Sunday, March 12, 2017

1st 5 Pages March Workshop- Park Rev 1

Name: Silvia Park
Genre: MG Sci-Fi


It’s 2112, the Year of the Monkey. Fun fact: I was created on a monkey year, which makes me twelve. Problem is, I’ve been twelve years old my whole life and it’s a lot suckier than it sounds.

I asked Grandpa if he could make me a friend and he said no (ouch). He said it’s “frowned upon,” so in the history of Xia and the rest of China, no child robot has ever been made.

Except me.


Today was Grandpa’s big day. 342 humans were crammed on the white steps of the Xia Museum of Robotics for the Grand Opening. As the new Museum Director, Grandpa bounced anxiously on the stage behind the red ribbon. The Mayor was supposed to arrive at 10 for the ribbon-cutting.

It was 10:15.

I was in position, of course. Equipped in full armor, gold and handsome under Xia’s cheerfully frying sun. I stood on the roof where I could scan everyone with my optics system, in case of bad guys, the usual. The sky was cloud-free blue, but it’s like that all year in Xia, China’s southmost island.

Mo-B the sperm whale soared over the museum, like a giant white blimp, crooning hello. He’s part of the Whale Way, our flying train service and Xia’s #2 tourist attraction. I waved at the people in Mo-B’s belly, who waved back.

Today was going to be amazing.

“I’m frying,” Jun said, his voice crackling inside my helmet. That’s my older brother down there, that big, buff guy in the police uniform, with the undercut and crow tattoo on his neck. Yeah, the guy who started stripping in public. “How hot is it, Yoyo? Be straight with me.”

“Dude, it’s not that—oh wow, it’s 36°C. Okay.”

“Get your monkey butt down here.”

“I can’t. I’m in full armor.”

“Then de-armor yourself.”

I groaned. When I was first made, Jun was only ten, which automatically made me boss. But like all humans, Jun grew up. He’s almost twenty-three, so now he’s boss. And ever since he joined the Robot Control Squad (RCS, though Jun calls them the Ricks), he’s gone from Cool Bro to Crabby Bro to Perpetual Pebble in My Cogs.

I jumped off the roof like a majestic eagle, swooped into a palm tree, and dropped a coconut on a reporter.



The reporter squinted around, rubbing his steel head. I waited 27 seconds for him to pass. Everyone knows the Golden Giant, but no one knows Yoyo. If anyone found out Golden Giant = Yoyo, I wouldn’t just be dead.

I’d be recycled.

I slid down the bumpy trunk, straight into a thicket of large purple flowers. Ta-da. I may be big and gold, but I can be stealthy too. Like a big, gold ninja.

Once I was safely hidden, I removed my armor. Don’t worry, nothing PG-13. The helmet went first: visor lifted, antennas retracted, the helmet folded into the back of my skull. My golden plates flipped inside-out. Shoulder guards. Chest plate (Jun likes to say ‘breast’). Gauntlets. Two meters of me, compressed into 1.56 meters of me. The real me. I’m compact.

I whistled as I skipped up the museum steps past the coconut reporter. He probably thought I was human. Most people make that mistake. Even robots.

Grandpa says it’s because I look so “realistic.” My creator modeled me after someone, so I inherited all the original’s scrawniness and freckliness, and staticky black hair, like I was struck by lightning.

A barricade of policeBots blocked the way to the top. I flashed the policeBots my RCS badge, hidden under my yellow shirt. They grunted in unison and opened a small path. The whole museum was under “M” alert, which stands for Phantom M, the world’s worst criminal, enemy of all robots. Guy’s got a wicked fashion sense, though.

I found Grandpa pacing behind the stage, probably calling someone about the Mayor. He was punching his palm a lot. As one of China’s most famous roboticists, Grandpa was top choice for Museum Director. People call him the Father of Zoobotics because he likes to build giraffes, emperor penguins, and anything else that went extinct in the last hundred years. He’s not so great with humans.

To be honest, I was also pretty worried. I know Mayor Yu and he is never, ever late.

I saluted Jun, who’d stripped down to a black sleeveless shirt and rolled-up trousers, showing off the surgery scars on his neck and shoulders. “What seems to be the problem?”

Jun tossed me his Scopes. “Could you lend me your tail?”

“You called me all the way here to charge your battery?”

“I’m on Level 68 in Evil Cupcakes. Don’t leave me stranded in Marshmallow Mountains, soldier.”

I sighed, “Yessir.” I checked to see if the coast was clear, then pulled out my brass tail. Extractable, stored in my spine, with a socket at the tip. Most robots have standard black cords for connecting and charging and stuff, but mine is a prehensile tail, which is a fancy way of saying “my tail can open the fridge and zap bad guys.”

I plugged myself into Jun’s Scopes, which look like aviator sunglasses, very classy. Mine are embedded in my helmet’s visor. Grandpa upgraded my AR (Augmented Reality) screen last week, so I can watch a movie while I’m flying! Isn’t that cool?

Technology is the best.

Jun’s Scopes lit up. “Di says she’s coming,” I read aloud her message, “‘right after my boss drops dead.’”

Di’s our sister. She works for a company called Imaginary Friends Inc., known for making “devastatingly beautiful” robots, whatever that means. Her dream is to make the perfect boyfriend. She calls it Operation Mr. Darcy.

“Tell her to get bubble tea,” Jun said. “I want taro.”

I whistled while I texted about the bubble tea and asked Di to get Jun peppermint. My tail gave a twitch. I unplugged myself from Jun’s Scopes. “100% charged, free of charge.”

Jun ruffled my hair, which used to annoy me because it felt like he was rubbing it in, like, “Haha! Look how much I’ve grown!”

I’m okay with it now.

I watched Jun kill a couple more cupcakes on his Scopes’ AR screen, then checked the time. 10:28. Still no sign of the Mayor. 

“So.” I cleared the static from my throat. “Is the Mayor coming?”

“I wouldn’t bet on it,” Jun said, tongue between his teeth, as he blasted a Red Velvet to crumbs.

“Did something happen?” I waited for an answer. Nothing. “Is it,” I lowered my voice, “Phantom M?”

“Ha, I wish.”


“Dude, the Mayor’s a robot-hater. Total nutso. No idea how he got elected. Chief Wang said he wants to scrap the whole Superhero Initiative by June.”


“Booyah! Level 69. Eat that, no, I’m eating you!”

I poked Jun repeatedly with my tail because I was kind of going Code Red here. “What do you mean he’s scrapping the Superhero Initiative?”

“Right, I forgot to tell you.” Jun put his hand on my shoulder. “Bad news, Yoyo. The Mayor’s getting rid of you.”


“I’m fired?”

“Kind of,” Jun said. “The Mayor wants you canned. Literally. He wants you recycled into a tin can.”

“I’m made of prolixium!”

“You’ll be an indestructible tin can,” Jun said, trying really hard not to laugh.

I couldn’t believe it. I’d served Xia for three years. That’s 1,096 days, including the leap year!


  1. Nice job on the edits!

    You probably won't want to hear this, but I would cut anything in the first part that tells us it's a robot. You have so much great writing that already shows us in the rest of the text, and it's a lot more fun to figure it out that way rather than the tell. Also, I would get rid of the chapter break and make this all the first chapter. Just use your gems in the first paragraph.

    It’s 2112, the Year of the Monkey. Fun fact: I was created on a monkey year, which makes me twelve. I’ve been twelve years old my whole life and it’s a lot suckier than it sounds. I asked Grandpa if he could make me a friend and he said no (ouch). He said it’s “frowned upon.”

    Then a transition. But today wasn't about me . . .
    You will do it better in the robot's voice but telling us so much takes a lot of the fun out of it for the reader and this will also speed things up.

    I don't know why, but it always throws me when Yoyo talks about having a skull. I associate that with humans and that robots have ?? something else. But I never thought about what. It's not a problem necessarily. It just surprises me. But also makes Yoyo feel more human, so that's probably a good thing.

    I'm struggling to find anything else to criticize. Your writing is very good.

    1. Hi Heather,

      Thanks for your comments! That's a really interesting suggestion re: cutting the last bit about the robot and combining the two scenes. I usually err on the side of withholding too much information and confusing readers, and as the author, it's pretty difficult to balance.

      I'm also curious what others might think about hiding Yoyo's robot identity in the beginning. Thoughts?

  2. Hi Silvia. I liked the first version and this is now even better. I really like the "Except me." right at the start. It sets up the whole picture of Yoyo being extremely unique.

    I think Jun's character is fuller than in the first version. We can't quite tell yet if he is indifferent to Yoyo, or if he really loves him and is messing with him the way siblings do. But I am leaning toward the latter. "Ruffling his hair" is a nice indicator of an emotional connection. You don't reach out and touch someone (something) you don't care for.

    I never had a problem with the reported getting hit with the coconut. I loved it before. Right away there is a suspension of disbeleif with a kid-monkey-robot and a lot of comedy. Coconuts hitting someone on the head is funny. The now added: " I waited for 27 seconds for him to pass" confused me. Is he waiting to see if the reporter is ok? It may be the word 'pass' which can mean die,so I'm not sure about that line.

    One other thing I'm unsure of is the part about "if people knew he was the golden giant he would be recycled" Seems people like the golden giant. And Yoyo is passable as human ( or is that it?? No one knows he's not human? But the mayor does.. So this is why I find that statement either misleading or perhaps it needs clarification. Why would everyone want to get rid of him?

    I like that Yoyo was "modeled" on a real person. It opens up a potentially deep story line, or as a throw away statement it still has value and contributes to both the character of Yoyo and his grandfather.

    If the "M" of Phantom M stands for something, you may want to include it here. But I'm ok with just "M" for now.

    The last thing I have is about Yoyo's size. This stuck out for me a bit in the first version but now with the rest of the beginning being even stronger, this stands out. He is the Golden Giant, but at 2m, is just about 6ft tall (not that tall). And then I am figuring Yoyo is at 1.56m , so shorter than the armor, but the "I'm compact" bit is still throwing me. The giant armor is less than a foot taller than Yoyo. I guess I see it like Tony Stark's Ironman armor, which is really just a little bigger than he is. Some other exo-armor and mech suits can be 2x or more the height of the operator, so this is what I am thinking about the golden giant. He is more like 3m tall?? and then little Yoyo pops out if him.

    Or if there is a reason that you have worked out why these proportions make sense, then perhaps something else here to emphasize the size distinction.

    This is the beginning of a story I know I (and my kids) would enjoy. (I have three boys spanning grades K-6)


    1. Aw, Patrick, thank you! It made me smile to hear that you and your sons would enjoy it. You guys are definitely my target readers, father and all ;)

      These are some really good points. I was nervous that people would be confused about the whole "can't see me (Yoyo) in public" thing and yep, instincts confirmed.

      The armor suit's also an excellent point. I wanted a size that was significantly bigger than a kid, but still not so big the armor might be able to compress into a kid-sized robot. I can definitely see how it'd be hard to visualize, especially in written format.

      Thanks again for your comments! I'm glad to hear you're enjoying YOYO so far!


  3. Hi Sylvia,
    I think I'll love the action and the character whether I know he's a robot or not. It might be worth trying it both ways. It may also depend on what's coming up in the plot. I'd ask myself how important revealing or withholding the information may be to the actual storyline.

    I will list a few questions that come up for me as a reader, not with the idea that these questions have to have answers

    1. I, along with Yoyo, wonder why the mayor is late. We learn that the mayor doesn't like robots, a contrast with Grandpa who is all about robots. Grandpa is impatient for the mayor to come. Why? Just because he wants the ceremony to start? Yoyo perhaps because his job is to stand guard suspects the hold-up may be due to Phantom M., but Jun says no and mentions that Mayor Yu is scrapping the initiative - which makes it seem that that may be the reason he’s late when he’s never late...Is that what you want me to think?

    2. I’m thinking Grandpa is Yoyo’s maker, but then you mention that the creator made Yoyo to resemble an actual is the creator Grandpa or someone else? Is “he’s not so great with humans” saying something about Yoyo’s qualities or the quirks of making child robots? Or are you telling the reader that Grandpa doesn’t relate as well with humans and prefers the company of robots?

    3. In this version the reporter has a steel head. Is he a robot? Is he wearing a helmet?

    4. Yoyo goes up the museum stairs; is the stage inside or outside? Somehow I imagined it as outside when I read the first draft because I thought I was seeing from up high what Yoyo was seeing.

    5. I wonder why you tell me know about Phantom M’s fashion sense.

    6. I wonder what in particular Yoyo anticipates that will be “amazing” and I wonder if there’s a way to weave in a few details about this positive anticipation. I get the worry and the frustration folks are feeling about waiting but know little about the event yet.

    Hope you find some of this helpful. None of these questions would keep me from reading on; in fact, they make me even more curious to know what happens!


  4. Hi Silvia

    Well done on incorporating the revisions so smoothly into your pages.

    I don't have any 'big picture' feedback to give. Although as a reader I'm impatient to know about Phantom M and why the mayor is late, you keep me entertained enough and the pace if fast enough that I feel we'll find out soon enough.

    A few smaller details: can Yoyo die? he speaks of being recycled as worse than being dead. But would he think in terms of death, or perhaps being decommissioned, or switched off, put in stasis...?

    I'm also having trouble with the mental image of his physical appearance. So, the golden suit folds away - but did that mean that there was a helmet (and antennae) that were 44cm higher than the top of his head? The image is confusing. Also, I don't think of 1.56m as 'compact' for a 12-year-old boy, especially not an Asian boy. I would imagine that is taller than average. You do speak of him being 'scrawny' elsewhere.

    But really, these are minor quibbles. It's a great read. Lots of fun.

    best regards

  5. Hi Silvia!

    YoYo has made me giggle again. Seriously, there's something about the way you've created the personality of this character that just resonates mischief and fun.

    My only concern is at the parts going up into the Museum feels this time has a bit more exposition. I dont remember Phantom M being mentioned in the first, and honestly fees just pushed in there. One thing I love to see is characters interacting. If he's such a big bad dude, maybe have YoYo check in with the cops? Of course avoiding asking questions they would know but a status update, a check in, something that shows there is an air of danger. This creates another layer of tension next to the Mayor being missing.

    I look forward to the last revision!

  6. Hi Silvia-

    I really like the changes that you made here. I felt like I understood the world and the stakes SO much better than I did in the last version. The voice is still there, but now I don't think it gets in the way of the reader understanding the scene.

    I'm pondering Heather's suggestion to cut out the issue of him being a robot, and my initial instinct was no--that it's great knowing it up front...but then...if you could withhold it for as long as possible, and maybe reveal it before the charging tail but right around when you first mention people NOT liking robots, it might be a nice hook.

    I don't have a whole lot to say, but if you're looking for somewhere to revise, the question that I have is about his relationship with Grandpa-- why not father? Does everyone call the guy grandpa? And I wonder what his relationship with him is--fondness? loyalty? Something else? If you could subtly layer that in--maybe when he sees grandpa bouncing (which, honestly, seems almost too young) so that we get a sense of how he *feels* about the guy who made him--or do robots not feel?

    Overall, really great revision here. The changes are subtle, but I feel like the ones you've made really nailed the problems I was having before! :O)

  7. Silvia,
    Good job on the edits.

    I do agree that for me the first part is too short and it would work better for me if you combined the first scene with the second and made it part of the first chapter.

    You set the world, but I still don’t get a clear vision description of the world. You have our main character looking down at the world which would give you a good chance to put in a couple sentences telling us what it looks like. All I know for sure is there are coconuts. I think for me I still would like a bit more description in the story to flesh out some of the things going on.