Wednesday, September 21, 2011

September Secret Agent #15

TITLE: The Last Superhero
GENRE: YA, Urban Fantasy

I’m doing something like a Waltz around his body trying to figure out what to do with him. His victim cowers in a corner of her bedroom. Her eyes flit from me to her attacker as she swipes a floor lamp in the air, marking her territory. The perfume and doily-like lingerie say she may have been waiting for someone, but it wasn’t this guy.

“Hey, girl,” I say, trying to sound casual, like I haven’t just jumped through her window and put a grown man’s head through a wall.

“H-Hey,” she says.

Too nice. Good thing I’m here. She’s going to live it up like she’s just been rescued from a serial rapist by an unlikely superhero, um, because she has.

“I’m watching you, Sweetie,” I say to the attacker. He’s staring at my feet, probably trying to figure out how he can swipe them from under me. “You will regret it if you try to get up. So just relax. You’re going to jail tonight.”

“When are you gonna call the police?” he yells at me with a voice that never matured. His sweat-dampened hair is plastered to his forehead and ears. The seams that had held his t-shirt together are pulled apart. “I don’t like you standing over me like that.”

“She didn’t like you lying on top of her with your dirty hand over her mouth, either. Didn’t stop you.” I raise an eyebrow at the woman.

“What should we do with him?”


  1. I'm always in the mood for vigilante super-heroes, so I like the premise. :)

    I'm a bit confused by a few things, though. What gender is the POV character? I assume male, but it doesn't say anywhere.

    I had to read the first paragraph a few times--the victim is simultaneously cowering and wielding a floor lamp? I had to re-read the floor lamp part a few times, because I was already picturing her on the floor, hugging her knees.

    4th paragraph--she's going to live it up, so it's good the hero is here? Does he expect to be an integral part of the celebration? Given what she's wearing, that doesn't sound so noble.

    The attacker is named Sweetie? The name threw me--was it his nickname or an endearment? If either, why?

    I'd suggest backing this scene up and playing it from the beginning. Or at least from the moment the hero busts through the window. The way you have it, there are scattered clues about what happened--tshirt ripped at the seams, etc--but I'm scrambling to catch up. The clues idea isn't horrible and could work with some adjustments, but I need a lot clearer details to follow along.

  2. I'm afraid this was too choppy and unclear for me.

    Waltzing around his body, instead of waltzing around him, made me think the bad guy was dead, so I was surprised when he turned out to be alive.

    The pronouns in the opening parg were a bit confusing. There's him (or her) and the bad guy, and they're suddenly in 'her' bedroom, but 'her' hasn't been introduced yet.

    I don't get the living it up line.

    'When are you gonna call the police' seemed like a strange thing for the bad guy to ask.

    ANd then 'what should we do with him?" He already told the guy he was going to jail, implying he was going to call the police. Has he changed his mind?

    Perhaps rethink the scene and rewrite so it is clearer.

  3. I don't know what "she swipes a floor lamp in the air" means.

    I don't know why it matters that she's too nice. that didn't make sense to me.

  4. I am intrigued! What is she going to do with him! This is my kind of super hero. She brings to mind a female version of Dick Tracy.

    She speaks casually to the relieved, but shocked victim as if they are girlfriends from the same neighborhood.

    I can see her taking long, slow, waltz like strides around the attacker, and then sarcastically calling him sweetie.

    The attacker seems like he would rather deal with the police, than the hero. Which makes me wonder, just how bad (in a good way), is she.

    Somehow you should change the word 'body' in the first line, It is obvious that he is still alive. But, I want to read more. I am hooked.

  5. I liked the idea but this beginning needs some tightening.

    I stumbled over the "head through the wall" bit. If you do that with our walls, the head would be pumpkin mash.

  6. I almost stopped with the first paragraph. With the pronouns and first person POV, I was totally confused about the scene. Where are we? How many people are in the room? By the third or fourth paragraph, the scene is solidifying, but not fast enough. After three reads, I think I have it, but I wouldn't have taken the time if I was in a bookstore.

    Even having a better idea of what's going on, some of the blocking was awkward. The girl "marking her territory" with a floor lamp? Those are unwieldy for strong adults, so I didn't see that. Also, please rethink "doing something like a Waltz" to make it less clunky. Just "waltzing" would work.

    The premise is good--I want to know how the MC is a superhero, how did he (she?) know to stop the rapist? What powers the MC has? I would read on to answer those questions, so if you tighten the opening scene, you'll have a great book here.

  7. Thanks for the comments. I will work on the pronoun issue in the first paragraph. I think that's the source of the confusion.

    I do have to admit being stomped by one thing though- the question of whether the MC is male or female. It's a girl. I thought that the MC calling the rapist Sweetie would be a dead give away. She also says "Hey, girl" which isn't a guy phrase. Her sex is made obvious in the next few paragraphs and I don't want to have an "I am girl, hear me roar" moment so I guess I have to think hard on that.

    Thanks again.

  8. In beaten-down girl fashion, I start off assuming all superheros are men, unless otherwise stated.

    It took a while for "Hey, girl," and "Sweetie," to clue me in.

    The phrase "doily-like lingerie" is, I think, what made me think guy. Maybe your girl-hero is a tom boy or doesn't like frilly things, but the way she views her surroundings is going to be what clues us into her gender at first, ahead of dialog choices.

    I would see it as "pretty, lacy lingerie" or "strappy, aquamarine teddy." Guys don't notice the details of that kind of thing right off, and they don't always know the specific terms for girl clothes, but girls tend to.

    I did like the image of the victim swinging a lamp around her space, trying to keep both of them away from her. The text might need to be massaged.

  9. Superheroes have an aura about them, but this one feels too casual for me to like. Witty quips are part of being a superhero, but casual isn't going to endear me to the character. She's faced with an attempted rape victim. I'd like to see more sympathy.

    This character feels to removed from the situation. I'd probably pass.

  10. I tend to agree with the confusions a lot of other people noticed re: gender, situation, the actual layout of the scene (when you said his head was through a wall, I was imagining it actually through the wall of a cheap-plaster-walled apartment).

    In general, if a gender isn't named in YA, I assume female. Here, the "Hey, girl," made me think the hero was male, and that he was also pretty scuzzy (that along with the "live it up" line didn't endear "him" to me). The "Sweetie" angled me back to thinking the hero was female, but I was confused overall.

    I think the suggestion of starting at the beginning of the scene might work. You might cut back to what you have here after writing the scene as a whole, but hopefully doing so would give some clarity to the players in the scene and the action we're being told. At a basic level, I have a very fuzzy mental picture of where everyone is in the room, what it looks like, or what's happening.

  11. I like the main character's voice and I like the concept of the female superhero.

    But I'm not sucked in. Why not give us some more detail about what kind of superhero, to intrigue us. What kind of superhero powers does she have.

    And yes, I agree with everyone else that you need to work on some sloppiness in the writing so that this will be more clear. Feels a bit like a rough draft.

    Still, getting a solid, likeable voice is half the battle and you definitely achieved that.

  12. There are a bunch of small things I'd change here, but overall it sounds like a fun story and I really like the voice, so I'd definitely read on. With some cleaning up, I think it'd be fantastic.

    Here's what I'd alter: 'swipes a floor lamp in the air, marking her territory' - I have no idea what this means. 'Too nice. Good thing I’m here. She’s going to live it up like she’s...' The third sentence seems like a non-sequitur and I don't really understand what it means. She's cowering in a corner, what makes the MC think she's eager 'to live it up'? Lastly, I don't know why you've capitalised waltz and sweetie, it looks odd.

    Good luck with it, would definitely like to see more of this.