ASIM pre-slush workshop post #2

Here is the second of the submissions, which will be posted here in no particular order. Please remember that this is the opinion of one editor. There will be others who agree, but there will also be those who disagree. In the end, it’s your call. If you appreciate what we’re doing here, please support our magazine. To coincide with the release of issue 50, we have a number of special deals. See the ASIM website.

Original text:

The Last Mission

Dressed in dirty clothes and slouching to hide their military bearings, Joseln and Taya made their way through the streets of the colonial capital. Joseln’s heart thudded and her fingers twitched, eager to throw spells. Taya gave no sign of excitement, but for her this mission wasn’t personal.

Behind them their fellow imperial soldiers guarded the pallisade that protected the loyal part of the city. The rough barricade with which the rebels had blocked off a large section of the city lay two blocks ahead, and beyond it, the rebel army that had captured Joseln’s little sister. With the army was also the man Joseln had been ordered to kill, but she had decided not to think about that.

A block from the barricade, Joseln gestured to Taya, and they slipped into the doorway of an abandoned grocer’s, shadowed from the long row of magelights that lit the street. Joseln patted her sheathed sword for the half-dozenth time as they watched the guards.

“All right,” she said, “once we’re through we have to blend with the crowd and head straight for the tavern. We’ll sneak in for the prisoners and get out before anyone knows we were there. So don’t do anything that will draw attention.”

“Who, me?” Taya asked.

Joseln glared at her. The woman was a good soldier¬Joseln wouldn’t have worked with her on so many rescue or spying assignments otherwise¬but she tended to not take things very seriously.

“And I believe you forgot something,” Taya added.

Joseln scowled. Despite her colonel trying to convince her of the necessity for weeks, she didn’t want to kill the rebel captain. They’d worked together, before the discontent turned to open rebellion. He’d even courted her sister for a time.

Editor’s comments:

This is, even from the very first sentence, over-written. Information comes pouring in, and there’s no characterisation, apart from painting the cardboard slightly. Why, for instance do we need to know about the guards on the palisade? Is an attack imminent?

The essential question, which this excerpt does not answer, is why the reader should care about this at all? There is a lot of detail about imperial soldiers. Why is Joseln, and that is an unlikely and unpronouncable name, want to throw spells? How come there’s a palisade that protects the loyal part of the city? Palisades take time to build. How are they intending to get through the barricade?

The entire idea of merging with a crowd, sneaking in and getting the prisoners, in a tavern, and getting out again without being noticed is a stretch. The third-last sentence is confusing and mostly unnecessary.

This, unfortunately, reads like fan-fiction.

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