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DUST - a thriller

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#1 Erik18


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Posted 10 October 2017 - 11:42 AM

Here's the opening of my novel.  Would love whatever comments you might have:


Prague – March 1587


It began as a distant murmur. 


For a time, it sounded like wind-driven rain and then, like a swarm of bees.  As it drew closer, it became more distinct and soon there could be no mistaking it.  Voices.  Human voices.  Angry human voices.  Their words were unintelligible, but their intention was not.


The mob finally came into view when it crested the hill and began its descent down the narrow lane toward the market square. 


Father Thaddeus led the unruly horde.  They rumbled past ramshackle houses, waving pikes and clubs and, as they squeezed past shops and homes, they smashed doors and pitched torches through windows.


In the market, panicked vendors abandoned their carts.  They grabbed what they could and scattered into side alleys. 


A woman fled a blazing house, clutching a baby.  A boy, clasping his skullcap to prevent it from falling, ran in her wake.  As he leapt over a puddle, he slipped and fell.  When his mother stopped to help him up, they were pummelled with rocks and dung.


Just then, Rabbi Loevy stepped into the street.  He halted, then turned to face the murderous throng.


The mob faltered, taken aback by the audacity of this old man and, in that brief hiatus, the mother and her children scurried for shelter.


“Leave us in peace,” the Rabbi said.  “We do you no harm.”


Thaddeus laughed.  “Liar!  Blasphemer!  Son of Satan!”  To his followers, he added, “They are all children of Satan!  Deceivers every one!  Murderers of Christ!”


The mob roared.  They threw rocks and other debris as they advanced once again.


A stone clipped the Rabbi’s brow, opening a gash.  An egg splattered on his chest.  But he did not retreat.  He whispered a single word.  “Joseph.”  

#2 JoQwerty


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Posted 12 October 2017 - 05:03 AM

I like the voice in the first six paragraphs. You build up a tense scene.


When you drop down to the level of the individual, Rabbi Loevy, the scene begins to fall apart. If this is the novel's opening, we don't know enough about Loevy to care what happens to him. And the Rabbi's response: "We do you no harm," seems a bit weak for what looks like a life and death situation.


We also don't know enough about the mob to understand its actions. Mobs are not set in motion for abstract, philosophical reasons; in general, riots are preceded by a long festering dispute that is ignited by a specific trigger. The underlying tension appears to be antisemitism, but what was the trigger?


I also found it hard to understand why the mob is bothering with eggs and dung when they have pikes and clubs and torches.


I know it is hard to answer all these questions in 250 words, but the goal of those first 250 words is to draw the reader into the story and get them to turn the page. Starting a story in medias res is a good technique, but the reader still needs to understand the reasons for murder and mayhem in order to care enough to read on.

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