Dec 10 2007

Retardised Whovian’s Review Forum

Published by at 8:04 pm under Review Forums

What I’m Writing: a superhero novel about the adventures of a teenage waiter/student named Isaac Maehara. Having been abandoned in our universe by his species, he has lived in a foster family for his whole life. Being a separate species has its perks, such as the ability to convert air into energy through mental power and the ability to fly, but Isaac feels a bit cut off because of his secret. When he becomes a superhero known as the Guardian, he has to put up with a blackmailing girlfriend and a villain set on revenge, all while hiding his injuries from his family/friends and making up lies to keep his secret safe.

Target Audience: My target audience is from 12-16 year olds, but I’m not really writing for any gender. I have moments for the girls (a bit of romance and some “aaw” moments) and some for the guys (fights, showdowns and tension). I think it would attract new people to the genre, as well as people who’ve read similar things before.

Author Experience: I’m a bit experienced at writing; I’ve been doing it roughly five years (though the first three years produced nothing but crap), so I’d be “Please be polite, but I can take a bit of criticism.” I’m extremely reluctant to change big details like twists and characterization.

Comparable Works: Mine could be compared to Maximum Ride and maybe Daniel X, both of which are my favourites and the only ones I’ve read.

130 responses so far

130 Responses to “Retardised Whovian’s Review Forum”

  1. First versionon 10 Dec 2008 at 8:20 pm

    I’m Isaac Maehara, student/waiter/superhero. (I know this breaks a rule for introductions, but it isn’t the only part aimed at the reader. The whole thing is full of rhetorical questions, as though Isaac is sitting across the room, telling the story)

    Here’s the truth: I’m weird. Think of that kid in science class who always half raises his hand for every question, but seems too shy to fully extend it. That’s me. Think of the guy who tends to get benched during team sports. That’s also me. Then think of a comic book hero with the power of flight, psi-blasts and extra strength and speed. If you think I’m going to say that it’s also not me, you’d be wrong. It IS me.

    By no means am I superstrong or quick as lightning, but I’m higher than the average human in those respects. I myself am average, just not compared to you. Compared to the others of my species, I am a plain old student. I’m from a parallel universe where the inhabitants took a slightly different evolutionary path to humans. We had to adapt to a much more coarse and frightening environment, so developed different defenses over the years. The result was my people, the Yinyusi.

    I’ve known all this for my whole life, due to being found with a book. You wouldn’t think that’s very significant, but on my second birthday I accidentally dropped it, and the back cover opened up. Inside was a letter, explaining what had really happened and who I was.

    Apparently I was given up to a scientific facility for “the purpose of testing the Paralator”. It explained that it’s basically a machine capable of sending people and objects through the walls of the universe and into a neighbouring one. I was a guinea pig for this reality, and no doubt they had a whole bag full of babies to send to other universes. They probably bought us all in bulk at a supermarket.

    My abilities are of no surprise to me. I’ve been different for my entire life, and I never had a stereotypical “moment” like in the movies where I realised I had these really awesome powers. It’s always been who I am, but I often find myself wishing my abilities away in favour of a more human existence. Don’t get me wrong; I like myself. I’m definitely not Narcissus, but I’m content with my personality. My physical appearance leaves a lot to be desired, and my powers aren’t very helpful in my pursuit of a normal life. Not that they haven’t come in handy from time to time, my flight enables me to reach the very dustiest corners of my room. But I’d rather share a room with a family of tarantulas than be the freak that I am.

    It’s no doubt that you will have experienced some less than nice things so far. All teens face things like forgetting the combination to their locker, or forgetting to do an assignment and having to rush to get it done. But I doubt many of you have had to outrun the media and get home without being seen. I doubt you will have to get past your parents and avoid them seeing how battered and bloody you are.

    I guess you get the picture. You’re probably shaking your head and saying “No, that’s never happened to me.”

    Well, you’re lucky. Those are things I face nearly every day. I fight off the criminals and defend the undefended, all while trying to remember what the hell SOH CAH TOA is.

    Not to sound like an alien, but you humans have never before seen something quite as strange as me. Sure, I can walk the walk and talk the talk, but sometimes it’s hard to blend in. Though I was raised by two very nice people in the foster care system that’s set up here, my actions don’t always come off as human as I’d like. Fortunately, in this society (I’m not sure about my own one), it just gets me labeled as a dork.

    Also fortunately, I have enough appeal to some people to actually make friends. Without Will and Rana, I’d be a sad little guy in a screwed-up world. I can lean on them, though not too much, or we’d all fall over like dominoes. They have issues too, and I have to consider that before whining about my own woes.

    What do you think?

  2. Ragged Boyon 10 Dec 2008 at 8:50 pm

    “My abilities are of no surprise to me. I’ve been different for my entire life, and I never had a stereotypical “moment” like in the movies where I realised I had these really awesome powers. It’s always been who I am, but I often find myself wishing my abilities away in favour of a more human existence. Don’t get me wrong; I like myself. I’m definitely not Narcissus, but I’m content with my personality. My physical appearance leaves a lot to be desired, and my powers aren’t very helpful in my pursuit of a normal life. Not that they haven’t come in handy from time to time, my flight enables me to reach the very dustiest corners of my room. But I’d rather share a room with a family of tarantulas than be the freak that I am.

    It’s no doubt that you will have experienced some less than nice things so far. All teens face things like forgetting the combination to their locker, or forgetting to do an assignment and having to rush to get it done. But I doubt many of you have had to outrun the media and get home without being seen. I doubt you will have to get past your parents and avoid them seeing how battered and bloody you are.
    -The last two sentences here can be reworked into another part of this. Other than that the rest is unneccesary

    I guess you get the picture. You’re probably shaking your head and saying “No, that’s never happened to me.”
    -I think this is unnecessary.

    Well, you’re lucky. Those are things I face nearly every day. I fight off the criminals and defend the undefended, all while trying to remember what the hell SOH CAH TOA is.

    Not to sound like an alien, but you humans have never before seen something quite as strange as me. Sure, I can walk the walk and talk the talk, but sometimes it’s hard to blend in. Though I was raised by two very nice people in the foster care system that’s set up here, my actions don’t always come off as human as I’d like. Fortunately, in this society (I’m not sure about my own one), it just gets me labeled as a dork.”
    -I’d suggest not using the parenthesis, you could just make that into a sentence.

    -The last paragraph about his friends can be removed and explained later while in the story, when his friends actually show up.

    “Apparently I was given up to a scientific facility for “the purpose of testing the Paralator”. It explained that it’s basically a machine capable of sending people and objects through the walls of the universe and into a neighbouring one. I was a guinea pig for this reality, and no doubt they had a whole bag full of babies to send to other universes. They probably bought us all in bulk at a supermarket.”

    -This paragraph could be explained in the story, it would do his origin justice here.

    I think that will shorten this to the more important factors, try to avoid idle chit-chat.

  3. Cadet Davison 10 Dec 2008 at 8:58 pm

    I’m Isaac Maehara, student/waiter/superhero. (I know this breaks a rule for introductions, but it isn’t the only part aimed at the reader. The whole thing is full of rhetorical questions, as though Isaac is sitting across the room, telling the story)
    –This sentence strikes me as a bit awkward. I don’t think it’s primarily that he introduces himself, but the phrase “student/waiter/superhero.” For one, if he uses slashes, it doesn’t sound like he’s sitting across the room and speaking to us.

    Here’s the truth: I’m weird. Think of that kid in science class who always half raises his hand for every question, but seems too shy to fully extend it. That’s me. Think of the guy who tends to get benched during team sports. That’s also me. Then think of a comic book hero with the power of flight, psi-blasts and extra strength and speed. If you think I’m going to say that it’s also not me, you’d be wrong. It IS me.
    –I’m not very fond of this paragraph.
    –The phrase “here’s the truth” suggests that he hasn’t been completely honest with us.
    –“If you think I’m going to say that it’s also not me” strikes me as awkward.
    –“the guy who tends to get benched…” suggests that he’s physically uncoordinated and/or weak. But he’s stronger and quicker than the average human.

    By no means am I superstrong or quick as lightning, but I’m higher than the average human in those respects. I myself am average, just not compared to you. Compared to the others of my species, I am a plain old student. I’m from a parallel universe where the inhabitants took a slightly different evolutionary path to humans. We had to adapt to a much more coarse and frightening environment, so developed different defenses over the years. The result was my people, the Yinyusi.
    –It’s too soon to drop fictional words on us.
    –How he stacks up against other Yinyusi is not relevant here.

    I’ve known all this for my whole life, due to being found with a book. You wouldn’t think that’s very significant, but on my second birthday I accidentally dropped it, and the back cover opened up. Inside was a letter, explaining what had really happened and who I was.
    –I’d prefer if this were told as forward story rather than narrated backstory. It’s significant enough that it’s something I’d like him to see him learn.
    –I feel that the story has stalled.

    Apparently I was given up to a scientific facility for “the purpose of testing the Paralator”. It explained that it’s basically a machine capable of sending people and objects through the walls of the universe and into a neighbouring one. I was a guinea pig for this reality, and no doubt they had a whole bag full of babies to send to other universes. They probably bought us all in bulk at a supermarket.
    –This is very far removed from the forward story, and from the guy introducing himself as a student, a waiter and a poor athlete.

    My abilities are of no surprise to me. I’ve been different for my entire life, and I never had a stereotypical “moment” like in the movies where I realised I had these really awesome powers. It’s always been who I am, but I often find myself wishing my abilities away in favour of a more human existence. Don’t get me wrong; I like myself. I’m definitely not Narcissus, but I’m content with my personality. My physical appearance leaves a lot to be desired, and my powers aren’t very helpful in my pursuit of a normal life. Not that they haven’t come in handy from time to time, my flight enables me to reach the very dustiest corners of my room. But I’d rather share a room with a family of tarantulas than be the freak that I am.
    –This would probably be more interesting as a scene later in the book, perhaps with the girl that steals his diary.
    –“the freak I am.” I don’t think that’s consistent with the use of “our people” before. Like he says, he’s quite average for his species. I’d imagine that he sees himself as either a normal Yinyusi, or a rather strange human, but not both. If anything, wouldn’t it be the humans that are strange to him?

    It’s no doubt that you will have experienced some less than nice things so far. All teens face things like forgetting the combination to their locker, or forgetting to do an assignment and having to rush to get it done. But I doubt many of you have had to outrun the media and get home without being seen. I doubt you will have to get past your parents and avoid them seeing how battered and bloody you are.
    –Too self-pitying.
    –Would be far more effective in a scene.

    I guess you get the picture. You’re probably shaking your head and saying “No, that’s never happened to me.”

    Well, you’re lucky. Those are things I face nearly every day. I fight off the criminals and defend the undefended, all while trying to remember what the hell SOH CAH TOA is.
    –More self-pity. I don’t think that readers would find this character endearing.

    Not to sound like an alien, but you humans have never before seen something quite as strange as me. Sure, I can walk the walk and talk the talk, but sometimes it’s hard to blend in. Though I was raised by two very nice people in the foster care system that’s set up here, my actions don’t always come off as human as I’d like. Fortunately, in this society (I’m not sure about my own one), it just gets me labeled as a dork.
    –I don’t think that strangeness per se is a quality that will make readers say “Wow, I really want to keep reading this!” I’d recommend recasting it as some combination of difference, extraordinariness, and maybe diversity. I think those will feel a lot less weird.

    Also fortunately, I have enough appeal to some people to actually make friends. Without Will and Rana, I’d be a sad little guy in a screwed-up world. I can lean on them, though not too much, or we’d all fall over like dominoes. They have issues too, and I have to consider that before whining about my own woes.
    –Too passive.
    –I think the phrase “I have to consider that before whining about my own woes” is problematic here. The better part of this passage has been him whining about his woes, hasn’t it?

    In conclusion, I think this has story pacing issues. Namely, the story seems to lack an initiating action. We just launch full-long into the character’s backstory. This doesn’t feel like an introduction, but rather like a synopsis of everything we should have learned about the character over the first 25% of the book.

    I did not find the narration structure very helpful. Asides from the narrator are one thing, but this narration structure has no scenes. I’d recommend starting with the character in a scene, probably him doing something typical at school. Then there’s an initiating action… some strangeness starts. Perhaps he’s reached some point in his life that marks maturity among the Yinyusi people, which causes something strange to happen. For example, if he has a Yinyusi trinket with him, perhaps it starts generating the images now that he’s old enough to learn the story. I’d really recommend having him learn what he is over the course of the book. That’s a scene that I really want to read as it’s happening.

    Alternately, let’s say the book starts with him as a superhero. Then I’d recommend starting it with him going to school. He gets side-tracked because he has superhero stuff to attend to, and then gets in trouble with his school because he’s half an hour late again. Etc. This would raise confusion issues (who’s this guy? How does he have superpowers?) and I think the best you could do there would be to say that he doesn’t know what his origin story is, just that he has some crazy abilities. Then I’d recommend filling in the backstory later.

  4. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 11 Dec 2008 at 3:38 am

    Sounds like I have a lot to fix. I’m really bad at introductions, but I like to think I’m good with description and imagery.

    I’m going to enter next year’s national writing competition and see if I can’t win something. I had a good idea about an army invading Australia, and it tells the stories of families being besieged in a school gym. They have to wait until dawn for help to arrive. Of course, not everyone will make it out. I’m going to kill off the narrator’s brother from blood loss. I also pride myself on my angst writing. I know it’s all “boo-hoo I’m so sad” in general, but the last thing I wrote wasn’t sympathizing with the emo guy, it was saying was a dumbar*e he was. It sympathized with his family, because they had to watch him slowly go insane with all his pent up emotion. He was the one doing the harm to his family, rather than vice-versa. I actually came to despise him while I wrote it. (Just for the record, it’s all invented. I don’t actually have an emo friend or family member, and I’m not emo either.)

  5. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 11 Dec 2008 at 4:00 am

    My original plot was essentially the same as the assignment I based it off. It started as a simple ten page story for English, but I loved it so much that it ended up being ninety pages. Needless to say, I got the highest mark in the class and a heap of awesome comments along the lines of “very original”, “Nice work, definitely worth the time it took to read”. (I did a little happy dance when I saw my mark. 100%! Everyone stared at me, because I’m normally very silent.)

    I’ve changed my story so often that I now have three different versions: the one directly based on the assignment, one where he has an extra friend and the one I’ve worked on most. I’ll do a fourth one and pick my favourite later. Perhaps your suggestion about him with a Yinyusian trinket would be more interesting. I do find it hard to explain everything he knows without it being boring. I’ve contracted the writer’s curse, the unholy block. Maybe working on a different version will spawn some ready ideas.

    Thanks!

  6. Cadet Davison 11 Dec 2008 at 5:10 am

    I don’t think that the material is fundamentally flawed, just that the narration structure could probably be improved. For example, I thought that “I doubt you will have to get past your parents and avoid them seeing how battered and bloody you are” was too self-pitying, but something very similar could feel pretty sober and perhaps even compelling if it came in a scene later in the book.

    The main reason that I don’t think it’s so effective is that it’s on page 1. At this point, we don’t know the character or his parents or what he’s given up to be a superhero. However, with the appropriate buildup, I think that we could easily sympathize with his difficult superhero-life without feeling that he’s being emo. Here are a few itemized suggestions.

    1) It may help to build up more to the difficulty in his life.

    2) I suspect that readers would like to know more about his “status quo.” What was he like before he discovered/discovers he’s special? What was it like for him to discover that he was special?

    And two suggestions mostly unrelated to pacing out his backstory:
    3) Your description is very distinct and will likely take you far in a writing contest. I suspect that your knack for description would be better harnessed by a scene at the beginning.

    4) An initiating action may help you plot the book. I’ve been thinking about alternatives to “he discovers he’s special.” Some possibilities I came up with: he meets the girl that eventually reads his diary, he is forced into a new situation (a new school, class, group, city, etc.)

  7. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 12 Dec 2008 at 6:09 am

    What if I replaced “I doubt you will have to get past your parents and avoid them seeing how battered and bloody you are” with “I doubt you will have to get past your parents to stop them from seeing how exhausted you are”?

    I did another possible opening, where it starts with some dialogue from his teacher: “You’re late AGAIN! Is every available clock BROKEN?!” then Isaac sits down, completely embarrassed at being singled out. He sits between his friends and gives a brief intro for each of them: “Will and I had been friends for nine years, and his personality had changed little in that time. He still made paper planes and laughed at fart jokes. Rana, on the other hand, had changed a lot since I met her in year three. She had become a lot more open and cheery – the eight year old I had first met was shy and often hid behind her hands.”

    In my personally favourite version (which I suspect will be the one I complete and eventually submit to a publisher), he has known since the age of two. I guess I could stretch that to an incident in pre-primary, perhaps he accidentally knocks the teacher’s coffee mug off his desk from across the room. When he gets home he takes the book out from under his bed (It’s of huge significance for him because it’s the only remnant he has of his past) and it slips from his hands. The back page opens up and he finds the letter. I might add that he was very boisterous and attention-seeking before finding it, but withdrew a bit because it would help him to hide his powers better. Here’s a quick draft of a possible scene when his first rescue comes on the news:

    “Oh, you were so adorable as a little boy,” said Mum. She went off into her fantasy land where I still held her hand while crossing the road. “I remember once, you were about five years old and you came up to me. You said: ‘Mummy, I have superpowers!’ It was so cute.”

    I froze up, begging her not to make the connection.

    Thanks! I keep looking back at all my old stuff from five years ago and I see that my description was really bad. It was practically a transcript. “The leaves fell on the floor. I picked one up.” Gross. Not to mention all the spelling mistakes and abuse of the noble comma.

    I’m working on a timeline of events for the book at the moment. I’ll put it here when I’m finished.

    Thanks for your help!

  8. Cadet Davison 12 Dec 2008 at 6:58 am

    I suppose that if you’re attached to the character finding out about his past at an early age, you could start the book with him at the age of 2 or 5 or whatever. I don’t think that’s ideal, but at least it would make it easier to relay his backstory without resorting to exposition.

    Or you could start the book with the letter from the Yinyusi to the protagonist. You’d have to be careful to avoid it feeling like a “as you know, Bob” block but I don’t think it’s an implausible feat. The trick is, I think, limiting the information in the letter to what will interest the readers. I don’t think we’ll care all that much about the Yinyusi or why the protagonist was sent to Earth, but the important thing is that there’s someone who has to maintain a human identity despite not being human. That’s where the excitement is, I think.

    I’m not sure what I would think about opening the book with a diary entry (he does have a diary, right?), but that’s another alternative available to you. “Today is the eighth [or whatever] anniversary of the day I learned I was not a human” is a serviceable opening line.

    On a random side-note, I think that it would be pretty funny if his mother recounted that story where he thought he had superpowers when he was 5. That could make for a pretty hilarious scene later on. You know how mothers sometimes embarrass their friends by telling childhood stories? Well, if I were him I’d hate to have Mom tell that story in particular. Haha.

  9. Cadet Davison 12 Dec 2008 at 7:20 am

    What if I replaced “I doubt you will have to get past your parents and avoid them seeing how battered and bloody you are” with “I doubt you will have to get past your parents to stop them from seeing how exhausted you are”?

    I think that’s smoother, but I don’t think it resolves the main problem: the line takes a dramatic scene and relays it as backstory. When he tries to hide his wounds from his parents, that is dramatic. In contrast, looking back it’s not very dramatic because we know that nothing came of that particular incident (given that his parents still don’t know).

    The unreasonable, bitchy teacher is a bit cliche but effective. I think that when the teacher is in the spotlight, (s)he will probably have good chemistry with Isaac. In contrast, I’m not so sure that describing what the friends are like will develop Isaac as well. What do we learn about Isaac from learning that his two closest friends are respectively juvenile and quiet cum cheery? Is it necessary to tell us about the personal development arcs of his friends? Do we need to know how long Isaac has known them? (It may be possible just to condense that fact into calling them longtime friends or close friends).

  10. B. Macon 12 Dec 2008 at 9:37 pm

    Hey, Whovian! I finally responded to your comment about your 9 story ideas here. Thanks for waiting.

  11. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 14 Dec 2008 at 5:04 am

    This is my new opening. What do you think?

    Great, just wonderful. I was late for class, AGAIN.

    I ran through the halls of the old school, trying desperately to get to my locker. There was no one else around, so the only sounds were my feet pounding on the floor and my own ragged breathing echoing in my ears like a dog’s panting.

    My hands were shaking with fear as I opened my locker and dumped my bag inside, grabbing the books for my first class. I was terrified not only of getting told off in front of everyone, but also because of the suspicion that could slowly be mounting in the minds of my classmates and teachers. I would be screwed if anyone figured out that my lateness coincided with the Guardian’s superheroism. Not even my parents knew who I was, so imagine how awkward it would be if my classmates found out before them. I didn’t want ANYONE to find out, EVER.

    With only a quick break at a water fountain, I rushed through the school and to the door of my class. I rapped on it with my knuckles and stood back, waiting for my teacher to reprimand me for my tardiness.

    “MAEHARA! WHY THE HELL ARE YOU SO LATE?!” demanded my teacher, Mister Stone. He looked especially intimidating today, his purple face matching his tie and his bald head shining under the lights.

    “I-” I was cut off as he continued yelling.

    “THIS IS THE THIRD TIME THIS BLOODY WEEK! ARE ALL YOUR CLOCKS AND WATCHES BROKEN?!”

    I shook my head, finding my voice leaving me. I wasn’t used to confrontations like this, so turned into a little bunny rabbit with absolutely no way to defend myself. I was practically dog meat.

    “WHY DO YOU BOTHER COMING HERE AT ALL IF YOU’RE GOING TO MISS THE ROLL CALL?! SIT YOUR BUTT DOWN AND PAY ATTENTION!”

    By now the whole class was in hysterics, except for a blonde boy and a girl sat second from the back. These guys were my best friends, Will and Rana.

    I put my books between them and pulled out my lab stool, but found it gone when I went to sit. I tumbled to the floor, striking my head on the edge of the desk as I went down. Great, another head wound. I sustained enough of them from my everyday life and ahem, job.

    Rana gasped. “Isaac, are you okay?”

    I growled inwardly as I noticed the black and green trainer hooked around the leg. That foot belonged to Darrick, the school bully. Will, Rana and I referred to him (behind his back) as Ol’ Meathead.

    “MAEHARA! STOP MESSING ABOUT AND SIT DOWN!”

    There was no point in arguing, so I sat down silently and rubbed the back of my head. I felt a lump already forming and had a quick fantasy about drowning Darrick in the yabbie tank at the back of the class.

    Rana looked at me when Mister Stone turned around to talk about CO2.

    “Why are you so late?” she asked.

    A lump rose in my throat, but I swallowed it back down and managed to give a coherent answer. “My alarm clock broke. I’ve been going by my body clock until I can get a new one.” Lies, all lies. I WISHED my alarm clock was broken.

    “It obviously needs adjusting, then,” said Will. He drew a small circle on my forehead, as though moving the hands on an analogue clock. “There, now you should wake up a bit earlier.”

    It wasn’t my sleeping pattern that was making me late all the time. There were unexpected job obligations that pulled me away so often, and this was no ordinary job. It all started out as a regular day in term one…

    From here, it flashes back to the day he rescues his future girlfriend and gets back to this point halfway through the book. It’ll be something like “This is where I started the story, the day I rushed to science class and got screamed at.”

    This also becomes the day where he finds out what his girlfriend knows, but she blackmails him. If he dumps her, she’ll tell everyone his secret. In the end her parents drag her off to Greece for the next six months to visit relatives. She dumps him before she leaves and promises secrecy. After all, he didn’t break up with her. The problem kind of solves itself, but maybe instead I’ll have him blackmail her back. But that’s not a very chivalrous thing to do. Hmm, I like the Greece one better. Can you suggest any alternatives? Thanks!

  12. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 14 Dec 2008 at 4:34 pm

    I’ve tried to post my new opening here twice. What gives? It isn’t showing up.

  13. Holliequon 15 Dec 2008 at 5:01 pm

    On the girlfriend situation: it seems she gets off lightly. She’s been blackmailing the hero of the story, then her parents say they’re taking her to Greece . . . and she promises not to do it any more?

    I don’t like blackmailing her back, either, because it makes Isaac seem a little, Iunno, vengeful? But the Greece one is truely lame. If that’s going to happen, spice it up some. Maybe she sends a bunch of emails to her friends before she leaves (or just to a single friend) spilling the secret. Then Isaac has to not only find out who this person is, but either find some way of preventing them from getting the email or convince them that it isn’t true.

  14. Ragged Boyon 15 Dec 2008 at 5:21 pm

    I think her reason for blackmailing him is OK. I don’t think blackmailing her back would be the best choice, it would reflect poorly on the character that I thought Isaac to be, a lovable geek.

    I think moving to Greece is OK, if not an extreme way of getting rid of the character.

  15. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 15 Dec 2008 at 6:54 pm

    In my original one, she stood up in the school lunchroom with a scrapbook full of evidence to spite Isaac after he dumped her.

    “I have conclusive evidence of the Guardian’s most sacred secret identity.”

    Then she points at Isaac and says it’s him. Isaac makes a last ditch attempt to avoid being exposed and starts laughing, claiming he made it all up when he saw how obsessed she was. Everyone laughs at her and she runs away, but Isaac feels really bad about it after and sends her an apology letter.

    Ooh, I like the one where she spills the secret. I think she should tell Morgan, because she’d be really hard to convince.

    “I’m NOT the Guardian!”

    “Uh-huh, just keep telling yourself that.”

    I’ve changed his girlfriend’s name from Wendy to Amy-Belle. Her mother is a model, so she needs a “fashionable” name. Her mother never has time for her, always leaving to do advertisements and things, which A.B doesn’t really like. But she has Madelena (her nanny), so she’s happy enough.

    I plan on bringing Amy-Belle back in halfway through the second book so that she’ll be in the way of things.

  16. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 18 Dec 2008 at 2:53 am

    What do you think?

  17. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 21 Dec 2008 at 3:41 am

    Okay, I’ve changed my storyline a little bit.

    Originally, Isaac would be attacked by a Guardian impostor in the school library.

    Now, instead of Isaac being attacked, it will be Will. That way, Isaac can begin investigation immediately instead of waiting for his bones to heal. It’ll also raise questions. Who did it? Why? Do they know Isaac’s true identity? How did they find out? Why go after Will and not his sister or parents?

    What do you think?

  18. B. Macon 21 Dec 2008 at 6:49 pm

    I like Will getting attacked. Revealing Isaac’s identity to the enemy too quickly might make it harder to sustain the plot.

  19. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 22 Dec 2008 at 3:55 am

    Yeah, that’s what I thought. I also came up with two more ideas. They come out of nowhere! It’s really weird. I’ll be reading a book or watching a movie, and then I’ll think something like “I should write a superhero story about a boy from a parallel universe! I’ll call him Isaac and his superhero name will be the Guardian!” (That’s what happened when I was handed the assignment sheet. All these little ideas I hadn’t used in my short stories compacted into an instant sentence. Heck, if I never manage to be an author, I could be an author’s assistant!) The really annoying thing is that the ideas are often for use later, instead of now.

    Okay, my first idea is this:

    Isaac goes back to the place where he was found and is accidentally pulled through into his own universe. He is found in a top secret lab by some military men who slam him into jail for trespassing. He is horrified to see that his own world is bombed out and dead, with huge, empty cities and little plant life. He escapes using some of Tristram’s inventions and frees some other prisoners who want to go with him to his current home. That’s all I’ve got so far.

    My second idea is my favourite.

    Isaac is captured by the supervillain team (I still need a name for them). His consciousness is swapped into the body of Cable Ryans aka Telek (Isaac mocks him by nicknaming him “Telephone Cable”) and vice versa.

    Isaac is held captive in the enemy base while Cable assumes Isaac’s superhero and civilian identities in an effort to bring FIGHT down from the inside. Using Cable’s psychokinetic powers, Isaac escapes the base and formulates a plan to get back into his own body. He is on his own, as the government have Cable’s alter ego pegged as a supervillain and FIGHT has his civilian one pegged too.

    Meanwhile, Cable is causing havoc in Isaac’s body. He pisses Will off by making moves on Rana, and the two get into a fight that tears their friendship apart. He starts hanging around with Darrick and victimizing younger students, as well as talking back to teachers and skipping out on his job. When he does go, he yells at Evan (Isaac’s co worker) and gets himself fired.

    Isaac and Cable get into a huge fight which has them throwing lamp posts and energy blasts at each other until Isaac is finally back in his own body. Cable escapes and leaves Isaac to clean up all the mess he caused. Understandably, Isaac is none too pleased about getting fired and his friends being alienated. Then he has a stack of built-up detentions to go to and several teachers to apologize to.

    What do you think?

  20. Bretton 22 Dec 2008 at 11:40 am

    Personally, I’ve never been too fond of the “switching minds” gimmick. It usually comes off as a soap opera-esque deus ex machina. “Don’t worry, that wasn’t really me! I was mind-swapped with my ever-so-cliche evil twin!” Nooo, thank you. These plots usually get annoying very fast. Another issue is that the aftermath is either depressing/wangsty or unrealistic. Unrealistically, everyone forgives the hero and he gets off scot free. In the wangst department, even though he is forgiven, nobody really trusts him and all of his relationships are shattered. Boo hoo.

    However, you might be able to pull this off in a way I’ve never seen before. Just be mindful that this doesn’t turn into a “make something dramatic unhappen” plot like time travel or the Crisis on Infinite Worlds. (Btw, B. Mac, I am requesting you make an article on the dangers of using mind control/swapping as a plot device.) I’m not saying it can’t be done, I’m just cautioning that it will be very hard, and you might have to go through several re-writes to get a version that isn’t annoying or confusing. If you are confident you can pull it off, then go for it.

  21. Bretton 22 Dec 2008 at 11:41 am

    Seriously B. Mac, I’d put this one under the same umbrella as resurrection when it comes to plot-killers.

  22. B. Macon 22 Dec 2008 at 4:17 pm

    Mind-swapping often has a gimmicky, tangential feel to it. “Well, we had to come out with 12 episodes this year, so here’s a one-and-done mind-swap plot!” (See Teen Titans, JLU, Krypto and many others).

    However, I think it could work. For example, I’d suggest using it as the main plot. I think it would be helpful if the story was pretty much wrapped up as soon as he got his body back. The element of mind-swapping is probably too unusual and niche to throw into a book that’s about something else entirely.

    One of the tricky problems with mind-swapping is that the author has to “get” the side-characters because the main-character will probably not be present in every scene. For example, when the villain is in Isaac’s body, suddenly the real Isaac is out of the picture and we’re probably seeing the scene from someone else’s eyes (the villain or one of Isaac’s friends, most likely). Mind-swapping pretty much requires you to have at least two characters that are capable of propelling the story on their own. It’s not nearly as easy as it sounds.

    I think there are two main approaches to mind-swap stories.

    1) The hostile mind-swap, done by an antagonist. This usually leads to the hero being stuck in a criminal’s body. Typically, the antagonist is also trying to kill the hero in his body. This is rarely very interesting, because either the hero or his former friends will get lost in the shuffle. (If Captain Carnage is in a villain’s body, he’s certainly not going to be spending much time talking with his OSI partners).
    2) An accidental mind-swap. An accidental mind-swap is usually superior because it lets us keep both characters in scenes. For example, if Agent Orange the mutant alligator and Agent Black the taxman somehow accidentally switch bodies, the drama comes from whether they can manage to not totally screw up each others’ lives. The critical element here, I think, is that the characters have to keep the mind-swap secret from everyone else. If the characters can just say “sorry, Boss, but I’m actually Gary and not a mutant alligator,” then the mind-swap will not be dramatic. (For example, you could work in the element of the secret by saying that admitting the swap happened would be essentially admitting that Isaac is a superhero).

    Also, a #2 scenario will benefit greatly from dramatic and unalterable commitments. For example, Black’s accountant exam falls on next Tuesday. Agent Orange has to guest-host a radio show on Gator Nation. Agent Black has a date that absolutely can’t be moved back. The DEA has decided to call in an old favor from Agent Orange on a Colombian drug raid. The more the characters get out of their element, the better. You may also find it interesting to explore whether the character’s strengths are unexpectedly helpful.

    I suspect that it would be more interesting if Isaac switched with Tristam than a villain. He can’t tell anyone at school because it will blow the lid on his superhero secret. Depending on the circumstances of the swap, he and Tristam might want to keep it secret from his teammates as well (for example, if they only got swapped because they did something they had been specifically warned not to do, like using powers carelessly or something). How good of an actor is he? Will he be able to keep up the ruse? Will he be able to stay alive in a superhero battle with someone else’s powers? Etc.

  23. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 22 Dec 2008 at 9:16 pm

    Hmm, Isaac and Tristram swapping would probably work better. It would also be less cliche.

    (Power surge in the school)

    Will: Oh crap! I didn’t save! My work is due at the end of this lesson!

    Rana: Why didn’t you save?

    Tristram (In Isaac’s body): Don’t worry. (Starts tinkering with computer, takes apart the motherboard and puts it back together) There!

    (Will’s work comes back up)

    Will and Rana: How the hell did you do that?!

    Tristram: I simply hacked into the mainframe to retrieve the last edits made on Microsoft Word. Um, I mean, I saw it on TV.

    (Dinner at Isaac’s house)

    Isaac’s mum: So, how were your days?

    Tristram: Mine was fine, Mom. Uh, MUM.

    (Security cameras in a building need to be switched off)

    Atalya: Any ideas, Tristram?

    Isaac (In Tristram’s body): Er… run real fast and hope the cameras don’t see us?

    Klemente: You’ve become an idiot since Thursday. What gives?

    Isaac: Um, shut up loser! I have a headache and I can’t concentrate! Grah, why am I surrounded by morons?!

    Klemente: That sounds more like you.

    I didn’t plan on having him undo all the damage by saying: “I’m a superhero and that guy made me swap minds with him!” It was going to be: “Sorry for being a jerk.” But that would raise a whole new set of issues. His friends would want to know what had come over him, why he’d been a jerk to Evan, his parents would be really worried even after he was back to normal etc.

    #2 is definitely favorable. Would Tristram know where class B7 was in Isaac’s school? Could Isaac make himself fit into Tristram’s group of friends in the USA? Could Tristram fill in as the Guardian when he doesn’t have as much experience with his Yinyusian powers? Could Isaac hack into the Big Bad Guy’s computer to stop him from launching a nuclear missile? Would Tristram remember that Lonnie doesn’t talk? Would Isaac be able to sustain Tristram’s relationship with Atalya without kissing her? (He would technically be cheating with her, even though he’s in Tristram’s body)

    What do you think of this reason for their swap?

    Isaac: (Looking at a machine in an evil science lab) Hmm, what does this do?

    Tristram: It’s interesting, that’s for sure.

    Atalya: Don’t touch it! I’m going to check that the badge-for-hire hasn’t picked up on us. (Walks out)

    (Tristram begins messing with the controls) (Isaac begins to repeatedly touch another button) (Tristram bumps into Isaac and knocks him into the middle of it, falling next to him)

    Countdown: 3… 2… 1… ZAP!

    Isaac: Oh, my head…

    Tristram: I’m really dizzy. (Looks down at clothes then checks hair in glass panel of fire alarm) OH MY GOD! I’M A DORK!

    Isaac: (Does same thing) HOLY HELL! I’M EMO! ATALYA IS GOING TO BE SO PISSED!

    Tristram: Not if we don’t tell her.

    What do you think? Thanks!

  24. B. Macon 23 Dec 2008 at 9:16 am

    I’m thinking about a reason for the swap. An evil science lab is fine, but I think it needs a lot of setup. Otherwise, the swap might come out of the blue. As the characters are exploring this lab, I think it’s important that readers get the feelings that…

    1) This is a lab that specializes in fantastical science. I’d recommend showing us some of the other things the doctor is working on. The crazier, the better.

    2) The characters are goofing around. That will help this seem less like a passive accident and more like something the characters actually fell into. If you’d like to have the two try to hide the mind-swap from their teammates, playing up the stupidity here will probably help. “Well, umm, we were trying to play Rock Band by getting all the buttons to beep…” Well, that may be too juvenile for your characters, so I’d recommend something in-character.

    3) Maybe you’d like to foreshadow the element of the mind-swap before it actually happens. Your call. For example, they might get attacked by a rabbit or something and see a wolf struggling to eat a carrot. (One of them might deduce that the professor is working on psychological experiments of some sort, but I wouldn’t recommend bringing up the mind-swap element explicitly until it actually happens). Obviously, in hindsight it would be clear that the rabbit and the wolf had been mind-swapped.

  25. B. Macon 23 Dec 2008 at 9:31 am

    Also, character voice is probably more important in a mind-swap story than most other stories. I’d recommend playing up the differences between Isaac’s style of speech and Tristam’s. The accents are a good start (Mum vs. Mom, for example).

  26. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 23 Dec 2008 at 6:47 pm

    The two boys have these major differences which could confuse them or be hard to duplicate:

    Isaac’s whole family are vegetarians, and Tristram’s aren’t.
    Isaac makes dinner on Friday, Saturday and some Sunday nights.
    Since Tristram was raised in New York, a few words won’t be pronounced or written the Aussie way. (Aluminium vs Aluminum, Colour vs Color)
    Tristram has a totally different taste in music. He likes these genres: emo, punk, death metal, nu metal and rock. Isaac is more of a vintage guy, with a lot of things from the ’70s and ’80s being his favourites.
    Isaac is a lot more levelheaded. Tristram gets mad easily.
    Tristram speaks his mind more often. If Darrick were to shove him, he’d whirl around and say “Watch it, you pathetic baboon!” but Isaac would ignore it and keep walking.
    Tristram swears more often. Isaac only says “crap” out loud when he’s surprised or can’t think of a better word. Tristram says stuff like: “Holy crap, that was the easiest work ever! I mean, am I three or something? Rerouting that damn hard drive was like something out of a freakin’ kindergarten story! I can’t believe no one else cleared out all the data and crap before trying it! Why am I in the stupid class?!”

    Hmm, Isaac and Tristram goofing around… I’ll have to think of something they’d do. They could simply have become more accustomed to eachother, so mess around because they don’t care if the other thinks they’re immature.

    (The two see a tall, cylindrical power generator with two wires hanging down from the top)

    Tristram: It looks like a maypole. (Grabs one wire and skips around it) It’s like one of those town celebrations they had in the olden days.

    Isaac: That looks like fun. (Joins him)

    (They run over to a console and pretend to be on a spaceship)

    Tristram: I am confined to this space shuttle with my significantly less attractive twin. I am currently contemplating the possibility of murdering him with a fork.

    Isaac: Note to self; hide all forks.

    Tristram: The loneliness would then surely drive me insane, but my brother’s mere presence is enough to fuel thoughts of murder-suicide.

    Isaac: Note to self; kill Tristram first. (Shifty eyed)

    Tristram: (Falls out of chair laughing) If Atalya catches us, she’ll be really mad.

    Isaac: I know! So quiet down.

  27. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 25 Dec 2008 at 5:42 pm

    Here’s the second chapter. My chapters are usually short, but I don’t generally think it’s a problem.

    I walked out of my room and down the stairs, my new jacket tied around my waist. My pencilcase and digital camera were in my right hand, and I gently skirted my left on the polished wooden banister.

    I was going to the city to complete a homework assignment we’d been given in Social Studies. Homework was almost always boring at my school; my teachers seemed incapable of giving us anything interesting to do.

    Passing the kitchen, I saw that my mother was making some breakfast for Lonnie; who was sitting there with an expression glued on her face. It never changed unless she was fighting or crying. Her psychologist said it was trauma from the abuse she had suffered in her last home.

    Her biological parents were the most awful people you could imagine. While she was under their care, Lonnie was lucky to be fed once a day, and she was verbally abused every minute. Along with that, she hasn’t spoken once in the three years we’ve known her. Screamed? Yes. Grunted? Yes. Spoken? Sorry, no cigar.

    Lonnie is legally a part of this family. I took the Maehara surname when I came to live here, but have to deal with simply being fostered, seeing as my parents weren’t here to officially give me up. Sometimes I wish I could sterilise my bio parents by thinking really hard. I hate them SO MUCH.

    Mum looked up and saw me, and I said good morning.

    “Izzy, do you want some breakfast?” Mum asked me, as she does every single day. She opened the fridge and looked around for something to give me. Our fridge is jam-packed with fruit, veggies, dairy products and eggs. You’d be surprised to find how many nutritious meals you can make.

    “No thanks. I already ate,” I said, truthfully.

    I hadn’t allowed her to make me breakfast since I was nine. I didn’t want to bother her, because she’d already done enough for me. I really hate asking for things from my parents. The only utterly inescapable times are on my birthday, Easter and Christmas.

    “Are you sure?” she continued. “I haven’t seen you eat in days.”

    “I’ve been getting up earlier. Besides, I can eat at work.”

    “Okay, bye then.” She gave me a kiss on the forehead and handed me a carton of strawberry milk.

    “Mum…” I started, but she cut me off.

    “Just take it, okay?”

    I shrugged and opened the flyscreen door, making the two steps down from our porch to the garden path. I stuck my pencilcase under my arm as I opened the milk, and drank it while walking.

    Our part of the city is nice. All the homes have tricycles out the front, school buses regularly drive by and the gardens look like fairy kingdoms. On occasion you might see a little girl waving a plastic wand around, or a young boy playing on a swing set. Every house looks like a display home, with all the outside walls one colour and stainless steel roofs, balconies with Italian-style railing and steps leading up to the stained-glass front doors.

    I headed toward the high rise buildings which almost completely filled my vision. Not a nice view for such a quaint neighbourhood, but at least it means we’re close to the city.

    I was soon amongst the one and a half million or so other civilians. Perth isn’t the biggest city, but it’s good enough for me. I like looking at all the old buildings made from brick, and I personally love the interior of the museum.

    Tossing the cardboard carton into the nearest bin, I headed to work. It was my third month, taking orders from customers and taking them back to our team of cooks. In case you haven’t picked up on it, I’m a waiter.

    I took off my jacket and went into the back room, hanging it upon one of several hooks provided. The pen leaken onto my hand when I went to sign in, leaving a dark blue mark. Groaning, I grabbed a serviette and got the majority off, though there was still a small stain. I grabbed a new pen, wrote my name in the sign-in book, picked up my notebook, pinned on my nametag and went to report for duty.

    “Isaac!” said Evan, as I met him in the kitchen. He’s my co-worker, a guy of eighteen years with a tendency to fool about on the job. More than once has he folded paper frogs out of his notebook paper and flipped them across the counter, making ‘ribbit’ sounds. Don’t get me started on the yoyo. He accidentally hit himself in the face with it once and gave himself a black eye. But that’s Evan for you.

    “Hey. Who’s on today?” I asked, running my hands down the front of my jeans to straighten out any creases. I have to look presentable at all times during my shifts, because the people who come in usually have expectations for neatness.

    “Millie called in sick, but we have Warren and Kate. Oh, guess what!” he said, suddenly turning to me with a look that said ‘I know something interesting’.

    “What?” I made a gesture for him to walk and talk as I went to take the check to table fourteen. They had just given us the international signal, a small tick made in the air. I thumbed through the orders listed in the log book; saw that they had rung up thirty dollars worth of thickshakes, and took the form over to them.

    “Apparently, we’re getting a new dress code soon,” he said, as the group of teens paid.

    I encouraged them to visit again and gave them their change, before talking to Evan when they got up and left. “Really? Why’s that important?”

    We picked up the glasses and headed back to the kitchen with them, passing them to Kate. She smiled and said hello, before dunking the four glasses into elbow-deep water and beggining to scrub them.

    “Because we’ll have less freedom,” he said, a bit whiny. I tried not to chuckle at his tone of voice. Don’t tell him, but it made him sound like someone had just kicked him in the nuts.

    “What freedom do we have? It’s not like we’re allowed to strut around in designer clothes. We already have nametags.”

    “Well, we’re allowed to customise them,” said Kate, clunking one of the glasses onto a wire dishrack.

    Evan pointed at her, to show me that he agreed. “Yeah, we can do that.”

    I shrugged, gesturing at my nametag. “I think that particular choice will be eliminated by the new dress code. Kate, you may be forced to remove that sticker.”

    She looked down at the colourful unicorn that she had attached to the plastic cover of her tag.

    “Oh, we’ve had some good times…”

    Then she sort of went of into the land of the Happy-Cake-Fairies, as she always would. We had found that it was best not to disturb her when she did, because she screamed or said random things if suddenly jolted out of her fantasy. She was probably recalling all the different dishes she’d washed with the little guy safely hanging off her shirt. She’s a little strange, but in a good way.

    We slowly backed off, putting emphasis on our faces to show our carefulness. We widened our eyes and tiptoed backwards in great, lurching steps.

    “Any word on the new code? What’s changing, exactly?” I asked him, when we were at the opposite end of the counter.

    “Well, I saw an order form for a bunch of shirts on Bill’s desk.”

    Bill was our boss, the head honcho, big cheese. He was quite a nice guy, but wasn’t impressed when we had a bit more than “professional entertainment” on the job. So, in other words, if we laughed more than about four times a day, we were being “immature little children”.

    “What were you doing near his desk?” It was a fair question. There was nothing in his job description that involved being close enough to read documents of Bill’s.

    “Okay, I heard him mention an order over the phone, and it wasn’t one of our regular food delivery services, so I mighta checked in and looked.”

    I tutted. “You have to stop snooping around; you’re going to get busted for rifling through other people’s things. You don’t plan on stalking anyone, do you? Because that’d be pretty scary.”

    “Of course not! Well, unless I HAVE to.”

    I’d been expecting that response. Evan isn’t exactly normal. Well, I can’t talk. Look at ME!

    “Do you think they’ll keep me on staff if this place gets more upscale?” asked Evan, glancing around for any tables that needed serving.

    “Why wouldn’t you get to keep your job?”

    “I’m not exactly class, you know.”

    I rolled my eyes. “You’re a paranoid little man, you know that? You’ve been here for years, and all the regulars know you. Just because we’re getting a new dress code doesn’t mean we’re going to start serving hors d’oeuvres and get violinists. Why are you asking me?”

    He shrugged. “I guess I trust you the most.”

    “You should ask Kate this type of thing,” I said, gesturing at the blonde. She was now washing a porcelain plate, but her eyes were slowly glazing over. “Actually, on second thought, don’t. You might startle her.”

    I sure am surrounded by a bunch of colourful characters. It begins to look like a soap opera, what with Evan the paranoid stalker, Kate the daydreamer and Lonnie the chatterbox (not). Top it off with me; the superpowered weirdo from another universe.

    A couple of hours later, I had taken and delivered several orders, told Warren to get up off his lazy butt and actually help for once, and finished my shift. Evan was working for an extra hour that day, so was there when I left. It was unfortunate that he wouldn’t get to witness first-hand some of the most amazing things to happen in Australia, but he could see it on television anyway.

  28. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 26 Dec 2008 at 6:07 am

    I particularly like this paragraph. I was going to use it after Isaac was beaten up by the other guy, but I won’t be, since I decided to move that role on to Will. I’ll use it in the second one, but I want a quick opinion on it.

    My head was pounding, even worse than the power fatigue that I had suffered. Thankfully, that had become less frequent, but this new variety of pain had me convinced that half my skull was missing and my brain had fallen onto my shoulder. I bit my lower lip to keep from screaming, but I accidentally broke the skin and felt my warm blood rushing down my chin. I had never ever taken such a bad beating in any of my rescues. I had done at least fifty by this point, but those were against humans – or in one case, a particularly angry cat – but never another Yinyusi.

    Thanks!

  29. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 26 Dec 2008 at 5:05 pm

    What do you think about the chapter and the additional paragraph? I feel like there’s something wrong with the second chapter, but I can’t put my finger on it.

    Thanks!

  30. B. Macon 28 Dec 2008 at 8:16 am

    I walked out of my room and down the stairs, my new jacket tied around my waist. My pencilcase and digital camera were in my right hand, and I gently skirted my left on the polished wooden banister.

    –I feel like this is too much description of routine stuff.

    I was going to the city to complete a homework assignment we’d been given in Social Studies. Homework was almost always boring at my school; my teachers seemed incapable of giving us anything interesting to do.

    –The voice doesn’t seem dead-on (it sounds like a journalist reporting someone else’s complaints about homework rather than someone actually complaining about his homework), but the description is more interesting.

    Passing the kitchen, I saw that my mother was making some breakfast for Lonnie; who was sitting there with an expression glued on her face. It never changed unless she was fighting or crying. Her psychologist said it was trauma from the abuse she had suffered in her last home.

    –I’m not quite feeling Lonnie here. Yeah. Very somber. Also, it seems kind of like a distraction from the meat of the story, which at this point is probably more about Isaac and what he’s up to than Lonnie’s backstory.

    Her biological parents were the most awful people you could imagine. While she was under their care, Lonnie was lucky to be fed once a day, and she was verbally abused every minute. Along with that, she hasn’t spoken once in the three years we’ve known her. Screamed? Yes. Grunted? Yes. Spoken? Sorry, no cigar.

    –This is not a very interesting way to introduce us to her, I feel. It might be better to show the two of them interacting.
    –Why does she matter? That’s something you could probably show better in a conversation than through his exposition.

    Lonnie is legally a part of this family. I took the Maehara surname when I came to live here, but have to deal with simply being fostered, seeing as my parents weren’t here to officially give me up. Sometimes I wish I could sterilise my bio parents by thinking really hard. I hate them SO MUCH.

    –I’m finding it hard to follow the phrase with “have to deal with simply being fostered”. I suppose it means that he’s a more temporary member of the family (seeing that his parents/next-of-kin haven’t officially signed him over). However, I think that could probably be clearer.

    Mum looked up and saw me, and I said good morning.

    –“And I said good morning” is probably a nicety. I would either give him something that shows more style/personality or just eliminate it.

    “Izzy, do you want some breakfast?” Mum asked me, as she does every single day. She opened the fridge and looked around for something to give me. Our fridge is jam-packed with fruit, veggies, dairy products and eggs. You’d be surprised to find how many nutritious meals you can make.

    –I think this could probably use more personality. For example, you could put in some conflict by having him hate the nutritious food, or having him think that he could cook better than his mom, or whatever.

    “No thanks. I already ate,” I said, truthfully.

    –In context, “no thanks” is probably not necessary.

    I hadn’t allowed her to make me breakfast since I was nine. I didn’t want to bother her, because she’d already done enough for me. I really hate asking for things from my parents. The only utterly inescapable times are on my birthday, Easter and Christmas.

    –This paragraph could be shown in conversation. I think it would sound more modest then.
    –As it is, this sentiment doesn’t really show up in his lines thus far.

    “Are you sure?” she continued. “I haven’t seen you eat in days.”

    “I’ve been getting up earlier. Besides, I can eat at work.”

    “Okay, bye then.” She gave me a kiss on the forehead and handed me a carton of strawberry milk.

    –I don’t feel like this conversation is very dramatic. I think he should play his self-reliance card more strongly.

    “Mum…” I started, but she cut me off.

    “Just take it, okay?”

    I shrugged and opened the flyscreen door, making the two steps down from our porch to the garden path. I stuck my pencilcase under my arm as I opened the milk, and drank it while walking.

    Our part of the city is nice. All the homes have tricycles out the front, school buses regularly drive by and the gardens look like fairy kingdoms. On occasion you might see a little girl waving a plastic wand around, or a young boy playing on a swing set. Every house looks like a display home, with all the outside walls one colour and stainless steel roofs, balconies with Italian-style railing and steps leading up to the stained-glass front doors.

    –I’m not a huge fan of the word “nice.” There’s probably a more specific word available to describe the town.
    –I like the details about the tricycles, school buses and the gardens.
    –You might be able to condense the third sentence to something like “Occasionally little kids wave plastic wands around or play on a swing-set.” I tried to take it out of the second-person because that strikes me as a bit intrusive.
    –The last sentence is kind of long.

    I headed toward the high rise buildings which almost completely filled my vision. Not a nice view for such a quaint neighbourhood, but at least it means we’re close to the city.

    –The tenses are a bit strange here. He uses the past at the beginning of the sentence (“I headed”) but the present tense at the end (“we’re close”).
    –Quaint is OK, but I think nice is kind of vague here. What does he like about the town? The things he named above suggest that he likes the town because there are lots of little kids (wands, swingsets, tricycles, school buses).
    –I think the shot of the high-rise buildings probably merits more details.
    –“we’re close to the city” can be removed and replaced with details of what the high-rise buildings look like. At that point, it should be obvious that they’re approaching a city (although you could probably mention Perth specifically).

    I was soon amongst the one and a half million or so other civilians. Perth isn’t the biggest city, but it’s good enough for me. I like looking at all the old buildings made from brick, and I personally love the interior of the museum.

    –This description strikes me as more of a travelogue than fiction. I think it needs higher stakes and more urgency. What does he want to do in Perth? What’s he trying to accomplish?

    Tossing the cardboard carton into the nearest bin, I headed to work. It was my third month, taking orders from customers and taking them back to our team of cooks. In case you haven’t picked up on it, I’m a waiter.

    –The detail about the carton could probably be removed.
    –“In case you haven’t picked up on it” could probably be removed.
    –“team of” could probably be removed.
    –I’d recommend giving us a visual of what the workplace looks like. That will help give us an impression of what it’s like to work there.

    I took off my jacket and went into the back room, hanging it upon one of several hooks provided. The pen leaken onto my hand when I went to sign in, leaving a dark blue mark. Groaning, I grabbed a serviette and got the majority off, though there was still a small stain. I grabbed a new pen, wrote my name in the sign-in book, picked up my notebook, pinned on my nametag and went to report for duty.

    –I’d recommend playing up the ink-stain here for style. Instead of saying the ink linked, a more powerful word like hemorrhaged might make it sound like this is a real problem. Also, it might help if he reacts in a more vocal way than groaning, I think. (For example, one of my characters might exclaim something like Gah!)

    “Isaac!” said Evan, as I met him in the kitchen. He’s my co-worker, a guy of eighteen years with a tendency to fool about on the job. More than once has he folded paper frogs out of his notebook paper and flipped them across the counter, making ‘ribbit’ sounds. Don’t get me started on the yoyo. He accidentally hit himself in the face with it once and gave himself a black eye. But that’s Evan for you.

    –But that’s Evan for you could probably be removed.
    –“with a tendency to” feels a bit off-voice. Maybe too old?

    “Hey. Who’s on today?” I asked, running my hands down the front of my jeans to straighten out any creases. I have to look presentable at all times during my shifts, because the people who come in usually have expectations for neatness.
    –The final detail (expectations for neatness) should probably be shown. This isn’t a mom-and-pop diner, it’s a classy establishment with linen sheets or whatever.

    “Millie called in sick, but we have Warren and Kate. Oh, guess what!” he said, suddenly turning to me with a look that said ‘I know something interesting’.

    “What?” I made a gesture for him to walk and talk as I went to take the check to table fourteen. They had just given us the international signal, a small tick made in the air. I thumbed through the orders listed in the log book; saw that they had rung up thirty dollars worth of thickshakes, and took the form over to them.

    “Apparently, we’re getting a new dress code soon,” he said, as the group of teens paid.
    –Apparently could probably be removed.
    –If his customers generally care about what he looks like, I’d recommend removing the detail about the group of teens. Teens generally don’t care. (I’d recommend trying to keep it consistent as to whether the customers do or do not care about the stain).

    I encouraged them to visit again and gave them their change, before talking to Evan when they got up and left. “Really? Why’s that important?”

    –The first clause (“I encouraged them to visit again and gave them their change”) could probably be pared down.

    We picked up the glasses and headed back to the kitchen with them, passing them to Kate. She smiled and said hello, before dunking the four glasses into elbow-deep water and beggining to scrub them.

    –This paragraph could probably be removed.
    –Usually spelt “beginning” in the United States. It might just be a regional spelling issue.

    “Because we’ll have less freedom,” he said, a bit whiny. I tried not to chuckle at his tone of voice. Don’t tell him, but it made him sound like someone had just kicked him in the nuts.

    –“Don’t tell him, but” could probably be removed. It takes space and I think reduces the impact of the joke in the rest of the line.

    “What freedom do we have? It’s not like we’re allowed to strut around in designer clothes. We already have nametags.”

    “Well, we’re allowed to customise them,” said Kate, clunking one of the glasses onto a wire dishrack.
    –Is the detail about her glasses relevant here?

    Evan pointed at her, to show me that he agreed. “Yeah, we can do that.”

    –“Evan pointed at her, to show that he agreed” is long. I’d recommend “Evan nodded at her.” What do you think?

    I shrugged, gesturing at my nametag. “I think that particular choice will be eliminated by the new dress code. Kate, you may be forced to remove that sticker.”

    –This feels very speculative. This conversation might mean more if the manager (who is probably a real hardass) has already definitively declared what the dress-code will entail.

    She looked down at the colourful unicorn that she had attached to the plastic cover of her tag.

    “Oh, we’ve had some good times…”

    –Haha.

    Then she sort of went of into the land of the Happy-Cake-Fairies, as she always would. We had found that it was best not to disturb her when she did, because she screamed or said random things if suddenly jolted out of her fantasy. She was probably recalling all the different dishes she’d washed with the little guy safely hanging off her shirt. She’s a little strange, but in a good way.

    –OK.

    We slowly backed off, putting emphasis on our faces to show our carefulness. We widened our eyes and tiptoed backwards in great, lurching steps.

    “Any word on the new code? What’s changing, exactly?” I asked him, when we were at the opposite end of the counter.

    “Well, I saw an order form for a bunch of shirts on Bill’s desk.”

    Bill was our boss, the head honcho, big cheese. He was quite a nice guy, but wasn’t impressed when we had a bit more than “professional entertainment” on the job. So, in other words, if we laughed more than about four times a day, we were being “immature little children”.

    –“quite a nice guy” is kind of a boring detail. I think it would be more dramatic if he were not a nice guy, anyway. I’d recommend modeling him on a hardass, no-nonsense businessman instead. Maybe with a hint of sadism.
    –I’d recommend having Bill step in sooner and say what’s going on. That will probably be more dramatic than this speculation, I think.

    “What were you doing near his desk?” It was a fair question. There was nothing in his job description that involved being close enough to read documents of Bill’s.

    “Okay, I heard him mention an order over the phone, and it wasn’t one of our regular food delivery services, so I mighta checked in and looked.”

    I tutted. “You have to stop snooping around; you’re going to get busted for rifling through other people’s things. You don’t plan on stalking anyone, do you? Because that’d be pretty scary.”

    “Of course not! Well, unless I HAVE to.”

    –In the manuscript that you end up sending, I’d recommend taking these capital words and italicizing them instead. (It’s not a problem for our purposes on this website, though. I know you can’t italicize unless you’re one of our contributors).

    I’d been expecting that response. Evan isn’t exactly normal. Well, I can’t talk. Look at ME!

    –I’d recommend replacing the last two sentences with “not that I should talk.”

    “Do you think they’ll keep me on staff if this place gets more upscale?” asked Evan, glancing around for any tables that needed serving.

    “Why wouldn’t you get to keep your job?”

    “I’m not exactly class, you know.”

    I rolled my eyes. “You’re a paranoid little man, you know that? You’ve been here for years, and all the regulars know you. Just because we’re getting a new dress code doesn’t mean we’re going to start serving hors d’oeuvres and get violinists. Why are you asking me?”

    –OK. You might consider replacing the first line from Isaac with just “You’re so paranoid.”

    He shrugged. “I guess I trust you the most.”

    “You should ask Kate this type of thing,” I said, gesturing at the blonde. She was now washing a porcelain plate, but her eyes were slowly glazing over. “Actually, on second thought, don’t. You might startle her.”

    –Haha.

    I sure am surrounded by a bunch of colourful characters. It begins to look like a soap opera, what with Evan the paranoid stalker, Kate the daydreamer and Lonnie the chatterbox (not). Top it off with me; the superpowered weirdo from another universe.

    –This first sentence has already been shown; I don’t think you need to tell us here.
    –I feel like this paragraph is too second-person.

    A couple of hours later, I had taken and delivered several orders, told Warren to get up off his lazy butt and actually help for once, and finished my shift. Evan was working for an extra hour that day, so was there when I left. It was unfortunate that he wouldn’t get to witness first-hand some of the most amazing things to happen in Australia, but he could see it on television anyway.

  31. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 29 Dec 2008 at 6:21 am

    This is my revised chapter, with all the changes you suggested. I put a little more detail about his neighbours, too.

    I walked into the kitchen on my way out of the house. I had do go to work and do an assignment we’d been given for Social Studies. It was almost always boring at my school; my teachers seemed incapable of giving us anything interesting to do.

    I saw that my mother was making some breakfast for Lonnie; who had a blank expression on her young features.

    “Hey Mum, Lonnie.”

    Lonnie gave me a half-smile, which was her way of saying hi. The thing about her is that she refuses to talk. It’s a long story, but it’s to do with her biological parents. She’ll come around eventually.

    Lonnie is legally a part of this family. I took the Maehara surname when I came to live here, but I’m a permanent foster kid because I was never legally signed over by my bio parents. I’ve only ever had this family, if you don’t count the temporary care I was in when I was first abandoned. Sometimes I wish I could sterilise my bio parents by thinking really hard. I hate them SO MUCH.

    Mum looked up.

    “Izzy, do you want some breakfast?” she asked me. I sleep in on weekends, so she’s usually up before me. Mum opened the fridge and looked around for something to give me. Our fridge is jam-packed with fruit, veggies, dairy products and eggs.

    “I already ate,” I said, truthfully, but she handed me a carton of strawberry milk.

    “Please? You haven’t let me make you some breakfast in years!”

    “Seven years. I’m not a child anymore, and I have to learn to look after myself.”

    Mum sighed. “You’ve been looking after yourself since you were five! Oh my God, I remember when you started cooking for yourself and almost burned the house down.”

    I rolled my eyes. “I was nine! How was I to know that you can’t cook food with burning paper?”

    Lonnie laughed and ended up squirting milk out of her nose. For a second I thought it was mingled with blood but then I realised it was strawberry. She started coughing, but was laughing at the same time.

    “See, even Lonnie knows and she’s only ten!” Mum picked up a cloth and began to wipe the counter.

    “Okay, I was a dumb kid. I’ve got to go to work now. I’ll be back in a few hours.”

    I stepped out of the door, locking it behind me.

    Our part of the city is a great place to live. Every house looks like a display home; very modern with Italian style balconies and stainless steel roofs. If you’ve ever seen a catalogue for a homewares shop then you can imagine the interior. All the homes have tricycles or bikes out the front, school buses regularly drive by and the gardens look like fairy kingdoms. A few teenagers hang around, throwing basketballs through makeshift hoops and having parties when their parents are out of town. Most of them have younger siblings, so that means there are a lot of friends for Lonnie. However, she tends to scare them off with her violent ways. I know my neighbouring teens fairly well, but I always turn down invitations to parties. It’s not my scene.

    The high rise buildings almost completely fill my vision every time I walk to the city. It’s not a great view for such a quaint neighbourhood, but at least it means we don’t have to walk for hours to get to the central business district.

    I was soon amongst the one and a half million or so other civilians. Perth isn’t the biggest city, but it’s good enough for me, with its modern skyscrapers and older architecture.

    I headed to work. It was my third month, taking orders from customers and taking them back to our cooks. Being a waiter is a decent job, because I get to meet good people and get paid a good wage.

    Our restaurant is a relatively fancy place. The walls are a dark plum purple with white tiles down the lower half. The booths have black seats and the dining chairs are fashioned to look like something from the 1950’s. Each white cotton tablecloth has the logo stitched into a corner. It looks expensive, but it’s actually cheap enough for teenagers to hang out.

    I took off my jacket and went into the back room, hanging it upon one of several hooks provided. The pen practically exploded when I went to sign in, leaving a mark that dripped off my hand and onto the sheet.

    “Ah, what a great way to start the day. Today isn’t going to be good,” I said, grabbing a serviette and getting the majority off. Despite my best efforts, a dark blue stain was still left, and I decided to deal with it later. I grabbed a new pen, wrote my name in the sign-in book, picked up my notebook, pinned on my nametag and went to report for duty.

    “Isaac!” said Evan, as I met him in the kitchen. He’s my co-worker, a guy of eighteen years with a taste for silliness. More than once has he folded paper frogs out of his notebook paper and flipped them across the counter, making ‘ribbit’ sounds. Don’t get me started on the yoyo. He accidentally hit himself in the face with it once and gave himself a black eye.

    “Hey. Who’s on today?” I asked, running my hands down the front of my jeans to straighten out any creases. I have to look presentable at all times during my shifts, because the people who come in usually have expectations for neatness. Well, according to our boss. Half the people who come in can’t even get their driving licenses yet.

    “Millie called in sick, but we have Warren and Kate. Oh, guess what!” he said, suddenly turning to me with a look that said ‘I know something interesting’.

    “What?” I made a gesture for him to walk and talk as I went to take the check to table fourteen. They had just given us the international signal, a small tick made in the air. I thumbed through the orders listed in the log book; saw that they had rung up thirty dollars worth of thickshakes, and took the form over to them.

    “We’re getting a new dress code soon,” he said, as the group paid.

    I gave them their change, before talking to Evan when they got up and left. “Really? Why’s that important?” We walked to the area behind the counter, where our dishwasher was working on a glass that Warren had taken to her.

    “Because we’ll have less freedom,” he said, a bit whiny. I tried not to chuckle at his tone of voice. It made him sound like someone had just kicked him in the nuts.

    “What freedom do we have? It’s not like we’re allowed to strut around in designer clothes. We already have nametags.”

    “Well, we’re allowed to customise them,” said Kate, clunking one of the glasses onto a wire dishrack.

    Evan nodded at her. “Yeah, we can do that.”

    “Well, from next month onwards, you won’t be allowed to do that,” came a voice, that made all of us jump out of our skins. It was Bill, our manager, who seemed to think he owned us. “This is a serious business, not some job at a burger joint. We have competition in this city, so we need to maintain a professional atmosphere. That’s why you’re getting a new dress code.” He walked into his office and slammed the door. He was a slightly younger and taller version of my science teacher.

    Evan muttered under his breath. “Bloody jerk. We’re not his slaves.”

    I shrugged, gesturing at my nametag. “Kate, you’ll be forced to remove that sticker.”

    She looked down at the colourful unicorn that she had attached to the plastic cover of her tag.

    “Oh, we’ve had some good times…”

    Then she sort of went of into the land of the Happy-Cake-Fairies, as she always would. We had found that it was best not to disturb her when she did, because she screamed or said random things if suddenly jolted out of her fantasy. She was probably recalling all the different dishes she’d washed with the little guy safely hanging off her shirt. She’s a little strange, but in a good way.

    We slowly backed off, putting emphasis on our faces to show our carefulness. We widened our eyes and tiptoed backwards in great, lurching steps.

    “Any word on the new code? What’s changing, exactly?” I asked him, when we were at the opposite end of the counter.

    “Well, I saw an order form for a bunch of shirts on Bill’s desk.”

    “What were you doing near his desk?” It was a fair question. There was nothing in his job description that involved being close enough to read documents of Bill’s.

    “Okay, I heard him mention an order over the phone, and it wasn’t one of our regular food delivery services, so I mighta checked in and looked.”

    I tutted. “You have to stop snooping around; you’re going to get busted for rifling through other people’s things. You don’t plan on stalking anyone, do you? Because that’d be pretty scary.”

    “Of course not! Well, unless I HAVE to.”

    I’d been expecting that response. Evan isn’t exactly normal. Not that I should talk.

    “Do you think they’ll keep me on staff if this place gets more upscale?” asked Evan, glancing around for any tables that needed serving.

    “Why wouldn’t you get to keep your job?”

    “I’m not exactly class, you know.”

    I rolled my eyes. “You’re so paranoid. You’ve been here for years, and all the regulars know you. Just because we’re getting a new dress code doesn’t mean we’re going to start serving hors d’oeuvres and get violinists. Why are you asking me?”

    He shrugged. “I guess I trust you the most.”

    “You should ask Kate this type of thing,” I said, gesturing at the blonde. She was now washing a porcelain plate, but her eyes were slowly glazing over. “Actually, on second thought, don’t. You might startle her.”

    My life’s a bit like a soap opera, what with Evan the paranoid stalker, Kate the daydreamer and Lonnie the chatterbox (not). Top it off with me; the superpowered weirdo from another universe.

    A couple of hours later, I had taken and delivered several orders, told Warren to get up off his lazy butt and actually help for once, and finished my shift. Evan was working for an extra hour that day, so was there when I left. It was unfortunate that he wouldn’t get to witness first-hand some of the most amazing things to happen in Australia, but he could see it on television anyway.

  32. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 29 Dec 2008 at 6:23 am

    I rewrote my beginning, too, and moved the old one to the middle.

    I discovered my powers when I was five. I was playing on my own, as I usually did. I wasn’t very social; as I hadn’t met my two best friends yet and often suffered playground taunts.

    “Haha, Isaac has no friends!” Darrick would yell, pointing at me. He was – and still is – tall for his age, with tawny brown hair that curled as it got longer. It was never neat, due to him being a very messy guy.

    “That’s rich, coming from someone with no front teeth,” I’d think, even though I actually had a few missing tooshie pegs of my own. I’d often consider knocking a few of Darrick’s teeth out personally. Understandably, being so small in stature when compared to the gargantuan boy, I never acted on it. I’ve hit him a few times in high school, but you’ll be able to learn about that later.

    The incident that led to the eventual discovery of my powers and origin happened on a July morning. It was pouring buckets outside, the heavy drops of rain pelting the windows and slowly sliding down, much like a bug on a windshield. The cold air outside was combatted by the reverse cycle heating, which kept us nice and cosy.

    The black clouds overhead looked particularly formidable that day, thunder and lightning brewing up in their cores, ready to scare the living daylights out of every youngster in the school. Darrick and his friend Fred were tormenting Akira when it happened.

    Darrick was pulling her hair out of its many plaits while Fred accused her of having cooties. Miss Kaimin was busy in the back room, sorting out some colouring books, so she wasn’t witness to it.

    A large crash of thunder made every kid in the room scream or flinch. Darrick and Fred did a combination, jumping back and wrapping their arms around eachother. I would have laughed at them if I wasn’t staring at the damage I’d just caused.

    When the sound had cracked overhead, I was jolted out of a daydream. I’d felt a sensation in my skull, like a wave washing over a beach, which rapidly pulled into reverse and crashed outwards. Next thing I knew, a giant wave of energy erupted from my head and hands, smashing everything along the windowsill, knocking everything off Miss Kaimin’s desk and even tossing a couple of the students against the wall.

    “What in the name of bum was that?!” cried one of the girls, looking at the remains of her once-great block castle. It had been smashed against a desk, breaking up into the individual pieces. She crawled over to the scattered mess and picked up a yellow block, gingerly touching a large crack in the side. “They’re all broken!”

    I looked down at my hands. Surely I wasn’t responsible for that! But then again, I did see a disruption traveling away from me. Could it have originated in my head?

    Miss Kaimin walked back in, and tutted at the mess. “You children need to learn how to keep this room tidy!”

    “It was a ghost!” said Fred, and the rest of us agreed.

    “I wonder…”

    Thinking as hard as I could, I tossed another pulse across the room, scattering the dolls.

    “Suzy! Pick those up and stop making a mess!”

    “But I didn’t!” she said, and I felt a pang of guilt. It was soon washed away when I realised that I was something different. Probably not even human.

    As soon as my mother came to pick me up, I rushed to her and took her hand for the walk home. My backpack was full of paintings I had done that day, and I had a huge smile on my face because I knew how different and “special” I was. It wasn’t until I was eight that I realised I was a freak.

    “Why are you so happy, Zacky?” asked Mum. Zacky is one of my many nicknames, and it’s my favourite along with “Izzy”.

    “I have superpowers!” I declared, giving her a huge smile. When I look back at old photos, it actually made me look pretty demented.

    “Aw, you’re a little hero, aren’t you?” she said, laughing. I’m glad I never thought to demonstrate for her, or else my life would probably be very different.

    I practiced in my bedroom as soon as I got home, hurling things across my room with this ability. I call it a psi-blast. I liked to use a red book with a velvet cover, throwing it around. It had been found with me when I was two weeks old, and I thought it would be the perfect thing to practice with. I happened to send it a little too hard against the wall, and the velvet cover on the back peeled back a bit.

    Digging my fingernails under it, I peeled the adhesive back to reveal a small piece of paper that had been folded many times. I flattened the cover back on as best I could and began to read.

    It told me that I was from a parallel universe and had been a test subject for a machine to transport matter through the walls of existence. I already knew I was a foster child, so I didn’t get upset about that, but I got pretty angry because the letter also said that it was a highly dangerous experiment. Screw science, why would you send a child through?! That was when I began to hate my bio parents for letting the sadistic jerks do that to me.

    Fast forward nine years, and here I am. Your run-of-the-mill unpopular guy with a lot of hidden potential and a couple of close friends. I find it’s a better way to disguise what I truly am than being the sporty guy who gets all the female attention.

    Speaking of female attention; my identity has recently been compromised. Luckily, it’s not common knowledge, but I’m striving to reach an agreement with a certain girl in order to keep my secret hidden. I don’t think I could trust anyone ever again after what’s happened. Here’s the story.

  33. B. Macon 29 Dec 2008 at 6:33 am

    I think Lonnie’s backstory and the conversation between Isaac and his mother have improved considerably. Although the line “I hate them so much” is kind of a mood-killer. Also, “she tends to scare them off with her violent ways.” I’d recommend just making her eerily quiet rather than violent.

    This might just be an American thing, but “the central business district” could possibly be shortened to “downtown.” I think that’s probably more conversational.

    Some of his expressions are still a bit too aloof. For example, “it’s not a great view for such a quaint neighborhood…” and “I was soon among the one and a half million or so other civilians. Perth isn’t the biggest city, but it’s good enough for me, with its modern skyscrapers and older architecture.” He sounds a bit more like a tourist guide than a teen discussing why he likes the place.

    I think Bill is a great addition to the conversation.

    The element of intrigue works better here. We aren’t sure precisely about how the dress-code will change, but I think that Bill’s definitive statement raises the question “just how bad will it be?”

  34. B. Macon 29 Dec 2008 at 6:46 am

    As for your beginning…

    –I like the opening line. I didn’t like the rest of the first paragraph as much.

    –I feel like the character’s hard to relate to, because he’s so young. Some of the elements (feeling guilty for getting one of the girls in trouble with his powers, wondering right away if he’s human or not) don’t seem quite plausible here.

    –“The incident that led to the eventual discovery of my powers and origin happened on a July morning. It was pouring buckets outside, the heavy drops of rain pelting the windows and slowly sliding down, much like a bug on a windshield. The cold air outside was combatted by the reverse cycle heating, which kept us nice and cosy.” I think that this lengthy description may annoy readers that are waiting impatiently for the origin story.

    Up until the point that the book is introduced, I feel that this is a pretty serviceable prologue. After the book is introduced, it feels like we’re getting a lot of info-dumping. I know you’re not excited about moving his origin story forward to the present, but I don’t think that finding out he has superpowers and getting the book have to happen around the same time. For example, you could have him find out he’s got powers when he’s 5, and show him the book in one of the first few chapters. (It is well-hidden, after all).

    “Speaking of female attention, my identity has recently been compromised.” I highly recommend taking this out of back-story. It’s probably something you need to build up to. Knowing that his identity is compromised from page 1 will probably make his identity seem not particularly dramatic. In contrast, if we’ve seen him work 50 pages to keep it secret, then we’ll probably care when it gets compromised.

    What’s the inciting event of this story? Why does the forward story begin when when he’s around 14 and not, say, when he’s 10 or 20? I would imagine the inciting event is that he meets the girl and/or decides to become a superhero. (Usually, the easiest inciting event for a story about a single superhero would be when he gains superpowers or discovers that he has superpowers, but that probably isn’t available here).

  35. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 29 Dec 2008 at 7:18 pm

    The next chapter is set when Isaac is sixteen and makes his first rescue. He didn’t plan it, but was lucky enough to be wearing a hoodie at the time, so nobody saw his face. The girl he saves figures out who he is and steals his diary in order to use the information to her advantage. She eventually becomes his girlfriend.

    I guess I could have him find the book when he’s fourteen and cleaning his room. That would make it tougher on him and maybe make him withdraw a little in an effort to hide his secret. I’ll write up another version and see how it pans out. Thanks!

  36. B. Macon 29 Dec 2008 at 7:44 pm

    Ack, I’m sorry. I think I confused your story chronologically with someone else’s. I have no preference for a 14-year-old vs. a 16-year-old (but if you find that it works better, by all means experiment with it).

  37. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 31 Dec 2008 at 5:12 am

    I revised this paragraph:

    “I was soon amongst the one and a half million or so other civilians. Perth isn’t the biggest city, but it’s good enough for me, with its modern skyscrapers and older architecture.”

    This is the new version:

    I was soon amongst the one and a half million or so other civilians. Perth isn’t the biggest city, but it’s good enough for me. It has all the things that make a teen happy, no matter the social group they’re in. People like me enjoy the more cultured places, like art galleries. Not that I often go, what with my job, school, homework and superheroism weighing me down.

    Does it still sound like a travel guide?

  38. B. Macon 31 Dec 2008 at 7:33 am

    I think your revision is an improvement, Whovian, but it still feels like a travel guide. Instead of him saying it’s “good enough for me,” I want to see and feel what he likes about the city. For example, the flashing lights, mobs of people, crazy bustle, etc. I think the art galleries are an interesting touch, but I’d be careful because I’m not sure how much the typical reader will be able to relate to that and they might make the character feel a bit more pretentious. (It doesn’t quite seem to gel with the kid that introduces himself as a waiter right off the bat, etc.)

  39. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 19 Feb 2009 at 1:10 am

    Okay, after a long time I’m finally posting more here.

    Chapter Four: Take A Picture, It’ll Last Longer

    I began to work on my assignment after leaving the Crabclaw. Even though this homework was easy, I hated having to spend my time doing it. It’s safe to say that this particular project screwed up my life, but at the same time helped me to save the lives of others.

    Pulling up my hood to protect my eyes from the glare of the sun, I took out my camera and switched it on, aiming for the nearest cluster of buildings and taking a picture. As I was checking it, one detail jumped out at me. There was a girl on top of one of the buildings with a camera. She was lucky I’d seen her, or else she could have died that day.

    Moments later, an event that would shock the world took place. The camera slipped from her hands and landed on the other side of the railing. It skittered to the very edge of the building. I couldn’t make out what she was saying, but knew that it wasn’t polite.

    She clambered over the rail like a monkey, reaching out to grasp it with her right hand, while holding onto the metal with her left.

    People on the ground began yelling up at her, trying to tell her not to jump. They thought she was suicidal.

    I was about to join them in yelling, but she lost her balance before I could say even one syllable. She lurched forward, arms flailing as she desperately tried to grab the railing again. We heard her cry out in terror, a guttural scream of fear that chilled me to the core.

    Everyone on the ground gasped. We hadn’t expected this when dragging ourselves out of bed that morning. The girl’s hair whipped around her face as all her weight dragged her from the roof of the building. Next thing anyone knew, she was shrieking like a bat out of Hell as she fell over the edge.

    I acted on impulse. Throwing all my weight upwards, I flung my hands down and used every bit of concentration I could muster. A psi-blast flew out of my hands, propelling me upwards through the air.

    Everything happened so fast. Less than a second later, I had grabbed her and halted her descent, dropping out of the air and taking the fall for her.

    We hit the ground at such a speed that I thought my head would explode. The energy of the fall transferred to my body, wrinkling up through my legs and dissipating as I stepped back and let go of her. She fell forward a bit before steadying herself and regaining most of her balance, though she was shaking like a leaf in a hurricane.

    She turned to me, a look of shock, delight and admiration on her pretty features.

    “Wh-who are you?” she asked. After getting a good look at her face, I recognized her from school. Her name was Amy-Belle, who was also in my Social Studies class. She must have been doing her homework too.

    Clearing my throat in an effort to deepen my voice, I answered.

    “By the looks of it, your guardian angel,” I said, unable to resist. Normally I’d have shrugged, but how often do you get to say something like that to someone?

    All around us, people had mobile phones out, dialling emergency services. It was my cue to get the heck out of there. I’d been warned against showing off, and I didn’t want to become a science-fair project for some biologist. Police cars, ambulances and several news channel vans pulled into the surrounding area.

    “Well, guess I’d better go.” With that, I ran through the nearest opening in the crowd at top speed, heading towards the road. However, I found my way blocked by a news van that quickly pulled up.

    Swearing under my breath, I circled back and headed towards the shopping centre. I could feel the adrenaline flooding my system. That combined with my panic wasn’t a good combination. I was ready to start throwing people by the time the paparazzi began their foot-pursuit.

    Chapter Five: Save ‘n’ Sprint

    (Thinking) “I knew something bad would happen today, I knew! I could’ve stayed in bed, but NO! I had to go do my freaking homework like a good student!”

    I tore down the street, weaving through crowds of people, fleeing from the gathering news cameras. I was ensuring that my hood didn’t fly up and expose my true identity to the hordes of people in the surrounding area by holding it down with my hands. That was the absolute last thing I needed, my face all over the newspaper and on the TV. My heart pounded in my chest, straining hard to keep the blood going around my exhausted body.

    (Thinking) “I CANNOT believe this! Dumb girl, dumb building, dumb homework! Dumb ME!”

    I heard the people rushing behind me with their cameras, some in cars with them stuck out of the window; trying to keep up. I wanted no part in this. I could have just jumped into the air and sped away, but I didn’t think of it because I had used my legs about a million times more often.

    My footfalls were quick and smooth, hitting the concrete hard. Every so often it caused a cloud of dusty sand to rise up from the footpath, covering the back of my jeans in a fine layer. I would’ve batted at it with my hand if I wasn’t running from the media. My shoulder accidentally bumped a girl, who yelled at me.

    “Hey, watch it!” she said, removing her mobile phone from her ear for a moment. She held it loosely as her eyes followed me.

    “Sorry!”

    A moment later a cameraman accidentally knocked her over.

    I ducked around a corner and narrowly avoided a car as it drove towards me. My eyes widened for just a second, but the driver braked a metre shy of me, and I hurriedly apologized before running across the street.

    (Thinking) “I gotta get home now! But they’ll see where I go! Oh, man, I should have thought this one through.”

    Making a sharp right turn, it took all my energy to run faster. I took sharp and ragged breaths in an effort to fill my lungs to capacity.

    “Sorry, ‘scuse me, sorry, sorry, ‘scuse! Excuse me, sorry!” I cried, as I ran down the street, accidentally cutting off and bumping into a few people. Most just smiled at me as I continued to sprint.

    I turned again, running up a set of stairs to the balconies above, where the shops were neatly placed along an invisible guideline. There was no way the people in cars could get up there, and would have to abandon them to chase me. That bought me time.

    “Okay, I think I’m safe,” I thought, though I was more jumpy than a guy stood on a hot plate.

    I walked into a shop, feigning interest in the books for sale. I pulled my hood down and walked to the back of the store, eyes scanning the shelves. I had to try not to pant too hard, in case the cashier said something to the media.

    A few minutes passed, and my predicament slowly ended. My thoughts slowed down to their regular pace, my internal organs reverted back to their resting state, and I found myself just standing pointlessly in the store with a few beads of sweat glistening on my forehead. There were only normal people strolling past. No sign of any journalists.

    I almost sighed with relief as I wandered out and merged with the crowd. This day had been more eventful than I’d counted on.

    My sweat began to dry more rapidly as I walked down the stairs and out into the open. Being raised in the city, I had my bus schedules embedded into my brain, and knew that the next one to my suburb would trundle along in about two minutes. So I had 120 seconds to make myself less conspicuous.

    First thing first, I wiped my face on the dark sleeve of my jacket, inhaling heavily as the drops of moisture from my pores were transferred to the fabric. It felt like I had held my breath for the past fifteen minutes because of my refusal to pant.

    The heavy sound of the bus got closer, and I walked up to the stop. There was a group of little old ladies and a couple of teenage girls.

    There was a hiss of air as the bus slowed down and opened the pneumatic doors, allowing each passenger to step onto the stairs and climb into the metal body of the vehicle. The two teenage girls giggled and gossiped as they swiped their bus cards, taking seats at the very back. I was the last of the new passengers to pay the fare, dropping into a seat beside a man who his MP3 player turned up loudly.

    Each and every passenger would see my actions on the news later. Man, was I going to be stuffed if the clever camera people zoomed in and cleaned up an image of me. They would be sure to find out my identity…

    (Thinking) “Stupid, stupid, stupid!”

    I muttered every curse word I knew under my breath, rubbing my temples with my fingertips. My safety had been blown right out of the water.

    (Thinking) “This time tomorrow, the government will be on my doorstep, asking me to take a nap on an autopsy table. They’ll examine my entrails, find out what I am, and panic. Then they might check on my foster family to see if they’re the same. It’ll be a Maehara massacre, all because I had happened to be there in time to save a girl from becoming a footpath flatbread.”

    The bus ride was excruciating for me. Every second seemed a year long, and I kept digging my nails into the legs of my jeans. They left crescent-moon indentations in the fabric, but I didn’t care about the condition of my clothes. All I wanted was to go home and hide under the covers.

    The bus continued along the roads, driving away from the skyscrapers and to the houses further out. I watched them flit past the windows, looking at the gardens. Some were scraggly and dead, but others were almost bursting with life. Happily, my garden was one of the latter.

    The third stop was mine, so I thanked the driver and got off. My house was just a two street walk.

    As usual, the door was unlocked, so I let myself in. Dad would still be at work, Lonnie would be in her room, and Mum would be watching television in the back living room. Luckily for me, the stairs that led to my bedroom on the second floor could not be seen from there, so I would be able to sneak past and get to my room before she could see me. If she did, it would raise her suspicions when she saw the news coverage of my act.

    Heading up the stairs, I pushed down on the brass handle of my door, opening it just enough to allow myself to slip through. Shutting it quietly, I pulled off my jacket and hung it up on the hook on my door. It was one of those with the plastic sucker on it, and to my annoyance it came loose and fell to the ground with my jacket still hanging from it. I bent down to pick it up, but smashed my forehead on the doorknob.

    So, it was one of THOSE days.

    Dropping onto my bed, a sigh escaped my mouth. My head was pounding from the impact it had just suffered, and I could practically feel the bruise forming under my skin.

  40. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 22 Feb 2009 at 12:11 am

    So, is there anything I need to edit in those chapters?

  41. Stefan the Invisible Manon 22 Feb 2009 at 5:56 am

    My only problem is that Isaac is worried that strangers on the bus would recognise him on the news while Amy-Belle, who is face-to-face with him, doesn’t recognise him at all even though they’re in the same Social Studies class because he makes his voice deeper. Other than that inconsistency I thought they were two pretty solid chapters. Could they possibly be combined into a single chapter? Chapter 4 seems a little short.

  42. B. Macon 22 Feb 2009 at 7:52 am

    I’m not quite feeling the first paragraph of chapter 4. “It’s safe to say that this particular project screwed up my life, but at the same time helped me to save the lives of others.” I think that foreshadowing is a bit too direct. Also, if the homework helps him save lives later, maybe he should describe it a little bit? (What’s the assignment?)

    “She was lucky I’d seen her, or else she could have died that day…
    Moments later, an event that would shock the world took place.” I’d recommend keeping this scene in the here-and-now. Alternately, if you’d like to throw in commentary from later on in the story, maybe you could try using rhetorical questions as asides. Or he might use some school stuff as a comparison. For example, after you boil an egg, it’s boiled and can never be unboiled. This was the point at which the student got boiled into a hero.

    … I’m having some trouble visualizing this scene. Isaac’s on the ground, right? How does everyone notice this girl so quickly? (Ok, Isaac has superpowers, so many he can just see more acutely, but what about the other people on the ground?)

    I like the connection of them both being on the same homework assignment.

    “By the looks of it, your guardian angel.” I’d recommend using something either funnier or more dramatic there. On the other hand, I imagine that this phrase is going to be the origin of his name the Guardian, so… hmm…

    “I was ensuring that my hood didn’t fly up…” It might be better to say something about what he was doing (like holding his hood down or whatever).

    “I could have just jumped into the air and sped away, but I didn’t think of it…” That might be unnecessary.

    “more jumpy than a guy stood on a hot plate.” I think stood should be standing.

    I’d recommend ending chapter 5 with more of a cliffhanger to tie it into whatever happens in chapter 6. (For example, if the next chapter were about the girl he saved, you could end it with her getting interviewed on tv).

  43. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 23 Feb 2009 at 12:47 am

    Okay, thanks for the help! I’ll make the appropriate edits.

  44. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 26 Feb 2009 at 11:04 pm

    If I were to post a piece of writing on dA, would I be able to get it professionally published later on? Also, could it help in publishing other things? If I got a few hundred comments and views, would that influence an editor in any way? Thanks!

  45. B. Macon 27 Feb 2009 at 12:41 am

    I vaguely remember hearing one time that posting works online in their entirety can make publishers skittish. My own opinion is that, as long as there aren’t copies floating around online, it probably wouldn’t be a problem. I can’t think of any stories that went viral off of dA, so I think it’s safe.

    “Could it help in publishing other things?” I don’t think I understand this question.

    If you got a few hundred comments/views, I don’t think it would influence an editor. A typical author gets an advance of around $5000 for his first novel. As a rule of thumb, the publisher expects to sell at least one copy for each dollar of the advance. I don’t think that a few hundred or even a few thousand pageviews will convince a publisher that you’re likely to sell 5000 copies. However, if you get tens of thousands of page-views, then you’re approaching the point where I think that your preexisting audience might suggest that the work is marketable.

    Can DeviantArt get you to tens of thousands of readers? Probably not. By my count, only three works of literature on DeviantArt have been viewed more than 50,000 times, and none of them are longer than a page or two. I don’t think that DA has all that many literary readers. By comparison, this rather undistinguished website got about 100,000 visitors in its first year. Admittedly, most of those visitors came for nonfiction writing advice rather than our fiction, but even so I think that placing literature on an art-and-photography site like DA is likely to limit the writing’s potential to attract readers.

  46. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 27 Feb 2009 at 5:14 am

    I had this idea for a two book story that I really like, but I figured that if I posted it on DA I could get something out while retaining the copyright.

    “Could it help in publishing other things?” was just the first part of “If I got a few hundred comments and views, would that influence an editor in any way?” and not a question on its own.

    Thanks!

  47. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 17 Mar 2009 at 2:39 am

    I’ve altered my description. This is the new version.

    What I’m writing: a superhero novel. It follows the adventures of a teenage waiter/student named Isaac Maehara. Having been abandoned in our universe by his species, he has lived in a foster family for his whole life. Being a seperate species has its perks, such as the ability to convert air into energy through mental power and the ability to fly, but Isaac feels a bit cut off because of his secret. When he becomes a superhero known as the Guardian, he has to put up with a blackmailing girlfriend and a villain set on revenge, all while hiding his injuries from his family/friends and making up lies to keep his secret safe.

  48. B. Macon 17 Mar 2009 at 5:52 am

    Ok, Whovian. I’ve replaced the following text at the beginning of your forum because it seems mostly redundant with your new description.

    I’m trying to write a novel but I’m a bit stuck. I’ll sort it out soon.

    It’s a bit of a cross between superhero and typical teenage rants. “Some people at school seem to hate me”, “I despise my teachers”, “My girlfriend is full of herself”.
    Mine is about a boy named Isaac. He has foster parents and was abandoned at two weeks old. His own species sent him into a parallel universe (our world) as a test subject. At age five he discovered his abilities, and at sixteen he saved a girl’s life, becoming the world’s first superhero. Under enormous pressure, he continued to do so. The girl he saved figured out who he was, stealing his diary to become his girlfriend. Isaac had to stop an impersonator who is endangering his relationship with the city and media while preventing his girlfriend from revealing his biggest secret.

    Also, would you like to do a 2-3 sentence synopsis for our list of review forums?

  49. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 17 Mar 2009 at 5:14 pm

    Thanks! Okay, can you please put this on the list of review forums next to mine?

    “Mainly working on a superhero novel about a 16 year old boy. He was abandoned in our universe as a baby and raised as a human, though he uses superpowers to fight crime. He is trying to prevent his girlfriend from revealing his secret and defeat a villain with a grudge.”

    🙂

  50. B. Macon 17 Mar 2009 at 5:32 pm

    Got it.

  51. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 17 Mar 2009 at 5:35 pm

    Thanks.

  52. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 27 Mar 2009 at 12:25 am

    Here are chapters six and seven:

    Chapter Six

    Amy-Belle was still shaking as she sat in her hospital bed, watching the footage of her ordeal. It had all been over in a split second, her shriek, the images flashing past, and the hero who had saved her milliseconds in time. She should rightfully be dead. Her life should have been over, her body in a morgue. But instead, here she was, eating some hospital soup as she awaited her nanny’s arrival. It was scary to think of.

    She had been fitfully sleeping, but woke up when a nurse came into her room. Anyone would have an overwhelming desire to take a nap if they’d fallen off a building and lived to tell the tale.

    “I am shaking like hell,” she muttered, putting her spoon down to rub her arms. Amy-Belle touched her waist, where the Guardian had gripped her to save her so-far meaningless existence.

    She had been loaned a laptop by a police officer, and it had the footage of her ordeal stored on it. Amy-Belle rewound it and watched the clip again, chastising herself for being so stupid.

    “I should really get a strap for that camera,” she thought, swallowing another spoonful of the orange soup.

    There was a knock at her door and she grunted through a mouthful of soup. Her best friend walked in, dressed head to toe in designer brands.

    “Morgan!” said Amy-Belle, sitting up straight and putting her free hand to her hair. Sleeping had slightly disheveled it, but looking even slightly shabby drove the sixteen year old mad.

    “Oh, don’t worry. I brought you a hairbrush.” Morgan opened her designer bag, pulling out a porcelain brush with long bristles, handing it to Amy-Belle.

    “Thanks,” answered the other girl, pulling it through her black hair.

    Morgan sat at her friend’s bedside, taking her sunglasses off the top of her head and folding the arms in.

    “So,” she said, glancing at the paused video on the laptop. “A superhero, huh?”

    “Yeah. I’m so lucky. I’d hug him to death if I knew who he was.”

    “I would too. Like ‘Thankee for saving my bestiiiiiie’! Can I see that clip?”

    Amy-Belle turned the computer to face Morgan and played the video for her. The girl gasped as she saw the onscreen Amy-Belle being grabbed and held safely up from the ground while the Guardian took the fall.

    “Jeez, you must’ve been so scared!”

    “You’ve got that right.” Amy-Belle laid back, sighing heavily. “Today has been so sucky, yet so… amazing.”

    “I know what you mean.”

    “Yeah. I’ve already been questioned by the police. I don’t know anything about him, other than that he was just on time. I think they thought that there was some threat to national security or something.”

    “Do you think the Guardian will keep doing this kind of thing?” asked Morgan, eyes lighting up with fascination.

    Amy-Belle shrugged. “I don’t have any idea at all. Maybe. It would be awesome if he did, like, the world’s first real-life superhero!”

    Chapter Seven

    I sat up on my bed, having rested for ten minutes. It felt like a lot less, and I was barely able to get up and make myself walk into the bathroom. There was a bruise appearing on my forehead, which hurt a lot more than it looked.

    After preparing some pyjamas and having a shower, I headed downstairs again. It felt so much better to be out of my workclothes, but there was still a shadow clouding my mood. I padded across the carpet at the bottom of the stairs, turning a 180 and walking through to the kitchen.

    Getting everything ready, I started to make dinner. It was my job on weekends, unless I was sick or was doing homework. It was a way of paying back my parents and also honing my skills at cookery.

    Mum walked in and gave me a smile, which I returned immediately. The teenagers on TV are always rebelling, but my goal is to avoid being one of them. That would hardly help me repay my parents. Instead, I try to do everything they wanted of me, even though it sometimes winds me tighter than a clock.

    “When’ll Dad be home?” I asked, as she gave me a kiss on the cheek.

    “In about fifteen minutes.”

    “Oh, good, that gives me extra time, then.”

    I walked to the pantry and started digging around, looking for some sweet potatoes. In an extremely rare instance, I asked Mum if she could get me the parsley out of the fridge.

    The door opened and she asked me where it was.

    “Top shelf,” I said, shutting the pantry. It isn’t often that I ask for help in the kitchen, but the fridge is all organised in my special way. I get very irritated if anyone messes with it, but the only person who’d do that intentionally is Lonnie. Annoying little… girl.

    She’s always fumbling around in there, probably looking for meat. I’ve told her a zillion times that we don’t eat it in this family, and so have no need for it in our fridge, but I always catch her in there again, screwing with my system. Some times I almost yell at her, but with her past, it wouldn’t be wise. Plus it would add unnecessary stress onto our parents.

    She walked through and pulled herself onto a stool at the counter, resting her elbows on the slab and putting her face in her hands. For someone so – I’m not ashamed to admit it – cute, you’d never expect how shattering her blows could be. Once she took down three kids twice her size in a big brawl. She even bit one of them so hard that they bled.

    Lonnie isn’t doing herself any good. She has been nicknamed ‘Vampira’ and ‘Loony Lonnie’ at school. No one goes near her. I can see why, but that can’t be helping her self esteem.

    “Hey,” I said, looking up from peeling the potatoes to give her a quick smile. She just raised her hand in greeting and then dropped her head onto the counter, forehead first. Ouch.

    “You think your day’s been bad? We should swap bodies sometime so you can see how crap my day has been.”

    Mum turned around at the sound of the bang.

    “What was that?” she asked.

    I pointed at Lonnie, making sure to put the knife down first. She would probably start crying if I didn’t, because of her parents, the ‘Trash’. “She smashed her head on the counter.”

    “Why?”

    I shrugged. “Lon, you shouldn’t do that. You’ll hurt yourself.”

    She grunted in indifference.

    I heard a key sliding into the lock of the front door, and knew Dad was home. Washing the potatoes under the tap and putting them on the stove to boil, I went to go open the door for him.

    He got the door open before I reached it, and so I gave him a hug instead. Lonnie turned on her stool, and I saw that she was getting a bruise not dissimilar to mine. Except mine was from an accident with a doorknob, hers was deliberate from a counter.

    “Ooh, what happened to you, Isaac?” asked Dad, gesturing at my bruise.

    “Oh, this? The hook on my door fell down, and I smashed my head on the doorknob when I went to pick it up.” I left out the part about being stressed out to the maximum and having a strong desire to start ripping my hair out.

    He chuckled. “Yeah, trust you with anything more complicated than walking.”

    I went back to prepare the dinner, putting the sausages into a frying pan with the parsley and some olive oil.

    An hour later, we were all sat at the dinner table, the television on in the background. It was loud enough so we could hear it, but low enough so that we could talk.

    As usual, my parents tried to get Lonnie to talk, and as usual, she didn’t. She kept putting food in her mouth, chewing on the vegetarian sausage I’d prepared, and answering all questions with a shrug, a nod, or a shake of the head.

    “So,” I asked, quickly taking a drink. “How was work?”

    “Well, Shirley told us she was having another baby,” said Mum. “Her second child.”

    “Cool!” I said with a slight bit of enthusiasm, knowing that my parents might have been secretly jealous. The whole reason they’d adopted Lonnie and fostered me was because they were incapable of having children of their own. I didn’t know whether to fall about with happiness for Shirley, or to shrug it off. Either one could be potentially offensive. So I did a mix.

    “What about you, Reiji?” asked my Mum.

    “I finished my article today, so I’m waiting on my next assignment.” Dad’s a journalist for the Swan Times, the local newspaper.

    “And in amazing news, it seems Perth may be home to a superhero!”

    My happiness was shattered as the reporter announced it. I felt the hairs on the back of my neck prickle, and my mouth went dry.

    “Oh, Lonnie, please turn it up.”

    She picked up the remote from its position beside her arm and cranked up the volume.

    “Miss Amy-Belle Konstantinou was doing her homework atop a building, taking photos for class. She fell from her position but was caught in her descent, as clearly shown in this amateur video.”

    A clip of me saving her was played, and everyone at the table except for me gasped. Then, realising it would seem a bit weird, I threw in a random comment to show my “surprise”.

    “Oh, my God!” I said, trying to seem genuine.

    We all sat with our eyes glued to the screen as a few witnesses were interviewed. One of them said I could take some tips for my costume from the comics. It’s not a costume, anyway. They were just the clothes I chose to wear, and had unfortunately gotten dragged into this mess. I made a mental note to apologise to my pants for the inconvenience.

    It cut to an interview with Amy-Belle, who seemed a bit freaked but otherwise delighted with all the attention.

    “After he caught me, I asked who he was, and he said, like, in a totally mysterious voice ‘By the looks of it, your guardian angel’. Then he ran off.”

    It went back to the reporter.

    “So, does Perth have a Guardian now? Only time will tell.”

    Lonnie turned off the television and went back to eating. I was frozen with a mixture of fear and shock, even though I’d known my family would see that footage sooner or later. But I shook it off and went back to eating, trying hard to disguise my worry. I’d known about my powers for years, but that didn’t mean I had enough knowledge of how they worked.

  53. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 27 Mar 2009 at 3:53 pm

    Any suggestions or opinions on the above post? Thanks.

  54. Holliequon 27 Mar 2009 at 4:03 pm

    Chapter six seems a bit short. I’m guessing this is to give us an idea of Amy-Belle’s character, but in it’s current form it’s doesn’t seem to have much to do with the narrative. What do you think about it being about Amy-Belle preparing for her interview with the journalist? I think that might tie in with the next chapter more smoothly.

    Have superheroes shown up in other places in your world? If not, I think the Perth newscaster might make a bigger deal about it . . . in fact, he might make a bigger deal out of it anyway. “Perth has a superhero! Australia’s guardian angel in our city!” etc.

    What do you think?

  55. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 27 Mar 2009 at 5:31 pm

    I thought it was short too, but I couldn’t think of any way to make it longer. Hmm, I like your suggestion. I’ll edit it accordingly.

    No, Isaac is the first superhero, but not the last. Later on there will be Sentry, Paladin, Trainer, Form, Rebirth and Whiplash.

    Thanks!

  56. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 04 Apr 2009 at 8:26 am

    I’m considering rewriting my story in third person. First person restricts me too much and I tend to repeat details that have already been mentioned. It might take a while because I’ve written so much.

    What do you think? Thanks.

  57. Tomon 04 Apr 2009 at 8:31 am

    There’s nothing wrong with first person in itself, and I see nothing wrong with first person perspective for your story. But if you think it’s not working it’s up to you.

  58. B. Macon 04 Apr 2009 at 9:32 am

    Hi. I’m finally getting around to reviewing chapters 6-7. Thanks for waiting.

    “She had been fitfully sleeping, but woke up when a nurse came into her room. Anyone would have an overwhelming desire to take a nap if they’d fallen off a building and lived to tell the tale.” This comes off as awkwardly tensed because of the previous paragraph. It makes it hard to place the following events in chronological order: her shaking, watching the footage, her sleeping, and the nurse coming into the room.

    “She should rightfully be dead.” I would recommend making this “She should have died” or “She would have died.” The use of the word “rightfully” seems to suggest that she almost wanted to die. “…save her so-far meaningless existence.” This reinforces my impression that she’s suicidal. (From Isaac’s perspective, it didn’t seem like a suicide attempt, but if I were reading this straight through, I’d chalk that up to Isaac’s limited perspective of the situation). If she’s not actually suicidal or otherwise seriously depressed, I’d really recommend reworking those two phrases.

    I’d recommend having her talk with someone here. Either a social worker or a doctor or a nurse or a family member or Morgan or something. I think that talking would help move the story forward; this feels like it’s on the verge of musing.

    “opened her bag, pulling out a brush, handing it to Amy-Belle.” The double gerund here (pulling and handing) is kind of weird. It makes it seem like she’s simultaneously pulling out the brush and handing it to AB.

    I’d recommend cutting Amy-Belle down to just Amy. That will avoid the annoying dash and second name. Alternately, Amy Belle is ok. I’m not fond of “Belle,” because I think it’s too obvious, but ok.

    “Yet so… amazing.” Nothing she’s done so far has indicated that she thinks it’s amazing. I’d recommend showing this a bit more.

    “I think they thought that there was some threat to national security or something.” This could probably be smoother. “They [who?] said that there was some threat to national security or something.”

    “There was still a shadow clouding my mood.” Hmm. Too overwrought, I think .

    “It was a way of paying back my parents and also honing my skills at cookery.” Is this necessary? It feels a bit awkward.

    “My goal is to avoid being one of them.” I’d recommend bringing this up in conversation rather than having her tell us. For example, let’s say she’s speaking with Morgan about when she’s going to be back in school. Morgan says “Hey, I’ll bring you your homework while you’re not in school.” AB says “What? I’m coming back to school tomorrow.” Morgan says that’s crazy, she nearly just died, she’s clearly not taking this well, etc. AB says that she’s not one of those flakes that [something she doesn’t like, like complaining incessantly about everything].

    I don’t feel like I have a good idea of AB’s personality. I get the impression that she’s dealing with some major wellness issues, but I’m not sure A) whether I’m supposed to get that impression and B) whether said wellness issues are just caused by the ordeal of having nearly died or whether they predated her near-death experience. Personality-wise, she seems kind of like she’s struggling to be resilient. That’s a good start, but I think it could be shown more.

    The shift from AB to Isaac’s POV probably needs to be clearer. At the very least, I’d have someone address him as Isaac very early on.

    “with her past” seems coy. It also makes Lonnie the center of attention in a scene that isn’t about her. I’d recommend staying focused on AB and her relationships here.

    “Some times” should be one word, I think.

    “That can’t be helping her self esteem.” It sounds like her self-esteem is probably very low on her list of problems. Also, talking about things in terms of self-esteem makes him sound more like a social worker than a brother.

    I feel like this Lonnie tangent is a distraction.

    “I pointed at Lonnie, making sure to put the knife down first. She would probably start crying if I didn’t [put down the knife?], because of her parents, the ‘Trash’.” I don’t get this. What does him putting down the knife have to do with her parents? What does “the Trash” mean?

    “She has been nicknamed… at school.” I’d recommend making this active. “All the kids call her…”

    It doesn’t feel in-character for the mother to ask Isaac why Lonnie smashed her head on the counter. If Lonnie has a history of this sort of bizarre behavior, the mother should know there’s no good reason for it.

    “And in amazing news, it seems Perth may be home to a superhero!” I’d make it clearer that a journalist is saying this on the news. On first reading, it sounded like the mother was announcing it at the table.

    In Australia, would it be typical for a minor in AB’s situation to be named?

    I’d recommend uncapitalizing Guardian in the following: “Does Perth have a Guardian now? Only time will tell.” I think this is the first time Guardian has been capitalized, and it doesn’t seem to fit well here.

    “I was frozen with a mixture of fear and shock, even though I’d known my family would see that footage sooner or later. But I shook it off and went back to eating, trying hard to disguise my worry. I’d known about my powers for years, but that didn’t mean I had enough knowledge of how they worked.” This feels like a lot of telling.

  59. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 04 Apr 2009 at 9:48 pm

    Okay, thanks! I’ve written a new version of chapter six that will eliminate all the problems. It’s now set in her bedroom after she’s been released from hospital.

    Chapter Six:

    Amy-Belle was in a her bedroom, having been discharged from hospital after numerous checkups. Everything seemed to be in order, and her friend Morgan had come over to help her get ready for a TV interview.

    Amy-Belle growled as she tried to drag a porcelain brush through her hair, the bristles becoming caught around the knots that had formed as she fell. Morgan handed her a bottle of spray-on conditioner.

    “Oh my God, I’m so amazed! A superhero! I thought if they did exist, the first would turn up in the USA, not Australia!” said Morgan, digging into the make-up bag she had brought from her house. Cute little bunnies decorated everything, reflecting her childlike personality in the perfect way.

    Amy-Belle spritzed the liquid onto her hair as she spoke. “I know. If I knew who he was, I’d hug him and never let go!”

    “I would too. ‘Thankee for saving my bestiiiie’!” Morgan fumbled around in both her and Amy-Belle’s makeup stashes, searching for a mascara. She found one that had bits of glitter in it, putting it on the dressing table in front of her friend. She had an eye for fashion, much like Amy-Belle. It was what had brought the two together, because they had bumped into each other while buying the same dress.

    Amy-Belle sighed, tossing her wavy hair over her shoulder. “Wonder if he’s single.”

    There was a knock at the door, and she called out that it was okay to come in. A thin woman poked her head around the door, a comforting smile on her features.

    “Hey. Are you almost ready?” she asked.

    “Almost, Madelena. Just give us a couple more minutes.”

    “Okay. There’s some buttercake in the kitchen. Come down and get some if you want.”

    Amy-Belle shrugged. “I guess I can afford to stray a little from my diet…”

    “Or a lot. I don’t care if you eat everything in the house. What your Mum doesn’t know can’t hurt her.”

    “Yeah, but she’ll kill us both if I’m as big as a whale when she returns from Paris.” Phoebe Konstantinou was one of the best-known models in the world, her work bringing in plenty of bacon for her daughter. She was doing a fashion shoot at the most famous of Paris’ landmarks.

    Madelena rolled her eyes. “You never let yourself eat fun stuff.”

    “Oh, okay. But just this once.”

    They finished the whole cake between them.

    “I probably shouldn’t have eaten so much.” Amy-Belle placed the last morsel in her mouth, effectively demolishing four slices in less than half an hour. Morgan giggled her head off and Madelena smiled widely.

    “We should get a move on. The journalists are waiting to take your comments.”

    That’s all I have so far, but I’m still rewriting it.

    The reason she has a hyphenated name is because her mother is a famous model, and we all know that celebrities love giving their kids exotic, weird and hyphenated names. Bronx Mowgli Wentz, Moon Unit, Kal-El anyone? Haha. I think I’ll remove the hyphen, though. I don’t really think about names for my characters, I just choose them on a whim or use names I like. I’m not particularly fond of Amy-Belle’s name, but I like Isaac and Rana.

    Lonnie’s parents weren’t very nice to her, so she freaks out around knives and things, also if she sees a car similar to theirs. However, they’re in jail at this point. Isaac refers to them as the “Trash” because they are among society’s worst people. I’m rewriting that scene so it’s a little more cheery, and her past is more implied:

    She walked through and pulled herself onto a stool at the counter, resting her elbows on the slab and putting her face in her hands. For someone so – I’m not ashamed to admit it – cute, you’d never expect how shattering her blows could be. Once she took down three kids twice her size in a big brawl. Lonnie’s problems seem to stem from her previous family.

    “Hey,” I said, looking up from peeling the potatoes to give her a quick smile. She just raised her hand in greeting and then dropped her head onto the counter, forehead first.

    “You think your day’s been bad? We should swap bodies sometime so you can see how crap my day has been.”

    Mum turned around at the sound of the bang.

    “What was that?” she asked.

    I nodded at Lonnie, who hadn’t lifted her head back up. “She smashed her head on the counter.”

    “You shouldn’t do that. You’ll give yourself a migraine,” said Mum.

    Lonnie grunted in indifference, sitting up and playing with her hair.

    I’m trying to find out whether naming minors is legal, but I’m pretty sure it’s only if they commited a crime that their name is censored.

  60. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 04 Apr 2009 at 9:49 pm

    Whoops, my finger slipped at the last second. It isn’t “Amy-Belle was in a her bedroom” it’s “Amy-Belle was in her bedroom”.

  61. Ragged Boyon 05 Apr 2009 at 7:47 am

    I feel that the Amy-Belle chapter is a little too detached from Isaac’s story. They only make two or three references to the hero and them move on. I don’t feel that it’s advancing the story at all.

  62. B. Macon 05 Apr 2009 at 9:36 am

    I agree with R.B. I think that readers that have spent 5 chapters with Isaac will feel annoyed by the shift to Amy. I don’t think she’s been established as important enough to justify making her a POV character.

    One way you could play this a bit differently is to introduce her sooner. For example, the Superman series introduces Lois Lane to Clark Kent before Superman starts saving her. If she’s a recurring character, introducing her in her own right (independent of being saved) will help establish her as important. That will help cue to readers that “Amy is not just another faceless victim; she’s an important character.”

    For example, you could try something like this: Isaac and Amy are assigned as partners on the photo project. That gives you a good reason why Isaac would be with Amy when she has her brush with death. It also creates tension. So far, Amy is pretty much the only person in town who has a chance of realizing that Isaac is the Guardian. (She knows kind of what he sounds like, right?) Anything that forces Isaac and Amy together (such as being partners on a long-term school project) will give you opportunities to have Amy get closer to the truth.

    What do you think?

  63. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 06 Apr 2009 at 6:09 am

    RB:

    That’s my main problem with it. I have to broaden AB’s character, but this isn’t her story.

    The main reason I’m doing yet another version in third person (I have about six of them, all with major plot differences) is so I don’t have to switch POV everytime the chapter focuses on someone else, and every character is about roughly equal importance. In first person, the story is mostly skewed towards Isaac’s opinion and his thoughts on situations. It sometimes annoys me because I inadvertently write him as variations between whiny, cerebral and goofy. Third person should clear up that issue by removing it from his mind.

    I’m also having trouble with the tenses of the story; I write it as though he is recording the events just after they have ended. That could bring up questions like “how does he know what Amy-Belle was doing? She left without telling him, so how could he write it?”

    B. Mac:

    Hmm, that sounds like good advice. As I rewrite it, I will introduce her as a minor character in the first chapter and as a major one in three or four. As a minor character, she will be shown as a five year old in Isaac’s class and as a major I’ll have her preparing to meet Isaac for the assignment.

    Thanks!

  64. ikarus619xon 09 Apr 2009 at 3:16 am

    There’s already a superhero named Cable. He works with Deadpool.

  65. B. Macon 09 Apr 2009 at 3:32 am

    Yeah. I agree that it’d probably be best to rename Cable at some point. The name is already taken by a character that’s fairly well-known. “marvel comics cable” got me 450,000 hits on Google. Also, Marvel is very aggressive about protecting its copyrights.

  66. Tomon 10 Apr 2009 at 6:15 am

    Oh, one thing:

    “The teenagers on TV are always rebelling, but my goal is to avoid being one of them. That would hardly help me repay my parents. Instead, I try to do everything they wanted of me, even though it sometimes winds me tighter than a clock.”

    Your TA is 12-16 year olds. I would highly recommend rethinking these sentences, it may make him seem like a goody-two shoes, and could cause readers to groan. There’s nothing wrong with him actually being like this, but outright saying it could even be seen as pretentious, but will probably make him look like a swot.

  67. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 13 Apr 2009 at 8:41 am

    B. Mac:

    The only thing in common between my Cable and that Cable is the name.

    Marvel:
    Powers gained through evolutionary mutation
    Psychic powers
    Technopathy
    Enhanced physical attributes
    Expert marksman and hand-to-hand fighter
    Cable is his superhero name

    Mine:
    Ice powers gained through an accident in his mother’s lab
    Cable is his civilian name
    He is a supervillain

    Are they going to sue Heroes for daring to have a character called Peter? Peter Petrelli at that, the same initials as Peter Parker.

    Honestly, if they tried to take me to court over it, I would point and laugh at them for having nothing better to do. It would be like trying to sue someone for using the word “superhero”.

    Tom:

    I’ve been meaning to cut that out. I think it makes him sound too much like a goody-goody guy, too. That was my original plot for him, but now that version just annoys me.

  68. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 13 Apr 2009 at 8:42 am

    More on differences between Marvel Cable and mine:

    Age difference. Mine is twenty one, Marvel’s looks at least thirty five.

  69. Holliequon 13 Apr 2009 at 9:24 am

    It will probably help you that Cable is real, actual surname. Vincent Cable is a UK politician. He was acting leader of the Lib Dem party for a while.

    I think it will be okay, but I’d recommend being open-minded about a change if your editor suggests it.

  70. B. Macon 13 Apr 2009 at 11:55 am

    They are not similar, but they are both in a superhero story and it’s a much more distinct name than Peter. If it weren’t a superhero story, I wouldn’t worry about it at all. I think Cable is sufficiently well-known that anyone really involved in superhero stories will pick up the X-Man reference. He’s a reasonably prominent character in the biggest or second-biggest superhero franchise out there. He’s a title character of Cable & Deadpool, etc.

    Also, I’ll repeat that it’s an unusually distinct name. Heroes won’t get sued because Peter Petrelli has the same first name as Peter Parker, but they would have gotten sued if one of their characters were named Spiderman. Cable isn’t that unique, but I’d say that it’s a lot closer to Spiderman than Peter in terms of ubiquity.

    If I were the author, I’d be ok with the prospects of a trial. But what about your publisher? I can’t imagine them savoring the possibility of spending tens of thousands of dollars in a legal battle with an unusually aggressive Fortune 1000 company over the rights to the name of one of the side-characters. Good lawyers are helluva expensive (i.e. don’t even come to play unless you can cough up six figures). Unless you can come up with a really convincing argument that you should keep the name, I suspect that your publisher would balk. If this is a make-or-break issue, I’d recommend bringing it up with the publisher before signing any documents.

    Speaking of legal action: have you heard that Marvel and DC jointly claim a trademark on the word “superhero”? It’s fully possible that my publisher would insist that I change the title to something that won’t incur the possibility of a lawsuit. I know it’s annoying to have to come up with a new name because of legal oddities like that, but it happens.

  71. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 13 Apr 2009 at 7:56 pm

    Would Marvel shut the hell up if I changed it to Cabel? It would still sound the same, plus look like a cross of Cain and Abel, which I think is pretty cool.

    If Marvel and DC decide to throw a tantrum for my title – Student/Waiter/Superhero – I’ll be ready. What else are people supposed to call them? Megamen? Awesomepeoplewithreallycoolpowers? I don’t think so.

    I’d say something nasty here, but I don’t want to risk any defamation suits. 😉

    Just in case anyone from Marvel is doing a Google and finds this comment: you have some of the most awesome and well-recognized heroes in the world. Don’t launch suits over character names. It makes you look bad.

  72. Marvel Manon 15 Apr 2009 at 7:29 am

    We shall do as we please. After all, we are gods! Hahaha!

  73. B. Macon 16 Apr 2009 at 7:34 pm

    I think it helps a lot that Isaac and Tristam are real names, albeit a bit old-fashioned. I had assumed that Kamari was invented, but it sounded like it could be real… maybe Japanese. (It’s actually Indian).

    I suspect that editors will push harder when you work with invented character names that are highly unusual. “No, we will NOT publish a sci-fi protagonist named Moon Unit.”

  74. Avi Arunon 16 Apr 2009 at 7:36 pm

    Kamari sounds more Japanese than Indian. I’ve never heard of people named Kamari in India. Maybe its very rare. Also, it sounds more feminine than masculine, at least in my opinion. I never knew it was a masculine name until I clicked on the link B. Mac posted. So, there will certainly be no problem in making Kamari a Japanese character.

  75. Tomon 16 Apr 2009 at 7:37 pm

    Kamari reminds me of the Japanese video game Katamari Damacy.

  76. The Retardised Whovianon 16 Apr 2009 at 7:38 pm

    Kamari’s backstory is that her parents were Australians who were on holiday in India, and met at a place called the Kamari Fountain. She fell in and grabbed him, pulling him in too. They got married a year later. When they had a daughter, they named her Kamari.

  77. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 16 May 2009 at 6:48 am

    I haven’t been on in ages! Stupid homework. I’ve taken a couple of quick looks but I’ve had no time to comment.

    Anyway, I rewrote the first few chapters into third person. Does this look better than first? Thanks!

    Chapter One

    “Take that , Doctor Darkheart!”

    Isaac swung his arms out in a wide arc, air whistling through his fingers. He suddenly locked his arms in place, as though they had struck something. In his mind, an evil genius with an eyepatch and long black coat fell to the floor, shaking a fist.

    “Argh, you have defeated me again, Wonderkid and Cooldude!”

    Isaac high fived an imaginary friend off to his left. His eyes were lit up with happiness as he celebrated inside his head. It was the one thing he found solace in.

    “Haha, You don’t have friends!” Darrick yelled, pointing at him. He pouted at the school bully as he laughed hysterically, his friends surrounding him. They also expressed their amusement, pulling faces and imitating him.

    “Just ignore him, he’s an idiot,” thought Isaac, turning his back to the group and heading down to the other end of the playground. His imaginary foe and friend disappeared, leaving him alone.

    He didn’t want to be a solitary boy, but the five year old had yet to meet anyone who he wanted to associate with. Everyone around was either too popular or too repulsive. Some were both; as was in the case of Fred, who liked to eat worms and hung out with Darrick.

    “Isaac is a loner, loner, loner!” cried the group, but Isaac ignored the taunts, sitting himself on a swing. He gently tossed his weight backwards and forwards to build momentum, gazing up at the black clouds looming overhead. He imagined a bolt of lightning coming down and striking his enemies, disintegrating them into steaming ash.

    A small drop of water hit him in the face, and within moments it was pouring as though someone had sliced a bag open and tipped the contents directly onto the playground. Despite this, Isaac continued to swing for a few minutes. He savoured the freedom of being the only child outside.

    “Isaac! Isaac!” yelled Miss Kaimin, his kindergarten teacher. He was barely able to hear her as thunder began to rumble and the drops splattered against the ground. He leapt from the swing in midair, but instead of a stylish landing he fell to his knees in a puddle that coated his skin and clothes with a layer of dirty water.

    Isaac rubbed his sore legs and then sprinted towards the brightly painted class, visible even in the dim weather and mist caused by the impact of the rain against the grass.

    When he got up onto the porch of the building, Miss Kaimin put a towel over his head to rub his dripping brown hair dry, before draping it over his shoulders and instructing him to sit near the heater. Isaac did as he was told, finding a place among the other wet children. Most of them were playing, the girls with dolls and the boys with plastic cars, but he just sat silently, staring at the wall mounted heater at it blasted warm air over him.

    Miss Kaimin wandered into the back room to organise some colouring materials for him. She hated to see Isaac just sat there without anything to do.

    He entwined his fingers as he slipped into a daydream about defeating Doctor Darkheart and his legion of monsters, feeling a strange sensation in his skull. Isaac couldn’t really place it, but he concentrated with all his might, trying to hold onto it. It didn’t feel good or bad, just different, and he wanted to see how long it would last.

    A huge clap of thunder caused a unanimous scream from the group, many of the children covering their faces.

    The feeling in Isaac’s head pulled into reverse like the tide rapidly receding, and crashed outwards. A giant ripple of energy blasted out of the air in front of him, smashing everything along a windowsill and shattering the glass into a million pieces. A few students were pressed against a wall and toys flew everywhere before falling down on the heads of various children.

    “What in the name of bum was that?!” cried Amy Belle, looking at the remains of her once-great block castle. It had been smashed against a desk, breaking up into the individual pieces. She crawled over to the scattered mess and picked up a yellow block, gingerly touching a large crack in the side.

    Isaac looked down at his hands, eyes wide and mouth open. That couldn’t have been his fault! Could it?

    Marco sat up and rubbed the side of his head as Miss Kaimin walked back in and gasped at the broken window.

    “What happened in here?!”

    “It was a ghost!” said Fred, and the rest of the kids agreed. Isaac was still dumbfounded, clenching and unclenching his fists.

    “I wonder…”

    He thought as hard as possible and tossed another psi-blast across the room, scattering the dolls.

    “Suzy! Pick those up and stop making a mess!”

    “But I didn’t!”

    Isaac would have felt guilty if something didn’t dawn on him. No one else could do that. He had superpowers.

    After the kids were released from the class for the day, Isaac ran to his mother and gripped her hand tightly as they began to walk home. His backpack was full of paintings he had done that day, and there was a huge smile on his face because he knew how different and “special” he was. It would be three years until he came to believe he was a freak.

    “Why are you so happy, Izzy?” asked his Mum, June Maehara. She looked down at him with a smile, her green eyes glowing with happiness.

    “I have superpowers!” he declared, laughing.

    “Aw, you’re a little hero, aren’t you?” she said.

    He practiced in his bedroom as soon as he got home, hurling things across his room with his ability. He came to call it a psi-blast.

    Isaac loved to hurl a velvet-bound book around the room, despite it being the only link to his life before being fostered by the Maehara family. It had been found with him when he was two weeks old, with a red cover and a sturdy spine. It hit the wall a little too fast and the binding peeled back a bit.

    He tilted his head and picked the volume up, digging a tiny fingernail under the adhesive backing. A small sheet of paper was hidden beneath, having being folded twice. Isaac flattened the cover back on to the best of his ability, unfolded the note and started reading.

  78. Tomon 16 May 2009 at 7:11 am

    I’m sure there’s more but I spotted a couple of minor problems.

    1. ‘He didn’t want to be a solitary boy, but the five year old had yet to meet anyone who he wanted to associate with. Everyone around was either too popular or too repulsive’
    I’m not sure about this but I don’t feel like I’m following the story of a five year old when in the space of two sentences ‘solitary’, ‘associate’, and ‘repulsive’ are used.

    2. ‘She hated to see Isaac just sat there without anything to do.’
    Shouldn’t it be ‘sit there’?

    3. ‘He came to call it a psi-blast.’
    Didn’t the narrator call it a psi-blast just a few paragraphs earlier? Try and describe it differently the first time.

  79. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 16 May 2009 at 7:22 am

    Okay, thanks! I’ve corrected them. Number one is now “He didn’t want to be alone, but the five year old had yet to meet anyone who he wanted to befriend. Everyone around was either too nasty or too gross”. Is that better?

  80. Tomon 16 May 2009 at 7:34 am

    Much! Words like ‘nasty’ and ‘gross’ are… things you’d expect to hear from a five year old. Granted no five year old I know would say them but it’s the kind of thing you expect from them. There may be other points in the chapter where you can do things like that.

    Good news is, you only need to do it for this chapter. I can imagine teenage Isaac saying what you originally put.

  81. B. Macon 16 May 2009 at 6:25 pm

    Here are a few thoughts and suggestions.

    –In retrospect, this review turned out more negative than intended. You’re obviously a very gifted writer and I think that your Isaac universe is usually interesting. But I don’t feel that setting the first chapter when the character is five years old is a particularly good setup to introduce your story or showcase your talent. In particular, I think you’re restricted by the fact that the hero lacks the appealing, witty voice he develops later.

    –The new opening strikes a very, very different mood than most of your other chapters. It feels like it’s aimed at an audience somewhat younger than 10. If you’re dead-set on starting the book with this “ten years ago…” scene, I think the narrator is the key to making it clear that this is a book aimed at teens.

    –Even with the narrator, I think that readers might find it hard to relate to (or care about) the social troubles of a five year-old. I don’t feel this is as effective as your original first chapter.

    –On the positive side, I think that the third-person switch is very helpful here. A first-person story that started with a chapter by a 5 year-old would probably be intolerable.

    –I’d recommend changing “Wonderkid.” I don’t think that really young children think of themselves as kids. Usually, “kid” is a label applied by older people.

    –“He didn’t want to be a solitary boy, but the five year old had yet to meet anyone who he wanted to associate with.” I think some of the words here are awkwardly advanced… the use of the phrase “associate with” here reminds me of Agent Orange. At the very least, you could try something like “The five year-old didn’t want to be alone, but he hadn’t yet met anyone he actually wanted to talk to.”

    –It seems kind of weird that the kids are taunting him for being a loner. It seems more believable that they’d taunt him for being strange or quiet or whatever. For example, you could replace “loner” with “weirdo.”

    –I feel like the use of his hair color is kind of awkward. “When he got up onto the porch of the building, Miss Kaimin put a towel over his head to rub his dripping brown hair dry, before draping it over his shoulders and instructing him to sit near the heater.”

    –I would recommend giving Isaac more to do that suggests he will be an interesting protagonist. For example, maybe he could do something more lively than stare at a heater.

    –“She hated to see Isaac just sat around there with nothing to do…” First, I think sat should probably be sit. Second, this is a very fast rotation to the teacher’s perspective. I found it a bit disorientating. You could probably move that thought to dialogue so that we get this more from Isaac’s perspective.

    –“What in the name of bum was that?” sounds long for a distressed five year-old. I’d recommend getting that down from eight words to three.

    –The narrator’s use of the word “psi-blast” seems uncharacteristic, almost out of voice. It might fit a bit more if he mentions that “psi-blast” is a term coined by Isaac before he mentions it.

    –It doesn’t seem believable to me that he could go ten years like this and not end up showing his powers to anyone. I’m sort of surprised that he even got through the school-day without tormenting Darrick, let alone knowing not to show his mom.

    –I feel that the setup to the letter from his biological parents could be smoother. I don’t feel like the initiating event (him discovering that he has superpowers) logically leads to him discovering the letter If anything, it seems a bit contrived that he had this letter for five years but that no one discovered it until now. You might be able to resolve this by having most of the book be blank. When he touches it, his hand crackles and his electricity lets him reveal the writing word-by-word. (“Hey, that never happened before!”) However, you might want to do it so that he can currently only reveal a part of the book. This will help you come back to the book later. (As Isaac gets older, his powers let him read more of it, etc).

    –I feel that this backstory is not very gripping. Based on what I know of the plot so far, it doesn’t really feel (1) very important or (2) like a particularly smooth introduction to the character or what he’s going to face.

    –I feel like the manuscript killers article on children sort of applies to Isaac in this chapter. You could possibly resolve (or at least minimize) this issue by having him discover his powers later, when he’s 10 or 12 or whatever.

    –This feels more like a prologue than a first chapter. It might help to call it a prologue because that will help remind readers that the rest of the book isn’t like this. (IE: The character’s older, he faces different obstacles, the character has developed considerably, he has a different voice, etc).

    –This feels long. It’s been 750 words or so and it looks like we’re still in the past.

    What do you think?

  82. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 16 May 2009 at 9:31 pm

    Thanks!

    Hmm, I’ll take up your suggestion and rewrite this a few years into the future. Ten or twelve years old would probably be best. My setup was that he had the powers from infancy but had never discovered them. Maybe I can write them in as part of Yinyusian puberty, as the first event they go through before all the normal human stuff. By the age of twelve he should know not to tell anyone and have the capacity to use longer words while staying in character. It would probably decrease the likelihood of Isaac being annoying, too.

    I love the suggestion about the blank book! I’ll work that in too. It’s far superior to the hidden letter! Thanks!

    I didn’t think it was very believable that he didn’t torment Darrick, either. But a five year old would probably go all out and expose his powers, which would be problematic. If he was older he could be a bit more stealthy (yet another reason to rewrite it) and could cause Darrick to fall over during an AFL match between Saint Alexius’ School and another. It would be more funny if he was about to kick the winning goal. XD A lot of Aussie teens love AFL, they get into long debates over who is cooler; the Dockers or West Coast Eagles. I don’t care about it at all, so I may need to do some research first.

    “You’re obviously a very gifted writer”. Aw, thanks! 😀

  83. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 16 May 2009 at 9:39 pm

    I’ll write it like Isaac already has his powers, but that they’re unstable and he is freaking out about it.

    It will be set at his year seven graduation ceremony (students aged twelve are preparing to move to high school. We don’t have middle school here) so he can cause a huge accident like knocking the principal’s wig off, throwing a blast behind himself and falling off the stage, breaking a window etc. I’ll save the AFL thing until later.

  84. B. Macon 16 May 2009 at 9:55 pm

    Ah, great. I’m happy to hear that went over so well. In particular, I think your adjustments (like the graduation ceremony gone awry) show a new angle to Isaac. I’m kind of interested what he does to cover it up when his powers go nuts. For example, if there were a fan nearby, I’d deliberately psi-blast it as soon as the situation got out of hand so that it would look like the things blowing around were caused by a fan malfunction.

    Also, coming to grips with physical changes is something that seems relatable on some level to most teens.



    I’m also happy to hear that you took my comments in stride. Sometimes, when I get too negative, the writer slips into a panic. It’s healthy and productive to remember this is just one opinion and I can’t speak on behalf of the publishers you’ll be submitting to. Especially those wily Australian ones! 😉

  85. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 16 May 2009 at 10:18 pm

    If it happened to me, I’d try something like blasting an overhead projector to knock it down and disperse the crowd before more crazy crap happened. XD Or say something like: “The Lord doesn’t want us to graduate today! Look at all the signs!” I wonder if that really works. I’ll say to a teacher “Jesus came to me in a dream and told me not to do my homework”. XD

    I try to take everything in stride. I don’t see reviews as negative, I see them as positive assistance that helps me achieve a higher standard of work. 😀 Thanks!

  86. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 16 May 2009 at 11:56 pm

    Okay, I’ve rewritten it as a prologue. I think it’s okay, but it could do with a little more detail in some places. It’s also a bit long, but I can’t think of any way to shorten it. I’ll fix it up later.

    Prologue

    Isaac twiddled his thumbs, desperately trying not to stick one in his mouth and chew his nail. It had become a nervous habit in the weeks leading up to primary school graduation, and now that he was in the brightly lit school gym with three hundred or so peers, it felt like his heart was going to stop beating.

    He was not scared of being onstage in front of them, or at least he wouldn’t normally be. He had developed a “condition” that he had kept secret, as its effects were frightening and confusing. He knew it was something that may be found in a comic, but he didn’t want it, not if it interfered with his otherwise normal life.

    Recently he had been experiencing random blasts of energy that disrupted the environment around him and frightened anyone within the room. They started in his mind but then burst outwards as a physical force that threw people and objects around. Just the day before, Isaac’s fledgling superpower had smashed a whole set of dinner plates on a shelf as he walked past it.

    His parents – June and Reiji Maehara – were sat off to his left, each looking extremely proud. Anyone would think the twelve year old was about to accept a Nobel Prize, from the way June kept neatening his hair and picking invisible lint from his black blazer. It had been bought especially for the occasion, and was part of his new uniform for Saint Alexius’ High School.

    Isaac’s name was coming closer and closer to announcement, and the only thing that helped calm him was his friend Rana stood on stage, giving him a small wave and big smile. He had discussed graduation with her and Will, both were not particulary bothered. Rana saw it as a new chapter in her life, while Will was open to the idea of a large new environment to act stupid in.

    “I could blow up a million balloons and run around screaming that the grass is building nuclear weapons,” he had said.

    “Abigail Lytten.”

    There was a small burst of applause as a slender girl walked up the stage, climbing the stairs and going to the principal, who held a graduation certificate for her.

    “M comes after L,” thought Isaac, tightening his tie and shuffling his feet. He blocked out the next few names as he worried, not sure if his “condition” would play up onstage.

    “Isaac Maehara.”

    He let out a shuddering breath, heaving his weight up off his chair.

    “Okay, body and brain. I’m am ordering you. Do not, under any cicumstances, stuff up this ceremony. Got it? Good.”

    Isaac walked quickly onto the stage, figuring that it would give less time for something to go wrong. The principal of the previous four years was stood with a laminated certificate announcing that his years of suffering in primary school were over. He strecthed out his hand and Isaac shook it, praying silently for his power to remain inside, if just for one evening.

    “I swear I’ll never misbehave again, I’ll get awesome marks and I’ll help my parents mo-”

    He didn’t finish his thought, because a small pulse of energy knocked the principal’s wig off. Isaac froze on the spot, eyes wide and mouth slack. He took his hand back, squeezing it into a fist and dropping it to his side, utterly surprised at what had just happened.

    The students burst out laughing and Isaac shied away to the middle of the group, ducking low to conceal his blushing face. Rana moved through to him, giggling like an outpatient.

    “What happened?” she asked, putting a hand on his shoulder and bending over with her hand on her heaving stomach. “I think I’m gonna be sick.”

    “Don’t throw up on me!” said Isaac. He stepped to the right, and Rana fell to her hands and knees, still laughing. “The principal’s wig fell off, that’s all.”

    She looked up at him. “Seriously? You didn’t do anything?”

    In the next moment, the whole crowd in front of Isaac fell in a sprawling heap of arms and legs, having obeyed the same law of physics as a row of dominoes. There was shouting and struggling as he looked down, totally gobsmacked by the second embarrasing misfire of his power.

    Total chaos broke out. As some teachers rushed up to disentangle students, a window on the other side of the room was shattered, raining large pieces down. Luckily it was safety glass and posed no immediate threat, but the crowd didn’t know that and went into pandemonium. People fell over each other as they rushed to get away from the falling shards.

    Following that, an overhead projector fell from its support. It reached the end of its cord and momentarily halted, but then the sudden stop yanked it out, allowing the equipment to meet its end on the basketball court.

    The final and most humiliating accident came when the candle that still burned from the earlier liturgy set fire to the corporal, resulting in the fire alarm sounding and the sprinklers activating.

    “If anyone finds out this was my fault, I’ll be expelled and excommunicated.”

    The parents ran out of the doors, quickly followed by the staff and students. Isaac found June and Reiji in the crowd, and because it was a warm night they finished the ceremony stood out on the oval while the fire was extinguished.

    Isaac went straight to his room when they returned home, pulling a red velvet-bound book out from the back of a drawer. It had been found with him at two weeks old, having been abandoned in an alley by his biological parents.

    “What is wrong with me lately?!” He knew there wouldn’t be answers inside the book. Every single page was blank. Despite this, he flicked it open and ran a hand down the first leaf of paper.

    Isaac pulled his hand back as he felt a tingle dash across his skin, and glanced at the page. A row of black letters had become visible, disappearing in succession.

    “I must be in Wonderland,” he thought, running his hand down the page again. They reappeared, and he scanned the sentence before it could fade.

    “This book is coded to you. No one else can read these words, even if they touch it. You can only see the words if your powers are beginning to manifest.”

    He sat back for a second before deciding to try the next few pages. Reading it may have been bizzare, but the words made sense and explained things well, including that he could only read more pages as his powers grew stronger.

    After the book refused to impart more information, Isaac shoved it to the back of a drawer and slammed it, breathing heavily.

    “I’m not human?”

    What do you think?

  87. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 17 May 2009 at 12:01 am

    Whoops, “he strecthed out his hand” is meant to be “he stretched out his hand”.

  88. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 18 May 2009 at 3:00 am

    Actually, instead of just knocking the candle off with a psi-blast and setting the corporal on fire, maybe the priest should get set on fire. Not fatally, of course. 😉 I’d better find out what the white cloaky thing that Catholic priests wear is called. To The Source of All Knowledge!

  89. Tomon 18 May 2009 at 3:07 am

    One problem I have with this scene is that I can’t really see a reason why Isaac is nervous. Are you trying to show that he’s a nervous and shy character? Is he like this later on?

  90. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 18 May 2009 at 5:38 am

    He’s nervous because his powers have been flipping out recently and he is afraid that something will go horribly wrong. Of course, it does. Haha.

  91. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 18 May 2009 at 5:48 am

    Oh, and he does worry a bit later on, but not all the time. He’s trying to maintain a secret identity from everyone, cope with a bunch of schoolwork and run around after customers all day. Wouldn’t you worry too? Haha.

  92. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 18 May 2009 at 5:53 am

    Here’s a new version, where the candle sets a priest on fire instead of the corporal:

    Prologue

    Isaac twiddled his thumbs, desperately trying not to stick one in his mouth and chew his nail. It had become a nervous habit in the weeks leading up to primary school graduation, and now that he was in the brightly lit school gym with three hundred or so peers, it felt like his heart was going to stop beating.

    He was not scared of being onstage in front of them, or at least he wouldn’t normally be. He had developed a “condition” that he had kept secret, as its effects were frightening and confusing. He knew it was something that may be found in a comic, but he didn’t want it, not if it interfered with his otherwise normal life.

    Recently he had been experiencing random blasts of energy that disrupted the environment around him and frightened anyone within the room. They started in his mind but then burst outwards as a physical force that threw people and objects around. Just the day before, Isaac’s fledgling superpower had smashed a whole set of dinner plates on a shelf as he walked past it.

    His parents – June and Reiji Maehara – were sat off to his left, each looking extremely proud. Anyone would think the twelve year old was about to accept a Nobel Prize, from the way June kept neatening his hair and picking invisible lint from his black blazer. It had been bought especially for the occasion, and was part of his new uniform for Saint Alexius’ High School.

    Isaac’s name was coming closer and closer to announcement, and the only thing that helped calm him was his friend Rana stood on stage, giving him a small wave and big smile. He had discussed graduation with her and Will, both were not particularly bothered. Rana saw it as a new chapter in her life, while Will was open to the idea of a large new environment to act stupid in.

    “I could blow up a million balloons and run around screaming that the grass is building nuclear weapons,” he had said.

    “Abigail Lytten.”

    There was a small burst of applause as a slender girl walked up the stage, climbing the stairs and going to the principal, who held a graduation certificate for her.

    “M comes after L,” thought Isaac, tightening his tie and shuffling his feet. He blocked out the next few names as he worried, not sure if his “condition” would play up onstage.

    “Isaac Maehara.”

    He let out a shuddering breath, heaving his weight up off his chair.

    “Okay, body and brain. I’m am ordering you. Do not, under any circumstances, stuff up this ceremony. Got it? Good.”

    Isaac walked quickly onto the stage, figuring that it would give less time for something to go wrong. The principal of the previous four years was stood with a laminated certificate announcing that his years of suffering in primary school were over. He stretched out his hand and Isaac shook it, praying silently for his power to remain inside, if just for one evening.

    “I swear I’ll never misbehave again, I’ll get awesome marks and I’ll help my parents mo-”

    He didn’t finish his thought, because a small pulse of energy knocked the principal’s wig off. Isaac froze on the spot, eyes wide and mouth slack. He took his hand back, squeezing it into a fist and dropping it to his side, utterly surprised at what had just happened.

    The students burst out laughing and Isaac shied away to the middle of the group, ducking low to conceal his blushing face. Rana moved through to him, giggling like an outpatient.

    “What happened?” she asked, putting a hand on his shoulder and bending over with her hand on her heaving stomach. “I think I’m gonna be sick.”

    “Don’t throw up on me!” said Isaac. He stepped to the right, and Rana fell to her hands and knees, still laughing. “The principal’s wig fell off, that’s all.”

    She looked up at him. “Seriously? You didn’t do anything?”

    In the next moment, the whole crowd in front of Isaac fell in a sprawling heap of arms and legs, having obeyed the same law of physics as a row of dominoes. There was shouting and struggling as he looked down, totally gobsmacked by the second embarrassing misfire of his power.

    Total chaos broke out. As some teachers rushed up to disentangle students, a window on the other side of the room was shattered, raining large pieces down. Luckily it was safety glass and posed no immediate threat, but the crowd didn’t know that and went into pandemonium. People fell over each other as they rushed to get away from the falling shards.

    Following that, an overhead projector fell from its support. It reached the end of its cord and momentarily halted, but then the sudden stop yanked it out, allowing the equipment to meet its end on the basketball court.

    The final and most humiliating accident came just moments afterward. Isaac’s powers knocked a candle that still burned from the earlier liturgy onto the shoes of Father Kenny, setting fire to his alb. The flames climbed up the long garment, and the priest began to panic, dashing around like a mad thing. A few seconds passed until the sprinklers activated in an effort to douse the fire.

    Isaac covered his face with his hands, wishing he were the one on fire.

    “If anyone finds out this was my fault, I’ll be expelled and excommunicated.”

    The students on the ground shoved each other to get free, some falling from the stage in the confusion. Rana grabbed Isaac’s arm and yelled over the screaming crowd, jets of water and deafening fire alarm.

    “We have to find Will!”

    There was no need, as the boy had already rushed backstage from his seat to get a view of the panic.

    “Best! Graduation! Ever!” he cried, as his two friends bumped into him. He raised his arms above his head, rivulets of water dripping from his hair and blazer.

    “The priest was on fire. I don’t think it’s a very good day for him!”

    The three began to descend the stairs, treading carefully so as not to slip. They went outside where their parents were searching for them in the crowd.

    June and Reiji found and watched the three until Rana’s parents and Will’s grandparents found them.

    It was a warm night and they finished the ceremony stood out on the oval while Father Kenny was taken to the emergency room.

    Isaac went straight to his room when they returned home, pulling a red velvet-bound book out from the back of a drawer. It had been found with him at two weeks old, having been abandoned in an alley by his biological parents.

    “What is wrong with me lately?!” He knew there wouldn’t be answers inside the book. Every single page was blank. Despite this, he flicked it open and ran a hand down the first leaf of paper.

    Isaac pulled his hand back as he felt a tingle dash across his skin, and glanced at the page. A row of black letters had become visible, disappearing in succession.

    “I must be in Wonderland,” he thought, running his hand down the page again. They reappeared, and he scanned the sentence before it could fade.

    “This book is coded to you. No one else can read these words, even if they touch it. You can only see the words if your powers are beginning to manifest.”

    He sat back for a second before deciding to try the next few pages. Reading it may have been bizarre, but the words made sense and explained things well, including that he could only read more pages as his powers grew stronger.

    After the book refused to impart more information, Isaac shoved it to the back of a drawer and slammed it, breathing heavily.

    “I’m not human?”

    What do you think?

  93. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 21 May 2009 at 3:47 am

    Can you think of anything else that would be embarrassing at a year seven graduation? Thanks.

  94. Ragged Boyon 21 May 2009 at 8:16 am

    Do you know the American equivalent of year seven? Better yet, What’s the age range for year seven? Isaac is 16, right? So if he’s never failed a grade he should be in the 10th or 11th grade, depending on when his birthday is.

    We don’t usually have ceremonies for 10th and 11th graduation. But what could go wrong with Isaac:

    – Trips and falls on stage.
    – Gets “aroused” and it shows through his pants. Oh god, that would be so embarassing.
    – (I’m not sure if they wear gowns, but) Accidently makes people trick over their gowns and fall like dominos
    – Spilling a bright drink all over his gown (or clothes), then having to go onstage.

    I can’t think of much else.

  95. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 22 May 2009 at 7:36 am

    In Australia, we have pre primary, primary and high school. Primary students usually graduate year seven at the age of twelve when the school year ends, and are usually seventeen when graduating high school in year twelve. Isaac is in year eleven, but this is set four years in the past, so he’s in year seven.

    I’m not aware of any schools that wear gowns for graduation, but most make the students wear full formal winter uniform with blazers.

    I may do something along the lines of the drink. I’ll write in a little bit before the ceremony and have the snack table overturn due to a rogue psi-blast, covering his teachers in crisps and punch. Hahaha. Thanks for the idea!

  96. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 01 Jun 2009 at 1:20 am

    Okay, here’s the first chapter. I posted it before, but that was the first person version.

    Chapter One

    Four years on, Isaac still had the book. It was now tucked away beneath his bed in a locked tin, and he kept the key hidden inside a secret compartment in his wallet. Only a few extra lines had been unlocked, but were mostly elaboration on things that he had already read. He regularly checked for updates, and kept the most basic things in his memory.

    You are not human. You are a separate species, a “Yinyusi”.

    Isaac walked into the kitchen on his way out of the house. His day was supposed to be a normal one, where he’d head to work and serve some customers before doing his homework.

    You are from a parallel universe.

    June was making some breakfast for Lonnie; who had a blank expression on her young features. She was his adopted sister, but he treated her like a biological sibling.

    You were a test subject for a matter transporter to send you through the walls of reality.

    “Hey Mum, Lonnie,” said Isaac, about to open the side door and step out.

    Lonnie gave him a half-smile, which was her way of saying hi. She had always been silent, ever since being removed from her previous family. Unlike Isaac, she had been adopted because her parents signed her over. June and Reiji had not yet completed the paperwork necessary to adopt him, because of numerous issues that had arisen on each attempt. They were going to reapply at a later date.

    Your abilities include psychic pulses, flight, and other possibilities that will present themselves as you age.

    June looked up.

    “Izzy, do you want some breakfast?” she asked. She opened the fridge and looked around for something to give him.

    “I already ate,” he said truthfully, but she handed him a carton of strawberry milk.

    “Please? You haven’t let me make you some breakfast in years!”

    “Seven years. I’m not a child anymore, and I have to learn to look after myself.”

    June sighed. “You’ve been looking after yourself since you were five! Oh my God, I remember when you started cooking for yourself and almost burned the house down.”

    Isaac rolled his eyes. “I was nine! How was I to know that you can’t cook food with burning paper?”

    Lonnie laughed and ended up squirting milk out of her nose. It appeared to be mingled with blood, which gave her brother a start, before he realised that it was strawberry flavoured.

    “See, even Lonnie knows and she’s only ten!” June picked up a cloth and began to wipe the counter.

    “Okay, I was a dumb kid. I’ve got to go to work now. I’ll be back in a few hours.”

    Isaac stepped out of the door, locking it behind himself.

    The high rise buildings almost completely filled his vision every time he walked to the city. While it wasn’t a very nice view for the neighbourhood, it meant that the residents didn’t have to walk for hours to get downtown.

    Isaac worked at a restaurant as a waiter, a relatively strenuous job. Depending on the day of the week, he could be wandering aimlessly around or being ordered about by his boss.

    Isaac took off his backpack and jacket as he went into the back room, hanging them upon one of several hooks provided. The room was decorated with plum coloured paint that was beginning to peel slightly, and the manager had been meaning to replace it for several months. The more experienced staff claimed that it had been like that since the mid-nineties, seeing as customers never saw that area.

    Picking up a pen, Isaac scrawled his name onto the sign in sheet, groaning loudly when it practically exploded up his arm.

    “Ah, what a great way to start the day. Today isn’t going to be good,” he mumbled, grabbing a serviette and getting the majority off. Despite his best efforts, a dark blue stain was still left. He picked up his notebook, pinned on his nametag and went to report for duty.

    “Isaac!” said Evan, as he met him in the kitchen. Evan was his co-worker, a guy of eighteen years with a taste for silliness. He could often be seen folding origami frogs from the paper in his notebook and flicking them across the counter. On one occasion he had been fooling around with a yoyo and given himself a black eye.

    “Hey. Who’s on today?” asked Isaac, running his hands down the front of his jeans to straighten out any creases. According to their boss, people who went into the Crabclaw had expectations for neatness. Half the people who went in couldn’t even get their driving licenses yet.

    “Millie called in sick, but we have Warren and Kate. Oh, guess what!” he said, suddenly turning to Isaac with a look that said ‘I know something interesting’.

    “What?” He made a gesture for him to walk and talk as he took the check to table fourteen.

    “We’re getting a new dress code soon,” he said, as the group paid.

    Isaac gave them their change, before talking to Evan when they got up and left. “Really? Why’s that important?” They walked to the area behind the counter, where the dishwasher was working on a glass that Warren had taken to her.

    “Because we’ll have less freedom,” he said, a bit whiny.

    Kate giggled as she put a glass on a wire dishrack. “You sound like you’ve just been kicked between the legs. Besides, what freedom do we have? It’s not like we’re allowed to strut around in designer clothes. We already have nametags.”

    “Well, we’re allowed to customise them,” said Isaac.

    “Well, from next month onwards, you won’t be allowed to do that,” came a voice that made all of three of them jump out of their skins. It was Bill, the manager. “This is a serious business, not some job at a burger joint. We have competition in this city, so we need to maintain a professional atmosphere. That’s why you’re getting a new dress code.” He walked into his office and slammed the door.

    Evan muttered under his breath, knocking some bleached blonde hair from his eyes. “Bloody jerk. We’re not his slaves.”

    Isaac shrugged, gesturing at his nametag. “Kate, you’ll be forced to remove that sticker.”

    She looked down at the colourful unicorn that she had attached to the plastic cover of her tag.

    “Oh, we’ve had some good times…”

    Kate began to slip into her dream world, which the other staff called the “Land of the Happy-Cake-Fairies”. They had found that it was best not to disturb her when she did, because she screamed or said random things if suddenly jolted out of her fantasy.

    Evan and Isaac slowly backed off, putting emphasis on their faces to show their carefulness. They widened their eyes and tiptoed backwards in great, lurching steps.

    “Any word on the new code? What’s changing, exactly?” Isaac asked when they reached the opposite end of the counter.

    “Well, I saw an order form for a bunch of shirts on Bill’s desk.”

    “What were you doing near his desk?” It was a fair question. There was nothing in his job description that involved being close enough to read documents of Bill’s.

    “Okay, I heard him mention an order over the phone, and it wasn’t one of our regular food delivery services, so I mighta checked in and looked.”

    Isaac tutted. “You have to stop snooping around; you’re going to get busted for rifling through other people’s things. You don’t plan on stalking anyone, do you? That’d be pretty scary.”

    “Of course not! Well, unless I HAVE to. Do you think they’ll keep me on staff if this place gets more upscale?” asked Evan, glancing around for any tables that needed serving.

    “Why wouldn’t you get to keep your job?”

    “I’m not exactly class, you know.”

    Isaac rolled his eyes. “You’re so paranoid. You’ve been here for years, and all the regulars know you. Just because we’re getting a new dress code doesn’t mean we’re going to start serving hors d’oeuvres and have violins playing in the background. Why are you asking me?”

    “I guess I trust you the most. Everyone else is so blunt.”

    “You should ask Kate this type of thing,” he said, gesturing at the blonde. She was now washing a porcelain plate, but her eyes were slowly glazing over. “Actually, on second thought, don’t. You might startle her.”

    What do you think? Thanks!

  97. B. Macon 01 Jun 2009 at 4:46 am

    Here are some thoughts and impressions.

    –The opening page is getting better, but I think it still has some pacing issues. For example, “four years on” in the first sentence makes it hard to follow the chronology.

    –I think the word “Yinusi” is introduced too quickly. Readers may have trouble understanding what “only a few extra lines had been unlocked” mean, but I think it’s the Yinusi line that’s more likely to make them feel like they’re lost. It might help to set up the book more clearly. Without the benefit of what I already know, I think I’d be really confused by the first three paragraphs.

    –“on things he had already read.” I would really recommend elaborating on this.

    –I would recommend overhauling the first paragraph. For example, what would you think about a first sentence like “Isaac was __ years old when he learned he wasn’t human”?

    –Isaac’s book serves as an info-dump here. It may help to show us more about Isaac than the backstory. I’d recommend developing a personality trait in the first three paragraphs. For example, how does he react to the book? He doesn’t seem to have an opinion about what he’s reading. Does he find it believable? Worrisome? Awesome?

    –I think June and Lonnie are introduced maybe a bit too quickly. I don’t feel like I have a good feel for Isaac yet, and they don’t help to develop him very much.

    –This might be a guy thing, so please take this with the appropriate level of skepticism. I don’t feel that Lonnie’s family history is particularly relevant or interesting at this point. Also, it is a fairly long tangent. “Unlike Isaac, she had been adopted because her parents signed her over. June and Reiji had not yet completed the paperwork necessary to adopt him, because of numerous issues that had arisen on each attempt. They were going to reapply at a later date.”

    –At this point, I’m more interested in Isaac than his family. He has known for some time that he’s not human. How’s he dealing with that? Has he told anyone else? If not, why not? What’s at stake for Isaac?

    –“Psychic pulses” is a strong phrase. It feels much more appropriate to the voice of the speaker than a more colloquial expression like psi-blasts.

    –I don’t know if I would make the connection between Isaac and Izzy. That’s not a major issue, but I think there are probably smoother ways to show that the mother is affectionate with him.

    –In the first line, the phrase “four years on” creates chronological confusion issues. It might help to make it clear which two ages we’re dealing with. 12 and 8? 16 and 12? Etc. Later on, we learn something about him when he was 5 (when he first started to care for himself) and 9 (when he almost burned down the house). I would recommend simplifying the timeline by removing or merging as many of these times as possible. For example, maybe he becomes more independent at 5. He probably wouldn’t say something like “well, it’s because I read a book that explained I wasn’t human,” but he could make a vague allusion to reading and I think that readers would get the hint.

    –I feel that this is a bit too distant from Isaac and his voice. He might sound more distinct talking to friends than talking with his family. (Also, friends are often more interesting than family because they show something about the character’s choices).

    –I would recommend giving the narrator a more distinct voice as well.

    –“a relatively strenuous job.” The word relatively is a bit unclear here. Strenuous compared to what? I think you could just cut strenuous.

    –“Isaac took off his backpack and jacket as he went into the back room, hanging them upon one of several hooks provided.” Maybe a bit too much detail. What would you think about “In the back room, Isaac took off his backpack and jacket.” ?

    –I like the image of peeling paint. Good visual. There haven’t been many visuals or other sensory images so far.

    –“The more experienced staff claimed that it had been like that since the mid-nineties, seeing as customers never saw that area.” I think this could be more stylish. You could introduce a detail here to add flavor and develop the workplace. “It was rumored but never confirmed that the paint was peeling because [fantastic detail].”

    –I know the inkstain is an important plot point. It might help to draw a manager’s attention to it later, so that it seems like there’s an immediate reason for the ink. Then, when you draw on the inkstain later, readers will think “ooh, I remember that from before!”

    –Tense issues with Evan. “On one occasion he had been fooling around with a yoyo and given himself a black eye.” What would you think about “Once he managed to give himself a black eye with a yoyo”? Good detail, by the way.

    –“He could often be seen folding origami frogs…” Passive sentence.

    “Millie called in sick, but we have Warren and Kate.” A lot of names.

    Several sentences begin with “well.”

    Isaac shrugged, gesturing at his nametag. “Kate, you’ll be forced to remove that sticker.” — It sounds like the sticker is on his nametag.

    “I guess I trust you the most. Everyone else is so blunt.” Is blunt the best word here? The other employees don’t seem terribly blunt… Kate is loony but seems to keep to herself, for example.

    I think the chapter could use a better cliffhanger at the end.

  98. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 02 Jun 2009 at 5:45 am

    Okay, I’ve rewritten much of the chapter. The word “Yinyusi” is mentioned in passing and it should be easy to tell what they are. The idea that Isaac is not human is introduced in the prologue, so it should be easy to tell that it is the name of his people.
    Chapter One

    Isaac ran his hand down the front page again and watched the words blossom into visibility. He had sat for several minutes, practically patting the book like it was a pet.

    “Finding out about, er, un-human-ness is the strangest thing ever. What the hell is a Yinyusi, anyway? I know they have superpowers, fancy technology to bounce babies between universes and that I am one, but this damn book won’t tell me anything else!”

    He absentmindedly flicked forward a few pages and checked to see if anything more could be read. Only a few sentences had become legible since he first discovered the secrets it held, due to his lack of free time to practice his abilities.

    “Isaac!”

    He turned his head and hurriedly rose to his feet, shoving the book into a metal box and locking it. He pushed it to the back of his bedside drawers and slipped the key into his wallet.

    “Yeah, Mum?”

    “You should hurry, or you’ll be late for work!”

    Isaac grabbed his things before he hurried down to the kitchen, where he grabbed a carton of strawberry milk from the fridge and paused to ruffle his younger sister’s hair. Lonnie glared at him and shook her head to make it fall back into place.

    “What is it with girls and death glares?” he wondered aloud. “Anyway, I’ll see you later. Seeya, Mum, Lon.”

    He stepped out of the side door and jogged down the garden path to the road. He slowed his pace and looked at the high rise buildings that almost completely filled his vision every time he walked to the city. While it wasn’t a very nice view for the neighbourhood, it meant that the residents didn’t have to walk for hours to get downtown.

    He pushed open the door of the restaurant where he worked and walked into the back room, where he removed his jacket and backpack.

    The room was decorated with plum coloured paint that was beginning to peel slightly, and the manager had been meaning to replace it for several months. The more experienced staff claimed that it had been like that since the mid-nineties, ever since one of the chefs had consumed a highly acidic cocktail and mistaken the wall for a urinal in his drunken stupor. None of the younger staff believed it, because “Mister Acid Pee” had never been given a proper name.

    Picking up a pen, Isaac scrawled his name onto the sign in sheet, groaning loudly when it practically exploded up his arm.

    “Ah, what a great way to start the day. Today isn’t going to be good,” he mumbled, grabbing a serviette and getting the majority off. Despite his best efforts, a dark blue stain was still left. He picked up his notebook, pinned on his nametag and went to report for duty.

    “Isaac!” said Evan, as he met him in the kitchen. Evan was his co-worker, a guy of eighteen years with a taste for silliness. He liked to fold origami frogs from the paper in his notebook and flicking them across the counter. Another time he had been playing with a yoyo, and drew attention to himself with a pained yelp. When everyone looked at him, he had a black eye that was swollen half shut.

    “Hey. What’s up?” asked Isaac, running his hands down the front of his jeans to straighten out any creases. According to their boss, people who went into the Crabclaw had expectations for neatness. Half the people who went in couldn’t even get their driving licenses yet.

    “Oh, guess what!” he said, suddenly turning to Isaac with a look that said ‘I know something interesting’.

    “What?” He made a gesture for him to walk and talk as he took the check to table fourteen.

    “We’re getting a new dress code soon,” he said, as the group paid.

    Isaac gave them their change, before talking to Evan when they got up and left. “Really? Why’s that important?” They walked to the area behind the counter, where the dishwasher was working on a glass that Warren had taken to her.

    “Because we’ll have less freedom,” he said, a bit whiny.

    Kate giggled as she put a glass on a wire dish rack. “You sound like you’ve just been kicked between the legs. Besides, what freedom do we have? It’s not like we’re allowed to strut around in designer clothes. We already have nametags.”

    “We’re allowed to customise them,” said Isaac.

    “Well, from next month onwards, you won’t be allowed to do that,” came a voice that made all of three of them jump out of their skins. It was Bill, the manager. “This is a serious business, not some job at a burger joint. We have competition in this city, so we need to maintain a professional atmosphere. That’s why you’re getting a new dress code.”

    He stood with his hands on hips, examining the three employees.

    “Kate, tie your hair tighter, Evan straighten your collar, Isaac, what’s with that ink stain?”

    “The pen haemorrhaged on my hand when I signed in. I can’t get it off.”

    “Note to self; buy better pens,” said Bill. A small grin tugged at the corner of Evan’s mouth. He often thought that Bill sabotaged things just to have a reason to tell people off.

    “Wipe that grin off your face! Remember to wash your hands! And smile!”

    No one bothered to point out that his instructions were contradictory.

    He walked into his office and slammed the door.

    Evan muttered under his breath, knocking some bleached blonde hair from his eyes. “Bloody jerk. We’re not his slaves.”

    Isaac shrugged. “Kate, you’ll be forced to remove that sticker.”

    She looked down at the colourful unicorn that she had attached to the plastic cover of her tag.

    “Oh, we’ve had some good times…”

    Kate began to slip into her dream world, which the other staff called the “Land of the Happy-Cake-Fairies”. They had found that it was best not to disturb her when she did, because she screamed or said random things if suddenly jolted out of her fantasy.

    Evan and Isaac slowly backed off, putting emphasis on their faces to show their carefulness. They widened their eyes and tiptoed backwards in great, lurching steps.

    “Any word on the new code? What’s changing, exactly?” Isaac asked when they reached the opposite end of the counter.

    “I saw an order form for a bunch of shirts on Bill’s desk.”

    “What were you doing near his desk?” It was a fair question. There was nothing in his job description that involved being close enough to read documents of Bill’s.

    “Okay, I heard him mention an order over the phone, and it wasn’t one of our regular food delivery services, so I mighta checked in and looked.”

    Isaac tutted. “You have to stop snooping around; you’re going to get busted for rifling through other people’s things. You don’t plan on stalking anyone, do you? That’d be pretty scary.”

    “Of course not! Well, unless I have to. Do you think they’ll keep me on staff if this place gets more upscale?” asked Evan, glancing around for any tables that needed serving.

    “Why wouldn’t you get to keep your job?”

    “I’m not exactly class, you know.”

    Isaac rolled his eyes. “You’re so paranoid. You’ve been here for years, and all the regulars know you. Just because we’re getting a new dress code doesn’t mean we’re going to start serving hors d’oeuvres and get violinists. Why are you asking me?”

    “I guess I trust you the most. Everyone else is so…”

    “Insane?”

    Evan nodded.

    “Jabberwocky!” The sound of a plate smashing made everyone turn around.
    Isaac squeezed the bridge of his nose between his thumb and forefinger.

    “Someone scared Kate. Judging by the ‘jabberwocky’ comment, she’s been reading Through the Looking-Glass .”

    “Don’t worry; you can escape this madhouse in a few minutes. Your shift ends soon, right?”

    “Mercifully.” Isaac checked his watch. “Oh, I have to meet Amy Belle soon.”

    “Hot date?” asked Evan, walking with him to the back room, where Isaac picked up his things.

    “Don’t make me laugh. She’s not the type to go for me and she prefers fashion over education.”

    Isaac may not have had a very high opinion of her, but things in his life were about to become very twisted.

    What do you think? Thanks!

  99. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 02 Jun 2009 at 6:30 am

    I now have the second chapter ready. I’ll post it tomorrow after my exam.

  100. B. Macon 02 Jun 2009 at 8:50 am

    –Could you post the prologue? I don’t think I know what’s in it.

    –This is getting better…

    –In the first sentence, I’m not sure readers will understand what you’re describing. It might help to zoom out a bit. I would recommend describing the forest (Isaac is an alien with superpowers) rather than starting with this tree (the words appearing on the page).

    –I’d recommend getting deeper into the characterization early on. For example, you could rewrite the first paragraph to focus more on the fact that reading this book is a secret ritual and a habit for him.

    –Talking to himself here sounds like a really awkward way to get around the third-person narrator. I’d recommend moving that into narratorial exposition– it will still be an infodump, but I think you could resolve most of that problem by making the narrator’s voice stylish. “It wasn’t every day you found out you were an alien,” maybe? (I know that this isn’t actually taking place on the day that he finds that out, but bear with me).

    –“You should hurry, or…” What would you think about “Hurry up! You’ll be late for work.”

    –I think the family is handled better, but I think that the interactions here should probably be more important/stylish/interesting. I think it would help if they showed us something about Isaac or advanced the plot.

    –“He stepped out of the side door and jogged down the garden path to the road. He slowed his pace and looked at the high rise buildings that almost completely filled his vision every time he walked to the city. While it wasn’t a very nice view for the neighbourhood, it meant that the residents didn’t have to walk for hours to get downtown.” What does this accomplish? It might help to give the city/setting a mood. For example, Gotham City is foreboding and frightening. What are we supposed to feel about the city here?

    –“The more experienced staff claimed that it had been like that since the mid-nineties, ever since one of the chefs had consumed a highly acidic cocktail and mistaken the wall for a urinal in his drunken stupor.” Gross, but I like this a lot. It’s stylish and it helps develop the restaurant/workplace. What would you think about inserting more of these details to develop scenes and characters?

    “Ah, what a great way to start the day. Today isn’t going to be good,” he mumbled… The second sentence here is probably unnecessary.

    “…grabbing a serviette and getting the majority off. Despite his best efforts, a dark blue stain was still left.” I’d recommend changing this to something like “…dabbing his sleeve with a serviette. [napkin? I think “serviette” sounds fancy.] Despite his best efforts, a dark blue stain remained.”

    “According to their boss, people who went into the Crabclaw had expectations for neatness. Half the people who went in couldn’t even get their driving licenses yet.” What would you think about something like this: “According to their boss, the Crabclaw’s clientele expected neatness and impeccable presentation. Isaac wondered which restaurant he was talking about. Half of the Crabclaw’s diners weren’t even old enough to drive.”

    “a look that said ‘I know something interesting.’ ” What would you think about something like “he looked like he had heard something interesting.” Then describe that a bit. Jackpot eyes! Or maybe he looks real smug. I sometimes get smug when I’m the only person that knows something interesting.

    ““What?” He made a gesture for him to walk and talk as he took the check to table fourteen.” Is this necessary?

    –“This is a serious business, not some job at a burger joint.” What would you think about cutting out “some job at a…”? I think that’s a more parallel structure.

    –Good work with Bill and the ink stain. It feels very relevant in the here and now.

    “Any word on the new code? What’s changing, exactly?” Isaac asked when they reached the opposite end of the counter. This is the point at which I think the chapter gets distracted by the dress-code change. Why does it matter?

    –I’d recommend developing Isaac more strongly. I think this chapter has an issue I suffer from a lot… the main character is a bit bland and is mostly developed to the extent that he’s different from the side-characters. (Unlike Kate, he’s sane… unlike Evan, he’s a good employee… unlike Bill, he’s loose, etc). I think it would really help to develop some personality traits of his own, because right now the side-characters are coming across more clearly than he is. I’d recommend making him a bit more proactive. (That’s also a problem I have with Agent Black. Have you noticed that pretty much all of my webcomics focus on some wacky escapade initiated by Agent Orange? What’s Agent Black doing?)

    “Insane?” Haha, I like that.

    I’m not feeling the jabberwocky outburst. It seems kind of forced.

    “Isaac may not have had a very high opinion of her, but things in his life were about to become very twisted.” I think this cliffhanger could be improved. For one, instead of explicitly saying that his life is about to become twisted, I’d have AB suddenly show up. That would set readers up for the next chapter pretty well. How’s he going to survive her?

  101. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 02 Jun 2009 at 6:31 pm

    My family generally calls napkins “serviettes”, but I did think it sounded a little formal, too. Also, I like gross humour. Heck, I like almost any sort of humour.

    Chapter One

    Superpowers aren’t something most people just wake up with one day. Though Isaac didn’t fit into the general description of a normal person, even his powers had been manifesting themselves over his childhood, and were still developing. Since he was twelve and hit his “ability arc”, as the book described, he had slowly gained control over them and no longer had random blasts of energy destroying anything near.

    Isaac ran his hand down the front page again and watched the words blossom into visibility. He had sat for several minutes, practically patting the book like it was a pet. This was a regular thing for him; the one key to his past and voice of advice to him about his various abilities.

    “If anyone else knew about this, I’d be dissected.”

    It had been a week since he had last practiced. He had managed a few small psychic pulses to knock down a can of soft drink, and fly up to press his body against the ceiling.

    He absentmindedly flicked forward a few pages and checked to see if anything more could be read. Only a few sentences had become legible since he first discovered the secrets it held.

    “Isaac!”

    He turned his head and hurriedly rose to his feet, shoving the book into a metal box and locking it. He pushed it to the back of his bedside drawers and slipped the key into his wallet.

    “Yeah, Mum?”

    “Hurry up! You’ll be late for work!”

    Isaac grabbed his things before he hurried down to the kitchen, where he grabbed a carton of strawberry milk from the fridge and paused to ruffle his younger sister’s hair. Lonnie glared at him and shook her head to make it fall back into place.

    “What is it with girls and death glares?” he wondered aloud. “Anyway, I’ll see you later. Seeya, Mum, Lon.”

    He stepped out of the side door and jogged down the garden path to the road. He slowed his pace and looked at the high rise buildings that almost completely filled his vision every time he walked to the city. They were tall towers of steel and glass, piercing into the sky.

    The city had an atmosphere of history and modern times melded together. As he walked, Isaac could recognize easily which were older and which were brand new in comparison.

    He passed several of these buildings as he walked into the city centre and headed to his workplace.

    Isaac pushed open the door of the restaurant and walked into the back room, where he removed his jacket and backpack.

    The room was decorated with plum coloured paint that was beginning to peel slightly, and the manager had been meaning to replace it for several months. The more experienced staff claimed that it had been like that since the mid-nineties, ever since one of the chefs had consumed a highly acidic cocktail and mistaken the wall for a urinal in his drunken stupor. None of the younger staff believed it, because “Mister Acid Pee” had never been given a proper name.

    Picking up a pen, Isaac scrawled his name onto the sign in sheet, groaning loudly when it practically exploded up his arm.

    “Ah, what a great way to start the day,” he mumbled. He dabbed his hand and sleeve with a napkin. Despite his best efforts, a dark blue stain was still left behind. He picked up his notebook, pinned on his nametag and went to report for duty.

    The smell of coffee radiated around the room, with many people sipping it from cardboard cups. Some people chattered excitedly, the caffiene speeding up their voices so much that much of their speech was unintelligible.

    “Isaac!” said Evan, as he met him in the kitchen. Evan was his co-worker, a guy of eighteen years with a taste for silliness. He liked to fold origami frogs from the paper in his notebook and flick them across the counter. Another time he had been playing with a yoyo, and drew attention to himself with a pained yelp. When everyone looked at him, he had a black eye that was swollen half shut.

    “Hey. What’s up?” asked Isaac, running his hands down the front of his jeans to straighten out any creases. According to their boss, people who went into the Crabclaw had expectations for neatness. Half the people who went in couldn’t even get their driving licenses yet.

    “Oh, guess what!” he said, suddenly turning to Isaac with a look that said ‘I know something interesting’.

    “What?” He made a gesture for him to walk and talk as he took the check to table fourteen.

    “We’re getting a new dress code soon,” he said, as the group paid.

    Isaac gave them their change, before talking to Evan when they got up and left. “Really? Why’s that important?” They walked to the area behind the counter, where the dishwasher was working on a glass that Warren had taken to her.

    “Because we’ll have less freedom,” he said, a bit whiny.

    Kate giggled as she put a glass on a wire dish rack. “You sound like you’ve just been kicked between the legs. Besides, what freedom do we have? It’s not like we’re allowed to strut around in designer clothes. We already have nametags.”

    “We’re allowed to customise them,” said Isaac.

    “Well, from next month onwards, you won’t be allowed to do that,” came a voice that made all of three of them jump out of their skins. It was Bill, the manager. “This is a serious business, not some job at a burger joint. We have competition in this city, so we need to maintain a professional atmosphere. That’s why you’re getting a new dress code.”

    He stood with his hands on hips, examining the three employees.

    “Kate, tie your hair tighter, Evan straighten your collar, Isaac, what’s with that ink stain?”

    “The pen haemorrhaged on my hand when I signed in. I can’t get it off.”

    “Note to self; buy better pens,” said Bill. A small grin tugged at the corner of Evan’s mouth. He often thought that Bill sabotaged things just to have a reason to tell people off.

    “Wipe that grin off your face! Remember to wash your hands! And smile!”

    No one bothered to point out that his instructions were contradictory.

    He walked into his office and slammed the door.

    “Guess what, Bill?” Isaac whispered, so that only his nearby friends could hear. “We don’t have slavery in Australia!”

    Evan chuckled and turned to Kate. “You’ll have to take that sticker off.”

    She looked down at the colourful unicorn that she had attached to the plastic cover of her tag.

    “Oh, we’ve had some good times…”

    Kate began to slip into her dream world, which the other staff called the “Land of the Happy-Cake-Fairies”. They had found that it was best not to disturb her when she did, because she screamed or said random things if suddenly jolted out of her fantasy.

    Evan and Isaac slowly backed off, putting emphasis on their faces to show their carefulness. They widened their eyes and tiptoed backwards in great, lurching steps.

    “I bet Bill just loves sucking the fun out of work. I bet next he’ll he hiring robots to replace us,” said Isaac, double checking that his pen worked. It was pretty embarrassing to try and take orders with a broken pen.

    “Do you think they’ll keep me on staff if this place gets more upscale?” asked Evan, glancing around for any tables that needed serving.

    “Why wouldn’t you get to keep your job?”

    “I’m not exactly class, you know.”

    Isaac rolled his eyes. “You’re so paranoid. You’ve been here for years, and all the regulars know you. Just because we’re getting a new dress code doesn’t mean we’re going to start serving hors d’oeuvres and get violinists. Why are you asking me?”

    “I guess I trust you the most. Everyone else is so…”

    “Insane?”

    Evan nodded.

    “If only you knew.”

    “Don’t worry; you can escape this madhouse in a few minutes. Your shift ends soon, right?”

    “Mercifully.” Isaac checked his watch. “Oh, I have to meet Amy Belle soon.”

    “Hot date?” asked Evan, walking with him to the back room, where Isaac picked up his things.

    “Don’t make me laugh. She’s not the type to go for me and she prefers fashion over education.”

    “Isaac!” She walked up to him, and Evan could tell exactly what Isaac meant. She was dressed head to toe in pink and white, and her hair had been pinned into place with an experienced hand.

    “Speak of the fashion-conscious devil,” he mumbled. “Hi, Amy Belle.”

    Like the Devil, Amy Belle was going to become a source of evil in Isaac’s life, starting with a near-death experience.

    What do you think? Thanks!

  102. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 02 Jun 2009 at 7:53 pm

    Oh, and my prologue is posted a bit further up the page. The post begins with:

    “Here’s a new version, where the candle sets a priest on fire instead of the corporal”.

    Also, I forgot to edit Bill’s line about “a job at a burger joint”. Whoops! I’ll do that now.

  103. B. Macon 02 Jun 2009 at 9:52 pm

    –I feel the first paragraph isn’t very gripping or smooth. It’s getting clearer, though.

    –For a first sentence, what would you think about using something about the random bursts of energy? For example, something like “It was not easy to come up with an excuse for why a [quirky object] would randomly explode, particularly since Isaac couldn’t mention the whole psychic alien thing.” [Alternate phrasing: “the part about being a psychic alien.”] That segues nicely into a mini-scene about him explaining it to his mom or whoever. I think that’s a nice way to introduce him and his powers and his alien background. Once he resolves that, he goes up to his room and reads the book and then gets ready for work. Etc.

    “If anybody else knew about this, I’d be dissected.” He’s talking to himself again.

    “They were tall towers of steel and glass, piercing into the sky.” I like that.

    “The city had an atmosphere of history and modern times melded together. As he walked, Isaac could recognize easily which were older and which were brand new in comparison.” I think this is too much telling. What are some details you could use to show the mix of history and modernity? For example, in India a rather striking example would be that the lanes of traffic are clogged with cars and animal-driven carts. How does Australia’s history show itself here? Also, why is the mix of modernity and history relevant?

    –“…the manager had been meaning to replace it for several months.” What would you think about replacing “meaning” with “promising”? Also, a tensing issue. I’d recommend something like “…the manager promised/decided to replace it months ago.”

    “Despite his best efforts, a dark blue stain was still left behind.” This is awkward. I’d recommend replacing it with a single word (like lingered or whatever) or writing around it. For example, “despite his best efforts, his hand still looked like it had [been slammed in a car door/gotten in a fight with Starry Night/.]”

    –caffiene –> caffeine, I think.

    –“According to their boss, people who went into the Crabclaw had expectations for neatness. Half the people who went in couldn’t even get their driving licenses yet.” I think this could probably be cleared up.

    “Why’s that important?” Hmm. What about something like “so what?” I think that goes farther to characterizing Isaac. Also, it’s maybe a bit more believable?

    “You sound like you’ve been kicked between the legs.” I like this line, but it doesn’t sound in-character for Kate.

    “I bet next he’ll he hiring robots to replace us.” Hmm. “I bet he’ll replace us with robots” is maybe a bit smoother. Also, I’d recommend playing up Isaac’s discontentment with his workplace earlier. For example, I notice that Evan complains more about the dress-code more than he does.

    “double checking that his pen worked. It was pretty embarrassing to try and take orders with a broken pen.” I like this. It’s a very subtle way to show that he’s careful.

    The introduction of AB is pretty good. However, when AB introduces herself, I think she should say something more than “Isaac!” I’d try to give her something that suggests why Isaac doesn’t like being around her.

    “Like the Devil, Amy Belle was going to become a source of evil in Isaac’s life, starting with a near-death experience.” I’d recommend getting rid of this. This explicit narration is kind of cheesy.

    In general, the scene at work is sharper and more concise. Good work.

    Please let me know what you think.

  104. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 03 Jun 2009 at 2:09 am

    Thanks! I’ve made the changes you suggested.

    Chapter One

    Books don’t just throw themselves across the room; there’s always a reason. Isaac struggled to come up with one as June regarded the volume now scattered around the living room as several separate pages.

    “What happened here?” she asked, bending down to pick a sheet up.

    “I was carrying it and accidentally dropped it?” answered Isaac, more a question than an answer. His powers were under control for the most part, but he had a misfire when he had tried to shut the door with a psychic blast. Instead, he sent the book catapulting out of his hand. It had been a week since he had last practiced properly. He had managed a few small psychic pulses to knock down a can of soft drink, and fly up to press his body against the ceiling.

    June sighed and began gathering the pages. “I’ll take it down the bookbinders later. Go and get ready for work.”

    Isaac nodded and walked upstairs, biting his lip. The sixteen year old hated it when his abilities were off target, because he wanted them to make life easier. However, in the past it had caused more than one broken window and smashed vase.

    He shut his door and locked it, walking to his drawers and sitting on the floor next to them. He pressed his spine against the leg of his bed and reached into the drawer, pulling out a metal box with a lock on it.

    Isaac pushed a key in and opened it, revealing his book, wrapped in a protective dust jacket.

    He ran his hand down the front page and watched the words blossom into visibility. He sat for several minutes, practically patting the book like it was a pet. This was a regular thing for him; the one key to his past and voice of advice to him about his various abilities.

    He absentmindedly flicked forward a few pages and checked to see if anything more could be read. Only a few sentences had become legible since he first discovered the secrets it held.
    “Get a move on! You’ll be late for work!”

    He turned his head and hurriedly rose to his feet, putting the book back. He pushed it to the back of his bedside drawers and slipped the key into his wallet.

    Isaac grabbed his things before he hurried down to the kitchen, where he grabbed a carton of strawberry milk from the fridge and paused to ruffle his younger sister’s hair. Lonnie glared at him and shook her head to make it fall back into place.

    “What is it with girls and death glares?” he wondered aloud. “Anyway, I’ll see you later. Seeya, Mum, Lon.”

    He stepped out of the side door and jogged down the garden path to the road. He slowed his pace and looked at the high rise buildings that almost completely filled his vision every time he walked to the city. They were tall towers of steel and glass, piercing into the sky.

    Isaac pushed open the door of the restaurant and walked into the back room, where he removed his jacket and backpack.

    The room was decorated with plum coloured paint that was beginning to peel slightly. The manager said it was high on his list of priorities, but he had said that for several months. The more experienced staff claimed that it had been like that since the mid-nineties, ever since one of the chefs had consumed a highly acidic cocktail and mistaken the wall for a urinal in his drunken stupor. None of the younger staff believed it, because “Mister Acid Pee” had never been given a proper name.

    Picking up a pen, Isaac scrawled his name onto the sign in sheet, groaning loudly when it practically exploded up his arm.

    “Ah, what a great way to start the day,” he mumbled. He dabbed his hand and sleeve with a napkin. Despite his best efforts, a dark blue stain lingered like a bruise. He picked up his notebook, pinned on his nametag and went to report for duty.

    The smell of coffee radiated around the room, with many people sipping it from cardboard cups. Some people chattered excitedly, the caffeine speeding up their voices so much that much of their speech was unintelligible.

    “Isaac!” said Evan, as he met him in the kitchen. Evan was his co-worker, a guy of eighteen years with a taste for silliness. He liked to fold origami frogs from the paper in his notebook and flick them across the counter. Another time he had been playing with a yoyo, and drew attention to himself with a pained yelp. When everyone looked at him, he had a black eye that was swollen half shut.

    “Hey. What’s up?” asked Isaac, running his hands down the front of his jeans to straighten out any creases.

    “Oh, guess what!” he said, suddenly turning to Isaac with a look that said ‘I know something interesting’.

    “What?” He made a gesture for him to walk and talk as he took the check to table fourteen.

    “We’re getting a new dress code soon,” he said, as the group paid.

    Isaac gave them their change, before talking to Evan when they got up and left. “Really? So what? I might complain if we look stupid, but other than that I don’t really mind.” They walked to the area behind the counter, where the dishwasher was working on a glass that Warren had taken to her.

    “We’ll have less freedom,” he said, a bit whiny.

    Kate put a glass on a wire dish rack. “What freedom do we have? It’s not like we’re allowed to strut around in designer clothes. We already have nametags.”

    “We’re allowed to customise them,” said Isaac.

    “Well, from next month onwards, you won’t be allowed to do that,” came a voice that made all of three of them jump out of their skins. It was Bill, the manager. “This is a serious business. We have competition in this city, so we need to maintain a professional atmosphere. That’s why you’re getting a new dress code.”

    He stood with his hands on hips, examining the three employees.

    “Kate, tie your hair tighter, Evan straighten your collar, Isaac, what’s with that ink stain?”

    “The pen haemorrhaged on my hand when I signed in. I can’t get it off.”

    “Note to self; buy better pens,” said Bill. A small grin tugged at the corner of Evan’s mouth. He often thought that Bill sabotaged things just to have a reason to tell people off.

    “Wipe that grin off your face! Remember to wash your hands! And smile!”

    No one bothered to point out that his instructions were contradictory.

    He walked into his office and slammed the door.

    “Guess what, Bill?” Isaac whispered, so that only his nearby friends could hear. “We don’t have slavery in Australia!”

    Evan chuckled and turned to Kate. “You’ll have to take that sticker off.”

    She looked down at the colourful unicorn that she had attached to the plastic cover of her tag.

    “Oh, we’ve had some good times…”

    Kate began to slip into her dream world, which the other staff called the “Land of the Happy-Cake-Fairies”. They had found that it was best not to disturb her when she did, because she screamed or said random things if suddenly jolted out of her fantasy.

    Evan and Isaac slowly backed off, putting emphasis on their faces to show their carefulness. They widened their eyes and tiptoed backwards in great, lurching steps.

    “I bet Bill just loves sucking the fun out of work. I bet he’ll replace us with robots,” said Isaac, double checking that his pen worked. It was pretty embarrassing to try and take orders with a broken pen.

    “Do you think they’ll keep me on staff if this place gets more upscale?” asked Evan, glancing around for any tables that needed serving.

    “Why wouldn’t you get to keep your job?”

    “I’m not exactly class, you know.”

    Isaac rolled his eyes. “You’re so paranoid. You’ve been here for years, and all the regulars know you. Just because we’re getting a new dress code doesn’t mean we’re going to start serving hors d’oeuvres and get violinists. Why are you asking me?”

    “I guess I trust you the most. Everyone else is so…”

    “Insane?”

    Evan nodded.

    “If only you knew.”

    “Don’t worry; you can escape this madhouse in a few minutes. Your shift ends soon, right?”

    “Mercifully.” Isaac checked his watch. “Oh, I have to meet Amy Belle soon.”

    “Hot date?” asked Evan, walking with him to the back room, where Isaac picked up his things.

    “Don’t make me laugh. She’s not the type to go for me and she prefers fashion over education.”

    “There you are! I’ve been looking everywhere for you, study buddy!” She walked up to him, and Evan could tell exactly what Isaac meant. She was dressed head to toe in pink and white, and her hair had been pinned into place with an experienced hand.

    “Speak of the fashion-conscious devil.”

    What do you think?

  105. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 07 Jun 2009 at 7:22 pm

    Okay, here’s the next chapter.

    Chapter Two

    Being forced into an assignment with Amy Belle Konstantinou was perhaps one of the worst tortures Isaac could imagine. Even though they didn’t have to be near each other to complete the work, the very idea of being paired with a girl so opposite to him was uncomfortable.

    She had waited on a nearby bench while he finished his shift, her legs crossed as she played a game on her mobile.

    She shut her phone when a shadow was cast over her. Isaac was stood with his jacket and backpack on, camera in hand.

    She stood up and slipped her phone into her pocket.

    “Hey,” she said. “Should I go up to the observation deck over there and get some pictures?” Amy Belle was pointing at a high rise building a few blocks away.

    Isaac shrugged. “Sure, just as long as you get some decent shots. Don’t just take photos of the tall buildings, try to get some of shorter ones too.”

    “Okay.” Amy Belle walked away, her frilly white skirt bouncing with her long strides. Isaac scoffed as he noticed a group of guys watching her every move.

    He pulled his hood up to protect his eyes from the glare of the sun. Isaac put his backpack under a bench so it wouldn’t restrict the movement of his arms as he did his homework.

    The atmosphere of the city was very bright and cheery that day, matched by the warm rays of the sun reflecting up from the walkways of the pedestrian shopping centre. Isaac felt overheated in his jacket, but the hood was the closest thing he had to a pair of sunglasses.

    He took several pictures, each flash signalling that he was one step closer to completing the boring assignment, a light being shed on the otherwise dull situation. He knew he had to label the pictures once he got home, but at least he didn’t have to hang around Amy Belle.

    Isaac looked up to the building where she was. She was outlined against the sky, clearly visible to those stood on the ground. She was leaning over a railing at an impossible angle.

    “Don’t lean over like that, you’ll fall. Don’t you have even the tiniest speck of common sense?” he mumbled, shaking his head. Darwin’s theory was obviously not working at that particular point in time. But then something set it in motion.

    Amy Belle’s camera slipped from her hands and landed on the other side of the railing, skittering to the very edge of the building. Isaac couldn’t make out what she was saying, but knew that it wasn’t polite. She was well known amongst the other students of Saint Alexius as loud and brash.

    Amy Belle clambered over the rail like a monkey, reaching out to grasp it with her right hand, while holding onto the metal with her left. Determination was written on her face, and she ignored the signals screaming at her to be logical.

    Her incoherent yelling made people’s eyes travel upwards to her position, causing many a gasp.

    “Don’t do it!” yelled a man who stood behind Isaac. Many others began to yell up at her, and some pulled out mobile phones to call emergency services.

    “Ugh, would you just shut up?” said Amy Belle, reaching out further. Her fingers barely scraped against the silver device, but pushed it even further to the edge. She swore loudly, a word which everyone heard. Taking a deep breath, she let go of the rail and took a cautious step towards it. Amy Belle knelt down in an effort to steady herself while she wrapped her hand around the closest part of the camera.

    “Phew.” Amy Belle grabbed hold of it and drew herself back up. Unfortunately, her right foot was on her skirt, tugging it down about an inch and making her fall forwards.

    She lurched towards the edge, arms flailing as she desperately tried to grab the railing again. The crowd heard her cry out in terror, a guttural scream of fear that chilled them to the core.

    Amy Belle’s hair whipped around her face as all her weight dragged her from the roof of the building. Next thing anyone knew, she was shrieking like a bat out of Hell as she fell over the edge.

    Isaac acted on impulse, his brain refusing to accept all orders but one: save her life.

    He drew a breath and focused on Amy Belle, springing forwards and leaping into the air at the same time. After that his instincts took over, and like a baby bird taking its first clumsy glide, Isaac soared upwards and snatched her out of the air before she could hit the pavement.

    Her sudden weight threw him off course a bit, causing him to swerve erratically as he attempted to land. His subconscious took over for a moment while Isaac found a strip of uncrowded path and managed a running landing.

    Amy Belle was clinging to him, with her arms around his neck. He let go of her legs so she could stand up, but they barely took her weight because she was so shocked.

    She stumbled and fell against him, her head spinning as her natural compass struggled to discern up from down.

    Isaac cleared his throat, partially from nerves and partially in an effort to deepen his voice as a disguise.

    “Hey, are you alright?” he asked, helping her to find her balance.

    She glanced down and saw the blue patch on his hand, before trying to see into the shadows of his hood.

    “I-I am now,” said Amy Belle. “Who are you?”

    Isaac considered before answering. “By the looks of it, I’m your guardian angel.”

    Amy Belle smiled and kissed him, which nearly led to Isaac falling over. Now it was his turn to be shocked.

    She stepped back so he could leave. “Thank you.”

    He nodded and broke into a run, messages flooding his mind.

    “Well, that was weird. I save a girl and then have my first kiss. What an eventful day.” Then his calm thoughts turned into panic. “I just used my powers in public! Crap!”

    Police cars, ambulances and several news channel vans pulled into the surrounding area.

    He headed through the nearest opening in the crowd at top speed, going towards the road. However, he found the way blocked by a news van that quickly pulled up. Isaac knew that the media in Perth were always quick to get to a story, a fact helped in this case by the offices being quite close to the shopping centre.

    Swearing under his breath, Isaac circled back and headed the way he came. He could feel the adrenaline flooding my system, surging through his muscles and ordering him to move faster. That combined with his panic wasn’t a good combination, making him ready to start throwing people by the time the paparazzi began their foot-pursuit.

  106. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 19 Jun 2009 at 10:15 pm

    Okay, here are my notes on Paladin:

    Paladin’s real name is Tristram Banks, a sixteen year old American boy who was raised in New York by his adoptive parents, a doctor and a lawyer. He attends high school during the weekdays, but usually goes back to his group’s secret hideout ( a small, inconspicuous rental house) with his best friend Klemente and girlfriend Atalya. Isaac (Guardian), Kamari (Sentry), Requiem (Rebirth) and Livian (Trainer, along with her pet dog) live there, as they are far from their real homes (Australia, Australia, England and Canada, respectively).

    He is Isaac’s identical twin, and he found out a couple of days before him, enabling him to surprise him when they first met face to face. Their resemblance is one of few things they have in common, because Isaac normally dresses quite casually and doesn’t really have a particular style, but Tristram has his hair dyed black and blue, has a lip piercing and dresses mostly in black, red and grey. Tristram shares Isaac’ powers (mental blasts, flight, enhanced – but not super – speed and strength), but he rarely uses them because they cause fatigue and make him sick (Isaac gets this too, but he isn’t in nearly as much pain as Tristram, which is saying something) He doesn’t get along too well with Isaac, and picks fights or taunts him for fun. He cares about him, but he doesn’t treat him like a brother, just a friend.

    He gets annoyed when people interrupt as he thinks and uses a lot of sarcasm, but he treats Atalya with much more respect than he gives anyone else, and he would never do anything to hurt her.

    Tristram is a very good hacker, known to hack his enemies’ computers and delete their homework to get revenge, along with spamming the President and breaking into the bank accounts of corrupt businessmen to drain their money. It is with this that he is able to fund his inventions and rent the base. He is practically untraceable and like to confuse the signals so that they hunt him down to the middle of nowhere when he’s actually sipping coffee at a Starbucks.

    He is utterly devoted to Atalya, having asked her out once and being rejected, he offered to walk her home under his umbrella when it rained, and she accepted him the second time he asked. He gave her a promise ring, but neither knew it was made of a radioactive space gem that allowed her to mutate herself and get wings. He doesn’t like the idea of her being in danger, but he knows she can look after herself.

  107. Eren Ramzion 20 Jun 2009 at 7:21 am

    Now that is a cool character you got there, Whovian. He sounds like he is a bit of an enigma to his enemies. I like that he is multi-talented as a hacker, superhero and inventor – reminds me a bit of Iron Man. Also, I like that touch of him hacking corrupt businessman and stealing their money to fund his base and inventions – it’s more relevant than ever now due to the current economic climate. You should have him hack some bankers too hehe and Wall Street while you’re at it 😀 they deserve it most.

  108. CarsonArtiston 31 Jul 2009 at 2:21 pm

    I went ahead and made up an origin for your shapeshifter, if you like it, feel free to use it. I wrote it under the review forums main page. Good luck!

  109. CarsonArtiston 31 Jul 2009 at 2:26 pm

    correction- I posted it here: Problematic Superpowers and How to Make Them Work

    you said you still needed an origin story- so I posted one up.

  110. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 26 Aug 2009 at 1:11 am

    Thanks! I just read it, it’s great.

    Isaac’s story is on temporary hiatus at the moment. My Microsoft Word program expired and I’m waiting on getting a disc, so I can’t edit, and I’m sure as hell not retyping it on Wordpad. At least I’ll have time to work on my other projects. I know I could continue typing it on Wordpad without rewriting the whole thing, but it’s easier for me when I change minor details if I can go back and change earlier mentions. Otherwise I get frustrated and it brings about that cursed writer’s block.

  111. Lighting Manon 26 Aug 2009 at 7:27 am

    There’s free alternatives to Word, like AbiWord and Open Office, both of which I think can save and open in .doc or at least .RTF, so you could open your current version and edit it then just go right back to Word when you get your new disk. A quick Google search should get you a link to either one, just a suggestion though.

    Sorry that you’re having the problems, it’s terrible when computers don’t behave.

  112. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 27 Aug 2009 at 3:14 am

    Thanks! I’m downloading Open Office right now.

    My computer is pretty good. I used to use the really big, crappy family computer that is slower than a snail stuck on a patch of glue, but now I have my shiny new laptop. It’s really awesome.

    It just messes around a lot, that’s all. I’m still getting used to running all the programs and such, but I’ve always been the most tech-savvy out of all my family, so I learn pretty quickly. It’s awesome to be part of the tech generation! Haha.

  113. Red Ragged Boyon 27 Aug 2009 at 12:01 pm

    Well if it isn’t it fair Whovian. How hath thou been? Did doth miss me?

  114. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 28 Aug 2009 at 1:55 am

    I was gone for a long time because of homework, so I have little idea of what has been happening here. Haha. I missed everyone a lot, because my teachers insist on forcing me to write reports. Haha. I’m glad that most of the homework is out of the way and now I can come here more regularly again.

    Sometimes I wish I could magically reduce the brains of my teachers to the intellect of a three year old. Then I could just hang a bunch of shiny things from the ceiling and leave them to bat at them while I played Tetris. Haha.

  115. Michael Lezaon 15 Oct 2009 at 2:00 pm

    I liked your chapter two. One of the better stories I’ve read here so far as far as pacing and writing goes. It reads in tone like a manga, and I like the kind of light tone to it.

  116. ShardReaperon 15 Oct 2009 at 4:06 pm

    Is Paladin’s name supposed to be Tristan or Tristram? I’ve never her the latter name before.

  117. Wingson 23 Nov 2009 at 12:05 pm

    Wow…I can’t believe I’ve never read the posts on you forum before, but I’d buy this book and force P to read it at knifepoint.

    What? I’m evil incarnate! I’m supposed to be this way!

    – Wings

  118. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 23 Nov 2009 at 6:40 pm

    “Is Paladin’s name supposed to be Tristan or Tristram? I’ve never her the latter name before”.

    It’s meant to be Tristram. Earlier, I couldn’t decide upon three options. Tristan, and the two possible variants: Tristran or Tristam. So I combined the three to get Tristram. Haha. I Googled it after deciding, and it’s actually a rarer variant on Tristan, anyway. I wanted to call him that, after Tristan from Celtic folklore, because I love the story of Tristan and Iseult (aka Isolde, Ysuelt etc. There are a lot of spellings, just like there are for Tristan).

    Wings: Thanks! And, you’re evil incarnate? I’m justice incarnate! Haha. Nah, I’m more along the lines of insanity incarnate. I haven’t revealed even a fraction of my weirdness here. You guys haven’t heard my plans for International Talk Like a Pirate Day yet, and I have been plotting my escape in the event of a zombie/vampire/Winnie the Pooh invasion.

  119. ShardReaperon 23 Nov 2009 at 6:48 pm

    Zombie Contingency Plan: play Left 4 Dead 2 and it’ll solve itself

    Vampire Contingency Plan: make yourself pale and sparkly and subtly enslave some human girl/boy.

    Winnie the Pooh Contingency Plan: watch Nickolodeon a lot. Or remind yourself that Disney has a stake in pornography.

  120. ShardReaperon 23 Nov 2009 at 6:50 pm

    Sorry to DP. Ignore that last part of the WPCP.

    Zombie Contingency Plan: play Left 4 Dead 2 and it’ll solve itself

    Vampire Contingency Plan: make yourself pale and sparkly and subtly enslave some human girl/boy.

    Winnie the Pooh Contingency Plan: watch Nickolodeon a lot.

  121. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 23 Nov 2009 at 7:18 pm

    I’ve been thinking a lot lately and I’ve decided to move the events of the second book into the first, and merge them. So he’ll meet Tristram and everyone in the second book, instead of the third.

    There doesn’t seem to be enough going on in the first, as I’ve gone on it seems to be getting more and more, I dunno, bland, I guess. It’s really just “Isaac discovers powers, is blackmailed, fights villain, struggles to hide secret, beats villain, the end”.

    I think I can do better, so now I have modified it a fair bit, but I can rewrite without much hassle:

    * Isaac fights alone at first. But he is joined by Kamari (Sentry) after a little while, who has been confused about her own abilities for years and goes to him for advice and training, because she still knocks stuff over on a regular basis.

    * Kamari and Isaac remain in a similar situation – neither knows the other’s true name or age for safety purposes, and do not see each other’s faces.

    * I was also thinking that instead of the plotline about the cure being made from Isaac’s blood, Kamari can just be half-Yinyusi on her mother’s side, and rarely goes in public because of her father’s status in charge of the electronics company putting her at risk of kidnap. But she does venture out sometimes, mostly to charity functions and is occasionally seen shopping.

    * I was thinking that Kamari’s mother could have been part of some sort of program to investigate the humans and fell for Kamari’s father. But she had to return to her own world shortly after the birth, and has been registered as missing ever since. This will change the way they named Kamari, I will have it so that her parents didn’t meet at the Kamari fountain by falling in, I’ll have it that her dad proposed there.

    * She now lives in Perth, not Brisbane. This means that Isaac cannot put two and two together and figure out that Sentry popped up just as Kamari Libra went missing. In the original idea, he was carrying the Idiot Ball for the entire book. So now Kamari can lead a double life the same way Isaac does, without running away from home.

    * Instead of the mafia wanting rid of Isaac for being a nuisance, I’ll add something on top of that. I’ll have it that they’re going to receive a bioweapon that they can then use to hold Australia hostage and receive large amounts of ransom from the Aussie government, who have no choice but to pay, or else have all 22 million citizens infected and killed. (Yeah, we’re a large country in terms of area, but you could build a city in the USA or elsewhere and we’d all be able to live there. Then again, we do have the huge desert that limits all our space. Haha)

    * I’ll drop hints about Kamari knowing Tristram throughout the book, like she’ll say “I heard Libra Electronics is upping their security since this hacker broke in for the fifth time. They can’t track him, he’s really good. He’s been teaching me how to crack a simple password but I can’t get the hang of it”. Also, I plan for him to help as an offscreen (or rather, on-a-laptop -screen) character who communicates through IM and manages to track the progress of the weapon. (Kind of like L, but not as intelligent. Tristram has knowledge of hacking only, he doesn’t possess any brilliant deductive skills)

    * I plan for Amy Belle to find out about Sentry through the news (not her identity, just that Isaac now has a friend to help) and get insanely jealous, resulting in her telling her friend Morgan that Isaac is the Guardian. This will cause further complications for him, because Morgan isn’t known for her subtlety or self-restraint.

    I can write these things in without much hassle, my opening chapters will remain pretty much the same, but I’m gonna change the subsequent ones. It might take a while, but it’s going to be fun.

    Thinking about this makes me wonder, how far does the average person modify their ideas before finishing? Hmm.

    So, what do you guys think of the changes? Good, bad, ugly? Haha.

  122. Wingson 23 Nov 2009 at 9:18 pm

    Er…I don’t know the original draft, but I’d still buy this. Sounds good to me!

    – Wings

  123. B. Macon 23 Nov 2009 at 10:44 pm

    There doesn’t seem to be enough going on in the first, as I’ve gone on it seems to be getting more and more, I dunno, bland, I guess. It’s really just “Isaac discovers powers, is blackmailed, fights villain, struggles to hide secret, beats villain, the end”.

    I sympathize with this, particularly because the underlying plot has some superficial similarities to a very well-known superhero story (Superman). If you manage to differentiate yourself from Superman, I suspect it’ll be in the execution of your concept rather than the concept itself. Still mainly about the maturation of an alien living among humans, but with different wrinkles. For example, I suspect that the Isaac-AB relationship will be more interesting than Clark-Lois (or Peter-Mary Jane, for that matter) because, umm, she’s trying to blackmail him. Typically, the love interest doesn’t have much of a mind of her own– she’s just there as something for the hero to win. I think it’ll be refreshing to see her try to screw him over. (Also, a surprising number of guys can relate to the psycho ex-girlfriend angle).



    If you work in the characters from the second book into the first one, will the first book still feel stylistically consistent? I got the impression that one of the selling points of the first book was that the book has a lot of Spiderman appeal: there are very few superpowered characters (particularly protagonists). It gives the story a lot more relatability than a book like Superhero Nation (where pretty much every character besides the lead has superpowers).

    If you work in the characters into the first book, I would recommend either placing them fairly early in the story (maybe the first third), or at least foreshadowing their arrival. (For example, we don’t meet them until later, but Isaac sees some news reports or some other clues that there is super-stuff going on elsewhere).

  124. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 24 Nov 2009 at 3:04 am

    When I wrote my first-first draft in year ten (aged 14-15) I tried to make it as original as possible, which is why I put AB in there to screw with his life. Though I had to stop writing (it was 72 pages total when it only had to have seven. Yeah, I know…) I just got rid of her by making her parents drag her off to France, and everyone lives happily ever after. Obviously, that won’t do here. Haha. Even if she was taken to France, she’d still find a way to mess with him. So I think I’ll have her stick around for a while, until she gets bored. Maybe have her get more and more clingy, so she’s a necklace girlfriend (always with arms around his neck, haha). I just have to make sure she isn’t too annoying to readers. I don’t want them to love her, but I don’t want them to hate her either.

    “I got the impression that one of the selling points of the first book was that the book has a lot of Spiderman appeal: there are very few superpowered characters (particularly protagonists).”

    It should still be pretty much the same in that respect. Instead of it being just Isaac, Kamari will be there too, and Tristram isn’t physically present but helps a little through the laptop. Cain will be the main antagonist, and only bad guy with superpowers. So really I’ve just given Isaac a couple of colleagues (she’s not really a sidekick. Maybe more of a student), only one of whom is of any help in battle. For now at least, but when Tristram is properly introduced, battle isn’t going to be his strong point.

    “If you work in the characters into the first book, I would recommend either placing them fairly early in the story (maybe the first third), or at least foreshadowing their arrival. (For example, we don’t meet them until later, but Isaac sees some news reports or some other clues that there is super-stuff going on elsewhere)”.

    Yeah, I was planning on introducing both Kam and Tristram pretty early. My main idea was to have her at a charity function hosted by her father, and getting tired from all the walking around and talking to everyone, getting dizzy from all the perfume etc. So she sits down, and mirroring the prologue where Isaac accidentally messes up his year seven graduation, things start smashing around her. So she excuses herself and goes to her room, turns on her phone and says “It happened again! What’s going on?!”

    Then she’d talk to Tristram for a while, who is telling her that he went through the same thing (since he’s Isaac’s twin, it happened to him around the same time as it did to him, Kamari’s has come later since she’s half-human). Kamari asks if he’s got any more information on the Guardian, and Tristram gives her random trivia that the FBI has recorded about him (eg, from the way he runs they call tell he has broken an ankle in the past six years, some eyewitnesses have noticed what his hair colour is etc).

    Then she decides that next time she hears about him doing something, she’ll cut him off as he leaves and ask for help with it, because the random psychic blasts are getting out of control.

  125. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 04 Aug 2010 at 6:48 am

    I think I’ll cut the scene where Isaac is at work out and just skip right to him meeting up with AB to work on the assignment. That way I can have his pen explode on him while he’s taking notes and she can realise right away who he is when he saves her. That means I can cut a lot of filler between her finding his diary, and have her blackmail him right away so I can get to the supervillain plot earlier.

    Hmm, would I lose anything vital if I cut it? I don’t think I would. I could add it back in later in different ways. Thoughts?

  126. gurion omegaon 22 Nov 2010 at 11:50 am

    Good story

  127. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 13 Mar 2011 at 2:43 am

    Oh dear God, I have a lot to work on…

    I’ve made a LOT of changes to the plot, and even more that I’m currently considering. With the bulk of my original story already written out, what would you suggest?

    A: Should I just go back to the start and modify it to fit the changes in?
    B: Should I rewrite the whole dang thing until it works?

    I’m torn between the two. XD

  128. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 13 Mar 2011 at 3:23 am

    “I’m extremely reluctant to change big details like twists and characterization.”

    …..AHAHAHAHAHA. I laugh at the old me, I’ve decided on some huge changes.

    I’m upping the age of the main cast, cutting out two characters so that I have a main cast of four, and a secondary cast of maybe eight or so. Way back, it used to be a main cast of seven and a gazillion in the secondary. I’m also adding in some extra backstory and cutting out most of my original manuscript so that it sits better.

    The only things that HAVEN’T changed are the names and location.

    Man, have I got a lot to do…

  129. K Perryon 02 Jul 2011 at 1:48 pm

    The main problem I have with your story is the title, I think some will take offense to the the word Retard.

  130. B. Macon 02 Jul 2011 at 4:22 pm

    I think The ReTARDISed Whovian is just the author’s screen name on SN, not the title of her book. Apparently TARDIS is part of the Dr. Who series, and I think the author is poking fun at her very strong affection for the Dr. Who series. Personally, I don’t find it offensive. (I wouldn’t countenance people actually making fun of people with learning disabilities–I’m an English teacher, myself–but I thought that this was just innocent self-effacing humor).

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