Monday, April 14, 2014

1st 5 Pages April Workshop - Chiang Revision 1

Name: Sylvia Chiang
Genre: Middle Grade Contemporary
Title: Cross Ups

Chapter One

Jaden hammered the buttons on his controller. “Holy crap, this guy is fast! C’mon Kaigo…”

Kaigo was Jaden’s main when he played Cross Ups IV. He was the dragon-cross so he had the most awesome projectile of all the characters: instead of throwing fireballs, he breathed them. How cool was that?

Of course, it was only cool when the fireballs actually hit their target. On screen Kaigo whiffed three combos in a row when his opponent managed to jump out of range.

“Aw, dude, you almost had him,” his friend Hugh called from the couch.

“Not really.” Devesh chuckled, then added, “No offence, Jaden. But this Knight Rage guy is good.”

The three boys were in Jaden’s living room. Like most of their gaming sessions they had started out playing each other and ended up watching Jaden battle random people on-line. No one had beaten Jaden in four months. But then he had never played Knight Rage before.

“Who is this guy, anyways?” Devesh asked.

“I see him on-line all the time,” Hugh said.

“You ever play him?”

“No way. You know I refuse to play anyone who uses Blaze.”

“You mean you’re scared to play Blaze.”


“Would you guys shut up? I’m trying to concentrate here.”

WHAM! The screen flashed a burst of gold and Blaze transformed into a phoenix, flapping huge golden wings that sent shock waves into Kaigo.

“Holy crap! How’d he hit me with that atomizer combo? I was blocking!”

As soon as he was out of hitstun, Jaden played Kaigo’s dragon fire special.

“What the?” Jaden dropped the combo when Blaze, disappeared briefly and reappeared attacking behind Kaigo.

“How’d he do that cross up? Can Blaze teleport?”

Kaigo breathed a fireball in his opponent’s face. Blaze jumped out of range and threw another atomizer.

“Aaahhh! I can’t get any moves in.”

Jaden pushed the back button to block the next string of atomizers, but Kaigo took the punishment from the phoenix wings anyways.

“Why isn’t my block working?”

“Your health meter is critical. You’re going to die from chip damage at this rate.”

“Thanks for your support, Devesh.”

“But hey, your super meter’s full,” Hugh cheered.

“You’d better make something happen soon.”

Jaden worked his controller, trying for Kaigo’s biggest super. “Come on…”

Panic made him do something he hadn’t done in ages – a total button mash.

Miraculously, Kaigo transformed into his dragon side and a grey cloud of smoke swirled like a tornado across the screen through his opponent. Jaden watched in shock as Blaze crumpled and his health meter dove. Now both opponents were one hit from defeat.

Jaden immediately played his bread and butter combo: two crouching light punches back to back, followed by dragon breath.


“Whaaaaaaat!?!” Behind Jaden, his friends screamed and jumped up from the leather couch.

Devesh pointed to the TV on the wall. “No way! You did not just do that!”

Hugh sprawled his hefty form onto the carpet at Jaden’s feet, bowing and chanting, “You are the master.”

Jaden remained frozen on the couch, mouth open, eyebrows raised. His straight black hair fell over his left eye. “Am I dreaming?” he asked softly, letting the controller drop to the floor. “No, seriously, am I asleep? Someone hit me now.”

Devesh and Hugh piled on top of their friend, pummelling him with good-natured jabs.

“I’ve never seen that super,” Hugh said, settling his glasses back in place.

“That’s because I’ve only ever hit it one time. The timing is crazy hard.”

“We’ve got to start streaming your battles. That was Godlike!” Devesh helped Jaden up off the carpet. Then his phone binged and he pulled it out of his pocket. “I gotta go. I was supposed to meet my dad 10 minutes ago. He just texted me from the car in all caps.” He grabbed his bag and sweater and walked backwards out of the living room.

“Hold up, I gotta go too, dude. Think your dad will give me a ride?” Hugh grabbed his things and ran after Devesh, breathing hard by the time he got to the end of the hall.

“You live on the other side of town. Why you always asking me for a ride? Train your parents better.” Their voices trailed off until the door slammed shut behind them.

Jaden sat staring in disbelief at the TV screen, his arm muscles twitching as if he had physically done battle. On the screen, Kaigo’s muscles rippled through his black kung-fu uniform as he celebrated with fist pumps. His win quote at the bottom of the screen read, “You need more confidence to beat me.”

It was 6:27. Jaden was cutting it close still having the game on. His thumb was descending on the power button when a message popped up on the screen.


Players didn’t usually message after a fight, unless they were friends. Jaden hesitated then wrote back: THNX

Within seconds another message: CAN U D0 1T AGA1N?

Could he? He had no idea how he’d pulled off that final move. But there was no way he was going to admit that. He typed: ANY TIME

BATTL3 @ T0P T13RS 1N 2 W33KS?

Jaden hesitated, his thumbs rapidly tapping the controller. A real gaming tournament? He often watched footage of his favourite gamer, Yuudai Sato, playing at big events like the EVO Championship Series, but he’d never thought about actually going. It wasn’t an option.

He wrote back: NO THNX

Y N0T? W3’LL WA1V3 UR F33.

Jaden’s curiosity battled with the ticking clock. 6:30. His parents could be pulling into the driveway. Quickly he typed: WHO RU?

The answer seemed to take forever. When it finally came, it raised more questions than answers. JUST R3G1ST3R - SAY KN1GHT RAG3 S3NT U.

A key turned in the lock. Jaden went into his shut down routine, quickly powering off the TV and game console and sliding the controller under the cushion next to him. He flipped open his math book and tried to act bored, hoping his parents wouldn’t notice his shaking hands.

Knight Rage’s question pulsed in his mind.

Why not?

Chapter Two

Mr. Efram wrote on the blackboard at the start of math class: The Problem of the Day.

“Yeah,” Jaden whispered to Devesh and Hugh, “You have two parents who refuse to let you play any violent games, and one invitation to a way cool video game tournament. What do you do?”

The three boys formed a group as they had done daily since meeting each other in math on their first day at Layton Senior Public School.

“You have to go,” Devesh whispered back. “You can’t back out of a challenge. You think Yuudai Sato would back out of a challenge? If you want to be the best, you have to show everyone you can bring it.”

“Yeah, maybe if I build a time machine and skip ahead eight months to my thirteenth birthday,” Jaden dropped his head to his desk in despair. “I looked up the tournament on-line. Since Cross Ups IV is 13A, I’d need my parents to sign a consent form. That’s not going to happen.”

Mr. Efram finished writing on the board, ran his hand over his bald spot, and turned to the class. Like every day he pointed with his thumb to the poster of the Justice League on the wall showing the problem solving steps. “Remember - be a user of USAR. Understand, Strategize, Attack and Reflect.”

The problem of the day was: A wizard has counted…


  1. Hi Sylvia,

    This is a really fantastic revision. I love how you begin now, integrating the elements of the game with his interaction with his friends. It's much more effective and puts the focus on your main character and his friends as opposed to the intricacies of the videogame. Nice work.

    I wonder about the "how cool is that?" It kind of threw me and didn't feel like who I thought your main character was. I’d rather him say "awesome." And you'd put it in italics.

    I'm not sure the wording of the next paragraph works. I feel like you need a “but”. “…whiffed three combos in a row but his opponent somehow managed to jump out of range.”

    I wonder if it would be a bit more natural if you said "Hugh, one of his two best friends,". Something about the way you have it reads a bit awkwardly. Then you could go into the next dialogue with the other boy by starting his name: “Next to Hugh, best friend number two, Devesh, chuckled.”

    I really like the next paragraph that shows us Jaden’s skill by saying he plays his friends and then moves on because he’s so good. Nicely done.

    But then you need to be much more careful about how you use dialogue. When you have a scene with three people we need to be clear who is speaking. You either need to put a dialogue beat before the line or use the name somehow before the line. Your interaction here is confusing because we don't know who's speaking. Be careful with that.

    What is “hitsun”? Also I like how you explain chip damage so smoothly with health meter in same line but you need to do the same with “super meter.”

    I love the question that gets thrown out there of if Blaze can teleport. It was a great way to integrate what's happening in the game into the scene without feeling heavy handed.

    I think you would increase the tension if you say that Jaden actually hears his parents pulling into the driveway as opposed to wondering if they are. And that works better with him hearing the key turn in the lock as well.

    In terms of the texting talk it starts out really well and you do a better job of doing it in a way that doesn't lose us however then at the end I'm lost again. A little of this goes a long way and I really would consider taking it out once it becomes too intricate.

    Otherwise I think this is really fantastic and with one more round you'll be in a great place. You no longer lose non-gamer me and have me hooked to read!! Wonderful job!

  2. Hi Sylvia!

    Firstly I want to apologize. Somehow I missed the email with this information for last week. I have, however, gone back a read your first draft. So I'll just begin with the draft you have here. I'll comment as a read.

    It's obvious you took the advice of others last week and worked hard to better ground the reader in the story. Much, much better.

    Minor tick: be careful with letting dialog fly freely when there's more than two characters involved. There were a few areas where I was unsure exactly who was talking. I can probably guess, but most MG readers won't do that. You don't always have to use a 'said' or ' asked' dialog tag. Mix it up with brief gestures or movements. But don't overdo those.

    I also think a little, just a snippet, of info is needed when it comes to Blaze. At first, I wasn't sure if it was another character or a feature of the video game, etc... It would probably only take an extra sentence to clear it up.

    Now, I have boys, and I have to say you've captured the 'boy' voice and mentally wonderfully. I really, really enjoyed that part. At times, I felt like I was listening to two of my boys and a friend. Nice!

    Ooh, I just figured out what confused me about Blaze. Initially you use "...anyone who uses Blaze..." Then, in the next line you use "...scared to play Blaze..." This almost gives Blaze a personification. I think just a little rewording and you'd be good. I also noticed that below that you use the word 'play', which clears a lot of confusion up. So I'd use 'play' on insinuate that whenever talking about the game. Consistency with that (or whatever you chose to use), will go a long way to keeping the read clean and clear.

    I like the problem you've presented the boys with at the end - beginning of chapter two. It will be interesting to see where it leads them.

  3. This is a fun read! Great job making it clear Jaden is playing a game right from the start. I love the banter between the boys, and while I’m still no gamer, I understood what was going on and imagine kids who play games will get right into it.

    I think you need dialogue tags after Hugh speaks, only because I’m not sure who’s speaking, and it slows the pace when I have to try to figure it out.

    Nitpick line edit things just to help polish this: you could put a comma after “But then, he had never . . .”; you could take out the “up” from jumped up, only because up is implied with jumping. With the action tag of “Jaden dropped his head . . . ,” you need a period, not a comma with the dialogue. And you could add a comma after “Like every day,”

    All the best with it!

  4. Hi Sylvia,

    Much easier for me to follow this time around! I like how you introduced the boys-and their banter- earlier. I also thought you showed why Jaden's win-and their reaction to it- was such an unique event much more clearly.

    A couple of suggestions: you mention they've never played Knight Rage twice. Once in backstory and then in dialogue. I'd cut one out. Blaze also confused me and I think it's because he's treated as his own entity in some lines. For instance, in my notes I took while reading this, I wrote "is Blaze a main?" The more I read, I got that he was, but perhaps something as simple as Blaze, Knight Rage's main

    1. Grrr... Those last four words are supposed to be in quotations but it froze on me...

      Would clarify. Especially since you clarified who Kiago was to Jaden. Other thoughts I had, Does it matter what Blaze was before he transformed into a Phoenix? For that matter, what Kiago was before he went into dragon-mode? Or are they people avatars? Sorry, I've never played video games before so this may be obvious to your intended audience.

    2. Is on-line supposed to be hyphenated or is it like email where it's accepted both ways? (Though I do think

    3. Ah!!! Autocorrect is Soo messing me up this morning!!

    4. Intended audience may be more accustomed to seeing.

      I also agree with Ms. Lori on increasing the tension with the countdown of his parents coming home. I thought you explained why he had to hide it from them smoothly. Very nice.

      I'm eager to see how their class lesson correlates to their gaming/ quandary of what to do about the battle.

      You're doing an awesome job!