Writer In Motion: Week 6, Final

The Editor Process:

Full disclosure, I’ve never worked with an editor. I’ve written in school and dealt with teachers but I’ve never published anything with a professional organization, magazine, or website so I’ve never had an editor. I’ve posted thousands of entries on multiple blogs and websites but they were never professionally edited.

So what was I expecting? Given the range in critique partner (CP) feedback I was expecting something that cut deep. While I couldn’t imagine anything with more red than Elle’s critique last week, I braced myself for the worst.

When I saw the email last Sunday I hesitated before tapping it. Until I opened it everything was fine. My CP’s did an awesome job and my writing was better because of it. After tapping it, my ego could be decimated again. But let’s be honest, the point of this exercise was to grow as a writer. To improve my craft and highlight the good, the bad, and the ugly of evolving our writing.

Tapping the edits, it opened in Pages. Yes I have a Mac and iPad and I’m not a fan of Word. The result … as I read Jeni’s edits … I wasn’t destroyed and my heart didn’t drop. She’d rearranged a bunch and cleaned up many things. Yes, there was a ton of red but it wasn’t decimation so much as a shuffling and sharpening. It felt good, it felt clean.

It took me a week to address her changes, not due to the destruction but because of life. I had a planned family vacation and didn’t have a ton of time until this morning.

So here it is, the final version of my Writer in Motion short story. I hope you like it. Thanks go to Jeni Chappelle for her awesome edits and for helping bring this entire event together.


Humanity’s Deep Blue Warning

The seahorse wouldn’t leave Alora alone. It darted about her face and pecked at her neck. She batted at it a few times and missed. The little bites stung.

“What do you want?” she shouted only to realize she’d fallen asleep on duty again. Last time, her boss warned her not to let it happen again or they’d banish her to the caverns.

Unfurling its tail, the seahorse dropped a small shell into Alora’s lap and skittered away. She picked it up and furrowed her brow at its deep blue sheen and intricate yellow stripes.

The shell meant one thing.

What did she miss? She must have missed something to get a blue shell. Pulse bounding, she swam upward from the nook in the reef. The warning shell drifted through the dark water, landing on the rocky sea floor.

Shaking off sleep, Alora gripped her golden trident and swam down the reef she patrolled. Her gills flushed water against her skin.

There, off in the distance, ripples and shadows on the surface some twenty fathoms above. A human boat.

Defending the border was her job, her calling. She couldn’t let her family or her city down. She had to do something.

Alora grabbed a small metal rod, brought it near her trident, and beat them together three times. The deep clangs echoing through the water rousted nearby sea-life. Dolphins, turtles, and the like slinked away to hide.

The noise dissipated and the calm of the water returned but that was about to change.

Bracing herself, she raised her hand above her head, letting the rod fall. The tightly woven kelp rope attached to it gently fell to her hip.

A red octopus tentacle engulfed her arm, yanking her up. She raised her other hand gripping the trident, and another tentacle wrapped around it, pulling her closer to the octopus. The tentacles guided her safely past the jet of water propelling them.

Held in place at the head of the giant octopus, she rested her hand against its skin and closed her eyes. The area where she touched the octopus glowed yellow as her fingers danced over the skin, instructing it. The tentacle grasped her tighter and adjusted course toward the boat.

Two great whites flanked her as they all raced toward their target — her companions had heard the alert. Alora’s gaze locked with each of theirs, the water between them seeming to flutter as if snapping a tether. They awaited 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 set. Coming just under the humans, the octopus lifted her up and over the stern, dropping her onto the boat. She landed with a thud against the wood planks, her trident clanging against the nearby anchor.

There were three humans sitting around the edges, glass bottles in hand. One slipped and fell in the saltwater, and the others froze in surprise. Their pitiful human eyes were wide in fear. This race was weak, and they needed to be reminded of their place in the world.

Alora leapt across the stern. Her webbed feet suctioned to the floor and prevented her from sliding. Rage consumed her as she kicked and stabbed each of the scrawny human forms, lifting them over the edge of the boat and into the water. She shook her head. Humans swam horribly. Even clams had more elegance in water.

Screams of agony echoed through the blackness of night as the whites tore the humans to pieces. They painted the water in blood as the octopus ripped planks and contraptions off the rickety boat.

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

Her gills were drying out, but there was a faint crying from within the boat. Walking forward, she stopped just outside the vessel’s door and leaned in. She slid the door open. Cradled in a clam-like structure and nestled within a covering that resembled seaweed was a tiny human form.

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

There, alongside the boat, the whites awaiting Alora’s command played in the blood-red waters. They swam up as she lifted her leg over the edge and 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. The infant needed to be dropped on dry land.

They raced across the surface of the water, and the giant octopus towed what remained of the human craft alongside. There on the bow, she could make out the name the humans had assigned the meager vessel, Point Reyes.

Alora wondered what it meant but realized at the same time she didn’t care. The humans destroying her world 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 numbered, and Atlantis would soon rise again, retaking this planet that was rightfully theirs.

Word Count: 946

Writer In Motion: Week 5, Draft 3

The Critique Process:

I’ve only recently worked with Critique Partners on my novel so I’m still fairly new to the process. The first review from Jen came in and it was about what I hoped and expected. She made some great points and I worked to clean up the draft. Then the review from Ellen came in. My head exploded. There was so much blood red.

“Man, I’m awful” … that was my first thought. I closed the document and went back to work. I had to wait to read this later after I breathed a bit.

Cracking it open later that night I took it all in. Ellen, like Jen, made some amazing points and lots of suggested edits. I learned so much just viewing both of their suggestions even if I didn’t agree with everything.

After finishing reading the critiques a few times I closed them up and let them soak for a few days … plus work has been crazy lately so I couldn’t edit until Friday night. Well, last night I opened them again, read them several times, and went to work. Below is the result of taking in all of the awesome feedback from Jen and Ellen and coming out the other side with a much better draft than when I started … WOOT!

I hope you enjoy it. And ya, I finally gave it a title.


Deep Blue Warning

The seahorse wouldn’t leave Alora alone. It darted about her face and repeatedly pecked at her neck. She batted at it a few times and missed. The little bites stung.

“What do you want?” she shouted.

Unfurling its tail, the seahorse dropped a small shell into Alora’s lap and skittered away. She picked it up and furrowed her brow at its deep blue sheen and intricate yellow stripes. The shell meant one thing.

Without a thought, she swam upward from the nook in the reef. The warning shell drifted through the dark water, landing on the sea floor’s rocky bottom.

Shaking off sleep, Alora gripped her golden trident and swam down the reef she patrolled. She’d fallen asleep on duty again. The last time she fell asleep her boss warned her not to let it happen again or they’d banish her to the caverns.

Her pulse was bounding. Her gills flushed water against her skin. What did she miss? She must have missed something to get a blue shell.

There, off in the distance, she saw ripples and shadows twenty fathoms above on the surface of the water. A human boat.

She must do something. Defending the border was her job.

Alora grabbed a small metal rod, brought it near her trident, and beat them together three times. The deep clangs echoing through the water rousted nearby sea-life. Dolphins, turtles, and the like slinked away to hide.

The noise dissipated and the calm of the water returned but Alora knew that was about to change.

Bracing herself, she raised a hand above her head, letting the rod fall. A tightly woven kelp rope was attached to it so it gently fell to her hip.

Her arm was suddenly engulfed with a red octopus tentacle yanking her upward. She raised her other trident hand and another tentacle wrapped around it pulling her closer to the octopus. The tentacles guided 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 its skin and closed her eyes. The area where she touched the octopus started to glow yellow as her fingers danced over the skin, instructing it what to do. The tentacle grasped her tighter as it adjusted course toward the boat.

Looking left and right Alora checked that her other companions had heard the alert. The fins of two great whites flanked her as they all raced toward their target. Alora’s eyes locked with each of them, the water between them seeming to flutter as if connecting. 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 set. 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 be made examples of.

Alora leapt across the stern, her webbed feet suctioning to the floor preventing her from sliding. She kicked and stabbed each of the scrawny human forms, lifting them over the edge of the boat and into the water. She shook her head, humans swam horribly. 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. They painted the water around the boat in blood as the octopus tore planks and contraptions off the cabin of the rickety boat.

Alora reached up to a tentacle and 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 drying out, but she needed to check inside the boat before departing. Walking forward, she stopped just outside the vessel’s door and leaned in. A faint crying noise… an infant. She slid the door open to find the tiny human form. Cradled in a clam-like structure and nestled within a covering that resembled seaweed.

The baby was innocent. It didn’t know any better and 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 played in the blood-red waters. They swam up as she lifted her leg over the edge and 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. The infant needed to be dropped 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 numbered and Atlantis would soon rise again, retaking this planet that was rightfully theirs.

Word Count: 990

Writer In Motion: Week 4, 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 3, 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.

Inner Ring Supply Run

Captain Monroe stood at attention just like she'd done countless times before. Today was no different than the previous inspections, at least that was what she'd been telling herself for the last hour. These inspections usually last half this time. She'd hoped the rumors of tightened Inner Ring security were just that, rumors.

All of the manifests were in order, all of the seals on the shipments were unbroken and had been resealed perfectly, and the transponders were reprogrammed and working. Every step she'd been trained to follow had been followed meticulously. In the vacuum of space she had nothing but time to engage her inner obsessive compulsive disorder to follow orders. Everything had been reviewed several times over.

Her mind was doing circles now and her heart was beating erratically. Nervously looking around the room, she briefly made eye contact with the guard they'd left with her in engineering while they did inspections. She instantly regretted it. She had to focus and get herself under control. Any sign of weakness of nervousness would certainly give her away. She closed her eyes for a second and started to center herself. Breathing in and out in a controlled manner like all good Outer Ringers learned at birth. Air is precious, air is life … air is precious, air is life. Breath in, breath out, breath in, breath out.

She often wondered if the ability that the Outer Ring people had to quickly center themselves and control their emotions gave them an edge. Her academic friends certainly thought so but right about now she didn't feel like she had any advantages. Under the stress of looting while at the same time delivering a supply run she wasn't sure she had any sort of upper hand.

A loud noise jarred her out of her focusing routine as she stumbled slightly to catch her balance. The noise of a docking port attaching to a ship is very distinct and unnerving for any captain. It was usually accompanied by the relief of a voyage finally ending or the stress of a random inspection or repair.

One could usually discern the nature of the attachment by the noise it made. The louder the clang the worse the pilot, the worse the pilot the more stress to come. Her flight instructor would have scored that docking job as a first run freshman from a gravity well. It was only when the blast charges went off that she realized this wasn't another freshman inner ring inspection force. It was something far worse, pirates!

Without a thought she leapt across the room and broke open one of the supply lockers. The last thing she wanted to do today was die from exposure. Inside she grabbed two helmets and slammed the door closed. Turning around she was greeted to a gun pressing into her temple.

"Don't move!" shouted the guard. She swore she could hear the firearms capacitor charging as he nervously pressed the gun to her head. He was clearly freaking out as he was trying to unsuccessfully subvocally communicate with his crew mates.

"Are you going to shoot me before or after I save you from exposure?" she asked looking down at the helmets in her hand. Slowly she raised one and held it up to the guard. He hesitated, unsure if this was a ruse to throw him off.

"How about I make this easy for you," she said carefully lowering the helmet. "I'll set it on the ground slowly and back away. Then you can pick it up and safely put it on."

"Ok, yea … that … that sounds good," he stammered.

As she bent down to set the helmet on the ground she could hear it. The distinct sound of feet quickly shuffling toward engineering. That shuffling sound a space born crew would make living in irregular gravity, never fully trusting physics. She only had a few seconds to act.

"Do you hear that?" she asked trying to draw his attention to the aft door.

"Nice try. I'm not falling for…"

Before he could finish his sentence she tossed his helmet toward an aft storage locker to draw his attention. At the same time she tucked hers into her stomach and rolled toward the bow. Just as she stopped rolling in front of the exit the door slid open, sensing her approach. She'd gambled successfully that the security overrides the inspection crew had on her computer would be preempted by the prevailing emergency.

The guard however wasn't quite as green as she'd hoped. While he was initially distracted, he'd quickly seen through her ploy and had crouched preparing to fire on her from a better position. He was however greeted to a loud clank outside the aft engineering door. The distinct sound of a blast charge being placed on a 4 inch thick pressurized door meant to prevent cascading depressurization of a ship. Rather than fire he turned slowly and began subvocalizing something, she assumed to his crew.

That was all the distraction she needed. She shoved her helmet on and launched herself through the bow door. As she cleared it she subvocalized a command to her ship to both lock down engineering and cut the ships gravity. Even though everyone involved was trained in zero-g maneuvers she knew most of them would be caught off guard giving her she hoped a few seconds advantage.

Expanding Into Long Form Writing

I’m sitting here on the morning train frozen from head to toe waiting for these heaters to work their thermal magic. Even with the freeze I’m still lost in thought. Yes, I’m wondering when my body is going to regain some feeling from standing in the unusually cold weather waiting on this bloody train but I still have other things on my mind as well.

I’ve really been enjoying writing here and the more I write the more I want to write, it’s a vicious cycle. I find myself wanting to continue writing more each on of the stories I start. It’s difficult at times to wrap up my thoughts into around 750 words. I know that isn’t the point of writing, to just do 750 words. I do however want to tell a story, control the narrative, and do it within a controlled time period. I want to use it to improve my writing while at the same time complete something. To me the deadline of 750 words is doable and fits my work life balance for now.

If you’re like most people, myself included, you enjoy the thrill of finishing something as much as you enjoy starting something anew. Each leads into the other, a continuum of past goals met and future goals set. That rush you feel when you wrap up something you’ve been working on is both sad and rewarding on many levels.

It’s sad because you put so much energy into the writing. You worked hard to ensure it’s perfect (within reason) and that it’ll stand on its own. You’ll miss the comfort of it, the flow of it. Even though it’s only 750 words it’s still your creation, your spark, your idea that flowed into those words. Those words that created a new world, a new future, a conspiracy to unravel and now it’s done. I guess it’s called a “short story” for a reason.

It’s rewarding because the draw of that clean slate spurs the creative juices. Anything is possible starting fresh and you long to just put it all out there in its raw glory. The polish isn’t yet necessary, just lay down the foundation and build up from there. The skies the limit!

So what’s a writer to do? Well first and foremost I’m going to write because without that I’m just spamming nonsense. I am however going to take a few of the stories I’ve already started, and some I haven’t yet, and expand on them over the coming months. I’ll fill in some of blanks and attempt to build on the story lines.

I’m doing this for multiple reasons. First and foremost because I’ve enjoyed the characters I developed and I found myself wanting to write about them again the next day. I forced myself not to however because I wanted get comfortable redirecting the mental juices into new places. I don’t want to get stuck in a mental rut beating an already dead narrative.

The second reason I want to continue these stories is because while I do enjoy writing short form fiction I’d also like to learn how to write more long form. It’s a different creative process that requires you to keep more pieces moving together. A balancing act of building the characters, moving the storyline forward, and keeping it interesting.

I’ll be honest and tell you that I’ve never written anything long form in my life. College term papers for literature class don’t count as long form sorry. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do but as I mentioned in my opening posting it’s not something I ever thought was practical let alone possible. After writing these last few weeks I now know that it’s not just possible, it’s definitely something I can do.

I’m not making any leaps here, I know that I have much to learn and that I’m just starting to get my footing here. I’m just excited and felt like pouring some of my energy into a writing to explain why you might see some faces and story lines a little more often. I’ll try to link back to other parts of the story when appropriate. I’m also planning on adding each of the story lines to categories for quick access.

My challenge going forward is how to continue hitting my daily goal of at least 750 words while at the same time moving a story line forward without butchering it. Remember, I’m not spending as much time editing my daily writing because the goal with this site is to just write however imperfectly.

Word Count: 763

750 Word Update

I’ve made it to my ninth writing on this journey. With a mixture of stories, opinions, and introductions I feel like it’s been a success thus far. I’ve easily hit my 750 daily word count with yesterday’s piece going over 1,000 words. The key is that I’m writing which if I’m not makes it impossible to improve.

Yesterday I wrote my first story where I included character dialog. My first few stories were more point of view story telling pieces and weren’t about dialog. While I’ve read dialog thousands of times from a variety of authors it’s been years since I’ve written it myself. It was far smoother for me to write background story lines rather than dialog but once I got into the flow it went fairly well.

I know it was a bit rough around the edges but this blog isn’t about taking the time to perfect each and every piece. It’s about writing every day and improving each and every time. It may small improvement that aren’t obvious at first but the more I write and the more I read about writing the more fluid my writing should become.

Because I haven’t had the opportunity to read as much since I’m not writing more I haven’t studied as much as I’d like. I have a few books on my short list though that if you have opinions or better options I’d love to hear about them.

  • Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life
  • The Elements of Style
  • How to Write a Sentence: And How to Read One
  • Sin and Syntax: How to Craft Wickedly Effective Prose
  • On Writing: A Memoir Of The Craft

I’m still on the lookout for a good reference and practical book on grammar and sentence structure. Ideally it’d be in electronic form if possible which limits most textbooks. If you can recommend anything please drop me a comment.

My process thus far has been to write in the evenings after the kids are down. I haven’t yet been back on the train so I haven’t had the opportunity to test my writing there. In the evening I often start around 8 pm and don’t finish until 10 or 11 pm. This is usually a mixture of random conversations with my wife and writing so it’s not exactly uninterrupted time. I’m hoping the dedicated time on the train will open some free evening time to read and study more.

Finally I thought I’d write a bit about the stories and other random topics I’ve chosen. I don’t have any long running story lines planned yet. At some point I think it would be fun to have one or two moving story lines but I don’t want to put that pressure on myself yet. I’d rather write what comes to mind each time I pull up iA Writer and just let the words flow.

As you’ve likely already noticed I’m a huge fan of science fiction and most of my stories will likely come from that or a fantasy angle. I went through a period where I read some modern day survival fiction and I’ve recently been reading WOOL which is a futuristic post apocalyptic series of books, similar but different. I find it easier to write about modern survival topics but enjoy futuristic ones more. I think the future fiction requires much more planning and character development to pull the reader in and make them feel like part of the story. The modern fiction stories can be build from more relevant and relatable everyday topics and locations which while easier to write about can also be a bit tedious.

Since this is my first writing blog I don’t really know what to expect in terms of readership. My prior blogs had several hundred regular readers but the topics were quite different. A number of my readers come from a tight knit group of fellow bloggers linking to or commenting on my blog. I also have a lot of twitter and Facebook followers as well. On this blog I’m starting from ground zero but my goal isn’t to get a huge number of readers. I would however like a few readers who can give feedback on my writing or share ideas with me. Because of this I recently joined the Goodreads forums and have shared a few links to my blog there. If anyone can recommend any other good literary forums to join I’d appreciate it.

Thanks for taking the time to read.

Word Count: 750