Work from Albie Heigers

Collander grinned cynically whilst leaning back against the chair to which he was handcuffed. Disbelief, white hot anger, and fear rushing through him as Cliff Boner approached, stun-gun in hand.

“Why …” he started as two million volts of electricity went through his body, pulled him this way, then that before leaving him slumped over. Vomit pushed up in his throat and he tried bravely to keep it down before it rolled over his chin.

Boner leaned closer. “You smell like shit!”

Collander took small breaths, then deeper, and looked up at his high school mate.


Boner grabbed his hair with one hand, slamming the fist of the other into Collander’s nose.

“What do you think mister smart fucking investment banker?”

Reality flashed into Collander’s mind. Hedge funds, attractive investment opportunities, buy now!

“We warned …”

The slap jerked his head sideways, his cheeck on fire whilst the tears ran to mix with the blood from his nose.

“That your so-called clever investors have to bring big bags to collect their money?” Boner grabbed his hair again, his face and sour alcohol breath close to Collander’s eyes.

“There is always a risk …”

“ … that you will get caught!”

Collander’s eye’s opened wide as Boner reached inside his jacket and reemerged Glock in hand.


Instructor Response

Excellent work. Of particular note is the pleasing pacing of your revision, and the tempered yet well-delivered plot line, which delivers enough information, mainly through dialogue and narrative, to divulge enough but not too much.

The dialogue is crisp, informative and credible. The plot with investment banking is also interesting, but if you were to keep this as part of a larger work, you’d want to be sure the plot didn’t have an I’ve-seen-this-one-before feel for the reader. Always seek something unique (I don’t think you would have a problem imagining something useful). Also the specificity demonstrated by “Glock” is good (rather than “gun” or “pistol”). 

Details such as “high school mate” add a lot. And they tilt the passage toward the literary. There seems to be controversy over genre vs. literary and whether there should be a “literary” distinction in fiction (most of it pseudo-intellectual babble). Character-based fiction with theme and meaning about what it means to be human is fun to write and adds to the significance of a work. Your introduction in even this short revision of a past relationship–a hint of human interaction that will affect the story–moves the potential for the force of action in the plot to be a cause-and-effect to the characters’ desires and motives, and the conflicts that result. This line indicates you’re thinking like a literary writer even if that is not your ultimate goal in writing.  

The dialogue line “You smell like shit!” rings true for the character and the situation. But pause for a moment and consider the opportunity to enhance the imagery and immediacy of the scene. “Like shit” is a nonspecific simile. Consider a different metaphor, which you might deliver in description (maybe even internal monologue, although you’d lose a little of the pacing) what the actual smell was like. It would take some thinking, but could add that little extra that elevates the prose.  

Thanks for participating.

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