Sunday, February 9, 2020

1st 5 Pages Feb Workshop - Adebayo Rev 1

Name: Jide Adebayo
Genre: Young Adult Science Fantasy
Title: Chrome & Steele: Paradiso Trials

Steele heard the crack before he felt the pain. The agony rivaled that of when he first arrived to this new world several days ago, at least from what he could remember. But he had no time to focus on the drawbacks of his new power. He needed to escape. Dwelling on broken bones would come later. He got back up and darted across the open valley becoming lighter with each stride-sprinting, dashing, and then eventually, gliding. The second sun was setting, which was a good sign that he had made headway distancing himself from Ruby and the cave in which she'd held him hostage. He felt relieved to be running on soft, even ground considering the burning river had charred the soles of his shoes after jumping across. He'd taken the risk of drowning in fire to elude Ruby and it worked. Well, mostly worked. His broken arm from sticking such a poor landing suggested otherwise. When he could no longer see the cave or the burning river, he stopped to catch his breath and collect his thoughts.


"A thief," that is what she had called him. How could he, of all people, be a thief? He'd woken up, chained to a rock with nothing visible but shadows that danced on the cave walls with each passing sun. His only visitor was Ruby, and she was crazy. No one steals from crazy. She had tortured and watched him heal repeatedly despite his pleas choked with confusion. But something else bothered Steele. From the moment he opened his eyes, he knew this wasn't his world. With no memory of where he'd come from or how he got stuck with such a bad hand, he couldn't explain how, but he knew. He needed to find answers to why he couldn't remember but where to start? Ruby never revealed much about this world, only her name and the fact that he could look forward to a long and excruciating afterlife. Everything felt foreign to him, the air, the land, even his own body. He remembered thrashing against the rock for hours with no avail and how hard his hair felt as his dreads hung and brushed past his lips, the metallic taste full in his mouth. Metal hair? He must have been hardheaded in his prior life. He coughed up a cracked laugh, and despite the pain that coursed through his arm, it warmed him to be able to smile again. It was the only thing that felt natural.


The terrain shifted and cracked, shaking the amusement out of Steele. The ground beneath his feet churned and grumbled, morphing the valley into staggered cliffs. Was this his power? No, this felt different. This felt like someone else. He tried to move but then sensed his body growing heavy. Not now he pleaded. It was becoming more difficult to ignore his growing yet inconsistent authority over gravity. The cliff tilted, and Steele slipped. With his increase in weight, he descended at an alarming speed and saw a figure at the bottom of the slope. Ruby? No, the person looked completely different, a grizzly and disheveled man.


Before Steele could come up with a decent strategy, his face met the earth. Dust and rock flew up as Steele dented the ground. Great, that's two broken arms. Pinned under the weight of his own gravitational power, Steele laid at the strange man's feet. He tilted his head up slowly, getting a much better look at the guy from toe to head. The man was monstrous up close. He towered over Steele at least by six or seven feet and everything bulged out: arms, thighs, and head. He wore a shirt that hugged his frame a little too friendly around his protruding stomach. He was a few shades darker than Steele, and bald as a rock.


"Nice hair," the man said. "Most kid deities only bow as a sign of respect; you don't have to go so far as to lay your life down." He let out a belching laugh and then lifted Steele by his broken arm, the first one. The pain nearly knocked Steele out, but fear filled him with a much heavier realization. He'd been caught. Should he fight or surrender peacefully? After all, no one really made it clear as to whether he could die twice.

"Here, lemme fix those for ya."


The man put Steele down and rearranged both arms back into place. The pain went away almost as quickly as it came. He crouched down to Steele's level, bringing them eye to eye.


"What do they call you young fella?" His gaze was full and friendly, catching Steele off guard. It dawned on him that this was the only person he'd met on this strange world outside of Ruby. After a long silence, the odd and hefty man continued, "You must be a shy fella huh? You remind me a lot of my son when he was your age, suspicious but with eyes that suggests you're a good kid. Oh, and sorry about reforming valley into cliffs. Didn't know anyone was up there. Didn't mean to catch you," he gave a long and dramatic pause. "slipping." The big guy laughed again.


So, it was him who tore up the valley, Steele thought. He has powers too? The thought put Steele at ease a bit. The muscle man didn't seem all that bad and if he played his cards right, maybe Steele could fish some answers out of the cheerful giant. Anything that would explain how in the world Steele got here in the first place and where he might have come from.


"Well, my name is Sumo, Sumo Bronze. Nice to meet'cha."


The big guy extended his hand for a proper greeting. So far, this Sumo guy had treated him much better compared to the crazy lady in the cave, but uncertainty still gripped Steele. His voice cracked as he spoke, "my name is Steele, Steele Locs."


He reached out to shake Sumo's hand, but Sumo embraced him with outstretched arms instead. He was quick for a big guy. Steele resisted in reflex; the shock of contact reminding his body that it had been tortured by the last person who'd gotten this close to him. But Sumo had a gentle touch about him. The hug felt genuine, warm with compassion. Steele felt his limbs go weak from comfort. He pressed his fingers against his eyelids to hold back the tears. Sumo hadn't noticed. Instead, he laughed as he continued to embrace Steele.


"What a fitting name for you, young fella." He ruffled Steele's dreads a bit before putting him back down. "Sorry for the abrupt hug but you look like you needed it. Now, do you mind telling me who or what you're running from?"


Steele debated telling Sumo, about Ruby, but he couldn't take the risk. "I was just practicing my stride," he lied.


Sumo frowned. "A child in danger is worth saving, but a child that lies only draws suspicion. Don't worry. I won't push the subject. It's not my place."


He folded his arms across his chest and his muscles pulsed as he tapped his fingers on his bicep. "I do have one question that you should probably answer honestly," Sumo continued. "You sure did hit the ground a lot harder than I'd expect for a kid your size. You also seem rather new to Chrysos as well. But you didn't come from one of the transmutation circles, did you?"

17 comments:

  1. Aright, Jide! Let's do this!

    Very much enjoying learning more about Steele Locs, and you did an excellent job in this revision of dropping hints and clues without letting it ever turn into a big info-dump. The opening paragraph is much stronger and clearer now (I actually was confused in your first draft as to whether the "crack before the pain" came from a magical spell, the crack of a whip as he fled Ruby, or one of his bones breaking. Now it's absolutely clear it's his arm breaking from a poor landing).

    I'm still not sure why thinks that "he, of all people" couldn't be a thief -- especially considering that he apparently doesn't remember anything about himself. How is he so sure he ISN'T Ruby's thief? I guess it's important for your reader to know exactly what Steele does and doesn't remember. He remembers his name! Does he remember who he is, who his family is? How does he know Chrysos isn't his own world if he doesn't remember where he came from?

    You did a nice job of describing his surroundings (and his physical appearance) for us early on, and it make everything easier to picture for me. You also slowed up a bit on the interaction between Sumo and Steele, which gave us time to get to understand the big guy better. I especially liked "you remind me a lot of my son when he was your age..." Gives us some perspective on his warmth towards Steele. I also liked that Sumo's sudden hug had a definite effect this time on Steele ("pressed his fingers against eyelids to hold back the tears"). But I think the line, "Sorry for the abrupt hug" is a little too on the nose. Maybe something like, "I don't know if you're a hugger, but you looked like you needed one" or even just "You looked like you could use a hug."

    One thing I liked better in the first draft was Sumo's questioning of Steele about his heavier-than-natural landing, and Steele's hesitation ("He didn’t fully understand his developing abilities himself; how could he explain it to someone else? If he revealed his powers, would Sumo make the same accusations that Ruby made?"). It added to the sense that Steele has no idea what's happening to him or why, and has to be a bit cautious in what he reveals.

    I think there are a lot of places you could cut unnecessary words and save space to tell more of the story! A few examples: "The agony rivaled that of when he first arrived to this new world several days ago, at least from what he could remember" (take out "at least from what he could remember"). "The terrain shifted and cracked, shaking the amusement out of Steele" could just be "The terrain shifted and cracked, shaking off his amusement." And you could probably trim off "the muscle man didn't seem all that bad" and just leave the sentence "if he played his cards right, maybe he could fish some answers out of the cheerful giant." Little fixes like this throughout would tighten up your narrative and leave us more room to get further into Steele's story in these first five.

    Enjoying reading this and looking forward to your pitch next week!
    S

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    1. S.A. Appreciate the succinct feedback with pinpoint suggestions. Your feedback really helped a lot the first time and you just keep the magic coming! Stay tuned. And thanks again.

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  3. Hi Jide,

    I STILL love your first line. But the mention of the drawbacks of his power doesn’t seem to fit inside this paragraph at this moment in time. You just plop that out there without any description of what this means. With the extra mention of Ruby and that she was holding him captive in a cave, I do think your revised first paragraph flows much better. Then your ending words flows into the next paragraph and works really well.

    Love the metal dreads.

    And I like the new information you provide about Steel wondering how he arrived in this world and what it could mean. I’m not sure however on what you mean by “How could he, of all people, be a thief?” You don’t add more to this thought, so you lost me here. Easy fix though. Either add a bit more or cut it or ignore me, LOL. Great last line in this paragraph. His smile made him feel good. Love it.

    So does he have two powers? Healing bones and defying gravity? I feel this would be nice to know, instead of hints, but see if anyone else thinks this. And then I see SA said she loved the hints, instead of an info dump. Perhaps you can meet us in the middle?

    In the paragraph where Sumo talks about his son, at the end, I don’t know why the word “slipping” is added in. But I was glad to learn of the new information you added that Sumo had changed the land and that’s why Steele fell. Good to learn that other people also have powers and Steele thinks this too.

    I like the new additions of descriptions of Steel and Sumo. I can picture them better. Even crazy Ruby is better defined in this revision. Great job here.

    Becky

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    1. Thanks Becky! I'm glad some of the quirkiness of the story is appealing to you. Like I said to S.A., I appreciate the very specific examples tied to your feedback and I will try to improve the clarity while striking the balance between info and story questions.

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  4. The first paragraph is much stronger in this revision! I love how we know it’s been a few days on the planet, that he has a new power, and that he’s running from Ruby. It gives us a lot of information without being an info-dump. I do think this sentence “Dwelling on broken bones would come later.” can be deleted. It’s a little extraneous and pulls me from the quick pace.

    I’d change the formatting of this line: "A thief," that is what she had called him.
    Make it: “A thief.” That (with the capital That and period in the quotes), OR, my personal favorite would be to do away with the quotes and put "A thief." in italics since the thief part itself is a memory and not actual dialogue being spoken at that moment, I like it in italics better.

    The second paragraph gives us a great recap and explanation without being too long, in my opinion. I would consider breaking it into a couple paragraphs though. The line “How could he, of all people, be a thief” feels out of place because he has no memories, so he technically has no idea if he could be a thief or not. I like the idea of maybe changing it to “How could he be a thief? He had nothing on him.”

    “It was the only thing that felt natural.” is such a great line. It really orients the reader into this strange new world Steele has found himself in, and how he’s just as confused as we are.

    Sumo calls him a “kid deity” and Steele doesn’t acknowledge or think about it. Does he know he’s a god? Does this confuse, scare, thrill him? Or does he think he can’t possibly be a god and that this Sumo guy just must be mistaken?

    I love the revised meeting of Sumo. It feels more natural now, that Sumo stumbled upon him and is friendly and assessing him out without being toooo friendly at first. One thought – when Sumo “rearranges” his arms back into place and the pain goes away instantly – is that Sumo using powers to heal him? I would guess so, but it doesn’t explicitly say. I almost wonder if all Steele needs is to arrange his bones just right and his own power heals them?

    The redundant use of Steel and Sumo both introducing themselves as “first name, first name last name” feels a little awkward as dialogue. Unfortunately, all I think of is “Bond, James Bond” and that kind of throws me as a reader. Not a big deal, just something I thought I’d point out.

    When Sumo hugs him, I find myself wondering how that looks. He’s described as being 6 or 7 feet taller than Steele, so I’m picturing a very awkward hug with Sumo doing this bend over stance? Maybe he could just swoop him off the ground and hug him eye level?

    I LOVE the ending. Love love love. Can’t wait to read more. Overall, this a great revision!

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    1. Cheyanne, I will admit that winning you over was at the forefront of my mind during this revision. Thank you, thank you, thank you for the candid and constructive feedback in both drafts. It's your comments and insights that really make this workshop thrilling and so much worth it. I'll be keeping your words in mind for the next revision. I appreciate your time and effort here.

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  5. Hi Jide,

    Sorry for the delay in responding. I ended up having pro-d after work Monday that went until 7:30 and I got home around 8:30. Yesterday, I had a meeting after work and got home late again. Today, after work, was the first chance I had to get back to replying.
    I continue to be intrigued by the world you are creating, and now even more so, as we learn it seems to be an after-life place. A hard one to navigate, albeit! I wonder what Steele did in life to earn Ruby and her torturous environment. Yikes! Your world-building is much clearer in this round.

    The second sentence addresses concerns from the first draft but I felt that the third sentence about the draw backs of his new power should be connected to the second sentence – maybe you could leave out the comment about his memory and then mention the drawbacks. It would be clearer then that the crack is related to him struggling to control his new power. I love the descriptions of his world and the new clarity you have given the reader about him escaping from Ruby after being held hostage. While I still like the burning river and the added vibe that gives his escape, I am wondering if he couldn’t have just used his new power there and ‘glided’ above it, rather than jumping and missing the landing? Or is it that he didn’t think he needed to use his power there because he thought he would make it across?

    Interesting details you have woven in to this draft about it being the world we might end up in after life, with metal dreadlocks (which is kind of cool, given his name) and loads of painful torture to those who perhaps were hardheaded in their former life. But, I feel like too much may be coming at the reader at once. I don’t want to suggest you start at the escape point, but I do feel that would allow you to show some of these details (the rock he couldn’t escape and Ruby) and the terrain he has to traverse to get away. I am left wondering in these first paragraphs more about how he escaped. But, if you keep the beginning point here, which is also exciting as he flees from his captor, maybe the flashbacks can come in smaller spurts, between the continued action (jumping the burning river and how he was so panicked that Ruby was following him, he miscalculated the distance), etc… I am still totally hooked on the action!

    Poor Steele – it definitely isn’t his day! Broken bones and all… I love that our Gentle Giant fixed his broken arms and I am curious now about the ‘kid deities’ mention – subtle, but loaded with possibilities!! Yes!! 😊 And I can’t wait to read on and learn more about this strange world Steele finds himself in and what will come next. I like his vulnerability and his desire to figure out what is happening.

    Cristy

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    1. Hi Cristy,

      Totally get the trying to commit to commenting amidst all of the crazy scheduling involved in our day-to-day real lives. No worries. I appreciate you still spending some time to think through my piece. I had a suspicion about providing more info about how Steele escapes so thanks for affirming this inkling.

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  6. Hi Jide,

    Great job on this revision! I enjoyed reading your first draft but I think you've made your first 5 pages even better with the changes that you've made.

    I appreciate that there was more explanation about Ruby and the events leading up to the current point in time. It was definitely interesting to read and cleared up some of the confusion I had while reading the first draft.

    This might be an unpopular opinion... but although I liked the information that was presented about Steele's capture and escape from Ruby, I thought that this was a lot of information that was "told" upfront. You definitely have a lot of great story material in these paragraphs and I'm wondering if it would be more effective to show this in a longer scene instead. Essentially you've started the story with a very intriguing set of first lines, but then quickly dove to a flashback scene. Why not start at the scene where he first arrived in the world, held captive by Ruby, and had to escape? (Again, this is just an idea I thought of, feel free to take it or leave it!)

    Great job with the worldbuilding in this story. I loved the power that Steele has (the ability to manipulate gravity) and also the idea of the transmutation circles which definitely had me intrigued. It definitely felt like Steele had woken up in a strange and fascinating place.

    I am wondering if it would be a good idea to incorporate more physical description of what the setting looked like. So far I got that there were two (or more) suns and plenty of valleys and cliffs, but I'm wondering if there were other aspects that stood out to the main character. Were there cities or towns in the distance? Was it humid or dry? Or was it just very empty? Again, I loved the strange things that were going on in this world, but would like some more physical features to imagine what this world looked like more.

    I liked the interaction between Sumo and Steele. It became more clear here that Sumo was going to be an ally. I liked how Steele wasn't 100% sure if he could trust this guy, although I have a feeling that (I hope) they would become good friends.

    Great job on this draft! Looking forward to reading your revision and your query!

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    1. Great points Sophie. Don't wonder, your ideas are great and I really appreciate them all. I will try to add more color about the physical aspects of Chrysos through Steele's senses. Trust me, I have banged my head against the keyboard several times trying to decided where to start the story. In all honesty, beginning after the escapes sets the scene up for the rest of the book in a much more fluid way and that's the reason why I chose this route but your point is valid. This helps me a ton for having insights to how people are reacting to the story and the questions that pop up in their minds, so thank you!

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  7. Hi Jide!

    It was great to see your revision - you've done a GREAT job with it. Well done!

    It's a fine balance to achieve between giving the reader just enough of a back story while also keeping the pace going, and you've nailed it. I especially like Steele's perception of his own foreignness in this world, down to how he felt ill at ease in his own body. I also appreciated how you made it clearer that someone was going on with he seemed to manipulate gravity! (How cool!)

    I'd suggest next step is to go over the pages carefully to pick up any inconsistencies and smooth the language where needed. (Overall though, it reads well!) Here are just a few things that stuck out to me as a bit odd/confusing.

    Early on you mention "afterlife" in the context of his encounter with Ruby and the later we've got this; "After all, no one really made it clear as to whether he could die twice." But I'm not sure where is this coming from? Unless I missed it, but perhaps it's worth mention somewhere that one of Steele's hypothesis of what's going on is that he died and this is afterlife?

    When Steele meets Sumo and makes an internal comment that he's the only person he's met here aside from Ruby, I immediately wanted to know how Sumo and Ruby compared? Is Ruby also a giant compared to Steele or similarly sized to him? Maybe it;s worth dropping a little tiny hint as to Ruby's physical features? 

    Steele refers to Ruby as "crazy" a few times - I'd suggest using a different descriptor for her. All we know she's been torturing him and blaming him for stealing something. That doesn't sound "crazy" to me. Sadistic? Dangerous? ... Especially when Steel thinks to himself "you can't steal from crazy" or something along those lines, it didn't quite make sense to me.   

    Other than these minor suggestions, this is a wonderful work! Well done, and I can't wait to read the query and learn more about this book.

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  8. Thank you Katya. I understand where some of your confusion might be stemming from even in the small details so thank you for bringing those up front and center. I toyed with describing Ruby a lot more physically but part of me wants it to remain mysterious as it serves as a bigger plot device later in the story. I 100% agree with the suggestion for smoothing out and eliminating inconsistencies so I will work on that for sure.

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  9. Sorry for not replying to everyone for the insightful comments that are now informing my revisions. I did not expect this work week to be so demanding when I signed on to do this workshop and I realized my time is short for getting the rewrite done. When I am finished, I will address each of you individually to thank you but I hope for now, this will suffice. Off to finish the edits so I can post them in time! Good luck to all with finishing yours and preparing your pitch! Can’t wait to see them all.

    Cristy

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