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Hungarian Misadventure

by writersblock 

Posted: 26 August 2003
Word Count: 3598
Summary: This story, as some of you know, was originally over 5000 words! Thanks to your good advice I've hacked it down to less than 4000. It's not perfect but much, much better for the surgery...

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By Alan Leak 2003

The worst of the towering cumulonimbus were far behind them now, and all other things being equal, the rest of the flight on this glorious July day promised to be pleasant and uneventful. Ken, Eurofreight's co-pilot for the lucrative cargo charter to Budapest, was palpably relieved. Although a veteran of many trans European flights he shared the same respectful fear for nature’s awesome power, as did any sensible aviator. The flight engineer Bob, a grizzled and self-opinionated Scotsman of 40 years experience, was no less relieved.
“Och, I’ve seen worse in my time, much worse,” he mumbled without conviction.
“Mebbe so,” replied Matt, a company engineer along for the ride, “but that was bloody awful –nearly lost my false teeth!”
“Not to worry Matt, the weather’s fine ahead – soon be on the ground,” said Geoff the captain, a company stalwart of almost 15 years.
“Yeah, I reckon the beers are on Ken tonight” replied Matt knowing that Ken's birthday was only a few days away.
“Damn right,” echoed Bob, “ Mine’s a large scotch and water, easy on the water.”
The bad weather was a receding memory now and Bob relished the prospect of a few free drinks, especially from that cocky little excuse for a co-pilot.
The rest of the flight passed uneventfully, and soon the old but reliable Boeing trijet was descending gracefully towards Budapest’s active runway. Ken, the handling pilot for the day’s charter, turned onto the final approach with practised ease; he was as one with the aircraft, and the text-book landing that followed was no surprise to anyone.
“Piece of cake, don’t know how I do it” Ken offered to no one in particular, with a look of supreme smugness spreading across his weasel-like features.
Sixty-five tons of aircraft, fuel and cargo groaned and lurched as Ken applied full reverse thrust to the three turbo-jet engines. The jet decelerated, slowly at first, then more quickly as he applied more pressure to the footbrakes. As the aircraft slowed to 60 knots Geoff took the control column and planted his feet firmly on the footbrakes.
“I have control,” he said.
Ken reluctantly handed over the aircraft as Geoff brought the Boeing to a complete standstill and stowed the speed brakes before vacating the runway. The aircraft was heavy and cumbersome as Geoff negotiated the maze of taxiways en-route to the airport’s freight area where they would be unloaded, hopefully sooner rather than later. The cockpit temperature was now an uncomfortable 33 degrees as Geoff rolled to a halt on the sun-baked and seemingly abandoned apron.
“God I need a shower” said Matt stating the obvious as he wiped rivulets of perspiration from his balding head and neck.
Despite the blistering heat Bob and Matt completed the shutdown checks and had the aircraft secured for the night in record time. The freight had been quickly unloaded since the handlers were no less keen to return to more comfortable surroundings than were the crew.
“Here’s the transport!” Matt shouted as he strained to be heard above the racket of the ground power unit.
Within minutes the weary travellers were hotel bound. The vehicle was a weather-beaten death trap with dodgy suspension, and the driver had no noticeable road sense; the ride was bone jarring and seemingly endless, and Geoff thought they were perhaps being kidnapped for ransom. When the hotel façade finally hove into view there was a universal sigh of relief.
“Bloody maniac!” Bob muttered, as he struggled to fit the combined bulk of body and suitcase through the unfriendly revolving doors.
As Geoff slipped the card key into his jacket pocket his gaze wandered from the petite receptionist to the palatial splendour of his immediate surroundings; he couldn’t help but make the comparison with the shabby and impoverished back streets they had just driven through – streets reminiscent of his own childhood years. Bob’s words interrupted his thoughts: “See you guys in an hour then – and don’t be late.”
“Yeah, better not keep the ladies waiting” smiled Matt as he scuttled off for a much-needed shower.
“Easy on the mini-bar Robert” quipped Ken, “don’t want you incapable before the night’s entertainment.”
“Cheeky young whippersnapper – don’t know yer arse from yer head!” Bob retorted before stomping off into his room.
“OK dad, see you later” replied Ken, determined as ever to have the last word.
Geoff sprayed a liberal measure of deodorant under his armpits, ran a comb through his gently receding hairline and dabbed some lotion under his freshly shaven chin. After a careful scrutiny of the bedroom he picked up his wallet and then headed towards the lobby.
“What’s it to be then?” said Ken looking in Matt’s direction, “You’ve stayed here a few times over the years haven’t you?”
“I have, but not for a while though…you got any ideas Geoff?”
Geoff wasn’t feeling particularly sociable; his idea of a good evening was watching a decent movie and reading a Stephen King novel – still, he felt obliged to make some sort of effort. Bob and Matt were OK guys but Ken was hard work – mouthy and full of himself – and he didn’t relish an evening listening to Ken’s verbal diarrhoea.
“Dunno, let’s just wander around and see how we go.”
After several pubs and a few miles of walking Bob and Matt were beginning to falter; both had already consumed more than Geoff’s monthly limit, and Ken hadn’t stopped talking since they left the hotel. The light was fading rapidly and the gathering clouds were already releasing their first drops of moisture, with promise of more to come. Bob had had enough of walking and decided it was time to set up camp for the evening. Ken was inclined to agree; he had an idea and wondered why he hadn’t thought of it earlier.
“A topless bar – you can’t be serious!” said Geoff.
Ken was rattled, almost offended by Geoff’s obvious reluctance to the idea.
“Come on Geoff…let’s go for it – not afraid of a few women are you?”
Geoff decided to ignore the remark and looked away.
Bob had stopped for breath a few yards behind and was attempting to light a cigarette – a feat made no easier by his racking cough and the steadily increasing rainfall.
“What do ya reckon Bob – you up for it?” Max said as Bob joined the group.
“Think I’ll give it a miss” he spluttered between drags. “The hotel’s not far away – I’ll pop in the bar and use some of that aircrew discount we’ve got. Anyway I’m getting too old for all that malarkey."
Geoff was outnumbered two to one and, much against his better judgment, reluctantly agreed to go along for the ride. He’d experienced these topless bars – or something very similar – during his air force days in Singapore, and knew the form.
As Bob wandered off in the general direction of the hotel – swirling smoke marking his unsteady passage – Ken, Matt and Geoff turned towards the city centre lights. Matt forged ahead as if on a crusade for the Holy Grail and Ken gibbered relentlessly. After five minutes Geoff was rapidly losing interest and patience in equal amounts; he was on the verge of following Bob back to the hotel when he saw Matt beckoning from up ahead.
“Guys, up here quick - I can’t believe this place is still here!” he shouted excitedly.
Geoff followed reluctantly as they were led down a maze of poorly lit corridors and into the main bar area. A mixture of anxiety and mounting apprehension clawed at his guts.
Bad, bad decision, he thought ruefully, as the doorman ushered them to their seats.
Ken and Matt were smiling inanely - like a couple of Cheshire cats waiting for cream – and the atmosphere, at least from Geoff’s viewpoint, felt stifled and claustrophobic. The red lighting was subdued and eerie, and lush synthetic vegetation seemed to crowd them in from all sides. An overhead fan whirred erratically and the insipid breeze – which was totally inadequate for cooling purposes – served only to agitate a few scattered palm fronds. There appeared to be just one entrance to the gloomy and forbidding enclosure – a fact that did little to bolster Geoff’s flagging confidence.
Perhaps I’m over-reacting, he mused hopefully, why do I always assume the worst?
As Geoff pondered the question, a seedy looking barman and three young women emerged from the gloom of the dimly lit bar. The girls, heavy with perfume and cheap jewellery, cackled like demented geese. They weren’t quite topless but the plunging necklines and mini skirts left little to the imagination. They sported knee length leather boots, jet black and sensual, complementing their firm and slender legs. Ken was rendered temporarily speechless, and Matt almost fell off the lounge seat as the waiter deposited six unordered drinks onto the table. The ladies settled themselves confidently as Geoff noted their different ethnic origins; one was ebony black, another Chinese, or possibly Malaysian, and the third appeared to be of Scandinavian descent with fair hair and icy blue eyes. They were beautiful and exotic, and as might be expected, proved to be excellent company.
The evening progressed and the drink and conversation flowed freely. Ken and Matt were both transfixed with their partners and seemed unaware of the passing hours. Geoff’s escort, a young woman from Zambia, was friendly and intelligent; however she appeared edgy and nervous.
“Relax Geoff” Matt said, managing to divert his gaze for a scant moment.
“Matt, it’s time to split this joint.”
“Ah, come on Geoff, we’re having a great time – what’s the problem?”
“No problem – I just think it’s time to go.” Geoff was becoming irritated.
The barman glanced suspiciously in their direction as if sensing Geoff’s growing unease. The atmosphere was thick with tension as the man – probably in his early fifties and unshaven for several days – averted his gaze and busied himself with some unseen task. He was of medium build, maybe five ten, mean looking in the extreme, and carrying a grotesquely large stomach; he looked as if he could handle himself despite the excess weight.
The man suddenly straightened, fiddled for a moment more, and then eased himself from behind the small bar.
“Please to pay the bill,” said the gruff and heavily accented voice.
Matt scrutinized the grubby piece of paper; he blinked in disbelief, and then his jaw sagged visibly.
“This can’t be right!” he said, handing the receipt to Geoff.
“I think it probably is,” Geoff replied, trying to remain calm as he took in the figures.
“Please to pay,” the man repeated.
“Wassamarra?” said Ken.
“Well, if I figure this right…” Geoff paused to take a deep breath, “…we’re looking at about forty quid each.”
For the second time that evening Ken was speechless. Suddenly and without warning he stood up, snatched the offending paper out of Geoff’s hand, crumpled it into a ball, and then threw it contemptuously into an empty ashtray. The girls – quiet and still during the brief encounter – now moved as one; almost in the blink of an eye they have melted into the shadows, only too aware of what was to follow.
The barman stepped back defensively, unsure of what to make of this unexpected defiance.
“Please to pay – or not good for you,” he repeated.
“Look you’ve made a big mistake and…” Ken managed before Geoff cut him short, realising that things were about to turn ugly.
“Ken just stow it. We’ll pay the tab and go!” Ken backed off. Matt was beginning to look worried – this wasn’t turning out the way he had hoped.
“No problem – we pay you,” Geoff assured the barman, hoping beyond hope that they could muster enough cash between them.
He stood up and reached into his back pocket, extracted his shabby wallet, and gestured for the others to do the same. Matt hastily gathered a small wad of notes and coins from a variety of pockets; Ken was less obliging and hesitated, unsure of what to do next. Geoff was fast losing patience and in no mood for further theatrics.
“Everything you’ve got - NOW!”
Ken grudgingly acquiesced, his eventual contribution adding little to the meagre amount already on the table. Geoff sat down again and began counting. His heart sank and an unpleasant sensation began to form in the pit of his stomach – they were well short of the needed funds.
As the knot in his nether regions tightened five ominous figures emerged from the Stygian darkness that surrounded them. The smallest man, dapper with close cropped hair and smiling malignantly, stood opposite Geoff, left hand clasped over the right, the combination resting authoritively above his groin. The four remaining men stood silently and solidly, each strategically positioned to discourage any thought of escape, no matter how futile. They were burly and menacing – practised bodybuilders – with piercing eyes watching their every move. The leader moved forward a step and looked at Geoff.
“English, I think,” he stated. The tone was derisive, almost mocking, it seemed to Geoff.
He was suddenly reminded of a fifties B-movie he’d recently watched in which a dishevelled private eye had been cornered by two heavies. For some reason they had wanted him dead; the P.I. had tried to talk his way out, but they were having none of it. They closed in to finish the job, one brandishing a vicious blade, the other toting a heavy black cosh capable of felling an ox. He smiled benignly, nonchalantly pulling a .38 revolver from the innards of his raincoat. The nearest man staggered backwards, a black wetness staining his shirt, eyes disbelieving as he surveyed his bloodied hands for the last time; the second man stared sightlessly into eternity before dropping to his knees and collapsing face down with a bone crunching thud, blissfully unaware of the small, smoking hole neatly dividing his bushy eyebrows.
If only it were that easy, Geoff thought, subconsciously reaching for a non-existent weapon.
“Ah yes, the English, very good, plenty money, we like you. We hope you enjoy our city and our little club. Perhaps you pay now and we all happy.” The words were smooth and beguiling, almost reassuring, but underneath lay a thinly disguised streak of pure venom. Geoff could see that this guy meant business; he wasn’t the sort you messed around with, especially when backed up by four pumped up bruisers looking for some light entertainment.
“This is all we have – I think it’s a bit short. I’m sorry but we have no more money,” Geoff reiterated, “We have credit cards if that helps.”
“No card – only cash.” The statement was plain and unequivocal.
The silence was unnerving, and Geoff felt trickles of sweat running down the ridge of his spine as the tension became almost unbearable.
The bouncers edged closer. Geoff realised they were on a knife-edge, and if they were to walk away unscathed, then he had to come up with something quickly. He looked toward Ken and Matt for inspiration, but none was forthcoming. Matt sat timidly, his hands clasped firmly together and between his legs, his balding head bowed and shining in the subdued light. Ken sat submissively, elbows resting precariously on his spindly legs, hands drooping over his knees, and his head lolling about like a demented nodding dog.
“Please,” the small man said quietly but firmly.
The scene was almost surreal as Geoff felt the walls closing in; time ebbed and flowed with a will of its own; was it 2, 3 or 4 in the morning? He had no idea and even less interest. Suddenly he just wanted to be out of there, preferably in one piece, and watching the most boring movie he could find. Illogically he found himself wondering if the company insurance would stretch to three or four days of inadequate hospital treatment.
“English!” The impatient voice jerked him back to reality.
And then it struck him. Of course, how could he have forgotten: Ken’s new Swiss Army Original. Geoff glanced across at Ken’s right arm, followed it down to his scrawny wrist and was rewarded with a dull glint from the face of the black polyurethane case. If memory served him – no small feat considering the circumstances – Ken’s recently acquired timepiece was, according to Ken, worth at least 200 dollars, considerably more than the outstanding debt. Geoff knew these people only dealt in hard cash but figured it was worth a shot anyway. He decided to bite the bullet: “We have a Swiss Army watch worth 300 dollars…would you accept that as payment for the drinks?”
Geoff hoped he hadn’t pushed his luck too far with the valuation – he imagined the guy was nothing if not shrewd. He thought it was probably only worth about 100 dollars, maybe even less, allowing for the trader’s mark up and Ken’s naivety – no doubt the market trader knew a sucker when he saw one.
Geoff held his breath. His heart was thumping and his head throbbed mercilessly; his stomach churned and he thought the chicken and salad roll he’d eaten earlier would soon be seeing daylight again. His clothing was damp with sweat, the back of his shirt clinging like a second skin, clammily uncomfortable and irritating, and he was itching in a dozen different places. The man uttered a low, whistling sigh and rubbed his nose vigorously.
“Show me the watch…I will consider your offer.”
Geoff decided to start breathing again.
“My friend has the watch,” he said, pointing in Ken’s direction. “Ken, here a minute, I think we may have solved our problem.”
Ken was immediately suspicious.
Hope he hasn’t come up with some bright idea without consulting the rest of us…he thought bitterly.
Matt, still silent, shuffled along his seat so that Ken could squeeze out between him and the table. He rose unsteadily and negotiated the narrow passage as carefully as his condition would allow. He eased past the small man, carefully avoiding eye contact, and sidled up alongside Geoff, positioning himself as far from the bouncers as possible. “I’m sorry mate…” said Geoff, “…we’re going to need that watch of yours – there’s no way round it.”
Even as he said it he knew Ken would be livid, spitting mad probably, but Geoff was short on options.
“The watch please,” the small and dangerous man demanded.
Matt squirmed uneasily as he strained to hear the conversation above the incessant background muzak; he wasn’t sure but he thought Geoff mentioned a watch. Ken seemed to be upset about something, and that worried him more than anything. Matt pulled out a handkerchief, mopped his neck and brow, and tentatively surveyed the scene. It didn’t look good. They were flanked on all sides by solid muscle, and only one exit as far as he could see; escape was not a viable option. The little man appeared to be losing patience as Ken became more animated, and the bouncers reminded him of hungry dogs held back only by the nebulous whim of their master. He thought of Bob back at the hotel, no doubt senseless and snoring like a train, totally unaware of their predicament.
What in the hell was I thinking about? I’m married with five kids and I’m sitting in a seedy topless bar waiting for a beating…I need my head looking at!
“That watch has got more functions than you’ve got brain cells and it’s worth over 200 dollars and I’m stuffed if I’m giving it to a bunch of peasants!” Ken said uncompromisingly. “You’ll just have to think of…!”
The punch was delivered accurately and without warning. It struck Ken squarely on his right cheekbone with a dull, almost inaudible thud, blood spattering in all directions. Geoff had watched as Ken babbled – wincing at his naive foolishness – yet still was he unprepared for the pre-emptive strike. The blow arrived with a force that belied the man’s slightly built frame – a man used to dealing with upstarts and smart-mouthed foreigners. Ken felt nothing, knew nothing, as he staggered backwards, eyes rolling upwards to reveal the white beneath, his world reduced to a kaleidoscope of stars, moons and breath taking colours. Ken collapsed in a graceless heap, deathly still and out for the count, thin trickles of blood oozing slowly from his nostrils and mouth.
The silence was deafening, and Matt mouthed a silent prayer.
The man smiled at Geoff as he slowly massaged the knuckles of his right hand.
“Your friend is not polite. Perhaps he will show respect now. You I like because you have respect. That is good and so I will take the watch as payment. Take your friend and leave now.”
Twelve months later the incident was a distant memory as Geoff opened his latest work schedule. He noticed that he was rostered to operate the Brussels – Budapest – Brussels sector in two weeks time, not particularly unusual in itself since it was now a regular route; however – and this was quite a coincidence – he couldn’t resist a malicious chuckle when he read the names of his operating crew: a Scottish flight engineer renowned for his love of whisky, and a certain co-pilot, one Kenneth Frank Coates, much chastened and subdued since the events of a warm and memorable summer evening, long, long ago.

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Comments by other Members

olebut at 12:42 on 26 August 2003  Report this post
an interesting story I have a technical question. Did Boeing make a trijet ? I know that we had the trident and lockheed made the tristar but I wasnt aware that boeing made a similar aircraft it is worth checking.

I also thought that perhaps the piece was rather long and would beneoft form some surgery

otehrwise an interesting tale


writersblock at 12:52 on 26 August 2003  Report this post
Thanks for your comments.

Yes the Boeing 727 is still flying in many areas of the world today - mostly as a cargo aircraft.

I totally agree that this story is too long and needs some serious surgery; however it's been a useful exercise since it's the first thing I've written - apart from letters - in about 30 years.


dryyzz at 13:06 on 26 August 2003  Report this post

A few comments. I feel that the story is purely 'told'. For me this makes the piece more dense and more difficult to read than it could have been. I feel you could 'show' a lot more.

I also feel that some of the langauge, whilst correct, is a little wordy - which again, doesn't make it easy to read.

An example.

You used.

Sixty-five tons of aircraft, fuel and cargo groaned and lurched as Ken applied full reverse thrust to the three Pratt and Whitney turbo-jet engines. The jet decelerated, slowly at first, then more quickly as both speed brakes and wheel brakes were employed to aid the stopping process. As the now firmly earthbound machine slowed to 60 knots and, as standard operating procedures dictated, Geoff took the control column and planted his feet firmly on the footbrakes.

I'd use

Sixty-five tons of aircraft shuddered like a minor earthquake as Ken applied reverse thrust. The jet decelerated gently, then harder as the air brakes and wheel brakes were used together. Firmly earthbound, the plane slowed to 60 knots. Geoff took the control column and pressed firmly on the footbrakes.

That removed 40% of the words, is easier to read and doesn't really lose anything other than technical details that a general reader of fiction would probably not appreciate.

You do seem to have an in depth knowledge of your characters, but again, we are being told how they feel. I would prefer to gain this information from watching their actions.

I do think there is a good story in there. The characters are well formed, but for me they're struggling to show through quite complicated language.

Of course, this is all my own personal opinion. Other may disagree.

I hope this doesn't sound too negative. I think there is a better piece waitng to be created by polishing this.


writersblock at 15:39 on 26 August 2003  Report this post
Hi Darryl and thanks,

your comments are much appreciated and I take your point about the wordiness of this piece - I also agree entirely.
I'm keen to start another story but I'll definitely be taking a butcher's knife to 'Hungarian Misadventure' within the near future.

Good point about 'technical details' and the fact that readers don't really need or want to know that sort of stuff. I might know what a speedbrake is, and does, but most readers probably wouldn't...

Thanks for taking the time to read this...


Becca at 16:42 on 26 August 2003  Report this post
Hi Alan, yes this will be exciting stuff and your description of the room they were in was very atmospheric. But I do agree with Darryl on 'exposition' and David on editing, same thing really. It's possible to have more 'telling not showing' in a novel, but in a short story every scrap you can take out needs to be. What I sensed in this piece was that there are more stories waiting to be told. For example a second whole story could be about the early life of kenneth Frank Coates. In the para 'Ken looked up and stopped swaying...' there is a long section on Ken's psychology, this is what Darryl means about telling rather than showing. Actually the reader had him sussed at the first introduction, so that stands firmly as enough. What the section does is detract from the main drama that is unfolding and weakens its impact. Similarly 'Max squirmed uneasily...' is telling and not showing. I think the story line and the drama is great, it's only a matter of putting it under the knife. One way you could do this is to literally remove all thoughts and all explanations of the characters' behaviour or background and see what you're left with, it should be a taut skeleton. Then build up from there in places that seem to not quite connect. Hope this helps and looking forward to seeing more pieces.

writersblock at 18:28 on 26 August 2003  Report this post
Becca and everyone,

I appreciate your comments, especially after wading through 5000+ words.
I always knew this piece was too wordy but couldn't quite understand why - now I think I do.
Anyway, thanks to your various comments, observations and suggestions, I think I can probably hack this down about 20% without detracting from the storyline.
I'll probably repost it when I've removed most of the explanations of character behaviour/background etc., as you so rightly suggest.

Regards, writersblock

Elena at 21:33 on 26 August 2003  Report this post
Hi Alan,

I am new to the site and have just spent ages scrolling through various pieces of work, trying to find a place to fit in and upload some of my stuff. I thought you'd be pleased to know I returned to read your story and have enjoyed it. I think you have the dialogue and character descriptions down really well. The only criticism I have is the 'technical' language that has been brought up before - I got a lost a couple of times in all the descriptions.

But that aside, it's a great piece. I have a few things that are in early drafts and am looking forward to some structured comments that might help me improve on them.

Speak to you guys soon,

Elena :-)

writersblock at 22:08 on 27 August 2003  Report this post
Hi Elena and welcome,

many thanks for your kind words.

I've just finished editing this story and it is now 4000 words instead of the original 5000. I believe it is much better for the surgery...
Regards, writersblock

Becca at 19:31 on 28 August 2003  Report this post
Hi Alan. The 'taut skeleton' I was talking about might have seemed a bit of a tall order, but I still think there is a lot of telling not showing left in, so I thought I'd pick out some examples, if that's OK?
'Six out of ten for that one Ken,' knowing full well that Ken's arrival ahd been all but perfect...' I'd say you don't need '... but wasn't about to let him know that.' The reader knows the others don't like Ken and that he's conceited. (So any other references to these two facts are not needed, except perhaps within the dialogue itself where animosity would come out naturally).
'Geoff ignored the remark and looked away, clenching his teeth..' I'd take out 'to avoid further verbal conflict', the reader gets the idea with the clenching of the teeth.
One more,.. 'Wassamarra?' Ken said finally. 'realising something was amiss' is implied in his remark.
Getting away from telling not showing, the parts in brackets detract from the suspense or tension, they're small asides which remove the reader's attention, just for a nub of a second, but long enough to spoil it a bit.

More generally can I ask if you need all four characters? They're all introduced in the first 2 paras, I got a bit overloaded with the names and had to go back and check to see who was who once or twice, that could be my own weetabix brain of course, but do you need them all to tell this story?

Finally, Alan who is Bill!?

writersblock at 22:32 on 28 August 2003  Report this post
Hi Becca,

Sorry about the 'Bill', now changed to 'Bob' - confusing I know but I decided to change two names during the surgery!

Anyway I appreciate and agree with your comments and will make the necessary changes tomorrow.

I also take your point about too many characters - bit late to change for this piece but will bear it in mind for the future.

Alan (writersblock)


11:43 Friday 29th August
Mission almost accomplished - down to 3870 words, less the intro, and looking better (I hope!)

Actually I realise there's more to a good story then just reducing the word count, but I feel some progress is now being made - thanks to Becca's suggestions (and others, of course).

Anyway I've learnt a lot over the last few weeks - enough, at least, to risk another short story. This time, I think, I'll give myself a target of 2500 words...

Jumbo at 23:24 on 04 September 2003  Report this post

I enjoyed this - technical language or no technical language!

However, I found the section where Ken got hit to be a little confusing. At first I wasn't sure who had hit him and the point wasn't clarified beyond doubt until 10 lines later (was this intentional?). You also say that the punch arrived unseen. Unseen by whom? Ken? Geoff? Both of them? My version of the scene as it played in my head was such that Geoff would have seen the punch land - but I may be wrong in that assumption.

And I'm not absolutely clear what job the low, round table finished that had been started seconds earlier.

I particularly liked Geoff's 'daydream' about the fifties B-movie!

An enjoyable piece.



writersblock at 19:55 on 06 September 2003  Report this post

thanks for your comments.

You're quite right - Geoff would have seen the punch coming. Guess I got a bit carried away; I meant to infer that the punch was extremely rapid, almost a blur of movement perhaps.

This might have been better:
"The blow arrived with a force that belied the man’s slightly built frame -"

Yes, the low round table thing is slightly confusing....I meant the blow started the 'job' of putting Ken down, and the table finished it.


Zigeroon at 16:25 on 14 September 2003  Report this post


Surgery or no surgery, the idea was good. Perhaps the opening could have been in the remnants of the storm, on the approach, the plane careering around the sky, showing Ken's skill as a pilot rather than his expertise on landing. Just a thought.

I'd agree with the others re showing but it's all there. The darkness and fear in the piece would be heightened by stripping out description, let the reader work for his/her enjoyment, less is more and all that. For example as no one saw the punch its label as 'a classic right cross' is superfluous, it was a punch, it landed, it drew blood and it hurt, what more do we need to know?

Great story.

writersblock at 12:23 on 17 September 2003  Report this post
Hi Zigeroon,

and many thanks. Just completed some minor surgery based on your advice. The story is down to 3600 words or so from the original 5000+. Will probably prune some more before the week is out!


Junie Girl at 20:59 on 27 September 2003  Report this post
Have just been looking around the site and found your story. It is an interesting story and well written. I read all the replys you have received and can see why some think it should be whittled down. I too, sometimes get into a story and can't seem to stop.
Having said that, I felt you made your characters very real and I could see them in my imagunation.
I can tell you are interested in flying .I have flown quite a bit but could be recognized as a white knuckle flyer if i didn't try to hide my knuckles
and have at least two g&t's to help keep a serene face. Someone els felt your characters had more stories to tell and I agree with them. June

writersblock at 17:02 on 29 September 2003  Report this post
Hi Junie Girl,

very much appreciate your comments. When I have some time I intend to try and whittle down another 500 words or so...

Yes, I am quite interested in flying - maybe I'll write some more aviation related pieces.



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