As a continuation from my previous WIM W4 post, this post will discuss the actual editing of my first draft, and at the end, I’ll post my second draft.
For the purpose of showing my process, I decided to work in Microsoft Word to edit so I could track my changes for readers to see. I usually write and edit in Scrivener, but I only have the iOS App and it limits what I can show off my process.
Here’s my draft with edits shown (5pages):
Not everything is completely redone, but most of it is. I’ve made comments on the side about what my thought process is, what parts of the story are which, where I’m not sure if something is really working, or moving the story along, etc.
After reworking the story developmentally, I ended up at 1,238 words – which meant I needed to cut at least 238 of them. I went through multiple times removing where I could, rephrasing, and trying to cut every darling that wasn’t hitting on theme, character, structure, or voice.
All in all, it took me about an hr or so to write the first draft, and I spent about 2.5 hrs on analysis and 4-5 hrs on actual edits.
My final count is 994 words for the second draft, and here it is:
The stars shining over the old, abandoned boat twinkled as they spread the latest gossip. Theirs looks like eternal existences in comparison to most, but this depends on your point of view. Time, it turns out, is a gravitational matter; it relates to each and everything in the universe in proportion to its individual gravitational pull. As such, gossiping galaxies have much the same self-perceived life span as a cockroach – survival is a constant concern.
Cockroaches, depending on who you ask, also have eternal existences. From humanity’s point of view, they are practically immortal. They can be attacked numerous times and apparently reanimate to drag themselves from the scene, coming back the next night as good as new lends substantial weight to this preposterous theory.
It is said if anything could survive an apocalypse it would be the cockroach. This theory is absolutely correct. Two such survivors, of a colony inhabiting the aforementioned boat, are presently engaged with their own survival.
“Rolf- you sure we should be out here?” Bob whispered, scurrying up the body.
“Do you see another option?” Rolf called from above.
“Well, no…but you know what they say: ‘Scavenging without a Harvesting Team is scavenging for death.’”
“That’s because they want to control us, Bob. They want to control everything, and they refuse to change.” Rolf reached the collarbone and continued up the slack-jawed mandible.
“Oh…” Bob said, “I thought it was for safety precautions and taking food back to the colony.”
“How much food has anyone found lately?” Rolf said. “I took a Harvesting Team out here but they blew me off – ‘Impossible retrieval potential,’ they said. This food isn’t easy to get, sure, but it’s not impossible.”
Bob scuttled up the face to the edge of the orbital socket. Perching next to Rolf his antenna twitched back and forth, feeling the opening. The edge was a potential fall hazard.
“That last bit of eyeball is the last piece of food in the whole boat.” Rolf’s voice echoed in the hollow skull. The body’s exterior shell was dried and hardened by the harsh desert air, and inedible.
“Are you sure we shouldn’t get a Harvesting Team out here?” Bob asked.
Rolf didn’t answer. He scuttled around the inside of the skull until he was upside-down at the top where the sagittal suture squiggled like a seismometer, and where a single hair hung, quite unexpectedly, from the surface. The last bit of an eyeball hung motionless on the tip – a quiescent pendulum of potential. It could feed a family or two for a lifetime, but it dangled out of reach – a guarantee of survival as tantalizing and unobtainable as universal healthcare.
“Look, Bob, if I use my head to push the hair back and forth, it might swing the food to you, and you can catch it,” Rolf said.
“You’ve always been the smart one,” Bob said, surveying his position on the edge of the socket. It felt a little precarious. “I guess that could work. I’ll try to catch it with my mouth.”
The hair began to swing. At first, the wrong way but Rolf corrected it and the food came closer and closer. Bob missed it the first two times but on the third he caught it. The force of the backward swing threatened to pull him over and he nearly let go of the food, antenna zooming wildly as he tipped forward. Only Rolf’s quick action saved him from toppling into the skull. They detached the food and set it down. It was a sizable haul.
“Well done, Bob,” Rolf said.
“Thanks for the help, Rolf. I was sure I’d end up flat on my back at the bottom of that skull, and that would be the end of me.” Bob twittered. “We’ll be heroes when we bring this back. It’s enough to feed the whole colony for a month.”
“Now wait a minute, Bob.”.
“This food is ours: We found it, we harvested it, and we keep it.” Rolf’s antennas held high.
Bob’s antennas furrowed low over his beady eyes.“That’s not right, Rolf. You know what they say, ‘One star’s light is fleeting – only shining together can they illuminate the night.’”
Rolf put his antenna against Bob’s. “Starlight be-dammed Bob, these are end times. There is no starlight in death. The colony thrived easily once, and the leaders act like that’s still the case, but we both know that’s a lie. We don’t have the luxury to shine together; we’ve got to think about survival.”
Survival. Bob considered the word…Rolf was different – smart, curious, daring – it’s why Bob liked him. He taught Bob new ideas. The word pulled at something deep within him. Rolf had never led him wrong, and suddenly Bob understood. He nodded, thinking.
“Let’s get this back to our families.” Rolf positioned himself on the inside edge of the socket to push the food forward.
Bob was frozen, his thought grabbed him like a sticky trap.
Before Rolf knew what was happening, Bob grabbed the food and Rolf found himself falling through the air, landing on his back at the base of the skull. He six legs kicked wildly, as he tried desperately to right himself.
“Why, Bob, Why?” He cried.
“It’s that word, Rolf: Survival,” Bob said.
“This food will feed my family for generations. If we’re really running out of time, I’ve got to think of them.”
They had gone alone, against Colony’s policy, and Rolf knew if his body was found it would be as dried out as the skeleton it was in. Serves him right, they’d say– Scavenging without a Harvesting Team is scavenging for death.
Rolf’s sad calls of betrayal echoed up through the atmosphere and into the inky night where they dissolved into the darkness of an unforgiving universe. The stars took no notice as they shone, concentrating on their own survival, convinced their time was also running out. This is, perhaps, debatable – but then, it does all depend on perspective.
I hope you enjoyed the second draft of my short story!
Keep up with the other writers:
KJ Harrowick | Jen Karner | JM Jinks | HM Braverman – THAT’S ME! |Melissa Bergum | Thuy Nguyen | Kristen Howe | Sean Willson | Paulette Wiles | Talynn Lynn | Ellen Mulholland | Kathryn Hewitt | Sheri MacIntyre | Jessica Lewis | Susan Burdorf | Stephanie Whitaker | Dawn Currie | Megan Van Dyke | SKaeth | Ari Augustine | Fariha Khayyam | M. Dalto | Sheryl Stein | Belinda Grant | Coffee Quills