1. EFMingo

    EFMingo A Modern Dinosaur Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Military Writing Projects

    Discussion in 'Progress Journals' started by EFMingo, Jan 16, 2021.

    Yeah...I'm back here yet again. But I think I'm going to stay around with this one for some time. I've been working on a decent sized grouping of short stories for some time now that thematically intertwine and I think it's best to consider grouping them into a collection. Especially since I have a number more of them that have been bumping around in my head for quite sometime.

    But less talk on this attempt at a progress journal, and more physical movement. I know it won't progress fast due to time, but that's okay. Literary fiction writing takes a considerable amount of time to get all the elements down in. I'm happy to move this along at a snail's pace.

    1). "Hunted in Reflection" (4626 Words): This one hinges on setting the atmosphere right and using it in conjunction with the characterization to draw out its theme. It also takes on the little touched on subject of male-to-male mental support, which is often skipped over as "get tougher." By far my best written story, but I have to fix a number of items. The interaction between the MC and his new friend needs to be a lot longer to give more plausibility in his trust. Then end needs to be cut down because it derails the theme slightly. Needs a full critique after. Third-person with non-linear plot. Likely closer to the collection.

    2). What Lines the Walls of Our Hearts" (4976 Words): Badly needs a re-titling. This is my most complete piece, but the front end is a bit weak because it tries too hard to inject theme. Has been critiqued a few times, so the polish isn't terrible. Needs a few more read-throughs. Third-person.

    3). "Troubleshooter's International" (843 Words): This one is experimental, but I want to include it because it shows the love for the pain of the job, which is an overall theme behind the dark or distant tone shrouding most of the collection. It's a louder voice. What needs to happen is the line lengths need to be more staccato and take the form of beats. The narrator is tremendously upbeat and I want to keep that. It will remain very short, probably shorter after edits. Needs a lot of re-structuring though. Second-person.

    4). "Seeking Sadism" (currently 1431 Words): This is unfinished at maybe only a third to a quarter written currently. Very possibly the opener, as I want it to hit in the same kind of way Ralph Ellison's "Battle Royale" hits in The Invisible Man, but for very different reasons. It's supposed to be a shock value point of the self-destructive nature of the military, but not in the overdone suicidal sense. It's wild an very likely offensive to those who really don't get the military sub-culture, which is the point. Title is likely to change. Third-person and aiming for 6000 word range.

    5). "Confessional" (Unwritten): I have this plot half-formulated in my mind. Uncomfortable story that deals with desperately trying to believe in a higher power, yet not being able to. Perspective is critical to this story. It will be first-person because the narrator is to be unreliable. He's lying to himself as much as to the reader. This one is going to take me a lot of time to get right. Aiming for 3000 word range

    6). "Recruiters" (Unwritten): This is a third person take behind a female character that actually did the misdeed that everyone is taking credit for but didn't do. And she doesn't want anyone to know about it or stop it. This is a morality and addiction story hidden behind a whodunnit sort of atmosphere to start. Plays the whodunnit by reversing it. This is also meant to reveal uncomfortable truths about recruiters in real life. Aiming for the 4000 word range.

    That's what I've got to start with. It's not much, but it's something. Thanks for tagging along.
     
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2021
  2. EFMingo

    EFMingo A Modern Dinosaur Staff Supporter Contributor

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    7). "Duct Taping Shatter Glass" (Unwritten): The obvious metaphor for the central theme of the entire collection. Story centers around an argument between a base officer and a therapist who is being cut because funding is short for the year. Nothing budges or breaks, even though the psychiatrist pleads her case desperately, not only for her job, but mainly for the kind of things she's seen there and the problems the military members have with seeking mental health help, especially while in active duty. Conflict remains unresolved. Debating first or third-person, but I'm leaning on third. Definitely short. Probably a word count in the 1200 to 1500 range.

    8). "Impressions" (Unwritten): Story centered around a child therapist who is using sand therapy to draw out anger issues that are presenting in a client. This is a story about domestic abuse in arbitrary manner. It also shows a continuing problem in the military that presents usually in drill instructors. Story will be written in third-person omniscient. I can't be too heavy-handed with anything until the pivotal moment to reveal what's really going on to the reader. The story should corrupt itself and is meant to leave a bad-taste in the reader's mouth. Aiming for the 2k word range.
     
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  3. EFMingo

    EFMingo A Modern Dinosaur Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Took on "Hunted in Reflection" just a little this morning. I cut down and extended a few items, putting the new word count at 4538. I think there's a bit more clarity and less redundancy or over-dramatizing. Still needs a lot of work. I also want another beta-read on it before I add another unifying scene I think it may need.

    Looking to take on the terribly titled "What Lines the Walls of Our Hearts" later today. It's mostly complete, but needs some ironing out. And re-titling. Something thematically based. I'll get to it later.

    This weekend I'm planning on working on item 7 and 8, but more likely will be finishing item 4. We shall see.
     
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  4. EFMingo

    EFMingo A Modern Dinosaur Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Dealt with the remainder of the problems for item 2 which is now titled simply "Ignition." It's technically ready for the final beta-reads and then to be filed away until collection compilation. Cut down a little and cleared up a few identification confusion points. A bit more coherent. I don't think any scenes need to be added, but we shall see. New word count at 4,895.

    This is the easy part and I know it. I need to get those other stories on paper, but I have a beta-read I promised I'd have done by the weekend. I know I'll work on at least one of the stories I mentioned earlier, but it's going to be a struggle to get it done, I'm sure. Hoping for the best.
     
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  5. EFMingo

    EFMingo A Modern Dinosaur Staff Supporter Contributor

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    9). "Under the Rug" (Unwritten): This story is meant to show the layers and layers of dirt swept under the rug in military, to the point where negligent actions cause a pilot's death, which is swept under the rug in its own way as well. Follows a technician who had been actively skipping a back-up system check he deemed unnecessary. Of course, that leads to a pilot death, but the story is about the various ways that a ton of people know about it, yet sweep it out of view. Have to work out a lot of tension points in conversation and action without overly-dramatizing anything. Either third-person limited or first, but I'm leaning on third so I don't lose tension from the reader by being to personal to the character's thoughts. This will likely be the longest short of the collection in the 8k to 10k range.
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2021
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  6. EFMingo

    EFMingo A Modern Dinosaur Staff Supporter Contributor

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    About 400 more words into "Seeking Sadism" tonight, putting the word count at 1855. Real slow going, but I think I've put together most of the story outline though. Should be some smoother sailing in the morning. I tend to write a lot better in the morning anyways.

    I'm trying to find a happy medium with it for the reader to understand that the MC's perspective is a really shitty personality without making it seem like the author objectifies women. Proving difficult, but a rewarding experiment all the same.
     
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  7. Lifeline

    Lifeline South. Staff Contributor

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    Welcome to the club. I've this same problem with every single one of my characters o_O. But, as you, I find it's a real rewarding experience.
     
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  8. marshipan

    marshipan Contributor Contributor

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    Man, one of the worst feedback moments of my life (I cringe in horrible pain every time I recall it) was when I wrote a male misanthrope (I'm female fyi) that was having a very depressed moment, I forget what it was leading to. I made sure he made negative comments about both men and women so people wouldn't think he was just a woman hater. Yet, some guy in my class called me a sexist, man-hater whose writing was bush league. This was in a creative writing class, so you'd think people could understand experimenting with characters but nope. He glared at me across the circle with thinly veiled hate and it just shocked and rattled me.
     
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  9. EFMingo

    EFMingo A Modern Dinosaur Staff Supporter Contributor

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    What an asshat. Hope you never had to deal with him again. I've done quite a few creative writing classes, but I don't think I've ever run into someone that bold.
     
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  10. EFMingo

    EFMingo A Modern Dinosaur Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Struggled getting another 700 words into "Seeking Sadism," but the scene I was dreading is pretty much over. I'm quite happy about that. The next scene is more atmospheric and sensual than anything else, dragging out Jay's objectifying gaze, which shouldn't be too much trouble. The huge 'club' scene is coming though and I'm working my way up to it. After this last scene, I've pretty much set all of my characters ahead of the end. The last character left will be set up a little more in the next scene through an advertisement, but she's been hinted at for a while now anyways. In that big scene though, she's an absolute monster and literally takes on the whole 'show.' I'm a little intimidated writing her, but that's alright.

    I'm just out of steam for right now. It took me like three hours to get that many words out which is terrible. Story now sits at 2522. Looking on par to hit 6000 as expected though with this upcoming scene, the main show, and the closer.
     
  11. EFMingo

    EFMingo A Modern Dinosaur Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Fuuuuuuck me! It's been over a week already without an inch of writing progress. I've been so God damn busy with school. Almost 5k words into research essays over that last week and mountains of reading. I can hardly keep up with that let alone this. Im front loading this week as well so hopefully I can squeeze an ounce of time in later in it...of course I have an article to write too.

    Ugh. Whining. I'm sorry. I wish I lived in a planet with 30 hour rotation cycles instead.

    I will say, i have my final idea add:

    10). "Bleeding Along the Walls": this is meant to be the only semi-war related story that's actually more about PTSD than anything else. It is meant to take a metaphysical approach and hold an over-the-shoulder third person sort of lack of clarity in thought. Nightmares and memories of the past claiming hold of the night of the MC who can't separate them from reality. This is meant to be a gradual realization, one that the reader comes to understand, but the MC doesn't. I've sort of written bits of it before, but i know how to collect it now. It'll be a rough ride. Aiming for around 6k.

    That's it! No more idea adds until these are locked down in Word files on my desktop and making the beta runs.
     
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  12. Steve Rivers

    Steve Rivers Contributor Contributor

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    In the globular cluster known as Unte Zebular, around the little G-type star called Figgle, on the super-Earth sized planet of Bedib, Snubgub sat at his desk, having come home from a seemingly endless day of hard labor at the spice mine.
    The sun was setting through his window and dimly lit his bedroom; it was twenty-three o'clock.
    "Dammit," Snubgub muttered, "I need to be in bed by twenty-seven. Barely any time to get to work on my novel, now."
    He let out another curse, wishing under his breath that he lived on a planet with a forty-hour rotation cycle, instead of thirty.
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2021
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  13. EFMingo

    EFMingo A Modern Dinosaur Staff Supporter Contributor

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    This project hasn't been forgotten or abandoned. It's actually more than ever alive. I'm just stuck in limbo on it through the year as I'm all out of time with a full time job with overtime and completing my master's degree. Once the degree is up, I'm back on board to get these run through.

    I say 'these' because I've effectively split my short story progresses into two collections.

    The first, which is to be completed first as well, is a vignette style narrative that is essentially a collection of periodic short stories within the same squadron from different people's perspectives. It's a long at the modern Marine Corps, for better or worse, with the aim of a realistic, and somewhat poignant light. But it isn't all bad. I just want it to be real. And I want to leave both non-military readers and military readers coalescing on an understanding of a group so culturally strange that it warrants its own field of study. This series will focus on a singular squadron and their interactions between each other on the basis of different main events through the collection. The vignettes are designed to be standalone, but the narrative can also be read as a singular story as well under a couple of thematic directions.

    This collection will be taking on items:

    9). "Under the Rug" (Unwritten): Moved up to first. Can introduce a lot of the squadron level lingo here and it's meant to be a more gripping and highly unsettling tale of the cover-up game and the swiss-cheese model at play. The longest story of the bunch by far. Plotted now slightly, but still on track for something like 15k word count.

    6). "Recruiters" (Unwritten): Largely at the same point. I think on track for around three to four thousand words.

    2). "Ignition" (Written and Edited): I'm happy with this one, but I'm going to have to edit out unnecessary explanations and introductions when the time comes to implement it.

    4). "Seeking Sadism" (Half-Written): This is looking like a very poignant second to last story in the series of vignettes. It's set near the end of the deployment and takes on a lot of very uncomfortable themes. Probably one of my favorite of the grouping, but it's also hard to write because of how awful the main character is as a person.

    The title Duct Taping Shatter Glass will now be associated with the second collection that deals specifically with mental illness involving military members both active and inactive duty. It will take on most of the other stories that have been noted here. I'm not laying this one out yet because that will effectively be project two. Don't want to bog myself down.
     

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