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Hi, I'm Sibo Makuza. I'm 17 years old (I know I'm young lol) and live in Zimbabwe. I wrote a YA sci-fi novel last year, and started submitting to agents. I got positive feedback, but nothing more than that. I knew then that my novel needed work. During my hunt for agents, I stumbled upon Jericho Writers, but couldn't afford to be a member. Till December 2019, there was an opportunity to apply for a free membership. I applied, I won it, I took it. 

I'm a fully fledged nerd that loves reading writing and sci-fi movies. If you've never heard of the Avengers, don't bother messaging me, haha (I'm joking). I'm currently editing my novel, and I'm thankful and lucky to be here.

My Forums
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TCK publishing has just announced a new poetry competition. I know some of you are interested in poe…
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  •  · Sibo,Thankyou for that. I am really sorry you are having to deal with some tough things right now. W…
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Hey, how are you? I asked this question about rewriting on Connie's forum, but since she left Townho…
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  •  · I get you! Thank you for responding Sarita. Stay blessed! 😊
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Does anyone else just come onto Townhouse, go through a bunch of forums, and think alright that's my…
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  •  · HI SiboMost people on here (if they are anything like me) jump on and off when they are ether: 1. su…
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This is my third time posting here (wow). You'd think it'd be less nerve-racking, haha.My name is Si…
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  •  · Fascinating, but what on earth does it mean?  You mean it isn't on Earth?
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If a book starts with a page of atmosphere, and world-building, I'm bored. I won't continue, and I w…
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  •  ·  I think it depends on the genre you are writing in. I read all manner of books. If it is a beautifu…
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Hi, I'm Sibo Makuza. I completed a novel last year, got rejections from agents, stumbled upon Jerich…
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TCK publishing has just announced a new poetry competition. I know some of you are interested in poetry, so I thought I'd let you know. However, you have to pay 5 US dollars to sign up , but you can submit as many poems as you want. But is that legit? Is paying for competitions a normality in the writing world? 

Cash prize: 1000USD and top 20 candidates get promo.

Either way, if you're interested there's the link

PS: I apologise for being inactive here on Townhouse I'm going through some emotional stuff and it's been tough.

PS: If you decide to enter the contest, good luck!

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If you don't hear from me ever again, it's because I died of the heat. 32 degrees Celsius at 3:30 pm, and it's going to be like this till November when it rains. 

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Hey, how are you? I asked this question about rewriting on Connie's forum, but since she left Townhouse and deleted her account (moment of silence please) I was unable to read any responses, so I'm asking question.

Is there a difference between rewriting and editing? This might seem super obvious, but it confuses me because people talk about how they're rewriting their novel for the 7th time, and I haven't rewritten it once. Sure, I'm editing it in it, but isn't editing in it's own sense a rewrite? I mean, if you edit it properly. So I'm confused. Is it because some stories are off the rocks and need a massive rewrite, or is there something I missed? Please do enlighten.

And also, have you rewritten your novel before? What motivated you to do it? 

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I have to change my profile now coz I'm 17 now 😂 

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Hey, how is everyone? Been gone for a while. Whilst trying to juggle the festival and my own novel, I decided to take a break from Townhouse. But I'm back! If you're reading this, how are you?! 

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Does anyone else just come onto Townhouse, go through a bunch of forums, and think alright that's my weekly visit done. 

Even though this is a community, I'm struggling to actually interact with people. I just see names and comments but I've been too scared to actually text anyone or say hi. 

So I'll say hi here.


*Conversation opener.

My favorite movie is Avengers and my favorite book is Deception Point by Dan Brown.

What are yours?

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This is my third time posting here (wow). You'd think it'd be less nerve-racking, haha.

My name is Sibo and I love three things.

1. Writing 

2. Reading.

3.  Watching sci-fi movies ( Warning: Don't bring up Marvel, I'll rant😂)

Four or five months ago, I posted a prologue that is now locked in a drawer somewhere (deleted) and I think a month ago (could be two) I posted the first 400 words of mh YA sci-fi novel, and it has been re-written.

Now, I'm posting the opening chapter. Call me crazy. If it gets beaten down to it's finest atoms— so be it, I love learning and improving as a writer, especially with my novel. I'm aware I still have a long, long way to go, and any feedback, opinion and critique is highly appreciated. Love you all!!

14 February 2018.


Spark didn’t know what to make of being on Earth. She was adopted and taken to planet Zardag a couple of days after being born. So— yes— Spark was an Earthling. The last thing she remembered about her sudden current return was saving three kids from her self-destructing spaceship. But now, she had no idea where she was. She would’ve believed you if you told her it was all a dream.

The room Spark was in contained little: blue curtains, a security camera, the bed Spark lay on, and a closed white door. Did Spark dare try to open it? No, nor was she going to unless the security camera combusted into flames. Nothing suggested she was in a hospital. But that must’ve been where she was. Where else could she be?

A white ant-sized creature walked into the room. It had a brown substance on top— possibly hair— and it stood on two legs. Because of distance, making it out in great detail was impossible for Spark . Also, she wasn’t in the mood to use her microscopic vision. Her powers were the reason she was in that mess.

 Suddenly, the creature stopped. Then, it left.  It’s arms and legs moved humanly, but it ran like the wind. 

What on Earth…? 

Outside her room, Spark heard hushed voices. It had to have been the doctors.

“Did you see her?”

 “Is she alive?”

  “She was awake.” 

  “Did she see you?” 

  “Not really, let’s go see her.”

  “Somebody else might see us.”

 “Who cares? I’m going.”

  “Me too.”

“Ugh fine, let’s go. But if we get caught, you are taking the blame, James.”

Spark closed her eyes, and pretended to go to sleep. She could see through her eyelids. Three teenagers, two boys and a girl, entered the room. Not doctors, but the kids Spark had tried to save. All three of them had brown hair and brown eyes, and the younger boy and girl looked the same age. Definitely siblings.

And totally opposite from me. Spark noted. She was tall and black, with chocolate brown, shoulder-length hair. Her eyes were phosphorescent green, in contrast to her gaze that made people feel she was apologizing for her presence.

 Stranger than Spark, was the older boy. He had huge arms and legs of hard rippling muscle, with an outright chest and broad shoulders. He was as muscular as a pro wrestler, but he was only a teenager. Sixteen or seventeen, Spark guessed. 

“We have to go…  if anyone finds us here… we’ll be in huge trouble.” the girl was saying.

“Will you shut up?” the younger boy snapped. “You’ll wake her up. And we found this girl, we have the right to see her.” 

“James, you saw what she did— she’s dangerous.” 

“I saw her saving our lives.” 

“And taking away others.”                                                          

  “Did you see her move that spaceship with her mind?” the older boy intervened, sensing an argument brewing.

 “No, we missed it.” the younger boy said sarcastically. 

Silence. Should Spark dare to speak?

  “Excuse me?” Spark asked, startling them. “Where am I?”

 The other three exchange nervous glances.

The older boy folded his arms. “London. Where are you from?”

  “Don’t let his muscles intimidate you.” the younger boy added. “He’s all fluff inside.”

Spark’s attention turned to the younger boy. He was about her age. His breathing was minimal, like someone holding their breath when anxious for something. Was he anxious for Spark’s response? His eyes flickered around the room occasionally. Was such alertness  in an Earthling normal? His face was a deep shade of red and his entire body shook. Not shivered, but shook. He stood in a shrunken position, as if he wanted to return to the womb.. With each second, he normalized. Like someone recovering from shock. But when he’d spoken… he sounded fine. So why did he look like someone who’d under gone a physical transformation? Had he been in a fight? He wasn’t disheveled. Wait, transformation… Brown hair… brown hair… Could he have been the white ant?!! 

 The young boy looked at Spark so intrigued she blushed deeply. 

 Spark realised she hadn’t given any response. She tried to play it cool like, “What muscles?” 

  “Oh, snap!” The twins said playfully whilst the older boy smiled. Phew.

    Spark sat up. She couldn’t remember where her spaceship had landed, but it hadn’t been London. “I’m from Earth, but I was raised on Zardag, a planet several solar systems away from here. How did I get to London?”


“We brought you back with us.” the older boy answered. “And for the record, it’s my weak arms that carried you.”

“I overheard Quinton talking to Emma. She suffered from severe brain damage,” the younger boy explained to the other two. “She might not remember the incident.”

If they were talking about Spark saving them, then yes, she remembered nearly dying for them, clearly. “I remember.” Spark said dryly. “The spaceship self-destructed. Did anyone get hurt?”

The girl answered. “Yes. There were a couple of scientists nearby. The blast hit them.”

Spark’s worst horrors came true. She had killed someone. Tears emerged at the corners of her eyes. 

“It’s okay, really.” The older boy said quickly. “Let’s face it, they weren’t that important—” His sister stared at him “— I mean —er— had you ever moved anything that big?” he asked Spark.


  “If you’re from Earth, how can you move things with your mind?” the girl asked.

“I don’t know.”

“And you have no idea how you got on that spaceship?”


“Do your parents know you’re here?”

“I don’t know.”

“Are your parents also from Earth?” The older boy asked.

“I’m adopted.”

There was a pause, then “If you came with that spaceship, why weren’t you on it when it landed?” the girl asked.

“I flew off.”

“Did you know it was going to self-destruct?”


“Why did it self-destruct?” the girl and the older boy asked almost at the same time.

“I don’t know.”

“You saved our lives. Thank you.” The younger boy said earnestly.

Spark stared at him.  She had killed people, and he was thanking her?! She remembered she’d nearly died herself. Why had they been there when the spaceship landed, anyway? Spark didn’t have the heart to ask. She simply murmured, “You’re welcome.”

“I’m James, this is my older brother Tom, and my twin sister Aya.”

 “I’m Spark.”

“Aya and I are 14, and Tom is 16. How old are you?”


Then, the door opened. A man entered. He pointed at the three kids. “Leave.”

 Everything from the man’s black suit and tie, to his resonating voice, radiated with confidence and power. His jet-black hair and sea-blue eyes made him more intimidating. Spark’s demeanor didn’t change. In some ways, the man was similar to her father.

However, James, Aya, and Tom dashed out quickly. 

“Hello.” the man said to Spark.

“Hello.” she responded.

“I’m Franklin, Head of the MI6, also known as the British Secret Service. And you are?”

Spark wasn’t surprised to hear who Franklin was, the man was almost a cliché. Black suite and tie with confidence and power— Spark would’ve been surprised if he’d been a farmer.

However, Spark’s heart thumped in her chest. She was the reason people died in the off-site facility. Had it belonged to MI6? 

“I’m Spark, the daughter of King Garvolus.”

“Hmm, I don’t think I’ve ever heard of King Garvolus.” Franklin said.

“He’s from Zardag. It’s a different planet.”

  “You’re not from Earth?”

“I am. I’m adopted.”

“How did your father adopt you?”

“My birth father was an astronaut. My father saw the spaceship my birth father was in, head for doom. My father couldn’t save anyone, so he came to Earth to at least warn Earthlings not to send anyone else in that direction. He found my birth father’s house, but found no one there, but me, plus a goodbye note from my mother. Then he took me.”

“How did he find your birth father’s house?”

“Technology.” Spark said simply. She knew Earthlings were less advanced.

“And what was this doom your birth father was heading in?”

Spark paused, she’d never asked. She saw asking questions as a sign of arrogance, and she didn’t believe she was better than anyone. “I never asked.” Spark mumbled.

Franklin’s eyes narrowed. “Okay. So, why are you back on Earth?”

“I don’t know.” She had gone to bed one night on Zardag, and woken up all alone on that spaceship. 

“Do you know how you arrived?” 


“And what happened after the spaceship arrived?”

Spark didn’t answer. What was she supposed to say? Other than, it blew up…

 “I heard you moved the spaceship with your mind. Is that true?” Franklin asked.


  “How, if you’re from Earth?”

Spark’s eyes fell down to her fingers. “I don’t know. There were several programmes on the spaceship with steps on how to do crazy skills and abilities. I don’t understand how I was able to do them. It’s like I’ve got a new power in me, and those programmes were just helping me control it.” She blinked back the tears threatening to cascade down her cheeks.

“Does that mean you have more than two abilities?” Franklin asked.

Spark nodded. 

“What do you have?”

“Super speed, super strength, telekinesis, pyrokinesis, microscopic vision, invisibility, flight power, and the ability to manipulate matter and non-matter.” Spark said counting her fingers.

“You have more abilities than all the three kids!” Franklin said astonished. 

Spark’s eyebrows shot up. “The kids have abilities?”

“Yes. A while before I became the Head of the MI6, I was a scientist. I did research on things like poison cures from different plant and animal DNA. I was young, wild, and knew too much for my own good. When I finished, I decided to work on something more adventurous. Genetic engineering. And now Tom, James, and Aya are the first ever genetically engineered humans. Nobody besides about four people in the MI6 know they exist. 

“Tom has superhuman strength. He can also produce claws, fangs and gills at his will. Aya can conduct electricity and turn invisible. James has superhuman speed, enhanced senses, enhanced agility, meaning he can climb walls and do spectacular flips, and he can shrink in size.”

Spark nodded mutely. Why did James have more abilities than the others? She wasn’t complaining— he seemed nice. 

“Do you want to ask something?”


“Spark, you can be free around me.” Franklin said. “I can tell you’re wondering something from what I said.”

“Er, well, I just wondered why James has more abilities than the others.” 

“Because he doesn’t have any fighting mechanisms. He can only run away really well.” Franklin replied.


Spark immediately warmed to James. She’d been the weakest person on Zardag, so she could relate. Plus James was handsome. 

Get that thought out of my mind. Spark scolded herself.

“Do you have any means of going back to Zardag?” Franklin asked.

Spark blinked. “No.”

“Okay. Do you know how to communicate with anyone from Zardag? Or anyone that can help you?”

Spark’s gaze fell. “No.”

“It’s okay. In the meantime, I was thinking you could work for me.”

 Spark looked up. “Work for you?” Spark’s heart raced. She didn’t even know how to cook.

“You’d be working with James, Tom, Aya, and their mission specialist Emma. I send them on missions that even the greatest of MI6 agents cannot complete. You’ll be joining them on these missions.”

Spark almost rolled her eyes at the offer. “I know who James Bond is— I’m nothing like him. On Zardag, the rich and the royal get access to Earth movies. I’m flattered by your offer, but no— I’m not a spy.”

“Then you leave me no choice. You are under arrest for the death of four research scientists, a MI6 Division 7 agent, two security guards, two security dogs, a receptionist, and a cleaner.” 

Spark bit her lip. “This job, when can I start?”

Spark wasn’t stupid. There was something Franklin wasn’t telling her. No reputable organisation would hire an unexperienced girl, especially one that didn’t even have an Earth birth certificate. On top of that, Spark was almost certain she hadn’t been brought to Earth to join the British spy service. 

What Spark didn’t know was, she was only going to be part of the MI6 for a few hours. Bigger things were waiting for her.

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If a book starts with a page of atmosphere, and world-building, I'm bored. I won't continue, and I won't buy that book. 

If a book starts with action, I'll get too confused, and I won't want to read more. If you're lucky, I'll read the reviews.

If a book starts with “Hi, I'm Percy Jackson.” I'm hooked.

“The Dursleys were proud to consider themselves normal” (I can't remember the exact words) I'm immediately hooked.

In other words, I want a book that opens with an introduction to character, because at the start, nothing else is going to hook me.

It doesn't necessarily have to be “hi, I'm so and so” but I should feel the character from that very first sentence.

Even such a sentence like, “Tom chewed his burger louder than a cow chewing cud.” is much preferred for me than “the clouds were stormy gray in the strange city of Tajmagal.”

Also, if the book starts with pages, and pages of character introduction, I'm bored.

If the book starts with a character introduction, then goes into action, the action must be simple.

If the character goes into battle, that might be too much.

If Percy Jackson vapourizes his math teacher at a school field trip, good.

If Harry Potter sets a boar constrictor loose, good.

Another alternative I like, and most preferred, is strangely, dialogue.

A character going into an interview is too cliche in my opinion, so not that one. At least not anymore.

But a lawyer going into a courtroom, and dealing with a court case, good.

A detective being informed of a major crime, good.

A protagonist being informed of anything, good. 

A protagonist hanging out with someone, then something intriguing happens, good.

In my opinion, it should go, character, dialogue, then action.

The action can start in Chapter Two, that's still fine. 

I'll give some examples. 

 Imagine a girl with superpowers. Someone tries to kill her, she fights them off with difficulty. (book starts with action)

A girl has superpowers. She lives on a strange planet called Waddo. (world-building, atmosphere, etc)

Or, a girl with superpowers. You learn her name is Y and how she got her superpowers, you may even feel a little sorry for her. She's informed someone is going to kill her, she doesn't believe it. (okay, she's stubborn and arrogant.) Someone does try to kill her, (now the since author informed the reader that someone is trying to kill her, they have to make it big to engage the reader, full-scale fighting) and Y fights them off with difficulty.

(character, dialogue, action)

(this example is longer, which I why I said the action may extend to Chapter 2)

Which opening would you prefer, I'm pretty sure you know which one I prefer?

Now, I know many of you may disagree with at least one thing I've said, I'm actually counting on it.

So, question.

To those that think my preferences are odd, or you just disagree with them, what openings do you prefer and how do they hook you? Which opening do you use in your novel? 

If you don't think my preferences are crazy, and you might be like me, i've got a question for you? When do you want the character introduction to end, and for the action/dialogue to begin

Do you want a page of introduction, or a paragraph. And which do you use in your novels?

PS: I will not be offended if you call me crazy, mental, or out of my mind, haha. My preferences are my preferences, and I'd love to hear yours.

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Hi, I'm Sibo Makuza. I completed a novel last year, got rejections from agents, stumbled upon Jericho Writers, and now editing my novel. I'd highly appreciate feedback on the first 400 words of my YA sci-fi novel. I know I still have a long way to go, but persistence is a key, so I won't give up! 

          14 February, 2018.

Nothing says ‘welcome back to Earth’ more than waking up, and having to figure out where you’re on your own.

The sounds of cars filled Spark’s ears. The lights were off. Spark moved her fingers, fumbling for a light switch. She felt nothing, but the familiar sensation of a bed sheet. 

Spark opened her eyes. She was in a room. Besides drawn blue curtains and a security camera, there was nothing in it. The room’s emptiness and plain white walls made Spark’s heart race. She remembered the two months she’d spent alone on the way to Earth.

From the sounds of cars honking, and people walking or talking in the distance, Spark could tell she was in a major Earth city. But she wasn’t sure which one.

Spark grabbed the sheet cover on top of her. Slowly, as her am shook in pain, she pulled it off. Spark mustered all the force in her, and sat up. Strong nausea hit her like the heat of a desert. A fiery pain burst through her head.  Spark clutched the handle bars on the side of her bed tightly. 

Spark pushed herself upwards. Her legs felt like water flowed through them. She fell back down. Spark decided to try a new tactic. She bum shuffled to the edge of the bed. Then, she hopped off it, and she was standing. 

Spark turned her body in the direction of the curtains. Barefooted, she started to walk. Her legs wobbled across till she finally arrived. Then, Spark peeked through the curtains. 

White people walked up and down the street holding either their phone, their coffee, or even both. Different types of cars zoomed by passing tall buildings with hundreds of glass windows. Spark ruled out New York, the buildings there were taller. From tens of floors above the ground, Spark watched people bustle about in long coats, and self-absorbed personalities. She ruled out Sydney.

 Spark stumbled backwards. She turned around to return to the bed. A white ant was on the ground. The very top of the ant was brown, and it stood on two legs. 

The ant turned, and ran. Spark watched it’s arms and legs move, it ran like a human. But it was fast like the wind. Spark dragged herself to the bed. The answer came to her just before she fell asleep.


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If you could ask a literary agent one thing, what would you ask him/her? 

I've registered for the “I'm an agent— Ask me anything!” live webinar, and I've written down a number of questions, but I'm struggling to put them in order of importance, in case I can only ask the one question.

So, if you could ask a literary agent one thing, what would you ask him/her?

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Hi guys, I'm Sibo Makuza. Been editing my novel and I'd highly appreciate feedback for the prologue. If you take the time to read this, thank you so much. 

And I appreciate honesty.  

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Hello everyone, my name is Sibo Makuza, and I'm 16 years old. I have written a novel (I don't feel obliged to reveal anything about it just yet) and I have received nothing but rejection from agents. 

Agents have told me things like "your book is imaginative and inventive, but it just isn't right for my list." I know nearly all writers have to go through this stage. But when you're a teenaged author, you feel alone. You read author success stories, and then realise they're 20 years older than you. Does this mean I have to wait 20 years till I'll get published? J.K Rowling wasn't a teenager when she published Harry Potter, Rick Riordan wasn't a teenager when he published Percy Jackson.

Despite my age, I'm very serious about writing.  I got a bursary membership into Jericho Writers (which I'm extremely grateful for) and I have completed the How-to-Write video course. Words cannot express how amazing it was, Harry Bingham's teachings totally revolutionized my book. But as a teenage author, sometimes I do feel lonely.  The ratio between teenage authors and adult authors is small. None of my friends are writers. So, if there any other teenage writers here on the Townhouse, I'd just like to let you know, you're not alone! And if anyone has any tips, on how to feel less lonely as a teenage writer, PLEASE TELL ME ABOUT THEM!

PS: I'm open to making adult writer friends too!

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