Oh dear, Kim had quite an email for me after she finished this one. Scathing stuff. Worthy of that picture above. But first, here’s the chapter summary for context:
Mackaba is going through his day in Hardpan City. He’s pacing the halls of Police Headquarters, telling himself how noble he is to stay and defend the empty buildings.
As he reaches the lobby window he notices that a billboard outside has been vandalized. He flies out in a rage to find Mean standing in the streets. A seven-page battle ensues. It’s totally amazing.
Mackaba is defeated and Dark comes out of police HQ with Parlay’s DNA sample.
Now here’s what Kim told me in the email:
- The fight scene goes on a bit long. Could trim by a couple pages to help keep the action flowing at a fast pace.
- There aren’t really any stakes to the fight. We don’t know why Mean’s fighting Mackaba or what will happen if she loses. We find out later she’s distracting Mackaba so Dark can find the case, but during the fight, there’s a slight lack of suspense.
I’ll be honest: I didn’t want to hear this. I LOVE my fight scenes. I told Kim that she’d have to try harder in order to convince me to change it. So she DID try harder. She called me on the phone and told me how she was counting the pages until the end because the battle was dragging on and on.
Oof. BUT–! Lesson time! That’s the first rule of taking criticism. You gotta put your ego away. Even if it’s a chapter you’re proud of. So I did. And I listened.
Because you know what’s next? After you’ve humbled yourself at the feet of the teacher, you get to follow the second rule of criticism: Bring your ego BACK out to fix the problem! Tell yourself “I can do this! I can find a solution! I am the greatest storyteller in the entire UNIVERSE!! HAHAHAHAHA!”
So that’s what I’ll do. First I’ll add a quick scene at the start, with Mean and Dark walking toward Hardpan City. They’ll discuss the distraction plan and they’ll see the birds flying around the buildings. They can also mention changes to the grounds by the walls which will come in handy during the finale. This will also match up with the scene that Thomas Hugo painted for my cover: it depicts Mean and Dark staring at Hardpan City. I hate it when covers depict events that don’t take place in the story, so now I won’t be a hypocrite.
As for the battle with Mackaba, well, I’ll think of something.
But for now, this chapter starts in Hardpan City, with the reader clueless about what Mean and Dark are going to do. I dirtied the place up a bit since it had been uninhabited for a month or so.
- Dirt from outside had settled on the buildings and streets; sprouts of yellow grass stuck out from cracks in the roads.
- Kim – No maintenance magic here either? They made it sound like the mansion was unusual because of that, but it’s going on here too?
The mansion was built by natives of the planet. But the tourist Jesians didn’t know enough about magic to put that stuff into Hardpan City. They were going to rely on hard-working janitors, but alas, those hard-working souls all got sick and left.
Mean shows up, baits Mackaba out of the building, and the fight begins. Mackaba begins to create a giant bubble filled with odd water.
- Odd water sprung out and filled the space, and Mackaba rose his arms. He flexed his gloved fingers outwards, and the boundary of the grid bulged and expanded up, forward––in every direction. As it did so the water surged and burst forth from countless points as the sphere continued to grow. Mean braced herself as the grid swept past her and through the small alley, and she fought to stay sound as the oncoming wave broke against her.
- Kim – Why is she staying there? Can’t she just fly above the sphere?
She could but she can fly anywhere she wants inside the water sphere anyway. She’s just slower in there. And she’s trying to distract Mackaba, so flying away completely isn’t something she wants to do.
- “This is my prison,” the officer bellowed. The odd water churned above him. A visible pattern formed in his hands: materializing into a solid, streamlined device that had a harness attached.
- Kim – Not sure what this is. A jetpack? Underwater scooter? Possible to just say that?
Hm? Underwater scooter? I came up with this idea, Kim. It’s a device that can propel Mackaba around in the water. A quick internet search will prove it.
DANG IT! You mean this is a REAL accessory that underwater people use!? And it’s called a ‘scooter’ of all things!? Gotta be kidding me. Someone must have read the first draft of my book and invented them. And now it’s me that’s stuck using that silly word now. Honestly!
Next Mean uses her gravity powers on the jet pack, er, ‘underwater scooter’ to send Mackaba flying around.
- “That jet pack you just made. It has a pattern. I can move it.”
- Kim – She’s lucky he made something with a pattern. Did she know he was going to do that? Or else, why did she stay on the ground like that?
Ha,ha because it’s cool. No, again, she’s just burning time. She was prepared to stand there and watch him do whatever until Dark got the DNA sample. Maybe I’ll change the scene so she has a reason to stand there and Mackaba has a reason to scooter around.
Kim did suggest that I have Dark come outside and get mixed up in all this, so that could probably factor into it.
- He kicked with his legs and flailed with his arms; the pack’s engines grew louder as it fought the pull from Mean’s spell.
- Kim – Why is he doing that? Why not just unbuckle the straps?
Mean is pulling Mackaba toward her. The drag from the water is too strong against his arms for him to unbuckle anything. I should probably just outright explain it in the chapter, huh?
- “You wanna know when I learned how to fly?” Mean wrapped her arms around the jet pack.
- Kim Wait, where is Mean in relation to Mackaba here?
Whoops, forgot to mention she’s behind him. HA,ha, I made it sound like she’s giving Mackaba a hug.
- “Get off me!” Mean growled as she squirmed under his drenched uniform, her face jerking away from his breath and dangling, wet hair.
- Kim – What kind of breath? Stale? Bitter? Minty?
Ha,ha. Unless Mackaba found toothpaste somewhere it’s probably pretty bad.
- Kim – How long is his hair? For some reason, pictured a police-style buzzcut.
What? But I’m always writing in the narrative that it’s wavy and slicked back over his head. I must need to mention it more often! But the length is about nine or eight inches I guess? It’s only dangling here because it’s wet and out of place.
Mackaba is on the ground but he tries to shoot Mean with his harpoon gun. She tells him to stop.
- “Stop shooting me!” With a jump through the air she kicked the gun from his hands the toe of her shoe.
- Kim – Might be more effective to kick with her heel. Don’t usually kick things with your toe area. That’s the most fragile part of the foot. Either the heel, ball of the foot, or top of the foot.
I was trying to show that Mean barely grazed the gun in her attempt at kicking it. You don’t always get to choose what body part hits where in a life or death battle. Trust me. I play lots of video games. And all you have is your four years of taekwondo classes. Pf. 😉
And yes, Kim also pointed out that I missed a ‘with’ before ‘the toe of her shoe.’
- He held a case in his hands as he crept out of the building, and the fishhook-marked flags high above him hung limp.
- Kim – Re-word? Just sounds off. What do the flags have to do with him carrying a case? Or maybe move to the last paragraph with the HQ?
Oh my goodness golly it’s SYMBOLISM for the impotence of justice on this lawless world, Kim! Or, uh, yes, I could just move that line somewhere else since it doesn’t have anything to do with Dark.
OR DOES IT? Hm? Hmm? Maybe you should get going on that next chapter, Kim! I’m finally caught up! Although I must admit, this one will take me quite some time to fix.
See you next time!