View Full Version : Untitled Piece (710 words) - WARNING MATURE LANGUAGE AND CONTENT

December 15th, 2012, 10:37 PM

I have been working on this piece and want some advice before I continue. Please be as hard as you wish at critiquing, it will only make my work better.

Some of my main concerns aside from grammar is:

-character development or lack thereof
- introduction of character names
- authentic conversation



The cell door closed behind Jack. His new cellmate, Nate looked up from the bottom bunk.“What are you in for, boss?” he asked looking Jack up and down. “Tax evasion or some shit?” He said with a laugh.

“Yeah, I wish.”Jack replied, paused, and then hung his head. “Three counts of murder in the first degree.”

Nate bolted upright in his bunk. “Whoa, I got it! You’re one of those business stiffs that snaps, then kills his family” He said pointing casually at him and giving him an approving smile, “nice.”

“I’m innocent.”Jack said sincerely.

“Man, you can cut that shit out in here. There’s no judge or jury here; just you and me, amigo,” he said. “I’ve been in a year on accessory to murder and I’m getting’ out on parole next week!”

“I’m telling you the truth.” Jack said, looking Nate in the eye.

“Yeah, I’m sure. Just like I’m only an accessory to murder.” Nate said.

The pair stood there and silently and stared at each other.“You ain’t a snitch are you?” asked Nate as he took a step forward narrowing the gap between them, “because if you are, I will not hesitate to rip your throat out.”

“I’m no snitch, you psychopath.” Jack said sternly. “But kill me if you want, it will save me a lot of boredom and shitty food that’s for sure.”

“You aren’t kidding,” laughed Nate as he loosened his stance before falling back into his bunk. “I think we’ll get along just famously.” Nate put his hands behind his head, shut his eyes and drifted off thinking about 6 nights and a wake-up.

Jack hopped up onto his bunk and laid silently. He couldn’t help but think to himself how Nate, an obvious psychopath who would murder at the drop of a hat could be granted parole. Nate’s words were emblazoned into his mind “Yeah, I’m sure. Just like I’m only an accessory tomurder.” He repeated to himself.

I get two life sentences for a crime I never committed, but this psychopath is going to walkaway a free man. Free to kill again. “Quite the justice system,” he said to himself in a hushed voice as he rolled over in the bunk.

“Hey Jack,” Nate said breaking the silence.

“Yeah?” Jack asked.

“Who did you supposedly kill?” Nate asked.

Jack ignored Nate’s sarcastic attitude.

“My brother, his wife, and my neice.” Jack replied.

“Motive?” Nate asked.

“My brother and I were in business together, I ran one portion and he ran the other. Long story short, he ran his side of the business into the ground and it pulled the entire company down with it. I was in debt, he was in debt, and then my wife left me for some pompous trust fund baby half our age.” Jack started.

“Harsh, so you did it for revenge?” Nate asked.

“I told you, I didn’t do it. I was going over to his house to try to work things out, smooth out the situation, you know? When I got to the house, my brother’s Wade Boggs autographed baseball bat was sitting in the front yard, I recognized it immediately, he had it hanging in our room when we were kids for ages. I picked up the bat, it was wet, it was dark,I thought there was dew on it from resting in the wet grass, I wiped it on my jacket. It turns out it was the murder weapon and now I have the whole families blood on my jacket, my hands, and my prints were all over the bat. I knew something awful must have happened. I ran inside, I got my prints on the door. Easy case, even for a shitty prosecutor.” Jack said as he wiped a tear from his eye.“The girl was only four years old, her name was Madison, a beautiful child.”

“Wow, that’s quite the story. A baseball bat? I would have used a knife. Much more efficient. But maybe the bat is your thing.” Nate said with his sarcastic voice.

“Just because youre a cold heartless murderer doesn’t mean than I am.” Jack replied. “And I am not a murderer, even if you want me to be.”

December 17th, 2012, 07:03 PM
Is it that bad that I can't get anyone to critique this?

December 18th, 2012, 04:25 PM
Hi Vendetta,
It is not that bad. :) You might want to look at the sticky titled "Need a Critique?" for info on how to get more responses to your thread. The main thing is to critique others' work so they'll do yours in return.

The main thing I noticed was that your characters' voices need to be more consistent, in terms of the words you choose for them, what that says about them, etc. With Nate in particular, sometimes you give him a sort of casual, street vocab ("Man, you can cut that shit out in here" "You ain't a snitch" etc.) and at other times he sounds much more formal and educated ("I will not hesitate to rip your throat out" "we'll get along famously" etc.). So I'm not getting a clear sense of who the character is from his speech; it needs to conform to his background, whatever that is.

I think you're trying to work in a lot of exposition with Jack's story, but it seems odd to me that he would tell his whole story and tear up and all that with this perfect stranger who may not be very trustworthy. Think it might work better to make him tell it in a very terse, concise manner, no details or tears.

You should look up the correct way to do dialogue tags and punctuation, there are several detailed posts about that on this forum if you search.

Hope this helps!

December 21st, 2012, 03:11 PM
Doesn't seem like a standalone story, too many loose ends and too little character development. The opening paragraph is lacking in detail, mainly Jack's initial impression of his new environment. Jack seems to be the protagonist, so you can probably get away with not describing him physically at this point, but the effect of Nate's presence on Jack needs more description. What initial impression does Jack have of Nate from his facial expression and body language?

Nate's forwardness makes it seem like he reads Jack as a "fish", one who didn't even spend several months in jail awaiting trial, and has not learned anything about how to deal with other prisoners. Somewhere in the story you would have to explain how Jack managed to get out on bail on 3 counts of Murder One when he's broke - could be done, maybe worth the effort so you can enhance the contrast between the two men.

Because there is little description of Jack's impression of Nate, his characterization of Nate as an "obvious psychopath who would murder at the drop of a hat" and "a cold heartless murderer" rings false. Nate could easily be using the veiled reference to being an actual murderer just to enhance his rep in the joint.

"Nate put his hands behind his head, shut his eyes and drifted off thinking about 6 nights and a wake-up" - Getting this brief access to Nate's head seems inappropriate.

Blood on the bat - even dried blood - would not look like dew, but there would be no problem with his picking it up and taking it into the house with him. According to the dialogue, Jack may be a fish but he's not a coward.

Just a few comments based on a few quick reads, hope they help. My overall impression: a good story that needs work. I tend to agree with lasm's comments.

December 21st, 2012, 05:35 PM
Thanks for the help! I really appreciate the criticism.

wron, you are correct this is not a standalone piece.

I will definitely be posting a revision (and addition).

January 19th, 2013, 10:45 AM
This looks pretty clean to me. My grammar is lousy so I probably won't be much help in that department but there are some things I noticed...

I thought, the dialogue was good, believable enough to be realistic but not so dull and common as to be boring. So far, all we know about the characters is conveyed through their conversation because you haven't described them physically or delved into their pasts, but that is OK.

With regards to the characters development, right now I see Nate with the most depth. I don't know where the plot is going, but I think it will be interesting to see the dynamic between these two men, one being morally vacant and the other being innocent (if Jack is truly innocent). At this point Jack seems pretty typical and could use a bit more personality. Obviously the role he plays has been done before, but what hasn't? By giving Jack a distinctive or unique trait, you can set him apart from whatever is typical in his story.

I guess the last thing I would suggest would be putting some sort of cap on the story. I understand that this is not the entire piece but I think it's good to offer some sort of resolution or feeling of completion at the end of each chapter or portion. It's doesn't have to be an all out ending, just something less abrupt that doesn't seem like you just stopped in the middle of writing. Or maybe it seems that way because that is what happened. Still maybe if it ended with Jack reflecting on his new cell mate, dead brother, or even just his general predicament, the piece would feel more...whole?

I look forward to find out what happens next and learn more about Jack's morally bankrupt friend. There is an opportunity to create a truly unique character out of Nate by allowing him to not be predictably evil and humanizing him. I think it is great when you can challenge readers by humanizing a bad guy.

Best wishes,


January 20th, 2013, 03:34 PM
Hi Vendetta,
The main thing I noticed was that your characters' voices need to be more consistent, in terms of the words you choose for them, what that says about them, etc. With Nate in particular
Hope this helps!

I agree with this. Also, I'm assuming this murder is a major part of the story? If that's the case you might want to give it more attention, more detail, than just an oral description to a cellmate. maybe consider a flashback to when Jack is actually walking up to the house. show him going in, finding everybody, talking to the cops etc...or maybe dedicate a whole scene/chapter to this event. my two cents...good start though. i like the idea of him not realizing what happened and accidentally framing himself.

January 24th, 2013, 03:57 AM
Hi, its good writing, but I guess you haven't been to jail before? (I haven't either) but it still seems unrealistic. First day in prison, you walk in tell your life story to the guy in the cell? This guy is meant to be innocent, with a hefty jail sentence hanging over him, yet he's cool and relaxed, confident...it just doesn't feel right.

For a suggestion, I would have the character narrate what happened to him, then have him go into prison and meet Nate without him sharing his life story in their first encounter. He would be scared, confused, angry, upset. At the moment he is none of these. Portray some of the horror this guy is feeling, his anger at the system, how scared he is that he's going to get harmed in some way.

Sorry if this is a bit hard to understand, haven't given feedback for a while, need to get back into the swing of it. Main point - writing good, Scene - not so good

January 24th, 2013, 10:47 AM
I found the dialog most interesting. It's all quite well written and easy to follow. I would have liked to hear a little about the setting though. It is obviously set in a jail/prison setting but one major thing about those places are they are noisy... oh and often they smell weird too, but I digress.

January 25th, 2013, 09:29 AM
I like how it starts out, seems like a good way to start a story. Is that what this is or ?

I like when writers take a future part of the book than start writing the beginning of the story, maybe how the business failed etc...