quite funny, but intriguing enough to draw me in, then very nicely shifted into a tender and meaningful story. Very well put together, and the switch in tone makes the second half so much better.

Chipped Gears's picture
Chipped Gears from New Jersey is reading the charges against them June 20, 2014 - 9:35am

Thanks so much Seb. Very glad you enjoyed it.

Katethegr8's picture
Katethegr8 June 20, 2014 - 6:17am

Wow, I really liked it....I'm locking the front door after I bring all my groceries in this afternoon though.  I especially like the ending and hope to read more and see how they finally "get him!"

 

Chipped Gears's picture
Chipped Gears from New Jersey is reading the charges against them June 20, 2014 - 9:36am

Thanks Katethegr8. We are planning for more.

David Gillette's picture
David Gillette from Tustin, CA is reading Transmetropolitan June 24, 2014 - 11:23am

What worked for me was the plot's pacing and character dialogue. Those felt organic and colorful.

I felt the first person narration took me out of it because it doesn't slip into a more subtle sense of the point-of-view. As a result, the narration feels repetitive in that sense. Mostly when you write "I lurch...I eye...I find...etc." Always take with a grain of salt 

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) June 30, 2014 - 6:38am

This feels like a solid start to a bigger piece, so it’s no surprise to see your response elsewhere confirming you are looking to build on this. I had a few issues with this as a short story, but feel free to make of my comments what you will.

The main thing I’d say is that this is not a short story. There is no arc here, little conflict is shown and there is no resolution. Mostly, this is just a conversation. That would be fine if it were a kicking off point, but the story such as it is ends when the conversation ends. By just having the conversation though, everything is told rather than shown. It’s told relatively well, but it needs to be more immediate, and provide more tension.

There are a couple of moments where you walk a fine line between trope and cliché, and occasionally I think you land the wrong side (personal opinion only). As soon as he wakes up and purges himself all over the bathroom, I was waiting on the ‘suicide’ comment. He goes from apparently considering suicide, to wanting to avenge his mother in a very short space of time. Despite his condition, at no point does he actually appear suicidal.

The other area I think you steer a little close to cliché is in the war story. It’s borderline though. Heroism at such times is a perfectly valid trope to use, but it feels melodramatic when it could feel simple and heartfelt. “How are the men?” is manipulative, but doesn’t work. He’s already performed heroics, you don’t have to push home the fact that this guy is a hero. I’m presuming this will mean more to the end story, as it doesn’t add anything obvious to this short story. There are no obvious parallels that can be drawn from it.

The one sentence I did highlight with a question mark over it was, “Beaten to death with a baseball bat, in their bed.” I get that the parents are elderly, but it’s still pretty amazing that he managed to beat them both to death before one even managed to get out from under the covers. It is a minor point, and I’d not be surprised if I’m the only one that it needled, but maybe change bed to bedroom.

If these feel like overly negative comments, they really are not meant in that way. The central premise is good. Revenge stories are ten a penny, but making him a cop, and bringing in his partner into the scheme, makes this a fresher take. I honestly believe there is too much story to fit it into a 5,000 word limit. Best of luck with the development, guys.

Cmangano's picture
Cmangano from Maine July 10, 2014 - 12:50pm

Nicely written piece. I think I would agree that this story feels like the beginning of something larger. There is the conflict of his mother's murder and her un captured murderer, but there is no resolve to the story. I'm not saying that he necessarily has to find the murderer or give up, but there seems to be some action missing. The bulk of this story is strong, personal and emotional. The re-telling of his mother's murder is done so well, I just would have liked to see a little further into the story.

Grant Williams's picture
Grant Williams from Wichita, KS is reading Friday July 11, 2014 - 9:28am

I'm going to jump on the bandwagon with the rest and say that this does very much feel like the beginning of something larger and that there isn't much of an arch.  That being said, I enjoyed reading it, so it gets a thumbs up from me.  My suggestion would be to back off on some of the hung-over, throw up bit and maybe have a reveal at the end, maybe a clue to go on so that there's a clear direction for whatever the next big piece is.  Overall solid work though.

Liam Hogan's picture
Liam Hogan from Earth is reading Hugo Nominations July 18, 2014 - 9:50am

Hi CG,

Good writing, shame it isn't "complete", but going to upvote anyway. Some thoughts below.

"Suddenly, bile and whiskey conspire to sear my esophagus as they make the return trip" - I'm always suspicious whenever I feel the urge to write suddenly. I try to avoid it. "Suddenly nothing happened. But it happened suddenly" is I think a goon show quote. Best to leave it there... And no-one really talks or thinks like this, and if they do, they shouldn't. People who write like this are trying too damned hard. Simplify the language, especially when you're dealing with the unedifying description of a vomiting session in the bathroom... The language settles down not long after this - still quirky, so it's a reflection of his character, but not alien - so that trying too damned hard is that "trying too damned hard at the start" - a common thing, alas!

You might also choose to slim down on the bathroom scene anyway - it's a sizeable chunk of the whole, and you only really need to set the post-binge scene. (Probably works in a longer treatment mind)

Nice image of Rocco eating away, and the nausea it inspires in Denni.

That said, I’m going to take a leap here and offer, that plan ain’t workin’ - not sure this quite works. As Rocco, annoyed at being dragged from the bed, you can probably just go for a threat / ultimatum. I'm guessing Denni has no where to go at this point, so Rocco is going to take him home - but only after he's satisfied he understands what's going on (and after Denni is sober enough not to puke everywhere...)

Avoid repetition when there's a more elegant way to do it :

the best man he’d ever known, Arthur Wyatt. I’m named for him, Wyatt Dennison. “Rocco, did I ever tell you about my dad and Arthur Wyatt?” - change this to (maybe) - the best man he’d ever known, the guy I was named after. "Rocco (etc)". Otherwise the double Arthur Wyatt makes it look like you think we have VERY short attention spans.

There's a section break after the Arthur story, not sure there needs to be, and when you come back you're a bit frugal with the who-said-what indicators.

How did his mother's killer have "a whole week head start." if Denni found her?

Certainly feels like a longer piece, especially with the ending. I dreaded the moment he suddenly sees an unexplained scar on Rocco... thankfully you didn't go there! You could however, without putting off a longer treatment, some how work this round so that it completes "for this moment." Even something corny about the sun making it's appearance, or something.

Finally, if you are going to write longer, consider the murderer NOT being schizo. A loner, sure. But if you're going to have a 15 year revenge story, the baddy had better be proper bad, rather than just mentally ill. Oh, and the I was 15, 15 years ago, well it happens, but I'd be tempted to make it either 10 years, or 20, or even some close to 15 but not 15. Or heck, make him younger - 14, maybe.

Hope the feedback from all of us helps you write more.

Liam

 

Chipped Gears's picture
Chipped Gears from New Jersey is reading the charges against them July 21, 2014 - 6:16am

Thank you Liam, and David, Adam, CMangano and Grant as well. Your comments have all been very helpful.

As you might all realize, we're new here, so have been hesitiant to address specific comments for fear of sounding defensive. You have all been gracious with your time and critiques, and we do plan to make another pass at this story, with all due consideration to what you all have offered.

As many of you have noted, this story is a part of our planned larger works. In fact, this is a back story to characters we've already written in our novel. A sort of 'prequel'. With regard to arc and completeness, we did struggle with that. In the end we figured that many character driven short stories reveal only an episode in the lives of the characters. They lived before and they live after. And we want the reader to want to know more. In this case our story ends with the beginning of Denni's healing and the quest to find the murderer. Perhaps we missed the mark somewhat.

Thanks again.