Waddya think about my short story idea?

I was sitting in my Roman History class today and during one of the prof’s long, rambling tangents (which she has quite frequently) an idea formed in my head for (what now appears to be) a short story length work. An excerpt follows (okay, so it’s everything I’ve written so far). I’d love any feedback y’all might have.

The premise is something along these lines:
Our hero, X (I haven’t come up with a name for him), has realized that his lady friend, Brandi, has gone missing. Following her trail leads him to a temple where a cult worships the long forgotten Evil Ones, Targ and Isha; the male and female representations of evil worshipped by an ancient sect. X manages to infiltrate the temple, where he encounters the cult members and their wonderful practices. At this point, the ending is up in the air.


As X watched, about fifty men and women filed into the temple and kneeled on the risers facing the opposite the front of the sanctuary. Suddenly, five braziers behind the large black altar began burning. First the large center one burst into flame, followed by two others on either side. The side braziers were somewhat smaller than the middle one, and were set about a foot lower. They bathed the altar in a considerable amount of light compared to the rest of the temple, which was lit by candles placed every three feet or so along the outside walls and every five feet along a center aisle running from the altar to the back of the room.

From a door in the back wall entered a large man, dressed in a long flowing robe of deep crimson. He wore a hood that enveloped his entire head. As he strode toward the altar he was chanting something inaudible to X. He reached the altar, paused in reverence and walked around to the backside. Standing between the altar and the largest brazier, this man, obviously the High Priest of the cult, removed his hood. X took a sharp breath when he saw what was underneath; the skull of some large beast covered the High Priest’s face. Protruding from this skull-mask was a large set of goat horns.

“Bring forth the offering,” called the High Priest.

The same door he had entered through opened again and four Acolytes, dressed in black robes, led forth a man dressed all in white. The man in white showed no signs of resistance as he walked up the aisle and lay down on the altar.

Exposing the man’s chest, the High Priest remarked, “The Evil Ones will be most pleased with your offering.”

The four Acolytes each grasped one of the man’s extremities as the High Priest drew a dagger from inside the folds of his robe. Pure black, the knife looked as if someone had taken a long, straight dagger and twisted the blade around its central axis. The High Priest grasped the handle in both hands and bowed his head, as if in prayer.

Lifting the knife high above his head, the High Priest intoned the words, “Targ Ishaque in Ostara omno tempo regunt.”

“What the hell?” Thought X, “Latin?” He quickly translated the sentence to, “Targ and Isha rule in Ostar for all time.” His thoughts turned to two questions, “Who are Targ and Isha? What and where is Ostar?”

Before X even had time to complete his thoughts the High Priest brought the knife down with all his strength. The black, twisted blade seemed to whistle through the air before disappearing into the chest of the sacrificial victim. The man on the altar did not even cry out as the cold steel punctured into his heart. X could hear the blade scraping on bone as the High Priest slowly pulled the knife out of the wound. All this time the crowd of worshippers swayed back and forth, as if in a trance, repeatedly chanting, “Targ…Isha…Targ…Isha…”

The High Priest held the bloodied knife aloft, and then thrust the blade into the fire burning behind him. The instant the wicked dagger entered the fire, the flames turned a deep purple. The candles lighting the entire sanctuary flickered, almost died, and then began to burn with a glowing black flame. At this point, the four Acolytes each drew a short sword hidden inside their robes and began to dismember the sacrifice. The High Priest oversaw the entire process directing the Acolytes as to which fire the individual body parts were fed.

Quickly the stench of burning flesh filled the temple. Nearly gagging, X quietly slipped out of the sanctuary. Hoping the ceremonial aspects of this sacrifice would occupy the members of this strange cult for some time, he now felt a renewed sense of urgency for finding Brandi.

Have you ever read any Conan Tha Barbarian books/stories? Or any of of ERB’s Barsoom stories?

'Cause this sounds very similar (in style) to some of that stuff. If that’s the style you’re going for, try a little more description. Be very specific.

Try 1st person, not 3rd person omniscient, and see if that helps the descriptions come out more detailed. It does have limits, though.

Have you ever tried to outline a story before writing? That way, you don’t lose the main plot points.

hmmm…Now I must go hang my head in shame. I haven’t read any of those, but I absolutely hated the Conan movies. I can’t believe that didn’t come to mind as I was thinking about this in class.

Good point. I was definitely going to flesh it out. This was really a first draft. Probably shouldn’t have posted it as such, but I wasn’t sure if it was worth pursuing at all.

I’ve tried 1st person before, and haven’t really been able to get any sort of flow going in the story. Maybe it’s time to try again.

Thanks for the comments and the speedy reply. I’m thinking now that the other projects I’m working on might be a better use of my time - especially after that Conan bit!

But, but, but…

Some of the early Conan things were very entertaining.

I do think you paint good word pictures…

More will reply this morning, I’m sure. I just happened to be on late last night.


It is fairly routine stuff, I’m afraid. This sort of evil ceremony has been done to death, so if you want to try it again, you’re going to need something much more original.


akennett writes:

> hmmm…Now I must go hang my head in shame. I haven’t read
> any of those, but I absolutely hated the Conan movies.

Read some of Robert Howard’s Conan books. Read some of Edgar Rice Burroughs’s Barsoom books. Read some of H. P. Lovecraft’s stories. You need to know more about what has already been done in the field.

I agree with RealityChuck, although I do believe that the evil ceremony thing, if handled imaginatively, leaves a lot of room for unexpected twists and ‘sinister implications’ (sorry, read too much Lovecraft lately). Maybe your character can unwittingly turn out to be a reincarnation of one of the unspeakably evil gods (not very original in itself, I know, but think of the things you can do with that!), or he can try to stop the doings, only to find out that the gods really exist, and by ending the ceremony he brought on the end of the world. Okay, so I don’t read a lot of fantasy really, and all these things might have been done to death in themselves. But I don’t believe the “evil cult” idea has been completely milked dry just yet. :slight_smile:

I used to work for a film studio and, although not in the Development Dept., I would sometimes read through submissions. I also used to read through a lot of letters with “I’ve go this great idea for a film…” (BTW: To all wannabe writers: Do not bother sending anything to a studio. Ever. You have to have an agent. Period.)

The problem you have is simple. You said it yourself, “At this point, the ending is up in the air.”

You have not written a short story, you have written at best a scene.

If you do not know the beginning, the middle and the end, it will be difficult to do much of anything. If you haven’t given thought to character arc, or plot, or style…well, you don’t have much.

Might get you work at FOX, but you really need to stand back and get a look at your big picture - create a character and decide what you want that character to do, to be, to become. Then the story will begin to unfold.

But don’t stop…just organize a little better and then take another “stab” at your offering. Good luck, and keep writing!

What everybody said. This would have worked fine in Spicy Mystery Stories, but that went out of business around 1942.

There’s an anthology out if you really like this sort of thing.

Black Gate is trying to revive classic adventure fantasy with modern writing. It’s worth taking a look at.

Or, hell, you could go all the way with the premise that Angel played with and have an evil ceremony summon an Ancient God of pure goodness.

Thanks all. I think my original thoughts/fears were pretty much confirmed here. I do appreciate the feedback.