Writer In Motion: Week 3, Draft 2

The seahorse wouldn’t leave Alora alone. It swam around her face and kept pecking at her neck. She batted at it a few times and missed. The little bites were starting to hurt. “What do you want?” she shouted.

Unfurling its tail, the seahorse dropped a small shell into Alora’s lap and skittered away. Picking it up she saw that the shell was painted deep blue with intricate yellow stripes around its perimeter which meant only one thing. Swimming up suddenly, she knocked the shell from her lap and it slowly drifted through the dark water to the rocky surface below.

Shaking off the sleep, Alora reached for her golden trident and bounded down the path she was supposed to be patrolling. She’d fallen asleep on duty once again and was certain to get chewed out by her superiors. It wouldn’t be the first time but if she’d missed something it could certainly be her last.

Her pulse was pointing now and she could feel her gills flushing water against her skin. What did she miss? She must have missed something to get a blue shell.

Approaching the end of her route Alora saw it. There, off in the distance she saw something. When she widened the dilation of her eyes completely she could just make out the ripples and shadow far up on the surface of the water. A human boat.

Reaching to her hip she grabbed a small metal rod, brought it near her trident, and beat them together three times. The deep clangs echoed through the water causing nearby sealife to slink away and hide. The noise dissipated quickly and nothing appeared to happen but she knew better.

Bracing herself, Alora raised a hand above her head at the ready letting the rod fall to her hip. It appeared to be attached with some type of green vine.

Her hand was suddenly engulfed with a red tentacle and she was yanked upward. She raised her trident hand and another tentacle wrapped around it pulling her upward toward a red writhing mass. The tentacles pulled her safely past the jet of water propelling them upward.

Held in place at the head of the giant octopus she gently rested her hand against the animal’s skin, interfacing with it and taking control. Their minds connected as she danced her fingers over its skin instructing it what to do. The tentacle grasped her a bit tighter as it adjusted course toward the boat.

Looking left and right Alora checked that her other companions had heard the alert as well. The fins of two great whites flanked her as they all raced toward their target. Making eye contact with the whites their souls connected, they were awaiting her orders.

Coming up under the boat she thought through her options. Humans didn’t belong here and knew better. They were close to the Atlantean border and alarms would soon alert all the residents. She’d end up in the caverns serving hard time if she let that happen. That blue shell was bad enough, she couldn’t risk worse.

Gesturing with her hands first to the octopus and then the whites, the plan was laid. Coming just underneath the humans, the octopus lifted her up and over the stern dropping her into the boat. She landed with a thud against the wood planks, her trident clanging against the nearby anchor.

The three humans sitting around the edges, glass bottles in hand, scrambled from their chairs. One fell on his butt and the others yelped in surprise. Their pitiful human eyes were wide in fear. This race was weak and they needed to made examples of.

One by one Alora leapt across the stern and kicked or stabbed each of the scrawny human forms lifting them over the edge of the boat and into the water. They were horrible swimmers, even clams had more elegance in water.

Screams of pain and agony echoed through the blackness of night as the whites tore the humans to pieces. The waters around the boat were painted in blood as the crushing began. The octopus started tearing planks and contraptions off the roof of the rickety boat.

Alora reached up to one of the tentacles and briefly made contact, reminding it to not destroy the boat entirely. She wanted to deliver a message to the shore. Something the humans would remember.

Her gills were beginning to dry out but she needed to check inside the boat before departing. Walking forward she stopped just outside the vessel’s door and could hear it. A faint crying noise, a human infant. Sliding the door open she saw it. It was cradled in a clam-like structure and nestled within what looked like seaweed but she knew better.

The baby was innocent. It didn’t know any better and as such couldn’t be held responsible for the failings of its elders. She reached down and gently lifted it, pulling it close into her chest. Walking out of the chamber she returned to the stern.

There alongside the boat, the whites awaited Alora’s command as they playfully swam in the blood-red waters. Lifting her leg over the edge they swam up. She slowly lowered onto the back of the nearest, the infant still tucked safely to her chest.

She linked with the white and ordered it toward the nearest shore. She needed to drop the infant on dry land.

Racing across the surface of the water, Alora looked to the left at the giant octopus towing what remained of the human craft alongside her. There on the bow, she could make out the name the humans had assigned the pitiful vessel, Point Reyes.

Alora wondered what it meant but realized at the same time she didn’t care. The humans were destroying her world and continued to trespass near Atlantis. Part of her hoped they’d heed this warning and change their ways. The other part of her hoped they’d ignore it. Their days were numbers and Atlantis would soon rise again, retaking this planet that was rightfully theirs.

Word Count: 1011

Thoughts:

I’ve been swamped this week with work and had no time at all to revise this until the weekend. Under a crunch to not delay the rest of the team I knocked out some changes.

After re-reading through it I wasn’t as worried as I thought. It read pretty well to me. I felt like I could show vs tell better in a few places and clean up some of my descriptions so I did that. Unfortunately, that bloated my word count above the 1,000 word limit. I’m sure my CP’s will knock out some stuff though so in order to keep the ball moving I’m handing it to them.

My first CP for Week 4 is Jen Karner from Syllables and Sass and my CP for Week 5 is Ellen Mulholland. I’m looking forward to seeing their comments and suggestions to move this story to the next level.

From here I’m using my workflow from Ulysses and outputting my draft in a Word DocX Standard Manuscript (MS) form. This is a format that many editors request MS’s in because it’s easy to read and markup. I’ll be sending it on to them this evening.

I hope you like the changes I made. Enjoy!

Writer In Motion: Week 2, Draft 1

The seahorse wouldn’t leave Alora alone. It kept pecking at her neck and it was starting to hurt. “What do you want?” she shouted.

Unfurling its tail, the seahorse dropped a small shell into Alora’s lap and skittered away. The shell was painted deep blue with yellow stripes which meant only one thing. Swimming up suddenly, she knocked the shell from her lap and it slowly drifted through the water to the surface below.

Shaking off the sleep, she reached for her trident and bounded down the path she was supposed to be patrolling. She’d fallen asleep on duty again and was certain to get chewed out again by her superiors. Her pulse was pointing now and she could feel her gills flushing water against her skin. What did she miss? She must have missed something to get a blue shell.

Approaching the end of her route Alora saw it. There, off in the distance, she could just make out the ripples and shadow far on the surface of the water. A human boat.

Reaching to her hip she grabbed her horn, brought it to her mouth, and blew. A deep blast echoed through the water causing nearby sealife to slink away and hide. The noise dissipated quickly and nothing appeared to happen but she knew better.

Bracing herself, Alora raised a hand above her head at the ready letting the horn fall to her hip. Suddenly her hand was engulfed with a tentacle and she was yanked upward. She raised her trident hand and another tentacle wrapped around it and pulling her upward.

Held in place at the head of the giant octopus she gently rested her hand against the animal’s skin, interfacing with it and taking control. Their minds connected as she danced her fingers over its skin instructing it what to do. The tentacle grasped her a bit tighter as it adjusted course toward the ship above.

Looking left and right Alora checked that her other companions had heard the horn as well. The fins of two great whites flanked her as they all raced toward their target. Making eye contact their souls connected, they were awaiting her orders.

Coming up under the boat she thought through her options. They didn’t belong here and needed to leave. They were close to the Atlantean border and alarms would soon alert all the residents. She’d surely end up in jail serving hard time if she let that happen. That blue shell was bad enough, she couldn’t risk a border alert.

Gesturing with her hands first to the octopus and then the whites, the plan was laid. Coming just underneath the humans, the octopus lifted her up and over the stern dropping her into the boat. She landed with a thud against the wood planks, her trident clanging against the nearby anchor.

The three humans sitting around the edges, glass bottles in hand, scrambled from their chairs. One fell on his butt and the other yelped in surprise. Their pitiful human eyes were wide in fear. This race was weak and they needed to made examples of.

One by one Alora leapt across the stern and kicked or stabbed each of the scrawny human forms lifting them over the edge of the boat and into the water. They were horrible swimmers, even clams had more elegance in water.

Screams of pain and agony echoed through the blackness of night as the whites tore the humans to pieces. The waters around the boat were painted in blood as the crushing began. The octopus started tearing planks and contraptions off the roof of the rickety boat.

Alora reached up to one of the tentacles and briefly made contact, reminding it to not destroy the boat entirely. She wanted to deliver a message to the shore. Something the humans would remember.

Happy with the destruction being brought upon them, her gills were beginning to dry out. She needed to check the inside before departing. Walking forward she stopped just outside the vessel’s door and could hear it. A faint crying noise, a human infant. Pressing the door open she saw it. It was cradled in a clam-like structure and nestled within what looked like seaweed but she knew better.

The baby was innocent. It didn’t know any better and as such couldn’t be held responsible for the failings of its elders. She reached down and gently lifted it, pulling it close into her chest. Walking out of the chamber she returned to the stern.

There alongside the boat, the whites awaited Alora’s command as they playfully swam in the blood-red waters. Lifting her leg over the edge they swam up. She slowly lowered onto the back of the nearest, the infant still tucked safely to her chest.

She linked with the white and ordered it toward the nearest shore. She needed to drop the infant in a safe place.

Racing across the surface of the water, Alora looked to the left as the giant octopus was towing what remained of the human craft alongside her toward the same short. There on the bow, she could make out the name the humans had assigned the pitiful vessel, Point Reyes.

Alora wondered what it meant but realized at the same time she didn’t care. The humans were destroying her world and continued to trespass near Atlantis. Part of her hoped they’d heed this warning and change their ways. The other part of her hoped they’d ignore it. Their days were numbers and Atlantis would rise again someday, retaking this planet the was rightfully theirs.

Word Count: 931

Thoughts:

I’m nearly 431 words over target. I’ve not edited at all and actually only reread the story once, trying to not change anything. During the next week I’ll do some self editing before it’s turned over to some critique partners.

I hope you enjoy what I wrote! I’m looking forward to sharing my results after editing and in the coming weeks.

Writer In Motion: Week 2, My Process

The Prompt:

Authors, you may use this image in any way that moves you: setting, colors, subject, the emotion it evokes.

Photo by Casey Horner on Unsplash

My Process

So before I jump into my first draft I want to talk a bit about my process. The term pantser and plotter are relatively new to me but like the Harry Potter houses if I were to pick one I’m definitely a plotter. In a perfect world, it would be that simple but to me, it’s not quite that cut and dry.

While I love to outline and plan as much as possible, sometimes too much, I try to not let it constrain me creatively. I always start my writing using the outline but as I’m entering into each scene or character I let them speak to me as I write. For my initial writing, it’s usually really close to the outline but I’ve found that the deeper I get into character the more I stray from the plan. In my current work in progress this has led to some interesting plot twists I never foresaw in the beginning and as you’d imagine has caused me to circle back and revise the outline.

So in short, I’m a Plotting Pantser!

Outline

So all those words to say first I started this prompt by creating an outline of my thoughts from this image. I start by taking notes and then evolve that into a target plot. Here is what it was:

  • Google search the image and read some articles on the backstory.
  • What do I see in the picture?
    • The field of stars appears to be fake as no real constellations are discernable.
    • Since it’s the west coast it appears to be sunset based on the position of the boat.
    • The boat appears to be in a tidal area of the shore that water can be seen flowing through. Unsure if it’s a Tidal River or not.
    • The boat is quite weathered and has clearly been there a long time.
    • Huge chunks of the starboard side near the stern of the ship appear to be missing.
    • There is a massive gouge above the bridge.
    • Some of the trim on the bow is ripped partially off.
    • There appears to be broken glass on the top of the bridge. Some of those pointy things, what was their purpose and the same for that glass?
  • Brainstorm questions that could lead to a story.
    • How’d it get there?
    • What happened to the crew?
    • Why is it still there now and no one claimed or tried to fix it?
    • How’d it get damaged?
  • Story ideas
    • Drunk captain dies at the wheel navigating a storm.
    • The ship runs aground in a fog.
    • Attacked by something while at sea. By what?
    • The boat drifted somewhere it wasn’t supposed to be and was attacked. By who?
    • Atlanteans!
  • Favorite Idea: Atlanteans
    • The ship enters into protected waters near Atlantis
    • The guard on duty, cool name, is woken up by someone (an important person) to show human a lesson.
    • A guard approaches the ship and in the process is hit with the anchor.
    • Overreacts and aims to teach humans a lesson. Launches an attack on the boat. Throws a bunch of stuff at them, pulls crew under and kills them, rips parts off the boat.
    • Uses sea creatures to deliver the boat to the human shore as a warning.

Writer in Motion

So I decided to scratch my itch and silently returned to my writing about 7 months ago. Those of you who drop in from time to time might remember that I started a novel a few years back and then stopped at around 30k words. Well, since returning to writing late last year I finished the novel at around 113k words and I’m now close to finishing my first round of edits.

It’s been an awesome experience and getting across the first full manuscript finish line felt amazing. I then put it aside for a few weeks and returned to do the first pass of simple edits, checking for plot holes, flow, etc. I’ve discovered a few gaps in my writing skills along the way that I’ll blog about in the future.

Some of the things I’ve been trying to do as I approach the finish line with my first novel was:

  1. Meet my fellow writers and find a community
  2. Work on refining my craft so I can iteratively improve this novel and future writing
  3. Learn from others what needs to be done to publish this thing successfully.

In the search to find a community, I came upon this great Slack writing community called the Writers’ Craft Room. It’s a fun group of people that help each other with feedback, critique partners, Twitter pitches, etc.

While finding my way around the Slack I stumbled upon this cool channel called #writerinmotion. The channel was about a new project the community was kicking off. It’s described as:

“Create a space where readers can see how a writer moves through the drafting, feedback and editing process to create a polished work.”

I was fortunate that they hadn’t yet started so after I begged (not really, I just asked) if they could use a newbie like me and just like that they welcomed me into the launch crew. WOOT!

So here I am, a Writer in Motion!

This will be a week-by-week process where the 12 of us will draft a short story, revise, rewrite, digest feedback, and blog about our process as we move from start to finish. The goal of the journey is to both document and share the process of writing and refining so people can appreciate and fully understand the creative process of storytelling.

If you’d like to follow any of us on our journey you can find my writer cohorts blogs here:

  1. K. J. Harrowick (http://blog.halon-chronicles.com/ & http://kjharrowick.wordpress.com/)
  2. Jen Karner (http://www.SyllablesandSass.com/)
  3. H.M. Braverman (http://hmbraverman.com/)
  4. J.M. Jinks (www.authorjmjinks.com/)
  5. Melissa Bergum (will be posting via KJ’s site)
  6. Thuy Nguyen (http://www.tmnstories.com/)
  7. Kristen Howe (https://kristenswritingendeavors.wordpress.com/)
  8. Kathryn Hewitt (https://spinningmyyarns.wordpress.com/)
  9. Sean Willson (me)
  10. Paulette Wiles (http://www.paulettewiles.com/)
  11. Talynn (http://inkinthebook.blogspot.com/)
  12. Ellen Mulholland (http://www.ellenmulholland.com/)

Look for my first posting the week of June 1st with subsequent postings at least once per week thereafter.