WIM 2020: This week – Self-editing
Week 2 is the week in which we self-edit our drafts in order to get them ready for our CPs (Critique Partners).
This involves anything from structural edits, to line edits, and the all important word count – the stories must be 1000 words or less by the time they are sent to our CPs.
I generally like to do a variety of analysis types in my editing, which you can see in my 2019 Self-editing Writer In Motion posts here and here. This year, I decided to use only one main analysis tool – the 9-grid plan – because I am doing this post the day before it’s due…
Also I think it’s sufficient enough to show the major structural beats of a story, which should be met regardless of the story’s size. These are the following and I have included multiple names for them:
Triggering Event or Inciting Incident (same idea, different names)
Characterization or Set up and Debate
First Turning Point or First Plot Point
Exposition (The “fun and games” up to and including the First Pinch Point)
Connect the Dots or The Midpoint
Negative Turning Point or Second Pinch Point
Antagonist Wins or Second Plot Point or Darkest Moment
Revelation (Happens during the climax)
Protagonist Wins or Resolution
This year I decided not to draw out the whole thing, but rather highlight in my editing process where those points are within the story.
I have used Word with track changes on to show you my edits and comments for both myself and for you.
The final word tally is 999 words at the end of my edits.
The second draft of my story is below.
The Way Station
The way station was situated on mountain ridge just below the peak, nestled into a grove of stubby trees. The light of the setting sun cast a golden hew on its shabby face of cracked concrete, and a small, dirty window reflected the setting sun. The assassin watched it through the scope of his rifle, waiting.
She looked up toward the mountain top as she caught her breath and wiped the sweat from her brow. She hoped it was up there. It was on the map, marked as a small symbol of hope. It was so hot; the sun beat down brutally against the open trail. Her mouth was parched, and she could barely swallow anymore, having run out of water ages ago. She squinted and tried to make it out. A safe harbor for the weary traveler, stockpiled with food and water. Please let it be there, she thought, as she adjusted the heavy carrier on her back, and resumed climbing.
An old man sat behind a meticulously clean white desk. It held only a monitor and a phone. Behind him an enormous window displayed a restless ocean that stretched off to the horizon. The sun hung low in the sky and the man pressed a button on the edge of the desk to adjust the tint of the window. He tapped twice on the phone and a man’s voice answered.
“Patience. It will be done soon,” the assassin said in a low, ominous voice.
“Why do you always say it like that?” the old man said.
“‘Patience,’” The man mimicked the assassin’s theatrical tone.
“Why do you always call me from your stupid office in a converted lighthouse like some god-damn Bond villain?” the assassin retorted.
“I don’t!” protested the old man. He checked the corners of the all-white room. Was he being watched?
“I can hear the waves.”
The old man stopped looking for cameras.
“Just let me do my job and stop calling me every five minutes. I’ll call you when it’s done. I always do.” The assassin hung up and readjusted his rifle scope. The target was in sight.
The woman crested the ridge and nearly collapsed from relief. The way station was there. She stumbled toward it reaching back to squeeze the small legs hanging limp from the carrier on her back. Her son had long since fallen silent and she prayed he would be ok. He’d cried for so long, hungry, thirsty, and so, so, hot. But she couldn’t set him down. If she did she would never get him back in the carrier again, and they would never make it the rest of the way .
“We’re nearly there, my love. Just hold on,” she whispered, as much to herself as to her baby.
The assassin watched the woman appear over the mountain ridge through the scope. She was badly sunburned and her knees nearly buckled several times as she made for the concrete shack. The small child hung listless on her back, head lolling at an awkward angle. The man on the phone was right, as he always was. The assassin adjusted the lens on his rifle and refocused. He was the best money could buy, promising a clean and untraceable kill. Sometimes he knew why, sometimes not. It didn’t matter. But he couldn’t see why anyone would want a small child dead.
The assassin settled in for the shot, adjusting ever so slightly for the wind and distance. The window was now in shadow as the sun fell behind the trees. The woman was almost there. A minute more and it would be too late. He stilled his whole body except the finger on the trigger, as the woman reached the small trees in front of the building.
“Just a few more steps now, baby. Hold on,” she said.
The boy whimpered and stirred and she nearly sobbed with relief that he was still alive. He’d been quiet for too long and she was secretly afraid he’d died along the way, but she couldn’t bear to check, just in case she was right. The trees were welcome shade and a cool breeze blew over them. She could see the wooden door now. It was a decent step up off the ground to keep rodents out, and it looked solid enough. They would be safe there, and the concrete looked cool and welcoming.
The assassin slowly pulled the trigger back. All…most…there…he thought.
POP! POP! POP! The rifle’s silencer muffled the sound of the bullets leaving the barrel and they flew silently toward their targets.
The woman’s hand turned the cool metal knob and pushed on the rough wooden door as glass shattered. Her breath caught and her heart jumped into her throat, but it was too late to stop the swing of the door. She realized they’d been waiting for her this whole time. The escape, the money, they were so close to home, and it was all for nothing. Her stomach clinched, and she shut her eyes waiting for the inevitable to come.
“I’m sorry, Joshua,” she whispered, grabbing for his feet. If she was going to die it should be with her baby’s name on her lips and his body in her hands.
But the inevitable didn’t come.
Cautiously she opened one eye, then the other. On the floor lay three men, all in black, each with a gunshot to the head. Their blood was beginning to pool on the wooden floor boards. She looked to the left where a small glass window was broken.
“Marissa?” A young male voice spoke behind her and she whirled around.
He put his hands up, showing he was unarmed. A long bag was strapped to his back and he wore brown hiking pants and a green shirt. He cautiously lowered the hand which held a canteen of water and offered it to her.
“We haven’t met. I’m Juan, your little brother. Dad sent me to bring you home.”