Atrocities of War (part 1) - Language Warning - Page 2


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Thread: Atrocities of War (part 1) - Language Warning

  1. #11
    Hi Lewdog,

    I'll do my usual thing of focusing on the first few lines.

    It was a day like yesterday, and probably like tomorrow will be. Damn it's hot and I can't believe I forgot to check my boots this morning for scorpions before slipping them on. Damn it that hurt! I guarantee I won't make that mistake again. At chow this morning we were warned that a sand storm might come in today, and to make sure we brought our extra protection just in case.


    The way you make the day seem normal is useful - it captures attention, implying that the day won't be normal. The way you use all three tenses in one sentence is quite effective at displaying how normal the day should be. Though it took me a while to realise that you were writing this on the day it happened, but that's because of how I'm used to seeing tenses.

    The repetition of 'damn' numbs the effect of the word for me. There might be better expressions you could use than damn - using it twice makes the voice feel limited.

    The next few sentences don't flow too wel together for me. You change subject within the paragraph, focusing at first on the agonies and 'damn'-worthy aspects of your life, and then you switch to desribing your day.

    The final sentence reads like it's come right out of a book. It doesn't mess around, but it keeps a good tone and sets a tone of danger. The idea of a coming sand storm, whether it means anything to the story or not, gives the reader an image of coming danger. It might even be a microcosm, depending on how the story continues. At any rate, it's a very subtle hook.

    You have a good opening. It doesn't jar the reader but it throws a few punches. Good luck with this story!

    Cadence
    Sleep is for the weak, or sleep is for a week.
    -------------------------------------------------------------
    I write about anime and internet culture at Hidden Content

  2. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Lewdog View Post
    I can see you have lots of awards, so you know what you are talking about when it comes to writing.
    Sorry, this is just nonsense. Not to take anything away from Foxee (I lubs her, and she's a great writer), but the medals are only semi-serious. There are some very, very talented folk here who do know what they're talking about. The only difference is that the people dishing out these awards don't seem to be paying attention. So let's not assume that these little graphics actually mean anything, because that would be silly and not very bright.
    "The only calibration that counts is how much heart people invest, how much they ignore their fears of being hurt or caught out or humiliated. And the only thing people regret is that they didn't live boldly enough, that they didn't invest enough heart, didn't love enough. Nothing else really counts at all. It was a saying about noble figures in old Irish poems—he would give his hawk to any man that asked for it, yet he loved his hawk better than men nowadays love their bride of tomorrow. He would mourn a dog with more grief than men nowadays mourn their fathers.

    And that's how we measure out our real respect for people—by the degree of feeling they can register, the voltage of life they can carry and tolerate—and enjoy.
    "

    Live like a mighty river: a letter from Ted Hughes to his son, Nicholas

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  3. #13
    WF Veteran Lewdog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jon M View Post
    Sorry, this is just nonsense. Not to take anything away from Foxee (I lubs her, and she's a great writer), but the medals are only semi-serious. There are some very, very talented folk here who do know what they're talking about. The only difference is that the people dishing out these awards don't seem to be paying attention. So let's not assume that these little graphics actually mean anything, because that would be silly and not very bright.
    Hand in your award and go sit in a corner for a timeout.

  4. #14
    WF Veteran Lewdog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cadence View Post
    Hi Lewdog,

    I'll do my usual thing of focusing on the first few lines.

    It was a day like yesterday, and probably like tomorrow will be. Damn it's hot and I can't believe I forgot to check my boots this morning for scorpions before slipping them on. Damn it that hurt! I guarantee I won't make that mistake again. At chow this morning we were warned that a sand storm might come in today, and to make sure we brought our extra protection just in case.


    The way you make the day seem normal is useful - it captures attention, implying that the day won't be normal. The way you use all three tenses in one sentence is quite effective at displaying how normal the day should be. Though it took me a while to realise that you were writing this on the day it happened, but that's because of how I'm used to seeing tenses.

    The repetition of 'damn' numbs the effect of the word for me. There might be better expressions you could use than damn - using it twice makes the voice feel limited.

    The next few sentences don't flow too wel together for me. You change subject within the paragraph, focusing at first on the agonies and 'damn'-worthy aspects of your life, and then you switch to desribing your day.

    The final sentence reads like it's come right out of a book. It doesn't mess around, but it keeps a good tone and sets a tone of danger. The idea of a coming sand storm, whether it means anything to the story or not, gives the reader an image of coming danger. It might even be a microcosm, depending on how the story continues. At any rate, it's a very subtle hook.

    You have a good opening. It doesn't jar the reader but it throws a few punches. Good luck with this story!

    Cadence
    Thank you. I have struggled with some lingo because using the PoV method limits what an actual soldier would say. It feels eerily similar to JD Salinger and the extensive use of the F-bomb in "Catcher in the Rye."

  5. #15
    Hand in your award and go sit in a corner for a timeout.
    Relax, Lewdog. No need to take offense at Jon M's explanation.

    Awards don't denote how good a writer is here. They give indications of achievements we've made. In the same way, the number of green bokes you have doesn't say how good a writer you are. Neither will your post count.
    Sleep is for the weak, or sleep is for a week.
    -------------------------------------------------------------
    I write about anime and internet culture at Hidden Content

  6. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Lewdog View Post
    I have struggled with some lingo because using the PoV method limits what an actual soldier would say.
    Don't regard this as an obstacle; regard it as a challenge to your skills with storytelling and characterisation.

    As you must know from real life, people frequently reveal more than they think they're revealing when then speak about things going on in their lives. With a fictional character narrating a story, you as the author can manipulate that tendency to make your narrator unwittingly reveal things about himself and his experiences. This gives an extra dimension beyond what your soldier is consciously aware of. This is one of the keys to how a good author can successfully use an unsympathetic character as a protagonist.

    You can also use the reported speech/actions of other characters for this purpose. You mention Catcher in the Rye. In that novel, Salinger uses Holden's narration to reveal things about him that he isn't aware of himself. He also uses the dialogue with other characters to put a moral 'spin' on Holden's own version of things (I'm thinking particularly of his dialogues with his sister Phoebe and the ex-teacher he goes to visit).

  7. #17
    I don't know if I like this. I'll chalk that up to personal taste. It may simply be the sort of story that doesn't interest me. It may be a bit premature to post this when you don't have the full piece done. It's been the advice I've gotten and agree with that one should write the first draft with the door shut. Only after you've editied it to at least the second draft can you show it to people. I agree with this because I have found that if I start showing my first draft around, I tend to not finish the damned thing. But that may be just me.

    Some of the language here is a little clunky. A bit of polish is necessary. Here's what I found:

    Damn it's hot and I can't believe I forgot to check my boots this morning for scorpions before slipping them on. Damn it that hurt! I guarantee I won't make that mistake again.
    This is interesting. I found this educational for myself. This section is kind of like passive voice. It's not passive voice, but it's similar to passive voice in that it is writing around the action instead speaking of it directly. What happened is that he was stung by a scorpion on his foot, but you don't actually say that happens. You imply it but it's obvious that is what happens. I could see myself doing this sort of thing and being proud of it. Looking at it with a sober head, I don't think it's anything to be proud of. It's not a deal breaker, but it's clunky. It doesn't flow and is probably a bit padded. The problem may not be that it only implies the main action but that by writing around it, there is too much so it feels padded, or worse, like you're dropping extra hits to make sure the reader gets it that he had been stung. This can and probably should be shortened to a single sentence. Maybe cutting "Damn it's hot" free as a separate sentence. This is just an example:

    Damn it's hot. My foot is throbbing because I forgot to check my boots for scorpions this morning like an idiot.

    Short and to the point. It conveys the basic information you're getting across, that he was stung because he wasn't diligent and he feels stupid about it. In the original text, you have him feeling dumb about this twice. I've reduced that down to once and it gets the message across more effectively. So do something like this.

    ... and the worst part is he loves show tunes.
    Is this a euphemism for "he's gay?" If so, just say he's gay. Or that the main character thinks he's gay. It's not 1987 anymore. You can just say he's gay. Even if the mc the sort of person who would use euphemisms instead of the g word out of some fear of catching teh ghey himself, just say it. Saying the guy loves show tunes right after saying he talks too much makes me think he's singing all the time. Just say he's gay.

    Well we were given orders by the staff sergeant ...
    The "Well" is a bit informal. I guess you are trying to convey how boring this life is, but it comes across as unprofessional. The mc is already unlikable. It may be better to not give the reader more reasons to dislike him.

    to search some of the houses on the far west end of Kabul's inner city for some caches of weapon. I sure hope we hit the mother load, I can take getting rocks thrown at me all day, over some idiot Taliban fighter shooting at me with an AK47! These guys are horrible shots with those things. They look like a baby with a rattle spraying bullets all over the place. How any of our guys ever gets shot is more than likely to be friendly fire than anything else. The government won't tell you that, but its true.

    Why in God's earth we are still in this shit hole I don't know. How are we supposed to be scared of these people who live in mud huts with no electricity and no running water I have no clue. Thank to God we have bottled water, there is no way I could drink their water, I swear they shit and piss in the same water they wash their close and get their drinking water. If we were to leave here I'd bet most of them would die off from diseases and save us the trouble. The first house we went through the woman was yelling and screaming at us.
    You should put a paragraph break here. It was a little unclear that you were talking about present because of the preceding sentences where you're talking about things in general.

    All in all, it's not a bad story. Not my taste, but there you go. I think you might have something in making getting shot at and nearly killed kind of boring because this is the workaday drudgery of war. Getting killed, watching your friends die, is as dull as any assembly line job after a while. Because all jobs get dull after a while. Even ones that can get you killed. It just needs to be polished a bit more. I had notice a few spelling and grammar errors, but I didn't make note of them because I'm sure someone else already has and it would be better if you caught them yourself.

    You could improve this by expanding it. That would be difficult because it would mean giving names and personalities to the other guys in the unit and it would be difficult to make them not be cliched character made out of cardboard. But, if you could pull it off, revealing everything here through dialogue instead of inner monologue would improve things exponentially. But that can be very difficult. I would encourage you to take up the challenge, though. It could be worth trying, at least. Think of it as exercise.
    Last edited by the antithesis; December 11th, 2012 at 06:02 PM.

  8. #18
    Patron Foxee's Avatar
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    This just isn't a story where the dialogue from inside a soldiers mind would talk about rainbows and lollypops.
    Read my post again.

    I didn't say anything at all about making your character sound different, all I'm saying is get to the point quicker. While you're canoodling around with him thinking 'Damn, it's hot' I'm thinking 'Damn, what else can I go read?'

    I'm suggesting you skip ahead to what is really bothering him and weave the heat, the scorpions, and all the rest of it in as you go.

    Unfortunately not all the awards are for being an awesome writer, I'm still trying to achieve that.
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  9. #19
    WF Veteran Lewdog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cadence View Post
    Relax, Lewdog. No need to take offense at Jon M's explanation.

    Awards don't denote how good a writer is here. They give indications of achievements we've made. In the same way, the number of green bokes you have doesn't say how good a writer you are. Neither will your post count.

    It was a light hearted joke. No offense taken, or given.

  10. #20
    Member IanMGSmith's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lewdog View Post
    Nothing wakes you up faster than having a gun waived in your face.
    ...unable to breathe with throat being crushed, is what woke me. Just as you say, transition from sleep to defcon-1 is instant. Lucky me, we were only on a training manouvre. Never experienced live combat, hope I never shall.

    Atrocities of War: If this is about your personal experiences in Afganistan you may find, over time, that your feelings and understandings change somewhat. This could be both a good and a bad thing but keep your first scripts without change, because in time they will likely be your best reference.

    You have the makings of a great story and a revelation of the "ugly" side to "pretty pretty, we're all nice people here" society.

    I am also replying to your more recent thread, something about "lost without a cause" and you whining (sorry) about not being a good writer or something. Like the rest of us, you do need to edit and spellcheck and you can improve your writing skills right here. There is no doubt in my mind you have an amazing story to tell and if you don't wish to write it yourself, perhaps someone could direct you to where a publisher might provide a ghost writer. Journalists and newspapers would be interested if you are offering any new revelations.

    Please get this story out Lew,

    Ian
    Last edited by IanMGSmith; December 20th, 2012 at 06:34 AM.
    golden streak splits the distant horizon
    magnificent explosion of dazzling light
    stunning, defiant
    ...daybreak, and life is simply awesome
    - ian m.g. smith (2011)

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