Notes on “Lightning”


My cousin Brad and I collaborated on the short story “Lightning” when he was 10 and I was 15.  He was the creator, and I was the writer.  I don't remember our exact process, except that I had him write up notes about what he wanted, then I refined it into a coherent story.  He'd read what I wrote, then give me some more notes to work off of, and so on.  Here's the character biography I had him fill out:

Created by Brad
Real Name:  Lois Bell
Sex:  Female
Occupation:  President of WRUL Channel 2 television station
Abilities:  Lightning can channel electricity through her body.  The ability to fly.
Age:  22
Nationality:  American caucasian
Height:  6'3"
Weight:  107 pounds
Eyes:  Blue
Hair:  Black
Info:  Lois Bell, being president of WRUL, was by the broadcasting tower supervising repairs.  By sheer chance, she was struck by lighting.

Lois was temporarily hospitalized.  Her boyfriend Karl Patterson stood by her side through the whole thing.

After being released from the hospital, Lois soon discovered that she had the power of nature's lightning.

Either ten-year-olds don't know much about biostatistics or else Brad imagined Lois Bell to be a severely underweight giant, probably suffering from an eating disorder.  (Brad had to laugh when I recently showed him these old notes.)  I assure you his writing ability has significantly improved and he has since earned himself a degree in English.

The rest of what follows are Brad's original notes.  I've posted these for the curious who wonder how a ten-year-old's disorganized idea can be transformed into an interesting story.  Maybe it will even encourage some young aspiring writers who aren't satisfied with their own work:  In order to write a little bit that's good, you have to first write a lot that isn't good, and you have to start somewhere.

You may notice that the spelling of Carl/Karl's name fluctuates.  This was probably influenced by the fact that I was in my third year of learning German at the time.

Apparently the refined story was intended to be a stepping stone, not the end product, as evidenced by a comment I wrote atop the notes:  “Hey, Brad, if you really think I could finish this and draw a comic within a week, dream on!”

Brad's Notes

To their surprise she returned later on that night.  “Hey Lois you're okay!  While you were gone the repair crew fixed the problem with the broadcasting tower.”

“Okay.  Thanks.”  When she went home that night, when she tried to open her door the knob exploded.  She decided to try not to think about it, and went to bed.  When she yawned, lightning bolts flew out of her hands into the ceiling.  She thought she was hallucinating, and went to sleep.  When she woke up the next morning, it happened again.  “What's happening?”  She opened the window, thought about lightning, and did it again.  “I'm not hallucinating.  Something must have happened when I was struck by the lightning.  Now that I've discovered this power how can I use it” she thought.  “I've got it!  I'll be a super hero!  I can call myself Lightning!  Now how should I make my costume?  I've got it.”

As she was making her costume, there was a knock at the door.  She opened her closet, and threw her suit in.  “Hi Lois.  I heard you were okay, and came to see you.  If you feel well enough call me, and we'll go out for dinner okay.  See you tonight.”

When Carl leaves she goes back to work on her suit.  “Whew.  That was a close one.  Once I get this done I'll go to work.  Then when I come home I can start my first day of crime fighting.  Good finally finished.”  Lois walked to her car, and drove to work.  At the end of the day, she went home, and right away she heard a scream.  She quickly got in to her suit, and flew away.  “Leave him alone!” she yelled as she reached the sight.

* * *

She drove to her house, and just pushed the door open.  Seeing that, for some strange reason, the door was open a crack.  Carl was sitting on the couch.  “The door was unlocked so I just walked in.  I came to see how you were doing.”

“Oh.  Fine, I guess.  I've been having a bad day.  I was mugged at work, and I was flipped off by a teenager for driving to slow.  Some how his engine broke down.

“Is something wrong?  It looks like you're hiding something from me.”  “Why would I hide anything from you?” I ask, trying to hide my secret even more.  “I guess you're right.  Sorry.  I'll go now.  See ya tomorrow?” he asks.  “I'd rather not.”  I reply.  “Okay.”  “Bye.”

* * *

Hours later, she was finally finished.  Lois had dug out some fabric and sewing material and made a costume.

* * *

After discovering her incredible abbilities, and finding a name, she just needed a suit.  Getting an idea from The Adventures of Lois and Clark, her favorite show, she decided to make it so she wouldn't be to hot with it under her clothes.  She was going back to work tomorrow, and decided to get some rest.  She decided to work on it after work.

She arrived at work the next day to be greeted by the entire company.  “What the heck is this?” she ask.  “Your welcome back party.” they all replied.  “Thanks but this isn't neccessary.  Get back to work.  We'll party later.”

After work that day she went home exhausted from the party.  She dropped on the couch, and thought.  “I didn't think what's happening to me could really happen.”  Just then there was a knock at the door.  “It's Karl.  Let me in.” he called.  “just a second.” she replied.  She let him in.  She continued to think as he got a snack.  He walked in the room, and saw electricity jumping from finger to finger.

“What the heck is happening?” he screamed.  Hearing him she left her thoughts on lightning, and thought of an excuse.  “ electricity is bad in this apartment.  UH... yeah...static electricity.”  “No.  That wasn't static electricity. I want the truth!” he exclaimed.

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