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

4 thoughts on “Writer In Motion: Week 6, Final”

  1. Sean, this story has grown by leaps and bounds! It was a great decision to have the dropping of the shell earlier which immediately engages us as to what that means. Flow is so much better, which allows your fun worldbuilding to shine. Terrific job!

    1. Thank you so much. It’s fun reading everyone’s unedited first draft and then their final version. So much evolution and refinement.

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