This one has a draft (finally) at 5,000 words. I am looking for readers of the whole thing if anyone is interested.
Original version In the final moment before they die, some men confess. As if they can throw off the fetters of their sin at the last moment and rise to paradise. For that reason, Brem had been trained to look his victims in the eye and listen as their life fled. Sometimes their last words were worth more than the killing fee. Unfortunately, most men just lost their bowels and screamed useless gibberish, or said nothing at all. Brem had taken to wagering with himself about what category his victims would fall into, and he had this sweaty mound of a merchant prince pegged as a screamer. The manís name was Cantio Moralan, and Brem had been watching him for six days. It was always six days, and on the seventh a man died. In that short time it had become clear that
See revised version below
[This message has been edited by alliedfive (edited November 26, 2008).]
For me, the hook here is a man hunting a merchant prince and planning on killing him. All the stuff about confessing their sins could wait until later in the story, I don't think it's strong enough or new enough to justify devoting the first couple of paragraphs to it.
In the final moment before they die, some men confess. As if they can throw off the fetters of their sin at the last moment and rise to paradise. That period after "confess" is odd, I think you need to take it out and just have this as one sentence.
Sometimes their last words were worth more than the killing fee. How? This made me pause to wonder how a man's dying words can be worth more than a paypacket. I'd either elaborate a little more or just remove the sentence altogether.
Unfortunately, most men just lost their bowels and screamed useless gibberish, I think anybody who has just been disembowelled isn't going to be talking a lot of sense. If the MC is interested in the last words I think he wouldn't be going around disembowelling them.
I would probably give it a couple more paragraphs to see where this one was headed. I do think rather than musing on the confessions of these dying men you could be working in a bigger hook such as why is this man hunting the prince? Who is paying him for these hits? etc
I think I could add a couple words to clarify the hook. The merchant prince is dying when this story begins. Its what happens after that is the conflict. So I think my hook in this 1st 13 is possibly misleading. Hmm...
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Personal Preference: I do not like this character and would hope he is the antagonist or a bit part, not the MC (good characterization if that's what you meant ).
This 13 lines could work for me as a short prologue, if you want to provide the setup and then shift to a sympathetic MC in Chapter 1. At this point I'm anticipating that the prince will spill something juicy, and I want to know what it is. EDITED: Short story not Novel; sorry, I am not able to help with shorts.
Side note: It was clear to me that a dying man might loosen his bowels in the stress of being killed. It does not necessarily mean disembowelment.
[This message has been edited by MrsBrown (edited November 13, 2008).]
I quite liked it, actually (and ditto MrsBrown about 'lost their bowels' - I too assumed it meant that they voided them, not that they were thusly disencumbered by our good man Mr. Protagonist ).
I don't mind assasin or 'evil' main characters, so no problems for me there - I found your MC quite interesting.
I don't actually have any prose gripes, so no probs there. The only thing I'll say is that 'merchant prince' is a little bit predictable. 'Merchant' is bad enough (those poor guys are always either corrupt or victims, and even the corrupt ones always end up dead), but prince put the icing on the clichť cake for me.
Anyway, minor problems; I was interested all through and would certainly read on .
I'll agree that plunging straight into the protag's POV with his (presumed) background is a little bit problematic as an opener. Are you having difficulty slogging through it because you don't really like the character?
Anyway, I thought the starting point for this story might actually be...
quote:The manís name was Cantio Moralan, and Brem had been watching him for six days. It was always six days, and on the seventh a man (perhaps change it to he would die?) died.
It introduces us to Brem and it sets up questions (Why is he watching him. Why will he die on the seventh day?). That, for me, is where the story started. The other lines were simply not that interesting because I've seen that kind of opening before.
I can look at stuff for a day or two next week before I'm out of action for the year.
[This message has been edited by Nick T (edited November 13, 2008).]
Hmm, I think my philosophical 1st thirteen are a little misleading. I think I will take Nick T's sage advice and start the story a bit later, and maybe work in the original 1st thirteen later. Here is the new one. What does everyone think?
The manís name was Cantio Moralan, and Brem had been watching him for six days. It was always six days, and on the seventh, a man died. In that short time it had become clear that the man was involved in all manner of illegal, reprehensible, and lucrative business ventures flung far across the dozen or so city-states that were the shards of the Old Empire. He was also, if washing women and servants could be believed, a sorcerer who dabbled in the most despicable and deplorable arts their imaginations could conjur. Moralan was also a man of habit, which had made Bremís job easy. If he was indeed a sorcerer, his arts had not aided him in the final moments of his life. So it was surprising to Brem that, as the life drained from
[This message has been edited by alliedfive (edited November 13, 2008).]
The reason I picked the seven days line is that it suggests (for me) ritualism of some kind. Why six days, not five? If it's a question of innocence/guilt, why can't it be longer until he's certain? That's what piqued my interest, but I'm odd like that and other people probably don't care at all.
As Skadder has noted, the new start is a little bit sterile...it doens't really have much of Brem in it, rather it's slightly distant telling. Skadder's suggestion might be better if the six days isn't important as this gets the story closer to the inciting incident.
I second skadder and Nick T. However, I like Brem much better now that he is fighting evil rather than being the greater evil
Take these thoughts with a grain of salt, I'm musing:
It is not immediately obvious what Brem's job is, from the second version. Perhaps change "a man died" to "his target died"? Why is it always this number of days? (I can wait if that will be revealed in the next line or so.)
I'd suggest "became" instead of "had become" throughout, and show the death and instead of talking about it after the fact. You can pare down the description of the bad guy quite a bit; it seems wordy. Could there be some tension as Brem waits to see if the death is successful, given the guy's sorcery?
I have an impression that the manner of death is poison or some other detached method; it feels a bit like withholding to not know, unless it will be revealed soon.
Another approach would be to show Brem watching the guy, learning about him (instead of a summary). The death does not need to be up front so long as we know that is the intention. Scratch that: I'm thinking Novels again!!!
[This message has been edited by MrsBrown (edited November 14, 2008).]