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Critique or feedback on witch trial story

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Critique or feedback on witch trial story
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SaulPosts: 6Joined: Sun Apr 05, 2009 7:06 pm

Post Critique or feedback on witch trial story

Looking for critique on the first page of a story I would like to write, and in addition any ideas on how the plot could evolve.
Any help would be greatly appreciated.

The flames began to lick delicately at the soles of her feet. The sharp spires of pain slowly crept up her legs. Within moments her clothes were ablaze. Her entire body was engulfed in vicious and agonizing fire. She screamed out in ghastly torture, her sight lasting only long enough to see the jeering crowd, once her friends; her companions; her neighbours disappearing in a bright orange glow, before finally she could stand the pain no longer. Her mind gave out, and she slipped into unconsciousness. Her last thoughts were of her unborn child.
For Peter Aquillus, the day had been a great success.
As the screech of the poor burning wretch petered out and the foul stench of human flesh, roasted and carbonised, seeped into the nostrils of the onlookers the crowd began to disperse. The atmosphere was thick with dirty smoke, and as the locals made their way into their houses, doors and shutters were fastened, closing out the horrible deathly smell, for all to rest comfortable in their beds and dream of the new day ahead.
Only Mr Aquillus and the priest of the nearby church remained by the fire. The priest gazed at Mr Aquillus for a moment, to see the tall imperious figure revelling in the demise of one of his beloved congregation. A feeling of fear and horror crept into his mind, only to be brushed aside by the thoughts of proper and formal dealings to end this trial and judgement of the damned.
“The lord’s work has been done” proclaimed Mr Aquillus.
“Let us perform the rituals” the priest replied.
After much pompous behaviour and chanting of rituals, the two men parted ways. The inquisitor made his way to the local inn, where for the past few days he had been treated as royalty, a man whom every respect was paid, for fear of his terrible power.
This did not sit well for the priest, who was used to a life of minimalism, serving his parish, and receiving very little in return. He could have engaged in far more extravagant appeals, but he had chosen to concern himself with the here-after and not the fleeting material pleasures of this world.
He did not sleep at all well that night. His mind dominated by thoughts of the inquisitor and his perplexing pleasure at the suffering of so many at his hands. Though that night had not been the worst of that poor woman’s suffering, for she had been beaten, ostracised from her community and tortured, but it had brought a sense of closure to the priest’s mind, which unsettled him deeply.
Though greater was his anguish for the inquisitor’s next move, for he was going to a small town not far from this one, a town that the priest knew all too well. It was the town of his birth, and the town in which his fondest memories were set.
Sat Mar 09, 2013 10:02 pm
NothPodcasterUser avatarPosts: 335Joined: Mon Aug 30, 2010 4:25 pmLocation: the Nether-regions Gender: Male

Post Re: Critique or feedback on witch trial story

First of all, as I mentioned in the chat, I like the idea of a priest as the/ one of the protagonist(s). It gives it a bit of a twist from the more usual protagonist in these types of stories that are wronged themselves somehow and are often the hunted by these (in this case) inquisitors from the get-go.

"She screamed out in ghastly torture"
It feels like you're trying to go for something like "she screamed bloody murder" but then more apt to the circumstance. Perhaps you can find an adverb that conveys the same thing as the entire "screamed out in ghastly torture"? Something like "She wailed," or "She let out an agonizing wail." Just examples, mind :)

"once her friends; her companions; her neighbours"
It's all right to just use commas here, even if it looks like it breaks up the connection between the bit before this and the bit that comes after. Use semi-colons sparingly, as in most cases a comma will suffice, and a semi-colon is generally only used in very specific instances.

My biggest point, though, is the question of how you apply your omniscient narrator-ship ;). Currently you hop through three different viewpoints in rapid succession, but your story suggests that only one of them is actually intended to serve as a story-handle character, so to say: the priest. That's not to say you should choose to let the reader look only into the mind of that priest, but be mindful of how you structure different viewpoints.

One last thing, and this doesn't much pertain to what you've written so far; it's just a general point, I suppose:
As it comes at us now, the inquisitor feels like an archetypical bad guy, and we very often like it when there are some obvious foils to our main protagonists. What I personally enjoy reading, however, is when such characters surprise me, when they show a side, all of the sudden, that makes the character less flat and paints him a different shade of grey than just black ;)

Anyway, that all said I am curious how you'll develop it. Keep posting excerpts if you'd like feedback :)
Sat Mar 09, 2013 10:33 pm
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