Saturday, July 29, 2006

New Beginning 15


The chateau cast dark shadows across the gray-green lawn. Two young men walked on foot toward their former home, their horses left behind, tethered to a rail.

"Be grateful no one is buried on the property," the elder mused. His greatcoat whipped around his legs. Before his bowler could take flight, he pulled back it down onto his dark hair. "It's nothing like the Chicago Murder Castle. Should authorities pry, they'll find nothing to incriminate us."

Erik offered no reply. Instead, he led the way up the steps and through the door. Together they walked the halls, pausing to examine each room. Their final task was to ensure that the place would never betray the treachery it had known. Jason, Erik and the other surviving members of the disengaged criminal group had gone to great lengths to cover up the nefarious affairs of the past decade.

They passed a large room, the interior of which was a maze of low walls, marking out boxes not big enough to kennel a dog. A pile of shredded paper, light as fresh snowfall, blocked their path, and Jason kicked it out of the way. "To think," he said, "that this was once the center of a great empire."

"It may be yet again," Erik replied. "Mark my words, the world hasn't seen the last of Enron."


Opening: Eliza.....Continuation: Marjorie James

6 comments:

Eliza said...

Well that's just too darn good of an addition. I'm going to have to rewrite the entire ms to be about the mysterious history of Enron. Would it be considered a "timely" work then?

The query letter could say something about it being a cross between National Treasure and Court TV. If I throw in something about the Knights Templar, would I be late with the trend-jumping?

nconner said...

This is an intriguing setup--the disbanding of some sort of high-class criminal gang signals the start of the story. I like the initial situation. To my ear, the language works a little too hard to sound historical, and occasionally ends up sounding a little stilted. You might want to comb back through and tighten up--for example, in the first two sentences you could easily cut the adjective "dark" and the adverbial phrase "on foot."

You give a good sense of the time through details like the horses and clothing; I'd also like to know where we are. The word "chateau" suggests France, but Jason's casual reference to "the Chicago Murder Castle" suggests the U.S. (That doesn't work as a casual reference, btw, because any reader who's never heard of it--like me--becomes both lost and distracted at that point.) The phrase "betray the treachery" broke the flow for me, making me pause and scratch my head: "Hmm... commit treachery against the betrayal? What exactly does that mean?"

Jason's first line is unexpected, but it comes kinda far out of left field, which might have an unintentionally comic effect. Consider putting something in the description that brings up the idea of death or graves; otherwise, it's a rather unusual ice-breaker.

I like the sense that these men are trying to wrap something up and the implication that complications will ensue, that whatever's been going on here is not really over. What I don't like is being teased for so long--what did happen there? What are they looking for in all those rooms? By the end of the third paragraph, vague phrases like "nefarious affairs" were starting to drive me a little nuts. What that means, I think, is you've begun an interesting story and I want to get to the meat of it.

Anonymous said...

If this is their "former home," then I want to know how they feel about it. If they have no feelings about it, you have to make your characters colder. (Keep them from musing, for one thing.) Did Daddy Enron burn documents in this very fireplace? Did Ken Lay here? Anything?

Home is too strong an idea to just toss at us and ignore. That is why the thing doesn't grab me.

HawkOwl said...

Buwaaaaaaaaahahahaha! You said "Enron." LOL

The original was pretty ho-hum in my opinion, I would have kept reading just on momentum but I wasn't smitten with it. I would get rid of "walked on foot" though, as there is no way to walk but on foot.

jeb said...

“'Be grateful no one is buried on the property,’ the elder mused.”

Can one muse when addressing another person, as implied by ‘Be’ rather than ‘I am’, and by the younger brother's replying?

Is it important that ‘the elder’ speaks first? You refer to Erik not as ‘the younger’ but by name. So why not skip the ‘muse’ and clear up any questions of identity asap with something along the lines of “‘Be grateful no one is buried on the property,’ Jason told his little brother.”

“the place would never betray the treachery it had known” is definitely a distraction since, as another commentator pointed out, betrayal IS treachery. Try something like ‘the place would never betray THEM, never reveal the treachery…’

An interesting premise, but the writing is cluttered.

Anonymous said...

For me, the phrase "disengaged criminal group" didn't work.

Overall, though, I was intrigued enough to keep reading. Good start, imho.