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In the Company of Liars

by Rog 

Posted: 17 July 2003
Word Count: 389
Summary: Prologue of humorous thriller set in London, where honest joe (Travis) gets tangled up in high-tech fraud, boardroom shenanigans, accounting scandals, his boss' bird & murder. Am seeking representation for this 110k word first novel.

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Travis stared down through the gaping hole he had smashed in the skylight of the office where he used to work and shuddered at the absurdity of his plan.
He stood on the top of the converted warehouse, sweating and shaking. The cold night breeze pummelled against his eyes, partly obscuring his view over the Isle of Dogs. The twinkling monolith of Canary Wharf towered above him. The reflection of silver-blue moon rippled in the hazy waters of the Thames. A solitary tug glided into a deserted wharf. The rope burned against his lacerated palms. He harnessed it carefully around his wrist, yanked at it to ensure the grip was robust
His eyes strained to discern the familiar shapes of his former working environment in the murky darkness below. Screensavers flickered on the computer monitors, sending indistinct waves of light out over the empty cubicles and desks. A week ago, he had held his head high in that same space, poised on the brink of success. Now, he had to break in, complete his dangerous mission, to stay afloat, to survive.
It was preposterous, the abrupt shift in his fortunes. He had been beaten to a pulp, betrayed by his girlfriend, exposed to fraud, sacked from his job, framed for high-tech sabotage and accused of murder.
He wavered, exposed on the asphalted surface, contemplating his descent into his former offices. A gust of wind from the east thumped into his patchwork of aches and bruises. The slightest clumsy movement could jeopardise the entire enterprise, scupper his final, desperate attempt to salvage something of his career and his life.
The rope flapped and dislodged a tiny fragment of glass. It spiralled to the office floor, exploding into a scintilla of shards upon impact. He tensed up, ears straining. A horn bellowed slowly, deeply, burying the smash and clatter of the skylight’s glass. Another foot out of place might alert the security guard.
He craned his neck one last time, quivering at the prospect of descent, knowing that the rope was not nearly long enough. He clenched his fists and pursed his lips hard, steeling himself to his task. His lungs ached as he breathed in the crisp, clean air. His battered ribs throbbed with pain.
Travis was burning on empty: it was time for the final throw of the dice.

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Comments by other Members

Shadowgirl at 22:12 on 17 July 2003  Report this post
Don't leave it there Rog - come on, more!!!!!

Although this was just a short piece, I was really hooked. Actually, that is quite unusual for me, I usually have to read a bit more before I make a decision on whether I enjoy it or not. But I did enjoy this - very much. It was also very visual.....visual, but with the feeling attached. I could really see the Docklands view, and the computer screens light was brilliantly described.

I am keen to read more.

Best wishes

ps..you taught me a new word too - scintilla!

Nell at 08:17 on 18 July 2003  Report this post
Hi Rog,

You've flung the reader straight into the middle of a dangerous situation, given enough info. about Travis to put us on his side, and set the scene realistically. We're hooked!
good descriptions, nice touches: '...dislodged a tiny fragment of glass. It spiralled to the office floor, exploding into a scintilla of shards upon impact.' More please.

Best, Nell.

Rog at 08:28 on 18 July 2003  Report this post
Thanks for the encouragement, folks. The prologue set ahead in time (as this is, 7/8 way through the story) was a device I discovered in another work & I felt it would create a hook.

There is more...(although you'll be quickly plunged into the minutiae of corporate life in the high-tech sector & how Travis ended up in his pickle).

What's the form? I thought you could only upload one piece at a time. Further, logic dictates that the entire book would end up being on the site (presuming enough positive response!)

Guidance welcome!

stephanieE at 12:30 on 18 July 2003  Report this post
Welcome to the site. I too enjoyed Travis' moment teetering on the edge of danger, and am curious to know more. I particularly liked A gust of wind from the east thumped into his patchwork of aches and bruises

I wondered about picking a scene from so late in the novel for the prologue though, if I went on to read more I might be frustrated at the delay in getting to 'the good bit as promised on the cover' if you see what I mean. Still, your writing style is fluid and easy to read, so maybe I would be happy to devour the rest anyway!

A couple of things:
In the second para, all the short sentences, whilst marvellously descriptive, came across as a little jerky. It would be interesting to know what others think.

Travis was burning on empty made me read it twice - did you mean running on empty, or is this an avoidance of that cliche? I was just struggling a little with the image that it raised.

If you want guidance on how the site works, I guess that reading what others have posted is probably the best way.

If your novel is complete and searching for a publisher, then I suggest that you trawl the appropriate places for names, addresses and advice and spend your time trying to get someone to buy it. In the meantime, posting sections (up to two thousand words a go tends to get read - anything more and people are rather put off by the volume of words!) here at suitable intervals (maybe weekly, or fortnightly?) then you can expect to get specific feedback in terms of typos, pace, language, characterisation etc etc. If you're confident that you don't need to change anything, then don't bother! But if you'd like some positive and constructive comments, then posting sections in this way can assist with pointing out things that you may not have seen yourself... Does this sound useful? I hope so - certainly lots of other writers find this site invaluable in providing informed feedback.

Oh, and please comment on the work of others - you clearly have a strong writing voice, and your view on various fiction extracts would be helpful.

Rog at 20:17 on 22 July 2003  Report this post
Stephanie...Thanks for the feedback.
Understand your view re. the prologue (which I did to make the hook) & I hope it won't fall into that trap.
Strange about the "burning on empty" - you're right of course, but maybe that's the creative unconscious thrusting away!
I'll put up some other chapters for feedback & I'll strive to post comments..!

Ralph at 11:08 on 25 October 2003  Report this post
Hi Rog
Thanks for posting this and the first chapter, because I've had a thoroughly good time reading them. You have a real insight into people, and you create communities brilliantly. It wasn't like reading a story, it was like stepping into a world.

I'll post some comments on the first chapter itself, to try and keep things relevant for you. The only thing I'd say here is that yes, it does work as a hook. I did wonder about the short paragraph that started "It was preposterous..." though. Maybe too much information? I think if I read that all of this was going to happen, I might be guilty of spending most of the time wondering when he gets beaten, when he gets betrayed etc., whereas without it I'd be wondering how it goes from being so good to being so bad, and being more surprised by every step along that path (and it does sound like it gets worse and worse for poor Travis).

Um... I liked "burning on empty" (sorry Steph!) but again that's just personal opinion so ask around...

Bridget's trying to entice me away from the computer with a plate of hot drop scones now... I'll be back later though.

Hope some of this is useful.

Thanks again for a bloody good read


White Witch at 11:07 on 16 August 2006  Report this post
....and!!! what happened? I can't bear the suspense. C'mon Rog, out with it

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