Editing Ideas (Please Comment)

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.

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8 Comments

Filed under ROW80, The Writing Experience

8 responses to “Editing Ideas (Please Comment)

  1. Personally I’m not keen on the alien invasion idea. If it was my story I would rather have it all happen on earth and maybe give the serial killer bad guy the strongest superpowers so that the kids can only defeat him if they work together as a team. But having said all that; its your story not mine so do what you think is best.
    (If the kids have to work as a team that could lead to character development between them, just another thought.)

    • Yeah, I’m not totally tied to the alien invasion idea either. But I do want to have them threatened with something really big. What better way to get them to work together than to be the only ones that can save the world?

  2. The kids definitely need something bigger than the serial killer to overcome. At least if you want it to last long enough for a novel. I think the summer camp idea restricted you geographically as well as with how much potential conflict your story could have. You’ve already said that the kids are delinquents. Maybe almost criminals. Have you ever considered the whole evil government idea? Government lab (or some other major power) decides to start experimenting on criminals, but of course, one of their experiments (the serial killer) escapes and starts killing people. This would allow you to use the serial killer as a smaller conflict that they have to overcome. How the kids would get their powers this way isn’t quite clear yet. Maybe they don’t right away, instead having to escape the serial killer as normal humans for a little while, eventually being “saved” by members or said organization that created the killer in the first place and taken to the lab themselves. I think this idea might give you a lot more space to work with.

  3. Okay, I’m only going on what I’ve read in this blog post, so I might be missing a lot of details about the story, but I’ll try to throw some ideas out there that come to mind. I’m warning you, though – some of these ideas may seem very similar to stories already written, so you would likely have to bend these ideas into a unique story arc.

    1. The best idea I had was to have this summer camp be in a very remote area adjacent to a military installation. Experimentation within the military base causes some sort of reaction to personnel within the base. By the time the outside military is aware of the issue, they’re afraid it’s spread beyond the base, and they quarantine a large area around the base, including the summer camp.

    The kids and serial killer do end up exposed, thus gaining their powers. Unfortunately, adults exposed to this effect lose their sanity in the process, where the children’s minds are able to adapt. The kids then have to work together to fix this problem on their own, because outside help would likewise be infected and lose their minds as well. One added bonus: Lisa’s mind-reading powers might be able to break through the insanity to get at the root of the adults’ minds.

    2. Working on the building hype from a recent NASA press release, this could be the side effect of mounting solar radiation and solar flare activity. How widespread this effect would be, given this scenario, would be massive, but it would add a whole new flavor to your story.

    A couple notes:

    I personally wouldn’t have the kids go bad, at least not so obviously bad. Maybe they end up hurting a weaker kid (Andy?) and later realize their remorse. It’s hard to keep liking a character that does something so inherently immoral, versus a gray-shaded event.

    I agree that the story needs to go further than just getting revenge on the serial killer. Novels typically have at least a feel of a larger scope, even if the plot itself is small within the world.

    You could place the serial killer in a vulnerable place late in the novel, if the kids are fighting against a greater villain/power. This would make for a soul-searching moment for each child, and lead to some REALLY interesting dialogue.

    Good luck with your editing!

  4. I’m gonna say no on the alien invasion. I actually thought your original idea of the army food was unique and different. But if it works better, you can just use the meteor.

    And I also think whatever you do to keep plotting your conflict, spend time really developing your antagonist. Your story is largely based on how bad the guy is, but there has to be a reason. If he’s really a sociopath, why will I care about the wicked things he does unless we know what event led to him turning of the right/wrong button or what kinds of things he’s overcome.

    I hope that helps. But my advice is always: Go with what excites you! You have to finish writing the book afterall!

  5. A couple more changes I am considering are:
    1) Make the kids older. As in college age. This would make things a little easier for me if I start with them being abducted. It would also work better for the romantic angle.
    2) Make Carter and Cailin brother and sister. Their personalities so far seem much more like siblings than friends. The romance between them has been minimal. Aside from the scene with the suntan lotion, they haven’t really connected.

  6. Not into the alien invasion idea, but liked the govermnment tracking and containing news of the meteor and capturing the ‘afflicted’ to experiment on etc. I do like that. Thinking along the lines of X-Men/The Hunger Games. 🙂

  7. Have you considered the idea of limiting the number of them by making them the victims of human trafficking? You could still have them in the high school to college age, limit the number of them around and not have to work with serial killer tendencies (such as not taking four victims at once).

    The bad guy collecting them (for yet a bigger bad guy… maybe for a sequel) could still be a serial killer and took one of them for himself. Maybe one that’s a little less delinquent than the rest. The “cheerleader” maybe…

    Just a thought that came to mind reading the blog on editing.

    Also if you were going college aged, you could go for a retreat camp. I did one of those in my choir in college. Less supervised and more of a chance for kids not familiar with the outdoors to do something stupid… 😉

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