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Empress Theresa - what do you do with unlimited power ? (2 Viewers)

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Jeko

WF Veterans
Tone it down! Isn't it toned down enough already?

It's not the facts of the relationship. It's the descriptions you use and the tone you imply:

'It was a backless dress made of flimsy, clingy material. It was already short but the occasion called for making it shorter. Jack deserved the VIP treatment.'

'Off came everything I wore. I put on thong panties but no bra and slipped on the dress. It reached only to my upper thighs. String shoulder straps held the nearly weightless thing up. My back was bare to the rump. Cleavage exposure ranked a venial sin. I looked in the full length mirror on the door. Yup. This was the ultimate killer dress. “Jack, eat your heart out!”

'We went downstairs and when the boys lingering around in the hallway saw us them whooped and hollered in exaggerated manner. They were paying tribute to my appearance'

'I was conscious that they were all thinking of my body. Well, some girls might not like it, but I did. Let prudes go to the beach and then say I was being slutty.'

You have to read them from a YA perspective. I know I can.
 

popsprocket

Retired Chief Media Manager
I agree, the whole scene with the black dress is weird. Not really out of place, even in a YA book, but not particularly good either. It's something I can't quite put my finger on, though.

I didn't write something like this, which would indeed make parents wonder what value this story could have for their kids:

That's a personal attack. How about doing that in the relevant thread and keeping this one focused on your writing?
 

empresstheresa

Senior Member
I agree, the whole scene with the black dress is weird. Not really out of place, even in a YA book, but not particularly good either. It's something I can't quite put my finger on, though.


It's a few pages in something like three hundred and fifty. Taken out of context this way, it has a different sound to it, if you haven't read everything that came before.

Here's something weird.
A book narrated in the voice of a nine year old girl has a trial about a man accused of rape. The trial goes on and on for many pages and during this time the reader has to think about rape. Pretty sick, hunh?

It's To Kill a Mockingbird, winner of the Pulitzer prize, 85 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, and an Oscar winning movie. The book is assigned reading in middle and high schools.

There's no scene on the edge of propriety in Empress Theresa. Sure, there are scenes in which Theresa is playing for high stakes. But disaster is averted and there's no blood and mayhem.

Somebody, I can't remember who, said a while back that Theresa is like a robot dispatching one problem after another with no failures.
Well, in the dorm room scene Theresa is human, a typical girl. What she's doing is something that thousands of other girls might do under similar circumstances. I didn't give you the scene in which she walks into Jack's room and finds Ginny there, while half a dozen boys are watching, including Steve. She walks out thirsting for blood.
 
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Jeko

WF Veterans
I can too.

You are mistaken. See, I am a young adult. I read YA fiction 24/7. After all that I've read, including YA fantasy, YA horror, YA sci-fi, YA adventure - everything except YA romance, really - I can safely say that the extract you posted about the black dress would not fit a YA book the way it is written. Neither would your personal attacks.
 

Blondie

Member
I know I'm posting a lot right now but I finally got some time off from work.

Anyways while I understand what empress is going for here I also feel this is turning less into a YA novel but more into a teenage version of 50 shades of grey but thats just me.


EDIT: Basically what I'm getting is that the character that everyone is up in arms about is essentially a slut (I don't know the language TOS on the forums I'll happily edit it out if requested) that simply hops off one person to another just out of spite, which honestly....is a bitch that I would hate.
 

Jeko

WF Veterans
ET: whether or not the above interpretation is correct, it should make it clearer what I'm getting at. I doubt 50 Shades of Empress Theresa will ever find itself on the YA shelf. It may find itself on a shelf, but not the YA shelf.

As I said, be more subtle.
 

the antithesis

Senior Member
I know I'm posting a lot right now but I finally got some time off from work.

Anyways while I understand what empress is going for here I also feel this is turning less into a YA novel but more into a teenage version of 50 shades of grey but thats just me.


EDIT: Basically what I'm getting is that the character that everyone is up in arms about is essentially a slut (I don't know the language TOS on the forums I'll happily edit it out if requested) that simply hops off one person to another just out of spite, which honestly....is a bitch that I would hate.

I had read his chapter outlines before he had taken them down and I don't think that's an especially fair assessment of the character or the situation. It was contained within one chapter when the robot named Theresa goes to college and while there gets involved in a simple, cliched teen romance where one guy really likes her but his best friend asks her out first and they become a couple, oh woe! But then they fight and break up and she winds up hooking up with the first guy who weawwy woves her. They get married and he becomes an inconsequential side character, who is mentioned but does nothing, for the rest of the story. I think calling an emotionless robot a slut is harsh. I don't think she was so much a slut as an idiot. The main point is that once this thing ends and she's married, that whole portion of her life is all done. It's over. Nothing happens with it ever again. As such, it sticks out like a sore thumb in the narrative. So I think it's unfair to judge the character based on this episode which is so inconsequential that it could be removed completely without effecting the narrative.
 
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Jeko

WF Veterans
I find Blondie's interpretation perfectly valid. Things do need to be considered holistically, but everything has its individual effect. Any scene that makes the protagonist look undesirable for the story can only create issues and make suppressed problems more evident to the reader. The main purpose for YA fiction is entertainment, so if the reader is not entertained by a scene, it needs to be worked on, or it needs to go. Depends on its importance.

Would a scene where Katniss watches wallpaper dry be effective in the Hunger Games? Only if it was used in conjunction with emotive exposition, I think. Then it links to the rest of the story.

The key question is, what does the extract mean, empresstheresa? How does it affect the overall, one-line plot?
 
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empresstheresa

Senior Member
I'm baccccccccccccck! :tickled_pink:

I had read his chapter outlines before he had taken them down and I don't think that's an especially fair assessment of the character or the situation.


I said it before, and I'll say it again. An outline is not a text. If you haven't read the full text you can't know how the story reads. I pointed out that the outline of something like To Kill a Mockingbird would look pretty thin, if you haven't read the text.

Besides, I already pointed out that chapter outline was written long before the current Young Adult version. It was for a 142,000 word "adult" version which had many scenes out of sight of Theresa. The new 96,000 word version is different.

It was contained within one chapter when the robot named Theresa goes to college and while there gets involved in a simple, cliched teen romance where one guy really likes her but his best friend asks her out first and they become a couple, oh woe! But then they fight and break up and she winds up hooking up with the first guy who weawwy woves her.
They get married and he becomes an inconsequential side character, who is mentioned but does nothing, for the rest of the story. :concern: I think calling an emotionless robot a slut is harsh. I don't think she was so much a slut as an idiot. The main point is that once this thing ends and she's married, that whole portion of her life is all done. It's over. Nothing happens with it ever again. As such, it sticks out like a sore thumb in the narrative. So I think it's unfair to judge the character based on this episode which is so inconsequential that it could be removed completely without effecting the narrative.

The chapter outlines did not and could not mention all the things husband Steve does in the story. Theresa is understandably burdened to the point of madness when she finds out it's up to her to get control of HAL and save the world. Steve rushes to England to be at her side. She probably couldn't make it without her.

Steve does other things. When the Prime Minister points out that a part of the solution she has implemented to bring rain to the world will cause massive hurricanes all over the world all the time, she whines "What am I supposed to do, change the laws of physics? This is the most impossible problem yet." In the middle of the night, physics major Steve gets out of bed and jumps on the computer. He has realized there is no solution to this problem on Earth. One thing HAL can't do is destroy excessive heat. He looks for the solution elsewhere and finds it.

When OPEC issues its blackmail, Theresa says, "I saved their lives, I turned their deserts into gardens, and this is how they thank me?" Steve replies, "This is the world we live in. We're going to kill those bastards!" Once again, he gets up in the middle of the night and jumps on the computer. He's looking for ocean floor oil deposits left behind by plate tectonics. He locates a likely spot off the coast of Antarctica and Theresa goes to work.

The next day Prime Minister Blair calls to say Israeli Prime Minister Scherzer wants to meet her to talk about OPEC. She drops the phone on the floor and complains, "Everybody wants something from me. I can't do everything." Steve waits until she calms down. A meeting is set. Steve, Theresa and the two Prime Ministers meet at Number 10 Downing Street. During this meeting, Theresa says only seven words, "It's a piece of cake!" and "You're welcome." Steve does all the talking so old warrior Scherzer can have a dignified man-to-man bullsession. Agreements are reached about what to do for Israel.
 

Jeko

WF Veterans
Theresa is understandably burdened to the point of madness when she finds out it's up to her to get control of HAL and save the world. Steve rushes to England to be at her side. She probably couldn't make it without her.

Ah! That's good emotional stuff there. Reminds me of I Am Number Four.

If you re-wrote the extract you posted to make more of this, then you'd get your readers attached to your characters a lot more. Have things between Theresa and Steve develop in a natural but exciting way. At the moment, their meeting is difficult to enjoy or see any relevance in.
 

empresstheresa

Senior Member
Note to my dear friend Cadence. :welcome:

Although I disagree Theresa is acting slutty but is having a forgiveable reaction to events ( later in the story she briefly mentions the insane sexual antics of other girls she knows on the campus without going into detail ) the very fact that there is so much controversy on this scene has made me change my mind. I don't want controversy to change the nature of the story.
Now, she just puts on the dress as is, six inches about the knee, no cutting off five more inches. No mention of bra and panties. No mention of the boys gawking at her. The dress is "appropriate for parties, but in my room, with no other girls to look at, Jack would find it hard to forget." Of course, it's Steve who shows up.
 

empresstheresa

Senior Member
Aha! My dear friend Cadence was waiting for me.
If you re-wrote the extract you posted to make more of this, then you'd get your readers attached to your characters a lot more. Have things between Theresa and Steve develop in a natural but exciting way. At the moment, their meeting is difficult to enjoy or see any relevance in.

The rest of the chapter is about Theresa getting her parents to agree to the wedding despite her youth. She's only seventeen. Her priest intercedes and says Steve is as fine a boy as she's ever likely to meet. He's seen many young marriages, some that worked and some that didn't. He believes Steve and Theresa will make it. The chapter ends with a description of the wedding.
In chapter four, they've been married two weeks and all hell breaks loose. President Martin makes his move.
 

the antithesis

Senior Member
I said it before, and I'll say it again. An outline is not a text. If you haven't read the full text you can't know how the story reads.

You keep making that excuse. It still doesn't wash.

Theresa's husband doesn't do anything important in any way. What does he do? Nothing happens in their relationship after their initial hook up. They go places and spend time together, but nothing interesting happens there. Why? Because nothing changes. They start the scene in love and they end the scene in love. So nothing happens there. The only other thing her husband does is occasionally come up with solutions to the current problem because he's a physics major. This is a role that could be filled by anyone else, such as an actual physicist instead of someone who's only studying physics. He's unnecessary and could be left out entirely or replaced with a butler with a mop and bucket following her around.

...Or introduced in an entirely different way. You could make her husband an actual physicist, or a member of her team of scientist working with her to help her solve the problems she causes and they fall in love then. You could even have that love triangle bollocks if you like with the best friend guy being another scientist. This way you don't have the romantic subplot happening in a separate chunk apart from the actual story of Theresa ruining the world by making one stupid mistake after another. Nothing happens during the college scene except this romance crap and nothing comes of it after she marries the bum. So move it into the middle of the action to make it wed the main story better.
 

empresstheresa

Senior Member
Sometimes I wonder about posters's motives. Post 133 gets it so wrong I can't believe what I'm reading.
I'll just respond to a few points.


You could make her husband an actual physicist, or a member of her team of scientist working with her to help her solve the problems she causes and they fall in love then.


Theresa needs Steve's support from the very start, as I already indicated.

You could even have that love triangle bollocks if you like with the best friend guy being another scientist.

This is not a romance novel, and Theresa wouldn't be likely to want to get involved with anybody with the tremendous pressure on her.

This way you don't have the romantic subplot happening in a separate chunk apart from the actual story of Theresa ruining the world by making one stupid mistake after another.

The romantic subplot takes place in chapter three, before all hell breaks loose, and neatly gets Theresa happily married, a situation which will be critical to her, and everybody.

Nothing happens during the college scene except this romance crap and nothing comes of it after she marries the bum.


What do you want, a hundred pages of on-again-off-again courtship? You can find that in a million romance novels. My intended readers would be bored to death by that crap.
It was the "bum" who a year earlier got Theresa thinking about her earliest theory of what HAL was, in an innocent conversation at college when Steve had mentioned something with fellow physics students. ( Steve knows nothing about HAL. ) As a result, Theresa has a full year to think up a theory of HAL before the critical Sunday night meeting with Prime Minister to discuss HAL. She finally realizes what HAL is.
The next day she tells Blair how important Steve was:
From chapter eight:
“Your husband explained this without knowing about HAL?”
“He could see I was interested but not why.”
“How important was he to developing your theory of HAL?”
“Without Steve, I wouldn’t have a clue what to think about HAL. I think I would have told you I can’t do anything and gone home. You might drop Steve a thank you note.”

Steve arrives in England later that day.
His importance to Theresa and her work is soon recognized. He is universal respected in the rest of the book. He could have been elected king of any country, but he chooses to stay in the background.
 
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Jeko

WF Veterans
Sometimes I wonder about posters's motives.

Don't, please. We're all here to help, and our responses are only based on what we've read, so they're only based on what has been posted. If you believe anyone is wrong in what they say, then take the hint they're giving - you've miscommunicated something, either through your extracts or your posts.

Rather than say what's wrong, I'm going direct my posts more towards what is right and can be more right. The relationship between Steve and Theresa should be fleshed out more, I think. It should be critical to the story. You have the opportunity to make your story shine with it.

Take the relationship between the protagonist and Sarah in I Am Number Four. His love for her is what makes him foolish and mess up the secure situation he's in.

Make Steve's relationship with Theresa not just part of the story, not just linked to the story, but make it a cause for events in the story that makes it go hand in hand with Theresa's struggle. Make Steve cause problems. Then you'll have the relationship add to the conflict of the story.

These are, of course, just ideas, but from what I've read the best relationships cause more problems than they solve. It's the love of the characters that makes the reader know they won't separate, and then they fear that their love will turn any chance of a good situation upside down. Be mean to your characters! Make things go wrong!
 

empresstheresa

Senior Member
Cadence,

I remember when Michael Crichton's
The Andromeda Strain
came out. I read the book before seeing the movie. The story is tired today, but at the time we college kids found it fascinating. ( college kids read books in those days ) Crichton was just then graduating from Harvard Medical school. He was no dummy and knew what he was doing. He never practiced medicine; he became a professional writer.

The Andromeda Strain had no romance sub-plot. It was all about getting the bug. It would have been easy to throw in a romance between the scientists desperately trying to find a way to stop Andromeda. Just replace that ugly woman scientist with a decent looker and there you are. But Crichton who must have considered this realized this would break up the tension of the story which is what made it so good.

In Empress Theresa, I take care of the romance question in chapter three. It satisfies Theresa's need to have someone with her for the trials to come. When all hell breaks loose in chapter four the trials go on for the rest of the book.

Theresa has a love affair with the human race.

When during the Sunday night talk with Prime Minister Blair it becomes apparent Theresa might be able to get control of HAL and save the human race, and Blair asks her if she'll do it,
who would answer yes to such an awesome responsibility?
Besides that, the President of France has already said a thousand assassins will be after her, so she is in effect throwing away her life in going after HAL. But she answers the PM's question:
"Sure. It's only the most impossible, burdensome, insane task ever imposed on a human being."
 

the antithesis

Senior Member
The Andromeda Strain had no romance sub-plot.

But you do. So this comparison does not hold any water. Confining it to a single chapter doesn't help. It makes it that chapter stand out like a sore thumb.

The whole beginning of your story has too much noodling around, anyway. Eight years pass and nothing happens. She gets this HAL thing when she's ten, but nothing comes of it. She doesn't bother trying to learn to use this HAL thing until she gets to college. And then she's kidnapped, taken out to sea, put onto a remote controlled fighter jet with an atomic bomb to be detonated over international waters. There's just a lot of nothing going on at the beginning and chapter three is a particularly long digression into things that are not particularly interesting. It's a cliched love triangle thing but it just kind of ends like you had lost interest in the whole deal. Then nothing happens with it. it's stable and that makes it boring. Steve's role as supporter is very weak and could have been accomplished by anyone else. There is no real reason for Theresa to be married. It doesn't add anything except an extraneous chapter that wiggles like a loose tooth.
 

Jeko

WF Veterans
college kids read books in those days

Pretty sure they do now as well.

It satisfies Theresa's need to have someone with her for the trials to come.

You can't fulfill a 'need' for something in a single chapter. In YA, if you have a romance, it needs to be a reason why the story progresses the way it does. With the story already so convoluted, having Theresa married just to 'satisfy' something will only increase the confusion of events. So what if you've taken care of the romance question? Books aren't written to take care of questions. They're written to tell stories. Have you taken care of the question of why Theresa isn't a lesbian? Should you write a scene for that? Or, alternatively, what of the question of why she enjoys chocolate cupcakes over the ever-so-popular blueberry variety? Do you understand what I'm getting at?

Don't focus on answering questions in your story - focus on telling the story.


To give an example, here's a quick outline of my version of Theresa's tale, set in the heart of mid-summer Ohio:

Act One: Theresa grows up as an unhappy child. Everyone makes her feel inferior, especially at high school. Then she inherits a strange entity that gives her incredible, near infinite power. In foolishness, she turns the lives of everyone who ever made her feel small her upside down. Realising her mistake, and her new responsibility, she sets everything right quickly.
Act Two, part a: Theresa tries to control herself. No-one knows that she caused the nightmarish events in Act One, yet. She tries to fit back in. But tapping into her infinite power, she makes herself more attractive, and people start to like her more. She becomes friends with Steve, who she falls in love with. Things get more and more out of control for her.
Act Two, part b: Steve discovers Theresa's infinite power, the day before they are to be married. Theresa is able to make him keep quiet, without using her power (as she wants the relationship to be real), but after their marriage, suspiscion only grows and grows. The enemy, a shadowy but actually righteous illuminati, finds out what Theresa has, and her life turns to hell as she has to escape their clutches with Steve. The enemy want the power she has to solve all the world's problems, at the expense of her life, as they have to kill her to get it. Theresa keeps on running. When she catches a moment safe in her old school with Steve, the two have sex. This is the crux of Act Two.
Act Three: Theresa is trapped inside the school as the enemy surround her and Steve. She is forced to defend herself and Steve from them, but her powers are gone and she doesn't know how. The climax comes as the enemy launches a final assault, and she feels helpless, but she realises that you don't need infinite power to stay alive. She remembers a way out of the school, a chance for them to keep on running. But the enemy stop them, and instead of taking Theresa, they take Steve, for he now has Theresa's power (they had sex, which transferred it). Theresa loses Steve. She is left alone, powerless now, and the normal life she has craved for so long is bittersweet as she regains it. The end.


Note that Theresa's goal is to have a normal life, and Steve's presence forms a critical part of that. He is so tightly bound to the story that, even when Theresa gains her life back, she doesn't gain it all, because she has lost Steve. Steve does not answer questions. Steve makes the story what it is.

Note also, that, because I came up with that plot structure in 20 minutes, you should be able to change yours to improve it. Never shy away from taking everything apart so that you can put it back together. Start at the basics. What is Theresa's goal? How does Steve affect this goal and her journey towards it? Don't give answers to those questions - make those answers better. If that means the whole plot changes, go with it. Big changes are the best.

Note also how simple the above outline is. It would make a 300-500 word novel easily, as long as the generic structure is followed.
 

moeslow

Senior Member
How a romance novelist would write it.
Steve saw his opportunity. Ginny’s surprise visit to Jack left Theresa vulnerable. He had a chance to get her.​
He knocked on Theresa’s door. “Come in” he heard her say. He entered.​
Theresa was dressed in a string bikini. Her expression showed she had been expecting Jack.​
“Hi, Steve. You wanted to see me?”​
Was she playing words with him?​
He walked closer. “Ginny is Jack’s hometown girlfriend. They have a longtime understanding.”​
“What about you, Steve? You have a girlfriend hidden away?”​
“No. I waited for college to find somebody really special.”​
She avoided commenting on that to look innocent.​
He looked down on her figure. It was the perfect seventeen year old’s body. Breasts recently fully developed and high on the chest. No cellulite collections anywhere. Tightly toned leg muscles from high school phys ed. And that incredible mane of hair that flowed down over curves to tease him with promises.​
He wanted her, and her expression showed she wanted him.​


It’s all about boy lusts for girl who lusts for boy.


How I wrote it………………..
I went to the closet and pulled out my ’little black nothing’. It was a backless dress made of flimsy, clingy material. It was already short but the occasion called for making it shorter. Jack deserved the VIP treatment.​
I got a pair of scissors and cut five more inches off the hemline. Off came everything I wore. I put on thong panties but no bra and slipped on the dress. It reached only to my upper thighs. String shoulder straps held the nearly weightless thing up. My back was bare to the rump. Cleavage exposure ranked a venial sin. I looked in the full length mirror on the door. Yup. This was the ultimate killer dress. “Jack, eat your heart out!”​
I waited a few minutes. And sure enough there was a knock on the door. I stood against the counter in front of the window and said, “Come in!“​
Steve Hartley came through the door.​
“Hi, Steve. What‘s up?” Probably not the best choice or words.​
Steve walked close up to me.​
“Ginny is Steve’s old high school girlfriend. They have an understanding. She was supposed to drop in next weekend but she showed up early.”​
So it was all coming to an end anyway! “She go to another college?”​
“No. She’s a waitress.”​
Then she could be a cashier in Jack’s father’s store.​
With that, the happy new couple had absolutely nothing to say. Steve stood there glancing down at my dress. He had a lot more to deal with than​
he’d expected. This awkward moment had to be gotten over or he wouldn‘t be back. The problem was there was nothing to do in my room.​
“Want to go downstairs and hang out with the guys, Steve?”​
“Sure.”​
“Ginny should love this outfit.”​
We went downstairs and when the boys lingering around in the hallway saw us them whooped and hollered in exaggerated manner. They were paying tribute to my appearance and Steve’s triumph.​
“Pay no attention to these animals” Steve joked, but he was clearly pleased.​
More boys came out of there rooms and clustered around us. Talk quickly moved to my high school baseball career. I was conscious that they were all thinking of my body. Well, some girls might not like it, but I did. Let prudes go to the beach and then say I was being slutty.​
Steve and I were perfect for each other. In a month we knew we’d get married. And we wanted to get married soon. Well really, now! Could we go four years without doing it?​


Theresa and Steve are clearly attracted to each, but much more information is given. There’s even a glimpse of dormitory life which will interest high school kids.

Theresa draws Steve out to join the gang until he gets used to her. So nothing happens that they'll wish didn't.

In an earlier version I wrote two years ago, both Jack and Steve walk into Theresa's room. This opened the door to many kinds of steamy developments. Remember, these are teenagers out of contact with their parents for the first time. But I decided that wasn't the way to go.

Why is the heroine of the novel acting like this? This isn't endearing, nor is it empowering. It does little to grow her in the eyes of the reader. This is something the most hated character on Gossip Girls would do, not my YA leading lady.
Can you imagine Katniss Everdeen acting in this manner?
There is nothing subtle about this. You want dramatic irony, you want to let the reader read between the lines. What you don't want is in your face shanky.
 

empresstheresa

Senior Member
So many suggestions for improving my story!

It's easy to make "suggestions". They are nothing but alternative storylines. And of course, since they're your ideas, they have to be great ideas. Whether they make the story better or worse doesn't seem to be a major concern around here.

Harper Lee is still alive. Let me make some suggestions for an improved rewrite of To Kill a Mockingbird.
I'll give her a list go choose from. I do want to help her out: :D

1. Atticus marries a second wife who he doesn't realize is a closet racial bigot. When the trial of the black man is scheduled, Atticus's wife's bigotry becomes apparent. There is much domestic discontent. Scout is negatively affected by all this and starts going downhill.

2. Atticus marries a second wife. When Atticus is assigned to defend the black man from a charge of rape, angry whites rape Atticus's wife.

3. Instead of angry whites showing up at the jail to get the black man, a crowd of blacks frees the black man and helps him get away. Whites blame Atticus for this. His legal practice is ended. He has to take menial jobs. The embittered man's character deteriorates. Without a good parental model Scout degenerates into a troubled teenage, gets pregnant, and commits suicide.

4. Robert Ewell attacks the kids. Boo Radley tries to defend them but Ewell kills him with his switchblade knife ( not mentioned in the movie but mentioned in the book ). Boo falls, dropping his kitchen knife. Scout grabs the kitchen knife and stabs Ewell in the back killing him.

I could come up with other helpful suggestions if you need them, Ms. Lee. Remember, you only won the Pulitzer Prize. There's still that Nobel Prize to go after.
 
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