Friday, February 27, 2015


60,000 words
YA Sci-Fi
It's been twenty years since the last superheroes died and the power went out in Chicago. The city's dark remains have burdened fifteen-year-old Glenn with a broken mother and a battered best friend. They are both his greatest loves and his biggest burdens. With his late father's revolver and a heavy, cynical heart, Glenn protects them as best he can until the day the mysterious old man at the end of his delivery route shares a secret: he knows how to bring electricity back. What is more, he'll need Glenn to find the bodies of the dead superheroes to make it happen. It's a decision that will inevitably create the first and last supervillain. Moving back and forth through five decades and vividly exploring love, loss and hope, this story combines the depth and beauty of THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF KAVALIER AND CLAY with the humor and adventure of GOONIES.
FIRST 250:
Chapter One
Glenn poked Charlie's body with the toe of his shoe. He was unconscious, shattered glass and milk strewn all around him on the pavement. There was blood, too, escaping from some unseen head wound and stretching its crimson fingers inside the white liquid.

Glenn bent down and shook his burly friend. "Charlie."

Staying in the middle of Malum Street left them incredibly exposed.

The sun had just broke behind the lone house at the end of the forgotten road, all the weeds and gnarled growth glistening with frost.  The two-story home looked as though it could be pushed over. Glenn had often thought of doing it himself, of putting the structure out of its misery. What little paint remained was no longer colored and the wood beneath it had given way to rot and ominous noises whenever the wind picked up. It was assumed that it had been abandoned and looted, the same as every house in the neighborhood, but the boys went by every morning regardless.

Because Charlie had begged and Glenn had relented. Someone at Training had said they'd seen lights on inside the house. Not candlelight, either. Light light. Electric light. It was the stuff of legend, buried with the last superheroes in '64.

It had been relatively easy for Glenn to work the lifeless street into their delivery route, to swing by the house in the dead of morning and let Charlie check for the lights. How quickly that simple choice had become a poor one.


  1. Nice revisions. In the pitch: I would choose another word for "burdened" or "burdens" to avoid the repetition. But other than that it is great. Much more clear.

  2. Hey there.

    Interesting pitch/story! Once you mentioned superheroes and Chicago, I immediately thought of Steelheart-- have you read it?

    I would have thought this was YA fantasy, not sci fi, with the superheroes and all. I'm guessing those elements come in later?


    The "what is more" sentence-- I was wondering if there might be a smoother transitional phrase/word. That is the crux of what drives Glenn's inevitable choice-- it almost seems like there should be a contrasting word there (ie. However/But). But then you'd need to make sure it flows well/has good cadence.

    Also, why will reviving the superheroes revive the supervillain?


    3rd paragraph--the line about them being exposed outside. It's obviously a bad thing to be out in the open, but I'm not sure why-- maybe a reference or another shirt sentence cluing the reader in?

    4th paragraph: "had just broke" should be "had just broken" I think.

    Otherwise, really enjoyed this! Good stuff and best of luck in the contest!


  3. What an interesting story, and Kavalier and Clay is one of my favorite books. I enjoyed reading this, and would definitely read on. My only comments for you are that my first impression of the title was that this would be a wacky, zany story, which it's obviously not. And the paragraph about the house felt a bit out of place to me. I was thinking, Your friend is bleeding on the ground! Why are you thinking about the house?!! Unless this is a normal occurrence in this world, consider moving the description of the house further down, or else have it be more anxiety-laden (e.g., why did we ever think this stupid, falling down house would have any answers for us? Or whatever.). Good luck with this, it sounds great!

  4. Pitch: I also thought of Steelheart. I like the pitch, but also agree that the line about the super villain is vague. (We expect a villain with superheroes, but how will your MC's actions lead to a super villain?) As it reads now, I assume the old man's motives are impure and he's using your MC to create the bad guy.

    250: I agree with Katharine that your description of the house could be moved.I would suggest you could do a cinematic type opening and start with that and the next paragraph, then have your opening paragraphs as a way to steadily ramp up the tension through your scene rather than slow it in the middle to explain how you got to the opening line. I like the voice and the premise. Good luck! (#7)

  5. Such a cool concept! It reminds me of the silver age comics, which ushered in the age of darker, more sinister storylines. Will definitely keep reading.
    I agree with Melissa and Katharine -- the description of the house slows down your pacing. I'd encourage you to amp up the sense of urgency/danger and show us the house, as Glenn drags/or helps his friend inside.
    (A minor observation -- in your 250 words, the first line made me think Charlie was an enemy rather than a friend. "Glenn poked Charlie's body with the toe of his shoe.")
    Good luck!
    #10 The Land of Joy and Sorrow

  6. Pitch: Remove passive voice. Explanation needed, why does MC stop protecting his mother and best friend once he discovers electricity? Last sentence with comp titles - providing comp titles is great but it's probably best to leave out the characterization of writing and let the agent/editor decide for themselves.

    +1: Would read better with active verbs rather than passive ones. I want to know what's happening now, rather than what happened already. Pacing might improve with a deeper POV and also might eliminate telling. And, I echo observations of Katherine, Melissa, & Katya above.
    Overall, I like the concept (I'm keen on superhero stories) and the writing is good enough that I'd read more.
    (#14 OSN)

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  8. Thank you for all the wonderful and generous advice. I will definitely be cutting out the house description in my first 250 and jumping further into the action the next time I am presented an opportunity to share this material. I will definitely be clarifying some portions of my pitch as well. The help is very much appreciated.


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