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Kip Casto's picture

The Untold Secrets of Success Now Revealed!

By Kip Casto in Arrest Us

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An unemployed veteran takes control of his life, to pursue his dreams of becoming an actor by doing anything necessary, including breaking the law. This is a memoir and self-help guide detailing the five easy steps he used to break into Hollywood and become an action movie superstar. 


Wonder Woman's picture
Wonder Woman from RI is reading 20th Century Ghosts July 2, 2014 - 8:21am

Hi Kip,

I found the story to be entertaining and I enjoyed how it read like a self-help guide with examples of his adventures thrown in. I gave it a thumbs up because it was an amusing read. 

There were a few things that I noticed, though. One sentence repeats a few words:

"If you don't know what your competition or customer is doing is doing you're going to fail."

Beyond that, I noticed you left out some commas after dialogue, mostly toward the latter half of the story:

"Hit the lights and get your gun ready" I said.

On a side note, I had to chuckle since I have relatives who live in The Landings in Savannah. Having just visited in April, the setting was very vivid and fresh in my mind. :)

Kip Casto's picture
Kip Casto from Norfolk,VA is reading Jonathan Kellerman Novels July 2, 2014 - 9:18am

Awesome. Great feedback. I'm going to go over it and check the common issues again. Thank you.

kcopes's picture
kcopes July 2, 2014 - 6:30pm

The story line was engaging and entertaining. It was also an easy read. I think the story was unusual and creative.






Turtlethumbs's picture
Turtlethumbs July 3, 2014 - 8:50am

Hey Kip,

While I was reading I thought "man this guy must really like Chuck Palahniuk," then I read your bio. I also love Survivor. There's Chuck-ness all over this.

At first it was hard to get into. Some of the Chuck-ness almost seemed forced, but I don't know where in the story or how to explain that.

Some parts, like I'm not going to apologize for this. seem unnecessary in that, well yeah, this character obviously isn't going to apologize for anything! Just let him be the self-serving asshole he is without apologizing or pretending to care about wanting to apologize.

Lots of spelling and grammatical errors you'll want to fix. They don't break the story but stop the flow for those of us who are anal about that stuff.

In some places I wanted him to be more offensive or even narcissistic. He seems to be leaning that way. So in the how to deal with rejection part I was surprised to see how moderate the tip was. I would have written it like if somebody rejects you it's because they are intimidated by your superiority - fuck 'em or something.

Some of the race and gender commentary irritated me, mostly because I wondered if it was the character or you speaking through the character.

Overall it's a lot of fun and interesting for a first draft, but definitely needs to be refined.


My story is also a bit of dark humor and you might enjoy it, and I'm looking for more readers (duh):  - Check it out!


Kip Casto's picture
Kip Casto from Norfolk,VA is reading Jonathan Kellerman Novels July 3, 2014 - 1:23pm


Thanks for the great feedback! I heard about this contest less than a week ago and pushed this this out without the rewrites that I would normally do. I will keep working on it.


Kip Casto


Kip Casto's picture
Kip Casto from Norfolk,VA is reading Jonathan Kellerman Novels July 3, 2014 - 1:40pm


Thanks for the great feedback! I heard about this contest less than a week ago and pushed this this out without the rewrites that I would normally do. 

Tom Lydon's picture
Tom Lydon from Britain July 5, 2014 - 8:03am

Like others have said, I found this confusing to get into, but pretty enjoyable. I won't repeat the other comments, but for me two things stopped me really getting into this story:

1 - Structure/formatting:

The self-help tips mixed with a heist/blackmail plot is really interesting, and the two threads play off each other well - but because the two are so intertwined, even switching over mid-paragraph a few times, that I had to work to keep the thread of what was going on, making things feel rather incoherent.

One idea mightbe delineating the two threads a bit more, almost like the self-help bits are the guy's autobiography, interspersed with the "true" story of how he got rich and famous - that way you can draw out the irony of applying some of the banal self-help stuff to a robbery, etc. But right now, it felt a bit overwhelming for me.

2 - Plot:

Some of the plotting felt a bit contrived/glossed over. The way the events at the port play out is very convenient - the sailor on guard duty (why only one?) seems very lax, and accepting - ok, she's talking to her superiors, but it still. The additional MPs - they never seem to question anything at all, even when blatantly illegal stuff happens in front of them (coke on the dock, etc). Even if they don't say anything at the time, would Adam and the main character not need to get rid of them as witnesses? Where did the guys in the SUV come from? Where did the skinheads come from, immediately prepared to do a deal?

The blackmail again felt rather forced and quick - there's not much set-up, and the producer gives in straight away. Then the bit with the bomb - even allowing for the convenience factor of the skinheads immedately planning a bomb attack, who is the Mossad guy, where did he come from? And the final gunfight is a bit unclear, and again goes down very quickly.

It felt like all the bare bones are there, but they need fleshing out with details and reactions to make it plausible.

Other than that, the only significant issues were the typos, and as Max mentioned, some of the gender/race stuff seemed unnecessary - maybe build it up as part of the guy's character more?

Hope this helps!

Kip Casto's picture
Kip Casto from Norfolk,VA is reading Jonathan Kellerman Novels July 5, 2014 - 10:39am

Great feedback Tom! Good call about the formatting and the separation between the self-help and the story. You are right about the details of the story, I think I structured it for a longer format. Once again, thanks for the great feedback this will really help me improve it!

Joe P's picture
Joe P from Brainerd, MN is reading Wheel of Time July 5, 2014 - 9:10pm

Okay. I think you have some really good things going here, but I think it needs a lot of work before I can give it a thumbs up in good concious. 

I added an LBL to cover the grammatical and sentence structure details. I'll just mention the big ticket items here.

First off, the formatting needs to be simplified. I like his lists and notes, but the numbers and bolded headers intermixed with the narative get messy. I would reduce some of his rules and lists and come up with a few that he repeats through the passage. I think these are the strongest part of your story and they really make it interesting, but too many just clutter things up.

Second, there's a lot of story that needs some explaination. Why are these MPs so willing to shuffle coke all around Savannah? Where do these thugs come from? Where does the Israeli intelligence officer come from? What does he have to do with anything?

Third, I know we're viewing the action from a very skewed narrator, and that also gives this piece strength. But at some point in time, I'd like to see him come across a character who doesn't buy his bullshit. There's a female sailor who seems way to guilibly and is ripe to call this guy out. A little dose of reality in the middle of this guy's narcissistic head trip. Know what I mean?

I think this has some potential if you can clean this up. There's a lot of murky water to wade through to find the core of this story. Focus on the core and eliminate the rest. That's all I got for now. Good luck in the contest!

Kip Casto's picture
Kip Casto from Norfolk,VA is reading Jonathan Kellerman Novels July 7, 2014 - 4:42pm


Thanks for the great feedback! Thanks for getting specific with the military terms. Shows how much I retained. I will definitely be making these changes. 



Casey Hicks's picture
Casey Hicks from Brooklyn, NY is reading American Gods by Neil Gaiman July 11, 2014 - 5:27pm

I see you've already gotten some great feedback. I agree that the formatting is a bit confusing in regards to the bolding and the rules set up. Italics would be a quick fix, I think.

This was my favorite sentence. It might be a little clunky grammatically, but I love the detail. It kind of gets across what a sociopath our dear narrator is as well. That matter-of-factness mixed with grotesqueness is on key.

The laser sight made it quick and easy for the flaccid paralysis, which sounds like a fancy word for impotence, but it is the area in the face also known as the "T-Zone" which the bullet enters the brain causing immediate paralysis, which ensures they will not fire back.

Something I was wondering: why is the narrator sharing all of this with us? Why detail his criminal past and set it up in list format? I'd like to see him have some sort of explanation, like that he'll never be brought to justice or is too well loved now. Something that shows his unreliable narration (at least in regards to how amazing he is) would be nice. Overall, I was entertained. I got Chuck P./Irvine Welsh vibes.

Kip Casto's picture
Kip Casto from Norfolk,VA is reading Jonathan Kellerman Novels July 14, 2014 - 10:18am

Thanks for the great feedback Casey! Originally I had the format structured in bullet points and such, but had to simplify the formatting for when I uploaded it the first time it was scrambled up. I think you're right with regards to more explanation which I went back and added in a later draft.

YouAreNotASlave's picture
YouAreNotASlave from Birmingham United Kingdom July 12, 2014 - 8:55am

Thumbs up for this. The narrator was utterly unlikeable but I kept reading to see how it panned out. Nice interspersal between the self-help style and action narration. I also like how this can be read partly as an exploration of the limitations and contradictions of Nietzsche and his ideas on the master: the narrator claims morality is a sham crafted by masters, and yet still operates within these same moral codes IE when talking about 'giving something back' ; he can never fully abstract himself from morality despite deriding it.

Also I like how he dresses up what is to me a series of lucky escapes, varnished with his own skill, as completely down to his own abilities; very good portrayal of a narcissistic hyper macho arsehole. Obviously a lot of this is down to the way I read it, but I liked that I could read it that way and I think the story is well written cuz it acts as a cipher: different people will get different things out of it -- which I think is one of the key things about good art. 

One thing of critique (aside from a few spelling/grammatical errors which I'm sure you'll pick up on re-reads) is that a lot of the action happens so fast that it's sometimes hard to follow what's going on. You have the guys in the SUV, then the skinheads, which I followed okay, though I had to re-read bits -- but the bit at the end with Mossad and the Synagogue; it just happens so fast and without much set up that it seems like the action of skinheads deciding to blow up the synagogue at that time after all the shit had just happened as a little shoehorned in. I also was confused about Marlon's placing -- both spatially and motivationaly -- during all the synagogue stuff. I think you'd benefit from taking your time a little with the action scenes cuz otherwise it can get a bit blurry.

But yeah, still enjoyed this. Thanks for the read.


Kip Casto's picture
Kip Casto from Norfolk,VA is reading Jonathan Kellerman Novels July 14, 2014 - 10:20am

Thanks for the great feedback again! I agree with you about the Mossad. I'm thinking about taking the Mossad part out and just having the film producer finish and conclude the rest of the story.

Grant Williams's picture
Grant Williams from Wichita, KS is reading Friday July 16, 2014 - 8:43am

It looks like you've already received all the feedback that is necessary to make this great.  As it stands, it was good, so thumbs up.  It did take a little work to synch up with the flow of it, but by the end  the pattern was clear so it was easier to enjoy.I agree that the Mossad bit could come out.  Well done and good luck.

Seb's picture
Seb from Thanet, Kent, UK July 20, 2014 - 4:31pm

Interesting idea, although it does feel like you've tried to cram too much into the word count (drug deal, hijack, blackmail, movie star, self-help) and there were a lot of pop culture references in there (Dan Kennedy!?! Didn't expect to see him crop up in crime fiction). In my opinion you need to simplify this a bit, perhaps take out a bit of the self help stuff. If you just stuck to the five rules, and dropped the other bits, it would flow better, or that's my view anyway. There were also several spelling and grammar mistakes, and a few tense slips and typos. I see you've already got a lot of feedback that will help you on this. It's a good story, it just needs refining. Nice work and good luck.

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) July 24, 2014 - 9:06am

There’s some good stuff here, but I found the rules definitely broke the flow, and made it hard to get into and stick with. As has been mentioned elsewhere, I felt that you could concentrate on the main five and lose the rest. I also agree with Seb in that there is so much crammed in here, that I felt the story struggled to breathe at times. The actions of your characters do sometimes come across as contrived for plot purposes, but this has been covered elsewhere. Which I guess means I have little to add to some already pretty on-the-money comments.

Best of luck.

Cmangano's picture
Cmangano from Maine July 29, 2014 - 11:56am

I found this a piece a little disorienting. There seem to be several different bold face sets of rules and at times I was confused about which was which. There are places where rules are marked by seemingly irrelevant numbers which contributed to my confusion.  The transitions between story and rules seemed a bit abrupt to me and reduced the tension. There are quite a lot of places that grammatical errors (waist instead of waste here instead of hear) and spelling errors slowed me down. I don't think you're very far from having a good story here, I think it needs another go over though.