Political Thriller

Dark Legacy

by Falcon – 42,700 words. Submission date: 29/08/2019.

Every building has a story behind it but not all of the stories are nice. Alan and Adele, two aspiring Youtubers, explore one such building where legendary happenings occurred back in the year 1929. Ozymandias Manor, now a ruin, was once a glamorous home to a promising populist figure called Jedidiah Solomon and his family. With each step they take, Alan and Adele uncover the story of an unscrupulous man who was poised to take Texas...

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Falcon Posted by Falcon (13 Nov 19):

Thanks for your comments! Dark Legacy was quite an undertaking due to its large size and it took me several months to finally get it published. I had had this idea in mind for some time before even getting round to putting pen to paper and I was keen to share it with the rest of Write Wise. This is to be the first entry in the new Dark Legacy series which will follow Alan and Adele as they travel across the country, uncovering the terrible secrets that lie in the nation. Alan and Adele were not meant to be the main focus of this entry or any future entries for that matter but they do play a vital role in advancing the story and framing the plot.

While I do agree that some characters could have been fleshed out a bit more such as Nathaniel and Antonio, I was keen to give this story a feeling of compactness. I wanted the dominoes to fall as soon as the story began, having all threads originate from one fateful night, and this meant that important events moved rather quickly. As such, Antonio was brutally killed by the murderous crowd before he could be fully characterised. Other characters, including Bethany, were somewhat overshadowed by more primary individuals such as Jedidiah Solomon and his descent into madness. Bethany, Janice and even Isaiah could have been given more to do even if it would have constituted as filler.

Dark Legacy was definitely shaped by the state of the Western world at the moment and focused on a more violent form of xenophobic populism that could soon take centre stage in the political arena should the situation continue to escalate. Solomon's rise was also, of course, to serve as precursor to the Fascist and Communist ideologies that would swallow up continental Europe just a few years after 1929.

I also understand your comments about referring to characters with only the one name. I do, unfortunately, find it very tedious to read and write in that manner but I well see if I could limit the naming variation in future entries.

It will probably be a while before any other instalments come out in this series but I do plan to write them. While the main concept of exploring abandoned buildings will remain, I will most likely shake it up a bit for Alan and Adele to prevent the series from becoming formulaic. I have a few ideas for sequels but they would be very different from this initial plot and wouldn't be classified as political thriller genre. I believe any follow ups will be much smaller in scale and word count as well but time will tell all.

Brisingr Posted by Brisingr (4 Nov 19):

Congratulations on the first novel level entry of the site! :)

This one took me a long time to read - partially due to its size and also because I was plain lazy ha ha.

There was a lot to this story, with multiple threads weaving their way into one story. The overall premise was quite interesting (although it may be a little too close to home given the current political situation we have the in the world). The youtube stars felt a tad cheesy but it did work within the confines of the story and helped frame it pretty well.

The majority of the characters were pretty well fleshed out. A few could have done with a little more character development e.g. Nathaniel and Antonio. Sometimes a smaller cast of characters works better as it allows the reader to get more attached to them and we can actually care what happens to them. There might been a few too may characters for the reader to follow and necessarily care about.

The story arc of Solomon was definitely the highlight - his decent into madness and hatred was pretty clear from the beginning but it was none interesting to see this character break before our very eyes.

I agree with Aaron's point regarding the charcters - try to stick to one naming convention. Jumping between names is rather taxing on the reader and can lead to confusion. Especially when you have a large set of characters.

Overall - good story, nice setting, interesting plot and a unique set of characters. Good Job!

Aaron Posted by Aaron (5 Sep 19):

Well done on writing Write Wise's first novel, which is a hell of an achievement in itself.

This was mostly likely your best story to date. The plot was more intricate than any of your others and the setting (settings, really, as we switched between different time periods quite a bit) was memorable and served the story well.

You had a varied and interesting set of characters, too, with Jedidiah Solomon having a particularly intriguing character arc – going from confident candidate to a desperate man with no real grip on reality. Though, I guess he was arguably a little unhinged from the start really. 😁

The framing of the story with Alan and Adele was a nice touch, and allowed for a nice way to introduce contemporary commentary on the historical story. Are you planning to have more stories featuring them?

I will point out one issue I had though, and that is with your character name variation. At various points, characters are referred to (at random) by their first name, surname and by various titles (official or de facto). This was particularly tricky when it came to Alan and Adele being referred to by their surnames, because I got them mixed up. I'd recommend sticking to one name consistently for characters to avoid confusion. Readability trumps variation.

Overall, a very good entry with a great set of characters, an intriguing setting and a nice array of themes being covered. Well done and look forward to more.

Joh Posted by Joh (2 Sep 19):

-this review of course contains major spoilers and should not be read before completing the story-

Well, first of all, congratulations on hitting the accolade of novel and becoming the longest story on the site by a nice margin. This was definitely your grandest scale of a story so far and it was a scale of a story that justified a large word count. It was a very eventful story with a lot of themes and genres within it.

There were a lot of characters, all quite unique and with their own personalities and driving forces, and there were a lot of major scenes all battling between each other to be the defining or standout scene. In the end, I'd find it hard to pick out the key scenes in this story: it was very eventful and I think it was impressive how there was barely any filler for such a long entry. Most chapters were either major plot points or were building up to a major event that was never far away.

In terms of setting scenes, staging dramatic/cinematic events and (particularly in this story) releasing total carnage: you have done very well in this story. The final game of hide and seek comes to mind, I can picture this scene as if it were a scene from a film I had seen. The final scenes of Jedidiah were definitely exciting. At one point, when Janice suggests she has a plan when she goes out into the snow, I was pretty sure that that maze that got a mention earlier on would make a return and we would get a conclusion similar to The Shining. I had forgotten about the bear traps which were also foreshadowed - that was a nice touch. The crazed Jedidiah reminded me - in a good way - of Nicholson's Jack Torrance.

Another scene that I really liked was Nathaniel's attempted bank robbery. The scene with the security guard coming out of the bathroom and then Nathaniel getting quickly gunned down was a nice touch of a sudden brutal impact.

Delilah's behind-the-scenes scheming in general was a nice touch, and felt like a good way for Solomon's empire to be brought down before it could actually begin. Jedidiah's messianic beliefs and his later belief that it was his family that ruined him were both interesting motivators. I like how he never actually finds out about Delilah pulling the strings behind-the-scenes.

I guessed the Slasher to be Charles when the killer's MO was said to be a surgically precise Caesarean. I wondered if it was too obvious, but in the end, this wasn't a particularly big twist. The character of Charles in particular is arguably quite random, but I think he adds a nice genre of horror to the story. His scenes add another dimension to the story, so I'd say he is worth having in the story. My assumption would be that it was Janice that shot him at the end. I was expecting that to be revealed, but I like the touch of mystery that the story ends on.

The political side of the story is very well handled as well. A mixture of the time period and the sort of ideology that Jedidiah preaches reminds me a lot of Comstock's politics in BioShock Infinite. Again, this is not a criticism, I think the serious themes in this story were very well handled while they are themes that could very easily have been in poor taste or in some ways inappropriate if not used properly, but I like how they were used and they brought a real power to certain parts of this story. So well done on that.

Overall, the plot and description of events were very well done throughout. The story had a lot of elements which makes it hard to cover them all in a review. Overall, I think the story was very fresh and original. I would say that in terms of plot, scale and in description of events: this is perhaps my favourite of your stories. There was a lot going on in this story, and it meant that it was pretty interesting from start to finish and never rested on a single theme or genre for too long. The story of the Solomons was very well developed and made for a story deserving of the word count of nearly 43 thousand.

One area that I do have somewhat mixed opinions on would be the characters of the story.

Within the Solomon era, you have a very varied cast of characters. Isiah plays the part of the old war veteran well, and his interactions with Jedidiah were well done. Jedidiah is well developed and his character goes through a few different phases quite well. In particular, his final form of raving lunatic was a lot of fun. Charles has interesting motivations on why he desires to brutally murder women. In general, character's motivations and their overall point in the story are well defined and all characters do have meaning and purpose.

In general, there are a lot of characters, and they are definitely fresh and most of them play an important part in the story, but I would find it hard to pick favourite characters from this story. I'm not sure if this is because it is somewhat difficult to relate to most of the characters or if there was something... alienating in how they act. While the characters are definitely not forgettable and none of them feel meaningless, there is something almost surreal in how characters behave. Characters sometimes ramble to themselves, perhaps plotting their schemes aloud, and often in situations where it seems weird that they ramble in this way despite having an audience. This is just one example, but characters in general often act over-the-top in some sort of regard that makes them somewhat comic-book in nature.

Bethany for example seems like something of a tragic character, but the end result is that she spends what seems like the entire story locked in her bedroom and doing next to nothing but weeping for the entire duration of her scenes! In a similar way, Janice feels to exist to fill a certain role, but I feel there is somewhat a lack of development in her character as well. She is suggested to be a strong woman and a social butterfly, but the Janice we see seems to be quite the opposite of what her character is pitched to be. In the end, she ends up being "Jed's wife", but this does fit in with the themes of the story and the times in which the story is set. In general, Jedidiah's close family all have important roles in the story, but their actual characters feel somewhat underplayed. Nathaniel is pretty forgettable, but his final scene is excellent in my opinion (even if we never did get to know him), Bethany's child and the pivotal role it plays in the story is of course game-changing, but Bethany herself is somewhat insignificant.

I guess the strongest example for this would be with Alan and Adele who I would assume would be the recurring characters if this were to be a series. Them exploring other buildings with stories to tell seems like an obvious direction to take. However, the characters of Alan and Adele feel kind of forgettable overall. I liked the idea of what they were doing, the jumps between the present day dilapidated building and the past when the buildings were alive and inhabited was a good storytelling system. As for Alan and Adele as drivers in this storytelling system, I personally didn't really care for either of them. They didn't seem to be particularly important to the story, but I think they are meant to be the recurring characters in this series, so they could definitely do with some more dialogue for the readers to get to know these characters.

The above seems kind of harsh to write, as all of the characters that I have given some criticism to are all pretty important in the story as a whole. Not every character can be interesting outside of their circumstances of course, and characters do largely exist to drive the plot and keep the story moving, which your characters definitely do, but there does strike me to be something missing from some of the characters in this story. I find it hard to explain it, as it's something of polish that's missing from some of the characters rather than them being bad characters. I think this might be a case of the story's focus primarily being on driving the (very well developed) plot, setting (grand) scenes, choreographing (excellent) set-pieces and telling an overall engaging story.

I think this comes down to style and taste, as I personally prefer character-centric storytelling where the main driving point is in exploring characters and their interactions with each other while your style of writing (which you do very well, please do not misunderstand me) is in developing and running with a major plot and in chaining together a sequence of events that are very cinematic in nature.

Overall, I genuinely do think this is one of your best stories, and perhaps my overall favourite of your entries. The plot is excellent. The scene setting is excellent. The action is very well choreographed. Everything is very fresh, original and well done. However, the characters do strike me as having some room for improvement. I think this might just be my particular taste however, as the characters are without a doubt very important in driving the story here, but there is something of a (I hate to sound pretentious, but it seems like the most fitting word) soul or personality that I would really like to see in your characters. I think this reads as a strong criticism, but I hope you understand what I mean. I see the characters in your story as being something you could improve to really perfect your craft rather than being a weakness that lets your stories down, but it of course has to be said that this is of course just my opinions.

Overall, I really, really enjoyed this story. So very, very well done!