Thursday, March 29, 2012

Write on Edge Prompt: Crossing The Line

Wow.  Life has gotten hectic lately.  I've had some drafts for the last few prompts but I wasn't able to get them done in time to post them.  Maybe I'll eventually get them up still.  Anyways, this week's prompt was quite interesting to me.  The instructions were as follows:

This week we’d like you to write a fiction or creative non-fiction piece about a time someone crossed a line, legally or ethically. Explore the motivation of your character and possibly the consequences of his or her actions.

The word limit is 450, so come back Friday and share what you’ve written.

My mind immediately went to a scene from the story I wrote for NaNoWriMo 2011 where my main character is struggling with an ethical dilemma.  No matter what he chooses, he has to violate some of his own ethical code.  Any constructive criticism is much appreciated, but please remember, this is a piece of a scene from a much longer work.  The word count is at 446 so I gave you as much of the relevent scene as I could.  I would love feedback on the realism of the characters, or at least what you can get from them in this little bit, and the flow of the dialogue.  Thanks and enjoy!

 “I am not going to like what you’re about to say, am I?” Shawn asked, his arms propped on his knees, still holding his shirt in one hand squinting up at Eli.

             “Not really.  I wish it could be different but I can’t change it,” Eli took a deep breath before continuing, “Shawn, I can’t do this.  I don’t know what the real agenda is with this mission, but it isn’t what they told us.  Everything I’ve found here so far goes against what the intel told us.  The more I think about it the more I realize so many missions seemed off but I never questioned them before.  I won’t be a party to killing anyone anymore.  Not like this.”

Shawn hung his head and sighed, “Damn, man.  You’ve always had a knack for doing something big when you decided to do it.  How are you planning on keeping Carlton ‘n’ me from getting caught up in this?  How are you planning on keeping yourself alive long enough to do anything about your crazy idea?  I assume that is where your mind is currently going on this subject.”

“I have thought about how to keep you and Carlton out of the mess.  If you didn’t like what I just said, you’re going to like this even less.”

“Shit.  Let’s hear it.”

“I plan on making it look like I went rogue, jumped each of you, beat the shit out of you and left you tied up for dead.  Then I’ll take off into the surrounding area and hide for a while.”

“What about your tracker?” Shawn asked, not even phased by Eli’s plan so far.

“I’ll have to dig it out.  I’m just really glad right now that they implanted them in our forearms rather than, say, the middle of our backs.”

“You’re certifiably crazy, you know that, right?” Eli just grinned as Shawn continued, “Check my room before you go.  You’ll find some things in there you might want.”

“Thanks, man.”

“Don’t thank me.  I’ll probably end up being assigned to hunt your ass down.  I won’t enjoy it, but I don’t have much of a choice.  I have got to stay in if I want to get out from under the bullshit that they pulled on me a couple of years back.”

“It’s messed up that the only way they’ll let you clear your name is to complete a term of service in a branch where you most likely won’t survive the service.”

“But it wraps it up in a nice, neat package, doesn’t it?  They don’t have to worry about me talking and I’ll get a nice hero’s funeral when I’m dead.”


  1. This is nice and fast paced and works well here. I do have to say that I feel that both of them are following a decent moral compass, even if they are going against authority.

    1. Thanks! I was hoping I had enough of that scene to convey their intent.

  2. I really like this. To me, it flows more like a screenplay than a novel, as the dialogue really works, but there isn't much "showing" around it. You may have edited it out for your word count? In any case, screenplay or novel, I like the spirit of these two characters and their interaction, good stuff!

    1. Thanks. I definately had some difficulty with finding the right places to convey enough of the scene and setting without going waaayyy over the word count. I think my original scene for this prompt started at like 600 some words. The whole thing is available for free at Smashwords if you're interested in reading it. The title is Tattoos.

  3. I agree with Angela- the pacing is great. And I want to read more of the story, which is always a good thing!

    1. Cool. I appreciate the feedback. As I told Venus, the entire story is on Smashwords for free. It's called Tattoos. If you do read it, let me know what you think!

  4. I like the concept a lot. It's tough to get a sense from this brief snippet; I agree with Venus; it reads like a screenplay. The most intriguing part is the way Shawn doesn't bat an eye at being beat up and tied up to save his friend. That evokes character very well.

    FIWW, you could cut a couple of words early on by doing an all-out action tag: “I am not going to like what you’re about to say, am I?” Shawn propped his arms on his knees, still holding..."

    This part: "I have got to stay in if I want to get out from under the bullshit that they pulled on me a couple of years back"...feels a bit "told" to me. I assume that's included for our benefit in this particular excerpt, and that it's fleshed out smoothly in other places in the larger story.