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Thread: Dark Tidings

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  1. #1

    Dark Tidings

    Here are the first six hundred words from Dark Tidings. I'm hoping to get feedback which will help me improve its appeal. The book has been published for a few years now but I'd quite like to re-edit the early chapters to see if I can attract more readers.

    Thanks in anticipation.
    __________________________________________________ ___________

    Chapter 1 - No Rest for the Wicked

    Way back in the medieval mists of time, long before most people counted which century was which, Tung shivered violently on the ice-cold stone floor of the executioner’s dungeon.

    Dark, dank and putrid were the words an unscrupulous property merchant might have used to glamorise this miserable dungeon, no words were hideous or nauseating enough to describe the true horror of this dreadful place. To be fair though, it wasn’t all bad, at least the green slime, which oozed like pus from small cracks in the walls, added some colour to the drab greyness.

    Tung huddled in the darkest corner of the freezing granite cell wishing he was dead. He wouldn’t have to wait long for his wish to come true because he was due to be tortured to death the very next day. Roll on death, it couldn’t come a moment too soon. He was soaking wet, bruised, starving and parched with thirst. Yes, roll on death.

    All he could do was pray for the merciful nothingness of sleep before the excruciating morning. He tossed and turned like an agitated foetus. How could anyone sleep in this frightful place? Hands over ears, he tried to shut out the sounds of torturers’ hammers smashing bones, the metallic clunk of ratchets on the racks and the anguished screams which echoed forlornly down stone corridors. Rank stenches crept under the door to assault his nostrils, the acrid stink of flesh seared by white-hot branding irons overwhelming the other odours of human sweat, urine and excrement. Wails of despair reverberated inside his head. Did these evil tormentors never rest?

    By some miracle, his brain dragged his tortured body into an uneasy slumber. Praise the gods for the gift of sleep, at least he still had this last sanctuary. His nightmares replayed his pathetic life as his subconscious tried to figure out how he’d ended up in this pitiful mess. The work of the devil, no doubt - with a little help from his fiends.

    The dreams relived his sixteen years of poverty and the daily struggles to find enough food to survive. His mother had battled relentlessly to try and stop his father from drinking and gambling away whatever meagre wage he had earned but she’d been drained dry by the futility of her efforts to turn beer money into food money. Most of the time, the family went hungry and, to add real injury to insult, a beating was the reward for anyone daft enough to complain.

    Tung doted on his mother, so it broke his little heart when, just before he turned twelve, the will to fight for her kids deserted her, and she deserted them. She’d either died or run away. He never discovered which.

    Without anyone shielding him from his father’s drunken wrath, the beatings increased in regularity and harshness. His childhood descended into a nightmarish hell of torment and deprivation. To make matters worse still, he’d heaped a couple of cartloads of guilt onto his tiny shoulders because he couldn’t protect his little sister from the torrent of paternal abuses. His father only brought pain into their lives. No support, no money and no food. Tung had become the man of the house and stealing was his only option to put meals on the table.

    As he drifted in and out of sleep, his memory reconstructed his first theft, an event destined to determine how the rest of his life would play out.

  2. #2
    Rogue Mutt
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    If it's been published for years then just cut your losses and move on.

  3. #3
    Senior Member
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    This is all about a guy in a dungeon (not much happening there), who starts thinking about his momma (backstory), and ends with this...

    As he drifted in and out of sleep, his memory reconstructed his first theft, an event destined to determine how the rest of his life would play out.
    …which tells me there's major backstory ahead. I might advise you to open your story there, but I have to agree with Mutt: It may be time to move on.

  4. #4
    Mutt and Jayce, you may well be right about moving on. I guess I find it hard to forget about my first 'baby'.

  5. #5
    Rogue Mutt
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Magee View Post
    Mutt and Jayce, you may well be right about moving on. I guess I find it hard to forget about my first 'baby'.

    Once you've put the book out there, you're not going to get hardly anyone interested years later unless you become famous.

  6. #6
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Magee View Post
    I guess I find it hard to forget about my first 'baby'.
    I'll send you mine to keep it company.

  7. #7
    Rogue Mutt
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    Quote Originally Posted by jayce View Post
    I'll send you mine to keep it company.
    Ha.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by jayce View Post
    I'll send you mine to keep it company.
    Maybe I should open a home for unwanted babies?

  9. #9
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    Jayce is right. That's where the story starts. Everybody go back to the first page of their manuscript now...

  10. #10
    Senior Member
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    What you're doing is recording the words you would use in telling the story were you with the reader. But that's a performance. And since you're alone on the stage, and can't really take all the roles, you talk about the story, and add the emotional part of the story through your performance. You'd use tone, intensity, little hesitations and breathless rushes to add emotion. A nod of the head, a change of expression, hand gestures and body language would all contribute. But on the page neither sound nor vision can be reproduced, so a very different set of skills are necessary.

    On the page, instead of telling the story, we make the reader live it, as the protagonist in order to supply the emotional experience that will entertain.

    So it's not a matter of improving the story, because you're using writing techniques incompatible with the medium. A scene on the page is a very different thing from one on the screen, and that, along with a hundred other issues is the reason for learning the craft of the fiction writer.

    Not good news, I know, and certainly not what you were hoping to hear. But on the other hand, what I'm talking about has nothing to do with talent or potential as a writer. And craft is something that you can learn, just as you learned the nonfiction writing skills we all are given in our school days. And with a few professional skills... So check out the local library system's fiction writing section. It can be a huge resource.


    Hang in there, and keep on writing.

    Jay Greenstein

    Our goal isn't to make the reader know the character is frightened, it's to terrify the reader.

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