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Author Topic: The Emperor Came Back
jnicoll
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Ex-Supreme Emperor Semptitus stopped in the corridor, his lamp casting a dim pall over the flight of stairs below him. The small metal sign on the wall to the right contained only one number: seventeen. He had come seventeen levels in as many hours. Each level doubling the time dilation, taking him to the eternities reserved for emperors. He hesitated on the step. His knees shook a little from the strain. “I am feeling old today,” he thought wryly. He reflected on his own reign, his legacy, the pain and the ecstacy. This next level, he knew, made it irrevocable. He could never make it back in time before his son’s reign ended. He knew he should keep going down the stairs. But he just wanted one last look. Abruptly, he turned and hobbled back the way he had come. He was going back.
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snapper
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quote:
Ex-Supreme Emperor Semptitus stopped in the corridor, his lamp casting a dim pall >over the flight of stairs below him<.

Description tag. You don't really need 'below him'. I've see these tags all the time. Try to avoid them. How about...

on the flight of stairs

quote:
The small metal sign on the wall to the right contained only one number: seventeen. He had come seventeen levels in as many hours. Each level doubling the time dilation, taking him to the eternities reserved for emperors. He hesitated on the step. His knees shook a little from the strain.

Is this character in some sort of video game? What do you mean by 17 levels? This needs an explanation. Throwing it in our laps is not the way to do it. Whatever that means you may want to move that info back. As it is, it doesn't help establish your hook at all.

quote:
“I am feeling old today,” he thought wryly.

Active thoughts should be italicized, not in quotes. Drop the 'he thought' tag and avoid those 'ly' adverbs. Insisting to do so will invoke the wrath of Inarticulate Babbler.

quote:
He reflected on his own reign, his legacy, the pain and the ecstacy. This next level, he knew, made it irrevocable. He could never make it back in time before his son’s reign ended.

This is telling and an info-dump. Writing 'He reflected' is just too simple. What about his reign and legacy? Why was it painful and what made it ecsatic? Why was the next level irrevocable? And why wouldn't he be able to make it back in time? These questions are important. We don't want to drag it out of your prose. Show us, don't tease us.

quote:
He knew he should keep going down the stairs. But he just wanted one last look.

No problem with this at all. Just the way it should be done.

quote:
Abruptly, he turned and hobbled back the way he had come. He was going back.

This however I have issues with. Drop the opening adverb. You could lose the 'the way he had come' description tag. 'He was going back' is redundant. So you could pare these two sentences down to

He turned and hobbled back.

I suggest that you start at another point of your story. Too many questions that can not be answered in 13 lines. Too hard to make a sharp hook with what you got. Remember you'll want the reader (or editor) to want to read on. This opening failed to hook me.
Hope this helps!

[This message has been edited by snapper (edited November 27, 2008).]


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Kee Stone
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Hi, again.

Your lines are somewhat confusing.
it's easy to read, but some of the ideas are not complete thoughts, or are not completely explained. Like snapper said, the 'levels' idea is not making sense.

The grammar and structure are good, though.
Hope this helps.


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Fox
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I'll agree with everything Snapper said (I second the motion!) and add one more thing.

"Ex-supreme Emperor"

The only part of that I think you should keep is, "Emperor."

The title, Emperor, already implies supreme power. A supreme emperor is kind of a redundant emperor.

Also, the "Ex" prefix has a negative connotation. Like ex-wives. Ex-boyfriends. etc. It doesn't have much dignity to it. "Former" would be better, I think.

I think you've got an interesting set-up here. I'm immediately curious as to how one Emperor could be replaced... and still live. That's kind of unprecedented. Even the most peaceful changes-in-power in Empires are bathed in blood. Just look at what Augustus did in the months preceding his death.


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Yufae
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I don't agree with merging the last two sentences because I think you're implying more with "He was going back" than that he was going back down the stairs (up the stairs?). It's supposed to be a kind of dramatic transition, right? He's made a decision. He's going back TO somewhere. I think it might help if you said where:

"He was going back to Delthamar."

[This message has been edited by Yufae (edited December 03, 2008).]


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