As some may recall, I've been writing this war/detective story for a long time now. In my most recent post, you all suggested I start somewhere else, so here it is.
We found Major Dresner cold, stiff and out of breath; lying erect against the humble remains of a brick wall. His hands, bruised and stained, rested one over the other on the left abdomen; and his head was cocked to me, as if his coiled eyes were viewing the fading daylight on my shoulders. I tried my best to feel bad for the guy, but it didn’t seem like a tragedy. I figured the worst was behind him, the lucky bastard. “Well?” Sergeant Bale murmured beneath the cigarette hanging from his lips. “What’s the story Corporal?” “Yeah,” Ferris said, retrieving his finger from Dresner’s neck. “He’s gone.” The crowd around Dresner fell quiet. I didn’t understand, but the others did. The price for a dead POW was someone’s ass.
There were a number of word choices here that were so unusual they pulled me completely out of the narrative while I scratched my head.
out of breath (but the guy is dead) humble remains of a brick wall (huh?) coiled eyes (no idea what this means) retrieving his finger -- as written it sounds like his finger isn't attached to his body.
The story starts out in an interesting place, but needs some serious wordsmithing. With better wording I would read on...
We found Major Dresner cold, stiff and pale; lying erect against a tattered palisade that ran parallel the road. His hands, bruised and stained, rested one over the other holding an Iron-Cross to his left abdomen; and his eyes, warped and black, were directed to me, as if they were watching the fading daylight over my shoulder. “Well?” Sergeant Bale murmured, barely grasping the cigarette between his lips. “What’s the story?” “Yeah,” Corporal Ferris said, crouching beside the Major. “He’s gone alright.” With that our little band fell to silence. I was too naive to appreciate the situation, but the others got the catch. Dresner had been captured three days before, and he price for a
In answer to Wbriggs' question, I was trying to establish my POV's cynical nature early on, but perhaps the first thirteen lines are too early. More importantly, my attempt was not very subtle. Cynicism is critical to the character, so it will have to follow soon after what you see here.
[This message has been edited by Green_Writer (edited January 23, 2007).]
In terms of the cynicism, I liked the earlier version better. This one has no emotional impact on me (although that last sentence suggests it soon may). The cynicism was fine; I just wanted to understand it.
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Sorry I haven't been posting many comments lately. I've been struggling with school. Some excuse heh? But it would seem I've reached a clearing now, and can get back to my creative outlet and provide some assistance with other works. Anyhow, I've taken Wbriggs advice and reconsidered my opening.
I want to believe that finding Dresner was a coincidence; the accidental outcome a busted fan-belt en route to Roanne. I was the first to spot him, laying face-up on the snowy gully-bed that ran alongside the road. His hands, bruised and stained, rested one over the other binding an Iron-Cross to his left abdomen. His eyes, black and still, looked to me, as if they were watching the fading daylight over my shoulder. It seemed like a fluke in the natural order, seeing my first body in a ditch two miles from the front-line; nevertheless even now I can barely stomach our crossing as a meager happenstance. “Well?” Fillmore posed adjacent to me. “What’s his side of the story?”
BTW: Just in case anyone is confused from the previous versions, the last line is a joke.
[This message has been edited by Green_Writer (edited January 26, 2007).]
There seems to be a bit of difficulty in accessing the text. Some of that is definitely because you use confusing language. But I also think it's because you're not having the narrator address the fictional audience credibly...we're stuck reading it the way we might try to read a 3PLO account, and it doesn't work.
If you have the narrator consider the fictional audience, that will tell us a lot about both him and whom he thinks will be reading the story. For instance, perhaps he's writing this to his family, to let them know what's really been going on with all this murder-investigation hubbub. Or it might be a book for the general public, told well after the events. In that case, does John Q. know anything about this, or is it something that was lost in the general fog of wartime? Perhaps it's an informal report to an interested party. Whatever.
By letting us know why he's writing and who he thinks is reading, you give us insight into his motives for saying any particular thing...or not. Like I said, some of your wording seems genuinely strange
The thing with the eyes...you could just say, "his black eyes gazed sightlessly at the fading sunset." We understand that his eyes will thus gaze past anyone standing in front of the body.
You also say "seeing my first enemy in a ditch two miles from the front-line" is somehow unusual. Two miles is not very far from the front, it's certainly still in range of enemy artillery. Mobile ground forces can move that distance in minutes, even under fire. The only thing odd about it is that Dresner would be immediately identifiable as a POW yet be within two miles of the front. In which case you might say, "finding an enemy POW only two miles from the front-line" was unusual.
Then you say "nevertheless" it doesn't seem like a simple coincidence. If his being there was very unusual, of course it would be even odder that he should be found by men who knew immediately that he was a POW. Leaving aside the somewhat idiosyncratic way you expressed the notion as "a meager twist", because that's allowable narracterization