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Heart String Harpsichord

by Heaven Sent


This is extremely short, yes I am aware of that.

------------------------------

Prologue

Set in the 1600s

The door gave off a sudden muffled moan as it opened. A new presence had now been made by a rather striking fellow of his mid-twenties. Eyes a deep blue and hair a bright yellow, he stepped forth into the boardroom with a hardened expression much too foreign of his typical gentle being. He was greeted by a panel of stone-faced musicians and colleagues.

All humming of murmurs seized abruptly and all buzzing of chattel died down to a hushed a whisper, and then finally, there was silence.

A lingering perception of misgiving hung in the air, passing over every soul present; all attention was focused on him and him alone. Not a face cracked to a smile, not an eye twitched to blink.

The man, dressed handsomely in his hip-length black cloak, matching finely with his doublet, linen breeches, and knee high boots, stood completely motionless before the room. He moved in a little more and firmly shut the door behind him; a wave of anxiety washed over every man and woman, for he knew what they did not.

Centuries seemed to pass by before he finally broke the tension with the outbreak of a wide grin, “We are in!”

No one budged.

The gentleman stood grinning as he let his eyes skim the crowd. ‘Why aren’t they cheering?’ he thought. He looked to the left, still smiling, and noticed how the two men sitting there stared blankly at him. ‘Hmm,’ he thought, sparing a look over to the right of the room. A woman and her three young daughters sat huddled near a low glowing lantern, also staring at him as though he were a fool.

Alas, his grin faded and he slowly turned around on his heels. Behind him, two naval men emerged from the shadows in unison. They towered above him, rifles at hand and a pair of irons jingling from their waists, chiming at collision to their hips.

The faded grin dropped like lead, replaced with a harsh scowl, “Is there a problem, gentlemen?”

The guard to his left, buff and broad, growled down at him, “Are you Jacques Ambler: music maestro?”

He twisted his head around, taking in the room with his eyes as though he had no idea who the officer was referring to. Everyone else had begun whispering quietly to one another, gossiping no doubt. He ignored it and averted his attention back to the officer before him, “Is someone requesting my immediate presence?”

The two guards turned to one another to shared a silent conversation, no words were spoken verbally, however, but through a combination of nods, grunts, smirks, and scowls. The two finished with short snorts and sniggers, ‘A reaching of accord, I presume’, Jacques thought. In unison, they turned back to Jacques.

They grinned and clasped the irons about his wrists. What surprised him most, though, was just how calm everyone was about the situation. Of course he wasn’t expecting for women to be passing out and men to burst into brawls, but it just seemed a little off that no one was riled up. Had they known that these men were coming to take him away? Is that why they weren’t as enthusiastic as he had hoped when announcing the great news? A chance to play for the king, queen, emperor, and empress all in the same meeting?

The broad officer, who he had been speaking with, wrapped his hand around the doorknob and pulled it open. Both men roughly yanked Jacques by his wrists and pushed him ahead of them. Most others would bow their heads in shame while walking out of a large party of people, hauled by officers in the king’s palace, but that was not Jacques. He had been a prideful sprout since he could walk, and so chose to remain that way until the dark day of his death.

So, instead of admiring the shine of his shoes, he raised his chin and marched out of the boardroom as though he were the Almighty himself, gracefully balancing the world on his shoulders.

---

:) Any and all criticisms would be most appreciated. :)


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Tue Aug 21, 2007 8:57 pm
Fishr wrote a review...



I enjoyed myself very much reading this. As Sam mentioned, it's a breath of fresh air to see new stories reflecting on specific eras. Jacques was a very entertaining character. It is also exceedingly challenging in having a developed character in short stories, and a realistic one at that. So, kudos on achieving that task. Great job! :)

However... ;)

I have one minor nitpick. As the reader, I'm not sold on the fact that I'm in the 17th Century. Even that you mention the setting is based around the 1600's, there are no clues to suggest the period you're speaking of. And hanging is not a viable clue. Older counteries still use hanging as a punishment. Sadam was hanged not too long ago, along with his half-brother.

Sell me! Show me that I'm in the 1600's. If you need help, you can PM me.




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Tue Aug 21, 2007 3:30 am
kayles says...



Great piece, the imagery and characterization are excellent! But like some of the previous critiques mentioned, its hard to know what's going on - are you planning on working on it some more?




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Sun Aug 19, 2007 8:17 pm
nickelodeon wrote a review...



I thought it was extremely well written. I loved your choice of words for most of the story.

I could easily picture the room, the soldiers, the people, etc. (obviously, a good thing) but I was confused as to why they were there. Given the title and Jacques's title of "Music Maestro" i assumed that they were an orchestra.
The lack of instrument-discription and the mention of a woman and her three young daughters threw me off though.
So my suggestion is to clarify that point, whether in a second part to the story, or an added description.

Overall, it was very good though. It flowed really well, kept my interest, and like i mentioned before, it was easy to visualize, almost like being in the room with them.




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Sun Jun 03, 2007 4:36 am
Sam wrote a review...



Hey, Heaven Sent!

New historical fiction always makes me happy- especially with super-awesome characters like Jacques Ambler. He was done really well, as the others have said...usually, the characters in H.F. aren't the greatest. There's this weird thing they/we have about making them contemporary for their time, but not musty.

Here are two things that I noticed:

THE "HUH? WHAT?" FACTOR: ...I really, really didn't know what was going on. I began to think that perhaps Jacques was a revolutionary of some kind, but this wasn't really verified. The thing to remember with historical fiction is that, even if you pick an even that seems super-obvious to you, there are always going to be people who have no idea what you're going on about. Ergo, you've got to put in a little background- a flashback or a simple explanation will suffice.

THE NARRATOR IS YOU: Another problem with historical fiction is our/their tendencies to make the narration sound antiquated, simply because that's what sounds right. Save it for the dialogue. When you're narrating, use your normal, modern tone, yet leave out the slang and colloquialisms.

A few examples of where things stuck out:

- The use of "alas". Not only is this something you probably wouldn't say in everyday life, it makes you a biased narrator. A narrator who shows opinion has to do that through the entire story, or it just sounds weird.

- "A new presence had now been made by a rather striking fellow of his mid-twenties." 'Striking' might be okay, but I have my beefs with that for other reasons- it automatically makes your character hot. A hot character is not believable, in the majority of cases (hot characters are more likely to do rash, bold things simply because they are pretty and therefore confident. Or they angst because no one appreciates their beauty, etc. The list goes on and on.). "Fellow" isn't a very good word to use because it's super antiquated, yet doesn't really fit the period. It's kind of...floppy. Fish out of watery- bah, I don't know what I'm trying to explain. I'll ramble on about the colors of words in a moment, if you don't watch out. :wink:

- Here's one I found in dialogue: "“Is someone requesting my immediate presence?”" Six words where one would suffice: "What?". Or, perhaps, "What do they want/need?"

The narration's a very important thing to regulate because it makes up the bulk of a third person story. Unless you're very strange and write a story completely out of dialogue..yeah, it's something to look at.
___

Cool story! Feel free to PM me if you've got any questions, or have posted another section.




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Sat Jun 02, 2007 8:43 pm
Shadow_doubt wrote a review...



I agree with the other two- you have Jaques down to a T within a page- that's often very difficult to do. I already feel like I know the tone of the character, whcih makes reading it all that more believable. But you left it without explanation and I will not stand for it- you have me wanting to know what he did! *scowls* The evil cleverness of suspense is well used here.

:)




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Sat Jun 02, 2007 8:00 pm
LoveAlways,Rose. wrote a review...



:D :D I agree with Writersdomain! Jacques is very charismatic and an excellent character. He's got that very special spunk that I am already beginning to love. :wink: Brilliant! I love your title too, it gives off a hint that there will be some major drama going on further on.

Crit wise, though, I think Writer has already told you everything you need to fix. Your visuals just need a little tweaky tweak, and then you will be good to go. ^_^ I look forward to see how this continues!

PM when you've got chapter one up and going. Bravo! :D :D

Best wishes,
Rose




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Sat Jun 02, 2007 12:36 pm
Writersdomain wrote a review...



Ooooh, I liked this very much. Your characterization of Jacques Ambler (I presume that is the main character's name) was excellent and it immediately hooked me. Excellent description over all. I cannot wait to read more.

Just a few things:

The door gave off a sudden muffled moan as it opened. A new presence had now been made by a rather striking fellow of his mid-twenties.


1. Gave off seems too ordinary a verb for a vivid word such as moan. Another word, perhaps?
2. The second sentence was awkward - I like the idea of your wording, but try to reading it to your self; I would suggest rephrasing it.

All humming of murmurs seized abruptly and all buzzing of chattel died down to a hushed a whisper, and then finally, there was silence.



Hmm, I think 'seized' should be 'ceased'

A lingering perception of misgiving hung in the air, passing over every soul present; all attention was focused on him and him alone. Not a face cracked to a smile, not an eye twitched to blink.


I would like a visual of this lingering misgiving more than you telling me it exists. What does that look like? The 'not an eye twitching' is a good start, but more would be nice.

He moved in a little more and firmly shut the door behind him; a wave of anxiety washed over every man and woman, for he knew what they did not


Again, what does this wave of anxiety look like?

The two guards turned to one another to shared a silent conversation, no words were spoken verbally, however, but through a combination of nods, grunts, smirks, and scowls. The two finished with short snorts and sniggers,


Seemed a bit repetitive. I like that you described their silent conversation, but the 'no words were spoken' part was rather obvious as it was silent conversation.

In all, a wonderful job! I very much enjoyed reading this.

I loved the character of Jacques - he seems to be very charismatic and he has this air of mystery about him as we don't know what he is doing yet. You did an excellent job of bringing us into a chaotic situation and not over-explaining, but not losing the reader either. It's a delicate balance. Nice job.

For further editing and writing, just keep in mind that the reader wants visuals - they want to be shown things such as anxiety, not just told they exist. Watch for that as you continue writing.

Nice job here and keep writing! PM me if you have any questions. :wink:





Understanding is the first step to acceptance, and only with acceptance can there be recovery.
— Albus Dumbledore