Dec 26 2009

JMiles’ Review Forum

Published by at 8:49 pm under Review Forums

Please see the comments below. Thanks!

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2 Responses to “JMiles’ Review Forum”

  1. JMileson 01 Jan 2010 at 9:48 pm

    First off let me state that I’m proud to finally be a part of the online community everyone has built here. This site has helped me in numerous ways and I am incredibly grateful. That being said, here is what I have to offer:

    Though I know that what I’m writing is a super-hero novel, while I’m working I like to remind myself that what I’m pushing for is a novel about characters who just happen to have super powers.

    I don’t have a title yet, but the tag-line I’ve come up with is:

    ‘Ex-Super Villain Seeks Work. Skills include flight, super-strength, and invulnerability. Also proficient with Microsoft Word.’

    To quote B. Mac’s suggestions: “I want to published at all costs. Spare nothing.” :)
    Thanks in advance for any input. On to Chapter one!

    So…No Coffee?

    The redhead’s fist connected with my jaw and I felt myself flying through the air. The momentum of the blow sent me through the wall of a nearby sandwich shop and the patrons inside scattered as I crashed across a table and landed directly in front of the glass counter. I sighed thinking of how much a turkey club would totally hit the spot right now.
    My sister glided into the restaurant through the hole her fist just made with my body. She said something to calm down the bystanders, but didn’t seem to notice that all of them were already getting the hell out of there. To be fair, I should note that Megan doesn’t notice much on a regular basis. She once bought rechargeable batteries with her credit card, and once they were dead, took them back to the store to re-buy them.
    I slowly stood, dusting debris and crumbled masonry from my leather jacket. The left shoulder had a tear in the seam and I’d have been totally pissed if I had paid for it. Megan stood in front of me with her fists clenched and that dumb smile on her face. Despite the short cape at her back, the pink and blue spandex she wore made her look more like a personal trainer than a super-hero.
    “Give it up Desire,” my sister announced with dramatic flair for the crowd outside to hear, “you’re not going to get away this time.”
    I rolled my eyes and leaned my back against the sandwich counter.
    “Come on Megan,” I said, “why don’t you just change clothes and we can go have coffee or something?”
    “You’re not supposed to use my real name Jen-ni-fer!” she whispered. “Anyway I can’t; there’s at least six news teams here to see me bring you in.”
    “Six news teams? Really?”
    “Yep. Pretty exciting isn’t it? This is gonna be, like, our biggest fight ever!”
    “Wow, Meg.”
    “Shh! Call me Mighty Girl.” she whined.
    “Oh fine,” I said with a shrug, “Mighty Girl.”
    Megan put her hands on her hips and cocked her head. “Did you just air-quote my name?” she asked.
    “No.”
    I had.
    Mighty Girl cleared her throat and increased her volume again for the onlookers outside. “Desire, you’re an escaped convict who has to pay her debit to society.”
    Did she just say ‘debit’?
    I patted my jacket pockets in search of my cigarettes.
    “Does anybody even remember what I was finally arrested for?” I asked. “I don’t.”
    “You robbed a department store.”
    “Oh yeah.” I laughed. “Out of all the stuff I’ve done, that’s what I go down for, a few coats and sweaters I gave to a homeless shelter. That figures.”
    “A few coats and sweaters? You stole their entire winter line of clothing.” Megan’s voice got serious and I knew she was about to sound like our mother. “I can’t believe you’re still wasting your gifts like that. You could have done some real good in the world.”
    “They had these plaid pea-coats,” I said half-listening to her and giving up on the search for my smokes, “making sure no one paid for one of those was good for the world.”
    Mighty Girl slouched her shoulders.
    “You can’t just steal stuff if you want to help people that need it Desire. If you want to be a hero there are rules to follow. There’s like, a standard to be upheld.”
    “I’m not trying to be a hero, believe me.” I responded. “Just read some story about a homeless lady that froze to death in the park and wanted to make sure it didn’t happen to anybody else. No big deal.”
    “It’s totally a big deal Desire. You don’t think the police figured out where that stolen stuff went when hobos started popping up all over the city wearing designer leather?”
    Oops. I hadn’t thought about that. Guess that’s why I’d been hired muscle my whole life. I never really had the ‘take over the world’ mentality most super villains based careers on. I just wanted a little dough to make sure I had some cigarettes and a place to crash.
    Megan wasn’t going to back down. I needed to change the subject, get her comfortable while I figured a way out of this. Mighty-G had been dating the city’s most popular super-hero for almost a year and I decided to hit her with the latest tabloid headline about the two of them.
    “What are you doing here anyway?” I asked, stepping behind the counter and beginning to assemble a sandwich. “I thought you and Captain Awesome were engaged and making wedding plans?”
    Mighty Girl shook her head and relaxed a bit.
    “Cappy says that he wants to get married, just not now. He doesn’t think the time is right.”
    I sighed. Captain Awesome had a bit of a reputation for sleeping with a list of female super-heroes and villains as long as my arm. My sister was probably considered quite a conquest for him and I hated it.
    “I’m sure he’s just waiting until the part in his hair is just right.” I said.
    Meg’s eyes widened with excitement. “His part is just on the left side right now! I’m gonna pay attention to see if it starts to move over!”
    With a response like that how could I not love my sister.
    “Something to watch for.” I said through bites of my sandwich. “So…do we have to fight? Could we just put on a good show that ends when I narrowly escape?”
    “You always get away and it’s starting to make me look pretty stupid.” she answered.
    “You sure it’s not your costume?”
    “No. It doesn’t slow me down at all.”
    I fought back the urge to slap my own forehead.
    “Are you ready? I have to be somewhere in an hour.” she asked, folding her arms impatiently.
    “I really don’t want to do this.” I said chewing.
    “I bet. I always kick your ass.”
    “Mind if I polish off my sandwich?”
    “I guess not. Hurry though.”
    More sirens sounded from outside the building and I knew I couldn’t stall much longer. I had never beaten Megan in a straight fight. We had the same abilities: amazing strength, speed, flight, and uber-toughness, but to be honest I could never really cut loose against her. She was my baby sister after all. Finishing my sandwich, I stepped back from behind the counter.
    “Okay,” I feigned defeat, “I guess you’ve got me.”
    “Good,” Megan said, “this is the right thi-”
    Her words were cut short as I flew across the room and swung for the fences. My fist connected at her cheekbone and Mighty Girl was propelled backwards into the window, glass sounding all around her as she landed roughly onto the street outside.
    That was bound to piss her off, now I just had to outrun her.
    I flew towards the ceiling, wincing as it exploded outwards. More property damage was not going to help my unvillaining. Was that even a word?
    From below me I could hear my super-hero sister take off. A low ‘boom’ let me know that she was probably moving at top speed and would be on me in seconds. My heart raced as I put on the brakes and watched Megan blur past me into the clouds.
    Turning, I pushed myself to the limit of my flight speed, hurtling back towards the ground. I glanced over my shoulder and saw that Meg was closing in. Mighty Girl was probably faster than I was, but in a few seconds that wouldn’t matter.
    I felt her fingers encircle my ankle and grip hard. Pushing my arms back and away from my body, the wind rushing over me snatched my open jacket and sent it hurling into my sister’s face.
    I heard a muffled cry of surprise as the garment caught her off guard. Instinctively, I pulled up a few feet from the approaching street, barely avoiding crashing through the pavement. Megan wasn’t so lucky. The explosion that sounded from behind me was my blinded sister being surprised by the asphalt. That should put her down for a minute or two.
    “See you later sis. Love ya.”

  2. B. Macon 02 Jan 2010 at 3:05 pm

    The first paragraph feels a bit too removed from the character. More like a movie script than someone describing himself getting punched through a wall. The last line of the first paragraph (“…thinking of how much a turkey club would totally hit the spot right now”) sounds like this character has a wry voice that should keep this from sounding like a straight-up movie script. It may help to give him something a bit more stylish to start off the paragraph. (Perhaps a wry observation about being sent flying through a wall).

    If the redhead is his sister, it might make sense to refer to her as his sister in the first paragraph.

    “getting the hell out of there” is six words. It could possibly be shortened to “running for their lives” or “running like hell.”

    I like the amusing observation about how little his sister notices. However, I’d recommend cutting the phrase “with her credit card” because I don’t think it adds that much.

    You may be able to draw the leather jacket into the narrative more smoothly. For example, perhaps he could say something to her like “Goddammit! Do you know how much I pay to get this leather dry-cleaned?”

    “I’d have been totally pissed if I had paid for it.” :)

    “the pink and blue spandex she wore made her look more like a personal trainer than a super-hero.” A few thoughts. First, “the pink and blue spandex she wore” could be shortened to “her pink and blue spandex…” Second, I’d recommend spelling superhero (and supervillain) without the dash. Third, I’d recommend drawing this line into conversation. Maybe a taunt. We don’t really have any interaction between the two yet besides her punching him.

    “Give it up Desire,” my sister announced… — comma after up. (When lines are addressed to a particular character, the character’s name should be separated from the rest of the sentence with commas).
    His name is Desire? That sounds very, umm, feminine. [I incorrectly concluded that the narrator was a male based on the tagline… supervillain being more masculine than supervillainess. Then again, supervillainess is a bit of a mouthful. You could do a joke about how much harder supervillainesses have it being taken seriously).

    “you’re not going to get away this time.” Could be shortened to “you won’t get away this time.” However, what’s her voice supposed to sound like? If she’s supposed to be a mockery of a traditional superhero, you could probably give her something more over the top.

    “Call me Mighty Girl.” she whined. The period after Girl should be a comma, I think. Also, she didn’t really come across as a whiny person before. She was introduced with a punch that sent her own sister through a wall.

    “This is gonna be, like, our biggest fight ever!” Is she meant to sound ditzy?

    “Has to pay her debit to society.” Haha. It might be smoother if the narrator pointed out her mistake to MG in dialogue rather than narrate it. I think it’d be amusing to show MG getting flustered dealing with the more grounded Desire.

    The characterization on MG doesn’t feel consistent. In one paragraph, MG misuses a pretty basic word (“debt”) like a ditz and Desire points it out, and in the next, MG is playing the “straight man.” ( When Megan points out that she stole their entire winter line of clothing).

    “You don’t think the police figured out where that stolen stuff went when hobos started popping up all over the city wearing designer leather?” “Started popping up all over the city wearing designer leather” could probably be shortened to “started wearing designer leather” or something similar.

    “Oops. I hadn’t thought about that.” I’d recommend showing this in conversation. She realizes she’s made a mistake and she gets heated, perhaps? Or embarrassed? Or maybe she pretends like it isn’t an issue? Or maybe she makes a joke? (Maybe something like “I tried to return them, but Donna Karen wasn’t taking my calls”).

    “Guess that’s why I’d been hired muscle my whole life.” This sounds too introspective for this character.

    “Megan wasn’t going to back down. I needed to change the subject, get her comfortable while I figured a way out of this. Mighty-G had been dating the city’s most popular super-hero for almost a year and I decided to hit her with the latest tabloid headline about the two of them.” This information could probably be shown in conversation. Also, is she REALLY trying to get her comfortable? Making fun of someone and her boyfriend doesn’t seem like a great way to get her comfortable. (At least, it felt like she was trying to make fun of MG. If not, I’d recommend phrasing it in a more open-ended way like “How are the wedding plans coming?”)

    I sort of feel like she’d be more defensive at this point. If it were me, I might try something like going on the attack. Bring up some mistake MG has made. She doesn’t seem like the sharpest knife in the drawer, so you could probably introduce some famous mistake she’s made that blew a case. MG is in NO way qualified to criticize Desire for the supposed dumbness of giving away designer leather to hobos. For God’s sake, she doesn’t know the difference between debt and debit.

    I like the name Captain Awesome. Delightfully cheesy. More so than Mighty Girl.

    “I sighed. Captain Awesome had a bit of a reputation for sleeping with a list of female super-heroes and villains as long as my arm. My sister was probably considered quite a conquest for him and I hated it.” This could probably be shown. Ideally in a way that has more to do with the plot… I’m not sure what the plot is, though. Is the main item here the relationship between the sisters or the arrest in progress?

    “My sister was probably considered quite a conquest for him…” could be rephrased more actively as “He probably considered her quite a conquest…”

    “Something to watch for.” I said through bites of my sandwich… the period after “for” should be a comma.

    If MG is supposed to be a bit dumb, I’d recommend taking out “it’s starting to make me look pretty stupid.” Maybe too introspective for a dumb character? Alternately, maybe you could rephrase it as something like “people are wondering whether I’m letting you get away every time.”

    “I really don’t want to do this.” I said chewing. The first period should be a comma.

    If she’s superfast, why are the police an issue? Desire can just run away, can’t she? (This is one reason I think that it’s hard to write superfast characters… hard to threaten them).

    I like the ending. Please post chapter 2 as soon as you’re ready.

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