Thursday, May 26, 2011

Cogitus Interruptus

OK, I'm enjoying my blogging holiday, turning my mind to things other than the blogosphere for a while.

But I still lurk from time to time, and therein lies my undoing! I'm a bit of a sucker for a good blogfest challenge, and I strayed onto Ellie Garratt's blog and found one I couldn't resist.

The Power Of Tension Blogfest, hosted by Rachel Morgan and Cally Jackson, asks you to 'Give an excerpt (up to 300 words) from your manuscript or recently completed work (or just a random scene) that just drips with tension and will tie us up in knots wanting to know more. It doesn’t matter what the piece is about, as long as it screams tension.'

So, here is a random excerpt from Ghosts of Innocence...

"Chalwen, we can't override the commands. It's no use. The system's programmed to respond with lethal force and we can't disrupt it."

Chalwen nodded. "We can keep them away from the planet, but only until we run out of ships. This is not a battle we have any hope of winning."

She sighed deeply. "Everyone, leave the room." The guards and crewmen looked uncertainly at each other. "That's an order." Her voice was little more than a whisper, yet it carried more weight of authority than the loudest parade ground bellow.

As the room emptied, she murmured "Henri, you stay. I need a witness for my actions here."

Shayla watched, heart thudding, as Henri closed the door behind the last guard.

"Captain Iona bin Terallini had a son serving on Osprey." Chalwen's voice was flat. Emotionless. More fearsome than the most violent rage. The eye of the hurricane.

What's she planning to do to me?

Shayla had always considered herself tough. She had been trained to resist interrogation. She knew her training would kick in automatically, whether she wanted it or not. Now she was terrified of where that training would carry her. What agony would her inner self force her to undergo before the subliminal conditioning broke? These people had turned torture into an exquisite art form. The things she had seen, the pain, was something training never prepared you for. And she knew she couldn't face it.

But Chalwen ignored Shayla and turned to where the Emperor had sat, unmoving, throughout the whole battle.

"Julian, I beg your forgiveness for what I have to do." Tears ran freely down her face.

She drew a beam pistol and checked the magazine. Hands trembling, she placed the snout against the Emperor's temple.


  1. Great piece, love the name "Shayla"- creative.

  2. Nicely done! I love how Shayla is most authoritative when she's quieter - great character quirk.

    Now get back to your break! ;)

  3. First off, love the name of your blog.
    What a great submission! I thought you especially built tension with the paragraph that ended: "And she knew she couldn't face it." Nice segue into the action.

  4. Oh. My. Gosh. I'm glad you were tempted off your blogging holiday. The tension was palpable and I want to read the book. It has to be published!

  5. Very intersting! Chalwen kills the Emperor rather than Shayla doing it? I knew I liked Chalwen's character for a good reason. :)

  6. Hello Summer, glad you liked it.

    Jennifer, I just came out of hiding for a moment, resuming break shortly :)

    Thanks Kim, a large part of it is that Shayla has no idea what Chalwen is about to do.

    Hi Ellie, that's good to hear, and I'm working on it!

    Jean, I had to resist the temptation to explain the background to this scene, it's interesting to hear how people interpret what's going on. Believe me, Chalwen is definitely not on Shayla's side here!

    Hmmm...I see Blogger's playing silly buggers with my Followers list in the sidebar. Is anyone else having this problem?

  7. Love this piece, and the intriguing premise. Glad you took a blogging break and very happy to meet you via this blogfest.

  8. Great piece! I want to know the rest - what came before, what's going to happen next! Well done!

  9. Yikes. And the emperor dies? Unexpected to say the least!

  10. ...and pulled the trigger? Great tension!

  11. Happy to meet you too, Damyanti, and I'm looking forward to reading the other entries.

    Susanna, those are the kinds of questions I like to hear :) Thanks.

    Crystal and Lady Gwen...wouldn't you like to know? :D I was certainly angling for "unexpected" at this point in the story, but to folks who've read the preceding chapters I hope it will also make sense. And, trust me, there are twists to come. *Hint - the Emperor doesn't die*

    I see Blogger still has a major problem with the "Followers" feature. If anyone stumbling across this blog happens to want to follow, you might be able to add it directly through your Blogger dashboard, just got to "Manage Blogs", click add, and copy/paste the URL in. Or leave a comment here and I'll chase you down when normal service is resumed.

  12. Sorry for the late reply. I've been trying to reply since early morning but for some reason Blogger doesn't register my ID when I sign in to leave comments from one of my computers. I had to wait until I got to my home office PC to finally log in correctly.

    Anyway, I saved my earlier message. Here is how it went:

    Awesome, Ian! As I told you before, I'm really enjoying the shape this novel is taking. What I've read so far gets me more and more excited to see the final product, and this excerpt only proves the point further.

    Nice tension indeed!

  13. Good scene, definitely raises some questions. Is this from your WIP?

  14. Nice to meet you, Ian. Awesome tension here, but I was a bit confused about who was who and who was doing what. But since no one else had that problem, maybe it was just me. I mention it in case it can help you clarify things.

    Bottom line, dripping in tension!

  15. Hi David, glad you made it in the end. Yeah, Blogger's been acting up quite a bit recently.

    Sharon, yes, this is from my current WIP. Written and in the process of critiquing & revising.

    Vicki, nice to meet you too, thanks for stopping by. I'm hoping any confusion here is a by-product of reading an excerpt out of context. Without the preceding segments it's not obvious whose POV this is. I expect to sort out any issues when this scene comes up for a detailed critique.

  16. Shayla sounds like a tough character, and I'm curious about the whole battle was about/over. Also, what was Shayla's part in it, and why is she about to get tortured?

  17. Wow, that is TENSE! I'm not a fan of sci-fi, but this story has me intrigued!

  18. Indeed, it seems blogger is hiding everyone's follower list from what I can see. When they come back I'll add you to my blog roll.

    Great scene. I'm obviously not familiar with the story, or else it sounds like I might have suspected the emperor was about to get his head blown off. It surprised the heck out of me.

  19. Hi Gabrielle, well, those are all good questions and they'd take a book to explain. Suffice to say, Shayla caused the battle. I think that might give a few clues :D

    Thanks, J.C., I know sci-fi is not to everyone's liking so those words mean a lot to me.

    Stephanie, there should be nothing up to now that would suggest the Emperor was about to get killed, not by Chalwen anyway, so I'm hoping it will be a surprise. I am also hoping that Chalwen's logic will be clear with hindsight, but that is not something you could know from this small excerpt.

  20. Wow, I so want to read on, not just to find out how this scene ends but to find out what happens in the next scene and the one after that, etc.! Good job!

  21. I'm glad you participated in the blogfest. I really enjoyed reading this piece. You did a great job.

  22. The naughty Sir Tom Eagerly says:
    I beg of you sir; don't give up your day job!

  23. Trisha & Rachel -- thanks for your kind words.

    LOL, Sir Tom, no plans to, kind sir. And I see your role as Court Jester to the Kingdom of Blog is secure.

  24. I think sci-fi is an interesting genre because there are things one can say and do that would be difficult in regular fiction.
    I suppose you need to be twice as creative - you need to invent everything even the characters names.
    But in the end it is things like narrative tension that make a story enjoyable.
    Click here for Bazza’s Blog ‘To Discover Ice’

  25. I like how you've described the character Chalwen here. People don't always have to be loud and big to be scary.

    Thanks for entering :-)

  26. Hi Bazza, the invention is one of the big attractions of the genre IMO.

    Too true, Rachel, and thanks for hosting such an interesting blogfest.

  27. Wow, very nicely done - I could definitely feel the tension there.

  28. Oh wow - so much tension you could cut it with a knife! If only the entries were a little longer, so we could get just a little more...

  29. Thanks Crystal and Rebecca. And, yes, posting just 300 words was a real challenge here.


I love comments. Please feel free to join in the discussion.

I also try to respond to comments. I usually do so during the early evening (Pacific time) which may be many hours away from now!

So if you leave a comment and return some time later and I haven't responded yet, please don't think I'm ignoring you. I'm not. Honest.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...