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Old 01-09-2017, 06:05 AM View Post #1 (Link) Stories Of The Great War
Trevin (Offline)
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Join Date: Jan 2017
Posts: 5
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Hello! My first submission. I am looking to start a serial of accounts of World War 1 from different soldiers viewpoints. Depending on the feedback of this first installment I may continue. I am not a fiction writer or author, but a poet. So, any feedback is MORE than welcome. In fact, it is most sought.
--------------------------------------------------------------

Even to this very day a piercing blow from a whistle instills a certain gut-wrenching fear into the hearts and bellies of the men, nay the boys, in the Fourth Platoon of the 21st Battalion. One such soldier was Private Collin Hertz, at the time a mere boy of 17 years. He lied his way into hell, as some would say.

It was May 27, 1918 at 05:00 hours and I sat hunched in the jump trenches. The blackout order was given and no man was to have a lantern lit. If someone wanted to smoke a cigarette he had to either find a dugout or stay below the top of the trench, even then everyone around the smoker would distance themselves in fear of snipers honing in. With just a little over an hour until the offensive was to begin I found a crook within the trenches where I could sit and write by the light of the moon. My thoughts raced far too quickly to contain and transfer to paper, no matter how much I longed to scrawl out a few lines to express the love I had for my family back in the States. Memories of my parents and two siblings flashed through my fragile mind as I sat there sinking into the ever present mud. Earlier that morning the company commander had relayed to us the briefing in hopes to stoking the fires of morale. He told us we were about to embark on the most honorable endeavor since the men who fought for the Union back in the Civil War. It was to be the first offensive that us Americans launched on European soil.

The commander went on to elaborate on the strike plan. At precisely 0645 hours an allied artillery barrage would rain hellfire down upon the German occupied village of Cantigny and we were to expect a counter-barrage ourselves. If all went according to plan the counterstrike would reveal the German artillery encampment and expose them to the wrath of our shelling. After an hour of this preparatory barrage we would come into play. The tactic we would rely and depend on would be a rolling barrage. Shelling would advance 100 meters every two minutes to give us time to advance behind the line of fire and mop up any remaining Huns. The plan gave birth to a profound confidence in our abilities as a cohesive machine of destruction. How could anything stand up to that amount of shelling followed immediately by infantry advances? To us infantry it seemed like a perfect plan with no chance of error. Some of the boys in my platoon even bragged about conquering the Germans before the attack even launched. Myself? I wasn't so sure it would be wise to preemptively celebrate.

By 0600 hours the dawn had crept upon us. I looked down at the paper in my hand to realize I had written nothing past the words, “Dear Father,”. My mind had lost itself ruminating over the battle to come. None of us had ever experienced a battle at this point, no American had ever ‘went over the top’ and into the face of death. At a reserve depot I had met a few Frenchmen who had been present for numerous offensives. I probed their minds and not one of them would even discuss going over the top. Could it be so bad? With artillery barrages what was there to fear about leaping from the trench and bolting across to the enemy lines? Surely most of the opposition would have suffered already from the shelling. It seemed like a mere cleanup job at that point. Maybe those Frenchmen weren't cut from the same cloth as us American boys. Maybe they couldn't handle it. Or maybe I was wrong, perhaps dead-wrong.

The dogs of war opened up at the forty-fifth minute of the sixth hour precisely. I had heard artillery sounding off before, but this time it was different. A mile or so behind even the support trenches the battery let loose hell. The sound was deafening in itself and the resulting concussion literally pounded you in the chest. I have heard many old-timers say that eventually you learn to sleep during a barrage. I find that hard to believe. With each report of artillery fire it staggered me; it took every fiber of my being not to collapse to my knees and weep.

Around halfway through the bombardment the enemy had zeroed in on our artillery’s location. Their own hell was unleashed upon our lines. The target was our artillery encampment, but numerous shells failed to reach their target and landed on our trench systems. I heard the whine of a shell zipping through the air, except this time it had a different pitch. The sound was ear-splitting and yet nothing compared to the concussion of what came next. Not very far at all in front of the front line trench a wayward shell had landed. A shower of dirt and rock covered my trench and in places filled it. Instinctively I dove to my belly and covered my head, my rifle fell from my hands. Agony and fear froze every muscle of my body and another shell landed just as close. Soon it was evident that these shells were not wayward at all, yet intended for us. Each strike would land in or around our trench and the panic ensued. Men began yelling and some even cried. My emotions had emptied themselves of my consciousness at this point and my thoughts devoid. All I could do was lie there in the mud and soil, I didn't even pray for safety. I did nothing, I was capable of nothing. With every single shell the very earth shook and convulsed beneath me, taunting me with the fact that if the earth could shudder I would surely disintegrate should one land close to myself. The few times I was brave enough to raise my head and look around I saw some men cowering as I did and some sat calm with their backs against the parapet of the trench. Which one was truly conscious and calm? The ones who dove to the earth or the ones who sat motionless amidst the explosive fury?

And then the whistle sounded. And then it was time.
  
						Last edited by Trevin; 01-09-2017 at 06:06 AM.
					
					 Reason: separate paragraphs
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Old 02-02-2017, 01:57 AM View Post #2 (Link) Heyo
manidkk (Offline)
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Join Date: Feb 2017
Location: Chile
Posts: 4
Points: 12.5
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Originally Posted by Trevin View Post
Hello! My first submission. I am looking to start a serial of accounts of World War 1 from different soldiers viewpoints. Depending on the feedback of this first installment I may continue. I am not a fiction writer or author, but a poet. So, any feedback is MORE than welcome. In fact, it is most sought.
--------------------------------------------------------------

Even to this very day a piercing blow from a whistle instills a certain gut-wrenching fear into the hearts and bellies of the men, nay the boys, in the Fourth Platoon of the 21st Battalion. One such soldier was Private Collin Hertz, at the time a mere boy of 17 years. He lied his way into hell, as some would say.

It was May 27, 1918 at 05:00 hours and I sat hunched in the jump trenches. The blackout order was given and no man was to have a lantern lit. If someone wanted to smoke a cigarette he had to either find a dugout or stay below the top of the trench, even then everyone around the smoker would distance themselves in fear of snipers honing in. With just a little over an hour until the offensive was to begin I found a crook within the trenches where I could sit and write by the light of the moon. My thoughts raced far too quickly to contain and transfer to paper, no matter how much I longed to scrawl out a few lines to express the love I had for my family back in the States. Memories of my parents and two siblings flashed through my fragile mind as I sat there sinking into the ever present mud. Earlier that morning the company commander had relayed to us the briefing in hopes to stoking the fires of morale. He told us we were about to embark on the most honorable endeavor since the men who fought for the Union back in the Civil War. It was to be the first offensive that us Americans launched on European soil.

The commander went on to elaborate on the strike plan. At precisely 0645 hours an allied artillery barrage would rain hellfire down upon the German occupied village of Cantigny and we were to expect a counter-barrage ourselves. If all went according to plan the counterstrike would reveal the German artillery encampment and expose them to the wrath of our shelling. After an hour of this preparatory barrage we would come into play. The tactic we would rely and depend on would be a rolling barrage. Shelling would advance 100 meters every two minutes to give us time to advance behind the line of fire and mop up any remaining Huns. The plan gave birth to a profound confidence in our abilities as a cohesive machine of destruction. How could anything stand up to that amount of shelling followed immediately by infantry advances? To us infantry it seemed like a perfect plan with no chance of error. Some of the boys in my platoon even bragged about conquering the Germans before the attack even launched. Myself? I wasn't so sure it would be wise to preemptively celebrate.

By 0600 hours the dawn had crept upon us. I looked down at the paper in my hand to realize I had written nothing past the words, “Dear Father,”. My mind had lost itself ruminating over the battle to come. None of us had ever experienced a battle at this point, no American had ever ‘went over the top’ and into the face of death. At a reserve depot I had met a few Frenchmen who had been present for numerous offensives. I probed their minds and not one of them would even discuss going over the top. Could it be so bad? With artillery barrages what was there to fear about leaping from the trench and bolting across to the enemy lines? Surely most of the opposition would have suffered already from the shelling. It seemed like a mere cleanup job at that point. Maybe those Frenchmen weren't cut from the same cloth as us American boys. Maybe they couldn't handle it. Or maybe I was wrong, perhaps dead-wrong.

The dogs of war opened up at the forty-fifth minute of the sixth hour precisely. I had heard artillery sounding off before, but this time it was different. A mile or so behind even the support trenches the battery let loose hell. The sound was deafening in itself and the resulting concussion literally pounded you in the chest. I have heard many old-timers say that eventually you learn to sleep during a barrage. I find that hard to believe. With each report of artillery fire it staggered me; it took every fiber of my being not to collapse to my knees and weep.

Around halfway through the bombardment the enemy had zeroed in on our artillery’s location. Their own hell was unleashed upon our lines. The target was our artillery encampment, but numerous shells failed to reach their target and landed on our trench systems. I heard the whine of a shell zipping through the air, except this time it had a different pitch. The sound was ear-splitting and yet nothing compared to the concussion of what came next. Not very far at all in front of the front line trench a wayward shell had landed. A shower of dirt and rock covered my trench and in places filled it. Instinctively I dove to my belly and covered my head, my rifle fell from my hands. Agony and fear froze every muscle of my body and another shell landed just as close. Soon it was evident that these shells were not wayward at all, yet intended for us. Each strike would land in or around our trench and the panic ensued. Men began yelling and some even cried. My emotions had emptied themselves of my consciousness at this point and my thoughts devoid. All I could do was lie there in the mud and soil, I didn't even pray for safety. I did nothing, I was capable of nothing. With every single shell the very earth shook and convulsed beneath me, taunting me with the fact that if the earth could shudder I would surely disintegrate should one land close to myself. The few times I was brave enough to raise my head and look around I saw some men cowering as I did and some sat calm with their backs against the parapet of the trench. Which one was truly conscious and calm? The ones who dove to the earth or the ones who sat motionless amidst the explosive fury?

And then the whistle sounded. And then it was time.
First off, I really like the idea. But, there are a few issues here and there. Mostly with the descriptions. It seems to me that the story gets lost in all the fancy wording, and in the end most readers would lose interest real quick. Maybe tone down the formalities a bit? There are plenty of grammar mistakes as well.
One last thing. There are a lot of phrases that simply don't need to be there for you to get your point across. For example:

"All I could do was lie there in the mud and soil, I didn't even pray for safety. I did nothing, I was capable of nothing."
With that first phrase alone, the reader knows the character is basically paralyzed. Everything else just looks like filler.

Hope this helps you! Good luck!
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Old 02-02-2017, 02:03 AM View Post #3 (Link)
manidkk (Offline)
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Join Date: Feb 2017
Location: Chile
Posts: 4
Points: 12.5
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Agh, just noticed the little warning about you being a poet. Some more advice for you, from someone who's been writing fiction/nonfiction for a good five years now.
In most genres, what matters most is the story. The meaning will always come second. The only exception I can think of, where the descriptions can be as flowery as you like (all while getting a point across, mind you) is magical realism. Look up Gabriel Garcia, he's basically the king.
Definitely done now. Have a good one!
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Old 03-22-2017, 06:00 PM View Post #4 (Link) Criticizing 'Stories of The Great War'
Mobutt (Offline)
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Join Date: Mar 2017
Posts: 2
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Plot: 7.5. While this is an interesting concept, the presentation of World War I here was a bit rushed. At the same time, while intriguing and exciting, the story lacks a lot of actual 'plot' to begin with. A story can be perfectly fine taking place in the previous events of the other story, except there's one thing: THAT story must have a past, present, and future too-which this does not do a good job of initiating or differentiating.

Character: 6. No whitewashing. While I am judging a bit by standards based off novel-length stories, the character here isn't exactly the most well established. This is due in part to the long amount of time spent on details, description, the plan, et cetera.

Description: 8.5. Making up for the shortcomings of the plot and character, the description here is of quite exquisite detail, even for novels. If this had been longer, it would have scored higher than this. Although it is a little overbearing as the descriptions noticeably outweigh the plot.

Grammar: 8. The grammar is of high quality, with no obvious mistakes noticed. Although better description and words could have been use and others substituted, it is still of a nice quality. The grammar overall is quite articulate.

Overall Production: 7. What it lacks in plot and character-building, it makes up for in descriptions and an interesting and accurate concept, although with a predictable ending. It isn't particularly bad but needs a noticeable amount of fine-tuning. Keep up the good work!
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