550 Words - Death & Torture - What is Acceptable?

The Bloated One

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Hi Everyone,

I am writing a hard hitting Vampyre novel and need to understand what level of violence and death is acceptable. In the context of the plot, this gentleman has to die, and the manner of his death is an indication of his killers beliefs and motivation.

Any thoughts on grammar and tone are also most welcome.

The Death of Lord Ralston

He awoke to the sound of his bare feet, blooded and bruised, being dragged through freezing water along a gravel floor. He was moving quickly down a passage toward a light, his tortured body held firm by two men. A steady stream of blood flowed from his nose, filled his mouth and made him wretch. Reaching the light, he was thrown to the floor. Squinting, he looked up at the silhouette of a third man coming toward him, blocking the light and taking the hurt from his eyes. Lord Ralston raised himself up on his elbows.

"Why do you hate us?” He shouted, expelling a mouthful of blood.

"Hate you Lord Ralston? We do not hate. Hate is an emotion for animals, animals like you. You are an abomination to be hunted down and killed. We are justly ridding this world of your kind. It is not hate. It is love, our love of mankind."

"You are being used,” wheezed Lord Ralston, “the Ancient doesn’t want to share with you, or the rest of your people.” He coughed up more blood before continuing, “You will never see his promises!"

Grabbing Ralston’s head, the man yanked it backward and brought him to his feet.
"So, you think the Ancient is using us do you!” A ripple of laughter went around the room. "You are one of many we have killed. My Father, his Father and his Father before him dedicated themselves to lancing the vampyre puss that is you—you are a plague on this earth. It is our destiny. No one controls us!” Murmurs of approval went around the room.

Lord Ralston’s hands were untied and secured in manacles hanging from the cell ceiling. What remained of his strength gave out and he hung limply. The third man stood back and smiled.

"Before we send you on your way,” he said, flicking dust from the shoulder of his Saville Row suit. “I will need something from you. Where is the book and map," he asked quietly. Lord Ralston didn’t speak.

"You can do your race one last favour and save countless lives. Where is the book and the map!” Lord Ralston hung in silence, bowed but not beaten.
"Again, where is the book, where is the map. We know you have them."
Lord Ralston looked up, and defiantly spat blood at him. Calmly, the third man took out a monogrammed silk handkerchief and dabbed his suit. Shaking his head, he snapped his fingers and a wooden pole crashed into Lord Ralston’s bloated face, knocking him sideways. His mouth fell open, his jaw smashed. A ball gag was rammed into his broken jaw.

"Take his teeth."

The pain of flesh, teeth and gums riping and tearing, sent Lord Ralston into shock. Two six inch, curved ivory teeth covered in blood and gore were soon presented to the third man.

"You are nothing without these," said the third man, throwing them on the floor.
A colleague handed him an ancient samurai sword, just as two metal bolts thudded into Lord Ralston’s chest, piercing his heart. Bewildered Lord Ralston looked up as the blade swept down and decapitated him. The third man cleared his throat, and with a practiced hand ran the bloodied blade through his handkerchief and passed it back to his colleague.

“Anyone for tea?”
 

tinkerdan

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Interesting piece.

I had a little trouble with this bit of dialogue.
"You are one of many we have killed. My Father, his Father and his Father before him dedicated themselves to lancing the vampyre puss that is you—you are a plague on this earth. It is our destiny.
I realize it is dialogue and that gives us a bit of latitude with grammar
Still you could leave the emdash and drop the you are to make the rest just a plague on this earth. You could even put a colon where the emdash is.

You are one of many we have killed. My Father, his Father and his Father before him dedicated themselves to lancing the vampyre puss that is you—a plague on this earth.

However if you leave it as You are a plague on this earth, it might be best just to make that a separate sentence.
"You are one of many we have killed. My Father, his Father and his Father before him dedicated themselves to lancing the vampyre puss that is you. You are a plague on this earth. It is our destiny.
 

alexvss

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As this is an excerpt from a novel, I wouldn't be able to advice you for sure about the limits of violence. If it were a short-story, I'd say from experience that your chances of selling the piece may drop to zero. But the thing is, you have to find the right market (in your case, right agent and right publisher). There's public for everything.

However, I think that this piece is not violent (maybe my standards for violence are too high, so take my opinion with a grain of salt). You chose to write much more telling than showing, and that removes imagery from the scene.

Also, this reads like a screenplay. The description of the scenario is on the top of the page, with the dialogue on the rest.

Another thing I'd talk about are the deus ex machinas, mainly the ancient samurai word, but, as this is a novel, you may have explained that somewhere else.
 

The Bloated One

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Alexvss,

Many thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

You're not the first person to see my style of writing as a screenplay! Funnily enough, I am working on one for my 2016 published book.

As for violence, I am only using it when necessary, so what you say is helpful. If it ever gets to the desk of a publisher I could always tone it down.

Swords - I looked into the sword that Vlad Tepes used, and it is likely to have been an Ottoman kilij. So, vampyres killed by the devils own sword? I like it, thanks for mentioning the sword!

TBO
 

Wayne Mack

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I felt more confusion than violence. The confusion, I believe, prevented me from making any sort of emotional connection to Lord Ralston. I was unable to get a picture of where the scene was taking place. At first it seemed to be some sort of sewer, then a long passageway, then it was a cell. The feeling of violence is largely driven by anticipation, so I suggest taking more time to set up the scene, describe the cell, lay out the reason for the violence -- is it to extract information about the book and map or simply to brutally kill Lord Ralston? Two more minor points to consider: I found it confusing to keep referring to the main actor as the third man when the two henchmen are all but invisible in the scene, and six inch long teeth would extend well below Lord Ralston's jaw line.
 

The Bloated One

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Wayne Mack,

All good points. I'll add some descriptive prose about the setting, and an explanation concerning the map and book. Also, something I should have done, is have Ralston's vampyre teeth 'grow' just before his death.

I'll post a revised piece shortly.

Thanks.

TBO
 

The Bloated One

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Revised text.

The Death of Lord Ralston

He awoke to the sound of his bare feet, blooded and bruised, being dragged through knee high freezing water along a torch lit tunnel. He was moving quickly toward a light, his tortured body held firm by two men. A steady stream of blood flowed from his nose, filled his mouth and he wretched. Reaching the light, he was thrown to the floor of a cell, hewn out of solid rock beneath the castle. Squinting, he looked up at the silhouette of a man walking toward him, blocking the light and taking the hurt from his eyes. Lord Ralston raised himself up on his elbows and recognized Flint.

"Why do you hate us?” Shouted Lord Ralston, expelling a mouthful of blood.

"Hate you? We do not hate. Hate is an emotion for animals, blood sucking animals like you. Your kind are an abomination to be hunted down and killed. We are justly ridding this world of you. It is not hate. It is love, our love of mankind."

"You are being used, Flint,” wheezed Lord Ralston, “the Ancient doesn’t want to share with you, or the rest of your people.” He coughed up more blood before continuing, “You will never see his promises!"

Grabbing Ralston’s head, Flint yanked it backward and brought him to his feet.

"So, you think the Ancient is using us do you!” A ripple of laughter went around the room. "You are just one of many we have killed. My Father, his Father and his Father before him dedicated themselves to lancing the vampyre puss that is you. You are a plague on this earth. It is our destiny. No one controls us!” Murmurs of approval went around the room.

Lord Ralston’s hands were untied and secured in manacles hanging from the cell ceiling. What remained of his strength gave out and he hung limply. Flint stood back and smiled. It was rare indeed to trap a 500 year old vampyre.

"Before we send you on your way,” he said, flicking dust from the shoulder of his Saville Row suit. “I will need something from you. Where is the book and map," he asked quietly. Lord Ralston didn’t speak.

“We both know the map indicates the final resting place of Tepes and his followers, and the book the names of the original vampyre Ancients. You can do your race one last favour and save countless lives. Give me the book and map!” Lord Ralston hung in silence, bowed but not beaten.

"Again, where is the book, where is the map. We know you have them."

Lord Ralston looked up, and defiantly spat blood at him. Flint calmly took out a monogrammed silk handkerchief and dabbed his suit. Shaking his head, he snapped his fingers and a wooden pole crashed into Lord Ralston’s bloated face, knocking him sideways. His mouth fell open, his jaw smashed. A ball gag was rammed into his broken jaw.

“Inject him, I want his teeth.”

A man stepped forward and forcefully stuck a needle into Lord Ralston’s arm. Within seconds, his vampyre eye teeth descended.

"Take them,” commanded Flint.

The pain of flesh, teeth and gums ripping and tearing, sent Lord Ralston into shock. Two six inch, curved ivory teeth covered in blood and gore were soon presented to Flint.

"You are nothing without these," said Flint, putting them in his pocket.

Another colleague handed him an ancient Ottoman kilij sword, just as two metal bolts thudded into Lord Ralston’s chest, piercing his heart. Bewildered Lord Ralston looked up as the blade swept down and decapitated him. Flint cleared his throat, and with a practiced hand ran the bloodied blade through his handkerchief and passed it back to his colleague.

“Anyone for tea?”


TBO
 

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