Mar 01 2009

Yogi’s Review Forum

Published by at 8:24 am under Review Forums

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56 responses so far

56 Responses to “Yogi’s Review Forum”

  1. Yogion 02 Mar 2009 at 1:52 am

    Chapter 1

    Riley looked out the window and frowned. He was on his way home from school, on a bus that had obviously seen better days. Its seats were tattered and worn out, and the lights flickered. It was getting dark, and rain was falling heavily.

    When Rileys stop came, he got out and opened his umbrella. He brushed off his brown windswept locks from his forehead, while groaning under his load of school work in his bag. Thunder roared, and lightning crashed as he reached home. He fumbled for his keys, but the door opened, and his aunt stood there, eyeing him from head to toe.

    She smiled, her tainted teeth, with several missing, showing. There was a glint in her watery amber eyes, as she said, “Well look who decides to show up! You’re awfully late boy! Isn’t that right Morty?” She smirked and turned to her fat black cat, who purred contentedly, its stumpy legs barely holding up its fat body.

    “And we don’t like waiting for someone do we?” she said softly. Like the calm before a storm, he mused. “When your parents died, I took you in, raised you as my own, and all I ask of you is to do as I say. Is that so hard to do?” He bit back a retort that sprang to his lips, and swallowed it with difficulty.

    “Your parents, a bunch of circus freaks, had you traveling all around the world. No doubt if you were still in their care, you’d have a promising future as a circus clown. Until that fire blazed through the tents. Your parents were burnt alive trying to save you, but now you’re just a burden and a delinquent. Nothing more, nothing less. Skipping school and staying out late will not be tolerated in my house young man!”

    “But I didn’t-” “No! I don’t care! Just shut up and listen! Your marks have never been on the good side, but at least they were consistent! Now they’re dropping heavily, and I just don’t know what to do with you! Should I abandon you in the middle of nowhere? Life as a hobo may not be too bad you know,” she said, stroking her cat, obviously relishing creating fear in Rileys mind.

    But Riley was no coward, and after 11 years of living with her, he knew she never meant anything she said. She was too concerned for her own reputation to try anything to him. She terrorised him daily, but none of her threats ever came to fruition. He smiled wryly in spite of himself, and she was quick to notice.

    “Right! You can still stand there and smirk? Go to your room, or this back scratcher will finally have something useful to do!” she snarled, waving her back scratcher threateningly. He strolled up to his room, rolling his eyes. What a witch, he thought. That woman should be locked up in a nice asylum, where everyone would dismiss her threats as mindless ramblings of a woman too insane to turn a doorknob properly without scolding it.

    He sighed gloomily, and took out a photo of his parents from his locked drawer. He had scavaged it a few years ago from his aunts album. There was a tear right down the middle, separating his parents, but he had carefully taped it up. She probably never got any dates, so now she’s taken to ripping them apart, he thought to himself.

    His parents died when he was only five, when an arsonist had destroyed the circus tent. His mother was a trapeze artist, and his father was the ringleader. His mom had covered him, protecting him from the fire blazing all around. She burnt alive, while saving her son. His aunt was always quick to remind him about how her sister died for him, and how he was a burden towards her.

    He laughed bitterly, and quickly hid the photo when he heard his aunt arriving. “Dinner,” she grunted, passing him a bowl of porridge that looked sickening. But considering that was the only meal he was going to get, he scarfed it down, having eaten almost nothing the whole day.

    Contrary to what his aunt said, he wasn’t skipping school. His English teacher had detained him for extra class, stating that he was going to let one incapable student lower the class’s GPA. So they had stayed back, doing test after test with no results. He had always at least passed, but recently, there was something that kept on distracting him. Something was calling for him, but he had no idea who or what.

  2. Yogion 02 Mar 2009 at 1:53 am

    Chapter 2

    “Welcome to Belinda’s Talk Show! Starring Belinda Paradizio! With your host and star, Belinda Paradizio!” the girl proclaimed. Her name was Belinda Paradizio, the spoilt brat of a daughter of Mr. Paradizio, manager of the Paradizio chain of restaurants. He had bought her a studio when she insisted on having a show, and here was the result.

    “Ma’am, your cup of coffee.” Her security guard passed her a warm cup of coffee. She sipped it, and spewed it out immediately. “This coffee is too bland! You’re fired!”

    “But, ma’am, my family income depends on my job here!”

    “I do not care! You should have thought of that before giving me bland coffee! Daddy!” she whined. The cameraman stopped recording when her father walked on set.

    He surly asked, “What now darling?”

    “I hate all the security guards you’ve given me! They can’t cook, they can’t dry clean, or anything at all! Get them from some other agency! I don’t care from where, but just get the best security guards in the world!” Her blue eyes glared angrily at him.

    “Those are the best security guards I can find darling! You’d have to be from Hollywood to get better security guards!” he remarked scornfully, rolling his eyes.
    Her right eyebrow arched, and she said, “Then fly me to Hollywood!” “But-” “NO BUTS! Just do it! And close the set for now, I’m too much in a bad mood to film now. And get me a latte!” she said, storming off.

    Her father wearily took out his cell phone. “Hello, Roger? Get me a private jet for 2 to Hollywood.”

    “Daddy!” Belinda whined. “This airplane food tastes like garbage! I think I’m going to throw up!”

    “Now now Linda, don’t be too fussy. Not everything in life is great, and you have to settle for lower sometimes,” he said.

    “I will NOT settle for lower! I know what I want, and I’m going to get what I want, with any means necessary.” Her eyes flared, and her father was beginning to see the warning signs.

    “Um, I’ll just go to the restroom darling,” he said uncomfortably. He left his seat, and his daughter smirked, as she pressed the button for an air hostess. One walked up to her, and inquired what the problem was.

    “Well, your food is atrocious, first of all, and secondly, it has made my dad go to the bathroom.”

    The air hostess frowned, and she said, “I assure you miss, we serve the finest food and it could not have been unsafe!”

    “Are you arguing with me? Do you know who I am? I am the daughter of Robert Paradizio, who’s rich enough to sue you till you’re bankrupt!” Belinda spat.

    “You are supposed to be pleasing me! Instead, you’re acting all high and mighty!” she ranted on.

    “I’m sorry ma’am. I’ll take the food right back,” she replied meekly, taking the trays away. Belinda icily stared at her, and smirked. Her father came back and noticed the missing food.

    “Pumpkin, where did the food go?” he asked.

    “The air hostess said she gave us the wrong food, so she’s coming back with different food. Better food,” she said.

    “Dear me daughter, you were right. Good help is so hard to find these days,” he muttered. When the air hostess returned, brand new food was presented to them, and they dug in.

    “This is okay Daddy, but let’s book a different jet next time,” she said.

    Suddenly, the jet tilted sideways, and they gripped tightly on to their seats. “Daddy! Go find out what’s happening!” she screamed, and her father obliged, walking with some discomfort to the pilot’s cabin.

    He knocked smartly on the locked door, and asked gruffly, “Excuse me! I demand to know what’s going on!”

    “Sabotage,” he wheezed. “Oxygen levels, depleting. Machines, faulty. Parachutes, under seat. Air hostesses, informed. Jump,” he added, in short sentences, obviously running out of breath. His eyes widened, and he quickly ran to his daughter, and was about to tell her what had happened when the plane shook violently, and he took out the parachutes.

    “No time to explain, just take these bags, and jump!” he said. The air hostesses opened the exit door, and when Belinda started to whine, he pushed her out of the plane, and jumped himself.

    As Belinda free fell, the wind swept across her face, blinding her and could only vaguely her father shouting at her to pull the strap.

    Her fingers groped around wildly, until coming across a thin strap, and she pulled it. She was lifted up, and she could open her eyes. She smiled as the parachute ballooned up, but as she looked around, her smile faltered, as her father was nowhere to be found. Her eyes darted around wildly, and saw her father falling, the parachute lying flat on his back, with two holes in it.

    “No!” she screamed, trying to get closer to him, but he was falling much faster than her. She choked up while landing into thick undergrowth.

    She desperately tried to wriggle out of the vines, looking around for her father, but only seeing lush trees all around her.

    “Where am I?” she said quietly. Her face had gone pale, and her lips were pursed.

  3. Yogion 02 Mar 2009 at 1:53 am

    Chapter 3

    Riley walked into class, wearing a black hoodie, with his pale arms in his pockets, and the hood covering his face.

    “Hey look! Circus clown is here! Why don’t you give us a performance? Didn’t your parents teach you anything about performing?” Jill shouted, and the class roared with laughter, throwing paper balls at him, while he quietly sat down.

    When the teacher arrived, everybody in the class quieted down while he took attendance. When he came to Rileys name, he skipped it.

    “Well, it seems Riley isn’t here today.” Rileys ears pricked, and he said, “Sir, I’m right here, you didn’t call my name!”

    “Don’t lie. There are no excuses for being late, so don’t make up stories by saying I didn’t call your name. Class, did I call Rileys name?” he asked hissed. The class suppressed giggles, and managed to say that he did call Rileys name with a straight face. Riley balled his hands into fists but he remained quiet.

    Mr. Travolta gave back their assignments, and smirked as he saw Riley turn pale at his grade.

    “What’s the matter Riley? Upset about your grade? Don’t blame me for your disappointing grade. You were supposed to write about what makes Shakespeare a good writer, not criticise him. Your reasons were poorly founded and structured, therefore, F is a fitting grade for you,” he said, smiling wickedly.

    Rileys anger boiled, but still he kept his mouth shut, taking in all his teachers comments quietly.

    After school, his aunt checked his bag, while he went to his room. When she saw how low he scored for his essay, she went up to his room and opened his door, her cat following close behind.

    “Boy! Look at this! F- huh? You’ve done it again boy! You deserve a good spanking! Were you going to forge my signature? You weren’t planning on showing it to me in any case were you? Lucky I took the liberty of checking your bag! When I was your age I-” she ranted before being interrupted by Riley.

    “SHUT UP! When you were my age, you didn’t have a nasty old hag being your guardian! I’m sick and tired of everyone!” he shouted at her.

    “Why that nerve of yours! You live under my roof, so you’d better not retort back at me mister!” she screamed.

    “You only have a roof because you’re getting unemployment money, and from sucking off the financial aid the government gives you for me, like a leech! This doesn’t even belong to you!” he said. She raised her arm to slap him but he caught her saggy arm, gritting his teeth, and his eyes were filled with fury.

    Suddenly, she writhed in pain, as he released all his anger and rage. Her arm began to heat up, with the heat slowly eating away her flesh. He let go and staggered back. She stopped heating up, but there was a definite spot of burnt flesh on her arm.

    He staggered up to his room, taking the photo of his parents, and he took away the key to his aunts car. He put on his hoodie, and left the house. He fumbled for the keys, and had to turn it a couple of times before opening the door to the car, being still weak after the incident, and heat was still leaving him.

    He drove away, with no clear destination in his mind, only to get away from that wretched place. His tears fell to the ground, sizzling. He was slowly losing body heat, and he knew that. It started to rain, but he had to keep the windows open, as the heater was spoilt, and turning on the air conditioner would be practically suicidal.

  4. Holliequon 02 Mar 2009 at 11:15 am

    Ack. That’s a lot to read at once. o.o;

    -”When Rileys stop came, he got out and opened his umbrella.”
    *Riley’s. That’s the only grammatical error I saw.

    Other than that, your opening chapter seems really cheesy. It’s all backstory. The backstory seems incredibly forced, too. I think that’s something you can introduce a little later in the story, or in a prologue if necessary. Right now, it’s just clutter. We barely know Riley – why should we care about whether his parents are dead or not? I think this space would be better used making Riley a likable character.

    His aunt being horrible to him is pretty overdone, too. Stuff like that’s the only meal he was going to get – realistically, if that had been the case even the most incompetant social services would have noticed it ages ago. Also, we have no reason to care about this character yet. So what if his aunt is mean to him? I would recommend toning this down so it’s just verbal abuse (e.g. “Looking after you is so annoying! You’re lucky you’re my sister’s son or you’d be out of that door quicker than you could say circus freak.”).

    The only bit I really liked was the photograph. I thought that was more original and raised questions about the aunt’s character. Why did she tear it up? If she wanted to destroy it, wouldn’t she have burned it or something? Is she angry at his parents?

    I really feel that chapter 1 is all backstory now. I’d recommend developing the two characters more – maybe you should start off with Riley at school when the teacher gets mad at him for failing?

    Chapter 2: I think the conversation between the bratty Belinda and her father is pretty funny, but again, slightly cheesy. I’m not sure if that’s what you were going for on that one. (Why does it start off like the beginning of a talk show and then . . . the chapter doesn’t feature one at all?)

    The change of scene to the plane isn’t covered at all. I did a double-take when I read about the air hostess. I’d recommend slotting in at least a sentence mentioning them heading for the airport and getting on the plane.

    When her father goes to talk to the pilot, why is the pilot suffering from lack of oxygen and not him? Also, I don’t think parachutes are a typically safety feature. Would you go parachuting without training? Of course not. It’s too dangerous. Even setting that aside, how on earth did somebody with no training land properly?

    Also a note on character: Belinda seems to have no traits apart from being spoiled. She’s a very 2D character right now. I suggest you add more personality to her. Maybe she really cares for her father even though she orders him about. If she’s really spoiled and/or sheltered, she probably doesn’t have much idea of how the world works. (I can’t imagine her surviving in that jungle for long!)

    Chapter 3: Um, I really think having this character singled out so badly is a) unrealistic and b) really annoying. If the students are bullying him then that’s fair enough, it happens. But the teacher? Why the heck would the teacher pick on him? It doesn’t make any sense. Also, marking the Shakespeare down because he criticised him is just plain stupid and can’t be justified – that is commenting on Shakespeare’s writing. Or, if the essay was to discuss why Shakespeare’s writing is good, then the teacher is really incomptent and/or biased.

    There’s nothing really leading up to the discovery of the power, so that’s very sudden. His abrupt exit is confusing in the extreme. Why is he leaving? He seems to go straight from activating his powers to deciding to run away and understanding them entirely. It doesn’t make any sense at all. Why is turning on the AC practically suicidal? How does he know he’s slowly losing body heat? By my reckoning it’s been about 30 seconds since his power activated.

    We still have no reason to care for Riley. We’ve seen very little of his personality and he’s not sympathetic at all. Why should the reader care about anything that’s happening to him?

    Uh, sorry for being so negative, I’m just not really in the mood for positive thoughts.

  5. Cadet Davison 02 Mar 2009 at 6:47 pm

    1. It seems similar to Harry Potter, particularly with the irrationally-hateful aunt character and the Snape-esque teacher. I agree with Holliequ that the teacher was noticeably over the top. Why does everybody hate Riley so much?

    2. Some of the imagery is pretty good.

    3. There is some training involved with parachutes, but I don’t feel that it’s unbelievable that a kid could jump out of a plane, pull the cord and survive. I was a bit surprised that they had parachutes on-board, but I just chalked it up to being a luxurious private-jet rather than a typical American Airlines flight.

    4. It would probably help to develop the two protagonists more. We don’t know much about Riley except that he’s a victim. His parents are dead and now he’s living in a horrible world where everybody hates him. (This is very similar to Harry Potter and, to some extent, Peter Parker). I’d recommend giving him some traits that distinguish him from HP and PP.

    5. I agree with Holliequ that starting chapter 2 as a talk-show and then moving almost immediately away from the talk-show is too abrupt.

  6. Yogion 03 Mar 2009 at 3:10 am

    Yeah, I’m working out the kinks for Riley, and I appreciate the negative review Holliequ, positive reviews are really boring. Whenever I read reviews for anything, I skip the gushing and go straight to the criticisms, to decide whether I should get the product or not. :D Yeah, I’m gonna tone down the aunt, and teacher. And I’m going to lengthen Chapter 2 too. So expect to see the re-written Chapter 1 soon.

  7. Wingson 03 Mar 2009 at 6:49 pm

    I agree with Cadet. I’ve seen all too many characters crash and burn as a fanfic writer, and I’d like to help your Riley.

    We know nearly nothing about him except the fact that everyone hates him. But why do they hate him? Tell more, this could be good with a little work.

    - Wings the Writer

  8. Tomon 14 Mar 2009 at 10:14 am

    Hi Yogi! :D

  9. Yogion 16 Mar 2009 at 9:08 am

    Okay, so I’ve been working on Riley, do you think a sardonic attitude would fit him?

  10. Holliequon 16 Mar 2009 at 11:47 am

    Sardonic: disdainfully or skeptically humorous : derisively mocking

    That’s an interesting choice of attitude for a main character, but if you keep his background roughly the same, I think it could make sense. My only worry is that it will be difficult to like this character. What other personality traits have you been considering?

  11. Yogion 16 Mar 2009 at 11:55 am

    He’s reckless, and quite hot-tempered. I’m pondering whether to make him optimistic. He’s the type of person who would go, “things can’t get much worse than /this/, so it has to get better.”

  12. B. Macon 16 Mar 2009 at 12:32 pm

    Hot-tempered is cliche for someone that later develops heat-based powers. (Same with reckless). Also, being hot-tempered might make him hard to like.

    I kind of like sardonic, although I agree that it will also be kind of hard to like. When a character is sardonic, he’ll probably come off as cynical. Cynical characters are tricky– typically they’re side characters that are intended to make other characters look more friendly. (For example, Eeyore is the cynical foil to every other Winnie the Pooh character). Someone that’s cynical/sardonic may come off as helpless and/or resigned.

    I like the optimism angle. I’d recommend playing that up.

  13. Ragged Boyon 16 Mar 2009 at 1:17 pm

    Wow, I haven’t commented on Yogi’s work at all.

    I don’t know much about Riley, could you give me a quick overview of his character please?

    Let’s see, I think reckless/hot-tempered/sardonic is a little too much negativity. I think sardonicness and hot-heatedness are on two different ends of the negative spectrum. I like sardonic, I think that’s pretty interesting for a main character. I suspect you could do without the other two negative traits. Sardonic is a pretty strong trait by itself, I think you should go for other minor negative characteristics.

    I like the optimism, too. Although, I think it may be difficult, but doable, to put together this and sardonic. I say “Go for it!”

    What do you think?

  14. Tomon 16 Mar 2009 at 2:12 pm

    Sardonic and optimistic? That’s two traits I have! I think it can be done in fiction if it can be done in real life! :) I think the way to make sardonic likeable is not make him sardonic 24/7 (it’s how I get away with it), make him generally nice, but frequently give him sardonic lines. Then, when he’s not being sardonic, he can be optimistic too (basically, me).

  15. Yogion 16 Mar 2009 at 10:55 pm

    @Ragged Boy: Riley is an orphan kid who discovers his heat-based powers, and later on, a friend, who is almost the exact opposite of him who can control light. They provide foils to each other. Riley is supposed to be quite negative in his minds, though as their friendship grows, he becomes less and less negative. That’s why I’m still pondering the whole optimism thing.

    @Tom- Thanks, great idea!

  16. Ragged Boyon 17 Mar 2009 at 3:11 am

    Ok that sounds good, just remember that Riley still has to be a little likeable from the beginning.

  17. ikarus619xon 17 Apr 2009 at 7:29 pm

    Everyone hating Riley could explain his powers. Something about Riley could force people to feel rage, and he converts it into heat. It’s your story, though.

  18. Yogion 22 Apr 2009 at 8:21 pm

    That does make sense, ikaru. Thanks. :D

  19. Yogion 10 May 2009 at 12:35 pm

    Hey, I rewrote chapter 1, is it better?

    Cold water trickled down my neck in little rivulets, and I groggily opened my bleary eyes. I shivered, and rubbed my hands vigorously. Why was this room so cold? I looked around at the small cabin, which showed no signs of any air conditioning. It wasn’t winter either, so why was I freezing? I felt a hand removing the cloth on my forehead, and I squinted at the figure sitting on the edge of the velvety bed, his lips forming a warm smile.

    ‘Tricia! He’s awake!’ the teen hollered. His voice rang in my head, and I shut my heavy eyes, as I tried to recollect the events of the past few days. A few blurry images swam around in my head, but I couldn’t focus my mind on it. Where was I?

    ‘Oops,’ he said a little softer, noticing my obvious discomfort caused by his nauseatingly shrill voice.

    ‘Must have been some experiment. Whose science lab did you break into? Norman Osborn’s, perhaps?’ the guy asked eagerly. What was this guy saying? Experiment? Science lab? Norman Osborn? Spiderman fan, most likely. Did he think I was a superhero?

    ‘I’m not Spiderman,’ I joked weakly. My head hurt, and the laughter that was about to escape me quickly turned into a moan.

    ‘What’s your name?’ he questioned, pressing a warm, wet cloth on my head. It soothed me for about a second or so, but it turned cold in a few seconds.

    ‘My name?’ I croaked. This was hardly the time for formal introductions. I folded my arms, my teeth chattering. Why was the guy in front of me seemingly unaffected by the dreadful cold?

    ‘Sure, you may be uneasy about revealing your secret identity. After all, you’ve probably just been hunted down by a bunch of super villains. I’m Hardy,’ said the guy, smiling knowingly. What was this guy saying? Secret identity? Super villains?

    ‘Ignore Richard. He’s a geek who wants to save the world someday,’ said a female voice. I turned to see a girl rolling her eyes and walking over to us. My vision became clearer, and I saw Richard clearly for the first time. His unkempt mop of a hair obscured his dirt-crusted eyes, and he grinned, yellow-stained teeth showing. His facial features contrasted with his lanky, scrawny build.

    The plump girl next to him wore a dull grey cardigan, and torn long blue jeans. Her dirty blonde hair was kept back in a short ponytail, and her grey eyes were small and beady. She placed a pot next to me, stirred it a little, and soaked the woollen cloth in it, before her rough hands placed it on my head.

    ‘I’m Riley. I assume you two are siblings? Richard and Tricia, right?’ I enquired inquisitively.

    ‘Yeah, Tricia’s her name, but I’d prefer it if you call us Trixter and Hardy, and we’re not siblings. We’re dating,’ Richard said, winking suggestively at Tricia, placing his arm over her. Tricia responded to this wink with a punch in the arm, and held out her hand towards me.

    ‘Hello, Riley. “Hardy” here lives in a fantasy world, cut off from any semblance of reality,’ she said, firmly grasping my hand, and smiling.

    ‘So, where am I?’ I asked.

    ‘Lake Dalsdre, Richard’s summer getaway home,’ she said, taking out a thermometer.

    ‘Don’t call me Richard! How would you like it if I started calling you Tricia from now on?’ Hardy interrupted.

    ‘I’d be delighted that you managed to call someone by their proper name for once’ said Tricia, her words dripping with sarcasm, as she placed the thermometer in my ear. She took it out, and frowned.

    ‘Your temperature is still absurdly low. This specially prepared blanket made of dead animal skin,’ she said, glaring at Hardy, who grinned guiltily, ‘is keeping you warm enough for consciousness, but you’re still in dangerous waters. Richard’s doctors say that your current condition is unheard of, which has convinced him that you were in a lab accident prior to this. They suspected hypothermia, but apparently, that isn’t the case. I’m going to get some more hot water; this water has turned to ice in your presence.’ She walked into the kitchen with the pot.

    ‘Nice girl,’ I told Hardy.

    ‘Don’t start with me now. She may be mean, bossy, demanding, sarcastic, derisive, mocking –’

    ‘I can hear every word you’re saying!’ she yelled from the kitchen, and I stifled a giggle.

    ‘She is quite nice, once you get to know her. Deep deep down. Also, I like my girls hard to get,’ he said, winking at me.

    ‘OW!’ he said, as something green hit him on the back of his head. He picked it up, and muttered, ‘Avocado.’

    ‘Why did you rescue me? You had no reason to do anything of that sort. And where did you find me?’ I asked. Nobody would help any random stranger off the street.

    ‘Your car did kinda crash into my car. You were half-dead when we found you. Don’t you remember what happened?’ he asked, looking at me quizzically.

    ‘Well, no, not really,’ I said. I frowned in frustration, as I tried to recollect the events of the past few days. I moved the blanket forward to try to sit up, but removing the blanket proved to be about as painful as being doused in ice cold water on a winter’s day, and I quickly wrapped the blanket around me.

    ‘What’s happening to me?’ I said. ‘This makes no sense at all. Why am I so terribly cold?’

    ‘Well, I don’t really understand it, seeing Science has never been one of my strongest subjects, but Trixter –’

    ‘TRICIA!’

    ‘Fine, Tricia said that the heat exchange taking place in your body has increased rapidly, and your body is letting all the heat escape. It’s subconscious, and we don’t know if we can reverse this,’ he said awkwardly.

    ‘So you mean, I’m stuck like this?!’ I asked. ‘I can’t be stuck in some bed for the rest of my life freezing to death!’

    ‘No, no, no, of course not,’ he said quickly, realising that the situation could go out of hand fast, which it damn well could, ‘it’s likely that this is only temporary, or at least improving. You’ve already regained consciousness after 2 weeks, you’re improving.’ He smiled at me warmly.

    Gah. His optimism was somehow infuriating and comforting at the same time. Tricia walked into the room with hot soup.

    ‘Now, you’re in no position to eat, as that blanket has to be wrapped around you at all times, so I’m going to have to feed you. Today’s Richard’s maid’s day off, so open wide,’ she said, blowing on the spoon gently.

    I stared in horror. This was so humiliating! One of the few girls my age I’ve met who have actually been nice to me feeding me while I just lie in bed? Gosh, I hope I get better soon. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Hardy snickering, and I glared at him.

    ‘Shut it,’ I hissed venomously, in a tone that would have sounded threatening, if my voice wasn’t so croaky at the moment. My anger boiled. I always took pride in being able to scare people with my deep voice.

    ‘Aah!’ Tricia let a small scream escape, dropping the spoon, quickly before sucking her thumb.

    ‘You’re hot Riley!’ she said.

    ‘Err… thanks?’ I jokingly replied. In actuality, I had actually gotten much colder when she said that. Hardy burst out into laughter. This was just a joke to him, wasn’t it?

    ‘I’m serious Riley. Just now, the spoon got incredibly hot when you glared angrily at Richard!’ she said wide-eyed, her thumb still throbbing.

    ‘I knew it! See, he can control his powers! He is a superhero!’ said Hardy triumphantly, as if this was something I enjoyed.

    ‘I am not a superhero. There is a perfectly logical explanation for it!’ I said.

    ‘Oh yeah? What?’ he retorted, smirking at me, knowing that I couldn’t possibly have a response.

    ‘What, do you think I’m some sort of scientist meathead?’ I shouted furiously at the obnoxious brat sitting in front of me. My anger flared, apparently quite literally, as the blanket I was on began to heat up, with smoke coming out of it.

    I began to feel faint, as the unnerving cold washed over me once more, and all Hardy and Tricia could do was gape at the smoking blanket, oblivious to the intense pain flooding my every pore, as I struggled to remain conscious. Hardy’s eyes flickered to me as he noticed my inaudible moaning, and put his hand to my forehead.

    ‘He’s freezing!’ he said. Tricia momentarily glanced at me.

    ‘What’d you expect? He’s releasing so much heat the blanket is smoking! Heat doesn’t come out of nowhere you know. He can’t just wish for the blanket to start smoking,’ her royal pain said.

    ‘Hey, thanks for the information overload, but could you do something useful?’ I spat roughly. Normally I wouldn’t be so mean to someone who had just saved my life, but cut me some slack here; my head was spinning, I could have died, and here she was rambling on about why this damn blanket was smoking.

    ‘Alright, alright, no need to get huffy, I’ll get more blankets,’ she said, muttering under her breath, something about “swollen thumb” and “no gratitude”.

    ‘Is she always this cranky?’ I asked Hardy who laughed. Again.

    ‘No, she’s just a little miffed. She was going to her aunt’s place for the vacation and I was dropping her off, but when we hit you, she was too guilt-ridden to just leave you, and you repay her by scolding her and injuring her,’ he said, grinning at me.

    I groaned. Of course I managed to annoy her. I sighed, shaking my head, as she entered the room with more blankets, covering me with them.

    ‘Look, I’m sorry for all the trouble I’ve caused you. I promise you, I’ll be no trouble at all,’ I said as sincerely as I could.

    ‘I highly doubt that,’ she said. Gah, why is it almost impossible for me to get along with any girl my age? She was more than just peeved off at me, for god-knows-what reason, but I wasn’t just going to take it.

    ‘Excuse me? Here I’m trying my best not to inconvenience you, and you’re going out of your way to make me feel bad,’ I blurted out.

    ‘Going out of my way to make you feel bad? One line about how I doubt that it’s going to be easy taking care of you, and you blow up? Pathetic. Already considering how one snide remark by me or Richard causes your hot temper to literally cause the blankets to smoke, it’s obvious you can neither take a joke, nor can you keep your temper in check. If you want respect, you’re going to have to earn it,’ she said, leaving me flabbergasted.

    I’ve always known people who were mean to me, but I’ve always taken pride in the fact that I could keep my temper in check, but they’ve never truly hurt me, and yet, the anger always boiled deep down. But she had just penetrated the outside shell, calling me out on my temper, which I’ve always tried to hide. I felt terribly exposed, this “power” betraying my emotions.

    ‘Now, she doesn’t really mean that, she just –’ Hardy hastily tried to make amends before she interrupted him.

    ‘Oh, I mean it Richard. If he can’t suck up his attitude, I see no reason why we should continue helping him,’ she said, walking out of the room.

    I sighed, and sunk into bed.

    ‘Listen, I know Tricia’s can be a bit assertive sometimes, but –’ Richard said, trying to apologise.

    ‘No, it’s my fault. She’s right. I do have a temper problem,’ I said, sighing.

    ‘You wanna talk about it?’ he asked.

    ‘No. I think I need to go to bed. I don’t think I can handle much more,’ I said, trying to end the conversation.

    ‘But it’s only 2 o’clock!’ he protested.

    ‘No, I have to sleep. Please,’ I said in a tone of finality.

    He realised that the conversation was over, and left the room. I buried my head under the blankets, willing for a dreamless sleep. Gotta hand it to Tricia, the girl had great blankets. It was almost comfortable.

  20. Yogion 10 May 2009 at 12:36 pm

    Why don’t the italics appear here?

  21. Tomon 10 May 2009 at 12:54 pm

    Italics code is different here. It’s with an ‘i’, then ‘/i’ at the end.

  22. Yogion 10 May 2009 at 11:45 pm

    Oh, thanks tom. :D

  23. Yogion 19 May 2009 at 2:52 am

    So what do you guys think about my revised chapter? :?

  24. B. Macon 19 May 2009 at 4:35 am

    It’s a remarkable improvement over the previous version. I think the conflict between Riley and Trixie is particularly good. Here are some other thoughts and observations.

    Cold water trickled down my neck in little rivulets, and I groggily opened my bleary eyes. I shivered, and rubbed my hands vigorously. Why was this room so cold? I looked around at the small cabin, which showed no signs of any air conditioning. It wasn’t winter either, so why was I freezing? I felt a hand removing the cloth on my forehead, and I squinted at the figure sitting on the edge of the velvety bed, his lips forming a warm smile.
    –I don’t feel like this is a very compelling opening paragraph.
    –It might help to tone down the character’s language so that it feels like this is faster-paced and less deliberative. (If he’s been woken up by cold water on his face, I’d imagine his language would be a bit more forceful and less erudite).
    –I find it a bit weird that he’s focusing on being cold here. He wakes up in a (unfamiliar?) cabin with two strangers, right? The first things on my mind, at least, would be some variations of “who are you?” “where am I?” “am I safe?” “what am I doing here?”
    –“…I squinted at the figure sitting on the edge of the velvety bed, his lips forming a warm smile.” I think that this is a comma splice (run-on sentence). I’d recommend changing this to something like “…I squinted at the figure sitting on the edge of the velvety bed. His lips formed a warm smile.”

    Tricia! He’s awake!’ the teen hollered. His voice rang in my head, and I shut my heavy eyes, as I tried to recollect the events of the past few days. A few blurry images swam around in my head, but I couldn’t focus my mind on it. Where was I?
    –I feel like first-person narration isn’t really working for this character. Among other things, he doesn’t have a very interesting voice so far, and he feels too self-conscious. Images are swimming around in his head and his eyes are heavy, etc. It’s a little bit overwrought. I suspect that the story would feel smoother with a third-person narrator.

    ‘Oops,’ he said a little softer, noticing my obvious discomfort caused by his nauseatingly shrill voice.
    –If his voice is shrill, I would recommend replacing the word “hollered” in the previous paragraph with something that sounds higher-pitched.

    ‘Must have been some experiment. Whose science lab did you break into? Norman Osborn’s, perhaps?’ the guy asked eagerly. What was this guy saying? Experiment? Science lab? Norman Osborn? Spiderman fan, most likely. Did he think I was a superhero?

    ‘I’m not Spiderman,’ I joked weakly. My head hurt, and the laughter that was about to escape me quickly turned into a moan.
    ‘What’s your name?’ he questioned, pressing a warm, wet cloth on my head. It soothed me for about a second or so, but it turned cold in a few seconds.
    –the word “soothed” feels weird here. A bit too self-conscious. I don’t think that real people talk that way.

    ‘My name?’ I croaked. This was hardly the time for formal introductions. I folded my arms, my teeth chattering. Why was the guy in front of me seemingly unaffected by the dreadful cold?

    ‘Sure, you may be uneasy about revealing your secret identity. After all, you’ve probably just been hunted down by a bunch of super villains. I’m Hardy,’ said the guy, smiling knowingly. What was this guy saying? Secret identity? Super villains?
    –I’d recommend doing supervillains as one word.

    ‘Ignore Richard. He’s a geek who wants to save the world someday,’ said a female voice. I turned to see a girl rolling her eyes and walking over to us. My vision became clearer, and I saw Richard clearly for the first time. His unkempt mop of a hair obscured his dirt-crusted eyes, and he grinned, yellow-stained teeth showing. His facial features contrasted with his lanky, scrawny build.
    –Later in the chapter, her voices gets very elevated, like you’re really trying to make her sound smart. It doesn’t feel consistent with this sentence.
    –I’m confused. Is Richard the same character that introduced himself as Hardy? If so, I’d really recommend removing one name or the other.

    The plump girl next to him wore a dull grey cardigan, and torn long blue jeans. Her dirty blonde hair was kept back in a short ponytail, and her grey eyes were small and beady. She placed a pot next to me, stirred it a little, and soaked the woollen cloth in it, before her rough hands placed it on my head.
    –I think woolen only has one ‘L.’

    ‘I’m Riley. I assume you two are siblings? Richard and Tricia, right?’ I enquired inquisitively.
    –If the main character’s name is Riley, I’d really recommend changing Richard’s name. As a rule of thumb, I wouldn’t recommend using the same first letter for two important characters. Using the first two letters has a lot of potential for confusion.

    ‘Yeah, Tricia’s her name, but I’d prefer it if you call us Trixter and Hardy, and we’re not siblings. We’re dating,’ Richard said, winking suggestively at Tricia, placing his arm over her. Tricia responded to this wink with a punch in the arm, and held out her hand towards me.
    –I’m really confused. How many people are there in this cabin? I think I’m getting disoriented by the multiple names and voices per character.

    ‘Hello, Riley. “Hardy” here lives in a fantasy world, cut off from any semblance of reality,’ she said, firmly grasping my hand, and smiling.
    ‘So, where am I?’ I asked.
    ‘Lake Dalsdre, Richard’s summer getaway home,’ she said, taking out a thermometer.
    ‘Don’t call me Richard! How would you like it if I started calling you Tricia from now on?’ Hardy interrupted.
    –I don’t get this. This fighting over names makes it hard to follow what’s going on.
    –If he’s the nerd, maybe he should be the one using big words? :-)
    ‘I’d be delighted that you managed to call someone by their proper name for once’ said Tricia, her words dripping with sarcasm, as she placed the thermometer in my ear. She took it out, and frowned.

    ‘Your temperature is still absurdly low. This specially prepared blanket made of dead animal skin,’ she said, glaring at Hardy, who grinned guiltily, ‘is keeping you warm enough for consciousness, but you’re still in dangerous waters. Richard’s doctors say that your current condition is unheard of, which has convinced him that you were in a lab accident prior to this. They suspected hypothermia, but apparently, that isn’t the case. I’m going to get some more hot water; this water has turned to ice in your presence.’ She walked into the kitchen with the pot.
    –If he’s the nerd, why is she the one that appears to know something about science? Shouldn’t he be the science buff?

    ‘Nice girl,’ I told Hardy.
    ‘Don’t start with me now. She may be mean, bossy, demanding, sarcastic, derisive, mocking –’
    ‘I can hear every word you’re saying!’ she yelled from the kitchen, and I stifled a giggle.
    ‘She is quite nice, once you get to know her. Deep deep down. Also, I like my girls hard to get,’ he said, winking at me.

    ‘OW!’ he said, as something green hit him on the back of his head. He picked it up, and muttered, ‘Avocado.’
    –I like this a lot.

    ‘Why did you rescue me? You had no reason to do anything of that sort. And where did you find me?’ I asked. Nobody would help any random stranger off the street.
    ‘Your car did kinda crash into my car. You were half-dead when we found you. Don’t you remember what happened?’ he asked, looking at me quizzically.
    –Why don’t they take him to a hospital? It seems kind of strange that two teens would just randomly start caring for someone that crashed into their car. (One possible explanation: Richard sounds a bit into comic book stuff. In comic books, the hero rarely goes to hospitals because it’s hard to tell whether they can be trusted).


    ‘Well, no, not really,’ I said. I frowned in frustration, as I tried to recollect the events of the past few days. I moved the blanket forward to try to sit up, but removing the blanket proved to be about as painful as being doused in ice cold water on a winter’s day, and I quickly wrapped the blanket around me.
    –“I tried to recollect the events of the past few days.” I’d recommend moving this into dialogue. It will probably sound more natural.

    ‘What’s happening to me?’ I said. ‘This makes no sense at all. Why am I so terribly cold?’
    ‘Well, I don’t really understand it, seeing Science has never been one of my strongest subjects, but Trixter –’
    –I’d recommend replacing “what’s happening to me?” with something like “what’s going on?”
    –I’d recommend uncapitalizing Science here.
    –If he’s not into science, I’d recommend adjusting the part where she calls him a nerd.

    ‘TRICIA!’
    ‘Fine, Tricia said that the heat exchange taking place in your body has increased rapidly, and your body is letting all the heat escape. It’s subconscious, and we don’t know if we can reverse this,’ he said awkwardly.
    ‘So you mean, I’m stuck like this?!’ I asked. ‘I can’t be stuck in some bed for the rest of my life freezing to death!’
    ‘No, no, no, of course not,’ he said quickly, realising that the situation could go out of hand fast, which it damn well could, ‘it’s likely that this is only temporary, or at least improving. You’ve already regained consciousness after 2 weeks, you’re improving.’ He smiled at me warmly.
    –Perspective issues. Who is telling us that he “[realises] that the situation could go out of hand fast, which it damn well could”? It doesn’t sound like that comes from Riley, but Riley is the first-person narrator.

    Gah. His optimism was somehow infuriating and comforting at the same time. Tricia walked into the room with hot soup.
    –I like the word “gah” here.

    ‘Now, you’re in no position to eat, as that blanket has to be wrapped around you at all times, so I’m going to have to feed you. Today’s Richard’s maid’s day off, so open wide,’ she said, blowing on the spoon gently.

    I stared in horror. This was so humiliating! One of the few girls my age I’ve met who have actually been nice to me feeding me while I just lie in bed? Gosh, I hope I get better soon. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Hardy snickering, and I glared at him.
    –I’d recommend moving his annoyance (“This is so humiliating!”) into dialogue.
    ‘Shut it,’ I hissed venomously, in a tone that would have sounded threatening, if my voice wasn’t so croaky at the moment. My anger boiled. I always took pride in being able to scare people with my deep voice.
    ‘Aah!’ Tricia let a small scream escape, dropping the spoon, quickly before sucking her thumb.
    ‘You’re hot Riley!’ she said.
    –When she addresses a sentence to him, “Riley” should be set off with commas. “You’re hot, Riley!”
    ‘Err… thanks?’ I jokingly replied. In actuality, I had actually gotten much colder when she said that. Hardy burst out into laughter. This was just a joke to him, wasn’t it?
    ‘I’m serious Riley. Just now, the spoon got incredibly hot when you glared angrily at Richard!’ she said wide-eyed, her thumb still throbbing.
    –See previous comment.
    ‘I knew it! See, he can control his powers! He is a superhero!’ said Hardy triumphantly, as if this was something I enjoyed.
    –I don’t get it. Is he Hardy or Richard?
    ‘I am not a superhero. There is a perfectly logical explanation for it!’ I said.
    ‘Oh yeah? What?’ he retorted, smirking at me, knowing that I couldn’t possibly have a response.
    ‘What, do you think I’m some sort of scientist meathead?’ I shouted furiously at the obnoxious brat sitting in front of me. My anger flared, apparently quite literally, as the blanket I was on began to heat up, with smoke coming out of it.
    I began to feel faint, as the unnerving cold washed over me once more, and all Hardy and Tricia could do was gape at the smoking blanket, oblivious to the intense pain flooding my every pore, as I struggled to remain conscious. Hardy’s eyes flickered to me as he noticed my inaudible moaning, and put his hand to my forehead.
    –“I began to feel faint.” Show this, please.
    –“ inaudible moaning.” This sounds like it’s coming from a third-person narrator, not the character that is actually moaning.
    ‘He’s freezing!’ he said. Tricia momentarily glanced at me.
    ‘What’d you expect? He’s releasing so much heat the blanket is smoking! Heat doesn’t come out of nowhere you know. He can’t just wish for the blanket to start smoking,’ her royal pain said.
    ‘Hey, thanks for the information overload, but could you do something useful?’ I spat roughly. Normally I wouldn’t be so mean to someone who had just saved my life, but cut me some slack here; my head was spinning, I could have died, and here she was rambling on about why this damn blanket was smoking.
    –I think he seems too lucid here.
    ‘Alright, alright, no need to get huffy, I’ll get more blankets,’ she said, muttering under her breath, something about “swollen thumb” and “no gratitude”.
    ‘Is she always this cranky?’ I asked Hardy who laughed. Again.
    –If he’s really worried about whether he’s going to live, I think this question is a bit out of place.
    ‘No, she’s just a little miffed. She was going to her aunt’s place for the vacation and I was dropping her off, but when we hit you, she was too guilt-ridden to just leave you, and you repay her by scolding her and injuring her,’ he said, grinning at me.
    I groaned. Of course I managed to annoy her. I sighed, shaking my head, as she entered the room with more blankets, covering me with them.
    ‘Look, I’m sorry for all the trouble I’ve caused you. I promise you, I’ll be no trouble at all,’ I said as sincerely as I could.
    ‘I highly doubt that,’ she said. Gah, why is it almost impossible for me to get along with any girl my age? She was more than just peeved off at me, for god-knows-what reason, but I wasn’t just going to take it.
    –Everything he monologues to us should probably be shown with dialogue.
    ‘Excuse me? Here I’m trying my best not to inconvenience you, and you’re going out of your way to make me feel bad,’ I blurted out.
    ‘Going out of my way to make you feel bad? One line about how I doubt that it’s going to be easy taking care of you, and you blow up? Pathetic. Already considering how one snide remark by me or Richard causes your hot temper to literally cause the blankets to smoke, it’s obvious you can neither take a joke, nor can you keep your temper in check. If you want respect, you’re going to have to earn it,’ she said, leaving me flabbergasted.
    –I like this, but the last sentence seems out of place. Is this really a respect issue? It seems more like the problem is his toughness (or lack thereof). I’d recommend replacing “if you want respect, you’re going to have to earn it” with something like “life is tough—deal with it.”
    I’ve always known people who were mean to me, but I’ve always taken pride in the fact that I could keep my temper in check, but they’ve never truly hurt me, and yet, the anger always boiled deep down. But she had just penetrated the outside shell, calling me out on my temper, which I’ve always tried to hide. I felt terribly exposed, this “power” betraying my emotions.
    –This seems like he’s doing a psychiatric diagnosis on himself. It doesn’t feel believable for a character talking about himself.
    ‘Now, she doesn’t really mean that, she just –’ Hardy hastily tried to make amends before she interrupted him.
    ‘Oh, I mean it Richard. If he can’t suck up his attitude, I see no reason why we should continue helping him,’ she said, walking out of the room.
    I sighed, and sunk into bed.
    ‘Listen, I know Tricia’s can be a bit assertive sometimes, but –’ Richard said, trying to apologise.
    –“trying to apologise” is unnecessary here. I think it’s pretty self-explanatory.
    ‘No, it’s my fault. She’s right. I do have a temper problem,’ I said, sighing.
    ‘You wanna talk about it?’ he asked.
    ‘No. I think I need to go to bed. I don’t think I can handle much more,’ I said, trying to end the conversation.
    ‘But it’s only 2 o’clock!’ he protested.
    ‘No, I have to sleep. Please,’ I said in a tone of finality.
    He realised that the conversation was over, and left the room. I buried my head under the blankets, willing for a dreamless sleep. Gotta hand it to Tricia, the girl had great blankets. It was almost comfortable.

  25. Yogion 19 May 2009 at 9:32 am

    About the Richard/Hardy thing; Hardy wants people to call him Hardy, but Tricia finds it obnoxious, and calls him Richard anyway. Riley is confused, but he chooses to call him Hardy. Also, I think my writing wasn’t clear. I never meant him as a nerd, more of a comic book geek. I’m gonna try experimenting with third-person narration now, and I’ll see how that works out. So the first paragraph should be something like this?

    Cold water trickled down Riley’s nick in little rivulets, and he groggily opened his bleary eyes. Riley shivered violently, the freezing cold in the room affecting him immensely. He grabbed the blanket in front of him, blowing into his palms before rubbing them together. His skin felt numb, and his teeth were chattering. He briefly wondered why he was feeling so cold; after all, it wasn’t winter, and the unfamiliar cabin didn’t look like it had air-conditioning. This thought was swiftly overshadowed by a more pressing matter. Where was he?

    Is that better?

    ‘Ignore Richard. He has this ridiculous notion that he’s going to save the world from some unknown threat,’ said a female voice. Is that more consistent with her later voice?

    ‘I’m Riley. I assume you two are siblings? Richard and Tricia, right?’ I enquired inquisitively.
    –If the main character’s name is Riley, I’d really recommend changing Richard’s name. As a rule of thumb, I wouldn’t recommend using the same first letter for two important characters. Using the first two letters has a lot of potential for confusion. Well, I’m trying to avert that by making them call him Hardy. Or should I change it anyway? :?

    –Why don’t they take him to a hospital? It seems kind of strange that two teens would just randomly start caring for someone that crashed into their car. (One possible explanation: Richard sounds a bit into comic book stuff. In comic books, the hero rarely goes to hospitals because it’s hard to tell whether they can be trusted). Yeah, maybe I should add that in. I also wanted to add in the fact that Hardy has ran away from his suffocating parents, and he knew that if he went to the hospital, he’d have to fill up forms and everything, and he didn’t want his parents to know about it. But I found it additional backstory that I could only add in later.

    –Everything he monologues to us should probably be shown with dialogue.
    I dunno. Riley tries his best to be reserved. He doesn’t want to show outward emotion. The problem is, that he’s very emotional, and those emotions influence his powers.

    I’ve always known people who were mean to me, but I’ve always taken pride in the fact that I could keep my temper in check, but they’ve never truly hurt me, and yet, the anger always boiled deep down. But she had just penetrated the outside shell, calling me out on my temper, which I’ve always tried to hide. I felt terribly exposed, this “power” betraying my emotions.
    –This seems like he’s doing a psychiatric diagnosis on himself. It doesn’t feel believable for a character talking about himself. How do you recommend me doing this better?

  26. Mr. Briton 19 May 2009 at 9:37 am

    Hmm…I didn’t have a problem with the whole Richard/Hardy thing. I assumed it was his attempt at creating an alias for him and his Tricia but she wasn’t quite as enthusiastic as he was. Still, if there’s a chance it can be misinterpreted, it probably has to be changed.

    I also thought that when she called Richard a nerd that she was referring to his obsession with superheroes (not that I think it’s nerdy obviously :D). However, I feel that nerd is the wrong choice of words and something like geek would be better.

  27. Mr. Briton 19 May 2009 at 9:39 am

    And everything I said was right, shame I got beaten to it ;)

  28. Yogion 19 May 2009 at 9:49 am

    Thanks anyway Mr. Brit. :D

  29. Mr. Briton 19 May 2009 at 9:58 am

    Erm…when I put ‘his Tricia’ I did not mean to imply that Richard owned her. I wrote his girlfriend because I couldn’t remember her name then went back and changed girlfriend when I remembered it. I’m not some anti-feminist :P

    And that’s ok, Yogi :)

  30. Ragged Boyon 19 May 2009 at 11:14 am

    Hola, Yogi (Yoga master or the bear?)

    “Cold water trickled down Riley’s neck in little rivulets, and he groggily opened his bleary eyes. Riley shivered violently, the freezing cold in the room affecting him immensely. He grabbed the blanket in front of him, blowing into his palms before rubbing them together. His skin felt numb, and his teeth were chattering. He briefly wondered why he was feeling so cold; after all, it wasn’t winter, and the unfamiliar cabin didn’t look like it had air-conditioning. This thought was swiftly overshadowed by a more pressing matter. Where was he?”

    - I like it much more than the original. Although, I don’t feel that he react forcefully enough having woken up in some strange place. I think the pace is a little too slow. and this feels like the set-up for something dramatic, but it leads to a pretty low-stakes scene. I feel this is a little upsetting.

    -Why exactly is he cold, anyway?

  31. B. Macon 19 May 2009 at 11:50 am

    I’m not sure why he wakes up cold, but in general I think he’s cold because his superpower causes him to emanate heat when he gets emotional. I’m not exactly sure why he would wake up cold, though. (Maybe he got really emotional because he had nightmares).

  32. Yogion 19 May 2009 at 10:52 pm

    @Ragged Boy- Yeah, the first scene is supposed to be a low-stakes scene. This is the chapter where he meets Riley and Tricia, his, and the reader’s, first impression of them. His concern for himself surfaces in Chapter 3, where he manages to control his powers.

    -He’s cold because of his powers. He ended up here after leaving his house, where a very emotional scene occurred. So while he was driving, he kept on mulling over this, and he lost more and more heat, until fatigue took over, and he got into the accident. He still doesn’t know how to reverse this, so he’s still releasing heat, albeit slower than earlier.

  33. Yogion 11 Jun 2009 at 12:35 pm

    Chapter 2′s done! =D

    Chapter 2

    ‘You know, you’re never gonna win this competition,’ Belinda said, smirking, ‘and you might as well give up.’ Her long, blonde hair was in a braided ponytail, and she was wearing green contact lenses, preferring it over her blue eyes. She was tall and slim, a figure she took much pride in.

    ‘Why? There’s no competition. Well, other than Shirley, she’s worked really hard. The rest leave much to be desired,’ Dominique replied, stretching her arms. Dominique had short black hair, and had black eyes.

    Belinda cleared her throat, and said, ‘What about me?’

    ‘You?’ Dominique snorted.

    ‘You haven’t been practicing at all. I’ve never seen you here except during mandatory practices, and that’s surely not enough to win this competition,’ she remarked.

    ‘Duh, why would I be practicing in a public skating ring?’ Belinda asked.

    ‘What, don’t tell me your father did something ridiculously stupid for you again, like buying a private skating ring?’ Dominique asked.

    ‘Even better. He’s buying me Iceland,’ she said, smiling at Dominique.

    ‘Iceland? You can’t buy a country! And there’s very little ice in Iceland anyway! You’d have to go to Greenland,’ Dominique replied incredulously.

    ‘Daddy says it’s just taking a long time. I’m sure he’ll have it done soon!’ Belinda said indignantly.

    ‘So you haven’t been practicing?’ Dominique asked.

    ‘Not yet,’ admitted Belinda.

    ‘The competition has already started. I’m up in ten minutes. You’re up right after me. You’re never gonna make it,’ she said triumphantly, rolling her eyes.

    ‘Coach is right you know. You do have the potential to become a great skater. But you’re too lost in your little fantasy world. Your daddy isn’t always going to be there for you. You have to stand on your own two feet,’ Dominique said.

    ‘Dom, I still don’t see why you’re always so cynical. Admit it, haven’t you always wanted a dashing Romeo to sweep you off your feet, and cater to your every whim?’

    ‘You do remember what happens at the end of Romeo and Juliet right?’ Dominique asked.

    A frustrated Belinda exclaimed, ‘But that’s not the point! Haven’t you ever wondered who you’re going to marry? Come on what’s your dream guy?’

    Dominique said, ‘Oh, is this really the time to talk about this? I’ve gotta go into the ring in like 3 minutes!’ She took out a mirror, and flipped her brown hair, and inspected her face. She bent down, and made sure her laces were tight.

    ‘Showtime!’ she said, winking at Belinda, and gracefully skated out. She did a grand rotating jump at her entrance. She followed this up with a spiral sequence, and circled around the ring on one leg. Belinda rolled her eyes, secretly jealous. Her own performance consisted of very basic movements. She hadn’t prepared for this at all.

    Her lips quivered, and when her name was called, she clumsily skated into the ring. She tried to duplicate what Dominique did, and tried skating with only one leg open. She shook, and flailed her hands violently to gain balance, and she managed to stay upright. She smiled nervously at the judges who rolled their eyes.

    She tried doing a jump, and her body flew high, but instead of landing gracefully like Dominique did, she fell down, her long, blonde hair spread across her. Her face hit the ground, and her eyes struggled to stay open, as a trickle of warm blood dripped from her nose. She lifted her head for a brief second to see a blurry image of people crowding around her, and Dominique smirking, before all turned black.

    ****************************************************************

    ‘This wouldn’t have happened if you’d just practiced instead of lusting over Zachary this whole term, Linda,’ Dominique said sarcastically to the waking Belinda.

    ‘I was NOT lusting over Brad the whole term. I’ve just had more important things to do. Where am I?’ Belinda said in a daze.

    ‘The hospital. You tried imitating my move, and, well, you didn’t know how to land properly. Suffice to say, it wasn’t pretty. You got a broken nose,’ she said, grimacing. Belinda’s hand instinctively moved to her nose and she winced.

    ‘I never should have entered that competition anyway. What a waste of time,’ Belinda muttered.

    ‘Not true. If you had practiced, you could have won and gotten the prize money,’ Dominique said.

    ‘Did you win?’ retorted Belinda.

    ‘Well, no, but that’s not the point. The point is, if you work hard-’ Dominique said, before she was interrupted by Belinda.

    ‘Oh please. All that hard work thing is nauseating. In real life, hard work hardly works. If you want to be successful in life, you only need talent, luck and charisma. If you don’t have either, then good luck to you. I’m not an athlete, and no amount of hard work can ever change that,’ Belinda remarked.

    ‘What? Do you have any idea how dumb that sounded? Everyone should just give up then right? Since hard work hardly works? If we went by your philosophy, we’d still be in the Stone Age. You probably aren’t thinking straight. Your head got hurt pretty hard,’ Dominique said jokingly.

    Belinda’s eyes widened, and said, ‘My head got hurt?! Quick, pass me a mirror! Like, now! Is my face alright?’

    Dominique frowned, and said, ‘You sure? Your nose…,’ she hesitated, before fishing out a mirror from her leather handbag. Belinda snatched it, and gasped as she saw her reflection.

    ‘WHAT HAPPENED TO MY NOSE?!’ she screamed furiously. Her nose was covered in a bandage.

    ‘It got fractured. Don’t worry, it’s not so bad, just a bit misshapen, that’s all. Besides, the doctor’s fixed most symptoms, and next week, he’s having a surgery to move the bone back in place for you,’ Dominique said, trying to placate the livid Belinda.

    ‘NO WAY! I am not going to let some second-rate doctor do a surgery as critical as that. They can’t even afford proper pillows for goodness sake. My entire career as a talk show hostess is ruined because of this! Because of you!’ she said, suddenly glaring at Dominique.

    ‘What did I do?’ Dominique asked.

    ‘You signed me up for ice skating, you couldn’t be bothered to remind me to practice, you purposely tried to show me up at the competition, knowing I would try to mimic me so that I could fail. Well, I’ll tell you one thing. You may have defeated me at the competition, but I assure you, I will make you pay. Never doubt a Paradizio’s words Dominique!’ she said furiously. Dominique sat there, looking at Belinda incredulously.

    ‘Okay, first of all, what is up with the blame game? I told you to practice. Several times. You kept telling me your daddy was going to buy you a special ring, and you only told me the other day that he was going to buy you Iceland. Ignoring how ridiculous that is, what’s with that stupid revenge threat? You are so immature. What are you going to do, hide behind Daddy, and tell him to fire my daddy? You always bring up your daddy during confrontations like that. Like, grow a spine already. I am sick and tired of you treating your friends like garbage and expecting them to treat you as a priceless diamond. I’m done,’ she said, rolling her eyes, and walking out.

    ‘Linda, how many times must I tell you, do you have to treat your friends like that?’ a man asked.

    Belinda saw her father walking in and scowled. He must have overheard their conversation. He was carrying a thermos, and was in his business suit. He had a clean shaven face and blue eyes that contrasted with the dark circles under his eyes.

    ‘It’s her fault, and you know it!’ Belinda said. She folded her arms, and pouted.

    ‘Belinda, you must learn to give and take. You’re 16, and you still can’t accept some responsibility for what happened the other day,’ her father said.

    ‘Daddy, I don’t want to talk about it. What I want to talk about is the surgery for my nose. Why are we having it here? I will not accept it!’ she said, and noticing her dad’s eyes widening, she quickly changed tact.

    ‘I mean, would you really trust this hospital to treat my nose? After all, wouldn’t you feel safer if I were in more capable hands?’ she asked.

    ‘Well, you may be right, but the doctors here told me they are more than capable of fixing a simple fracture,’ he said, scratching his face.

    ‘I don’t know, this is a public hospital after all. Any good doctor would be at a private hospital. And if they can’t even afford decent pillows, what are the odds they can afford decent doctors?’ Belinda said, rolling her eyes.

    Her father sighed, and said, ‘Yes, of course darling.’

    ‘Good,’ she said.

    ‘You know, your friend’s right you know,’ he said, wording the words carefully, not wanting Belinda to get angry.

    ‘What do you mean?’ she asked, raising her eyebrows.

    ‘Well, you can’t be dependent on me forever. You’ve got to learn to stand up for yourself, and fight your own fights. I won’t be around forever you know,’ he said.

    ‘Of course daddy, but it’s not like you’re gonna drop dead any time soon right? What could happen?’ she asked.

    ‘I don’t know Linda. My point is, you’ve got to be able to stand on your own two feet, and live up to the family name,’ he said.

    ‘What, do you want me to take self-defense classes in this condition?’ she asked sarcastically.

    ‘No, but you could learn to handle your arguments better. That whole issue earlier could have been avoided if you faced up to the truth that you didn’t bother practicing instead of forcing the blame upon your friend,’ he said.

    ‘So you’re saying I’m a coward?’ she said softly.

    ‘No, no that’s not what I meant, I’m sorry darling-’ he said frantically, when Belinda put her finger to his lips.

    ‘I’m kidding daddy,’ she said, smiling, ‘I love you daddy. I know you only want what’s best for me. But I’m going to be an adult in two years, and you’ve got to learn to let me go. I’ll figure out my own way.’

    ‘Of course darling. Here, I brought some tonic for you,’ he said, pouring it from a thermos into a bowl, and passed it to her. She sipped some, and grimaced at it’s bitter taste.

    ‘Eugh. Daddy, this tastes horrible,’ she said.

    He rolled his eyes, and said, ‘I guess I’ll be going now. I’ve got business to attend to, after all.’ He straightened his tie, and left.

    ‘Nincompoop,’ she muttered, watching him leave. He had fallen for her lies, hook, line and sinker. She lay down, and drifted off to sleep. 2 hours later, she was waken up by a phone ringing obnoxiously, and she picked up.

    ‘Hello,’ she said drowsily, her eyes half-close. She sat up when she heard the voice, and felt better.

    ‘Bel! You’re alright! I told you never to join ice skating, but you insisted, saying it would be fun! Now look at you! I promise never to put you through anything like this ever again,’ Zachary said.

    ‘Oh, Zach. It’s nothing really, just a broken nose,’ she said, laughing, hoping to appease him.

    ‘Nothing compared to what could have happened. I could never live without you,’ he said.

    “He is so sweet! Even if he does sound just a bit psychotic, he loves me,’ she thought.

    ‘Zach, there’s no need for you to be so dramatic. I know you love me, but I can take care of myself,’ she said reassuringly.

    ‘You’d better,’ he said teasingly.

    ‘Zach, I’m tired, could you call me back tomorrow?’ she asked, yawning.

    ‘Alright honey. Only six months more,’ he said.

    ‘Until what?’ she asked, confused.

    ‘Until prom silly! Imagine, both of us dancing in a ballroom, having the time of our lives,’ he said.

    ‘Your so romantic, Zach,’ she said, sighing, ‘Well, goodnight! I love you!’

    ‘Love ya,’ he said, hanging up. She snuggled the pillow, falling asleep.

  34. Yogion 24 Jun 2009 at 10:42 am

    I think this chapter has too much dialogue, what do you guys think? :?

  35. B. Macon 24 Jun 2009 at 12:16 pm

    That was the impression I got. It might help to add more details between the lines of dialogue. Action, body language, scenery, mood, atmospherics, etc.

  36. B. Macon 24 Jun 2009 at 12:37 pm

    Here are some more thoughts and impressions.

    I vaguely remember that Belinda was in the original version of chapter 2, but she’s not in the new version of chapter 1. I suspect that the new chapter 2 would feel more coherent if it were better-tied to the characters and events of chapter 1.

    The first paragraph mentions that she wears green contact lenses rather than her natural blue. I’d recommend giving us one or the other but not both.

    In the first paragraph, I’d recommend telling us what kind of competition we’re talking about.

    “You do have the potential to become a great skater” could be something like “You could become a great skater.” I think that’s shorter. “Your daddy isn’t always going to be there for you” could be something like “You can’t keep relying on your dad to do everything for you.”

    “You do remember what happens at the end of Romeo and Juliet, right?” Haha!

    Umm, it does strike me as a bit weird that Belinda seems to compare her father to Romeo.

    “A frustrated Belinda exclaimed…” This is probably unnecessary. Her language makes her sound frustrated, for one thing.

    There are some issues with commas. For example, “Come on what’s your dream guy?” should have a comma after on.

    “Dominique said, ‘Oh, is this really the time to talk about this? I’ve gotta go into the ring in like 3 minutes!’ She took out a mirror, and flipped her brown hair, and inspected her face. She bent down, and made sure her laces were tight.” This paragraph strikes me as mostly unnecessary.

    I really like that Dominique smirks when Belinda takes a hard fall. I think the relationship between these two characters is interesting and has chemistry.

    Isn’t Belinda rich? If so, I would recommend taking out the reference to the prize money. Why would she care about prize money?

    “You got a broken nose” could be more active as “you broke your nose.”

    “Do you have any idea how dumb that sounded?” seems a bit unbelievable. I’d recommend something like “That’s totally dumb!”

    I think it’s funny that she accuses Dominique of ruining her. I think this is a pretty good example of a highly unlikable character managing to propel a story anyway. I doubt it would surprise you if I told you that Dominique is substantially more likable than Belinda.

    Dominique sometimes comes off as too introspective. “Ignoring how ridiculous that is, what’s with that stupid revenge threat? You are so immature. What are you going to do, hide behind Daddy, and tell him to fire my daddy? You always bring up your daddy during confrontations like that.” It feels like Dominique is hand-waving for you, suggesting that “Yeah, the author knows how over-the-top Belinda is.”

    “‘I don’t know, this is a public hospital after all. Any good doctor would be at a private hospital.” Hmm. Would this story happen to be set in the US? In America, at least, I don’t think there’s a big distinction between public and private hospitals. (Aside from a few military medical centers, pretty much every hospital is private).

    I’d recommend ending the chapter with a stronger cliffhanger.

    I find Zach a bit creepy. However, I think he’d be more effective if she didn’t think of him as creepy. Again, that strikes me as unsmooth hand-waving.

  37. Yogion 25 Jun 2009 at 2:26 am

    I vaguely remember that Belinda was in the original version of chapter 2, but she’s not in the new version of chapter 1. I suspect that the new chapter 2 would feel more coherent if it were better-tied to the characters and events of chapter 1.

    Oh, really? Because I was thinking of making 2 separate story lines, Riley’s and Belinda’s, which coincide several times during the book. At this point, their stories aren’t tied at all. :S

    The first paragraph mentions that she wears green contact lenses rather than her natural blue. I’d recommend giving us one or the other but not both.

    I was using it to symbolise that she was never happy with what she had. So I should just cut that out?

    Umm, it does strike me as a bit weird that Belinda seems to compare her father to Romeo.

    Oh, I think I didn’t explain that well enough. Belinda was just fantasizing, and that wasn’t related to her father.

    “A frustrated Belinda exclaimed…” This is probably unnecessary. Her language makes her sound frustrated, for one thing.

    There are some issues with commas. For example, “Come on what’s your dream guy?” should have a comma after on.

    “Dominique said, ‘Oh, is this really the time to talk about this? I’ve gotta go into the ring in like 3 minutes!’ She took out a mirror, and flipped her brown hair, and inspected her face. She bent down, and made sure her laces were tight.” This paragraph strikes me as mostly unnecessary.

    I really like that Dominique smirks when Belinda takes a hard fall. I think the relationship between these two characters is interesting and has chemistry.

    Isn’t Belinda rich? If so, I would recommend taking out the reference to the prize money. Why would she care about prize money?

    “You got a broken nose” could be more active as “you broke your nose.”

    “Do you have any idea how dumb that sounded?” seems a bit unbelievable. I’d recommend something like “That’s totally dumb!”

    I think it’s funny that she accuses Dominique of ruining her. I think this is a pretty good example of a highly unlikable character managing to propel a story anyway. I doubt it would surprise you if I told you that Dominique is substantially more likable than Belinda.

    Thank you. :)

    Dominique sometimes comes off as too introspective. “Ignoring how ridiculous that is, what’s with that stupid revenge threat? You are so immature. What are you going to do, hide behind Daddy, and tell him to fire my daddy? You always bring up your daddy during confrontations like that.” It feels like Dominique is hand-waving for you, suggesting that “Yeah, the author knows how over-the-top Belinda is.”

    Oh. How do you recommend I fix that?

    “‘I don’t know, this is a public hospital after all. Any good doctor would be at a private hospital.” Hmm. Would this story happen to be set in the US? In America, at least, I don’t think there’s a big distinction between public and private hospitals. (Aside from a few military medical centers, pretty much every hospital is private).

    No, she lives in Britain.

    I’d recommend ending the chapter with a stronger cliffhanger.

    A cliffhanger? So I should make her board the plane in at the ending scene of this chapter?

    I find Zach a bit creepy. However, I think he’d be more effective if she didn’t think of him as creepy. Again, that strikes me as unsmooth hand-waving.

  38. Yogion 03 Jul 2009 at 6:53 am

    Chapter 3

    ‘Hey,’ Riley said, smiling at Tricia, who was placing a bowl at his bedside. Her hair wasn’t pulled back, and he saw her big, frizzy hair. She grunted back, sitting down.

    ‘Your temperature has increased, and you should be able to do minor things such as eating. Here’s some porridge for you. If you can’t handle the porridge, let Hardy know. We’ll get some soup for you,’ she said, rolling her eyes. She stormed out, and Riley shook his head.

    She sat down at the long table, and looked at her silverware, and frowned in distaste at the food.

    “Hardy, there’s so little food here. There’s only one chicken wing, and the rice wouldn’t be enough to feed a baby,’ she said, grimacing at her plate, and moving the food around.

    ‘Don’t exaggerate Trix. The food is more than enough for a 16 year old girl,’ he replied, eating with his mouth full, without looking up at her.

    ‘Could you not be so health-conscious? Come on, just let me eat my fill! Is there more in the kitchen?’ she asked forcefully, eyeing the kitchen intently.

    ‘Yes, there’s more, but I really don’t see why you want to gorge yourself,’ he said, suspiciously, thinking of barricading the kitchen doors.

    ‘I’m not gorging myself, I merely want to eat to my heart’s content. Is that too hard to ask?’ she said, getting up and rushing towards the kitchen hurriedly.

    When she came back, Hardy raised his eyebrow. Her plate had 4 chicken wings, loads of rice, and many chopped carrots, way too much for somebody her age.

    ‘Tricia, you can’t possibly eat so much!’ Hardy exclaimed in shock, as he saw her sitting down, apparently unfazed by the mountain of food on her plate.

    ‘Watch me,’ she said, glaring at him. She began forcing the food into her mouth, heartily eating, and he paled at the sight.

    ‘Tricia, you’re not really so hungry. Venting out your anger on food won’t help,’ he said gently, scared that she would blow up at him.

    ‘Of course I’m hungry! And besides, why would I be angry?’ she said scowling, munching on more food.

    ‘Tricia, stop lying to yourself. What’s troubling you?’ he said.

    ‘What could be troubling me? I mean, the only thing that’s going on back home is that my father’s gonna get married after his wife ran away 16 years ago, because of me most likely, and when he informed me joyfully during Spring Break, I did my best to make him feel bad before raging out of the house,’ she said bitterly at her reflection.

    ‘Why?’ he asked. She had never told him what had caused her to leave home early and come storming back to school.

    ‘You won’t understand. You have loving parents, a great sister, and a younger brother. What a wonderful family in comparison to my dysfunctional family,’ she said, jealously recollecting her visit to Hardy’s house once.

    ‘Oh come on, you know I can understand, right Trix?’ he asked. She knew he was studying psychology after all.

    ‘Yeah. See, when he first told me, I felt like it was an insult to my mother’s memory. Now I’ve realised that my dad deserves to have someone else in his life. Sooner or later, I’m gonna move out, and he’s gonna be all alone. But if I don’t turn up for the wedding, he’s never going to forgive me. And I don’t know if I can forgive myself. He’s going to think I hate him,’ she said full of hatred at herself.

    ‘Of course not!’ he replied, shocked.

    ‘Yes he is! And it’s all because of that boy lying in bed! If he hadn’t crashed into our car when we were driving to your place, my car wouldn’t have been smashed up, and we wouldn’t have to had towed it away. We’ll only get it back 2 weeks later after repairs, long after the wedding!’ she said, scowling.

    ‘You could always call him up and tell him –’

    ‘Can’t. They’ve checked into a hotel out of town, and you know Dad doesn’t have a hand phone because of his hearing problem,’ she said sourly, munching loudly on a carrot piece.

    ‘Well, you know things will work out eventually. They always do. The important thing is not to stress yourself,’ he said awkwardly, putting his arm around her.

    ‘Yeah, sure, whatever,’ she said, moving his arm away.

    ‘Hey, I know what’ll cheer you up,’ he said, smiling widely at her.

    ‘What?’ she asked suspiciously, not in the mood for his shenanigans.

    ‘Wanna take a swim in the lake once we’re done with lunch?’ he asked brightly, winking.

    ‘As much as I’d love to see you flaunt your swimming abilities, no. We have to make sure the kid’s alright, and we can’t leave him. Besides, I can’t even swim,’ she said, annoyed.

    ‘Aw, come on, just for an hour? And it’s just outside anyways, he can holler for us if he needs help,’ he replied.

    ‘I said NO!’ she said angrily, pushing a spoonful of food into her mouth. He looked at her plate, and his eyes widened.

    ‘You’ve finished more than half of what looks like 5 servings. That’s enough Tricia!’ he said, pulling the plate away.

    ‘RICHARD! Give my plate back this instant!’ she shouted irately. If looks could kill, he’d be a zombie.

    ‘No Tricia! You’ve got to watch your health! I’ve warned you a thousand times about the heart diseases you have a high chance of getting!’ he said, blustering.

    ‘STOP IT! Just give me back my food! You know that when I’m angry I feel weak and I need to eat more!’ she said, reaching for the plate, when he angrily pushed it on the floor. Tricia gasped, and glared at him, before slapping him.

    ‘Who are you to tell me what to do? I know you fancy yourself as a doctor, but you’re just a high-school graduate, same as me. So just let me do what I want you geek! You’re not my parents, so stop acting like it! Now I know why you never had any friends,’ she said, getting up, and slamming the chair into the table.

    ‘I’m gonna get more food,’ she growled, daring him to stop her with her eyes.

    ‘I’m not hungry,’ he said softly, pushing his food aside, and walked to his room.

    ‘Why? Hit a nerve, have I?’ she sneered to his back, contemptuously.

    ‘That know-it-all brat. About time somebody stood up to him. So what if he’s rich?’ she thought, as she walked to the kitchen, and began scooping up rice, when she heard Riley call her.

    ‘What?’ she yelled angrily.

    ‘Could you come here please?’ he asked.

    ‘Ugh, fine,’ she said irritably.

    She marched over to his room, and asked, ‘What’s the matter? Want some soup?’

    ‘No.’

    ‘Then why’d you call me?’ she asked.

    ‘I heard your argument,’ he said, pulling up his blanket as she sat down on the bed.

    ‘Don’t you know it’s rude to eavesdrop on other people’s private conversations? But then again, seeing how you’ve acted so far, it’s not hard to believe proper manners have not been instilled in you,’ she said scornfully. His nostrils flared, but he kept his cool.

    ‘It wasn’t that hard, it was more of a shouting match than an actual argument,’ he said.

    ‘So why do you care? I have better things to do you know,’ she grumbled.

    ‘Hardy’s right you know. You should listen to him,’ he said.

    ‘Well, you’re not exactly a person to give advice, seeing as how you can’t take it without blowing up. You’re one of the few people who I can safely say has a temper worse than mine,’ she said.

    ‘Look you, could you just listen to me?’ asked Riley frustrated.

    ‘I don’t see why you expect me to take your advice, considering I’m only in this mess because you passed out at your car,’ she said.

    ‘Look, don’t go around pointing fingers at me, I can barely remember anything! If anyone’s to blame it’s you!’ he said.

    ‘Me?! For what? Being kind enough to take you in instead of leaving you there? Yes, I regret it too,’ she said.

    ‘I wasn’t talking about that,’ he said, rolling his eyes.

    ‘Then?’ she asked.

    ‘If you hadn’t stormed out of the house, and just listened to him, for one, this whole crisis would have been averted,’ he said.

    ‘You would have reacted the same way you hypocrite!’ she said.

    ‘Mind your words!’ he shouted.

    ‘Make me!’ she yelled back, glaring at him furiously. They held their eye contact for a while, each refusing to break their gaze first. Riley’s eyes flickered to the ground, and she turned away too. They stared pointedly at the ground, failing to see smoke rising from the blanket, until Riley felt his heat draining away, and his tense arms weakened, and he pulled up the blanket.

    ‘What’s the matter?’ said Tricia, deciding to give up ignoring Riley’s teeth chattering, and she turned around.

    ‘Oh great, the blanket’s smoking again,’ she said, rolling her eyes. Riley curled up under the blanket more, muttering repeatedly ‘So cold…’ She walked up to the heater contemptuously and turned it up.

    ‘You must be the only kid to need a heater during summer in Arizona,’ she said scornfully. She left the room, and headed towards the kitchen, noticing Hardy’s door was ajar. She raised her eyebrow, and entered the kitchen, discreetly closing the door behind her.

    ‘Hardy,’ she said in a deadly softly voice.

    ‘What are you doing?’ she said menacingly, with more emphasis on each word. He looked up from the trash can, hastily hiding the pot of rice he was emptying behind his back, and trying to look innocent.

    ‘Don’t try to hide it, I saw what you were doing! Why can’t you mind your own business you prat?! JUST LEAVE ME ALONE!’ she said, pushing the much shorter and thinner boy to the ground.

    ‘I thought – you didn’t – the food,’ he stammered, trying to come up with an explanation.

    ‘You thought what?’ she asked angrily.

    ‘I thought you were done, so I threw away the food, I didn’t know –’ he said.

    ‘Liar. You heard Riley call me in so you took the chance to throw away the food. You know what I feel about throwing away food. And not just food. MY food,’ she said.

    ‘I’m sorry Tricia, I was just concerned, I won’t do it again,’ he said whimpering, sinking down onto the kitchen floor.

    ‘Pathetic. That’s what you are. All it takes is for me to shout at you and you’re easily frightened. Humph,’ she said, pulling the pot from behind him, and pushing the food into her mouth with the ladle greedily, bits of rice falling. As she finished the pot, she glanced up and realised he was gone.

    She looked at the few grains of rice in the pot, and dropped it on the floor, a resounding “Clang!” sounding. She sighed, and walked out of the kitchen and into her room. The room was well-furbished, being taken care by a maid hired by Hardy’s parents. She looked at the mirror on the bedside table.

    ‘Look at you. You’re so huge, no wonder Hardy hates you. He cares about you so much, and you’re so irrational when it comes to food you glutton. Look at all the rice covering your face! How will he ever come to think of you in a romantic way if you continue being so childish?’ she said angrily at her reflection willing for it to turn into a beautiful, slim figure.

    ‘I’m crazy. I’ve never done anything to deserve Hardy’s affections. All I do is complain about how he doesn’t like me, and what do I do? I ridicule him, I tease him, I scold him, and more! Would he even like a fatso like me?’ she said, sighing. She looked around at the empty room, and desperately wished for her bookshelves back home.

    ‘Why can’t my life be like a fairytale? Why couldn’t we have gone to prom as a couple, not just as friends who couldn’t find dates?’ she asked wistfully to herself. She decided to leave her room, and walked out the door, closing it gently, and walked towards Hardy’s room.

    ‘Hey,’ he said quietly. He sat at the edge of his bed, his eyes locked to the ground.

    ‘I’m sorry, Hardy. I didn’t mean it. You know I don’t mean anything I say,’ she said.

    ‘Yeah, I know. It doesn’t matter. You were right,’ he said, still refusing to lift

    ‘About what?’ she asked.

    ‘You’re not part of my family. Why should I care about you? High school’s over, sooner or later, we’re gonna go our separate ways. I’m going to medical college, and you’re going into the food industry,’ he said, smiling, his watery blue eyes staring at her.

    ‘Hardy, you’re right, but it was still wrong of me to get angry like that. You were only trying to help,’ she said, sitting down next to him, and grasping his hand.

    ‘I was overzealous in my attempts to help you, when it was none of my business. You were in a fragile state, and I just made it worse. You had no control over your emotions, so I don’t blame you for it,’ he said with full sincerity in his voice.

    ‘Thank you Hardy. You always understand. And, anyway, chances are, we’ll never see each other again, and this is the last time we’re going to be together, and we shouldn’t waste our precious time being angry at each other,’ she said moving closer, smiling.

    ‘Exactly. That’s why I was delighted when the boy crashed into our car. That meant more time for us to be together. I know we’re not an item, but you’ve been my only friend since freshman year, so our time together will always be dear to me,’ he said, their eyes locking.

    ‘Me too. I’ll always remember you as the kid who puked all over my clothes on the first day of school,’ she said, and they both started laughing at their fond memory of the time they first met. She started to get up, removing his hand gently from her thigh.

    ‘Where are you going?’ he asked, panicked, ready to get up and stop her from bingeing again.

    ‘To my room. Don’t worry, I’m not going to eat,’ she said

    ‘Wait! What hotel is your dad staying at?’ he asked, an idea dawning upon him

    ‘The Glacier,’ she said.

    ‘Do you have their number?’ he asked.

    ‘No. We don’t have a phone book either. Look, it’s okay, no need to stress out, I’ll find a way to explain to them when I go back home,’ she said reassuringly, getting up.

    ‘No, no, wait,’ he said, ‘There has to be some way. We know your dad doesn’t have a cellphone; what about the bride?’

    ‘Sugar? I think I DO have her number…’ she said, slipping her hand into her pocket, and pulling out her cell phone. She dialled her number furiously.

    ‘Hello? Aunt Leo? This is Tricia,’ she said.

    ‘Yeah Tricia? When are you coming here? I’m so excited. I’ve got the perfect dress for you-’ she said, enthusiastically.

    ‘I’m not going to make it,’ Tricia said, biting her lips anxiously.

    ‘What? Are you still angry? Tricia, we told you, if you’re uncomfortable with the wedding, we can cancel it, don’t worry,’ Aunt Leo said, with a hint of reluctance in her tone.

    ‘No, Aunt, it’s nothing like that. See our car got into an accident, and-’

    ‘Oh my god, are you hurt darling?’ she asked.

    ‘No of course not. But the car was smashed up, and I won’t be able to be at the wedding in time. Don’t worry, I’m staying with Hardy, so there’s nothing to worry about,’ Tricia said hoarsely.

    ‘Oh,’ she said, pausing, ‘Would you like us to postpone the wedding?’

    ‘No, it’s okay. Go ahead without me, I’ll be fine,’ Tricia said, trying to hide a teardrop from Hardy.

    ‘Are you sure darling?’ she said.

    ‘Yes, of course,’ Tricia said.

    ‘Well, if you insist. We’ll be thinking of you the whole time. Goodbye,’ said her aunt warmly.

    ‘Bye,’ said Tricia, before looking up at Hardy.

    ‘Thank you, Hardy,’ she said, wiping away a tear and reaching forward to hug him.

    ‘Don’t mention it,’ he said, patting her back awkwardly, smiling at her.

    ‘No, really. That meant a lot to me. You mean a lot to me,’ she said smiling.

    She looked at him for a while, and then abruptly said, ‘Well, if there’s nothing else, I’d best be going,’ she said, leaving the room, and smiling. She walked to her room, and jumped onto the bed excitedly. At least one thing had gone right today.

  39. Yogion 08 Jul 2009 at 2:10 am

    I think that this chapter has a bit of development for Hardy and Tricia, but it also directs the attention away from Riley’s pressing problem. What do you guys think? :S

  40. B. Macon 08 Jul 2009 at 3:42 pm

    Hello, Yogi. I plan to review chapter 3 later today, but I’m really out of it at the moment. If I haven’t posted anything by tomorrow, please feel free to leave me a note on my forum.

    –BM

  41. Yogion 08 Jul 2009 at 8:46 pm

    Okay. :)

  42. B. Macon 09 Jul 2009 at 11:59 am

    “Your temperature has increased, and you should be able to do minor things such as eating.” I have a few minor suggestions for the voice here. “You’ve gotten warmer, so you should be able to do minor things like eat.”

    “Here’s some porridge for you. If you can’t handle the porridge, let Hardy know. We’ll get some soup for you.” I suspect that this could be shorter. Like… “Enjoy your porridge. Or we could get you some soup. Would you like soup?”

    He shakes his head after she storms out? Umm, who is he shaking his head to?

    Why does she storm out?

    “Frowned in distaste at the food.” I think you could remove the phrase “in distaste.”

    Although I generally recommend against eating scenes, I think that a brief eating scene might be justified to show that Riley is recuperating but is still in a pretty rough shape. But the emphasis of the scene seems to be Tricia’s appetite rather than something about Riley. I’d recommend spending a bit less time showing how hungry she is– it might help to show her acting surly in a few ways… body language, speech and the like as well as her appetite. Early on, it seemed like the main point we were supposed to take away was just that she was really hungry.

    “What could be troubling me? I mean, the only thing that’s going on back home is that my father’s gonna get married after his wife ran away 16 years ago, because of me most likely, and when he informed me joyfully during Spring Break, I did my best to make him feel bad before raging out of the house,’ she said bitterly at her reflection.” This feels like an infodump.

    “…jealously recollecting her visit to Hardy’s house once.” This conversation is set up in a way that makes Riley disappear. He isn’t a part of this backstory. It might be smoother if the main thing that sets off this surly tangent from Trix is that Riley starts talking about his family and then asks about hers.

    What’s the connection between Trixie’s family woes and the central plot?

    “What a wonderful family in comparison to my dysfunctional family…” I’d recommend showing this with lurid details.

    “…not in the mood for his shenanigans.” Haha!

    I’d recommend keeping the capitalized words (NO! … RICHARD! …. STOP IT! … JUST LEAVE ME ALONE!) to a minimum.

    There are some comma issues. For example, ‘No Tricia!” should have a comma after no. “You would have reacted the same way you hypocrite!” should have a comma after way. “Are you hurt darling?” Comma after hurt. When a line is addressed to someone, generally the addressee (like “you hypocrite” or “darling” or “Tricia”) needs to be separated from the rest of the sentence with commas.

    “I’ve warned you a thousand times about the heart diseases you have a high chance of getting!” Umm, this feels like a red-herring. I suspect he’s not really mainly concerned about her health?

    I feel like the story has stalled. Where’s Riley?

    I think the characters sometimes come across as too circumspect. “I was overzealous in my attempts to help you…” I don’t think it sounds realistic.

    “Would you like us to postpone the wedding?” Hmm. How is this supposed to come off? Postponing a wedding is phenomenally difficult because oftentimes there are hundreds of people that have already made reservations. I think that the speaker might come off as unrealistic and/or totally doting. Offering to postpone a wedding, particularly if the person hasn’t been seriously hurt, is a major commitment.

    I’d really recommend bringing Riley more into this.

    I’d recommend ending with a cliffhanger.

  43. Yogion 09 Jul 2009 at 8:32 pm

    Is this better?

    ‘Hey,’ Riley said, smiling at Tricia, who was placing a bowl at his bedside. Her hair wasn’t pulled back, and he saw her big, frizzy hair. She grunted back, sitting down.

    ‘You’ve gotten warmer, so you should be able to do minor things such as eating and drinking. Here’s some porridge for you. If you aren’t able to eat the porridge, we can get some soup. Would you like soup?’ she asked, not particularly interested.

    ‘Porridge is fine, thank you,’ he replied roughly, and she nodded her head, walking out of the room, annoyed. He slowly stretched, wincing as he tried to reach his bowl while trying to cover himself with the blanket, and he slowly ate the porridge. Expecting a lack of appetite, he was surprised at himself, as he ravenously wolfed down the food. Wanting more, he walked outside, dragging his blanket along like a giant cape, as he wandered around the house until he found Tricia.

    Tricia sat down at the long table, and looked at her silverware, and frowned at the amount of food.

    “Hardy, there’s so little food here. There’s only one chicken wing, and the rice wouldn’t be enough to feed a baby,’ she said, grimacing at her plate, and moving the food around. Riley looked at her plate, doing a double take. There was clearly more than enough food, what was she on about?

    ‘Don’t exaggerate Trix. The food is more than enough for a 16 year old girl,’ he replied, eating with his mouth full, without looking up at her.

    ‘Could you not be so health-conscious? Come on, just let me eat my fill! Is there more in the kitchen?’ she asked forcefully, eyeing the kitchen intently.

    ‘Yes, there’s more, but I really don’t see why you want to gorge yourself,’ he said, suspiciously, thinking of barricading the kitchen doors.

    ‘I’m not gorging myself, I merely want to eat to my heart’s content. Is that too hard to ask?’ she said, getting up and rushing towards the kitchen hurriedly.

    When she came back, Hardy raised his eyebrow. Her plate had 4 chicken wings, loads of rice, and many chopped carrots, way too much for somebody her age.

    ‘Tricia, you can’t possibly eat so much!’ Hardy exclaimed in shock, as he saw her sitting down, apparently unfazed by the mountain of food on her plate. Riley had to agree, the thought of eating so much food made him slightly nauseous

    ‘Watch me,’ she said, glaring at him. She began forcing the food into her mouth, heartily eating, and Riley paled at the sight, walking over to them.

    ‘Tricia, I find it hard to believe that you need to eat so much. Venting out your anger on food won’t help,’ Riley said gently, scared that she would blow up at him.

    ‘What are you doing here?’ she said scowling, munching on more food.

    ‘I just wanted to ask for more food,’ he replied, annoyed at the tone of her voice.

    ‘Go help yourself, I’m not stopping you,’ she said.

    ‘Tricia, stop lying to yourself. Why are you angry with me?’ he said.

    ‘Why would I be angry? I mean, the only thing that’s going on back home is that my father’s finally gonna get married after 16 years of raising me alone,’ she said bitterly, reflecting past events.

    ‘Why are you so sad then, you should be delighted!’ he said, trying to lift her spirits.

    ‘You won’t understand. I still haven’t had a chance to apologise for what happened during Spring Break, and I won’t get to because of you!’ she snapped at him.

    ‘Oh come on, you know I can understand, right Trix?’ Hardy asked, cutting in, trying to prevent trouble. And, after all she knew he was studying psychology.

    ‘Yeah. See, when he first told me, I felt like it was an insult to my mother’s memory. Now I’ve realised that my dad deserves to have someone else in his life. Sooner or later, I’m gonna move out, and he’s gonna be all alone. But if I don’t turn up for the wedding, he’s never going to forgive me. And I don’t know if I can forgive myself. He’s going to think I hate him,’ she said full of hatred at herself.

    ‘Of course not!’ he replied, shocked.

    ‘Yes he is! And it’s all because of that boy over there! If he hadn’t crashed into our car when we were driving to your place, my car wouldn’t have been smashed up, and we wouldn’t have to had towed it away. We’ll only get it back 2 weeks later after repairs, long after the wedding!’ she said, scowling. Riley glared, moving forward, but Hardy held him back.

    ‘You could always call him up and tell him –’

    ‘Can’t. They’ve checked into a hotel out of town, and you know Dad doesn’t have a hand phone because of his hearing problem,’ she said sourly, munching loudly on a carrot piece.

    ‘Well, you know things will work out eventually. They always do. The important thing is not to stress yourself,’ he said awkwardly, putting his arm around her. Riley raised his eyebrows.

    ‘I’ll leave you two lovebirds alone,’ he said, going to the kitchen to get more soup.

    ‘Yeah, sure, whatever,’ she said, moving his arm away.

    ‘Hey, I know what’ll cheer you up,’ he said, smiling widely at her.

    ‘What?’ she asked suspiciously, not in the mood for his shenanigans.

    ‘Wanna take a swim in the lake once we’re done with lunch?’ he asked brightly, winking.

    ‘As much as I’d love to see you flaunt your swimming abilities, no. We have to make sure the kid’s alright, and we can’t leave him. Besides, I can’t even swim,’ she said, annoyed.

    ‘Aw, come on, just for an hour? And it’s just outside anyways, he can holler for us if he needs help,’ he replied.

    ‘I said no!’ she said angrily, pushing a spoonful of food into her mouth. He looked at her plate, and his eyes widened.

    ‘You’ve finished more than half of what looks like 5 servings. That’s enough Tricia!’ he said, pulling the plate away.

    ‘RICHARD! Give my plate back this instant!’ she shouted irately. If looks could kill, he’d be a zombie.

    ‘No Tricia! You’ve got to watch your health! I’ve warned you a thousand times about the heart diseases you could get!’ he said.

    ‘Stop it! Just give me back my food! You know that when I’m angry I feel weak and I need to eat more!’ she said, reaching for the plate, when he angrily pushed it on the floor. Tricia gasped, and glared at him, before slapping him.

    ‘Who are you to tell me what to do? I know you fancy yourself as a doctor, but you’re just a high-school graduate, same as me. So just let me do what I want you geek! You’re not my parents, so stop acting like it! Now I know why you never had any friends,’ she said, getting up, and slamming the chair into the table.

    ‘I’m gonna get more food,’ she growled, daring him to stop her with her eyes.

    ‘I’m not hungry,’ he said softly, pushing his food aside, and walked to his room.

    ‘Why? Hit a nerve, have I?’ she sneered to his back, contemptuously.

    ‘That know-it-all brat. About time somebody stood up to him. So what if he’s rich?’ she thought, as she walked to the kitchen, and began scooping up rice, when she heard Riley call her.

    ‘What?’ she yelled angrily.

    ‘Could you come here please?’ he asked.

    ‘Ugh, fine,’ she said irritably.

    She marched over to his room, and asked, ‘What’s the matter? Want some soup?’

    ‘No.’

    ‘Then why’d you call me?’ she asked.

    ‘I heard your argument,’ he said, pulling up his blanket as she sat down on the bed.

    ‘Don’t you know it’s rude to eavesdrop on other people’s private conversations? But then again, seeing how you’ve acted so far, it’s not hard to believe proper manners have not been instilled in you,’ she said scornfully. His nostrils flared, but he kept his cool.

    ‘It wasn’t that hard, it was more of a shouting match than an actual argument,’ he said.

    ‘So why do you care? I have better things to do you know,’ she grumbled.

    ‘Hardy’s right you know. You should listen to him,’ he said.

    ‘Well, you’re not exactly a person to give advice, seeing as how you can’t take it without blowing up. You’re one of the few people who I can safely say has a temper worse than mine,’ she said.

    ‘Look you, could you just listen to me?’ asked Riley frustrated.

    ‘I don’t see why you expect me to take your advice, considering I’m only in this mess because you passed out at your car,’ she said.

    ‘Look, don’t go around pointing fingers at me, I can barely remember anything! If anyone’s to blame it’s you!’ he said.

    ‘Me?! For what? Being kind enough to take you in instead of leaving you there? Yes, I regret it too,’ she said.

    ‘I wasn’t talking about that,’ he said, rolling his eyes.

    ‘Then?’ she asked.

    ‘If you hadn’t stormed out of the house, and just listened to your dad, for one, this whole crisis would have been averted,’ he said.

    ‘You would have reacted the same way you hypocrite!’ she said.

    ‘Mind your words!’ he shouted.

    ‘Make me!’ she yelled back, glaring at him furiously. They held their eye contact for a while, each refusing to break their gaze first. Riley’s eyes flickered to the ground, and she turned away too. They stared pointedly at the ground, failing to see smoke rising from the blanket, until Riley felt his heat draining away, and his tense arms weakened, and he pulled up the blanket.

    ‘What’s the matter?’ said Tricia, deciding to give up ignoring Riley’s teeth chattering, and she turned around.

    ‘Oh great, the blanket’s smoking again,’ she said, rolling her eyes. Riley curled up under the blanket more, muttering repeatedly ‘So cold…’ She walked up to the heater contemptuously and turned it up.

    ‘You must be the only kid to need a heater during summer in Arizona,’ she said scornfully. She left the room, and headed towards the kitchen, noticing Hardy’s door was ajar. She raised her eyebrow, and entered the kitchen, discreetly closing the door behind her.

    ‘Hardy,’ she said in a deadly softly voice.

    ‘What are you doing?’ she said menacingly, with more emphasis on each word. He looked up from the trash can, hastily hiding the pot of rice he was emptying behind his back, and trying to look innocent.

    ‘Don’t try to hide it, I saw what you were doing! Why can’t you mind your own business you prat?! JUST LEAVE ME ALONE!’ she said, pushing the much shorter and thinner boy to the ground.

    ‘I thought – you didn’t – the food,’ he stammered, trying to come up with an explanation.

    ‘You thought what?’ she asked angrily.

    ‘I thought you were done, so I threw away the food, I didn’t know –’ he said.

    ‘Liar. You heard Riley call me in so you took the chance to throw away the food. You know what I feel about throwing away food. And not just food. MY food,’ she said.

    ‘I’m sorry Tricia, I was just concerned, I won’t do it again,’ he said whimpering, sinking down onto the kitchen floor.

    ‘Pathetic. That’s what you are. All it takes is for me to shout at you and you’re easily frightened. Humph,’ she said, pulling the pot from behind him, and pushing the food into her mouth with the ladle greedily, bits of rice falling. As she finished the pot, she glanced up and realised he was gone.

    She looked at the few grains of rice in the pot, and dropped it on the floor, a resounding “Clang!” sounding. She sighed, and walked out of the kitchen and into her room. The room was well-furbished, being taken care by a maid hired by Hardy’s parents. She looked at the mirror on the bedside table.

    ‘Look at you. You’re so huge, no wonder Hardy hates you. He cares about you so much, and you’re so irrational when it comes to food you glutton. Look at all the rice covering your face! How will he ever come to think of you in a romantic way if you continue being so childish?’ she said angrily at her reflection willing for it to turn into a beautiful, slim figure.

    ‘I’m crazy. I’ve never done anything to deserve Hardy’s affections. All I do is complain about how he doesn’t like me, and what do I do? I ridicule him, I tease him, I scold him, and more! Would he even like a fatso like me?’ she said, sighing. She looked around at the empty room, and desperately wished for her bookshelves back home.

    ‘Why can’t my life be like a fairytale? Why couldn’t we have gone to prom as a couple, not just as friends who couldn’t find dates?’ she asked wistfully to herself. She decided to leave her room, and walked out the door, closing it gently, and walked towards Hardy’s room.

    ‘Hey,’ he said quietly. He sat at the edge of his bed, his eyes locked to the ground.

    ‘I’m sorry, Hardy. I didn’t mean it. You know I don’t mean anything I say,’ she said.

    ‘Yeah, I know. It doesn’t matter. You were right,’ he said, still refusing to lift

    ‘About what?’ she asked.

    ‘You’re not part of my family. Why should I care about you? High school’s over, sooner or later, we’re gonna go our separate ways. I’m going to medical college, and you’re going into the food industry,’ he said, smiling, his watery blue eyes staring at her.

    ‘Hardy, you’re right, but it was still wrong of me to get angry like that. You were only trying to help,’ she said, sitting down next to him, and grasping his hand.

    ‘I was overzealous in my attempts to help you, when it was none of my business. You were in a fragile state, and I just made it worse. You had no control over your emotions, so I don’t blame you for it,’ he said with full sincerity in his voice.

    ‘Thank you Hardy. You always understand. And, anyway, chances are, we’ll never see each other again, and this is the last time we’re going to be together, and we shouldn’t waste our precious time being angry at each other,’ she said moving closer, smiling.

    ‘Exactly. That’s why I was delighted when the boy crashed into our car. That meant more time for us to be together. I know we’re not an item, but you’ve been my only friend since freshman year, so our time together will always be dear to me,’ he said, their eyes locking.

    ‘Me too. I’ll always remember you as the kid who puked all over my clothes on the first day of school,’ she said, and they both started laughing at their fond memory of the time they first met. She started to get up, removing his hand gently from her thigh.

    ‘Where are you going?’ he asked, panicked, ready to get up and stop her from bingeing again.

    ‘To my room. Don’t worry, I’m not going to eat,’ she said

    ‘Wait! What hotel is your dad staying at?’ he asked, an idea dawning upon him

    ‘The Glacier,’ she said.

    ‘Do you have their number?’ he asked.

    ‘No. We don’t have a phone book either. Look, it’s okay, no need to stress out, I’ll find a way to explain to them when I go back home,’ she said reassuringly, getting up.

    ‘No, no, wait,’ he said, ‘There has to be some way. We know your dad doesn’t have a cellphone; what about the bride?’

    ‘Sugar? I think I DO have her number…’ she said, slipping her hand into her pocket, and pulling out her cell phone. She dialled her number furiously.

    ‘Hello? Aunt Leo? This is Tricia,’ she said.

    ‘Yeah Tricia? When are you coming here? I’m so excited. I’ve got the perfect dress for you-’ she said, enthusiastically.

    ‘I’m not going to make it,’ Tricia said, biting her lips anxiously.

    ‘What? Are you still angry? Tricia, we told you, if you’re uncomfortable with the wedding, we can cancel it, don’t worry,’ Aunt Leo said, with a hint of reluctance in her tone.

    ‘No, Aunt, it’s nothing like that. See our car got into an accident, and-’

    ‘Oh my god, are you hurt darling?’ she asked.

    ‘No of course not. But the car was smashed up, and I won’t be able to be at the wedding in time. Don’t worry, I’m staying with Hardy, so there’s nothing to worry about,’ Tricia said hoarsely.

    ‘Oh,’ she said, pausing, ‘Would you like us to postpone the wedding?’ Tricia could hear a distinct tone of reluctance in her voice.

    ‘No, it’s okay. Go ahead without me, I’ll be fine,’ Tricia said, trying to hide a teardrop from Hardy.

    ‘Are you sure darling?’ she said.

    ‘Yes, of course,’ Tricia said.

    ‘Well, if you insist. We’ll be thinking of you the whole time. Goodbye,’ said her aunt warmly.

    ‘Bye,’ said Tricia, before looking up at Hardy.

    ‘Thank you, Hardy,’ she said, wiping away a tear and reaching forward to hug him.

    ‘Don’t mention it,’ he said, patting her back awkwardly, smiling at her.

    ‘No, really. That meant a lot to me. You mean a lot to me,’ she said smiling.

    She looked at him for a while, and then abruptly said, ‘Well, if there’s nothing else, I’d best be going,’ she said, leaving the room, and smiling. She walked to her room, and jumped onto the bed excitedly. At least one thing had gone right today. Suddenly, she heard screaming, and she ran towards Riley’s bedroom, seeing his blanket catching fire and the bowl of soup dropping to the floor. The flames escalated, and Riley shivered violently.

  44. Yogion 10 Sep 2009 at 3:49 am

    After a very long break from writing due to school and stuff, I’m back! :D Here’s chapter four.

    Chapter four

    ‘Here you go, your lunch miss,’ said the air hostess, who was wearing at least an inch-thick of make-up, the kind that made even Belinda grimace. Belinda looked at her tray of smoked salmon disdainfully. They were in a luxurious private jet and Belinda was lying back in her soft chair, wearing a hat and sunglasses. She was looking out of the window disgustedly at the forest beneath them.

    ‘What is this?’ she asked, cutting a piece of the salmon, and lifting a piece gingerly, as if she was afraid of it. She gently set the fork down, distancing herself from it.

    ‘Smoked salmon Miss Paradizio,’ said the air hostess charmingly, smiling.

    ‘And who told you to make this?’ Belinda snapped, annoyed.

    ‘Your father ordered this Miss,’ replied the air hostess unfazed by Belinda. Belinda opened her mouth, when her father walked towards them.

    ‘Yes, I did Belinda,’ he said in a sharp tone, and Belinda fell silent. The air hostess nodded her head and walked away. Belinda’s father sat beside her, and she rolled her eyes at him.

    ‘I wasn’t through with her you know,’ she grumbled.

    ‘Belinda, you don’t listen to a word I say do you? Why can’t you respect others?’ he said, sighing.

    ‘Why should I? We pay them, we fill their empty pockets, don’t we have the right to do what we want with them?’ she said, eating a piece of the salmon.

    ‘No we don’t Bel! They are fellow human beings too. Look at yourself Bel. What have you become?’ he said bitterly, looking in her eyes, desperately looking for his daughter in the girl’s eyes.

    ‘What have I become? Or what have you turned me into? For 16 years you gave me everything I ever wanted, sheltering me from the world. You sow what you reap, and you’re stuck with me now. I know you hate me, but you’re stuck with me,’ she said fiercely, her words stabbing him like honed knives.

    The proud businessman sank into his seat, speechless. Belinda’s poisonous and cruel words had struck him in a way no stock market crash could ever come close to doing. He was lost in his thoughts, and Belinda was eating quietly.

    Suddenly, the jet tilted to its side, and Belinda grabbed her seat tightly, her knuckles going white.

    ‘Belinda, wear your seatbelt!’ shouted her dad, struggling with his own, while trying to hold on at the same time. She fumbled with her belt, and strapped it over herself, shaking with fear.

    ‘Daddy, what’s going on?’ she screamed.

    Suddenly, the pilot’s voice boomed. Passengers, please remain calm. There is a slight emergency. Unauthorised planes are attacking us. We are trying to land safely, so there is no need to panic. That is all.

    Mr. Paradizio unbuckled his belt, and stood up, grabbing his bag.

    ‘Bel, I know you don’t know what’s going on but trust me, and do exactly what I say, okay?’ he said fiercely, and Belinda nodded her head weakly, getting up. From his bag, he drew two parachute bags, and gave one to Belinda, who put it on, and strapped it on herself, as the flight attendant rushed up to them.

    ‘Sir, please, sit down, everything’s under control!’ she said, gesturing at him to sit.

    ‘This was no accident woman, this was planned. They won’t stop till we’re dead. Where’s the emergency exit? Take me there now!’ said Mr. Paradizio. The flight attendant hesitated, before leading them to the exit.

    ‘Sir, are you sure you know how to deploy the parachute?’ she asked worriedly.

    ‘I was in the army for a while, so yes,’ he said dryly, turning to Belinda, ‘Bel, if something happens, I want you to know I’ll always love you.’

    ‘Dad, I’m NOT jumping out of here!’ she screamed in protest.

    ‘Bel, you have to do it. Please,’ he said, hugging her tightly.

    ‘When you jump, just pull the cord, okay? Bel, I know this is not enough training to get you through this, but there’s no other option. These people will stop at nothing!’ he said fiercely, his voice choking. He pushed open the door.

    ‘What people? Why will they stop at nothing?’ she said urgently, reluctant to jump, her hair flying all over her face.

    ‘Jump, I’ll explain later!’ he said.

    ‘What if we don’t land at the same place? What if I die? What if you die?’ said Belinda frantically.

    ‘I’m sorry Bel. I love you,’ he said, pushing her out of the door.

    Wind rushed past her, and Belinda’s first instinct was to cover herself from the cold and scream at the sheer terror. She closed her eyes, falling swiftlu.

    ‘BEL! PULL THE CORD!’ a faint voice shouted, and she opened her eyes, vaguely seeing her father on her right, pulling his cord, and she pulled hers. Immediately, she was dragged upwards, and the wind around her lessened as she slowed down. She opened her eyes, and adrenaline coursed through her, as she gripped onto the parachute strings tightly. She grinned, exhilarated, and turned to her father, her grin subsiding.

    A faint gunshot. A red patch blossoming on his shirt. A final scream. And her father went limp, slowly falling down. The world around seemed to slow down, and she screamed, and pulled on her strings futilely, trying to steer towards him.

    ‘DADDY! PLEASE! TELL ME YOU’RE ALIVE! SAY SOMETHING!’ she screamed, trying to grasp the body that was floating away, as she landed in a thick jungle. Her eyes still looked up, trying to keep him within her line of vision in vain.

    ‘He can’t be gone! No! This isn’t happening!’ she said, as she fell onto the thick undergrowth. She looked around helplessly, grasping at pockets, unzipping one and pulling out her cell phone, furiously punching in her father’s number, dialling it repeatedly every time he failed to answer. She fished out her wallet, opened it and took out her father’s business card, holding it tight.

    ‘No,’ she said quietly, her voice breaking as she sunk into the dense undergrowth, curling up, willing death to take her too. The warm air pressed around her, and sweat mingled with tears, causing her clothes to stick to her.

    ‘I don’t even keep a photo of him. I have nothing to remember him by. I berated him, mocked him before his death. How cruel can I be? Dad, please, I’m sorry, come back. I didn’t mean what I said,’ she pleaded silently. She sunk deeper into the undergrowth, holding the business card close to her, curling up.

    Suddenly, she heard a twig snap, and her eyes flickered up, and distinctly saw a pair of yellow eyes watching her. She scrambled up, pushing the crumbly, damp ground away, and the lioness growled, chasing after her.

    Belinda pushed aside branches frantically, and her steps quickened, dodging and weaving underneath the web of leaves, bamboo obstacles and tripping vines, as the sound of the paws hitting the ground grew louder. Belinda’s heel got caught by a vine, and she fell headfirst onto the ground, the bandage on her nose peeling off.

    Her heel gave way, and she lost her balance trying to get up, eventually having no choice but to remove them. She climbed up a near tree in desperation, grasping onto a rough branch, pulling herself up, the adrenaline giving her the extra boost she needed.

    She cautiously sat down on the branch, not daring to climb higher or to stand. She wrinkled her nose at the rotting smell of the moss on the branch and the numerous fire ants crawling around. The lioness caught up with Belinda, and growled at Belinda, who was just out of her reach. Belinda grasped on to the trunk tighter, but when it became apparent that the lioness could not get her, she loosened her grip.

    ‘My father will come rescue me you know! See how you like being hunted!’ she said, and threw her cell phone at the lion mockingly, which broke into tiny pieces, and served only to anger the lioness, who in a mad rage, charged at the trunk, and the tree shook violently, causing Belinda to lose her balance and fall.

    Her nose started bleeding, and she felt faint, but she forced herself to stand up and run, as she noticed a clearing in the woods. The lioness was closer than ever, and the chase was getting more intense, and Belinda could almost feel the raw savagery emanating from the lion, when suddenly, the lioness fell, losing consciousness.

    Belinda heard a thud, and stopped running, turning around to see the still body of the lioness, and she shouted in joy. Her happiness did not last long, when a dart buried itself into her neck, and she dropped to the ground, her vision blurring, and she only vaguely saw tribal men surround her.

    When she woke up, the first thing she felt was the pressing humidity on her face and the scratchy vines tying her to a tree, and she struggled to break free. Tribal folk walked up to her, and surveyed her contemptuously. Dusk had fallen but the normally bright stars looked dim and forlorn to her.

    ‘Let me go! Do you know who my father i-’ she said, pausing abruptly, as recent events unfolded in her head, and she blinked back a tear.

    ‘Silence! You have trespassed upon our land, despite our agreement you foreigner!’ said a tribal man, obviously the head tribesmen, as he wore an elaborate headset with multi coloured feathers. They were barely covered in leaves and assorted markings, and Belinda grimaced in disgust at their filth.

    ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about. Release me at once barbarians!’ she spat, reciting lines from a movie she once heard, trying to appear brave. If one were to look closer though, they would see her tied hands quaking in fear.

    ‘Call us what you want, but you have trespassed on our land, and according to our agreement, you belong to us. Sleep well, because for the next few years, you’ll never get a good night’s sleep again,’ he said, winking. Somehow that single sentence made her muted her normally unstoppable mouth, as no words could escape her and for once, her retorts failed to spring dutifully from the tip of her tongue.

    ‘I’m afraid that won’t be necessary,’ said a high, cold voice from behind the tree Belinda was tied to. Belinda’s head turned frantically to the haughty figure, who was dressed in black fabric, blending in with the dark forest. She pulled back her hood, and Belinda’s eyes bulged. The lady had cropped blonde hair, watery blue eyes and a weary expression on her face and she looked familiar somehow….

    ‘Belinda,’ said the woman, her tone of voice softening considerably, as she wiped a fleck of dirt from Belinda’s nose.

    ‘You have your father’s eyes,’ she said unfeelingly, as she turned towards the tribal men.

    ‘Did Daddy send you?’ Belinda asked desperately, clinging to faint hopes.

    ‘Your father is dead. We have the body,’ replied the woman harshly, and Belinda, somehow knew that she was telling the truth. Her father was gone forever. Her face fell forward, refusing to look up.

    ‘Thank you for rescuing Belinda. I shall be taking her now,’ she said haughtily, with an icy edge in her tone. The men instantly backed down, and the head tribesman’s face contorted with fury and hesitation, before relaxing his features.

    ‘Of course, madam. You didn’t tell us that this would be when she would arrive. Forgive our rude behaviour. We are deeply sorry for offending her,’ said the head tribesman emotionlessly.

    ‘Agent Greene, untie the captive,’ the woman said coldly. A brutish man stepped out from the shadows. Belinda gasped at the man appearing out of the trees. His face was covered, and he deftly removed a knife from his belt, slicing the ropes in three broad strokes. She fell to the ground, sobbing silently.

    ‘Get up!’ he growled harshly. She made no attempt to move, lying there desperately wishing everything to stop for a moment… Just a moment… The man roughly pulled her arm up, and pushed her forward.

    ‘Come now! Hurry up!’ he said. She looked at him with empty eyes. She felt no anger at the man; she barely felt anything but numbness and an overwhelming burden. She stumbled across the undergrowth, following the two people who walked firmly with great strides slowly.

    They trekked across the forest for a few hours, not saying anything. Bugs flew around her, which she didn’t seem to notice. The lady and man never paused or slowed down, striding with ease and confidence, as if they had done this before.

    Finally, she croaked out, ‘Who are you?’ The lady stopped in her tracks. She turned to her, smiling.

    ‘You’ve been separated from me your whole life. My husband,’ she said, emphasising the last word angrily, ‘made sure to that. Haven’t you ever wondered?’

    ‘Wondered what?’ said Belinda unfeelingly.

    ‘About your mother,’ said the woman.

    ‘My mother?’ asked Belinda curiously.

    ‘I was Miss Melissa Paradizio once,’ she said, her eyes glinting.

    ‘Mother?’ Belinda said.

    ‘Finally, a breakthrough for the bimbo,’ said Agent Greene, rolling his eyes.

  45. StarEon 10 Sep 2009 at 8:35 pm

    Hello, Yogi! I just finished reading your passage, and it was a lot fun. :D It was paced a little too frantically though. A lot of “GASP, OH NO!” moments came one-right-after-another, and it came off as awkward… If you don’t mind, I would love to offer some friendly constructive-criticism and suggestions. I’ve got a lot, mostly because I enjoyed your passage and I got to thinking about it in detail. :) I think everything just needs to slow down a little bit, and I’d love to see you spend more time writing about the different scene instead of passing them so quickly.

    I think it came out of nowhere that the cloaked woman turned out to be Belinda’s mom. It was a little too coincidental that Belinda and her father had to jump out of their plane BEFORE reaching their destination, and it just-so-happens they crashed into the very same jungle where Bel’s mother has been living.

    I think it would work better if the jungle WAS their destination. I haven’t gotten to read your other plans for the story yet (or even the first three chapters), so please just consider the idea, muse about it, and decide whether you’d like to do it or not. :) Anyways, if this jungle was their original destination, the “Belinda’s Mother” thing won’t be so random. Maybe the situation has forced the father to finally bring Bel to meet with her mother. (I got the impression that Bel’s mom already has plans for her, since the natives seemed to be expecting her daughter at some point) So maybe Bel and her father are BOTH stressed out during the plane ride? After she complains about the smoked salmon, Belinda wonders why they have to fly to a hot, sticky, gross jungle in the first place. Some lame vacation THIS is… Her father reiterates that it’s necessary, and he seems reluctant too because (unbeknownst to Bel), he is at odds with her mother, the woman they’re going to meet. He tells Bel that they’re almost at their destination, and asks her to please just eat her fish and try to be nice to the stewardess…

    Then the whole plane attack thing happens. I think you should spend more time on that scene. Maybe keep them in the plane for a little bit longer before the father gets parachutes out of the emergency bin?

    I also think you could add more suspense and desperation to Belinda’s character if you let her believe her father might’ve survived the gunshot wound. When he gets shot, it’d be awesome if you took just a bit longer on the scene and describe it as if time has slowed down. Instead of speaking in complete sentences, maybe she should just go, “Daddy? DADDY!?” Then she crashes into the trees with her parachute, and makes an ugly landing on the ground.

    I loved how you had Bel try to call her dad on her cell phone. It sounds perfect for her character, haha. Maybe when she finally digs herself out from under the parachute, she listens carefully as sounds of gunshots are still heard in the sky. Maybe she vaguely realizes that the shooters are still following the private plane (which would explain why the enemy shooters don’t go looking for Belinda), but the main thing she’s worried about is her father. She knows he got shot, but she crashed down through the canopy so suddenly that she couldn’t know how badly he was hurt. So she gets out her cell phone and calls him a dozen times, hoping she can reach him… Instead of sinking into misery so quickly and wanting to die, it would be cool if her heart starts pounding harder every time he doesn’t answer the phone. Finally, she decides he must’ve landed somewhere and he’s hurt, so she wants to find him. At this point, she’s too concerned with the here-and-now to think about apologizing for being a brat.

    So maybe narrate that she’s running around in the gross jungle for awhile, without any luck, until she finally curls up in an area out of pure exhaustion. Still refusing to believe that he was KILLED by the gunshot, she convinces herself that she just wandered the wrong way or something. How the heck do you tell what direction you’re going in this stupid jungle, anyway? Why doesn’t some smart guy make some street signs or cross-walks or something? So Belinda stubbornly keeps up hope, but it’s too dark and cold to search now, so she curls up to wait for the morning light.

    This would be a GREAT time to let Belinda reflect on what just happened. A great time to ask herself questions, and to finally feel some doubt that her father might’ve been killed. That might be the first time she almost cries, but she convinces herself that she doesn’t have to, because it’s not true. Her father’s not dead. NO. You could narrate this as the longest night of her life as she sits and waits for morning, getting little rest due to fear and the strange sounds of a jungle at twilight…

    In the next scene, you could introduce the lioness by Belinda waking up from restless sleep, hearing a twig snap loudly. She sits up straight with her back against a tree, worrying about what kinds of animals live in jungles… By the time she gets her heart-rate down and decides she’s being silly, THEN the lioness lunges out of the grass! Belinda shrieks and runs for her life.

    I think the part where you had Bel climb the tree to escape was a little awkward, ONLY because she fell right out of it again. I think it’d be cooler to have her running headlong through the jungle, elbowing vines out of her way until the lioness actually gains on her and slashes her leg. Injured, Belinda might stumble and roll down a rocky, branch-tangled slope, maybe hitting her head on something… So instead of her getting shot with a poisonous dart, she faints as the lioness comes stalking down the hillside… (I imagine that she would stubbornly attempt to stay awake, not wanting to die like this before finding her father, but in the end, unconsciousness claims her)

    In the next scene, Belinda wakes up slowly and groggily inside the tribal healer’s tent… And shrieks because the lioness is in there with her! But after a moment’s observation, she sees that it’s just a lion’s pelt draped over something… The medical healer (and some disturbed villagers) peek into the tent after hearing her scream, and maybe Belinda is prepared to defend herself because she’s “seen this movie before”, where the tribal maniacs treat their prisoner like a Queen until they eat her at a sacrificial ceremony three days later. The natives seem confused, but the tribal chief (a stern, hard-faced, but not vicious man) comes in to talk to Belinda.

    Once Belinda is calmed down, she realizes that her injured have been tended to, and the Chief asks, “Were there any more of you?” “More of me…?” At that point, Belinda supposes they’ve found her father, too, and she really stumbles out of the tent on her injured leg to go and see him.

    If you want to, the chief could stop her and TELL her the father is dead, or you can actually write a scene where Belinda is taken to her father’s body. If you decide to go for a sad scene like that, it would be a good time for Belinda to apologize (too late, of course) for being a brat on the plane. It would also give you some time to get Bel’s mom into the picture.

    ((The reason I’m suggesting that the tribal natives be PEACEFUL people instead of violent is because I got the impression they were expecting Melissa Paradizzio’s child to come along sooner or later. Plus, it could be more interesting to have a peaceful, intelligent tribe instead of going with the usual “violent-get-off-my-land” tribe… You don’t have to use this alternate idea for the tribe, I’m just giving you some ideas in case they can help you))

    Anyways, the natives sent for Melissa Paradizzio as soon as they found Belinda in the jungle and saved her from the lion, using a tranquilizer dart that the chief probably showed Belinda when she finally calmed down a bit. (It might be funny if you had Belinda ask what the chief was going to do with “that thing”, meaning the lioness pelt, and then the Chief says it’ll be a gift for his wife, heh-heh) So a few hours after finally realizing her father was killed, Belinda’s mother DOES show up and she has a warmer reception. Belinda would be confused because Melissia Paradizzio has been expecting her, and Bel might wonder if this is the person her father was “dragging” her to meet.

    Then the chapter ends right then and there, when Melissa tells Belinda that she’s her mother. It’d be awesome if you could do that with some style, maybe by using what you already wrote for that part. Melissa says the thing about “being separated for almost your entire life, thanks to my HUSBAND” line, and the conversation carries on the same way you wrote it… And then the chapter ends with Melissa saying “I’m your mother, Belinda.”

    Then your NEXT chapter can start with Belinda stammering, “You? You’re my mother…!?” and you can start the explaining thing. This would make a lot more sense than before, because if the readers knew Belinda and her father were SUPPOSED to be going to this jungle, then it isn’t random that her mother is there.

    Anyways, these are a bunch of ideas that came to mind when I read your Chapter 4, Yogi. :) I know it’s a super-long post, but I hope you enjoyed reading it! I had fun reading your chapter, and I hope my suggestions will be useful to you. I think you would benefit a lot from slowing down events and taking more time on scenes, and trying to give a good reason for Belinda to find her mother in that particular jungle. Good luck working with Belinda and the rest of the story!

  46. StarEon 10 Sep 2009 at 8:43 pm

    Holy cow, I just saw how big my post was. I’m really sorry, haha. Um, I just wanted to mention again that I hadn’t read the rest of your story yet, ’cause I just sorta stumbled in here and I wanted to help. I didn’t realize Belinda wasn’t your only main character, though! I was surprised to browse around a bit more and realize there are other central characters, including Riley and Trix, etc.

    I sort of expected the beginning three chapters to be about Belinda’s regular, pampered life before her whole world crashes into the jungle. Um, so if you’re moving between different characters for “intro chapters” right now, then I think my massive comment is still valid, but maybe the chapter shouldn’t be as long as I described it as… Heh-heh.

    Again, good luck! I hope my post wasn’t too much…

  47. Yogion 11 Sep 2009 at 6:28 am

    No it was fine. I read your post, and I realised, your interpretation was much better than mine was. =D But I already had plans for why she was crashing into the jungle. Her mother had planned it all from the start. She caught wind that the family was heading near their headquarters, so she planned an attack on them to get Belinda to herself and to kill the father. So, I’m afraid I’m gonna have to keep that, however, I really like your ideas. I often having pacing issues which I’m trying to work out, so thanks a lot for your help. I will definitely consider them. =D

  48. StarEon 11 Sep 2009 at 11:30 am

    Oh my! The mother killed the father on purpose so she could have Belinda? I bet that’s gonna cause a few “getting close with Mom” issues, especially because Bel grew up with her father and loves him, but has no relationship with the mother. The mother is like a perfect stranger. Bel is already hard to handle because she’s so fiesty and materialistic, so I’m sure that she and her mom will have a hard time bonding if Melissa WANTED the father dead.

    Well then, if that’s why you have to keep the jungle landing, then maybe you could explain why Melissa knew that Bel’s plane was flying near her area? She would have to have known this, or been told this, so she could plan on getting Belinda. There’s gotta be SOME hint that the jungle is actually important before Bel gets there, or else finding her mom there will still seem contrived/overly coincidental. I’m not sure how, but it really should be foreshadowed in some way.

    As for the the other comments, I’m glad you liked them! I hope they’ll be helpful.

  49. Yogion 11 Sep 2009 at 12:26 pm

    Hmm. I’m thinking of having the father mention that the pilot told them he was going to take a different route because a thunderstorm was going to occur over the normal path, and Belinda recognising the pilot with her mother later on.

  50. StarEon 11 Sep 2009 at 2:38 pm

    Hmm, to connect everything better, maybe the father is actually suspicious of the flight crew? SOMEBODY has to be suspicious so you can foreshadow the connection between the pilot and Belinda’s mother, or else it will still seem random/contrived that Bel landed in “just the right jungle”. Explaining it later is okay, but we need foreshadowing or a hint so we go “OH! That’s why!” instead of going, “Huh? What?”

    Maybe the whole flight crew is in on the scheme? Belinda and her father are both irritable on the plane because Bel is rambunctious as usual, and her father is extra concerned that people are looking for them (I got the impression from your passage that the father knew somebody was after him). Belinda probably needs to remark that her father is acting even more stressed out and antsy than usual, even though normally he’s relaxed on planes. The father might be looking out the window and give an annoyed, stressed sigh. He might ask one of the flight attendents, “Where are we, Alanzo? This doesn’t look familiar.” The flight attendent would explain that there’s bad weather on the usual route, so the pilot is making a minor detour. The flight should be very smooth until they reach their “final” destination… Belinda decides to be snarky and grumbles out the window, “I don’t remember seeing any dirty, smelly jungles on the way to Calver City…” Sensing that something’s wrong, the father might get very stern with the flight crew and ask to speak to the captain about this detour, but that’s when the plane gets attacked. And the crew has conveniently stored parachutes under the seats.

    These are just random ideas, but if you worked some of that into your original scene, then it would at least give us SOME foreshadowing that the people on the plane are in on Melissa’s plan. Maybe it’s even the flight crew’s idea that Bel and her father jump out? If you hint that the flight crew is in on the situation, then Belinda sees the pilot with her mother later, then she might be shocked to realize that her mother set up the whole thing. I imagine she might accuse the mother of murdering her father, if she realizes the full implications of the plane incident.

    ((I’m not sure if you meant for Melissa to seem wicked or cruel. She seemed pretty nice when talking to Belinda. But if Melissa is directly or even partially responsible for the death of Belinda’s father, you can’t just ignore that fact. Belinda’s father seemed like a good guy with decent morals. You can’t get away with murdering that character without Belinda being OUTRAGED about it. Especially because she has no prior relationship with her mother, and no reason to forgive her for eliminating the father she was raised by))

  51. Yogeshon 07 Mar 2010 at 6:28 am

    Hey guys. I am so sorry for not coming on for such a long time. Writer’s block is freaking annoying. So anyway, I realised the reason for my block was because I really couldn’t care for Riley/Hardy/Tricia. So I cut the three of them to 2, revamped their personalities, and inserted a connection to Belinda. So here’s my new first chapter. I hope it’s not terrible XP :D

    Natalie held her breath, preparing to jump off the edge. The sun burned down upon her glistening, wet, neck. Drops of water trickled down her black hair into her grey eyes, and she wiped them off her solemn face. This was where she had been headed to her whole life, and there was no turning back. Nothing she’d ever done before could measure up to this decision. This was it. The total and complete end to the dry existence she had to slog through day after day, job after job, interview after interview, breath after breath. She could stop breathing. She could break free… finally. This was the moment of truth. She jumped into the crashing waves from a thousand feet, allowing the adrenaline to rush over her, filling her up with apprehension and excitement.

    ‘1…2…3… GO!’ shouted her coach, and her legs were the propellers of a motorboat, pushing her forward. This was a battle between her and Freddie. And she was determined to win. The stakes were high, the battlefield was set. Aim for the prize, aim for the world. She came up to breathe, and went down again quickly, nearing ever closer to the other side. She was at home in the water and at war with the water. She was dancing in the water, and kicking and pushing the water. The Sun was bright, showing her the path; the Sun was burning her. The water was cool, relaxing her; the water was standing between her and victory. It was so close now… the end was almost in sight…

    She touched the other side of the pool, and jumped up. The 100m freestyle race was complete. She was either going to embark on a journey to the other side of the country, or she was going to be humiliated. The world was going to be her playground or her prison. It was all up to this.

    ‘Okay people, gather here. The winner, by a very close call is Fredrick, and the runner-up is Natalie. But don’t be disappointed if you didn’t win, this was a very good race. Now, go and take a breather, I’m going to talk to the two lucky ones here. Freddie, Natalie, come with me,’ said Coach Rodriguez, shaking Freddie’s hand enthusiastically.

    Freddie turned his head to Natalie and his thin lips curled up distastefully, and his pale brown eyes sparkled with glee and madness. Natalie turned her head away, refusing to give in to the little voice in her head that intensely desired to shove him to the other side of the pool. She quickly moved aside the dripping hair that clung to her skin, and shivered slightly.

    ‘You two performed outstandingly today. As you both know, the winner gets to represent our state in the national competition. Natalie, I’m sorry, I know you’ve worked hard enough for your bones to give way, but this is just the way it is. I’d love to send you along with Freddie, but rules are rules,’ said Coach Rodriguez somberly.

    ‘There’s no need to console Natalie, Coach. The best swimmer won. And she respects that. At least allow her to lose gracefully,’ said Freddie.

    ‘He’s right. There’s no use whining about it now is there? There’ll be more competitions for me to sign up for. I didn’t want to go to Brazil anyway,’ said Natalie, trying to keep up a cheerful demeanor.

    ‘Well, if anything pops up, I’ll inform you, okay? I know how important this is,’ Coach Rodriguez said, hugging Natalie consolingly, proceeding to talk to Freddie privately. Natalie glared at Freddie, and dived into the pool once again to practice the breaststroke.

    The anger that polluted her seemed to be released with every kick, yet each kick only served to infuriate her more. After ten laps, she gingerly plodded to the bench where she left her bag, trying not to fall on the slippery tiles. She pulled off her pinching goggles, and rubbed her sore eyelids. She let the burning sun dry off her wrinkly fingertips and toes, moaning in exhaustion. She grabbed a drink from the bag and allowed the cool liquid to slide down her throat.

    ‘I told you I would win,’ Freddie said exuberantly, sitting next to her.

    ‘Go away. You know why the prize money was important to me,’ said Natalie refusing to look at him.

    ‘And you know why I had to win. If I lost to you, Belinda’s going to have to admit that her perfect boyfriend can lose, and to lose to you would be the ultimate insult to her. I have to fulfill her expectations, or else my potential career in her father’s company could be ruined,’ said Freddie, his brown, wet, hair flopping over his black eyes.

    ‘You don’t need to explain yourself to me. You already showed me who you are when you placed your career over Sharon. Especially since you know what happened to her. You’re disgusting,’ she replied, giving him a glare that would have killed plants 30 miles away, before facing the other direction.

    ‘Well, it’s a competition. If you really wanted to win, you would have. I shouldn’t have had to allow you to walk over me. Even if I let you win, so what? That wouldn’t prove anything other than the fact that you can only win by cheating. You don’t want to help your sister. I know you. You joined this competition because you wanted an excuse to leave her. I know you better than anyone else. You’re right. I don’t need to explain myself. You need to explain yourself,’ he said, standing up and walking away, when she grabbed him.

    ‘Hold it right there. You’ve insulted me enough. Why don’t you look in the mirror yourself? You broke up with me just because Belinda bribed you with a luxurious job, and you’ve been her dog since then, waiting on her hand and foot. At least I still have my dignity. I’m not a gold digger. I’m dealing with so much, and you have the nerve to say that I didn’t win because I don’t care about Sharon? I don’t know what I saw in you, you self-centered twit,’ Natalie spat angrily, throwing her drink on his face, storming off.

    ‘Please don’t tell me you confronted him,’ said Richard. He paced Natalie’s room back and forth, adjusting his glasses.

    ‘But he was being so rude. You would have done the same you know. You should have heard the hypocrite. Don’t you just wish that Superman would just fly in and kick his ass?’ Natalie said, miming a punch.

    ‘Well he’s not real, so there might be a flaw in that hope,’ commented Richard dryly, a thin smile dancing around the edges of his face.

    ‘You are such a killjoy. So how’s your story about leotards in today’s world coming along?’ she said, her eyes roving his body playfully.

    ‘You know I don’t want talk about that,’ he said, glowering at her.

    ‘Aww come on. The Fashionable Eye isn’t trashy. I happen to enjoy it greatly. You should be happy they hired you,’ she said, laughing heartily.

    ‘Being the only magazine that hires students straight out of high school just proves how trashy they are!’ he said, groaning.

    ‘Or maybe the girls there just like a redheaded nerd. I know I do,’ Natalie said, winking, and stepped closer to him.

    ‘Is that true?’ he said bemusedly, moving in for a kiss, but she quickly raised her hand to his lips.

    ‘No, no we’ll have none of that. Don’t want my hamsters to get ideas now,’ she said, as he rolled his eyes. She laughed loudly, shaking her head in amusement.

    ‘So what are your plans now?’ he asked, hoping that she had some idea of what she planned to do next.

    ‘I’m not sure, actually. Maybe I could join The Fashionable Eye with you. Misery loves company!’ she said, forcing a laugh.

    ‘I’m serious Natalie. You have to start looking for a job seriously. Your inheritance is running dry. It’s time to stop fooling around with foolhardy gambles like that competition!’

    ‘But as you said, nobody would hire someone off the streets whose highest education is high school. I could go to university, my parents have some money stored away for that, but I’d only be able to work part-time anyway, and that wouldn’t be enough to support Sharon,’ she said, falling back on her bed.

    ‘Natalie. You can tell me the truth. There’s no need to lie to me, or yourself. If you don’t like to work, it’s okay. It’s normal. After what you’ve been through, I wouldn’t be able to work too. And I know how hard you’re trying. You’re always laughing and smiling. You don’t need to repress your pain all the time,’ he said softly, lying down next to her and stroking her hair.

    ‘I’m not repressing, it’s just so hard sometimes. You expect me to cry, Coach expects me to cry, but the tears aren’t there. They don–’

    Her voice was interrupted by the doorbell ringing loudly. She quickly stood up, hastily flattened out her clothes, wiped her face, and ran out of the room. She unlatched the apartment’s door hurriedly, and saw the tan coach standing there.

    ‘Hey!’ said Coach Rodriguez, walking into the apartment without waiting for an invitation.

    ‘Hey Coach. You look so different wearing a tracksuit, instead of your swimwear. I thought that was all you had!’ she said, laughing.

    ‘Do you prefer me in my swimwear?’ replied Coach Rodriguez, raising her left eyebrow suggestively.

    ‘Um, no it’s fine, really. So what did you want to talk about?’ said Natalie, fidgeting slightly.

    ‘Well, I called up some of my sources, and winning the race earlier was not the only way to enter the qualifying rounds of the competition. Of course, you can’t be sponsored by the State. You can still enter the qualifying rounds as an independent athlete. I’m not saying you’ll win, but you could give it a tryo. If you want, you could catch a plane to Rio de Janeiro by next month to sign up,’ she said, smiling benevolently at Natalie. Natalie looked at her curiously, and a shaky smile began to grow on her face, before it abruptly vanished.

    ‘Is there an entry fee?’ she asked, a pained look upon her round face.

    ‘Yeah, about a thousand dollars,’ said Coach Rodriguez sympathetically.

    ‘Do you need help? I know about your sister, so if there’s anything I could do to help you, just ask me,’ she added, squeezing Natalie’s shoulder gently.

    ‘It’s okay. I’m sure I could scrap up some money for this competition. Besides, with you already giving me free training, I wouldn’t want to rob you even more,’ said Natalie, giggling, and patting her coach’s hand.

    ‘Now hold on a moment. There’s no need for you to stress yourself out. You have enormous potential, and I would not want you to waste it because you don’t want to borrow money from me. If you win, I’ll have the honor of coaching the winner of an international competition. So go to Brazil, and win that competition for me,’ Coach Rodriguez said, looking her firmly in the eye.

    ‘Alright Coach. I have enough money for a trip to Brazil. I’ll call you if I need help, but I really doubt I will,’ she replied with an air of confidence.

    ‘Well, then I’ll be making my move. Once you reach Brazil, remember to call me!’ said Coach Rodriguez, shaking Natalie’s hand forcefully, exiting the front door. Natalie let out an involuntarily squeal, and ran to her room quickly.

    ‘Quick, empty my closet!’ she shouted to Richard who was sitting on the bed. He quickly stood up, as she pulled open the doors of the closet, when a gigantic ball of color and fabric rushed out with the force of an elephant being released from captivity.

    ‘Didn’t really need my help, now did it?’ pointed out Richard, picking up a bra from his leg before flinging it to the other side of the room.

    ‘What’s going on?’ he enquired, as she pulled out a suitcase from under the bed. He tried walking to her while avoiding the bright clothes strewn all over the floor.

    ‘We’re leaving for Rio de Janeiro in a week! Quickly, we need to book tickets and a visa, and I need to get my hair done so I don’t look like a mess! There are so many things to do and so little time to do all of it! Summer clothes! We need summer clothes. Throw all my summer clothes on my bed, leave the warmer garments on the floor. Quickly, we don’t have time!’ she said hurriedly, throwing clothes everywhere.

    ‘Wait hold on, what are you talking about?’ he said, trying to stop her rampage as she ran around the room to grab more stuff.

    ‘The competition silly! That was Coach Rodriguez at the door! She said I can go if I enter on my own. I’m so freaking excited. We need to be ready, so come on, help me,’ she said, her eyes glittering.

    ‘Seriously? Don’t you have to pay an entrance fee if you enter as an independent contestant?’ he asked, trying to calm the shaking girl.

    ‘I have the money, okay? My parents stored some money for my university education. I might as well use that,’ she said. She stopped shaking, and stood there unsurely, waiting for Richard’s inevitable outburst. She could literally see the anger building in him like a volcano about to erupt.

    ‘Are you crazy? You want to waste your university money on a gamble that you might win the competition?’ exclaimed Richard, lowering his eyebrows and glaring at her expectantly.

    ‘I have to! I can barely pay for Sharon’s treatment with our current financial state; the money my parents left me is almost dried up, and let’s face it, I can’t hold a job for long. University is almost out of the question anyway. Might as well make use of the money they stored,’ Natalie said, biting her lower lip, finally dropping her cheery facade. She started dumping her clothes into the worn out suitcase. Her room was in a mess, and clothes were strewn everywhere.

    ‘Well, think about this rationally first. Why not invest the money in something more stable?’ Richard said, grabbing her hand.

    ‘But, why? What’s the point? I never asked to have to support my sister. I don’t want to work. I just want to be back to my old life. I want to swim, I want to go out with my friends, but I can’t. This is the last chance for me to do the one thing I have left. If I lose the tournament, I’ll come back. Okay? I’ll find a job. Let me enjoy Brazil,’ pleaded Natalie. She stared into his eyes for a moment, before quickly pulling her wrist away and rubbing it.

    ‘Well, are you going to help me or not? Help me sort those clothes. Throw any warm clothing back into the closets. Throw the rest into the pile of clothes on the bed. Make sure to check the floor and under the bed for any spare clothes,’ said Natalie, trying to shove a hardcover book into the suitcase. Richard sighed, and bent down to search for clothes.

    ‘So, what, you’re just going to leave everything behind? What about Sharon?’ he asked, as he tried pulling a green blouse from under the bed with little success.

    ‘What about her? The institute will take care of her properly. I’ll visit her tomorrow, okay?’ she said, and heaved a sigh of a relief as she managed to push the book to the bottom of the suitcase. She gave him a small smile as he stood up.

    ‘Fine,’ he said, flicking her button nose playfully. She gasped in mock horror and pinched him. They laughed, and jumped on the bed.

    ‘You know I’m just scared for you. I don’t want you to do anything you might regret later,’ he said, as they cuddled together.

    ‘I know. But you have to trust me sometimes. I just feel like everything will work out. The whole world’s out there for me to experience, and I don’t ever want to let all that go,’ she said, laughing. He looked at her concernedly, before averting his gaze.

    ‘Uh huh.’

  52. Yogeshon 07 Mar 2010 at 6:47 am

    ‘Hold it right there. You’ve insulted me enough. Why don’t you look in the mirror yourself? You broke up with me just because Belinda bribed you with a luxurious job, and you’ve been her dog since then, waiting on her hand and foot. At least I still have my dignity. I’m not a gold digger. I’m dealing with so much, and you have the nerve to say that I didn’t win because I don’t care about Sharon? I don’t know what I saw in you, you self-centered twit,’ Natalie spat angrily, throwing her drink on his face, storming off.
    There’s supposed to be a line of asterisks here, but apparently it didn’t show up here :S
    ‘Please don’t tell me you confronted him,’ said Richard. He paced Natalie’s room back and forth, adjusting his glasses.

  53. Yogion 07 Mar 2010 at 11:03 pm

    I hope you guys enjoy it, but don’t hold back on the criticisms. I’m still wondering if my new characters will work out, so comments or criticisms would be very much appreciated :D

  54. B. Macon 08 Mar 2010 at 1:21 pm

    –In the first sentence, I think it might help to say what she’s preparing to jump off of.

    –In the second sentence, I don’t think wet should have a comma after it.

    –”This was where she had been headed to her whole life, and there was no turning back.”

    –I feel like this opening passage might make more sense if you started the story earlier. Maybe show some of the leadup building up to this (“where she had been headed to her whole life”)? That would probably also help you get rid of the backstory. Getting lost in backstory this early is perilous.

    –I think you could show more and tell less. Like her face being solemn. Could you show that with a visual detail or two?

    –I don’t normally care too much about realism, but I think it’s fairly well-known that swimming isn’t a mixed-gender sport. Changing Frederick to a woman probably isn’t on the table if the two characters are supposed to be exes, but maybe you could change the sport to something where men would plausibly be matched up against women? (IE: something where upper body strength isn’t critical, like a racing sport or chess).

    –”The winner gets to represent our state in the national competition.” … “I didn’t want to go to Brazil anyway.” Hmm. Why would a national competition be held in another country? (They’re not from Brazil, are they?)

    –”You know why the prize money was important to me.” If the money is important, you might mention that sooner. (Or at least allude to why she needs the money?)

    –The conversation between Fred and Natalie has the characters speak for sometimes paragraphs at a time. In a tense standoff like this, I think that it would improve the pacing if the characters spoke 1-2, maybe 3, sentences at a time rather than (say) 8.

    –Who’s Richard? He just seems to appear out of nowhere. When Natalie storms off, where does she go?

    –This life advice from Richard seems to come out of nowhere. It would help if it’s based more on something we’ve seen about the character. For example, there hasn’t been any indication that she’s living off of an inheritance or reckless/irresponsible/chasing wild dreams. To the contrary, her explanation that she was swimming for the money to help her sister made it sound like she WAS being responsible.

    –”Your inheritance is running dry.” Hmm. I feel like this line feels unbelievable from this character. How would he know what her financial situation is like– what is he, her accountant? ;-) It might help if she suggested that the money was running out and then he could build on that himself. [NOTE: later on, it becomes clear that he's her boyfriend, so maybe he knows her well enough to know what her financial situation is like. However, there's little indication that they are particularly close when they're talking.]

    –”There’s no need to lie to me, or yourself.” This sounds like something out of a soap opera. I don’t think this line is plausible for someone I imagine to be a teenager or maybe a twenty-something.

    –”You don’t need to repress your pain all the time.” Okay, this sounds like something from a psychotherapist. Again, it doesn’t feel believable.

    –If Natalie loses her fight to Fred and goes to the tournament anyway, I think that you’d be letting her off the hook for losing. I wouldn’t recommend having a fight unless losing actually means something. (I doubt she’ll have all that much trouble coming up with $1000, especially if the coach is offering to help). This article may help: I wouldn’t recommend having the characters lose without having something bad come of it.

    –”If you win, I’ll have the honor of coaching the winner of an international competition.” Ah. Earlier it was referred to as just a national competition, which didn’t seem to make sense to me.

    –There are a lot of minor comma issues. Please let me know if you’d be interested in having me proofread it before you submit to publishers.

    –”‘Are you crazy? You want to waste your university money on a gamble that you might win the competition?” If you’re submitting to publishers in the US or Western Europe, I think that some clarification might be in order. $1000 one way or the other will probably not affect her ability to go to college. (By a measure of contrast, four years of tuition and housing at Notre Dame costs about $200,000). Is risking $1000 going to affect her ability to go to college?

  55. Yogeshon 14 Mar 2010 at 9:05 am

    –In the first sentence, I think it might help to say what she’s preparing to jump off of.
    I was going for suspense, and wrote it as a suicide scene to hook the audience. It didn’t work then, I take it? :P
    –In the second sentence, I don’t think wet should have a comma after it.

    –”This was where she had been headed to her whole life, and there was no turning back.”

    –I feel like this opening passage might make more sense if you started the story earlier. Maybe show some of the leadup building up to this (“where she had been headed to her whole life”)? That would probably also help you get rid of the backstory. Getting lost in backstory this early is perilous.

    Okay, I’ll remove some of the backstory. :P

    –I think you could show more and tell less. Like her face being solemn. Could you show that with a visual detail or two?

    –I don’t normally care too much about realism, but I think it’s fairly well-known that swimming isn’t a mixed-gender sport. Changing Frederick to a woman probably isn’t on the table if the two characters are supposed to be exes, but maybe you could change the sport to something where men would plausibly be matched up against women? (IE: something where upper body strength isn’t critical, like a racing sport or chess).

    Yeah, I guess I completely dropped the ball on that one xP Swimming just felt so natural for the Natalie I developed in mine. I could change some details about Frederick being her opponent, to being the brother of another swimmer or something…

    –”The winner gets to represent our state in the national competition.” … “I didn’t want to go to Brazil anyway.” Hmm. Why would a national competition be held in another country? (They’re not from Brazil, are they?)

    –”You know why the prize money was important to me.” If the money is important, you might mention that sooner. (Or at least allude to why she needs the money?)

    –The conversation between Fred and Natalie has the characters speak for sometimes paragraphs at a time. In a tense standoff like this, I think that it would improve the pacing if the characters spoke 1-2, maybe 3, sentences at a time rather than (say) 8.
    - so like more of a banter, then?
    –Who’s Richard? He just seems to appear out of nowhere. When Natalie storms off, where does she go?

    –This life advice from Richard seems to come out of nowhere. It would help if it’s based more on something we’ve seen about the character. For example, there hasn’t been any indication that she’s living off of an inheritance or reckless/irresponsible/chasing wild dreams. To the contrary, her explanation that she was swimming for the money to help her sister made it sound like she WAS being responsible.
    - I was trying to make it sound like she’s justifying her swimming as helping her sister, even though she knows she’s doing it for the fun, and isn’t doing it just to help her sister, that’s just a bonus.
    –”Your inheritance is running dry.” Hmm. I feel like this line feels unbelievable from this character. How would he know what her financial situation is like– what is he, her accountant? ;-) It might help if she suggested that the money was running out and then he could build on that himself. [NOTE: later on, it becomes clear that he's her boyfriend, so maybe he knows her well enough to know what her financial situation is like. However, there's little indication that they are particularly close when they're talking.]
    - they don’t sound close? Well I’ll need to rectify that. Maybe make them flirt at first before diving in to all these problems?
    –”There’s no need to lie to me, or yourself.” This sounds like something out of a soap opera. I don’t think this line is plausible for someone I imagine to be a teenager or maybe a twenty-something.

    –”You don’t need to repress your pain all the time.” Okay, this sounds like something from a psychotherapist. Again, it doesn’t feel believable.
    - Okay, I’ll omit those lines :p
    –If Natalie loses her fight to Fred and goes to the tournament anyway, I think that you’d be letting her off the hook for losing. I wouldn’t recommend having a fight unless losing actually means something. (I doubt she’ll have all that much trouble coming up with $1000, especially if the coach is offering to help). This article may help: I wouldn’t recommend having the characters lose without having something bad come of it.
    - I wanted to make it a setback. As in, she was going to have to choose her dreams over her sister/university. She had to lose the original contest so that she would have been forced to make a decision. I wasn’t sure how high to set the entrance fee, so I just set it at a standard $1000 until I did some research. I’m going to have to change that. Also, Natalie’s too proud to accept the coach’s money, which I was going to include later in future chapters.
    –”If you win, I’ll have the honor of coaching the winner of an international competition.” Ah. Earlier it was referred to as just a national competition, which didn’t seem to make sense to me.

    –There are a lot of minor comma issues. Please let me know if you’d be interested in having me proofread it before you submit to publishers.

    –”‘Are you crazy? You want to waste your university money on a gamble that you might win the competition?” If you’re submitting to publishers in the US or Western Europe, I think that some clarification might be in order. $1000 one way or the other will probably not affect her ability to go to college. (By a measure of contrast, four years of tuition and housing at Notre Dame costs about $200,000). Is risking $1000 going to affect her ability to go to college?
    -Yea, I’ll rectify that ASAP :P

  56. B. Macon 14 Mar 2010 at 12:48 pm

    I picked up the suicide vibe, but I don’t think it was as smooth as it could have been. I wouldn’t recommend trying to lead the reader to think it’s a suicide unless you’re trying to compare her swimming to suicide in some way. (For example, I think it’d be awesome to make the suicide comparison if the story were trying to suggest that being a serious swimmer ended any chance of her having a normal lifestyle, but I don’t think that fits the story very well).

    –If there’s a contrast between what she says (that she’s swimming for her sister) and what she believes (that it’s really just for fun and that her sister is just a hollow self-justification), I’d recommend making that clearer. For example, maybe she mumbles that line or shows doubt in some other fashion.

    –”Maybe make them flirt at first before diving into all these problems?” That sounds like a good plan. Another possibility would be to have him start the conversation by comforting her. (I mean, she’d look distressed after losing a close match to her hated rival, right?) I think that either would be a good opportunity to show that they’re even closer than just friends.

    –I think having the coach offer to help her out with the money sort of reduces the tension. Removing that support for Natalie would probably raise the stakes for her, which I think would be more interesting.

    –Good luck! I’m looking forward to the next chapter.

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