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The Trench

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 20, 2010 1:16 pm    Post subject: The Trench Reply with quote

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The Trench
Posted by Jake Trommer (
19 August 2010, 9:20 pm
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Joined: 20 Mar 2009
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Location: Littleton, MA

PostPosted: Fri Aug 20, 2010 3:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

An interesting, if anti-climactic, character story. I definitely give you kudos for making me think that maybe the entire group would make it out alive and then killing them all in one fell swoop. Razz

For critique, I'd have to wonder why the nicknames were so important. The events of the story didn't seem to be significant to ONI, so I don't understand why they would redact them.
Superstite es non sole;
Salute es dignus.

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Joined: 27 Feb 2007
Posts: 435
Location: UNSC Frigate September

PostPosted: Fri Aug 20, 2010 7:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have mixed feelings about this. There's a lot I don't like. I thought the nicknames were a bit annoying, especially when they were coupled with the rank (just sounds weird), and the dialogue as a whole seemed a bit stilted throughout. A lot of what seemed like it was intended as humor fell flat, too, at least for me.

On the other hand, the ending is excellent, especially the mirror of the opening. And I enjoyed both Chatterbox and Vau's characters. Chatterbox is the only character that actually came off as funny to me.

So, not a huge fan, but there are some great parts. But you already knew most of my complaints anyways. Razz
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J. D. Ford

Joined: 20 Sep 2007
Posts: 75
Location: Los Angeles, CA

PostPosted: Wed Aug 25, 2010 5:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Okay. First off, I enjoyed this, because it's hard to make trench warfare interesting and write milspec buddy-talk well...and I think you managed to pull both off, for the most part. On the other hand, there is definitely room for improvement/refinement. So here's the nitpicky stuff first:

I kind of agree with kr on the nicknames thing. The way it's introduced bothered me more than the actual usage (you calling attention to it by explaining why it's there, instead of just forcing the reader to accept it). The only one that really tripped me up was "Top Gun"...mainly because I read so much of John Ringo's sci-fi and he always has a first sergeant character nicknamed "Top." I kept expecting that. On the other hand, I recall facing a lot of reader reservations about my own use of Spartan nicknames in IDGL, so I can't really criticize you on that point.


Loved the quote at the beginning. THAT set the tone really well. I'm a fan of quotes and/or poetry to kick off military science fiction stories. I think it's an effective tactic.

The formatting seemed a little slap-dash...underlined titles rubbing right against the body of your text. Personal preference, I know, but you might want to space things out a bit in the future.

Regarding that bit of dialogue where you used the term "silencer"...ahhh! Not a big deal, but that does annoy me a little every time I read it in fiction (and it happens a lot, even in pro-level, published material). Typically, personnel refer to them by the more functionally correct term "suppressor" or, informally, as a "can." It's a small detail, but a pet peeve of mine so I figured I'd point it out. I really liked the banter, after you got going and found your stride. Dialogue at end of the opening scene was spot-on. Dialogue at the end of the section titled "The LT" was effing hilarious.

I found the whole introductory scene with the female Lieutenant, while amusing, to be unrealistic. At this point in the history of an equal service Corps without gender restrictions, you'd think they'd get used to women, even attractive women, of higher rank (in fact, they'd probably have a lot of training and conditioning on it, too). Furthermore, I don't remember reactions like this to Lieutenant McKay in The Flood...although she was a Helljumper, not a leader of line grunts with too much "time" in their overdeveloped right hands. I guess I just have a hard time believing that the Gunny wouldn't jump down their throats at that kind of disrespect right there and then...or the LT herself, for that matter. And they certainly would have addressed it at some point, and not in the form of indirect dissatisfaction. More than that, you missed the opportunity for a first-rate dressing down, there.

After the friendly fire incident, I found the POV character's callousness toward his squad's injuries a little surprising. And the fact that one Marine survived after having his face blown off, and the other after some undisclosed injury bad enough to make it impossible to speak, just seemed a little least, the way it was described.

The opening and closing references to fighting men had a distinct WWII, John Wayne-ish, nostalgic feel to it. I'm really not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing, but it certainly acted more like a speed bump knocking me out of the world you created (and created well, I might add, if a little lacking in environmental description) than anything else. I'd avoid those kinds of potentially distracting openers/closers and just cut right to the chase if I were you. It'll help the reader immerse themselves in the story much more quickly.

All that nonsense being said, I did enjoy this. I think there's a lot of potential here if you tighten up the dialogue a bit (really read it for clichés, man...because everyone knows it's so frustratingly easy for them to creep in there), rein in those nicknames a bit, and give us a slightly more descriptive glimpse of the character's surroundings. Paint us a picture as well as leaning on strong characters that you can easily make a lot stronger and more memorable.

I feel like you can build this into something really good if you figure out a way to inject more conflict into every scene (and I don't just mean the martial variety) and increase the stakes a little. In any case, keep up the good work

~J. D.
He who does not like Halo:CE is a dirty shisno.
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