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The Letters of A Corpsman: The Death of A Father

 
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 14, 2006 12:56 pm    Post subject: The Letters of A Corpsman: The Death of A Father Reply with quote

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The Letters of A Corpsman: The Death of A Father
Posted by (ENS) Rabid_Gallagher ((ENS)_Rabid_Gallagher)
9 July 2006, 8:34 pm

http://halosn.bungie.org/fanfic/?story=ENS_Rabid_Ga0709062034051.html
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STEEL RAIN
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 14, 2006 7:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow.... simply wow.

One of the best letters i have read, please keep em coming.
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Mark25
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 16, 2006 2:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This had a great idea behind it and thankfully most of it managed to shine through. The two letters thing was grand thinking and I really wanted you to elaborate on the main character espousing about the chain of generations and that guys crucial but ultimately tragic role in them. Hell, you nearly brought a tear to my eyes! I must be low on caffeine or something.

Some of the style you adopted is what I would define as essential in letter writing: personal while still retaining that informative quality.

I'll be back to finish off the review later, some parts were a little off and I'll point them out (hey I'm envious, what do you expect!).

I hate you, job well done.

Incidentally, I got a letter piece coming up with much the same idea only mine is about Pelicans. I saw your title and thought: 'Bollocks; competition!' Let me know if you want a sneak peek, it's pretty short as it's only a setup builder.

I have such a voyeuristic nature when it comes to letters and people's private lives, y'know, see what makes them tick and stuff. So far it hasn't got me a bloody nose but with the amount of staring I do when couples are arguing in the street or pub, I reckon it won't be long now before I start wearing one.
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 17, 2006 3:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you guys.

And, Mark, I enjoy your rather lengthy reviews. Thank you for the compliments about my writing style, the essential thing you were referring too. I have to tell you my writing is usually hit-or-miss. That was my subconscious working on overtime or I just got lucky.

Can't wait for the rest of your review.
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 17, 2006 5:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great job, ENS. One of your best stories in a long time. Smile
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 17, 2006 7:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That was awesome. It expressed the pitch-black side of war. I've toyed around with the idea of writing a letter myself, but I could never put in eenough information to make it longer than a paragraph or so. You managed to do it, ENS, so I guess you beat me. Very Happy

Great job.
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 18, 2006 1:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oy, how depressing.

Incredible writing though.
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Mark25
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 23, 2006 7:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It was short, not too short but I reckon you could have (with the story material) got another two perhaps three paragraphs filled into this one without it appearing drawn out. Maybe gone into more detail about the dude's letters; your character's feelings towards opening someone else's private thoughts and last communion with his family. The differences between the tones and contents of the two letters; one as father and husband, the other as son. But all in all, the idea and potential were there and I could see that, hence the positive comments. The bits I particularly liked:

Quote:
"Give this to my parents." He said, handing me a crisp and faded letter bearing his name and his company's address. I took it and placed it in my armor pocket, but then he looked up at me again. He held a picture, and another letter. The look in his eyes…It was horrible, Randy, horrible.

"Give this to my child..."


My initial impression was one of a certain film I'm sure we are all aware of and I was certainly guilty of that judgement. But then, but then, the second letter changed all that. It gave it that edge over the cliche, when I think about how letters are used as an external perspective or plot directive in films and other mediums, most of the time they are there simply to convey a message. These had meaning behind the message. All those films that include that sort of message, usually have a single letter that is to be read by all. This told a different tale; that the emotions, consolations and justifyings you would pour out to your parents as their son, would not be the same as the yearning love and cathartic purgings you would gently whisper in the ear of your soulmate, your other half. Or the soft tones of advice, encouragement and undeniable love that a father would offer up to his daughter in absence of his earthly presence. I think the title should have reflected on the dual roles of a father and as a son.

Quote:
I nodded, hoping he would understand that I would send the items to his little daughter. He smiled, and then he died. His eyes were open, and his neck was back. I couldn't stand it.


Wasn't the language, wasn't the prose, it was the intention. Caught in a whirlwind of the moment where every second brings with it new emotions to try and understand or revile. Nice. The only way that part could have been better was if the guy was already dead and she still nodded in acknowledgement of her burden. Funny, little things like that, no idea why people take comfort in talking to gravestones. I've always struggled with that; just can't bring myself to do it.

Quote:
I debated to send them immediately, so I wrote my own letter that would be recieved with the UNSC 'Yellow Letter', the letter they send to loved ones when a family member dies. Oh god, Randy, the little girl will not forget this moment, and neither will Miss Halloway.

Again I was reminded of the same film, it was well noted and the image I had in my mind was possibly the greatest scene in that entire film: the woman washing up and smiling out the window, when she sees a car heading up her driveway she runs to the door. The vicar steps out of the car and she drops to the floor. Only time I felt a genuine twinge of witnessing something real besides the beach scene.

It was mainly those points I mentioned and the quite relaxed tone of it all that made me enjoy the piece. The tone while not always exacting did have some serious moments to it. Though I felt that a couple of times you came across as telling: there was no name to the hill, I reckon if she recognised the hill that looked eerily the same, she'd remember its name. Doesn't have to be relevant to the Halo universe or to some mythology (feels like we're all looking for meaning all the time now). Y'know, off the top of my head like Benchmen's Hill instead of just 'remember that hill'. Benchmen's because I'm decorating using a bench! Doesn't have to have relevance in its name but ideally as a character reference there has to be something there to latch onto, to give it a reality, a presence, you get me?

What I was talking about earlier with having that 'letter quality', I'll quote one of the many letters a friend used to send me while he was in prison:

Quote:
Hello Jack!

Sorry I ay phoned or nothing but I've been using my money to stock up on tioletries and that ready for my next home ha! Stafford! Thats where Im allocated so thats where Im going. Im glad that its there cos I didn't wanna go far cos of visits and that. Plus I know a good few people there and your time is supposed to go faster cos you get all your association every other night. Well as for here I dunno if our Ash has told you but Ive been put on a bullying program, I lost my double pad so Im back in a small one oh and I've lost my enhancement so I've missed out on a quilt cos you get one now if your enhanced. Before ya say it! "I know" ha ha! Cuuuunt.


To an outsider it would seem that my illiterate friend was in the best place, but in those letters are the emotions and thoughts of my friend and the only person that they have any real meaning to is me. That quality of appealing to one can get lost on the all and every letter aimed at the mainstream treads softly on that ground. I think it's a balancing act of appealing to the human side of people yet still managing to tell a legible tale. Yours had that personal appeal while still retaining that story telling ability. Occasionally (as I have mentioned with the hill thing), you left the personal and slipped into storytelling for the sake of the story, not for the sake of the character's life.

Quote:
And, Mark, I enjoy your rather lengthy reviews.


I'm sure you won't enjoy the downhill so I'll just pick up on a couple of parts, save you revising your opinion of my reviews:

Sometimes in this one you seem to drift with your language, I don't know wether you're as bad as me when it comes to overanalysing things but these bits stuck out:

Quote:
A day that I will always remember in my life, as a Corpsman, but a memory that will haunt me to the rest of my days, and I hope it will leave me once I leave this plane of existence.


A good ending but at the start you either omitted a word or weren't watching for the rules that go with the word 'but', 'but' is a word that cuts short a point or something that goes against the grain of a thought, a clause, it can be a balancing word, 'I liked your story but...'

'But' is also a word I've never seen a Hypnotists use, as is 'don't'!

Even with the extra words it would still be a loose fit, was it meant to be:

'not just as a Corpsman, but a memory that will haunt me...'

Quote:
a hardy and hospital man named Lieutenant Jacob Riley


A hospitable man?

Quote:
I looked back at the Sergeant, and before I could speak over the fire, he talked to me.


You could have easily avoided using the word talked, I know you may have been looking at the later used 'spoke' as an option and avoided it because of repetition... but, with a little refinement, I think it would have sounded better. Nothing wrong with repeating certain words in a letter, people have that quirk of common language; use it. Don't feel pressured into always finding ways of expressing a character in new or different language, people have a base language from which they express themselves in the most simplest terms, don't be afraid to embrace them.

Quote:
I debated to send them immediately, so I wrote my own letter...


If you debated something, there would be a result in order for your character to have sent the letter. You never mention the result, you went straight into one of the choices. 'In the end I wrote my own...'
You get me? Nothing major, just a comedown on your loose usage.

Quote:
I have to tell you my writing is usually hit-or-miss.


That is unfortunately, the name of the game I'm afraid, we'd all like to hit the heart and mind buttons every time but it just isn't like that. If it's any consolation: you're not alone buddy. Tighten it up, have it how look how you want it, show it to a friend to make sure it's not totally off-the-wall; ignore the friend and let it loose and see if anyone can connect with it. In the end it's just a law unto itself. I'm trying to piece together an article that I'll shove in Writing Help about the tricky relationship between writer and reader but it won't be anytime soon, when it's up and out there you're more than welcome to add to the overall frustrations.

A good tale well told, Mr Gallagher.

Til again.

Sorry about the timing and shit, I've had a busy week, there'd be more but I feel I've rattled on enough and there are two other pieces that demand my attention.
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Marine Corps 117
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 23, 2006 7:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That was a fine, fine tale, pal. Smile

See, one of the things I really admire when it comes to writing in a sci-fi setting, or any ficitional setting for that matter, is that the message and themes are universal - take this letter, switch "Jackals and Grunts" with whatever you want and it would still be as heart-breaking.

I'm not sure whether or not this was intentional, but I did like how the title seemed to "mislead" the soon-to-be reader: I figured it would be corpsman sending a letter to his son, especially with the detail about the sledding. But for some reason, I was even more surprised that the medic turned out to be a woman, and that this letter was to her lover. I'm not sure if that sexist thinking, but I did like it.

And Mark25 really does give the best feedback, doesn't he? Very Happy
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(ENS) Rabid_Gallagher
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 23, 2006 10:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for making good on your word, Mark! I figured you forgot all about me.

Quote:
I think the title should have reflected on the dual roles of a father and as a son.


I should of, now that I think about it. But, I was hoping that the character of Marcus Halloway was just a good father, and was raised normally to be considered an average son.

Quote:
The only way that part could have been better was if the guy was already dead and she still nodded in acknowledgement of her burden.


I was looking for the comfort of the father finally relieved that someone would relay the information back to his parents and daughter. I forgot to add: "He smiled, and let one sigh escape his mouth. Randy, I could see the relief in his eyes. He kept the smile, and then he died..." I forgoed that because it sounded too...well...you know the movie.


Quote:
there was no name to the hill, I reckon if she recognised the hill that looked eerily the same, she'd remember its name.


It was just something like Vietnam. A simple hill, with a simple number. Hill 374 is the designation that will be mentioned later if I make some sort of letter from her or Randy.
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Mark25
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 24, 2006 5:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
But, I was hoping that the character of Marcus Halloway was just a good father, and was raised normally to be considered an average son.


Read that out loud mate, no parent I know considers their offspring average (even if I'm screaming it in their face Bill Hicks style).

Quote:
Thanks for making good on your word, Mark! I figured you forgot all about me.


I take it that's a dig at my non-review of your Spectre series when I said I would, sorry mate, I don't aim to break promises often but sometimes needs must.

Quote:
It was just something like Vietnam. A simple hill, with a simple number.


No, you missed what I mean, not the actual hill (317) she was on but the one she remembered sledding down, give that one a name. It gives the hill a past memory beyond its appearance being similar, a name for the reader to be comforted by casual reference, wether it's real or not. We have a section of canal some miles away that always appeared really clean and we would go and swim there in the summer, it was called the Ganges (no real comparison I assure you, it was just its name). When any of my old friends start reminiscing about how I cut my hand open diving in or the time we got chased by Mad Rita* and her scrawny chihuahua in our best 'dossing' clothes and got away by swimming across the ganges and mooning at her from the side of safety; we don't refer to it as canal section 317, we call it the ganges and everyone that was present feels the nostalgia of the place. The smell of your trainers and clothes the day after, the whiteness and shrivelled appearance of your hands, the smiles and the laughter. You needed that casual tone of nostalgia, that bond where a name means more than just a name, it comes with the emotional baggage of a memory. You had the memory (the sledding) but that was only half the battle won, you needed a name.

Quote:
And Mark25 really does give the best feedback, doesn't he?


*Licks index finger of right hand, clutching hard at a chequebook and pen*

"Do I spell the 117?" Cool

*When I was seven she was mad, when I was 17 she was a tad strange, now, at 26, in comparison to myself, she's downright normal. Kids can be so cruel, I sometimes wonder if maybe we were never that innocent during childhood in the first place, we just take comfort in the way we remember it. Can't imagine one of my friends coming round to my home now and saying:

"You coming out, we're going to cheek Mad Rita and throw bricks at her house and see if she'll chase us!"
"Millard, that was like twenty years ago, man. Here, have a beer and let's be the Mad Millard and Crazy Price for the next generation of kids."

Another vicious circle.

Give the hill a name, you'll feel better and it'll stick with you longer if you give it a name.

Til again.
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