Revising this one was a full journey and then another. For this revision project, I wanted to pick the oldest stories I could find and revise those. I didn’t really want to revise the newer ones in case improvement would be extremely hard to see. Little did I know I’d do what I did for this.
So the original story, which I’ll add at the end of this post, was completely different. Actually, it is so different, I could totally say that this story was inspired by the old one, and I didn’t actually revise.
But that’s not the spirit of this project! So let me go through my thought process for this one.
When I read the story again, I saw that way too much was the character just “talking” and nothing actually happening. There was no scene, and there really wasn’t any character development. Most of it was told as something that a person witnesses and then cause him to do something.
I didn’t want that. I wanted to have a story that actually felt like it had a full narrative for the story. I wanted the character to make a big decision, one that would affect him. I guess I should admit that some of this is inspired by some of my favorite hero stories where the hero must deal with his regular life and being a hero (aka all spiderman stories).
The exposition on the old story was also ridiculous. Hell, I think it was mostly exposition. So I tried my best to spread out the exposition and thin it out. As I developed characters more and more. Granted, the MC doesn’t have a name, but I thought it didn’t matter. Still, I tried to give him something to care about.
Finally, I tried to throw in some small details without really explaining them for the sake of characterization. I decided to add to the characters with little movements, things to show internalized thought that wasn’t necessarily on your face. I guess that was to combat the exposition as well.
Anyway, I hope that the new version actually works well by itself. As for the old one, here it goes:
A Hero Thing – 2013 version
I read the fourth novel in my favorite science fiction series when it happened for the first time. At that time, when I was 13, we all had a “reading period” between our first and second period of the day. For half hour, the school required all students to read. Usually, it was too early for me to read and I ended up falling asleep. But this new novel simply kept me up. I turned the page and then everyone in the class started speaking. I turned around, attempting to find the commotion but could not see anything out of the ordinary. For some reason everyone spoke at the same time but I was the only one who could notice the noise. Everyone still faced their books, some even drooled over theirs. Their mouths did not move; yet, I could hear them. Everyone went silent at the ring of the bell and I did not experience this again for several years, not until I turned 22.
From what I can understand, there was no meaning to the age. I shouldn’t have changed in any fashion, but something still clicked in my head, whatever had caused it to happen ten years ago. At first, I thought of it a curse. You see, I am not in the best of shape or am I the most popular person in world. And as much as I try to be nice to people, I can literally hear what they think. I always said I was turning into a cynic but hearing people, my faith in humanity slowly declined.
People lie. They lie a lot. You can ask them, “hey how are you doing?” Usually they’ll say, “everything’s fine,” or say “good” when they actually want to say, “my life fucking sucks and I hate everyone.” I must admit that my first thought as a writer was “great, I will hear what people actually think of my writing. After a single writing class, I learned people have a two-word vocabulary to describe my writing in their head. “This sucks,” they all thought the same thing, the perfect thing to feed my insecurities. It was hell.
It took me an entire year, but I got used to it. People tend to be self-centered anyway and never quite think about you unless you speak to them. They are more worried about how they look onto others, what they will eat for the day, or if that one person of the opposite sex likes them (in some surprising cases of the same sex). Nevertheless, the ability proved to be nothing more than annoying. I could not selectively hear people; I heard everyone.
On November 2012, things changed again. As I entered a coffee shop, which I usually did not because of the loudness involved, I noticed a strange man standing by the bar. Well he wasn’t strange; he looked like everyone else. Yet, I could not hear him. He simply stared straight ahead, waiting. Probably waiting for his coffee, I thought and moved on but could not shake a strange feeling coming from the man. Think of it this way. Imagine a whole group of monkeys all shouting and throwing their processed food at each other. But in the middle, there’s a monkey who just sits patiently, not throwing stuff or screaming its lungs out.
<The laptop on the third table looks expensive> he thought.
I turned to him.
<Where the hell is John? He’s late.>
I ordered my coffee and stood by the bar, waiting for the coffee, a couple of feet away from the guy. A car arrived and parked in reverse at the entrance, taking up the handicapped spot. The driver never got out of the car but opened the passenger door open.
<Okay, it’s time.>
The guy walked towards the back of the store and went into the restroom, spending some 30 seconds in there before coming back out. He walked slowly, in a stride people would have deemed normal on any other occasion. I didn’t take my eyes of the guy. I knew something was wrong but I couldn’t quite understand. Without any hesitation, he lifted the laptop in front of a girl who studied from a book. For at least three seconds, the girl and her study partners did not understand what was going on until the guy was halfway out the store.
“He took my computer!” the girl screamed at the top of her lungs and several guys by the door attempted to stop the guy. He managed to push them off and get in the car with his buddy.
I ran the entire scene several times through my head and I finally understood what had happened. It all fell down on me. The true crime was not that some man stole the laptop. I was the criminal. I had the absolute potential to stop the guy. I knew something was wrong. The more I thought about it, the more I noticed that I had thousands of options to stop him. I could have attempted to do him by force. Truth be told, that probably would have failed. But, I could have told the girl to put away the laptop. I could have told the store owner to keep an eye out for the guy. I could have told the security guard outside to stand by the door. I could have done so many things but I didn’t.
Now, I love superheroes like Batman and Superman, but I am not about to go dressed in spandex saving the day. That’s not what my style. After that day, I chose a different path. I preferred to stay out of the spotlight, remain hidden from the world. Sincerely, I feared that the government would find me and experiment on me. Reading minds doesn’t make you less gullible to conspiracy theory. Everything I do, I do it incognito. I am different than any other “hero” or “law enforcer.” I prevent things.
Well, I concentrated on the backstory on this one. Fun fact, some of this is actually true, minus the whole reading minds thing. I did feel bad when I saw the dude steal the girl’s computer. I felt I could have done something but I didn’t react fast enough. It did bug me because even though I am not tall, I’m still big. Had I put my weight on it, I could have tackled the guy down easy. Whatever happened after could have been solved with the help of the other patrons. Nevertheless, writing this was difficult as hell. I don’t like to show people my actual process of thinking… and I did not completely stay true to myself. Sincerely, if I were to have super heroes, I would probably go dictator-like, which is pretty nuts. I know I would abuse the power, even if I tried not to but I wanted to remain good in this story, good but hidden.