The Stone Soup Novelist

I have a great idea for a novel. You know what would make it even better?…

A Scene from the Novel: The Alchemists’ Tower

The path on the right led to the mansion, with its stained glass windows like bird’s eyes. Above the lawn, glittering in the last rays of light, circled the moon moths. Not green on this world, but a luminous indigo, they bite with long fangs that bind their prey.

Clovis bowed his head and folded his arms. With one hand touching each shoulder, he closed his eyes and said “Nothing in this world is made, but of atoms and the void. I believe.”

He walked on and did not turn. Ahead, the Alchemists’ Tower rose black against the evening sky.

This short scene is for the Friday Fictioneers flash fiction meme.  Every Friday a bunch of online writers write 100 words on a given topic.  In this case, the picture above.  Then we link and comment on each others’ posts. Check it out here.  Links to other peoples’ fiction should start appearing in the Comments to this post as well.

Criticism is invited!  Tell me what you think of my prose.  How can it be tightened up? Are you hooked? This could be the opening of my novel (yet unnamed – The Alchemists’ tower is what I’m calling the scene, not the book; that was a little ambiguous in the post title).

I’d be grateful if you stick around and leave your comments in the other posts and pages as well.  The site’s called Stone Soup Novelist for a reason!


51 responses to “A Scene from the Novel: The Alchemists’ Tower

  1. Jonathan G May 24, 2012 at 11:02 pm

    Well, now I’m intrigued. I want to know more about this Clovis, truly.

    • dbfurches May 25, 2012 at 10:23 pm

      Thanks a lot Jonathan. There’s some background under “The Story” tab above, and I plan to expand it quite a bit over the long weekend.

  2. Sandra May 25, 2012 at 2:26 am

    Nicely done. A lot of atmosphere in this piece.

    • dbfurches May 25, 2012 at 10:30 pm

      Thank you Sandra.

  3. rainang May 25, 2012 at 3:28 am

    leaves me wanting to read more! here’s mine:

    • dbfurches May 25, 2012 at 10:30 pm

      Thank you for the kind words. I’m planning to use these Flash Fictions as inspirations for scenes in the novel I’m writing; poke around the other tabs and comments on this site if you’re interested.

  4. Linda May 25, 2012 at 4:08 am

    Nice first go and I particularly like the use of ‘moon moths’. Well done.

    Here’s mine too:

    • dbfurches May 25, 2012 at 10:26 pm

      Thanks Linda.

  5. TheOthers1 May 25, 2012 at 8:28 am

    The moths have fangs??? That’s scary. Good night! this sounds like the novel would be an interesting read.

    My linky:

    • dbfurches May 25, 2012 at 10:20 pm

      Thanks for the vote of confidence! I hope it lives up to your expectations.

  6. JKBradley May 25, 2012 at 8:40 am

    Nice set up for something bigger and fantastic.

    Here’s mine:

    • dbfurches May 25, 2012 at 10:15 pm

      Thanks for the vote of confidence Mr. Bradley.

  7. dmmacilroy May 25, 2012 at 8:50 am

    ?meht esu llits uoy nac, sdrawkcab sdrow ym etirw I fI

    I thought this scene from The Alchemists’ Tower thought provoking and full of atmosphere. (The position of your apostrophe seems to imply that the tower is home to more than one alchemist. Was that your intention?)



    • dbfurches May 25, 2012 at 10:11 pm

      Hi Doug.
      First of all, thank you for taking my important legal disclosure with the seriousness it deserves. There is indeed more than one alchemist; the tower is given to the order of Alchemists. For more info on that than you asked for, see my response to Scott above (below? which order do these things sort in? you’d think I would know that).

      Nonetheless, I thought that apostrophe was awkward when I typed it, and now I’m sure of it. I don’t want my readers wondering one alchemist? two or more alchemists? Is that a typo? Back to the drawing board: will be the Tower of the Alchemists, the Alchemist Tower, the unnamed tower that is later revealed to belong to the alchemists? Anybody have a better idea? Gah! One hundred words into my first novel and I’m stuck on an apostrophe. This is going to be a looooong slog, isn’t it?

  8. readinpleasure May 25, 2012 at 11:39 am

    Why do I think there is much left to be said? Mine is here:

    • dbfurches May 25, 2012 at 9:58 pm

      Thank you Celestine. There is indeed. Hope to see you next week.

  9. Scott Hays May 25, 2012 at 12:02 pm

    I am not sure if Clovis “believes” (statement of fact) … or is expressing an opinion, but his thinking pattern is unusual and the syntax non-traditional. Indigo moths that “bind” their prey with fangs implies (or at least alludes to) other familiar myths but in an unsettling and somewhat disturbing new context. Interesting beginning. Here’s mine (

    • dbfurches May 25, 2012 at 9:29 pm

      Thanks Scott. There is a long story behind Clovis’s way of thinking. Short version: His planet was populated long ago by a colony that narrowly avoided extinction and was not able to preserve much of its cultural heritage. Civilization started over more or less at zero, but some scientific knowledge was preserved in the form of teachings which are now held as sacred by the order of the Alchemists. The notion that atoms would be the most important scientific fact to preserve during the collapse of a civilization comes from Richard Feynman, the statement that all is atoms and the void comes from a Greek philosopher who was, I am pretty sure, just guessing.

      Sorry if this is giving away too much too soon, but I’m planning to take a kind of Penn & Teller approach to writing my first novel; pulling back the curtain and involving readers in the writing process as much as possible.

      Thanks again for your comments, and hope to see you next week.

  10. Kwadwo May 25, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    It’s quite insightful. You show some descriptive prowess and I love the way you use an array of light and colours.

    Well done.

    Here’s mine:

    • dbfurches May 25, 2012 at 9:01 pm

      Thanks! Not bad for a color blind guy (honestly, until I started reading others’ posts, I didn’t realize there was a striking difference in the color of the two moths).

  11. yaralwrites May 25, 2012 at 4:37 pm

    I like that the moon moths are not your average peace loving night fliers. Like to see more.
    Here is mine

    • dbfurches May 25, 2012 at 9:00 pm

      Thanks! With luck you will. My plan is to work these prompts into the book I’m writing, so there should be more about the same group of characters and setting each week.

  12. Gilly Gee May 25, 2012 at 5:20 pm

    Intriguing and atmospheric!Love it.

    • dbfurches May 25, 2012 at 8:58 pm

      Thanks Gilly. I enjoyed your post as well!

  13. Kathy McClure May 25, 2012 at 5:22 pm

    I was totally hooked. I am interested in Clovis and his needs and I enjoyed the music of the narrative. I also wonder if Clovis is here in our world, but not seeing what we see, which is really layered but it occurred to me, so I figured I’d mention it.


    • dbfurches May 25, 2012 at 8:57 pm

      Thanks Kathy. That would be an interesting story, but it is not where I’m going with this. Blue moon moths = blue moon = other planet. Look under “The Story” tab above to see the bare partial skeleton of the book I’m planning. It should keep growing each week. Poke around the other posts and give suggestions if you’re interested. Thanks again for your comments.

  14. Lora May 25, 2012 at 6:20 pm

    This story left me ferklempt (not sure how to spell it)…in a puzzling sort of way. Moon moths with fangs? Creepy. Don’t care to meet them. Here’s mine (a bit lighter)

    • dbfurches May 25, 2012 at 8:52 pm

      Thanks Lora. I don’t think you have to worry. This is on another planet millions of years from now!

    • rochellewisoff May 26, 2012 at 6:18 pm

      Lora, I don’t think there’s a right or wrong way to spell it. It’s Yiddish…therefore a transliteration. Just a piece of trivia.

  15. Madison Woods May 25, 2012 at 10:03 pm

    I like the posturing Clovis does to ward off the moths. As for criticism, the only thing I’d do is break the first sentence into two, ending the first one at mansion. For the second, I’d do something like this: Stained glass windows winked from the dormers like bird’s watching eyes. I thought it was a great story. Thanks for joining us!

    • dbfurches May 25, 2012 at 10:44 pm

      Thanks Madison. Good advice re the first sentence!

  16. WriteForACause.Org May 25, 2012 at 11:16 pm

    Is there more? Hhaha. Love it. Very detailed.

    • dbfurches May 28, 2012 at 7:16 am

      There is indeed more to come. Thanks for stopping by!

      • WriteForACause.Org May 28, 2012 at 11:11 am

        thanks…sure…i’d check often …^^

  17. tollykit May 26, 2012 at 9:47 am

    Very intriguing. Looking forward to learning more 🙂

    For your readers here’s mine if they wish to drop by:

  18. flyoverhere May 26, 2012 at 10:35 am

    Definitely scary, the scene you set would prevent me from going there but that is just me. I am sure that your words will entice readers of this genre to want more. Since I read things so literally and immerse myself into words I can’t risk nightmares….. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by my place!

    • dbfurches May 26, 2012 at 2:11 pm

      You’re very welcome. Thanks for coming by here as well. Other parts of the book will be lighter; I’m going for old school planetary adventure, not horror. Though scary parts are definitely a part of that!

  19. joannalazuliportals May 26, 2012 at 11:32 am

    I really liked the ‘luminous indigo’. I’m a big fan of colours and visuals! I hope your novel works out, and that you’ll join us again over the coming weeks and months with more. Sorry I don’t have time to delve deeper 🙂

    Thanks for your comment on ours.

    • dbfurches May 26, 2012 at 2:13 pm

      Thanks Joanna. I appreciate your stopping by. Hope to see you next week!

  20. Carlos Repuesto de la Tabla May 26, 2012 at 1:02 pm

    The responses to this are interesting; for me, the salient point is Clovis’ faith, a kind of Science faith, that preserves him from harm from the moon moths. So this, the idea of someone resembling a scientific Buddhist monk travelling through dark dangers unscathed seems like the hook. And, as we are speaking of apostrophes, I wonder if you don’t want “birds’ eyes” instead of “bird’s eyes.”

    • dbfurches May 26, 2012 at 2:19 pm

      Thanks Carlos. As I have it conceived, there will be several themes, and Clovis will be a secondary, though very important character. There’s more under “The Story” tab at the top of the page, and I’ll be adding more there each week.

      Thanks also for your constructive criticism. Darned apostrophes!

  21. jeanelaine May 26, 2012 at 3:34 pm

    WTG, Good Sci-Fi opening! Here’s mine

    • dbfurches May 26, 2012 at 3:52 pm

      Thanks Jean!

  22. writingbothsides May 26, 2012 at 4:21 pm

    I like the way this moves. Starting off with “The path on the right . . .” brings us into the scene immediately and from there you point out all the important things we need to know or wonder about or fear. My only criticism is since you mentioned the path on the right and where it leads, you may want to suggest (even later on) where the path on the left leads. Well done.

    • dbfurches May 26, 2012 at 4:31 pm

      Thanks Vincent. And thanks for the advice.

  23. rochellewisoff May 26, 2012 at 6:21 pm

    What happens in the Alchemist’s Tower? Good imagery and hook.

    • dbfurches May 26, 2012 at 9:19 pm

      I’ve got a few ideas. We’ll see about getting them worked in next week. Thanks for your comments!

  24. siobhanmuir May 26, 2012 at 7:07 pm

    Wow, I wish I had his faith. Fun snippet. Thanks for the comments on mine, Brian. 🙂

    • dbfurches May 26, 2012 at 9:17 pm

      Thanks! And thanks for stopping by.

  25. hcurci May 28, 2012 at 5:33 pm

    Thank you for viewing my post Time Line Paradox at:

    • dbfurches May 28, 2012 at 5:45 pm

      You’re very welcome. Thanks for stopping by!

By posting this comment, you are granting me permission to use the words and ideas expressed below in my novel. You will not sue me when it becomes a bestseller. This is totally legally binding.

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