Writer In Motion – CP Edits & Draft 3

This past week we sent our self-edited drafts to our two critique partners (CPs) for feedback. My CPs were J.M. Jinks and Thuy Nguyen, and boy was I lucky!

If you haven’t guessed by now – based on my previous posts – my editing abilities primarily lie in Developmental Editing . (There are numerous types of editing and a quick guide to the types can be found HERE.) This involves story structure analysis and making sure the story arc is working in each scene or overall. Basically, is the scene/story working, and if not, why?

Line-editing is a bit harder for me. I’m a big-picture person, so the detailed elements just take more energy. Thankfully, both Thuy and J.M. are fantastic at line/copy-editing!

Here’s a look at my manuscript after their comments and suggestions:

Looks daunting, doesn’t it?

I’ll be honest, I was a little anxious about receiving their feedback and I think that’s totally normal. We are attached to our work and it can be hard to take criticism.

HALLELUJAH! I agreed with almost everything they said.

I’m going to point out a major element which Thuy called me out on – with good reason. The beginning and ending paragraphs which she shows as deleted above, while I loved them, and at first didn’t want to remove them because they kind of held a quirky tone and were setting the voice for the story, were a bit unnecessary.

I knew this…

It shows clearly in my story analysis if you look closely…

But I liked them…

So what’s a writer to do? Check out Draft 3 below and you’ll see.


Surviving Gravity

If anything can survive an apocalypse, it is the cockroach. According to humanity they are practically immortal. Rolf wasn’t keen on becoming the exception, but Bob was less certain. With each wink of starlight overhead Bob imagined the collective universe judging him as he dashed along the rotting trim piece. His whispered apologies to the galaxies above went unheard as he passed beneath them, they were preoccupied.

                Time, it turns out, is a gravitational matter – relating to each thing in the universe in direct proportion to its individual gravitational pull. As such, stars have much the same self-perceived lifespan as a cockroach, and they’re much too concerned with their own survival to judge anyone.

                “Rolf, are you sure we should be out here?” Bob whispered, scurrying up the dehydrated corpse slumped in the hold of the abandoned boat.

                “Do you see another option?” Rolf’s voice echoed from above.

                “Well, no…but you know what they say, ‘Scavenging without a Harvesting Team is scavenging for death.’”

                Rolf hurried past the collarbone and up the slack-jawed mandible. “That’s because they want to control us, Bob. They want to control everything, even if it kills them.”

                “Oh…I just thought it was for safety precautions, and because it’s their job to take food back to the colony.”

                Rolf scoffed. “How much food has anyone found lately? 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. Besides, that bit of eyeball is the last edible thing left in this entire wreck.”

                Bob shuffled up to the orbital socket and perched next to Rolf, twitching his antenna back and forth as he eyed the target dangling motionless from a single hair. “Are you sure we shouldn’t get a Harvesting Team out here?” he asked dubiously. Even if the morsel could feed a family or two for a lifetime, it was well outside their reach – a quiescent pendulum of potential – as tantalizing and unobtainable as universal healthcare. 

                Rolf didn’t answer.  He scuttled around the skull until he was upside-down near the top where the sagittal suture squiggled like a seismometer. “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,” he said.

                “That’s a clever idea,” Bob said. He surveyed his position at the precarious edge of the socket. “I guess it could work.  I’ll try to catch it with my mouth.”

                The hair swung the wrong way at first, but Rolf corrected it until the food inched 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 unseat him, and he nearly let go of the food, antenna whirling wildly as his feet were dragged into the parched air, one by one. Rolf quickly descended and pulled him back to safety. They detached the food and set it down. It was a sizable haul.

                “Well done, Bob.” 

                “Thanks for the help, Rolf. I would’ve ended up flat on my back at the bottom of that skull had it not been for you.” Bob shuttered, imagining the slow death he’d barely escaped.

He inspected the food, “We’ll be heroes when we bring this back. It’s enough to feed the whole colony for a month.”

                “Now wait a minute,” said Rolf, antennas rigid. “This food is ours. We found it, we harvested it – we get to keep it.”

                 Bob’s antennas drooped in confusion. “That’s not the Colony’s way, Rolf.  You know what they say, ‘The light of an individual star is swallowed by the darkness – only by shining together can they illuminate the night.’”

                Rolf put his face right up against Bob’s, meeting him eye to beady eye. “Starlight be damned!” he said slowly. “These are end times, Bob. There is no starlight in death. The colony thrived once, it’s true – the leaders act like that’s still the case – but we both know it’s a lie. We don’t have the luxury to ‘shine together.’ We’ve got to think about survival.”

                Survival. Bob considered the curious word. It pulled at something deep within him. Rolf was different – smart, curious, daring – it was why Bob liked him.  He’d taught Bob new ideas and had never led him wrong.  But now, with that one word he’d awakened in Bob an instinctual desire, and suddenly Bob understood.

                Rolf positioned himself on the inside edge of the socket to push the food forward. “Let’s get this back to our families,” he said.

                Bob stood frozen, his revelation catching hold of him like a sticky trap.

                “Bob?”

                Before Rolf knew what was happening, Bob grabbed the eyeball, and Rolf found himself another victim of gravity, tumbling through the air to land on his back at the base of the skull. His six legs kicked in frantic desperation as he tried in vain to right himself.

                “Why, Bob, why?” he cried.

                Bob merely shrugged. “Survival, Rolf. 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 policy, and Rolf knew if his body was ever found it would be as shriveled as the skeleton they’d find it in.  Serves him right, they’d say. Scavenging without a Harvesting Team is scavenging for death.

                Bob took no notice of the stars which lit his path home, he was too preoccupied to look up.


Now it’s off to Jeni Chappelle – my wonderful editor!


For more #WriterInMotion stories and processes, follow us on Twitter!

Keep up with the other writers:

KJ Harrowick | Jen Karner | JM Jinks | 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

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