Scripta picture Scripta Word Services
Professional editing for individuals, publishers, and businesses

verba volent, scripta manent – words flee, writing remains

Home Contact me Articles Writing course Services described Editing samples Endorsements About Marg Gilks Links

If you participate in the hand-in assignments aspect of the "Fundamentals of Fiction" course, you will finish the course with a completed short short story of 1,000 words or less, such as the flash fiction story below.

Lesson Eight: Final Project – Instructor's Response

Hi Pete,

I think you did a good job here, for such a short story — you've got a beginning, middle, and end, a terrific opening hook that immediately introduces conflict, and lots of vivid imagery and strong, active verbs that really make the piece spring to life. The ending suits your purpose of conveying the violence and futility of war. This would likely make a good stand-alone for flash markets; it also would read well as one scene in a larger work.

I've inserted some comments between [brackets] within the body of the story.

carpe diem,

Anti-War Fiction
205 Words

Zero Sum

Copyright © Pete Jones

The zero came racing out of the sun, guns blazing a deadly hail of molten hatred [I thought this was a bit too much. I'd be inclined to end this sentence after "guns blazing"]. Caught off guard, Lieutenant Davison slammed [great verbs! — racing, blazing, slammed...] the mustang left in a diving power roll, but it was too late.[Could you perhaps do more with this? What was the result of his being caught off guard, other than it being too late? Perhaps: Caught off guard, Davison was a beat too slow...] The zero's bullets ripped through the canopy and bored deep into the Lieutenant's chest.[good — made me cringe!]

Choking black smoke from an exploded engine immediately filled [you've got an echo here — this and the "immediately filled" in the next paragraph. Again, could you avoid this by describing the "immediately filled" more specifically — choking black smoke surged or billowed into the cockpit, cold dark water exploded or gushed...] the cockpit. Dead stick, the mustang nosed down and raced toward impact in the sea below. In crushing pain, Lieutenant Davison tried to reach the canopy release, but it was no use. His shoulders were smashed; he couldn't move his arms. He wondered how it was possible that he was even alive.[good]

Flames filled the cockpit with searing heat. No longer able to scream, the Lieutenant writhed in agony vainly trying to escape the fire within [I don't think you even need "vainly trying to escape the fire within" — it's enough that he's writhing in agony]. Seconds later, the violent impact with the ocean tore the wings from the fuselage like so much tin foil [great simile!]. Cold, dark water immediately filled what remained of the mustang and took it like an anchor deep into the murky void. Lieutenant Davison looked with horror at the darkening depths quickly surrounding him. My god [this seemed like the beginning of a thought; I expected him to think just a little bit more — "my god, save me" or "my god, make it quick" or something], he thought as he gave himself to drowning. The mustang hurtled onward to the dark ocean floor.[chilling end — good]

Return to top of page

Return to Samples page

Copyright © Marg Gilks. All rights reserved. All trademarks, logos, & book covers are the sole property of their respective owners.