Jamileh sat slumped on the couch in front of her TV, inhaling the tiny nub that remained of her joint. As she eased forward towards the ashtray, the caravan door burst open. Tony appeared, his eyes landing on Jamileh. He charged towards her, raised a fist-sized taser and planted 2 million volts into her side. She crumpled to the floor. Tony stepped back and pulled a chair out from under the picnic table.

Jamileh groaned.

“You know what we’ve come for.”

Jamileh looked outside the open door. A man in a suit as big as a refrigerator stood by a black vehicle. “I want my money,” she wheezed.

“I’ll give it to you once I get every copy of that video. Images, files, whatever you’ve got – hand them over.”

“How do I know you’ll pay me?”

Tony lurched forward and slammed the stun gun against her lower back. She screamed.
Tony stood up. “Where are you hiding it?” He bent towards her and frisked each pocket of her jeans. Retrieving her mobile, he slipped it into his breast pocket. Then he surveyed the room, his gaze landing on the kitchen bench and an open mac book. He picked it up. “It’s all in here, isn’t it?”

Jamileh levered herself up so that her back was against the couch.

“God help me girl. If there are any copies of that file lying around, or if you’ve saved them onto the internet, this is your last chance to speak up.”

She looked up at Tony but said nothing. He grinned.

The big man in black who’d been standing out front poked his head through the open door.  “We better go, Prime Minister.”

Tony strolled to the door, paused and turned to Jamileh.

“You’ll get the money when all this is clear. Or I’ll have your arse – again.”

He hopped out of the caravan and left. 

Instructor Response

Jamileh sat slumped on the couch in front of her TV, inhaling the tiny nub that remained of her joint. As she eased forward towards the ashtray, the caravan door burst open. Tony appeared, his eyes landing on Jamileh. He charged towards her, raised a fist-sized taser and planted 2 million volts into her side. She crumpled to the floor as Tony stepped back and pulled a chair out from under the picnic table.  You’re in action here and the setting detail slows down the action. 

This first paragraph is good.  It’s important too.  So let me be picky about the way you’ve arranged the ideas.  The idea about introducing characterization with the “joint” description is misplaced.  You want to keep the reader focused on what’s happening here.  Characterize later.  I’ve also removed words that seem unnecessary; these words tend to blunt the effect of action.  “Landing,” specifically.  See if removal doesn’t make the phrase more effective for you.  And if your going to use a verb form there, try something like “fixing”, which is more accurate than “landing” (which seems a little impossible for eyes to do—look at definitions, only one I found that had the application here.  When ever possible, look for more accurate words.).

Jamileh groaned.

“You know what we’ve come for.”

Jamileh looked outside the open door. A man in a suit as big as a refrigerator misplaced modifier.  The suit or the man is “big as a refrigerator”?  And you can do a better metaphor too (it’s hard to visualize a man that big existing except in fantasy), or maybe just not use a metaphor here.  stood by a black vehicle. “I want my money,” she wheezed.

“I’ll give it to you once I get every copy of that video. Images, files, whatever you’ve got – hand them over.”

“How do I know you’ll pay me?”

Tony lurched forward and slammed the stun gun against her lower back. She screamed.
Tony stood up. “Where are you hiding it?” He bent towards her and frisked each pocket of her jeans. Retrieving her mobile, he slipped it into his breast pocket. Then he surveyed the room, his gaze landing on the kitchen bench and an open mac book. He picked it up. “It’s all in here, isn’t it?”

Jamileh levered herself up so that her back was against the couch.

“God help me girl. If there are any copies of that file lying around, or if you’ve saved them onto the internet, this is exposition in dialogue and should be avoided.  It’s the author giving details that the character would not think about in this high-tension scene.  If you think the information is essential, you might use a back and forth exchange between them, or maybe have the narrator insert the possibilities.  this is your last chance to speak up.”

She looked up at Tony but said nothing.

He grinned.

The big man in black who’d been standing out front  this is unnecessary since it’s implied he’s outside when he pokes his head through the door.  Important to be concise.  poked his head through the open door.  “We better go, Prime Minister.”

Tony strolled Wouldn’t walked be better.  Does stroll (as through the park) really do what you want to do here?  to the door, paused and turned to Jamileh.

“You’ll get the money when all this is clear. Or I’ll have your arse – again.”

He hopped out of the caravan and left. 

 

Good work.  The exercise points up a need for careful word choice, and avoiding exposition in dialogue.  Also be sure to keep ideas integrated and interlocked, avoid non sequiturs or misplaces images, ideas, or actions.

 

Best,

WHC

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