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Workshop => Review My Work => Topic started by: Skip Slocum on February 27, 2009, 01:31:33 PM

Title: Raining Terror, One Black Night (Flash Fiction 441)
Post by: Skip Slocum on February 27, 2009, 01:31:33 PM
Raining Terror, One Black Night    


     Mark’s face slammed deep into the mud from the concussion of an explosion. Every muscle in his body racked in pain. For a split second, he considered just laying there, letting the aching wave run its course but his men depended on him. With the enemy attacking, Mark forced himself to ignore the screams around him and continue to fire his rifle at anything that moved.

     One of the men from another squad, splashed hard beside him. At first, he thought the man was dead until he bounced up into a firing position and started laying down cover-fire. The rain pecked so hard at their helmets it was difficult to hear anyone moving up ahead. Tropical storms were fast and frequent. When the rain moved off the enemy stopped advancing. It almost seemed like the attacks connected to the onset of each little cloud burst, it was evident the enemy used them for concealment.

     Now that it was quiet, Mark knew he better restock his ammunition before the next wave hit. Every corpse was a potential supply of loaded magazines or boxes of ammunition. Showing the man next to him an empty magazine, then a silent wave of his hand told the private to look for his own supplies. 

     Even though the starless night concealed everyone in shadows, their eyes had grown accustomed to the darkness. Someone tapped him on the boot and he knew he had to pull back to find out what was going on. The wide-eyed soldier that lay beside him started to panic but Mark showed him the signal to holdfast. As soon as Mark evacuated his position, the messenger took his place.

     A buck sergeant met him about ten feet back and showed Mark the lieutenant’s bloody helmet.  Mark knew he was in command now and the other guys would look to him for their instructions. He used sign language to ask where the radio operator was but one of the corporals splayed open his hand and puffed his cheeks at the same time. He didn’t want to imagine what the poor kid looked like but after two years of action, the image was all too clear.

     Their orders were to make their way to this draw between the hilltops and stop anyone from advancing through. A quick head count showed the platoon was down to about twenty men. Mark deployed the men across the narrow draw and instructed them to dig in. Hopefully the Company Commander would send out a probe when they didn’t check in. Otherwise, it was going to be a long night if anyone was lucky enough to see the next morning.
Title: Re: Raining Terror, One Black Night (Flash Fiction 441)
Post by: aticama on February 27, 2009, 09:41:29 PM
     Mark’s face slammed deep into the mud from (the concussion of (hidden verbs, you can write these out.)) an explosion. Every muscle in his body racked in pain. For a split second, he considered just laying there, letting the aching wave run its course but his men depended on him. With the enemy attacking, Mark forced himself to ignore the screams around him and continue to fire his rifle at anything that moved.

     One of the men from another squad, splashed hard beside him. At first, he thought the man was dead until he bounced up into a firing position and started laying down cover-fire. The rain pecked so hard at their helmets it was difficult to hear anyone moving up ahead. Tropical storms were fast and frequent. When the rain moved off the enemy stopped advancing. It almost seemed like the attacks connected to the onset of each little (cloud burst (cloudburst)), it was evident the enemy used them for concealment.

     Now that it was quiet, Mark knew he better restock his ammunition before the next wave hit. Every corpse was a potential supply of loaded magazines or boxes of ammunition. Showing the man next to him an empty magazine, then a silent wave of his hand told the private to look for his own supplies. 

     Even though the starless night concealed everyone in shadows, their eyes had grown accustomed to the darkness. Someone tapped him on the boot and he knew he had to pull back to find out what was going on. The wide-eyed soldier that lay beside him started to panic but Mark showed him the signal to holdfast. As soon as Mark evacuated his position, the messenger took his place.

     A buck sergeant met him about ten feet back and showed Mark the lieutenant’s bloody helmet.  Mark knew he was in command now and the other guys would look to him for their instructions. He used sign language to ask where the radio operator was but one of the corporals splayed open his hand and puffed his cheeks at the same time. He didn’t want to imagine what the poor kid looked like but after two years of action, the image was all too clear.

     Their orders were to make their way to this draw between the hilltops and stop anyone from advancing through. A quick head count showed the platoon was down to about twenty men. Mark deployed the men across the narrow draw and instructed them to dig in. Hopefully the Company Commander would send out a probe when they didn’t check in. Otherwise, it was going to be a long night if anyone was lucky enough to see the next morning.

************************

Wow, I am impressed. This is a great piece of flash fiction. It moves, it groves, wham bam thank you ma’am. What more can I say. This was an easy one.
I will sum it all up: I Likes It!

Thanks for the great read, I will be watching you.
berto
Title: Re: Raining Terror, One Black Night (Flash Fiction 441)
Post by: Wolfe on February 27, 2009, 10:45:18 PM
I want to focus on something Bonita Kale and I mentioned on a question about editing: stimulus and response.

Mark's face slammed deep into the mud from the concussion of an explosion.

You wrote this sentence in reverse.  Put stimulus first (explosion) and the response (Mark's face slamming) second.  Why this way?  You want the reader to see the cause before the effect.  Sounds simple, right? It's because it's also scientific in its simplicity: cause and effect.

Also, it makes for more dramatic and less confusing reading. Put into the correct order, the sentence will read when cleaned up:

The explosion slammed Mark's face into the mud.

A little less wordy, a little more sudden, and a lot more dramatic.  Make sense?

Now, let's take the rest from the first paragraph.

Every muscle in his body racked in pain. (cliché and given if he was pushed into the mud from an explosion) For a split second (cliché), he considered just laying there (for more than a split second, he will - so this is something of a contradiction), letting the aching wave run its course (with this, again, there's no choice whether prone or otherwise; he's going to feel the pain) but his men depended on him. With the enemy attacking, Mark forced himself (delete personal reflective pronouns whenever possible - it's understood the topic speakers' actions reflect on themselves) to ignore the screams around him and continue to fire (beware infinitive repetition - especially split infinities: to continue is split from: to ignore the screams around him and continue) his rifle (consider using the specific name here - specifics create a clearer image) at anything (might want to make this more specific too) that moved (at anything that moved is also cliché).

I recommend using shorter, clipped sentences to open this action.  Shorter sentences move the reader faster and deliver tension.  You'll want to do this when conflict reaches a higher peak such as in battles.


The explosion punched Mark's face into the mud. The pain begged him to remain there. Let go, it soothed. Sleep. But Mark rose from the mud. He ignored the screams and continued to fire his M-16 at the enemy. If it moved, it died.

Hope this helped. :)

Wolfe
Title: Re: Raining Terror, One Black Night (Flash Fiction 441)
Post by: Skip Slocum on February 27, 2009, 11:44:06 PM
Mr. Wolfe, I respect your opinion on editing, grammar, and what is cliche. However in this case I think you assume too much. (you don't know how much I am gritting my teeth to dare and disagree with you and pray I am not offending you)

your quote: You wrote this sentence in reverse.  Put stimulus first (explosion) and the response (Mark's face slamming) second.
No sir I do not want the explosion to come first. Anyone that has ever been in an explosion finds themselves on the ground (or in the mud) before they realize what put them there so that's where I wanted this to start.
(Still freaking out that I would disagree with you and fearing it will chase you away from ever giving me help in the future)

Clich'e or not, in a fire-fight, "you fire at anything that moves" or they zip you up in a black bag after its over....sir.
Skip
Title: Re: Raining Terror, One Black Night (Flash Fiction 441)
Post by: Wolfe on February 28, 2009, 12:08:20 AM
Different opinions don't offend me.  ;)  But allow me to convince you before an editor forces you to change it anyway.   ;D

The reality is the explosion put him there.  You speak about perception. When you use third person, you must make viewpoint clear.  If you used first person, maybe. But the prose reads in third. So, remember, you have the reader watch in “omnipresent” view.

I won't post the video, but look at this image: http://chronicle.augusta.com/images/headlines/011797/met_bomb1.jpg

Notice how the explosion comes first, affects the woman's hair second, and in the next frame both people will hit the ground third. Stimulus and response. We see it as third person.  To them, they will hit the ground and wonder what happened afterwards. That's potentially first person.

The closer the stimulus is to the response, the clearer the prose reads. Unless you do this on purpose, such as for mysteries, the reader will stumble.

Now, if I wrote this in first.  Perhaps.

Let's say, the antagonist hits the protagonist in the back of the head with a baseball bat.  The viewpoint character (protagonist) won't have any idea what hit him as he collapses.  In this case, stimulus is there but unseen by the main character. So yes, since he didn't see it, it cannot appear in viewpoint for the reader.  But viewpoint's another thread...

This is one of the many, many reasons you want stimulus first and response second.

Now, the cliché might be true.  It might even be reality to some.  But, you're not writing reality.  You're writing fiction, which is better than reality.  Also, and believe this now before an agent and editor points it out, when you use clichés it sounds amateurish and lazy.  It signals to the reviewer you couldn't come up with anything better and went the easy route.

You're the writer.  You're supposed to be creative.  You don't get to use someone else's material which is now old hat.

Make sense?

And, coming from personal experience, you don't shoot at everything in combat.  If you do, the Law of Armed Conflict (LOAC) will have your ass. Even under stress, you keep your cool.  For civilians, the cliché might sound true.  For trained soldiers, they know better. It's Boot Camp and Basic Training's number one rule: work under and during extreme stress without losing it.

Otherwise, your teammie becomes a liability for the team. You'll have to trust me on that one. Unless you intend the character to be a loser or a coward, I wouldn't do it.

But, as always, your call. :)

Wolfe
Title: Re: Raining Terror, One Black Night (Flash Fiction 441)
Post by: Skip Slocum on February 28, 2009, 12:47:37 AM
And, coming from personal experience, you don't shoot at everything in combat.

Hey hey a fellow soldier, what unit were you in? I servered in the US Army for eight years.
Title: Re: Raining Terror, One Black Night (Flash Fiction 441)
Post by: Wolfe on February 28, 2009, 01:03:57 AM
 :)

Getting back to stimulus and response.  If you're still not convinced, please research the source material.  A little research can't hurt, right? Start here: http://www.squidoo.com/scenes-sequels

Wolfe