Friday, July 28, 2006

New Beginning 11

Nola, Italia

Five paces forward, five paces back. The confines of the villa's small courtyard added to Tiberius' frustrations. As well, his sleeveless tunic clung to his body in a damp mass that did little to lighten his mood. A night breeze should be blowing in from the sea, but the air, the land and the sea were hushed, as if all creation were holding its breath in anticipation.

And well it should. Emperor Augustus, the Guardian of the Imperium, the Father of the Nation, had left his earthly domain to take his place among the immortal gods. The thought brought a flutter behind Tiberius' ribs. At last he was the ruler of Rome.

He rubbed his hands together in glee, for he knew that he had also inherited the property of Augustus, including--hidden behind that dreadful fresco of Apollo trying to get it on with a laurel bush--the complete back scrolls of Naughty Roman Schoolgirls. Suddenly Tiberius felt a flutter beneath his tunic again--though this time it was a good bit lower than his ribs.

Opening: Rita Toews.....Continuation: Simonbun

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

historyteach said...
This give a good feeling of setting (which I often find missing), but the characterization is a little iffy. For example, the damp tunic ‘didn’t lighten his mood’ seems in direct conflict with ‘at last the ruler of Rome’. I don’t associate the word ‘flutter’ with a Roman general said he’d rather have this troops fear him than like him.

8:35 AM
HawkOwl said...
Personally I wouldn't buy this book - I don't think the world needs another Jesus story. However, the writing is solid. It's a good exposition: we know who, where, when, and what up with him. Again as a personal opinion, I don't think Tiberius would have been really flustered at Augustus's death since they had already been sharing the leadership for years, but that's just me.

So, as a reader, I don't think I'd buy this, but as an agent (if I were an agent), I'd probably ask for more. Or at least I'd send you a letter that says "Jesus stories are so last season, but your writing is solid, keep us in mind for your next work."

8:38 AM
BuffySquirrel said...
You're the most powerful man in the world. So, what do you do? You pace a small courtyard complaining about the weather.

Somehow absolute power ought to be more exciting.

acd said...

*airfist* I love it!!!

Rita said...

Even as new ruler of Rome you pace the courtyard when your mother wants to see you to talk about a "little problem of succession".
:-) The woman is more than a bit mad, and there's already talk that she did the old boy in on your behalf.

December Quinn said...

LOL! I'd totally read that "rewriting history" book!

Macuquinas d' Oro said...

I found the first paragraph awkward at several places. “Five paces forward, five back” had we visualizing a man walking forward, then backward. “As well” is a poor connective. Perhaps something simpler here: “Tiberius paced the villa’s tiny courtyard. His damp tunic clung to his body. A night breeze…. Fives paces from wall to wall.” Something like that, where the length of the sentences echoes the pacing.

I found the editorial “and well it should” a jarring intrusion into the tight third person POV of the first paragraph. We are pacing with Tiberius.
Since you mean to echo Augustus’ official titles, why start the second sentence “Divus Augustus. Pater Patriae, …. I think we will all tolerate some Latin at this point, and it validates your setting.

We can’t look “again” when we haven’t looked before. Orient and locate us. Where are we? Capri? Looking out over what sea? Make me feel like I’m there.

“Tiby” is jarring change of tone and belongs in “The Three Stooges meet Nero.” Is this a comedy? I’m confused at this point.

I know how hard it is write historical fiction, and I would like to read more of this story, but it is so important not to alienate readers who know and like the genre on the first page.

I hope this helps. Keep going.

Evil Editor said...

The part in black is the beginning of a book. The part in blue is comedy, not part of the book. Comments meant for the author should refer only to the black text.

Occasionally Obnoxious Copyeditor said...

I like the way you begin with a moment of transition, as power passes from one man to another. I don't know a lot about this period of history, but my sense of Tiberius (as you've portrayed him here) is of someone eager for power but not yet comfortable with it. He comes across as human, which is good. I didn't have a problem with "five paces forward, five paces back," as another reader did. I thought it added to the sense of confinement, the irony that the most powerful man in the world feels restrained. Also, I didn't see "And well it should" as an editorial comment, but as Tiberius's own thought. OTOH, I agree that "As well" is a lousy way to start a sentence, even in historical fiction.

xiqay said...

Basically, I like it. I'd suggest starting at "A night breeze..." though because the first part (Tiberius pacing, frustrated, in a dark mood) seems to conflict with the next paragraph where Tiberius seems impatient and excited that he is finally supreme ruler.

I didn't like the word "flutter" either.

BuffySquirrel said...

I think a supreme ruler who's henpecked by his mother could work well in a comedy. Not sure it works here. These Romans were a ruthless lot. Problem people were dealt with.