ASIM pre-slush workshop post #12

Here is the eleventh of the submissions, 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, what you do with your story is up to you; it’s your call.

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Original text:
All We Know of Heaven and Hell

I didn’t want to leave my husband to die alone, if it came to that.

Things went wrong at Hex 3. Something always went wrong fighting the golems. When our chopper docked back on ship, I shucked the torso straps and was the first one off, pushed the other Marines out of my way to be the first one on the tarmack.

Master Guns Mackey was on the deck between the remounted choppers, shouting and gesturing to order the chaos. I covered the ground between us in a few long strides and grabbed the sleeve of his jacket, dragging him to face me. The expression he gave me was cutting. I released his sleeve.

“Rex is back there. I have to get on one of the choppers going back.” I said.

“Report to your team,” he said.

“I have to go back for my husband.” I took a step back, feeling for the rumble of chopper engines in the grill beneath my feet. They had to send someone back for Rex and the rest of the platoon.

Mackey’s hand closed around my upper arm, hard enough to bruise. “Pull yourself together, Corporal,” he said. “We don’t have room in the Corps for your emotional antics.”

“That’s my husband,” I said again.

He pushed me away as he released me. “Then stay the fuck out of my way so I can bring him back.”

He stalked off, shouting orders. Sergeant Lang grabbed my shoulder. “Report to the ready room.”


“They’ll send choppers back,” she promised, short dark hair falling around her face. “We take care of our own. Just go.”

In the ready room for our platoon, tensions were high. The other Marines were bantering. They always had something smart to say, sounded like a bunch of kids to me.
Editor’s comments:

This throws the reader straight into it, which is generally a good tactic: it sets up plenty of tension right at the very beginning. My main quibble would be that our experience of the husband, as a character worth investing emotional concern in, is thus far based entirely on hearsay. It might be advantageous to move the action back a short interval, to actually encompass the moment when the protag gets separated from her husband: if doing this provides a hint of detail on the husband (without, I guess, giving away too much), it could serve to raise the stakes for the reader.

This aside, there’s a good, gritty, hardboiled sense to this. It doesn’t waste time.


2 comments on “ASIM pre-slush workshop post #12

  1. Great feedback! Thanks for doing this in a general sense, and thanks especially for this entry (it’s mine). 🙂 I’ll think about whether I could start this earlier; the reader does get to know Rex better a little later in the story, but maybe it needs that emotional punch from the start.

    Anyway, thanks again!

    And thanks, Bill. Hopefully someday you will. 🙂

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