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  1. #1
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    Novel sample

    This is introductory chapter/prologue to the novel I'm writing. I'm rather nervous about posting it here, because I really have no clue of what sort of reception it'll get... but I would like to see what people think of it and hear any comments.



    Title: Saving Nicholas

    Chapter 1

    Saint Petersburg, Russia.
    November 1995

    Maxim Krichevstov sat shivering under the glare of the shadeless lamp. A dark scrap of cloth was tied around his eyes and his hands were shackled to the wooden chair in which he sat. A musty smell assaulted his nostrils and the cold air stung each time he inhaled.

    The room was silent, save for the rasp of his own pained breathing. He could feel the bruises forming on his chest, and a cut on the side of his cheek bled freely, warm blood trickling down his neck and soaking into the shoulder of his shirt. It didn’t take much to imagine the growing semi-circular stain on the blue fabric, a wet patch numbed by the draft..

    Inwardly, he raged. He had been taken from behind, struck over the head while he walked home, hunched against the brutal wind that scoured the city. What he had thought were street vandals turned into something even more terrifying. Before he could even react, he had been tackled and blindfolded without so much as a word from his attackers. It was then he realized that the bastards knew.

    Now he was sitting in this godforsaken icebox that masqueraded as a room, contemplating his fate. Innumerable minutes passed as he felt the creepings of doubt that he knew would surface. It had been six years since he had last heard from anyone in the trappings of his old life. Their verdict had been clear. He was not to return. He would never be accepted back among their number and neither would his family.

    So why would they seek him out now? It didn’t make sense. He may have been an exemplary member once, but all that had changed the instant he had met Ira. The soft-spoken woman had known him for what he was and said nothing, her simple discretion saving his life and ensured that he would be drawn back like to her home over the following years several times by the simple pull of an Ariadnean thread, grateful for the escape from the hell that was his life in the service.

    By the time he had obtained the permissions to bring her home with him, things had begun changing. The Community, so long an unwilling tool of the government, was fading into the woodwork as the reforms swept the country, grateful to return to the rural commune they had once been, undisturbed by politics and crude scientific probes. They hadn’t appreciated him bringing an outsider into the fold, let alone one from Leningrad, as far removed from their village as one could get without leaving the country.

    The sound of the door slamming open jerked Max’s mind back into the present, its echoes distracting from the footsteps that entered, making them seem like they were coming from all around him. Max recognized the tactic.

    “What do you want from me?” he asked loudly as he shifted uncomfortably in his chair, struggling to keep the waver out of his voice. “You obviously know how I track those around me.”

    The door swung shut with another crash and for a moment all was still. Then a cold voice echoed out of the void that surrounded him, as unmerciful as the winds that battered the steppe east of where Max had lived as a boy. “Of course I know how you track, Max.”

    Max felt a stab of alarm. He knew this voice well, and he could picture the man who used it. A thin and distinctly round-shouldered man, Gregory Iakovich Rezanov resembled a starved mosquito at his best moments - which always seemed to be when he knew that your blood was his.

    “G-Grisha?” he stammered, his eyes going wide under his blindfold. “What are you doing here?”

    A cruel laugh made every hair on Max’s neck stand on end. “Don’t play stupid with me, Max. It doesn’t suit you.”

    “Then what do you want with me?” demanded Max, edging sideways on his seat as far as the shackles would allow. “I thought you said we were dead to you.”

    “You are,” replied Rezanov smugly. “And you will be to everyone else soon enough, but not before you help me.”

    Max was silent for a moment before speaking, his voice wary. “Help you?”

    “Yes, you will help me Max,” said Rezanov, letting out another bark of laughter. “It’d be a shame if that extraordinary talent of yours was wasted on a man who quietly spends his days commuting to and from the university and playing the part of the domesticated husband.”

    “What about yours Gregory?” growled Max in reply. “You, seem to have done quite well for yourself. Last time I checked the papers; you had enough money to buy a small country if you wanted. Why are you bothering with me? I’m nothing more than a professor’s assistant.”

    “And Andrei is no more than a school teacher,” finished Rezanov, his voice light. Max stiffened, his face going pale. “What do you know about my brother?”

    “I know he has been missing for more than a month, Max,” replied Rezanov, his glee clear in his voice. “I’m sure you, of all people, would have realized what was going on.”

    Max felt himself go numb and his fingers curled into fists as comprehension dawned. “You have him!” he snarled, jerking at his restraints.

    “Had,” hissed Rezanov, no longer amused. “Your sanctimonious brother forced me to kill him.”

    Max felt a sharp pain explode out of the knot of anxiety that had been tightening ever since Andrusha had vanished in late September after leaving work.

    “He had nothing to lose and that was where I realized my mistake,” continued Rezanov softly, circling Max. “I should have gone after you first. It was your fault in the first place and you have… materials I can use.”

    “Materials…” repeated Max thickly. Rezanov’s smile was evident in his voice. “Why, there’s Ira, your lovely wife. And then the new little baby… and then your boy, who started this mess with his mere existence. Your brother had none of those things to live for and chose to die.”

    Max stiffened and his eyebrows knit together. He shook his head forcefully, causing his dark brown hair to fall over his forehead. Rage coloured his face and made him tremble for several moments, before it suddenly vanished.

    “I’ll gladly follow him in death then…” he said quietly, his voice hoarse, as though his honour, but not his heart bound him to his words. Rezanov laughed. It echoed through the room, reverberating off the concrete walls and distorting painfully.

    “Save it Max, we know you don’t want to die like Andrei did. A bullet to his skull was all it took – Ironic isn’t it? He couldn’t stop what he couldn’t see after so many years of being so watchful,” said Rezanov, his voice saccharine. Max felt his teeth grinding against each other.

    “I haven’t really got a goddamned choice! I’ll burn in hell before I let you take advantage of my abilities Gregory!” he snapped, jerking violently at his restraints. From somewhere in the room, he heard the rustle of fabric and then sharp footsteps that echoed off the concrete floor, creating a chaotic well of noise.

    “You will bend and you will break,” said Rezanov callously, his voice now coming from where he stood behind the bound man. “There is nothing you can do to stop me.”

    “Like hell…” growled Max, his fists curling as he yanked once again at the ropes that imprisoned him. He wished he could just rip the blindfold away, but they knew his tricks far to well. An intricate knot that could not be simply pulled apart by thought secured the blindfold around his head.

    In distance, he could hear Rezanov speaking, but the rage and self-loathing of being used by someone he had once thought of as a friend kept him from listening. His anger made his blood steam and his limbs shiver. He was helpless and unable to tip the scales in any way. He didn’t think to pay attention until his mind latched onto the trailing end of Rezanov’s words.

    “-But then Max, there is always your son.”

    Max froze, his throat closing as the paralysing fear that he had been struggling to suppress took hold of him and held him with tighter bonds than the ropes that bound his body to the chair. His pulse shot heavenwards, making him almost dizzy and he felt his face grow moist with sweat, despite the freezing temperature of the little room.

    “Kolya…” he whispered fearfully. The thought of his seven-year-old son at the hands of these monsters was beyond comprehension.

    “Finally caught your attention now, eh Max?” he drawled. Max felt his heart miss several beats. His bound hands shook violently as he fought to keep from screaming.

    “Your boy is just like you isn’t he, despite his mother? He’s young too, malleable - A perfect target. What was his name again?”

    Max was silent, his hands still shaking.

    “Ah… I remember now,” said Rezanov suddenly, snapping his fingers lightly. “He was born on December 6th wasn’t he? Feast day of Saint Nicholas. Ira named him after the bloody saint. Nikolai.”

    Max said nothing, but the chair that he sat in rattled from his shivering.

    “Well, since you’re not going to help me, I suppose I can go to someone who will. He might not be as powerful as the rest. But he’s just a boy and boys are much easier to mold into something useful than men,” said Rezanov, his voice sinisterly jovial.

    Max’s mind was on the brink of insanity. Every cell of his being cried out to fight back, to destroy the bastard who thought nothing of tearing apart families to satisfy his own revenge. The image of his son, grinning as they trained with several small objects, flitted through his mind.

    “Make sure you always look…Make sure you always know where things are…” he remembered himself saying as Kolya concentrated on a small top that sat on a table across the room and pulled it towards himself. “Never guess. You’ll regret it.”

    Even as he strained his hearing, Max couldn’t pinpoint anyone or anything in the room. After so many years of being so nearly invincible because his abilities, nothing shook him more than the fact that now they were useless in this room of whispers and echoes. If only he could make Rezanov take a step that didn’t echo and distort….

    “You won’t find him,” said Max suddenly, inspiration striking him. He willed himself to sound confident as he fought his trembling limbs. “You won’t find my son.”

    ”I found you,” said Rezanov, obviously amused. Max could hear his voice moving as light footsteps prowled around him. He waited, listening carefully for a clear one. One that could tell him exactly where the man was. Then it came. A little too much heel brought forth a soft click that was just loud enough for Max’s trained ear. He felt a surge of adrenaline. He’d have only seconds.

    “We will find him. It may take a year. It may take two or even ten. That boy is worth it. He’s everything his father isn’t. Gullible, easily influenced and he has one of the greatest gifts that humanity ever- what the – Ooof! " Rezanov’s voice took on a panicked note as he was slammed backwards by the mental equivalent of a battering ram and the sound of flesh hitting solid concrete reverberated throughout the room.

    The click of a safety met Max’s ears he set to work on the handcuffs that bound him the chair. His mind worked as fast as it could, guessing where the mechanisms were until he heard the first crash of a gun. Instantly, his attention refocused. The bullet clattered as it fell to the floor and rolled. A second was dealt with in the same way, but the third came too quickly. Max jerked as it entered his skull. His body instantly went limp, as though he were a marionette with its strings cut.

    He was dead.




    If you're interested in more, here's a link to the next four or so chapters. http://www.mediaminer.org/fanfic/view_st.php/107967/
    You can never be truly wise if you havn't been a fool first.

  2. #2
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    Umm, so what do you want, criticism or encouragement?
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by adoc
    Umm, so what do you want, criticism or encouragement?
    He want us to check his text on mistakes!!!

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    Apparently it's a she. I would like to know the author's intentions before I say anything.
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    Quote Originally Posted by adoc
    Apparently it's a she. I would like to know the author's intentions before I say anything.
    Is your critique going to be scathing or something? He is right though. Do you want a proof-reader? A literary critique? Positive reinforcement? A six-figure advance on the book? I think you may want to find a more appropriate venue for this, too. I'm not trying to be rude or run you off, but if you could find some sort of literary online community, they may be of much more help to you...
    Заранее благодарю всех за исправление ошибок в моём русском.

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    There are inconsistancies in your transliterations of Russian names. Just a minor thing

    But if you write Iakovich, then you should write Kolia.

    Or if you write Kolya, you should write Yakovich. I'd go for these two.

    Then there are the names. The Russian name is Grigorii, not Gregory.

    If you write the Russian names Maxim (or Maksim) in it's Russian form, then you should put Grigorii in it's Russian form.
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  7. #7
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    I'd like critique mostly, please And I'd like to hear people's insight. What sort of reactions this envokes. I had a shorter version that was more intense apparently, but it lacked vital information. I think this version might drag a bit.

    I have people who can nitpick my grammar and sentence structure (I belong to a few writers forums), but not many people who can tell me if I have my facts right or wrong or know things about how the names are supposed to be transliterated (Thanks for that, by the way).
    You can never be truly wise if you havn't been a fool first.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mockingbirdflyaway
    I'd like critique mostly, please
    Ok, you asked for it, dont say you didnt...

    I'm just one person, and I'm a user, not a writer, I am not able to assess your style or anything like that. However, it took me three attempts to finish reading the fragment. I do not understand why the names are Russian. I am not asking for empathy or identifying with characters but at least give me a reason why you think this is happening in St-Pete to keep me curious. Could it be happening in Dallas, TX? Why is the year 1995? Six years before 1995 it was 1989. There was no Russia in 1989, only the USSR. Do you realize how many things were happening during those 6 years? Of all those things only very few were the reforms that “swept the country” etc. And by the way, the reforms did not “sweep” the whole country as you were led to believe by the media, or wherever it is you get your info, only its western part, the rest just dragged along. Tied to a chair? Why is it always that the person is tied to a chair? Why can’t they be tied to a bicycle stand for a change? Why not just break his kneecaps instead if you are going to kill him, who cares if he is comfortable or not, he is not going anywhere. Why is it always a somebody’s son the evildoers threaten to, couldn’t it be neighbor’s sister’s cousin’s uncle? I used to chuckle every time I would see a cartoonish Russian in Hollywood movies, now I am just indifferent. Whatever dudes, you’ve got it all figured out. I no longer find any humorous value in these so-called “characters”, just tired of this done to death nonsense. “Krichevstov” it is (did you make the name up yourself?).

    I don’t want to insult you or anything, but shouldn’t a writer write about things he/she knows at least a little bit about? Do some research, go to Russia, and learn the language, live there for a few years? Or just give it up all together and move the action to Vancouver. I am sure you know the city and you can write about it and bring out some emotions and interest in your readers. If you are depicting violence, tell me, have you ever experienced violence yourself? In any form, other than when your cat scratched you? Somebody hit your “Krichevstov” on the head and he doesn’t puke nonstop throughout the scene, he acts and talks like Bill Clinton. At least he doesnt dance while making his speeches and his name is not Baryshnikov, thank god.

    Anyways, you can write off my single person's opinion, it’s the general public that matters, and I’m not kidding. If you would like a professional opinion from a published writer, drop a line to Gerty, she might give you more specific pointers if she shows up any time soon.

    People are nice in Canada and they are used to lie to people they know not to hurt their feelings. I am straighforward in my attempt to help, although it doesnt look pretty to those who dont know me. Maybe you just want to impress your friends which is totally OK. However, selling your product if this is your aspiration would take a little more than that, I believe.
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  9. #9
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    All valid points. Wow. I've had to answer to most of them before to different people, though how to combine all those answers into one post is going to be an excercise for me because I tend to ramble in my explanations.

    First thing, this chapter is setting up for the rest of the book, which takes place about ten years later, and it'll become evident that the main character is Max's son, Nikolai. Both Max and Nikolai have limited telekenetic abilities (which have a genetic origin). They can manipulate objects up to a certain distance, so long as they know exactly where they are. (If they don't and they try to move something, it's like the jolt you get when walking down a flight of stairs and hitting an uneven one...except in their heads). One of the major themes I'm trying to convey in the story is that having an advantage over everyone else isn't always a good thing and that being disadvantaged doesn't always mean you're a failure.

    As for research, I've been working on this project for about a year already. I'm at the point where I could probably navigate Saint Petersburg with my eyes closed (Thankyou GoogleEarth/Wikipedia/ travelwebsites/countlessbooks/variousRussianfriends&penpals/etc), despite never being there - I'm younger than most and I lack a passport and adequate funds. I've been known to spend over 2 hours at a time checking and double-checking a handful of facts. My inability to just wing it fact-wise when writing drives me a bit crazy sometimes, because it puts serious cramps into the time I actually spend working on stories versus the time I spend researching them. I've also been trying to learn Russian for the last several months.

    I've also had some of my penpals voicing the same concerns about the risk of stereotypes appearing, which I've tried to avoid completely. My characters are their personalities and experiences first and their nationalities second. By the way, I found "Krichevstov" on a list of surnames ... then I asked a Russian friend about it and he assured me it didn't mean anything too weird.

    As for me trying to impress people, I'm not sure where you go that impression. I write for myself. I'm just trying to make sure I don't end up insulting anyone unintentionally (intentionally is another matter all togther ).

    I suppose it'd be more useful if I gave more of an overview of what the main story is about. For my own entertainment a while back, I made a book cover and this is the summary I put on the back (with my own notes added in italics):

    A fugative hiding in the quiet anonymity of the American suburbs was the last thing that Cori Lewis (She's the narrator of most of the main story - a somewhat bewildered outsider's point of view. ) ever thought her unflappable classmate, Nick Kostov (Nikolai - with the name he's adopted to keep off the radar), could be - until his mother and sister are violently kidnapped and she is unwittingly caught in the crossfire.

    Unable to return home, Cori is swept into a spine-chilling race against the time to save them from a ruthless powerbroker (Rezanov, who is trying to manipulate Nikolai into working for him, because he failed to do so with Max and Andrei), who holds the means to unveil a secret that Nick’s family has been struggling to conceal for centuries (The telekenesis and the people who possess it, i.e. The Community(for lack of a better thing to call them right now)). A secret that will place the fate of the world’s largest nation on the unsteady shoulders of a single man. (Rezanov isn't really out for power himself - his motivation is revenge. He already has a business empire under his fingertips, but he knows that if people from the Community are revealed in a threatening way, they'll be hunted by the government. And if he can manipulate Nikolai into doing the dirty work and getting caught, thus setting this chain of events in motion, all the better.)

    Yay... I've just spoiled the entire story. Ah well. Does that make anything any clearer? I'm terrible with explanations. Mostly, I usually just go "Gyah...just read it before I end up saying something stupid". Anyhoo, I have to run or I'll be late for school.
    You can never be truly wise if you havn't been a fool first.

  10. #10
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    How old are you?
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mockingbirdflyaway
    I made a book cover and this is the summary I put on the back (with my own notes added in italics):

    A fugative hiding in the quiet anonymity of the American suburbs was the last thing that Cori Lewis
    Uhm, if that's supposed to be the back of your bookjacket, don't you think you should spell "fugitive" correctly?

    As for your age, any age is fine, as long as you're not a certain 19-yr. old Harvard student who signed a book deal at 17 : http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/nation/3820024.html
    Заранее благодарю всех за исправление ошибок в моём русском.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Barmaley
    Quote Originally Posted by Mockingbirdflyaway
    I made a book cover and this is the summary I put on the back (with my own notes added in italics):

    A fugative hiding in the quiet anonymity of the American suburbs was the last thing that Cori Lewis
    Uhm, if that's supposed to be the back of your bookjacket, don't you think you should spell "fugitive" correctly?
    Probably!

    And I'm 17. Book deals are probably a long way off for me Several years at least.
    You can never be truly wise if you havn't been a fool first.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mockingbirdflyaway
    Yay... I've just spoiled the entire story. Ah well. Does that make anything any clearer? I'm terrible with explanations. Mostly, I usually just go "Gyah...just read it before I end up saying something stupid". Anyhoo, I have to run or I'll be late for school.
    It's the realization that makes the difference.

    Once you've done your research and have taken umpty ump hours in creative writing the key to breaking into the business (I presume, underpaid and overcrowded) is originality. And that noone can teach you.
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  14. #14
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    To me, the scene, while feeling rather stereotypical, does not make much sense. what is it exactly that the bad guy wants from the good one? whatever it is, it looks like he's not going about it in a sensible way.

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    Ah, you are only 17. I am old enough to be your cousin.
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    Quote Originally Posted by laxxy
    To me, the scene, while feeling rather stereotypical, does not make much sense. what is it exactly that the bad guy wants from the good one? whatever it is, it looks like he's not going about it in a sensible way.
    The not-making-sense-part is supposed to make you want to read the rest of the story, to figure it out... but there is a line where writing can cross from "not making sense" to "stupid" and I think I may have crossed it once or twice in this chapter. Much more re-writing to be done in any case. Gyah! *sings* Ninth draft's a charm... ninth draft's a charm....ninth draft's a charm...

    Ah, you are only 17. I am old enough to be your cousin.
    What type of cousin exactly are you refering to here? I'm afraid the joke's lost on me.
    You can never be truly wise if you havn't been a fool first.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mockingbirdflyaway
    Ah, you are only 17. I am old enough to be your cousin.
    What type of cousin exactly are you refering to here? I'm afraid the joke's lost on me.
    TATY is himself but a young whippersnapper. Thus you are of his same generation, give or take a couple years...Either that or he's actually in West Virginia and....I'll stop that one right there and let you figure it out.
    Заранее благодарю всех за исправление ошибок в моём русском.

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