How Many Ways…

Earlier today I popped onto my favorite writing forums at Absolute Write. In the Share Your Work (Fantasy/SciFi) section, Quentin Nokov asked for a critique on a short piece. The scene involved gunmen executing a group of prisoners and being stopped by a supernatural event. You can find the thread here.

It made me realize things that I did unconsciously when writing. Battle scenes, something I do often, tend to have short, snappy sentences. Violent actions are paired with violent verbs. Make it fast and hectic as if the reader were right there, which is where you want them.

It also got me to thinking about different ways to write the same scene. Quentin wrote from the prisoners. How about the soldiers? I figured it was an interesting experiment and composed two examples on my walk back to work from lunch.

The Reluctant Soldier would see the horror of the scene. Bullets impacting on flesh, mothers huddling over their children, covering the weak before collapsing under the hail of death.  The sun glistening off the brass shells ejecting from the rifle, spiraling down to the ground in a final judgement.  Blood spraying across the dirt before the entire horrific scene dissolves into a cloud of gun smoke.

The Sociopath Soldier, one who might holds a grudge against the victims, would see the beauty of the scene. The cold, harsh clacking of automatic rifles chambering rounds. A crimson spray of blood that hangs like a halo before following the corpse to the ground. The contrails of the bullets as they pass through the gun smoke, smoke that steals the pleasure of the final deaths