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roberto's picture

What Lola Wants

By roberto in Arrest Us

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Once you have read this story, please make sure you rate it by clicking the thumbs above. Then take a few minutes to give the author a helpful critique! We're all here for fun but let's try to help each other too.


Jack Richey is hired to find an ex-husband who doesn't want to be found.  Or maybe he can't be found.


Hector Acosta's picture
Hector Acosta from Dallas is reading Fletch June 25, 2014 - 12:42pm

Hey Robert, 

I kinda liked the tone of this story. It's very Philip Marlowe/Sam Spade kinda thing, which I normally dig. 

The problem though, is that it adheres too much to that type of story, and I ended up losing interesting, just because it feels so familiar. 

Before I get into the story itself, some quick pointers:

Formatting- It really helps if your story is formatted correctly (indents at the start of every paragraph, etc). Without it, it makes it hards to read the whole thing. 

Tense changes- You got a couple. For example, in your opening paragraph you switch back and forth between present and past.

You also switch between third and first person occassionally. 

Punctuations. Exclamations marks should be used sparringly. I don't recommend lumping more than one punctuation mark after a sentence either. 

Your voice- Currently, your voice is not authorial enough. Especially with this type of genre, you need to have a define, strong voice that can carry a story through. For example:

The last booth along the back wall was Jack’s usual spot. He could
see people coming and going and the seat directly opposite him was
sort of hidden.

There's no need for the 'sort of' here. It's either hidden or not. 

You do have good lines, such as:

Early the next morning, Jack paid a visit to Charlie’s old law firm.
The building reeked of big money. When the elevator opened up to the
fourth floor, it reeked of seriously big money.

But they need to be mixed up a bit. Right now the story is dialogue, dialogue, dialogue, big block of descriptive text, dialogue, dialogue, dialogue. Rarely do your characters speak and do an action in the same paragraph. 

As for your story: 

For me, your structure ended up hurting the story more than it helped. It starts off like too many detective stories- Guy is hired by a woman to track down her husband, and you don't really tweak this trope. After that is really a series of meetings where Jack basically asks questions, then goes off to another meeting. This could maybe work in a longer form, but in a short story, I think you're better off focusing on just one or two scenes.

As with all these things, this is my opinion and my opinion only. Hope you find something useful in this and good luck. 

roberto's picture
roberto from New Jersey June 25, 2014 - 3:17pm

Thanks.  It was my first crack ever at a short story.  it was a concept I had in my head, just decided to put it into a short story when I saw the contest.

I noticed the problems with the tenses and I re-wrote it a few times.

Thanks for the frank, honest critique!

jorjon21's picture
jorjon21 from Wisconsin is reading Shotgun Lovesongs June 26, 2014 - 7:24am

This story doesn't really stand out like some of the stories I've read as a part of this contest.  there is nothing unique that happens in the story - I knew how it was going to end before I got there.  You did a good job of setting up the initial scene with the spurned wife.  What if she turns out to be the killer?


You hit a lot of sterotypes with this story - lawyers, cops, ex-cops, Latin gangsters, which I think detracted from the story.  Also I agree with Hector's comment about the tenses, and first and third person.

Joshido's picture
Joshido from Northwestern America is reading Rant June 26, 2014 - 9:47am

All the critiques so far are valid, but I happened to like the cliches honestly. I like the classic hard-boiled cop vibe. That being said, I don't read much detective fiction.

I would rework some verbiage toward the end with Lola, some awkward sentences and some minor punctuation problems.

I thought it had a good pace throughout, and the characters, though they were stereotypical, were enjoyable to me. I would of liked to see more conflict or suspense throughout however.  Everything seem to work out for Jack as the story went along so there was not a whole lot of tension. 

Overall, I thought it was fun and entertaining. I could see this becoming an indie film as a classic homage to classic detective stories. You get a Thumbs up from me! Keep on writing.

It may not be your cup of tea, but I could use some more reads and rates on my story if you got time to quaff down 5000 more words.


Seb's picture
Seb from Thanet, Kent, UK July 1, 2014 - 12:08pm

There's some good stuff in here, but it's buried. Some of it really grabbed me, at other times it felt very by-the-numbers. The moments that stood out were when you forgot about the story and focused on writing, if that makes sense. For example:

He was like a lawyer, but Jack Richey settled things out of court.

That had me laughing, and it's a great sardonic comment. It shows your voice, which is trying to get out. Cut back on the details, the plot, and focus on the people. Let them be real, not just silhouettes. A bit of work, a change in direction perhaps, and you'll write something excellent.

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) July 8, 2014 - 12:47pm

There is some good craft and construction on display here, but the story is a little too close to the noir playbook to let those shine. It means that anyone with a passing interest in those types of stories will know exactly where this is heading, and more than likely where it will go to get there. The best noir surprises, or subverts exceptions. I've seen a few of these types of stories in the contest that cleave too closely to covention, but there are some that do genuinely surprise, and turn convention on their head (check out The Quiet Detective, which is my personal favourite on here - 1st story submitted).

You have a good voice, which comes through in the quiet moments, as Seb says. If this is your first crack at short stories, it's a good first try. It's just a little too predictable. Look up the tropes of the genre, and think about ways you can have fun with them.

Best of luck.