Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Drop the Needle: EXPLOSIONS! #9

TITLE: Becoming Hero
GENRE: High-concept YA

Lightning-powered teen superhero Skye and his teammate Thunder--whose sonic powers match her personality--find themselves the only humans left in their city, fighting an invasion of slimy, slurpy, plant-ooze reptiles. They're losing.

At last Natasha (Thunder) has a desperate idea: "Let's explode!"--trigger a deadly feedback loop between her suit and Skye's that may clean the city once-and-for-all.

Skye struggled to his feet. In the time it took for him to stand the horde advanced ten feet. He saw their tiny teeth, their glowing eyes, their scaly branches reaching for Natasha. He stood behind her and gripped her wrists.



He threw out more lightning than he had ever mastered before. He didn't try to master. He just let it take control of him. His whole form trembled. His eyes burned with the blinding light, even though he had them squeezed shut. He felt her shivering in front of him, and his ears pulsed with burning waves of her pounding, booming, roaring sound. His body was too overwhelmed to even protest--too damaged to even feel pain.

They both collapsed, spent, to a pavement splattered with green and red blood. Skye couldn't ask if the Grimlings had died. He couldn't ask if she was okay. He only had enough strength for one more movement, one last dying action.

Skye rolled over, his face inches from Natasha's. They breathed together, just looking at each other's bloody, burnt faces for a moment. Broken. She coughed, and he felt her hand against his face, pushing his hair out of his eyes.

Skye leaned down, and his lips pressed against Thunder's. He took all of what he thought was his last strength and gave it to her, firmly, gently, his last breath brushing against her face. Then he fell back and disappeared from himself, into darkness.


  1. Ooh, what an excellent last action to take! Love how this ends.

    Logically, though, I couldn't help but wonder that if he has enough strength to roll over and lean down to kiss her, he should have the energy to ask if she's all right. The emotional punch of the action, however, shut down my logic.

    One confusing thing for me was how he goes back and forth from "Natasha" to "Thunder," although I'm assuming they are the same person.

    Also, the paragraph beginning "He threw out more lightning" has sentences that all begin with "he" or "his," which sounds repetitive after a little while.

    The emotional power of the aftermath really carries this excerpt!

  2. Oh, this was beautiful. I want to know Skye and Thunder just from this interactions :)

    I do think you should flesh out the actual explosion more, it seems so quick. But I'm glad you didn't here cause I like that I got to read about the kiss :)

  3. I love this. Great characters and great action. There are a few places you could tighten.

    Keep an eye on use of "he saw" "he felt." There's nothing actually wrong with them, but something similar popped up several times in such a short excerpt. It can make the character feel disconnected from the scene if used too much.

    Maybe nitpicky but I had a hard time picturing how they were standing. He's behind her yet gripping her wrists? This may be something that's clear from what's passed before, but as an excerpt I wasn't sure how to picture it in my head.

    "He threw out more lightning than he had ever mastered before. He didn't try to master."

    I understand what you mean, but it's jarring phrased like this and took a second read. It feels redundant and contradictory at the same time. Which is pretty hard to do, so kudos if you were going for that. ;)

    "He took all of what he thought was his last strength"

    Ack! Don't do the "what he thought" because I was SO INTO these two dying in each other's arms and the qualifier totally wimps it out. Let it be his last breath, even if it isn't.

    Fabulous scene. Good luck with it!

  4. Interesting set-up world. I'm intriguied by the slimy, slurpy, plant-ooze reptiles!

    I know it's my own preconception but I had a hard time getting past Skye and the male and Thunder as the female. (Shame on me!)

    Suggest combining: "Skye didn't have enough energy left to ask if the Grimlings had died or if she was okay."

    I thought they were on the ground and he just rolled over. Doesn't seem like he'd have strength to prop himself over her to "lean down" for the last kiss.

    ..."disappeared from himself" wasn't quite as dramatic as I was expecting, but I liked the poignancy of "his last breath brushing against her face."

  5. I like the idea, and a superhero novel that ends in sacrifice is always fun :-)

    I felt like their deaths came really fast, though. I didn't even really know they were dying until "one last dying action." I feel like you could go more in-depth on their pain during the explosion -- how they know they're not going to survive this, but they keep going anyway.

    I also find myself wondering how "lightning" and "sonic" powers combine to create a massive explosion. Maybe there's stuff I don't know about how their powers work, but I'm scratching my head at that one.

  6. I love stories about characters who sacrifice themselves for the world and for each other. You have a thrilling and touching climax here but I think it could be stronger with a few tweaks.

    I would like to know what Skye is thinking when Thunder suggests they explode. Is he on board right away? Or does he think it's a terrible idea, but he goes along with it because he knows it's their only hope? Drawing out Skye's feelings a bit will add to the tension and let us know what the stakes are.

    I think you need to give us a little more description of where we are or what the heroes are doing. If you've already done that in previous paragraphs, at least give us a few details here to remind us.

    I agree that after the build up, the explosion itself is kind of a let down. I think you could make it stronger by ending with a bang or a flash of light or something bigger before they collapse.

    Good luck!

  7. I thought it was a bit over the top, but I still liked it. And they are superheroes, after all.

    It feels like this is your climax, and if it is, I think it needs more. If this is the moment your readers will be reading toward, it may be disappointing in that we don't get to see the destruction of the Grimlings.

    Perhaps Skye can do this with his eyes open, that way he can describe what happens. He's shooting out all this electricity, but we don't get to see it. We don't see how their forces combine, and we don't see how it totally crushes the enemy. If his eyes are open, you can show all that, which would make for a more exciting climax.

    And I'm going to assume that while it's in Skye's POV, Thunder has been his partner throughout the story. If Skye keeps his eyes shut, she really gets no credit for her part in this act of sacrifice because there's no one to tell us what she did. So again, with his eyes open, he can say what he sees her do, and they can be heroes together instead of shutting her out in the final battle.

    Really nice ending, but I'm going to guess they're not really dead, because then there would be no second, or third adventure?

  8. I was really drawn into this scene. The final moment, when Skye uses the last of his strength to heal Natasha, was deeply touching -- and I don't even know these characters.

    There were a couple things I think you could improve:

    You did a very good job showing how Skye felt while using his power, but I think you could add more detail around how he throws the lightning. What does he do to generate it? Does it come out instantly or does it take some time to build? What does he feel as that's happening? Does it hurt? At the end of para 4, you say his body was too damaged even to feel pain -- why?

    You use Skye's name a lot, and when you use the POV character's name, it interposes distance between the reader and the character. Since there are no other men in the scene, I think you could replace most of the "Skyes" with "he" and the meaning would still be clear.

    You refer to Natasha twice as "Natasha," and then in the last paragraph as "Thunder." Since this is all from Skye's point of view, I think you need to stick consistently with one name, whatever he thinks of her as. Since this is a superhero story, it might make sense for him to think of her as Natasha when she's in her normal form and Thunder while she is using her power, but that doesn't appear to be what's happening here.

  9. Maybe it's just me but I was thrown by the reference to these two as "humans" and then the obvious thing is these people are not human. They "explode".

    Perhaps if the lead in had made clear they were super beings.

  10. I might put a comma after "stand" in the second sentence, for clarity.

    Maybe cut one of the words from pounding/booming/roaring sound. It feels a bit long to me, and slowed down the progression of the scene.

    Some of the sentences feel long-winded to me, especially for an action sequence. You might tinker with splitting the sentences into something shorter, or rewording for more concise phrasing, in order to make the scene read faster.

    On that note, I would have liked a little more detail regarding the lightning power taking control-- does it have a mind of it's own? Does he feel excited, giddy, angry... What are his thoughts? I don't know that we need too much of this, but intersparsed in the description of what's happening might be useful. :-)

    Gotta admit, I'd be hastily turning the next page to see if Skye was still alive.

    Good luck with it. :-)