Sunday, February 2, 2020

1st 5 Pages Feb Workshop - Adebayo

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, from what he could remember, but he had no time to focus on the drawbacks of his power. He needed to escape. Dwelling on broken bones would come later. Despite his condition, he felt relieved to be running on soft, even ground, considering that the burning river had charred the soles of his shoes just moments ago—at least his legs still worked. Darting across the field, Steele became lighter with each stride. He sprinted, then dashed, then started to glide. The second sun was setting, which was a good sign that he had made headway, distancing himself from Ruby. “A thief,” that is what she called him. How could he, of all people, be a thief?
The landscape shifted, and the motion shook the thought from Steele’s mind. As the surface beneath his feet churned and grumbled, Steele sensed his body growing heavy. Not now he pleaded. It was becoming more difficult to ignore his growing yet inconsistent authority over gravity. The field 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, it was someone else. A grizzly and disheveled man.
Before Steele could come up with a decent strategy, his face met the earth. Dust and rock flew up and the surface cracked as Steele dented the ground. Pinned under the weight of his own gravitational power, Steele laid at the strange man’s feet. Steele slowly rose, 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 dark, much darker than Steele, and bald as a rock.
“Nice hair,” the man said. “Most 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 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 that for ya.”
The man put Steele down and rearranged his arm 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?” The man’s gaze was full and friendly, catching Steele off guard. After a long silence, the strange and hefty man continued, “You must be a shy fella huh? Well, my name is Sumo, Sumo Bronze. Nice to meet’cha.” He extended his hand for a proper greeting. Steele wasn’t sure whether it was a trick or not, but if an overly large man ever extends a hand in kindness, it’s never wise to dismiss him. Steele’s 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 but had a gentle touch about him. The hug felt warm.
He laughed as he bear-hugged Steele. “What a fitting name for you, young fella.” He shook Steele a few times before putting him back down. “Now, do you mind telling me who you’re running from?”
How did he know that he was running from someone? Steele debated telling the man, Sumo, about Ruby, but if he told Sumo about her, would he then turn Steele back over to his pursuer? No, he couldn’t take the risk. “I was just practicing my stride,” he lied.
Sumo frowned. “A child that runs from something is worth saving.  However, a child that lies only draws suspicion. No worries. I won’t push the subject.” 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 said. “You sure did hit the ground a lot harder than I’d expect for a kid your size. Tell me why.”
Steele froze. 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? Would he think he was a thief too? Could only thieves do what he does? Another long and uncomfortable silence crept by, and Steele started to think his muteness prompted more questions for Sumo than he would have liked.
“The truth is, I don’t really—”
An overwhelming howl drowned out Steele’s response. His ears rang like drums and his eyes began to push against the walls of his skull as if trying to escape. Steele looked to Sumo for answers, but the oversized barbarian seemed unaffected.
“Ah, I almost forgot why I was out here,” Sumo said. He cracked a smile and turned to face the second sun falling behind the hills. “The little rascal must be beyond that horizon.”
Sumo started towards the hills then turned and gestured at Steele. “You coming or are you just gonna stand there? Regardless of who you are running from, I guarantee you it or they won’t follow us where we’re headed.”
Figuring that anywhere would be better than being caught in Ruby’s grips, Steele accompanied Sumo down a narrow pathway burrowed among hills. Steele’s ears were still ringing from the deafening howl, and a strange mixture of curiosity and anxiety now replaced his fear. If this intimidating but oddly approachable man was not out hunting him, then what had brought the big guy all the way out to the middle of nowhere?
The path began to coil downward while darkness slowly blanketed the skies. In his short time on this new world, Chrysos, Steele had noticed the skies tended to light up and darken at unexpected times. Maybe it was due to the many suns, the many moons, and the many stars that circled Chrysos, or maybe it was all just a hallucination in Steele’s mind. It was much different from the fading memory of his prior life from where he had originally come from, but Steele’s memory had been playing tricks on him lately, ever since he discovered his new-found abilities.
A few steps ahead, the pathway fused into a tunnel, which was much more difficult to navigate. By the looks of it, Sumo definitely would not fit through the opening, which left Steele at ease but a little disappointed. A part of him had a growing interest to see what lied ahead.
“What will you do now? There’s no way you can fit in there,” Steele pointed out.
Sumo smirked and then lifted both arms until they were pressed against the walls of the tunnel entrance. The walls began to vibrate and move, just as the ground did moments before when Steele had slipped and slid. With a slightly less than angry expression on his face, Sumo focused, and his muscles tensed. The walls quaked and rumbled, and rubble rocketed downwards towards Sumo and Steele’s feet. 

15 comments:

  1. Hey Jide, and welcome to 1st5Pages!

    I'm one of your assigned mentors. Thanks so much for the opportunity to read your work!

    Some thoughts from me on the pages of Chrome & Steele which hopefully would be of use.

    I liked the pace and clarity of your writing and appreciated being introduced to what already seems to be a fascinating world. Based on the title (Paradiso Trials), I already have a certain idea in my mind of what this book might be about as the notion of characters being dropped in an unfamiliar world reminded me a bit of the Extinction Trials but with a SF twist :) Speaking of the title, I'd suggest just going with Paradiso Trials as it's more catchy and intriguing than the longer title. 
    What I was thinking as I was reading though was that I was a bit confused as to Steele's purpose here - beyond him running away from something. I understand that he's also confused to a degree but he also seems to know quite a lot too (abilities? Ruby? accusation of being a thief?), plus this alien world he finds himself in doesn't seem all that foreign to him , so I'm assuming he's not a complete newbie here. As much as I like "in media res" beginnings that drop you in the middle of the story without much explanation, the trick here is to give readers just enough of the relevant info to keep up the intrigue and to keep readers invested in the protagonist from the very start. Thinking of an example of this kind of opening being done amazingly well, Rachael Craw's THE RIFT comes to mine - the world-building in this book is out of this world but even if it's super strange and strikingly unfamiliar I've never doubted for a moment that I wanted to be there for the protagonist - her motivations are very clear from the start and only get stronger as we dwell deeper into her world. 

    My suggestion here would be to clarify Steele's purpose/motivation for being here. Perhaps instead of/in addition to his thoughts about running away from Ruby and being called a "thief", he could hint at what it is he;s ready doing here? I would also love to see a bit more of his perception of this world that goes beyond descriptions. When he sees the strange man, for example, he could make a comment whether this person is originally from this planet - ? And that could help us understand more about Steel and his place in this world too. 
    Hopefully, this is helpful. Please let me know if you have any questions about this. Looking forward to reading your revision and learning more about your book. 

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    1. Hi Katya,

      This is super helpful. Feedback like this is a major reason why I wanted to participate in this workshop and I am grateful to have you as a mentor. I will take your points and perhaps study the writing in THE RIFT to see how I can improve the scene and setting surrounding Steele and his motivations.

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  2. This is an exciting first 5 pages of your manuscript! I liked that you've raised questions that made me want to continue reading: How did Steele come to have his powers? Why and how did he come to this new world? Why was he accused of being a thief? How did he die the first time? It was an imaginative world and premise that made me want to read more.

    Although I really liked the first sentence of your book, the first paragraph left me slightly confused. It took me a while to realize that Ruby isn't immediately behind him and that she isn't in the scene at all.

    Overall, great work! I think you definitely have a hook with this first snippet of your book.

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    1. Thanks Sophie for the kind words and the feedback. I will try to tighten up the first paragraph with clarity.

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  4. Hey, Jide! So cool to read your story. I'm glad to be in this cohort with you!

    So this is exactly the kind of book I would tend to read. I love the idea of gravity power - it's not something we really see a lot of so it feels unique. You do a fantastic job of enticing me with these first pages in terms of giving me questions I want answers to: how did Steele get his powers? Why does Ruby think him a thief and why does he say that he "of all people" wouldn't be one? And then there's my favorite line:

    "No one really made it clear as to whether he could die twice."

    Which of course means he's already died once, and I'm like, "whaaaa?" Very cool.

    So a few things to tighten up: I can't really picture Steele at all - he's never described. And more importantly than his physical appearance, I'm not sure what *kind* of kid he is. It might be in part because of his fuzzy memory and his flight from Ruby, but his personality doesn't get to manifest a lot - he comes off as a little bland in just these first few pages. Is he wildly intelligent? A smartass? Very sensitive and thin-skinned? Incredibly conscientious?

    Sumo is a fun character but I'm curious if you mean for his cuddly warmth to come off like a lack of boundaries? Under the odd circumstances of their meeting, the immediate hug and the feeling of really liking Steele feels like it might be unearned. And while I love his upbeat cheeriness, I wonder if he'd have a different reaction to a strange kid showing up and making a crater in the ground with his face at his feet than the sort of non-reaction he had?

    Chrysos could also use some early description. Towards the end you mention hills and moons and suns, but up until then I'm sort of picturing a blank white field of nothing, like the Matrix, and Sumo is just standing there in the middle of it waiting for him. Give us some environmental context to work with early on!

    Finally, I'd like a love a little more internality from Steele in terms of what he thinks he's doing or what his reactions to things are. I know he's fleeing from Ruby, but I don't know where he wants to get to, or what he wants to do, or how he feels about suddenly hanging out with Sumo (and his own incredible powers).

    Overall, though - like I said - I'm definitely the audience for this story. I would love to read more, which is all you can ask of your first pages, right?

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    1. S.A. you hit on all the points that I've been thinking I am missing in these first five pages. Thank you for you insight. I'll definitely try to incorporate all of your feedback.

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  5. Jide,

    Thank you for sharing your first five pages. Scary thing to do, right?

    I like your first line. It drew me in, making me want to know what has happened to Steele. New powers? How can he run with a broken bone? Who is Ruby and why is he running? You made me root for him. But while much of this makes me want to read on, I didn’t see much answers within the rest of your pages, so perhaps you can add in a few more details as to why he’s fleeing Ruby and how did he get to this new planet? I would assume the Ruby thing is your inciting incident that happened offscreen. If so, all the more reason to show us what occurred to change his world from normal to abnormal. I don’t feel you need too much background (Ew the dreaded backstory, right?), just enough to satisfy my questions so I can remain in the story line.

    More inner thoughts and his personal emotions to everything going on could help your reader understand Steele a bit better, along with this new world he is in.

    Love this line: “After all, no one really made it clear as to whether he could die twice.” Adds a great mystery to the plot, a nice mystery that I can wait to find out what it means in the next pages/chapters.

    I like how you showed the big, friendly new friend, Sumo Bronze. Neat name. He reminds me of Hagrid in the Harry Potter stories. The many moons and suns add a nice world description but I want to know how it makes Steele feel.

    I enjoyed reading your story and would read on to see what happens with these two characters.

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    1. Becky, scary thing indeed but I love the concept of this workshop and I appreciate your constructive criticism. It's helping me pinpoint on where I need to improve and I which makes the fear of sharing many times worth it.

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  6. Hi Jide,

    I’m the guest mentor this month. Thanks for sharing your pages!

    This really starts out strong, throwing me right into this new world and the action, and already I like Steele. He has a broken bone and keeps running-what a total badass. Ruby is mentioned a few times, and I’d love to know who she is… just a random person who suspected he was a thief? Or something more? Surely she’s something more because he sure seems scared of Ruby finding him, and I’d like to know a bit more as to why.

    By the end of the pages, it felt like Steele was very newly put on this planet, but at the beginning, I felt he had been there, at least a little while. A few weeks, maybe? Clarifying that would be helpful… If he’s been there a little while I’d think he has some sort of routine, maybe a reason why he’s running and trying not to get caught. If he was very recently put on that planet, I’d also like to know what his goals are, and what he’s thinking about it all.

    I can’t immediately like Sumo, although he seems like a lovable Hagrid-like character, because for some reason, the ultra niceness of him makes me wary. Maybe if we had a bit more knowledge about Ruby then I’d understand why Steele is happy to go into a dark creepy tunnel with a total stranger just to avoid being caught by her.

    However, the flaw of only getting to read a few pages is that much of these answers are probably revealed later on… so even with these questions I have, I’m still very much enjoying the story and I’d want to read more if I were to pick up this book in a bookstore. Great job so far, and I can’t wait to read the revision!

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    1. Thanks Cheyanne! Really excited to take your feedback and try to incorporate it into my revision. I think the lack of clarity in terms of Steele's personal situation on Chrysos is a valid point. There is a reason to this that is a bigger part of the story, but I will try to reveal much more of it within the first five pages without giving too much away.

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  7. Jide Adebayo
    Hi Jide! I love that we started right in on the action scene. Quick details about the world helped me see the planet Steele was on, like the burning river, and the two suns, but I wasn’t sure what the crack was caused by and had some trouble picturing it. I realized after reading through that perhaps Sumo caused this (is he looking for his son and is that the overwhelming howl that Steele hears?). Perhaps because Steele is new on the planet, he could ask questions like whether the movement of the land was due to volcanic rumblings (hence, the burning river) or an earthquake? Then we would have more descriptions to work with and we would be piecing together what is happening alongside Steele. OR, was it in relation to learning to use his new skill and it was about him falling as he tried to learn to glide? In this case, maybe to clarify it for the reader, have him share a bit more about how learning this skill was like learning to ‘skateboard’ or something like that and how he was still failing at it, more than succeeding.
    I love his new-found skill around gliding and wonder if that is what Ruby means he ‘stole’? It is a cool skill and your YA audience will be all over this! I like Sumo – with his size and weight and name, I couldn’t help thinking – Sumo Wrestler – but I love how Cheyanne sees him as a Hagrid-type character.
    I love that you have set so many questions right off the top of the story that we will want to read on to answer. Perhaps a few more lines to help us see Steele as young adult – more characterization, will help us picture him. I love the world-building and I am curious about Ruby and want to read on!
    Cristy

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  8. Thanks Cristy! It sounds like clarity is key so I will try to open up Steele's perspective a lot more!

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  9. Thanks Cristy! It sounds like clarity is key so I will try to open up Steele's perspective a lot more!

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