I’m over 60% to my goal of 60,000 words for my first draft, and I’m starting to think about what I want to change for the second draft. As I told you in my last post, there are a lot of issues with the beginning, so it’s going to have to get some major changes. I also feel that there’s not enough conflict in the story. I’ve been mulling over some ideas about that, and here’s a sampling of what I’ve come up with.
First off, I am thinking of completely changing the origin story of the powers. The current version is that they got their powers from eating MRE’s (Meals Ready to Eat – Army food) that had been contaminated by radiation from a meteorite that had struck near the cabin. My idea is that they just get their powers from the meteorite directly. As part of this, I have to find another reason for them to be in the cabin. Because I have been concerned about how the characters have been developing, I’m thinking of shaking things up to make it more interesting and bring in more conflict between the kids.
Here’s the plan: Forget about the summer camp. The kids are actually victims of the serial killer, with the help of Andy. They have kidnapped Carter, Cailin, and Lisa and are torturing them to death. Andy turns from being a borderline sociopath to being an accomplice to kidnapping and murder. However, he is a reluctant assistant, especially when it comes to Lisa. Andy develops feelings for her in the time they have together while the killer “plays” with them. She pretends to reciprocate in a desperate attempt to escape, but she never gets the chance.
The kids are set free when the meteorite hits the cabin. My idea for this is that the rock will blast through the roof and hit Lisa, killing her instantly. It will then strike something metal (maybe an old iron wood stove?) and shatter, spraying the other kids with tiny pieces of shrapnel and dust particles. I’m trying to decide whether or not to give the killer powers too, or have him be absent when this happens. It would probably be better if he was there, so that the kids have a target for revenge.
When the kids get their powers, Lisa does her impression of the cheerleader from the television show “Heroes” and comes back to life. This is a surprise to Andy, who has been given the task of disposing of the body. He tells her he has changed his mind and doesn’t want to help the killer any more, so he helps her escape. Carter and Cailin’s powers manifest as well and they escape from the cabin.
This idea seems pretty good for at least a short story, but I’m not sure what to do after this. If the killer is still alive and has powers, then that gives them a villain to fight against, but I’m not sure if that is a strong enough conflict to carry a book unless the killer’s powers are strong enough to threaten the world.
Another option is to have the meteorite be part of a “storm”, and make this part of a larger event that affects a lot of other people. If the kids are not the only ones that have these powers, the government would certainly find out about it and there would be a reaction from the normal population. Think of the X-Men and the Mutant Registration Act.
Something else that I have considered is that the meteorite was part of a spaceship from an alien species preparing to take over the Earth. It got knocked loose in orbit in a collision with one of our satellites. The only ones that know about the invasion are the aliens and the government. They could find the kids when they show up to look for the debris in a hope that they will be able to learn something about the alien’s technology.
An alien invasion would definitely give me a long-term focus for the book, but I would also have to come up with a reason the aliens want the Earth. It could be for natural resources, which would let me throw in some of my thoughts on conservation. Or it could simply be for slaves, which could end up with the kids being right back where they started, as the captives of a more powerful being. That makes for a nice, circular plot, and also gives me the opportunity to bring the serial killer back in the role of either assistant to the aliens (like Andy was to him) or as an unwilling ally to help them escape and stop the invasion.
That actually sounds pretty cool. I would love some input on these ideas, so please comment with any thoughts you have about this. Are there any other things I am missing that would help strengthen this story?
As part of the middle, I want to play with the relationships between the characters. They need more development and more conflict as they figure out that they need to work together in order to survive. I also want to give Carter and Cailin a chance to be bad. Carter’s strength and invulnerability should allow him to walk into a bank and rip the vault door open. He could then simply walk out without having to worry about getting shot. Cailin’s super speed and telekinesis would allow her to zip in and out of almost anywhere without even being seen. I think it would be a good idea to let them each steal something, then later realize that they don’t want to be criminals, but instead need to use their powers to help save the planet. In other words, they need to have a chance to become heroes.
I’m also having second thoughts about giving Lisa the ability to read minds. Dialogue is difficult when one person can simply pull the thoughts from your head. It helps build a connection between two people, but there’s no tension or surprise any more. Similarly, Andy’s powers are pretty weak, and I may have to do something about making them more interesting.
I think that’s enough for today. Like I said, I would love to get your input on this. Help me brainstorm this thing and leave a comment!
Thanks for stopping in, and I’ll see you back here on Sunday.