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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Short Works » Untitled (2011B) [military]

Author Topic: Untitled (2011B) [military]
Member # 9501

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I remember it clear as day. It was thirty years ago. And counting. Maybe I should say clear as night –- that is when I relive it in color and black and white.
The sound of mortar fire echoes between my ears. The smell of napalm nestles in my lungs. The elephant grass creeps up my boots. I keep turning to spot the enemy; always hiding, waiting, anticipating my every move. But, I know, they’re always there with me waiting for death keeping bad company.
I wake up in cold sweat like the never ending rains in the Vietnam jungles. Clearing only when you are four feet in the mud of the Mekong River. Once you get to the other side it starts again –- harder like it has to make up for lost time. Soon, you start to blend in with the washed out, blown out landscape.

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Member # 7977

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My feedback: There were a couple of places where I got tripped up; I usually see never-ending with the hyphen in, and the sentences at the start are short to the point of tripping me as I'm mentally reading them.

You've given me a good impression of a scarred war veteran, but I don't yet know what the story is about. I don't know what the challenge of this story for the protagonist is going to be. I don't even know his name. What this is missing is a promise to the reader; a reason to care and read on.

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Member # 9614

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I see that you are involving all the senses. However, the only thing I can say about the character is that he has nightmares about the tour he did in Vietnam 30 years ago. But I don't know why I should care or why his dreams/memories are important. Is this going to be a story about the effect of his dreams/memories on his present or is he going to recount something that happened long ago? It's hard to say--in the last paragraph, he wakes up to the present only to plunge immediately into the past again.
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I would suggest you start off with a scene that leads into a flashback. Is he at a military hospital with other veterans playing chess and today marks the 30 day anniversary of the war? Or perhaps he woke up from a nightmare about the war and is sitting in his lounge chair, thinking back to those days. Also, for added interest you may want to mention any injuries he obtained from the war (like looking or touching at the spot where his leg used to be).
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Member # 9057

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A couple of things. One, you need a clearer break between his dream state and when he wakes up.

Second, the part about constantly turning looking for danger would only happen to a newbie. Veterans would be hyper vigilant and constantly search the vegetation for movement or other signs of the enemy with minimal movement themselves. They wouldn't want to attract attention to themselves.

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