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madsmaddox's picture

The Quiet Detective

By madsmaddox in Arrest Us

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Description

They call him Detective Hush. He hates that. He hates working on his day off but he's got targets to meet and a missing boy to find. He hates that even more.

Comments

Lawrence's picture
Lawrence from Dallas, Texas is reading Mr. Mercedes - Stephen King June 2, 2014 - 11:08am

Alright, I enjoyed your piece Madsmaddox. Hush, was a fun character and his ex-wife and partner were fun to read as well. After the first few pages I was worried you weren't going to have enough room to really get into the story and although it was a bit rushed you did a good job of tying separate threads together and giving them a solid conclusion.

My first nitpick is with the opening paragraph which really doesn't grab my attention. It's not so much what you're saying but how the paragraph flows. I always spend a lot of time on my opening for better or worse so I'm admittedly critical of openings. After that the info-dumps in the beginning cause the piece to slow down a bit. I did really enjoy the angle of having privatized police but I felt like you could set that up without discussing what nations were involved and what their motives were. The details about Hush's military stint seem a bit much as well. I felt like simply knowing he was ex-military was enough.

Overall I really enjoyed your story. I thought there was some sincere comedic moments with the "wabbit" and ex-wife.

 

 

madsmaddox's picture
madsmaddox from Berkshire is reading Fated June 3, 2014 - 3:50am

Lawrence, thanks very much for taking the time to read my story and give insightful comments which I have found to be very helpful. Really pleased you enjoyed it.


Your first nitpick is spot on and I totally agree, the writing itself matches my mood at the time, you can tell I was trying to find my rhythm at the beginning, then when it starts, its pretty relentless, which is how I was writing at the time. Totally subconscious but a valuable insight from you, I did not realise I had done until you pointed it out.
 

Your comment about openings did put a smile on my face (in a good way), they are something I usually spend A LOT of time on, but this time I changed my rules (usually I plan / over plan things / total control freak lol) and just wanted the short story completed without dawdling over my usual attempts at poetry lol and just let my fingers type, in an ideal world it’d be ‘The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel’ but Gibson beat me to it lol.  The info dumps are something I need to work on, I’m used to working with longer prose and love world building (I can get lost in world building to the detriment of the story I’m meant to be writing if you know what I mean lol) and it just slipped in there, it’s a bad habit and one that I hope to break via practice practice practice. If I had a larger word count this is something that would have integrated better but short story writing is such an art, I’ve yet to find a seamless way to integrate all my thoughts and I am still working on the whole less is more approach without it turning into a Mr Men book lol. Hush being ex-military was something to help flesh out his mind set, I think it works, but it does come off as a little contrived and perhaps extraneous. Saying he’s ex-military was enough for you, I really do appreciate that, but to just say that without a little more on the subject just felt like I was building a generic noir trope via tick box. That and I couldn’t help myself. The story started with the intention of creating a pastiche noir / neo noir but grew into something else which has elements from other genres.


Really pleased the comedy worked, comedy is so difficult to write and I wanted it to be a bit tongue in cheek and it seems to have worked, though I wont quit my job immediately lol.
Thanks again for your help and happy writing.


All the best
Mads

Grant Williams's picture
Grant Williams from Wichita, KS is reading Friday June 2, 2014 - 12:38pm

I enjoyed the story overall.  There definitely were some funny moments.  I agree with Lawrence above about some of the pacing issues.  There was a lot of little bits about the world that could have been more fleshed out, but given the limited word count  I think you made everything clear enough.  You might consider trimming out a few 'fucks', but given your main character's past, I could see him using that term more than the average bear.

madsmaddox's picture
madsmaddox from Berkshire is reading Fated June 3, 2014 - 4:03am

Grant,
Thanks for taking the time to read my story and pleased you enjoyed the story overall.
The pacing was utterly subconscious and I do agree, it’s a little choppy at the beginning as I’m finding the rhythm and then it gets relentless, it totally reflects my mood at the time of writing and I did not pick up on this until it was pointed out by Lawrence and reiterated by yourself. Thanks for that. It’s something I can work on.


I love world building, this is actually a problem for me, I can get lost this and it took a lot of energy not to spend too much time on it and just get on with the story, I have envisaged a larger world / economy etc etc etc, my brain just does this as its wired that so I had to make a point of breaking my own rules (I tend to write longer prose) to keep it from turning into a novella, which is quite easily have could.
 

Your comment on the profanity did make me laugh, funnily enough I’m not usually comfortable with this level of swearing but it seemed apt for the character and the moments they’re used in, that and when he took over, he just wouldn’t stop lol. He’s got a filthy mouth, it would’ve been worse but I did avoid using the ‘C’ word which does get bandied about a lot in my part of the world lol.


All the best and happy writing


Mads

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) June 2, 2014 - 12:45pm

I really enjoyed this. You have a unique voice that is a lot of fun to read. The story flows fantastically well. It just flies, so that 4,300 words go past in the blink of an eye. It helps that this is full of light touches and great humour. I particularly loved:

"I think it’s the former, but I did order a Cosmopolitan the other night, it was the best I’ve tasted and I don’t actually like them, but I threw it in the barman’s face for calling himself a mixologist. That and he’s a murdering scum bag. I can’t prove this because he killed the witness. I can’t prove that either. The barman has connections."

You also have my new favourite simile:

"The barman is as clean an arrow at Agincourt"

Hush is a great character. There seem to be so many influences in play, from classic 1930's detectives, to cyberpunk protagonists like Deckard. Even the supporting characters are well formed and have a nice voice of their own.

If I have to find one issue with it, I'd say that perhaps you could alternate the flow in places. It's relentless, and having a point where you take a breath before the flow proceeds might help. It's such a small issue though, and as it is, the story is superb.

Very high standard set for the first submitted story.

madsmaddox's picture
madsmaddox from Berkshire is reading Fated June 3, 2014 - 4:58am

Adam,
 

Thank you for the ego boost, you really made my morning and I’m so pleased the comedy worked. The Agincourt simile is one I’m pleased with, I think it’s the first original one I’ve ever written lol, well I hope it is, haven’t read it anywhere else lol.
 

There are indeed many influences at play, this is just a trait of my writing style, I think its called slipstream (amongst others), I just see it as an inability to concentrate on one style and as such, its just evolved into this lol. I absolutely love cyberpunk / noir / neo noir etc.
Alternating the flow is a funny thing and I do love that bit of advice. As it is, the flow came from my mood / mindset when I was writing, it has been pointed out by two other reviewers and it is something that needs be addressed. I think the hardest thing for me when writing a short story, is keeping it short, sounds weird but I’m used to writing longer prose and I have a tendency to world build so working within the short story parameters made me disregard a lot of my rules / habits. I think short stories require a lot more discipline than novels / novella where you have the liberty to go off on tangents etc. With short stories you have to be able to communicate on another level to create a rich tale and most importantly keep the reader captivated. I hope I get there one day.


I look forward to reading your piece btw and I hope I can be as helpful to you as you have been to me.


All the best and happy writing!
 

Mads

EdVaughn's picture
EdVaughn from Louisville, Ky is reading a whole bunch of different stuff June 2, 2014 - 5:00pm

I really liked this story. Great voice and characters. The setting and world you have here are really interesing too. I agree with the others about the pacing though. It feels like an entire novel condensed into a short story. Plus, there's some little stuff like missing words or some sentences might need a little re-wording. But overall great piece.

madsmaddox's picture
madsmaddox from Berkshire is reading Fated June 3, 2014 - 5:05am

Ed,

Thanks for reading my story, your kind words and valuable insight, there are pacing issues that need to be addressed, none of you are wrong on that lol.

Missing words and sentences that need little re-wording? If possible could you be specific? I’m word blind from this story lol and nobody else has pointed them out. I should get an editor lol. I am really pleased you liked the story, so far I’ve had such good constructive criticism (valid points too) from you all I’m still waiting for that one reader to tear it down and break my heart lol.

All the best and happy writing!

Mads

Jonathan Riley's picture
Jonathan Riley from Memphis, Tennessee is reading Flashover by Gordon Highland June 3, 2014 - 12:04am

Cool story. Hush is a good character. The pacing was pretty good. At points it kind of moved so fast I had to go "wait, what just happened" how did he get from A to B. That's not necessarily a bad thing as it was intresting and kept me wanting to know "what happens next."

I'm not sure mentioning that he killed military squad helps the story. It might if you came back to it or hinted at why he did it and what he feels about it. But it kind of just sticks out like he's bragging about doing something awful which lessens his likability a bit and I'm not sure what the reason for that is.

But yeah, totally a Deckard or Harry Angel feel you got going here. Overall great work. I've attached an lbl with a few typos I noticed. Keep it up!

madsmaddox's picture
madsmaddox from Berkshire is reading Fated June 3, 2014 - 5:23am

Jonathan,
 

Really pleased you enjoyed my story and you’re the first to say that the pacing was pretty good, I’m not going to argue, if this was a pub I’d buy you a beer lol.


You’re the second person to mention the military squad, you’re right, it doesn’t entirely help the story but it was there to help build his mindset which I think it does, but at the same time, perhaps the details are a tad extraneous.
 

Hush is a product of watching / reading far too much noir (and related genres) and I started the story as a pastiche, it grew into something else. I’m a Brit, we use a lot of self deprecating humour and as such, sometimes the tone of a sentence can be lost, Hush is meant to be likeable in that he’s the hero and you want to follow his misery, but the things he’s done, the way he is, he’s a self serving a$$hole. He’s tried being better but he’s come to conclusion that this isn’t natural to him. He knows this and lives with it / gets by. But boasting was not something that he was doing and certainly not intended. It was more a resignation to having done something utterly horrible, something that cannot be undone and as such, he has to live with the memories. He’s blasé about it because the world keeps piling shit on him and his shovel keeps breaking. It’s a natural defence mechanism to stop him going completely bat shit crazy. But then this stuff I could’ve conveyed better lol.
 

Thank you so much for going through and pointing out the typos (I need to sort these out pronto!) you’re a star and I hope I can return the favour one day.

All the best and happy writing!

Mads

Jonathan Riley's picture
Jonathan Riley from Memphis, Tennessee is reading Flashover by Gordon Highland June 3, 2014 - 10:15am

Glad to help. Actually I'll be posting a story of my own later this month. I'm about two thirds of the way done and it's not nearly as noir as the couple I've read already, nor is it hardboiled, but it's definitely a peice of crime-fiction so I'm anction to see what people think and how it may be improved.

madsmaddox's picture
madsmaddox from Berkshire is reading Fated June 4, 2014 - 2:15am

Good stuff, I look forward to reading when you've posted and will give feedback.There is a bit of noir / neo noir on here, its an accessible style but I'm really looking forward to reading a who dunnit lol.

Happy writing and a bit of advice, the sooner you get it posted, the more likely it will be read. That's going by Teleport Us last year,

All the best

Mads

Christina Re's picture
Christina Re from the United States is reading something a friend wrote June 4, 2014 - 11:12am

Alright, I'm new at this. How do you attach your LBL?

Jonathan Riley's picture
Jonathan Riley from Memphis, Tennessee is reading Flashover by Gordon Highland June 4, 2014 - 11:19am

After you click reply and the comment box comes up, underneath it in Red lettering you should see a clickable link for File Attachments. After you click that you can click on chose file and shuold be able to upload it from your computer. After you upload it, under that there is an "Attach" button. Click that. IF you've already typed a message and now attached the file, click post and it should have your message with the lbl underneath it. Hope this makes sense. 

Jonathan Riley's picture
Jonathan Riley from Memphis, Tennessee is reading Flashover by Gordon Highland June 4, 2014 - 11:51am

* Edit*
Double Post

Christina Re's picture
Christina Re from the United States is reading something a friend wrote June 4, 2014 - 11:20am

Thanks!

Christina Re's picture
Christina Re from the United States is reading something a friend wrote June 5, 2014 - 12:22pm

Mads,

 

You rock! I loved this story. At first I thought this was reading like some of Dashiell Hammett's good stuff, then I felt like I was reading Neal Stephenson. And yet, you have your own distinct voice. All good things.

 

 

I read through the LBL and still found some misspelling/alternate spelling issues.

"I hope there aren’t moulds down here. I have allergies." - should read, "mold".

"The guy is built like a brick shithouse and his minions tower over even him." -Should read, "...tower over him." right?

"...head of security won’t be grabbing anyone by the neck ever again. Or chew food with his original teeth." - I'd say, "Or chewing". BTW, this is an awesome line, I laughed hard.

"The minions look blank, the track marks on their arms say the hamsters are dead and the wheels stopped turning a long time ago, their eyes are glazed which doesn’t make them any less dangerous but its their boss that surprises me." -I feel like this should be two sentences.

You say- "I don’t like it when villains are helpful." Is this guy really a villain in the scheme of things? I feel like he's giving more credit than he really would. The guys is a thug, or muscle, or baddy. Just my thought.

One last aside- He says his vice is smoking instead of drinking... but I never see him smoke. He drinks like every few pages.

 

 

 

I'm going to be looking out for your stuff in the future, you're a top shelf writer.

Thanks for the read!

-Christina Re

 

madsmaddox's picture
madsmaddox from Berkshire is reading Fated June 6, 2014 - 3:41am

Christina,

My dear, you rock! And you’ve made my day!

I am so happy that you enjoyed my story and thank you for readng and the high praise (my ego has now grown so large it keeps stealing my money and raiding amazon), I’ve never had such praise before and it has put a smile on my usually serious face lol.

Thanks also for catching the errors, I will add them to the list to update the story (once I work out how that’s done lol).


"I hope there aren’t moulds down here. I have allergies." - should read, "mold" – This is one of those words where the letter U went missing when it crossed the Atlantic. It’s good to know though as my audience so far is predominantly American.
 

"The guy is built like a brick shithouse and his minions tower over even him." -Should read, "...tower over him." right?  - Perfect form is your way of saying it. I think I wanted to reiterate their size, the head of security is a big guy so his minions are enormous.
 

"...head of security won’t be grabbing anyone by the neck ever again. Or chew food with his original teeth." - I'd say, "Or chewing". BTW, this is an awesome line, I laughed hard. – Glad you liked the line, chewing does work, but I wanted the stilted nature of chew, kind of like someone spitting out the thought without correct use of language. That and sometimes I can’t control my fingers (no innuendo intended lol).
 

"The minions look blank, the track marks on their arms say the hamsters are dead and the wheels stopped turning a long time ago, their eyes are glazed which doesn’t make them any less dangerous but its their boss that surprises me." -I feel like this should be two sentences.  – Yup, it should be two sentences. It’s a bit long, my old lit teacher would’ve given me a thrashing for this lol so thanks for catching!


You say- "I don’t like it when villains are helpful." Is this guy really a villain in the scheme of things? I feel like he's giving more credit than he really would. The guys is a thug, or muscle, or baddy. Just my thought. – I understand where you’re coming from, I think it’s a lost in translation thing again, over here, villain is almost a generic term used for hood / goon etc and not just a mastermind in the classic sense. Though it can be used for mastermind too lol. Sometimes I think the country that spawned the English language can be damn lazy about it too lol.


And you are the first person to notice the smoking including me! (Shameful of me) Thanks for that. He does spark up in the taxi, but yeah, he does have more Cosmo’s than cigarettes. He doesn’t even like Cosmos lol. Some light surgery will be done to rectify this.

Thanks again for the massive boost to my ego and one day I do hope you’ll be reading something else I’ve written.

All the best and happy writing. 

Mads

Geert Mostrey's picture
Geert Mostrey from Belgium is reading Gone Girl June 6, 2014 - 1:04am

Hi Mads,

Just read your story and I really liked it a lot. You have a very distinctive voice and manage to keep it throughout the story. Which from experience I know is not as easy as it sounds. The story itself is very nicely paced and kept me wanting to read on. The pace captures the mood of the settings (fast and furious) so even though it all goes very quickly, I don't feel you need to change it. 

Contrary to other comments I don't believe your opening needs more to grab the attention. You give just enough "setting" information to allow your reader to get a bit of an idea what kind of world he is walking into and what kind of person your main character is.

If I would have one suggestion (and it's totally subjective) it would be that the passage about the ex-wife isn't really necessary. It doesn't really add anything to the story we need to know and it drags the reader out of the fast paced, mad chase your main character is in.

Other than that it's all thumbs up for me !

madsmaddox's picture
madsmaddox from Berkshire is reading Fated June 6, 2014 - 3:50am

Hi Geert,

Thanks for reading and your kind words, I’m so pleased you enjoyed my story.

The ex-wife sequence was something I was just having fun with, I think it works, but I can totally appreciate the change in pace, when I was writing the tale, it just happened and I liked it so kept it in, thought it would provide a bit of fun relief (in a dark comedy way) and an attempt to put a spin on the usual trope of the ex-wife of the hard bitten detective. The one thing that I wanted from this sequence is that he’s still got a place for her in his heart, but its not healthy (for either of them).

Thanks again for your comments as it is food for thought.

All the best and happy writing


Mads

Chacron's picture
Chacron from England, South Coast is reading Fool's Assassin by Robin Hobb June 11, 2014 - 11:40am

I really did like this one. When the Japanese names came in, I couldn't help but wonder if you'd chosen the Yakuza or something similar because the contest rules said we couldn't have Italians, but I soon forgot about that idea. The culture and image surrounding the Japanese and their crime/action styles is well used here. The image of the kid in the bunny suit with blood everywhere certainly amused me.

It seems you and I have two things in common with the way we write (and these are praise):

1: I've been picking up a similar speech style all the way through this, and a kind of sentence construction that's done for style and pace and doesn't always regard that grammar rules that much. I've altered some sentences in the LBL, changing commas to semi-colons where I usually do it when I edit my own stuff, and sometimes splitting sentences with full stops instead, but you can disregard this if you like. It's just style suggestion from one punctuation hunter to another (I've just finished editing 150K of novel, most of it involving this kind of issue, so forgive me if I'm really retentive about it.)

2: You don't reveal a futuristic setting straight away but lead the reader into it (more details of the moments where you got my interest and then gave me the full picture in the LBL, so you can see how close you got to what you were aiming for.) This isn't science fiction, but you've used a similar technique to what I once got from Kazuo Ishiguro in Never Let Me Go and then copied myself - we don't know what year it is, but we get introduced to a world that definitely isn't now stage by stage. You're doing it right - definitely keep this. I've taken some criticism for not putting certain readers in futuristic locations straight away, but I say fuck it - if you want that, don't come to me. Your use of this is my biggest reason for liking this story.

Except for maybe your potty-mouthed narrator and the way you set him up as a man with enemies who's on a mission to get paid without worrying about making friends. I loved all that too!

LBL attached. I think this is an early contender for one of the winners. I said that to one person in Teleport Us and I was right. Get your hopes up! -C.

madsmaddox's picture
madsmaddox from Berkshire is reading Fated June 13, 2014 - 2:29am

Chacron,
 

Wow, high praise indeed. Thank you. And thank you for reading and so pleased that you enjoyed the piece!
 

Also thank you very much for the LBL, I agree with you (thanks for the grammar btw, greatly appreciated and I will make changes accordingly) on many ( I say many, its really all lol) points so will streamline the tale with the changes (have to add a few bits as well from other comments lol but havent had a chance).
 

Really pleased you picked up on the speech style, I was breaking rules but the rhythms work for me, I don’t usually write first person POV (and well spotted on the second person POV moment, that does need an alteration) and as such I thought I’d just have some fun. I usually write via third person which I find much more constraining when applying the proper rules so this piece was particularly liberating to be honest lol. And no need to apologise for your assumed retentiveness, punctuation is a something that all writers need to understand and appreciate so thanks again for your aid.


I haven’t seen Never Let Me Go, but will check that out, I am intrigued. I try to use the less is more approach (I used to work in design and this is a precept long since burned into my brain lol), which is harder than it sounds as part of me wants to always add more and more details. I don’t know if you ever experience this, but when world building do you ever want to just show it all off? But managed to bludgeon that demon this time lol. With this piece, I wanted the intro to reflect what its like to step out into London, there are areas where you can forget you’re actually in the countries capital, I guess its like that in many world cities, but of all the one’s in the world, London was one of the first melting pots yet it is never really viewed as such on the global scene. You can see the influence of cultures across the capital, but its just categorized as British lol. When you step into Leicester Square or Piccadilly Circus, its like someone visited Chiba and thought that looks great, we can do that lol. Then you turn a corner and all of a sudden you’re back in the Victorian period.
From the LBL – You got the Usual Suspects nod!

The relationship with his wife is something I’ll look into, see if I can streamline.

Wetwork – HAHAHAHAHAH! Your google comment did make me laugh, but its not like that, but I did use the term wetwork as innuendo so it almost worked lol. It’s actually a euphemism for murder (assassination), comes from spilling blood, though I was first introduced to it via a comic book by Whilce Portacio lol.

Thanks again for your comments, very insightful and if I use them correctly, I think the piece will be stronger for it.

All the best and happy writing!

Mads

PS

Editing a 150,00 word novel and then coming on here to help others better their styles?: You’re a good guy Chacron! Hope the South Coast is getting lots of sunshine.

Hooper Triplett's picture
Hooper Triplett from Tucson, AZ is reading Fever Pitch June 14, 2014 - 7:33pm

I'll echo some of the previous reviewers in that I was slow to figure out the futuristic element, and the pacing was uneven for me.  I think the two are related - trying to set a foreign tone coyly, but ultimately chewing up valuable space and plot-space.

That said, I'd be interested in reading more about this character and that world - if you had more space.

 

madsmaddox's picture
madsmaddox from Berkshire is reading Fated June 15, 2014 - 6:23am

Hoopertriplett,

thanks for reading, only Chacron mentioned the futuristic element, he actually got it and in the process raised some excellents points (thinking that this could've been post-world war 2 after the blitz which has inspired me for my final draft).

I find your comment on pacing interesting, you thought that the two (plot and world building) are related, but the world building only occurs at the beginning of the tale and once that's out of the way, its pretty relentless and the plot is straight forward - Kid goes missing, hero has to find him, weird $hit happens along the way lol. Adam Jenkins mentioned pace, he called it relentless, something I could look at, a breathing space later on in the story, the funny thing is, the breathing space is something the character wants but doesnt get because things keep happening to him, so he's meant to be out of breath, he's actually meant to be having a day off but his mercenary heart won't let him (all about the money) so he's moving from one situation to another, that's the nature of his job. For me the rhythm works as it is, but then I did write it lol. But I will ponder your comment of uneven and see if I can iron that out.

I think there is a bigger story out there for Detective Hush, the world building is certainly easier with a novella format, but this is a short story, I set the goal to basically have a day in his life and to see what happens, a lot can happen and with a few tweaks here and there, it should be a smoother ride.

All the best, happy reading and writing!

Mads

Todd Morr's picture
Todd Morr from Colorado Springs CO is reading Notes From the Internet Apocalypse June 18, 2014 - 1:26pm

I liked the character, and the futuristic setting, unlike some commenters I liked the slow reveal. My only complaint is the story may have had too many moving parts for the length.  It seemed you had three stories any of which could fleshed out more and worked as stand alone pieces, especially the ex wife annual kidnap bit, which I thought was a clever idea, but mixed with the other plotlines was underserved.

madsmaddox's picture
madsmaddox from Berkshire is reading Fated June 19, 2014 - 5:52am

Todd,

thanks for reading and the feedback, its greatly appreciated. I do see where you are coming from, the threads I've used in the story could be tales in themselves but I didn't want to go down this route (with this version), but could definitely be fleshed out in a novella. When I started writing this story I did have a single focus, which was the missing kid, but then it evolved into more of an adventure for Hush and I just went with the flow.

All the best and happy writing.

Mads

Todd Morr's picture
Todd Morr from Colorado Springs CO is reading Notes From the Internet Apocalypse June 19, 2014 - 7:22pm

I could see this as a novella or even a novel, if you ever do it I would want to read it.

Todd

madsmaddox's picture
madsmaddox from Berkshire is reading Fated June 20, 2014 - 6:17am

Thanks very much Todd, I'm going to start working on one as soon as I've finished the updated version of the short story.

All the best

Mads

Dino Parenti's picture
Dino Parenti from Los Angeles is reading Everything He Gets His Hands On June 18, 2014 - 8:15pm

All in all, really enjoyed this. The future element threw me a bit when it came 3-4 pages in, but it was only a stumble. There's a lot of information here, and I did find myself back-tracking some so as not to lose my place, but it's just because I think you were aiming to flesh out the world and character more. That could be streamlined some, with some of the information braided into the narrative. Anyway, I've included some minor suggestions in the LBL. It's a really good start.

madsmaddox's picture
madsmaddox from Berkshire is reading Fated June 19, 2014 - 5:59am

Dino,

thanks very much for reading and I'm really glad you enjoyed this. Your LBL highlighted some things I have been trying to work out in the final edit and thanks to you I think I have a breakthrough to make the intro slicker, thanks for your help, greatly appreciated!

All the best, happy writing and your story Nest is a damn entertaining read btw, I'll post a review when I get a proper moment later / tomorrow morning.

Thanks again!

Mads

Seb's picture
Seb from Thanet, Kent, UK June 20, 2014 - 2:17am

Very nice. The world setup made me think of Bladerunner, and the political subtext between the lines was subtle yet brutal. I liked the occasional Americanism seeping into the future language. Well paced, dark and ingenious. Like it.

madsmaddox's picture
madsmaddox from Berkshire is reading Fated June 20, 2014 - 5:03am

Seb,

thank you very much for reading and the kind words, I'm really glad you like it. You're the only one that caught the americanisms, nice catch! They certainly are creeping into our lives on this island. I noticed you have a story posted, I look forward to reading.

All the best and happy writing.

Mads

Devon Robbins's picture
Devon Robbins from Utah is reading The Least Of My Scars by Stephen Graham Jones June 20, 2014 - 11:20pm

You've got a solid story here. Your MC is a strong character, overflowing with voice and authority. Also, you've got some great lines throughout. "I still wonder how we ended up being married, I just sobered up and there she was." Perfect description.

My only gripe is the future element to the story. You went to great lengths to say how different the world was after everything that happened, but the story feels very "now." I think you could cut that whole section and still have the same quality of story without it.

Good job and good luck.

madsmaddox's picture
madsmaddox from Berkshire is reading Fated June 23, 2014 - 3:43am

Devon,

thanks for reading and commenting. The story feels very now because that's how I wanted the future to feel. I remember what London felt like over thirty years ago and today, for all its cosmetic changes, it still feels the same. I wouldn't say I went to great lengths to say what has happened, its only a paragraph or so, but its needed to ground Hush in his environment and I think it works, the fluidity of the moment is being fine tuned though.

All the best and happy writing

 

Mads

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Devon Robbins from Utah is reading The Least Of My Scars by Stephen Graham Jones June 23, 2014 - 7:11am

I didn't mean to sound all that negative. This really is one of the authorative stories I've read. Your MC is as real as it gets, and that's what a story like this needs. The whole future thing, maybe you could have him drive by a place he used to have some emotional attachment to that got destroyed in the attacks or something. Just an idea, of course.

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madsmaddox from Berkshire is reading Fated June 23, 2014 - 8:16am

Thanks Devon, I didn't take it as a negative (and on reflection my comment may seem defensive but that wasn't intentional, just an explanation of my own POV when I was writing), constructive criticism is something I thrive on, its the only way to improve and having all these different points of view from readers from around the world is an invaluable experience.

Your idea for an emotional attachment does have merit and is something I will work into the novella version, loss is something that will be addressed for Hush in the long run but I'm not certain I have the word count to write it to a level I would like for this short story version, but I'll experiment, the final draft is still being refined and these comments really do help and I appreciate them.

Downloaded your story btw, I'll post a reply as soon as I can, definitely some of the best craft I've read in the contest. 

All the best and good luck with the contest.

Mads

Devon Robbins's picture
Devon Robbins from Utah is reading The Least Of My Scars by Stephen Graham Jones June 23, 2014 - 8:20am

Sounds good. I'd like to take a look at the final draft when it goes up. 

Hope you enjoy the story.

madsmaddox's picture
madsmaddox from Berkshire is reading Fated June 24, 2014 - 1:51am

Thanks Devon, appreciate it. And I did very much enjoy your story, I'll post my comments when I get a proper mo.

All the best

Mads

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madsmaddox from Berkshire is reading Fated June 29, 2014 - 4:17pm

Final draft up, thanks again for your help Devon. 

All the best

Mads

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) June 30, 2014 - 2:00am

Saw your last comment and had to have a read of the final draft.

I was sceptical on how any changes could improve the piece, but surprisingly they have. The slight change in the opening worked well - loved that second line. It was a good idea to have him knocked out the section before you see him waking up at the old home, and that bit works very well. I also love that last line. Honestly I could pick out a good handful or more lines here that are among the best in the contest.

Nicely done. If you aren't right up there by the end of the reading month, it will be a gross injustice.

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madsmaddox from Berkshire is reading Fated June 30, 2014 - 2:07am

Adam,

thank you for the kind words, the changes I've made reflect the comments / help from others in this thread, yourself included. And it is greatly appreciated.

Good luck with the contest, your North of the River is doing very well and is the only story I've read in the contest with a sense of genuine realism, you should be proud of that and I certainly enjoyed reading.  

All the best

Mads

Aud Fontaine's picture
Aud Fontaine from the mountains is reading Catch-22. Since like, always. July 1, 2014 - 5:34pm

Mads,

I've been really dragging my feet about reading this story because I typically can't stand noir and have had more than my fill with this contest but I eventually saw so many posts about how great this story was that I finally decided "fuck it". I am so glad you didn't disappoint! Bitches would've got knifed otherwise. This story was really fun and the fact that it's in a style that usually irritates me yet I still enjoyed it somehow made it even better. I especially liked the post-bombing setting and thought the Asian influences were a nice dystopian touch. A few more subtle Firefly-esque nods might've made this even cooler. I think the thing I liked best however was the way it never seemed to end when or how I thought it would. That's probably the most frustrating thing about detective stories; they get a case, they're disgruntled about it, they solve the case. Yay. Your story however just kept getting weirder and weirder with just enough winks at the crotchety detective tropes to keep it grounded in the genre and add humor. Your absurd humor, especially with the vigilante samurai rabbit and the mentally unstable ex-wife, were spot on and definitely made the story for me. I loved how weird this was. I'm not one hundred percent sure what the deal was with the bartender at the end, but that might just be my failure to comprehend all the bizarre twists you threw in here. Overall, remarkably fun and interesting story. Kudos. I enjoyed it exponentially more than I thought I would.

Aud.

madsmaddox's picture
madsmaddox from Berkshire is reading Fated July 2, 2014 - 3:34am

Aud,

for someone that can't stand noir but enjoyed this, that really made my day. I'm glad I didn't disappoint! Thanks for reading and the kudos. 

If you have a story up, let me know and I will return the courtesy.

All the best

Mads

Aud Fontaine's picture
Aud Fontaine from the mountains is reading Catch-22. Since like, always. July 2, 2014 - 6:10am

Mads,

Thanks for writing something so fresh! It was fun. I do have a story... thanks for the offer to read it! http://litreactor.com/events/arrest-us/for-all-we-know

I hope you like it. If not, I hope you have ideas on how to fix it!

Aud.

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madsmaddox from Berkshire is reading Fated July 2, 2014 - 6:37am

Aud,

I look forward to reading and will post comments as soon as I can.

All the best

Mads

Hector Acosta's picture
Hector Acosta from Dallas is reading Fletch July 3, 2014 - 7:22am

Mads,

Good story, with a great MC that carried the thing through even when I thought there were a couple of hiccups. As almost everyone has said, the voice you have created for the MC is pitch perfect. He has that sarcastic edge that we see a lot from hardboiled characters, but at the same time, there's a softness to him that makes him relatable. He's not as guarded or just plain jaded as other characters I've read. In a way, he reminded me a lot of Altman's version of Marlowe- A guy that rolls with the punches.

The style you went for in this piece took a bit to get used to. I will admit that occasionally I was confused or felt cheated, as the MC glosses through details rather quickly or you choose to make quick cuts that left me wondering what exactly happened. The biggest example of this is when he first comes across Sogawa/Bunny Assasin. It took me a couple of read throughs to figure out that they were both the same person. I think that at the end the style works, but you might want to do a couple of pass to make sure that it doesn't end up taking over the storytelling itself.

I agree that the first paragraph didn't work for me. It feels too much of a cliche, and in a story where you will already be getting comparasion to things like Blade Runner and Altered Carbon( which is an awesome book if you've never read it), you need to stand out as quickly and effortlessly as possible.

Which brings me to my main concern- while I dug the main character and your writing, I didn't really like the story. I got that this was the future early on, but I honestly can't say if this was because of the work you did, or because that's what I expected. I have no problem with the future feeling like now, as you do drop a couple of things that make it your own world, but I'm not sure it's enough.

Right now, the beginning is too similar to Blade Runner- In both you have trench coat wearing main character trying to eat an asian meal before being interrupted by their duty. Both don't want to take the job, but end up doing so anyways.  I'm not saying that you ripped off the movie, for all I know you've never watched it, but fans of the genre might notice and not give the story the full shot it deserves.

The plot feels really scattershot right now. I'm not sure if I got the point of the story, or what exactly you were trying to say. There's also very little tension or conflict, which is an odd thing to say when you have bouncers, a rabbit assassin, and your MC being tied up, beaten, and shot. But everything gets resolved so neatly each time that it feels like you build up to something, and then get bored of it and decide to move to something else.

The wife segment was a perfect example of this, to me. I'm still not sure what the point of that scene was. It felt, really out of place to me.

Sorry if I seem overly negative. The style and writing was so good that I still feel good about giving this a thumbs up, but I'm not sure it's there just yet.

madsmaddox's picture
madsmaddox from Berkshire is reading Fated July 3, 2014 - 11:11am

Hector,

thanks for reading, the thumbs up and your observations, much appreciated. Altered Carbon is very good, the cash machine with the mini-gun always springs instantly to mind when I think of it.

This story started as a pastiche and ultimately turned into something else, but those nods are there for a reason.

Parallels with Blade Runner, Scott did such a good job with his vision of the future that William Gibson almost didn't bother publishing Neuromancer, funny how things work out. But if you ever visit London, you'll see what I mean and maybe understand the joke (the laughable neon and Soho is slap bang in the middle of the West End). The dimsum is actually a nod to John Woo's Hardboiled, the Tea House scene at the beginning. I totally bypassed the memory of Deckard eating noodles (can't believe I forgot this as I'm a fan of the movie).

First paragraph is meant to be cliche, shame you didn't understand the trenchcoat joke, my bad, as they say, its the way you tell em.

It's a pity the style doesn't work for you, the use of humour is always a difficult thing and you weren't laughing so I died on stage today. Nevermind, certainly not the first time and it won't be my last lol. I mention the humour aspect because it relates to the parts you didn't understand eg the wife sequence is a distortion of a heavily trodden trope of the femme fatale, some readers understood it, others didn't.

My comments aren't meant to sound defensive, just hope they clarify a few things. I really do appreciate your feedback, its always great to get as many perspectives as possible.

All the best and good luck with the contest.

Mads

 

Hector Acosta's picture
Hector Acosta from Dallas is reading Fletch July 3, 2014 - 1:49pm

Mads,

A lot of the humor did work for me. The best lines for me where things that Hush was thinking and saying, lots of those were great, but I think the divide came that sarcastic main character has become an overused staple in the genre(one that I personally enjoy though).

By the same token, I kinda got what you were going with the ex-wife, but for this particular short story, I didn't think it added anything of value. I'm not saying it was a bad scene or badly written-far from it, but it doesn't really tie in to the rest of the plot.

I guess I would ask you waht you're trying to do with the characters- I think this has a lot more potential than just being a pastiche of other noir things. Doing so shortchanges the story and yourself. This is of course my only opinion, and Im probably being tough on this because noir is my favorite genre, and this is a good story.

madsmaddox's picture
madsmaddox from Berkshire is reading Fated July 4, 2014 - 1:33am

Hector,

I do understand your stance and I think your points are relevant, there is more to Hush's story but I think what I wanted to do initially and what its evolving into are different things, as is the nature with ideas, I'm certain the novella version I've been working on will have the essence of this tale but greater detail in areas which I couldn't explore due to the word count for this short.

You're not alone with your comments with the wife sequence, Geert thought the same thing, I can see that it doesn't add to the actual story arc, but its played more for a laugh and for Hush's backstory.

All the best

Mads

Cmangano's picture
Cmangano from Maine July 3, 2014 - 10:14pm

After all of the feedback I'm sure I'm not saying anything new, but I really enjoyed this story. You never missed a beat in the hard-boiled noir type style. I think that the narration was excellent. One of the best stories I've read in a long time. I liked how quick your pacing was. Like many other I also have a favorite line

"The minions look blank, the track marks on their arms say the hamsters are dead and the wheels stopped turning a long time ago." I thought this was a great original description to characterize these cronies.

The only thing I can say is that I was a little confused at the end, but I think was your intention.