Okay, fellow thriller-writers-- having just seen this literary device in yet-another "will you look this over for me" m/s (and having once used it myself in a first draft, thankfully short-circuited by several military folks who stopped me before it was too late), let me suggest an early re-write:
That scene of yours? The one where the guy steps on a buried mine, hears the "click!" and freezes? Cuz if he lifts his foot, it explodes?
My sources inform me that there is not, nor has been, any such mine used by the military.
"Why the &@*% would we?" one of 'em told me. "Step on it, it blows. We're not using minefields for a &@*%-ing 'practical joke,' for $#/^'s sake..."
I cannot, personally (and gratefully), testify to the accuracy of his statement. But he DID seem pretty emphatic about it.
I removed the scene. You might want to do the same.
-- Earl Merkel
(POSTSCRIPT: The (Somewhat Younger) Me: "But it's SO cool-- and I used it to illustrate the interior conflict and terror of war, and threw in a flashback, and--" Military guy, who also reads a lot: "Yeah, it's still a cliché." —EM)
(POST-POSTSCRIPT: [chuckle] A few years back, I was sent an ARC from a "stable mate" --recent college grad, quite good wordsmith-- along with a request for a jacket blurb.
Book opened with a Marine island invasion (which "set free" some kind of Dark Being, but that came later), and the description of the beach landing blew me away (no pun intended).
But it felt somehow... familiar.
On a hunch, I keyed up my DVD of "Saving Private Ryan."
Yep. Copied, "novelized," virtually to every frame of the film's opening. Inadvertent, I hope.
[grin] I guess the Moral --if there is one, and God knows in writing there's precious few morals, let alone a singular Moral-- is that danger lurks when we "pick up" material from other sources, and write it, and other writers "pick up" the stuff we tossed out there as "reality," and write it, and then other writers etc., etc., etc.
But in lieu of a Moral, there's definitely a Lesson here: it's probably wise to (a) experience it ourselves [OMG: enlisting-as-research would be REAL dedication to the writing craft, eh?] or (b) back-check-it/fact-check-it with someone who did.
That, or just chalk it all up to "literary license," and let the next guy that "borrows" it take the heat.
Ah... but those "mine-click" scenes are SO cool, no?
And yes-- I gave a blurb of praise. As I mentioned, a good wordsmith; to do otherwise would have been the pique of an envious jerk, eh? —EM)
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