Sunday, August 06, 2006

New Beginning 47

"It is done your Excellency."

Cardinal Khoury looked at the shadow before him. It cowered slightly in the wan moonlight, a darker shape against the dim wall of the city. Khoury needed no light to know that his assistant, Marcus Alten, quivered not from fear but with simpering sycophantism. A trait which Khoury abhorred yet one which served, especially in moments like these. "All burnt and buried ash, I hope."

''Yes Excellency. Just as you ordered. I--"

Khoury almost felt excited. Might his simpering pet be about to ask a question? Only once before had Alten asked anything, Khoury believing he'd remedied such impulses long ago. For just a moment he lingered over memories of screams and ripped flesh; a nostalgic, somewhat erotic recollection, and one he cherished. "Alten?"

"They fell open,"Alten stressed. "And once I'd seen . . . You understand? Don't you? Any man would have looked."

Khoury stilled. "You looked."

"It was an accident." The shadow cringed. "I still burned them all."

"An accident."

"Please, I never meant--" A bolt of lightning struck Alton, incinerating him.

Khoury flexed his fingers, sighing. They never learned, these editorial assistants. Don't. Read. The Slushpile.

Continuation: Julia Ker


Bernita said...

Nice beginning - but just say it, please.
"Cardinal Khoury looked at the shadow before him that quivered in in the wan moonlight..."
We do not need to know the precise degree("slightly") of cowering.It is irrelevant.
Suggest you also skip the "Cardinal Khoury needed no light to know..." - irrelevant, we do not care about his eyesight - and begin
"Marcus Alten, his assistant, quivered, not from fear...

Jane said...

Well, you've got my attention. This is quite intriguing.

One sentence bugs me: "Only once before had Alten asked anything, Khoury believing he'd remedied such impulses long ago." The dependant phrase is just awkward, and doesn't actually modify the event of Alten asking. Also, it makes it unclear whether Koury beat Alten when he asked, or prior to that.

It would be better to say "Only once before had Alten asked anything, and Khoury believed he'd remedied such impulses quite effectively." Or, something like that.

Good luck with this!

Nikki said...

Why would Khoury be excited by Alten asking a question, given that he spent so much time remedying Alten's curious impulses?

I also have no idea what's going on. (I know it's only 150 words...), but I need some sense of place/culture and some clue as to what's going to happen.

Anonymous said...

"Don't. Read. The Slushpile."

So, the truth is finally out. Now, I know, why I'll never get published... That, and I've only submitted to queries. Maybe I should change my name to Chicken...

Author: sounds intriguing, but do cut down on discriptions, just like the others said.

Anonymous said...

Author says;

Thanks for those little alterations.

Khoury get's sexual pleasure from beatings and torture, it's a power thing which is explored later in the novel. As for what's going on, well... I'll let you know after a few more comments.


Anonymous said...

Whoopsie! Looks like I just plagerized with 'intriguing'. Jane, if you're out to sue me, I don't got no cash. Only banana leafs.

Rei said...

"A trait which Khoury abhorred yet one which served, especially in moments like these."

On my fifth reading of this line, I finally understood what you were trying to say. Please consider rephrasing it. Might I suggest replacing "served" with "proved useful".

Nicholas Borelli said...

Just another editor demonstrating his cruelty to writers who proffer all those BTUs in manuscript form for the smoldering slushpile.

I'll send mine in 24 lb. bond. Fuel prices are up!


Nick Borelli

Anonymous said...

Author says

Ah, Nikki's comment got me thinking. So it appears that our little tinker EE did a little edit to fit my 150 and a few words into the 150 he wanted. There's a small line taken out forewarning of Alten's swiftly approaching death.

Nice edit though EE. Thank you.


Anonymous said...

I would read on. I got Khoury's sadism. I got a sense of darkness--doom. And I liked the language, except for that "almost excited" bit. Almost is a wiggle word for me and drains away meaning.

I really like this!

Nikki said...

Author, what I really meant about not knowing what was going on was that I like some idea of a theme right at the beginning of a book, some idea of the world in which the book is set. The sentence you said EE took out doesn't help with that. You've basically shown that Khoury is a sadistic git already.

I'm perfectly prepared to accept that this is an entirely personal preference.

If you haven't already, read something by Guy Gavriel Kay.

Anonymous said...



This is the beginning of a short chapter. If you were able to continue reading I'm pretty sure your queries/worries would be answered. Both theme and setting are explored before Alten's departure.

This is the beginning of a first chapter. There's a prologue. Then there's 100k words of far future SF containing amongst other things, religious mystery, conspiracy, wonder and the fermi paradox.

I just hope EE is asking me for the whole ms sometime soon. ;-)

Thanks for your input. It's all helpful


Anonymous said...

Love the story, who could not continue reading to learn what's going to happen? Great hook.

Couple minor points:

- Add a couple commas early on ("It is done, your Excellency" and "Yes, Excellency")

- Up to you I guess if you want to capitalize "Your"

- Finally, it confuses me why Khoury is "excited" that his assistant is about to ask a question. I like the intrigue you set up that he had remedied such impulses in the past. But if that's the case, is excited the right word?

Great start. Got my attention for at least another 150. Good luck!

rkcooke said...

I read "Marcus Alten" as "Marcus Allen," the former pro football player. Confusing, to say the least.

You might want to consider changing that name....

Anonymous said...

Author says

pro football player????

Ah! American football. Never heard of him :-)


Anonymous said...

I'd read on. This has a real sense of menace to it, and if Khoury is one of the main characters, I'll probably stay interested; I love a good villain (or a bad villain or a ... well, I know what I mean). I'm actually more curious to see what he does next than to find out what it is that Alten destroyed, although I'd want to know that eventually.

And from how you've described the rest of the book, author, I'd say it sounds great.

Just as a minor technical point, I found it confusing having the dialogue come at the end of the paragraph, especially given that some of those paragraphs were quite long. If it's just the formatting on this site, please ignore me :)

One thing that struck me:

"And once I'd seen . . . You understand? Don't you?

Given what you've shown of Khoury and Alten's experience of him, why does Alten think he's likely to be understood?

Otherwise, good stuff!