Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Teaser revised

It pays to post bits of your work, folks.

I had some feedback from yesterday's Teaser, pointing out things that this oblivious writer didn't think of. Thanks to those of you who took the time to read and comment. Yinz rock.

So, for kicks and giggles, here's the revised version.


They ambushed us when we passed through a village. It was on the cards. The white flags of the Taliban fluttered from crumbling mud walls and people stared at us with blank, hostile eyes when the armored vehicles rumbled along the narrow, dusty lane. Captain Beaumont was quieter than usual, his mouth set in a grim line beneath three days’ growth of beard. I wanted to ask him what he thought was up but after a week in his company I’d already learned when to keep my journalist’s mouth shut.

After a few stints embedded with various regiments in numerous war zones, I’d developed a bit of a feel for trouble myself. I guess a kid would call it ‘Spidey sense’, I just called it my “Oh shit” sense. Neither me or Beaumont were wrong on this occasion.

They started firing at us from the rooftops, a couple of fuckwit snipers with nothing better to do than taking pot shots at British soldiers. Bullets pinged off the vehicles, spat in the dust and slammed into walls. The explosion came from the front of the convoy. Rolling waves of dust funneled through the alley. Our men returned fire in workmanlike silence but, beyond the uneven tattoo of battle one man’s screams cut through me like a fucking knife.

I tucked my shaking hands between my knees and prayed there wouldn’t be grenades. We were proverbial sitting ducks in armored vehicles of dubious construction. There was sod-all in the APC to hide under. We just had to sit it out and hope there were no IEDs. At moments like this, it was hard not to imagine my paper’s headline ‘Journalist Evan Harrison killed in ambush’. I wasn’t ready to die. I was thirty-two and had issues that needed to be resolved.

“Call in air support.” Beaumont barked into the radio. “Tell them to hurry the fuck up. I can’t send the fucking medic in while those fuckwits are firing at us.”

I didn’t hear the reply but, given Beaumont’s choice language I didn’t think the choppers would be too long. I felt lousy sitting there listening to that poor sod scream when no one could do a thing to help him until the snipers were nailed. Our lot were doing their best and a sharp, pained yelp made me think one of the snipers was hit but the other kept firing, erratic bursts into the shooting gallery. As the long, turbulent minutes passed, my fears of grenades and IEDs faded a bit. The insurgents would’ve used them before now, rather than waste bullets. Perhaps I wasn’t going to make the headlines in the wrong way…this time.

I watched Beaumont. He gnawed at his thumbnail while he peered through the slatted window. His dark eyes were a study in contained agony and fury. I don’t know that I could even being to understand or try and describe what he was feeling. I liked the man. I was also a sucker for brown eyes. Sometimes I wished…never mind.

The roar of the incoming choppers shattered the impasse.

“Thank Christ for that.” Beaumont spoke into his radio. “All right, send in the medic. We’re clear.” He took his helmet off, ran his hand through his spiky hair and sighed. “I hate this fucking job.”


  1. Ooh, I really like the revision! The last line especially in that one paragraph you added: "I was thirty-two and had issues that needed to be resolved." Nice to throw in some humor! Definitely feel more in Evan's head this time.

  2. Thanks, missus!
    I'm glad you think it makes a difference.
    Evan definitely has some issues. :)

  3. Definitely more emotion in this, and a nice way to weave in some backstory!

    To consider: Toss the first two sentences and the "neither me nor Beaumont" sentence. The beauty of 1st is the ability to keep the immediacy of deep third, but you're slipping into omniscient.

    Consider beginning something like this: "The blank hostile eyes of the people started my stomach churning...", or some such. Get that lovely voice in with emotion right away. You can do eet, Sue.

  4. Ah, yes...that would work.
    Something like, the blank hostile stares of the villagers were something I could never get used to. They still scared me shitless.

  5. Exactly! IMHO, one of your strengths is the ability to convey a character's interior life. Just don't think you were living up to your usual potential before.

    Good luck with this. :)

  6. Hmmm... I must say I feel unconnected with this fight from Evan's POV. Yes, you've got snipers, explosions, possible RPGs and IEDs and an officer screaming for air support... but then the "workmanlike" return fire suggests this is a routine, commonplace event. There's a man down, screaming, but he's nothing more than a scream in this.

    I think a big part of what you're trying to convey is that Evan and Beaumont are stuck in a relatively vulnerable APC and can't do much but watch, wait for air support, and hope the Taliban only have small arms today. That's good--but we need to see that helplessness.

    Where is this screaming guy? Can Evan see him? If not, what is he wondering about the poor man? How do his thoughts about a wounded soldier clash with his fears for his own safety? Contrast this with Beaumont's fears for his men, and feelings of futility in this kind of battle.

    I might be way off since I haven't read anything else in this piece, but I do think this could use a lot more personal tension from the protagonsist. Good luck!

  7. Compared to the last one, this is much better, even though the last one was still very good

  8. Ah! I think you nailed it in the last rev (though 'workmanlike' still gives me pause.) Well done!