1. ToeKneeBlack
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    ToeKneeBlack Contributing Member Contributor

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    Grammar Team Transformation

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by ToeKneeBlack, Feb 2, 2016.

    Part way through my story, I have a team of brightly coloured insectoid creatures who are revealed to have human forms.

    I wasn't happy with this when I wrote it and now that I'm re-drafting, I think I need help to make it more than a roll-call.

    What I've got so far is:
    The five battle weary members of the Arthropod Squad landed in the docks. Simultaneously, in flashes of light the same colours as their bodies, each of them became human.

    The Sapphire Dragonfly became Rick, the Citrine Crab turned into Cecelia, the Emerald Mantis was revealed to be Tim, the Amethyst Scorpion became Jessica and the Amber Wasp changed back into Delta. Immediately, her legs gave way beneath her, causing her to collapse.


    The creatures and the people they become have already appeared in the story, but this is the first time they're revealed to be the same beings. Does the second paragraph flow well, or is it repetitive?
     
  2. ToeKneeBlack
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    ToeKneeBlack Contributing Member Contributor

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    I've had a go at altering these two paragraphs:

    The five battle weary members of the Arthropod Squad landed in the docks. One by one, in flashes of light the same colours as their bodies, each of them became human.

    In a burst of blue light, the Sapphire Dragonfly became Rick. Cecelia emerged from the Citrine Crab’s orange flash, before the Emerald Mantis was engulfed in a flare of green light which faded to reveal Tim. A purple glare converted the Amethyst Scorpion into Jessica and finally the Amber Wasp shone with a vivid yellow light and changed back into Delta; immediately, her legs gave way beneath her, causing her to collapse.


    Would you prefer the first example or the second?
     
  3. Catrin Lewis
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    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

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    So, Rick, Cecelia, etc., have been introduced in the story before, right? And the reader knows a little about what they look like? Since we don't know these individuals have these Arthropod Squad alter-egos, this transformation scene should be an "Oh, wow!" moment for the reader. So maybe try something like, "In a burst of blue light, the Sapphire Dragonfly morphed into a young man with blue-black hair. A flame-haired woman emerged from the Citrine Crab’s orange flash . . . " In the course of dialogue after that, have the team members call each other by their human names. That'll link them to the human characters we've met before. The reader can then say, "Ah ha! So that's what they're up to!"

    Or maybe mix the names in as the transformation goes along. "In a burst of blue light, the Sapphire Dragonfly morphed into a young man with blue-black hair. 'Cecelia!" he called to the flame-haired woman emerging from the Citrine Crab's orange flash, 'Are you all right?' 'Yes, Rick,' she said, 'But . . . '"

    With five team members transforming simultaneously you've got a writing challenge on your hands. But as both alternatives read now, it feels like you're telling me, "Rick got out of the powder-blue coupe, while Cecelia pulled up in the orange cruiser, and . . . ." Not very mysterious, exciting, or revelatory.
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2016
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  4. ToeKneeBlack
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    The reader is introduced to the human versions of the characters early on while they're training. They get a call from their mentor, who gives them instructions for their next mission.

    The "giant bug" versions of them are introduced separately about a quarter of the way through the story, while the reveal takes place about half way through.

    One of them was hit over the head with a frying pan as a human and tells the hero (while he's transformed but before the reveal) that he's not so tough without it. The reader gets a big clue before the reveal, maybe too big, but they're introduced a long time before the reveal. Should that work?

    I've modified the passage further:

    The five battle weary members of the Arthropod Squad landed in the docks. One by one, in flashes of light the same colours as their bodies, they began to change shape.

    In a burst of blue light, the Sapphire Dragonfly became Rick. Cecelia emerged from the Citrine Crab’s orange flash, while the Emerald Mantis was engulfed in a flare of green light which faded to reveal Tim. A purple glare converted the Amethyst Scorpion into Jessica and finally the Amber Wasp shone with a vivid yellow light and changed back into Delta; immediately, her atrophied legs gave way beneath her, causing her to drop to her knees.

    Delta's the odd one out, since she was thought to have been abducted by the Amber Wasp and wasn't a member of the gang to begin with.
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2016
  5. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm with @Catrin Lewis - If this meant to be a big reveal, I'd think you should spend more time on it. Is there a POV character for this scene, or is it omniscient? (It feels like omniscient so far, which makes it harder to really build a sense of excitement. Still you could try!) I hate the advice as an overall thing, but in this case, I think you want to show, rather than tell.

    The Arthropod Squad limped back to base. The dragonfly's back right wing was scorched almost black, and the rest of the team slowed to accommodate his slowed pace. The team landed together, just as they always did. Just as they always would, until the day one or more of them didn't make it back from a mission.

    They shifted at the same time, too, the individual flashes of light combining into a rainbow explosion. But as soon as they were back in human form, their synchronization vanished and they all sprang into independent action.

    All except the Sapphire Dragonfly, now Rick. He collapsed onto his knees, face pale, the last of his strength spent on the journey home. Cecilia, no longer the Citrine Crab, ran to him, crouched beside him, and crooned softly. "We'll get you fixed," she told him. "No problem, Rick, you're home. You're safe." Then she lifted desperate eyes to see Tim, the Emerald Mantis, sprinting for the deck comm system.

    "We need a medic in Bay 4," he bellowed. The technology didn't require that kind of volume, but Tim's desperation clearly did.

    Jessica had started for the first aid kit before she'd completely lost the amethyst tinge of her Scorpion form, and she jogged over with it now. Maybe it was too little, too late, but she wouldn't give up on her teammate, not ever.

    The three of them busied themselves with Rick, whispering and yelling at him to stay conscious. And none of them noticed Delta quietly collapse in the exact same spot she'd been when she transformed from the Amber Wasp.

    Obviously it needs to fit your plot and characterization, but the general idea, from my way of thinking, is to add some action, some emotion, some drama. This is a big moment - let it be big!
     
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  6. ToeKneeBlack
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    The POV idea's great! Here's my second attempt with it:

    The five battle weary members of the Arthropod Squad landed in the docks. The Amber Wasp looked at the other four as one by one, in flashes of light the same colours as their bodies, they began to change shape.

    In a burst of blue light, the plasma-scorched Sapphire Dragonfly became Rick, who placed his hands on his knees and tried to catch his breath.
    Cecelia emerged from the Citrine Crab’s orange flash, while the Emerald Mantis was engulfed in a flare of green light which faded to reveal Tim. The pair of them looked down at their fatigued second in command with a sense of relief that their brutish leader had been abandoned in the fight.
    A purple glare converted the Amethyst Scorpion into Jessica, who put her arm around Rick and helped him into a seated position on the cold, hard ground.
    Finally the Amber Wasp felt a surge of power coursing through her entire body, which shone with a vivid yellow light. When it faded Delta found herself standing in the Wasp’s place; immediately, her atrophied legs gave way beneath her, causing her to drop to her knees. The whole experience of being a "giant bug" felt like the kind of nightmare where you're not quite in control; even the memory of the experience was almost as agonising. The only relief she could find was the lack of an overpowering voice in her head.
    “Fetch the wheelchair!” yelled Tim, who put his hand on Delta’s shoulder in an attempt to comfort the disorientated girl.


    This is probably the hardest part of the story for me to get right during the first two drafts, but now it has much of the detail it was sorely missing. Thanks for your help so far.
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2016

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