Mar 04 2010

Tom’s Second Review Forum

Published by at 4:15 pm under Review Forums

Please see the comments below.  Thanks!

14 responses so far

14 Responses to “Tom’s Second Review Forum”

  1. Tomon 11 Mar 2010 at 9:50 am

    Ok, so I’m back with a new story. The best way I can summarise this story is ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ meets ‘Joan of Arcadia’, but take that with a pinch of salt, as I have never seen Joan of Arcadia, I only know the premise. As you can probably tell from the… unusual combination listed, this is a story about a teen who must save the world from evil on a daily basis… with guidance from God.

    The premise is as follows: A young boy called Matt Dominics finds an elderly man injured in an alleyway one night and decides to go and help him. As soon as he approaches the man he glows with a brilliant light and Matt wakes up in his bed, only to find the man floating in front of him.

    The man then tells Matt that he is God, and he had just been killed. This is bad news for Earth because God is constantly ridding the world of unimaginable horrors from alien worlds, and without God to protect the Earth it will die.

    In order to protect the world, God gives His job to Matt. And so, with the help of his best friend Jude, a mysterious girl called Sarah, Matt’s older sister and full-time guardian Mary, and of course the incorporeal remains of God Himsef, Matt must fight against eldritch abominations from strange worlds to finish the job God Himself could not complete.

    As I said this is a series of short stories, so expect plots to be resolved within one chapter, and occasionally for an arc to last more than one chapter.

    Feedback?

  2. B. Macon 11 Mar 2010 at 10:42 am

    –I suppose it might be helpful to watch Joan of Arcadia.

    –I’d recommend fleshing out the characters’ personalities and other distinguishing traits more.

    –How are you going to keep this from being a derivative of something like Hellblazer? (Caveat: I am not well-read in this niche). Or, for that matter, any anime/manga about a teen or kid that becomes a supernatural warrior. For example, Bleach and Yu Yu Hakusho come to mind (among many many many others).

    –I’m looking forward to the first installment.

  3. Tomon 11 Mar 2010 at 1:25 pm

    -Agreed, it’s on my disturbingly big to do list.

    -I’ve thought about it and I’ll post that soon.

    -I know the teen supernatural warrior thing has been done before (I’ve read most of the TVTropes articles on it), heck I mentioned my favourite example in the first post. I think the presence of God and the associated religious overtones will serve as a ‘unique selling point’, as my Media Studies teacher called it, but I agree it is an issue. There’s not much new ground to tread in this genre, and anything I do can be accused of being derivative. Nevertheless, I think I’ve got some neat ideas that I’m eager to get written.

    -First installment coming soon!

  4. B. Macon 11 Mar 2010 at 4:09 pm

    “There’s not much new ground to tread in this genre, and anything I do can be accused of being derivative.” I think the only thing that matters is that you give enough people (probably thousands or tens of thousands) reason enough to think that this is fresher or otherwise better than what they’ve already seen.

    For example, although my series bears some faint resemblance to a buddy-cop comedy or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or a traditional superhero story, I think that I can sell a few thousand readers on it. For one thing, it’s an office comedy rather than a straight-up cop story or beat-’em-up. The competition isn’t too stiff for superhero comedy, office-based or otherwise.

    In general, I think that differentiating a story from the pack usually entails substantial variation to some combination of the following:
    –characters
    –obstacles
    –setting/scenes
    –writing style
    –reader appeal

  5. Tomon 12 Mar 2010 at 1:55 pm

    ‘There’s nothing new under the sun’ is the phrase I guess…

    Ok, character list.

    Matthew Dominics: Matt is 16 years old. He has one ambition in life- to obtain social status. He knows it’s shallow and stupid, but he wants to be part of the in-crowd, for people to like him. When God gives him his mission he soon realises there’s more to life and changes his atitude.

    El: God, The Alpha, The Omega, YHWH, whatever you want to call Him. He has existed since the beginning of the universe (after all, He created it). He wields nigh absolute power, and uses it to make sure the world doesn’t get overrun by beings from other worlds… That is until He is mysteriously killed. For the first time in His incomprehensibly long life, He is powerless. For the first time the future is uncertain. For the first time He is totally dependent on another. And He doesn’t like it. He is incorporeal, but He can interact with the characters, appear and disappear at will and be anywhere He wants to be.

    Judas Chang: Jude is Matt’s childhood best friend. They grew up together, they play video games together, they talk about everything together. Jude is a god when it comes to anything computer related, and is a disturbingly consistent well of useless information. He’s sharp, pragmatic and outgoing… at least around Matt.

    Sarah: Pronounced Sarr-ah, she has been trained from birth in various combat styles. She is a member of a secret organisation called the Cult of Zion, which exists to aid God in His true mission of defending the world. She is assigned to help Matt by the Cult once he is given his mission, and goes to live with him. Sarah is headstrong, tough and naive, and oddly Jude falls for her.

    Mary Dominics: Matt’s 20-year old sister Mary is, for all intents and purposes, Matt’s legal guardian. The reason for this is that their parents are jetsetting businesspeople who are constantly away on business trips (later it is revealed they are dark wizards using the dark arts to obtain wealth and power). Mary is a college student in name only. She lives at home, never goes to parties and spends all her time studying. In essence, the total opposite of her brother. If they didn’t both have red hair you’d hardly know they were related.

    It felt awkward writing exact words to describe their character traits. Mostly because of show don’t tell but also because I don’t want them to be set in stone. If I make Mary do something exciting I don’t want to feel like it’s inconsistent characterisation because of what I wrote here. In short, these descriptions are subject to change.

  6. Holliequon 13 Mar 2010 at 10:19 am

    If Sarah is pronounced Sarr-ah, what do you think about making it Sara? I think the pronunciation is more intuitive with that spelling.

    Also, if your story is based heavily around religion, are you sure you want to call the protagonist’s best friend Judas?

    Lastly, I think you could flesh out Matt’s personality a little more (though you sound like me – you have a clear idea of the character in your head but that doesn’t translate well to paper).

    That said, I’m looking forward to reading this. :3

  7. Holliequon 13 Mar 2010 at 10:20 am

    Ack. Wrong brackets on the italics. *headdesk* [Don’t worry, I fixed it. — BM]

  8. Lighting Manon 13 Mar 2010 at 10:59 am

    Just a few cursory notes. I agree with Holliequ about the oddness of the friend’s name. I think the name Judas has fallen almost entirely out of use as a given name within English speaking countries, it seems a bit odd and shoe-horned here. If the connotations are intentional, you could change his name to Judah without seeming quite so out of place and keep his nickname as Jude.

    I find the choice to name your group “Cult of Zion” slightly odd, and earnestly, my first thought from the friends name and that was that this was an antisemitic work. I don’t think anyone would willingly call themselves a cult, particularly one that works hand in hand with a God, as it has numerous negative connotations, most notably crack-pottery. Zion refers to Jerusalem primarily, but has strong connections with the Jewish people, as well as strong connotations with negative treatment and propaganda against Jewish people, recalling for a moment “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” a propaganda piece created by Russian antisemitic forces, that is still believed in error to be a legitimate text by some people.

    I don’t think a name is really needed for the group at this stage, if that helps. If it is just a side-plot or just a piece of her backstory, you could just create a figure within her life to identity the group with, a particular priest or monk depending on the direction you’re going in. Of course, this is just my opinion.

  9. Tomon 13 Mar 2010 at 10:59 am

    @ Hollie: Ah, good call about Sarah, who will henceforth be known as Sara.

    And Judas is deliberate. Three guesses what he does. 😉

    @ Lighting Man: Whoa, I totally overlooked that about Zion. I’m Jewish myself so I’m familiar with the word, and I thought it just sounded cool. I’ll think about the renaming.

    About Judas, I was thinking of justifying it by saying his parents had just moved to England from China when he was born and they wanted to give him an English name, and they didn’t know the connotations it had. It’s a flimsy excuse though, but to be honest the fact that his name is unusual doesn’t bother me that much. Is it that much of an issue?

  10. B. Macon 13 Mar 2010 at 11:49 am

    I’d be careful about naming him Judas because I think it would be too heavy-handed and might make the eventual betrayal too obvious. One way you might make it less obvious and somewhat retain the surprise is to use Judd as his last name. Another alternative would be calling him Jude without revealing what “Jude” is short for. Yet another alternative would be to use Bruce (ie Brutus) or Ben (Benedict) or another name faintly associated with treachery.

    Zion has real-world connotations with Judaism and Israel, but I don’t think that the word Zion would necessarily be politically incorrect. For example, The Matrix used the word “Zion” as a name for the last human city, which I think was thematically effective because they were facing extermination. I don’t think that Zion’s raves or orgies or Cornell West came off as a shot on Israelis and/or Judaism.

  11. Tomon 14 Mar 2010 at 8:59 am

    Ok, so he’s just Jude until the betrayal… I’m picturing the scene now and I think I have a way for it to work.

    As for the secret organisation… how does Order of Zion sound? Keeps the word Zion and its connotations of the ‘promised land’ or a distant but wanted goal, but loses the bad connotations from the word ‘cult’.

    Anyway, here are Matt’s powers:
    As God lay dying His divine power slowly drained away from Him, so by the time Matt arrived there was only a bit left to give to him. As a result, he’s not all-powerful, he’s not even as strong as Superman. He has total power over light. That means he can make things glow and see in the dark, but more importantly he can give light mass. In essence, he can shoot lasers.

    As an extention, he has powers that I think can be best described as the White Lantern. It’s not quite Green Lantern’s powers, because he can’t really make constructs, but he can use light in a similar way to GL. He also has advanced strength, agility and resistance.

    At some point in the forseeable future I do intend to write something by the way…

  12. B. Macon 14 Mar 2010 at 1:01 pm

    Okay. I like the name “Order of Zion,” even though it’s used by a group in real-life. If you were aiming for professional publication, I’d recommend sticking with it even though the name would probably get changed down the road. Since you’re not trying to get this published, you’ll probably have to change it yourself. Maybe something like the “Champions of Zion”?

    “In essence, he can shoot lasers.” I wonder how this would go over with publishers.
    AUTHOR: It’s like Joan of Arcadia. With LASERS.
    PUBLISHER: OMG. I haven’t been this pumped since Whedon pitched vampire-killing, with HIGH SCHOOL!

    😉

  13. Tomon 16 Mar 2010 at 9:39 am

    Hey, seven seasons and a spinoff show says it worked for Whedon. 😉

    On the subject of Zion: The Warriors of Zion? Their job is to fight monsters after all.

  14. B. Macon 16 Mar 2010 at 9:58 am

    Hmm. I think Warriors of Zion would work.

Trackback URI | Comments RSS

Leave a Reply