Empress Theresa - what do you do with unlimited power ?

Page 1 of 22 12345678911 ... LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 214
  1. #1
    Banned
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Maine - we're here so you don't have to be
    Posts
    151

    Empress Theresa - what do you do with unlimited power ?

    What do you do if you have unlimited power?
    It depends on what kind of person you are. If you're a good person you'll do good in the world.
    If you're in the Adolf Hitler school of social justice you'll wreak havoc in the world.
    Or, you might do nothing at.
    Theresa is a good person. She would prefer a private, quiet life, but she has to do good in the world. Without her, "...we are all lost." ( British Prime Minister )

    Hello. I've been working on Empress Theresa for eighteen years and it's only in the last three that all the parts fell together. I finally put it down on computer.

    The final version is a Young Adult novel. A YA addresses a problem common to youth. It might be an abusive family, drugs, bad sexual relationship, bullying, or others. Theresa has none of these problems. Her problem is understanding the world and dealing with it, something common to all of us, but in Theresa's case it goes to extremes. "Poor Theresa!' says British Prime Minister Peter Blair. "She faces a dilemma with equally unacceptable alternatives. When her story is written it will be said her adversary was not people in the world but the world itself."

    In my next post I'll give the opening pages.
    Last edited by empresstheresa; November 2nd, 2012 at 04:13 PM.

  2. #2
    Banned
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Maine - we're here so you don't have to be
    Posts
    151
    ...... An author has many choices to make in the opening pages of his book. He wants to tell the reader as much as possible but risks overloading the reader with matters not that important.
    ...... For example, somebody has suggested I write out a touching scene showing Theresa's father telling her she'd have to be captain of her ship and sometimes the seas would be rough. Perhaps, but when the seas do get rough for Theresa her parents can do nothing to help her. They are not significant characters in the story. I have Theresa say, "I had good parents", and leave the rest to the reader's imagination.
    ...... Notice also the simple writing style I use, which reflects Theresa's youth. She's only ten when the story begins. Later, situations get far more complicated. Dialogue, especially Prime Minister's Blair's, becomes more sophisticated.

    ......But enough. The opening pages..................

    ......I’m Theresa, the only child of Edward and Elizabeth Sullivan, and I hope it’s not bragging to say I was cute as heck at age ten. Everybody in the Sullivan clan said so. I was the princess in the Sullivan family of Framingham, Massachusetts because besides being cute I was a whiz in school. All the Sullivans expected great things from me.
    ......Nobody could have dreamed of what I would do a few years later, and nobody would have believed it if they’d been told, but when this story began I was a little girl who didn’t have much of a clue about anything. My job as a kid was to figure out what the heck was going on and what to do about it. It’s not easy when you’re young and everything is brand new.
    ......My father was in the Navy. He said I had to be the captain of my ship but sometimes the seas would be rough. I had to learn all I could about the world. Yeah, well, why should I be worrying about it in the fourth grade?
    ......I was home alone at age ten while my parents worked but I was safe. Mom and dad installed one of those new child safety alert systems. All I had to do was quickly squeeze two buttons on my bracelet three times and the whole street would be blasted with a siren’s earsplitting wail. Neighbors were always around and the security company would alert the police.
    ......I had good parents. By the time I was ten they convinced me I should get myself through the school years without drug or boy problems. There are girls like that, you know. You wouldn’t think so to look at the news. I find it strange that people are interested in news about troubled girls, but wouldn’t want to associate with them.
    ......Our house was next to a pond close to the river where all the neighborhood’s kids had spent many happy hours looking for turtles and frogs. I was lounging on the deck reading a book on the school summer list.
    ......Taking a momentary break from the book, I noticed a red fox walking along the pond's edge. It disappeared behind the little patch of woods which dad let grow wild like most of the neighbors. This was very rare. Red foxes were never seen in broad daylight during the summer months. It didn't happen.
    ......Then something really amazing happened. It came out of the woods and walked towards me!
    ......I kept still and waited to see how close it came before noticing me. It was sixty feet away, forty, twenty. By now it was clear it was looking at me.
    ......I considered running into the house, but curiosity won out.
    ......The fox reached the four steps of the deck. It came up the steps, stopped, and sat on its haunches staring at me. It did not seem vicious so I waited.
    ......In an instant, faster than you could blink an eye, a softball sized white ball emerged from the fox and went straight into my stomach.
    ......I screamed and ran into the house. The fox ran away. I slid the glass deck door closed and locked it just in time to see the fox disappear in the woods. I stood at the glass door for five minutes watching for anything else that might happen. At last I thought it was all over.
    ......I went into the living room to sit down and think. What was that white thing? I couldn’t come up with any theory. It was nothing I had even seen on those television nature programs.
    ......Perhaps it was a daydream from not eating enough. Mom had warned me about that. At age ten I was already conscious of my weight and tried to stay skinny. I should eat something.
    ......I went into the kitchen to prepare an early lunch of fried eggs, a strip of bacon, toast, and milk. I gobbled all this down in a couple of minutes and soon felt better. It was too little eating after all. Nothing had really happened.
    ......Satisfied, I walked back into the living room to find something else to do. I turned on the television and watched the late morning talk shows for a while.
    ......I heard fire trucks in the distance blaring their deep toned sirens. These trucks could be heard from a mile away. They were coming closer. And closer. Soon the sound made it obvious they were in the vicinity of our street. My intuition told me this had something to do with the white thing that jumped at me.
    ......I went out the front door and waited on the lawn. The sirens were very close, and, yes, there they were turning into the street, a tanker truck and a small ladder truck. The two vehicles went halfway down the street and stopped. Already people were coming out of houses to watch the excitement.
    ......The yellow fire engines had loudspeakers that sent out vocal messages loud enough to rattle windows. A conversation was going on between the firemen and the station.
    ......“What do you have?”
    ......“A hundred and fifteen degrees here” a fireman shouted.
    ......“It‘s seventy here.”
    ......“Yup. Must be something here.”
    ......A crowd of neighbors was gathering near the confused firemen. I left the house and walked over to join the onlookers. “What's going on?” I asked one of my girlfriends.
    ......“They're looking for a fire.”
    ......The girl's father said, “The temperature jumped up in a few minutes.”
    ......It was hot. It was nice a little while ago. I thought it over. A fox appears in daylight which never happens, it comes up practically to my feet, the white thing jumps into me, and the firemen look for a fire that doesn't exist. All this happened within an hour. There had to be a connection.
    ......Before long the fire chief arrived in his yellow sedan. He asked the lead fireman if anything had been found. Then they walked over somebody's property to look at the pond. Nothing there.
    ......“Could it be a ground fire?” the fireman asked the chief.
    ......“Not likely with water over there unless there‘s a rock ledge underneath. I suppose we'll have to check it out.”
    ......Thermistor probes were brought from the station, and firemen spent the rest of the morning pushing the probes a few inches into the ground to check the temperature. They did this on everyone's lawn, the area inside the turn around at the end of the street, and finally went into people's back yards. They found nothing.
    ......“Weirdest thing I ever saw” said the chief.”
    ......“How long do we stay here?”
    ......“Make it four o‘clock. Longer and we'll look stupid.”
    ......Television news vans came around. It wasn't much of a story; nothing to aim a camera at except fire engines and embarrassed firemen. As for the mystery of the invisible heat source, people don't like news stories that don't have a resolution. The reporters and their crews lost interest and left.
    ......Around one o'clock, the fire engine megaphone shook the neighborhood with an update.
    ......“Temperature is down to ninety.”
    ......“That’s still twenty over. Keep at it.”
    ......An hour later, the firemen were saying the temperature was seventy-five. I thought it was fun that I was the only one who had a clue what was going on. The firefighters just hung around trading jokes and stories.
    ......Finally, the lead fireman noticed it was quarter to three and said, “That's enough. We're out of here.”
    ......The fire trucks went away.
    ......The busy Boston TV stations didn't take the time to mention this non-event.
    ......I was young and inexperienced, but I wasn't a dumbbell. If people found out what happened today they‘d pester me about it forever. Cousin Mary was diagnosed a schizophrenic and the whole Sullivan clan was biting their nails waiting for the gene to show up in some other family member. It wasn’t going to be me! I resolved to never tell anybody. Not even my parents would know. They’d think I was crazy like cousin Mary.

    ......Two days later I woke up early and walked into the living room. Mom was looking intently out the window. “What’s going on?” I asked.
    ......“There’s some men parked down next to the turn around. They’ve been there all night.”
    ......I looked and sure enough a van and a four door sedan were parked in the turn around where they could see every house on the street.
    ......“Mrs. Gagnon said a police car stopped to talk to them at two a.m.” said mom. “They showed IDs and a little later the police left.”
    ......Dad woke up and heard the same story. As mom and dad got ready for work another police car came around the street, but left without stopping.
    ......I was alone again. Other people left for work. The morning wore on. The mail truck came by at ten. I walked out to get the mail. Two minutes later the car and van drove away. They had spotted me.
    ......How did they know about me?
    Last edited by empresstheresa; November 4th, 2012 at 04:32 PM.

  3. #3
    Banned
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Maine - we're here so you don't have to be
    Posts
    151
    It would have been so easy to have Theresa cause mischief when she got unlimited power. Most well known writers would do so. The formula is: have the protaganist make mistakes, do something wrong, then try to correct the damage done.

    Consider Hitler, Stalln, Chairman Mao, Pol Pot, Saddem Hussein, and a hundred others. They rampaged all over their spheres of influence with their power.
    Do you find these people interesting? Do you go see movies about them? Are there movies about them?
    Do you like them?

    I did something different.
    Theresa is a good girl. She doesn't do anything bad to anybody. She doesn't tell anybody what to do.
    "Those who challenge Theresa Hartley's power are fools" Israeli Prime Minister Scherzer warns his enemies. "She could destroy the world. Don't push her too far."

    But the world learns it has nothing to fear from her.

  4. #4
    Hello,
    You mention that the character is ten when the story begins, and therefore you're using a very simple style. However, the first couple of paragraphs indicate that the narrator is several years older when she's telling the story; I think it would make more sense to have the style reflect the age of the narrator rather than her age during the events being narrated. I'm not sure what age group you're targeting here, but many kids are quite capable of engaging with more complex vocabulary and sentence structures (at least if Harry Potter is any indication).

    Your story seems to actually start at the end of the sixth paragraph; almost everything previous to this is backstory, and I think you could find a smoother way to work the information into the narrative, if it's really necessary.

    The events in this excerpt happen very quickly and you offer very little description or atmosphere. I'd suggest starting with her on the deck, give some of her impressions of the day and her book, show us how she thinks a little. Then the fox; and that's an important event, so spend some time on it. Describe the fox, describe the ball of light, how Theresa felt before and after. Try to show us what she's like as a character through her thoughts and reactions, rather than telling us.

    Since you're rather insistent about Theresa being a good girl, I have to say - I'd rather see a main character who is flawed. There's a wide range between Hitler (and people do, in fact, find Hitler very interesting, even if they don't like him) and a flawless goody-two-shoes type. In your first paragraph, to be really honest, when she says she's cute and a whiz in school and the princess of the family - she sounds braggy and spoiled.

    You've clearly spent a lot of time thinking out the premise and the plot of this story, and it seems like it offers a lot of possibilities. Hope this helps somewhat.

  5. #5
    Banned
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Maine - we're here so you don't have to be
    Posts
    151
    lasm,
    Thanks for your input.
    As I said earlier, an author has difficult choices about what to include and what to leave out.

    The events in this excerpt happen very quickly and you offer very little description or atmosphere. I'd suggest starting with her on the deck, give some of her impressions of the day and her book, show us how she thinks a little. Then the fox; and that's an important event, so spend some time on it. Describe the fox, describe the ball of light, how Theresa felt before and after. Try to show us what she's like as a character through her thoughts and reactions, rather than telling us.
    I started reading "To Kill a Mockingbird" last night. I'm only on page fourteen so far. There is atmosphere. There is detailed descriptions of the environment.
    However...... ( you knew that was coming! )
    If I remember correctly from the Gregory Peck movie, the whole story revolves around one situation, the trial of a black man on some false charge. The book has 282 pages.

    Theresa has these main situations, ( and minor situations )
    Theresa’s “impossible” tasks:
    1. Escaping from the jet fighter plane
    2. Figuring out what HAL is and how he works
    3. Getting control of HAL
    4. Providing rain
    5. Getting the world through the winter with a year’s crop totally lost
    6. Keeping ocean levels under control
    7. Preventing the oceans from overheating
    8. Finding a new source of oil
    9. Giving the Israelis 24 hour daylight
    10. Giving the Israelis a way to evacuate Israel in one day
    11. Providing a new home for the Israelis.
    12. Taking control of a Boeing 747 and landing it
    13. Liberating the North Koreans
    14. Eliminating the threat of 200 new HALs

    To squeeze all this into a book of reasonable length, I have to keep things moving along quickly. My first draft had 142,000 words, enough for 525 pages. What young adult is going to read all that! I reduced it down to 96,000 words or 355 pages, which matches the Hunger Games books.
    As for atmosphere......
    The British ships find Theresa's "dead" body in the South Atlantic. Her "death" means the human race will starve to death.......................

    “The world settled in for the long wait for the HMS Queen Elizabeth to return to England. Somber music was played on radio day and night. A favorite selection was Saint-Saens’s The Swan for cello and piano made famous by Russian ballet as The Dying Swan. But the most appropriate piece for the girl descended from the Irish was a soulful instrumental version of Danny Boy. It was perfect. Great Britain was proud to bring one of its own back home for a final visit.
    “But for most of the world there was no consolation. Dreams of a good future were gone. There was nothing to look forward to but misery or death. Parents spent all the time they could with their children. Mothers held their children and cried, wondering why this horror was happening.

    Since you're rather insistent about Theresa being a good girl, I have to say - I'd rather see a main character who is flawed. There's a wide range between Hitler (and people do, in fact, find Hitler very interesting, even if they don't like him) and a flawless goody-two-shoes type. In your first paragraph, to be really honest, when she says she's cute and a whiz in school and the princess of the family - she sounds braggy and spoiled.
    Yes she does, but that's a flaw ! But you see her grow out of it.
    Later in the story, when she is a worldwide hero everybody wants to meet, Theresa is self-effacing. She makes no public appearances. She doesn't do the talk shows to talk about herself. She doesn't write a book. She refuses to answer reporters's questions. In her only "press conference" ( the Prime Minister has warned the reporters not to open their mouths or they'll never be invited back to the Parliament building again )............

    "I won't answer your reporters's questions. Nobody elected you. I'll talk to elected heads of state when necessary for the public good.
    "I saved your lives. All I want in return is the right to walk the streets without being hounded by curiosity seekers and the paparazzi. You owe me that much."

    ( She sure ain't no kissbutt ! )
    She prefers a quiet private life to the extent that's possible for a person in her position.

    The world can hardly believe somebody in her position wouldn't grandstand it to death! Anybody else would.
    Eventually it becomes clear it's better this way. Letting Theresa keep her feet on the ground like this won't tempt her to use her power to change things. Theresa leaves things alone.

    Finally,................
    if Theresa has a fatal flaw, if she's cowardly, if she's not very bright, if she gives up, then she doesn't succeed in her difficult challenges,
    and in the words of the British Prime Minister, "....we are all lost."
    Last edited by empresstheresa; November 6th, 2012 at 04:40 PM.

  6. #6
    Banned
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Maine - we're here so you don't have to be
    Posts
    151
    What is your reason for writing a book?


    If I just wanted to become a published author, I would have been writing for the last forty years.
    It's easy to write a book. Like mysteries? No problem. There are a million mysteries and there will be a million more. The formula is simple. Have one or several people murdered. Have one or several murderers. Probably throw in a clever detective, somebody you can use as a base for a whole series of mysteries. Call him Hugh Sharpe. "Sixteenth novel in the Hugh Sharpe series....."

    I don't recall literary critics analyzing a mystery to death. They're just entertainment. That's ok. I like to watch movies.

    Eighteen years ago, I had the kernel of an idea for a story that would mean something. It wasn't until three years ago that I had the problems worked out in my mind and actually started writing it.

    A theme of Macbeth is that "pity", concern for the well being of others, is a stronger force than a rampaging dictator.
    Theresa has "pity" for her fellow human beings, and her actions benefit the entire world.
    There are minor themes. More practical themes. She has to prepare herself for her challenges or she will fail. This point is made on page one. She has to make herself a good person. This is also pointed out on page one.

    British Prime Minister Peter Blair reiterates these ideas in an address to the House of Commons:
    “We should consider how it came to be that Theresa Hartley was chosen to be host to HAL. Her character is impeccable. Her intellect is of the finest quality. No more perfect choice could be found for her task. HAL merged with her when she was ten. A few years earlier and she would have told everybody about HAL with most unfortunate results for herself and us. A few years later and she might not have developed the skills needed for the challenge. But she received HAL at age ten, old enough to know to keep HAL a secret, but young enough to set herself on that path of intellectual development to enable her to address the HAL problem. Did all these happy circumstances happen by chance, or by design? ”

  7. #7
    The formatting on this is a bit scary. I understand that the website's formatting is a bit odd, but you can clean this up to make it a much more inviting read. For example, instead of the "......." to indicate the new paragraph indention, you could simply put two line breaks after the end of a paragraph. Much better to the eyes, and you may get more people to stick around and read it when they open up the thread.

    On to the story itself.

    You could do with a new opening line. Starting off a first person story with the main character introducing herself by name is as generic as it gets. You're going for YA, not a Children's book. i.e. My name is Junie B. Jones. The B stands for Beatrice, except I don't like Beatrice. . .


    “The temperature jumped up in a few minutes.”

    Possibly change that a little. There could be tense confusion.


    “A hundred and fifteen degrees here” a fireman shouted.
    ......“It‘s seventy here.”
    ......“Yup. Must be something here.”


    Not anything you really have to change, but I'd suggest revising it a little. All three dialogue lines end with "here," which gets things repetitive. Missing a comma in the first line as well(unless that's correct for where ever you live. If so, ignore this)



    The whole firefighter scene seemed a bit unrealistic. I was just thinking the whole time, "Why don't they just get a helicopter and be done with it?" Instead, hours were wasted. It seems only natural for a helicopter to be used when searching for a fire that may not even exist. Really, with the way it was handled, wouldn't surprise me if that Fire Chief lost his job. He could've sent someone other than himself to handle a job like that.

    “Weirdest thing I ever saw” said the chief.”

    A stray quotation mark.



    Pacing issues throughout this. Yes, I understand what you said:

    To squeeze all this into a book of reasonable length, I have to keep things moving along quickly.
    The problem remains, though. Priority is given to things in this story that priority should not belong to. Too much attention on the little things, not enough on big events makes this feel highly uneventful.

    Do you find these people interesting? Do you go see movies about them? Are there movies about them?
    Do you like them?


    Yes. Especially where Hitler is concerned.


    I did something different.
    Theresa is a good girl. She doesn't do anything bad to anybody. She doesn't tell anybody what to do.
    If you mean different than stories involving Hitler and others mentioned, then yeah, it's different. None of them are popular characters or topics throughout the YA genre. This, "Theresa is a good girl. She doesn't do anything bad to anybody. She doesn't tell anybody what to do," on the other hand, isn't different when speaking of the YA genre.


    Yes she does, but that's a flaw ! But you see her grow out of it.
    It's possible that you just pointed out the flaw yourself. Not sure until I know where the story is going, but currently the narrator seems to be telling a story from her past. If she's not, then some revision needs to be done. If the whole story is going to be about her ten year old self(which I already don't recommend. YA novels tend to be focused on young adults, not children), how will we see the narrator grow out of something when the story isn't focused around her current self?


    With a little revision, I believe this story could go somewhere.

  8. #8
    Hi, empresstheresa,

    I'll do my usual thing of focusing on the opening.

    I’m Theresa, the only child of Edward and Elizabeth Sullivan, and I hope it’s not bragging to say I was cute as heck at age ten. Everybody in the Sullivan clan said so. I was the princess in the Sullivan family of Framingham, Massachusetts because besides being cute I was a whiz in school. All the Sullivans expected great things from me.
    ......Nobody could have dreamed of what I would do a few years later, and nobody would have believed it if they’d been told, but when this story began I was a little girl who didn’t have much of a clue about anything. My job as a kid was to figure out what the heck was going on and what to do about it. It’s not easy when you’re young and everything is brand new.


    I agree with Fin that formatting is bit off. It reminds me of the arrows Darren Shan uses for every new section in his Demonata saga, but doesn't have the same effect.

    The first impression I get is that I'm reading a formal, normal introduction. This can have a good effect in some ways, if done well, but it can also turn many readers off. There's no action, just introduction at first. 'I’m Theresa, the only child of Edward and Elizabeth Sullivan', for example, is something that the reader can find out within the story, rather than having it told to them as simple fact.

    'I hope it’s not bragging to say I was cute as heck at age ten.' This would be a very good phrase, I think, but ending with 'age ten' doesn't read right. Fiddling with the syntax here might help that.

    'Everybody in the Sullivan clan said so.' This is good, gets an overall insight into how the mood of the Sullivan family works.

    'I was the princess in the Sullivan family of Framingham, Massachusetts because besides being cute I was a whiz in school.' One key problem comes at this point - I'm seeing a perfect character. Everything's fine, everything's good. No problems. Hence, everything's a tad less interesting. It's fine to have a happy, perfect-ish world, but if you do, you have to present it in a way that makes the reader more interested. Having it so blatantly realised in the introduction is less efective. 'Nobody could have dreamed of what I would do a few years later' continues this feeling of perfection.

    The rest of the opening ftwo paragraphs reads better, though the tone stil suffers from being a bit too easy. What's the issue here? All we have at first is backstory.

    Beginning with an introduction like this helps get a lot of useful information and characterisation out the way quickly, but it can be off-putting and lacks the ability to grip me. I'd be fine to walk away from this story now, because there's nothing making me want to stay.

    Try to work out a good hook, and weave it into a more inspiring opening. Then you should get far more attention coming towards Theresa's way.

    Good luck with this,

    Cadence.
    My creativity is like my consumption of alcohol: it knows no bounds.
    -------------------------------------------------------------
    I write about anime and internet culture at Unnecessary Exclamation Mark!

  9. #9
    Banned
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Maine - we're here so you don't have to be
    Posts
    151
    I read the last two posts carefully, and noticed that many points made could equally apply to To Kill a Mockingbird, a smash bestseller on the New York Times bestseller for 85 weeks and quickly made into an Oscar winning movie.

    For example.
    The rest of the opening ftwo paragraphs reads better, though the tone stil suffers from being a bit too easy. What's the issue here? All we have at first is backstory.
    In To Kill a Mockingbird, the trial doesn't begin until the second half of the book.
    Before that, Harper Lee talks about the kids little activities which is very charming, but if you'd never heard of the story you wouldn't have any idea what the story was about until around page two hundred.

    I didn't know what I expected when I joined this forum.
    I hoped to learn something from writers who had books printed by known publishing houses. Are there any?
    I'm a little disappointed at the process.
    Last edited by empresstheresa; November 25th, 2012 at 04:06 PM.

  10. #10
    Member wee_clair_064's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Northern Ireland
    Posts
    45
    Quote Originally Posted by empresstheresa View Post

    I didn't know what I expected when I joined this forum.
    I hoped to learn something from writers who had books printed by known publishing houses. Are there any?
    I'm a little disappointed at the process.
    This forum is about helping each other with writing skills and in the process also learning some writing skills for yourself. Its not a forum were we praise each other until the cows come home.
    I'm not sure why you are disappointed in the process?

    "There is probably no Hell for authors in the next world - they suffer so much from critics and publishers in this"

    - C. N Bovee

Page 1 of 22 12345678911 ... LastLast

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
This website uses cookies
We use cookies to store session information to facilitate remembering your login information, to allow you to save website preferences, to personalise content and ads, to provide social media features and to analyse our traffic. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners.