8.31.2005

Snarklings Brave the Snarkometer, #44



The trick was to kill them before their mouths moved. A problem this time.

Azeril slipped through the shadows behind the tiny house, peering around the corner again. One, two, three, *four* wizards. A smile witched across his lips as he pressed against the wall. No guards tonight. They were wising up.

A little girl sat on the ground, moonlight casting shadows across her face. Tears dripped from her cheeks onto the limp cat clutched in her arms. Blood stained her clothes. Her hands.

Az's heart sank.

Two of the wizards stood over her, as if she posed any threat to them. They shot frequent glances over their shoulders, knowing where the real danger would come from. The others had two women up against the front of the house. The mother and an older sister, Az guessed. The
sister looked familiar. Almost. It didn't matter.

"Charged with resisting the orders of the Crown, defying your queen. Keeping that *thing*." The wizard's nose wrinkled, and he cast a quick look at the dead cat.

"You're lucky it was only a false alarm." The other wizard leered at them, his voice smooth, like oil poured out his mouth instead of words. "We might be... *persuaded* to forget about this."

Azeril reached for the obsidian blade at his waist. The knife burned in his hand. The feeling spread through his arm and into his head, the fever blurring his vision. He'd get the close ones, then hope he had time to take out the other two.

"Just make it quick this time," one of them snarled. "This is business."


this isn't my genre, but I like it!
tension, forward movement in the narrative, no backstory to bog you down...
I'd read on for sure!

15 comments:

Christine said...

Thank for all this, Miss Snark. I was having a heck of a time with my own WIP opening. See it's the second in a series, and I was having problems with a load of infodump in the first three pages to bring anyone who didn't read the first book up to speed. NOw I know where the actual "story" begins, and I can weave all that other stuff in.

You're the best :)

kitty said...

Oh, God, a child holding a dead cat. This isn't a criticism, but I just would not read further. It's me, not your writing.

Rhonda said...

I think it's a powerful beginning - shocking image with that cat (how sad!). I'd continue reading, too. Good job.

Bernita said...

I feel the same, kitty.
Cannot bear a mangled pet.

Chelsea said...

Thanks, Miss Snark! **dies**

I didn't realize the cat was such a powerful image here. Good to know.

Anonymous said...

You can't read on because there's a dead cat? Human beings can be mangled and have all sorts of horrors inflicted upon them, but a child holding a dead cat nixes the deal? How about the little girl who's being menaced by two wizards for godsakes?! Any compassion for her? I don't understand this assbackward view of violence.

Miss Snark said...

trust me on this Anon... murder a cat at your peril. You can do almost anything else in a book without drawing too many death threats, but that's the one thing that will require you to be in the assumed name, cloistered autographing section for life.

I'm not much on children in peril either, but animals are a hard limit.

I have a client in fact who turns an entire section of plot on the rage her hero feels when an FBI guy kicks a dog.

You can probably murder a literary agent with impunity

Bernita said...

Perhaps it is because a mangled pet somehow seems more real to Kitty and I than the fictional little girl.
Also, part of our revulsion stems from our compassion for( and possibly identification with) the little girl who has had a beloved pet brutally destroyed.
We are, however, allowed our buttons, as readers.
Miss Snark has her buttons - journals, e-mails, Maggie or whatever her name was.

kitty said...

I had a problem with the dead cat AND using a child like that. It's bad enough to read it in the news (like the flood news). I just can not read a piece of fiction in which animals and children are used like that.

Anonymous said...

Fair enough...I blame Walt Disney...Old Yeller, Bambi, etc...for the humanization of animals. And also that woman who wrote about the fawn, Flag...The Yearling. My mother read that to me when I was ten and I still get choked up thinking about that damn deer when it dies in the end.

Chelsea said...

I completely understand people getting upset about the cat dying. (If I could count the number of times my mom said she doesn't like sad animal stories while I was reading things like Where the Red Fern Grows...)

The wizards hunting cats is important for the story. There's more of it, though not a lot. It's gruesome, but necessary, and the point was to get sympathy for the people being attacked and hatred (whoa, that suddenly seems like such a strong word) for the wizards, so you understand right away why Az is here and why he's doing this (especially when we learn on the next page or so that he's really NOT supposed to be here and why). And here I was afraid I hadn't gotten that across well enough.

So, I understand if this upsets people. I get upset by certain types of stuff in books, too (*cough cough* John Irving novels *cough cough*. And my main character obviously has the same issues as the people who don't want to keep reading--he can't stand what's going on, he doesn't like seeing the dead cat or the little girl being in trouble and having to go through all this--and so I'd be way hypocritical if I said people shouldn't care, because that was kind of the point.

This is turning into kind of a long comment... No lecture intended, and I'm not even sure if I had a point with all this, just elaborating on the facts.

kitty said...

As I said, my reaction is just me, not your writing, so please don't take it personally.

Chelsea said...

My point was that I'm not taking it personally, actually... Sorry if that didn't get across. I'm more happy that it had the desired effect--it made people feel something.

Michelle said...

I liked the opening...it had strong visuals and I had immediate sympathy for the girl.

Laraqua said...

Oh well, market it as dark fantasy and there'll be no issue with a dead cat. Horror is allowed to kill a few animals. How many dogs has Stephen King killed?