Hello readers! This is the final week of Writer In Motion. The week in which I look back on the whole process and break down my thoughts and all the things I struggled with or loved.
Writer In Motion is a great way to take a step back and really look at my writing process. As an Alumni Team Member, I've taken part in Writer In Motion all four times. I almost wasn't able to do it this year due to several things that kept popping up, including a vacation in which I sprained my wrist. But I love writing and I love the people connected to this amazing blog series. They're absolutely amazing and so supportive.
P.S. I also took a printed version of a another story of mine on vacation to edit early in the mornings before anyone else got up. (the writing never ends ;-)
A couple years ago during that very first round of Writer In Motion, I realized I was starting the story without a direction. A panster at heart, I just sat down in front of the computer and started writing. (there is nothing wrong with this!) And where did my brain go... to the plot... something exciting and intriguing to grab the reader. BUT, I wasn't seeing the WHOLE picture! The HEART of the story.
A good story must have a Main Character with a huge problem. Something readers can all relate to on some level. Something that will really make the story matter to them and you. Because of this, I've started to think about each story more and dig deeper into the heart of each one.
The biggest thing I've learned is that writing is a process, quite literally.
I learn something new every day, by writing. Sure, watching youtube videos and reading as many craft books as I can doesn't hurt, but it's the actual putting those things into action that have helped me most. I think one thing us writers have to realize is that sometimes (maybe a lot of the time) that first draft or even later drafts might not be pure magic. It's something we have to work on and refine and by sharing our stories with CPs and Beta readers it can get even closer to that magical story in our heads. It just takes work.
Now as far as my thoughts looking back on this round, I feel like Ryatt's story has really come full circle. I took 3 months to plot and outline Bulleproof Beck (the full length novel). And while I hadn't expected to start writing it until later, due to my work schedule, I ended up finding out that I would be forced to take a week of vacation time at the end of the year. (2020) It was the perfect time to really dig in and write the story. With the Christmas holiday thrown in and New Years, it gave me a total of 10 days. I'd never written a story in that amount of time. NEVER! And honestly I didn't think it would be possible. Still, I decided to give it a shot.
Shockingly, I did it. I wrote the whole story in 10 days. Sure, it was messy, but I think outlining it beforehand and having the time alone to fall into the story, really worked for me.
I've only done one full round of edits on it, but I know it needs more. While I planned on doing more this year, I had a CP offer to read it, and I'm glad I agreed because her thoughts and suggestions have been amazing. Thank you Katie!
So the shortened version of Ryatt's backstory had more to it, but I clipped it to make the 1000 word cut-off. In doing so, I had to add back in things that were absent from the scene because I'd already had them in earlier chapters. But in reality, it never hurts to remind your readers what your characters look like through-out the chapter, or add in more details as you go. I guess sometimes, I forget that the reader can't see everything I see in my head as I write and that also needs to be added in to ground the reader. Something Megan (my editor for this round) pointed out. Which is another amazing jewel of knowledge I've gained from Writer In Motion. Thank you!
I most likely will have to dig back into this chapter (Ryatt's back story) and see how I can reconnect that first half of the chapter I cut to the final draft I shared last week. But that will have to wait until I have all of Katie's feedback. So, as promised, here is the un-edited version of the WHOLE chapter of Ryatt's back story, straight from the full length novel, Bulletproof Beck.
Now, keep in mind, this is the unedited version before I cut it and edited it for Writer In Motion. It is also a few chapters into the story.
I barely know Ryn, but for some reason I can’t explain, I feel anxious about her leaving in the dead of night with some strange guy on a motorcycle. It doesn’t feel right. Wandering back into the apartment, Bear greets me with a nudge, his large furry black head bumping my hand for more attention when I stroll across the space to the rooftop balcony.
My attention instantly goes to the sky overhead. Where the clouds had begun to thin, there is now rolling darkness covering the night sky. Thunder rumbles across the city in an echoing wave, and a shudder races across my skin. It’s getting worse and I don’t know how to stop it. There may be no way to stop it.
After the shooting, I noticed the change in my abilities, the lack of control. I hunted through every book I could find, searching for answers. The only thing I found was a book that only added to my dread.
Dropping my gaze, I walk to the edge of the rooftop. City buildings reach for the dark skies overhead, like fingers grasping for the rain that is sure to fall. In the book it mentioned a type of Cloudwalker who lacks control. The details of how it happened were murky at best, but it explained that in some rare circumstances some Cloudwalkers could lose complete control and become the storm inside them, triggering a tragic natural disaster.
It called them Stormbringers. Is that what I've become?
One Year Ago
If I have to listen to my mother drone on for one minute longer, I just might lose my mind. There are only so many times I can listen to her monthly evaluation of our family’s financial standing and the corresponding weather events that have made our lives so much easier than our predecessors.
I shift my weight, praying the leather seat doesn’t reveal my boredom with an embarrassing squeak. On second thought, some people sitting around the boardroom table look like they could use a laugh or two. But when I move, nothing happens. The six graying heads on either side of the conference table remain stoic with the occasional nod at my mother who stands at the front of the room controlling the screens on the projected image with a press of her well-manicured finger.
A soft exhale slides past my lips and my father, sitting to my right, angles a sidelong warning in my direction. I sit up straighter and try to pay attention. After all, this company will be mine in a few years and I really should know how my parents have been running it. Business isn’t my thing, though.
My phone hidden in my lap vibrates, and I drop my gaze to the screen. It’s a message from d_devil04.
d_devil04: Washington Street bridge. Midnight jump. You in?
A tap of the wand in my mother’s hand against the wall snaps my head upright and my gaze to her. She looks directly at me, as though expecting an answer from a question I obviously didn’t hear.
“Exactly,” I say, hoping I’ve chosen the correct word to appease her.
A smile curls her red painted lips. “See, even my son, at sixteen understands the importance of…”
My attention returns to the phone in my lap, having successfully pacified my mother for the time being.
QR_Ev: I wouldn’t miss it!
I type my response back to d-devil04 and hit send. We’ve only been friends for a few months, but he has yet to steer me wrong. The house party he invited me to just a week ago was exactly what I needed to unwind after hours spent being prepped to take over the Everson Group. Which isn’t supposed to happen for several more years. But my parents have insisted on training me to take the reins of the company and become just like them.
I don’t want to be a stuffy business executive. I want to experience life. I want to live. But I’m trapped in this stiff suit and forced to attend board meetings instead. No one at my age has the responsibilities I do. Then again, not everyone my age can control the weather.
My phone vibrates again.
d_devil04: Meet by the fountain on Washington Street?
QR_Ev: See you there!
I quickly type and hit send before returning my attention to my mother, whose gaze drops on me at that exact second. I smile. Her lips pinch as though she knows I wasn’t paying attention, but she continues anyway.
Gratefully, the meeting ends soon after I send my last message to d-devil04. Another couple of hours of schmoozing the old guys and giving all the people in the Everson building a beaming smile full of lies, I’m allowed to sneak off to our penthouse apartment and my room for a mere hour before dinner.
I take that time to call Vivi, my girlfriend. We’ve been together for nearly six months and our parents couldn’t be happier about it. What were the chances that I would actually like the daughter of Blane Industries, the second richest family of Cloudwalkers in the region?
Vivi isn’t like Sirus or Melyn, my friend and her sister, both of whomwhich take their roles in the family very seriously. She is a free spirit, and like me, enjoys shedding the weight of our worlds for some fun every now and again.
She picks up on the first ring. “Thank the heavens! I’ve been waiting for you to call me all day!”
“Sorry, board meeting,” I say, concealing a smile. “Want to do something fun tonight?”
“I thought you’d never ask,” she giggles. “What do you have in mind?”
I sink into my desk chair and give myself a spin, head leaning back. “D-devil04 messaged me about bungee jumping off the Washington Street Bridge at midnight.”
Vivi audibly gasps. “Yes! A thousand times yes!”
You would have thought I’d asked her to marry me. Which by the way my parents have brought up to both of us, on more than one occasion. Of which both Vivi and I have avoided acknowledging. We’re way too young. Even if they’re proposing that, we have a very long engagement, it’s not something either of us is concerned about.
“What are you shouting about?” Melyn’s wary tone bleeds through the line.
“Nothing, yYou wouldn’t be interested,” Vivi says, and I can almost see her shrug in that cute nonchalant way she does.
Melyn tagging along wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world, but jumping off a bridge is not exactly something she’d ever agree to do. Not when it could make the news and humiliate both of our families.
So, when Sirus, my friend and bodyguard, sneaks Vivi and Melyn into my room later that night, I’m a little surprised.
Sirus, I expected to tag along. He won’t let me go anywhere without him. It’s most likely because his parents warned him never to, or maybe it is his sense of duty as my bodyguard. But I’m not supposed to know that part. Either way, Vivi and I soon find our twosome has become a foursome. Which Sirus isn’t too unhappy about, but he won’t say aloud. He still hasn’t worked up the courage to let Melyn know that he likes her. From a lower family of Cloudwalkers, he doesn’t figure he has a shot with her, but I think he’d grow on her if he showed her his soft, caring side.
Together the four of us make our way out of the tallest skyscraper in the city and jump into the first taxi we spot. None of us are wearing anything too flashy, basic clothes that could pass as normal for some, but are still more expensive than most people in the city could ever afford.
The taxi driver seems surprised that we want him to drop us off at the fountain on Washington Street, but he says nothing about it and drives away with his fee in hand, plus a hefty tip to keep him quiet.
The fountain sits in the center of a roundabout with four park benches, one facing each direction, north, south, east, and west. At its center stands the founder of our city, his hands raised and the four politicians who made things happen circling him, giving the illusion that he’s lifting the water into the air around them. Something most Cloudwalkers can do with their eyes closed.
But that’s one of the forbidden rules.
Never let a normal person see you use your abilities.
D-devil04, or Beck as he’s asked me to call him when we’re in person, is already here. When he sees us, he stops pacing and for the briefest of seconds I think I see disappointment flash across his tanned features. He quickly replaces it with a familiar smile as he trots over toward us.
“Hey! You brought friends?” he says, but it comes out more like a question.
Melyn has her arms folded under her slight chest, and she glances away when I turn a look in her direction before answering Beck.
“Yeah, hope that’s okay,” I say as Vivi dips under my arm and drapes it over her shoulder.
“Don’t worry, I’m not a primadonna like my sister, Melyn. I’m here to jump too.” She gives him a beaming smile meant for the media that practically stalks her every move. As the face of Blaine Industries, she is always volunteering with the homeless, shopping with the underprivileged kids, and helping those less fortunate. She’s amazing.
Beck smiles as though he’s amused by Vivi’s comment and doesn’t recognize her. “You sound like my sister,” he says, which makes Vivi smile brighter.
“Is she coming too?”
Beck’s smile flattens, and a faraway look traces his features. “Sorry, no. She’s probably got her nose stuck in a book, studying. Maybe another time.”
“That’s too bad,” I say, and Beck’s gaze flips to me as though I’d said something wrong. He shakes it off quickly and glances over his shoulder. It seems strange, but then it hits me. Maybe he didn’t mean for me to bring my friends along. It’s not impossible that he thought this was a date. Then again, if he really knows who I am, he’d know that I like girls. But he might not know my real identity, I’ve never given him my actual name.
He flips his hood back from his head then looks in my direction, revealing his shoulder length black hair tangled with braids and tied into a messy tail.
“Can we talk for a second, Ryatt? Alone?” he says, and I get the feeling something is wrong.
“Is everything okay?” Sirus says, edging closer to where Vivi and I stand along the edge of the fountain that faces the bridge.
I force a smile. “Everything’s fine, Sirus.” I give him what I hope is an invisible elbow in the side. My friend heaves a sigh but says nothing more, as I reluctantly break away from Vivi.
“It’s fine, I turn a smile to Vivi and my friends. Just give us a minute.” I turn and walk away from the fountain and toward the bridge with Beck. He’s stuffed his hands deep into his black hoodie and his shoulders look slightly hunched.
Damn. What am I going to do if I read him wrong, and this was supposed to be a date? I’m running through the best way to let him down easily when he suddenly stops.
“Please don’t freak out,” he says with his back to me before he turns around. “I thought you would come alone, like before.” Once more his gaze darts to the side. “I didn’t want to have to do it this way.”
On the inside, I’m frozen solid. I totally screwed this up. Beck and I were just supposed to be friends. He was the one person outside my rich, stuck up world that I could rely on to help me feel like a normal teenager. My mouth opens and closes as I try to form words. I never expected him to misunderstand.
But Beck lunges at me with something in his hand. A sudden jolt of electricity surges through my body. But I’m a Cloudwalker. It’s like jumpstarting a battery. Heat sears through my veins, awakening my sleeping abilities, and I light up like a Christmas tree, my skin aglow.
Shouts ring out, not just from my friends, but others hidden in the shadows. But all I can do is stare into Beck’s brown eyes that widen and reflect the storm swirling in my own now silver eyes. We’re frozen in time for a second and my mouth forms one word.
But Beck doesn’t have time to answer. The sounds around us return in a rush. Screeching tires, the ping of bullets against the stone fountain, and the screams of my friends. The electricity inside me needs an outlet, but there is none but the sky overhead.
Then it happens.
A bullet slams into my shoulder and before I can release the electricity safely into the sky, I crash into Beck. He screams as electricity burns through him. My ears ring. We crash to the ground together as I try to pull back on my abilities, but it’s too late. I’m like a cloud filled with too much moisture. The energy must go somewhere. It spills over in waves and into Beck.
Ignoring the pain in my shoulder, and the blood soaking my arm, I scramble back from him, but it’s too late. The bullet that went through my shoulder struck him too, and the electricity did the rest. He stares up at the swirling clouds overhead, eyes wide and chest unmoving. Scorch marks singed his hoodie and half his chest.
The thought slams into me as my abilities surge to the surface without my calling on them. Thunder rumbles overhead and lightning flashes in response. Every breath heaving from my chest is pure pain.
I turn my head, searching for my friends. When I find them, my heart stops beating for a second before thundering back into rhythm, like a tidal wave racing for the shore. Melyn is on the ground, holding Vivi as Sirus races toward me. The bullets have stopped flying and I finally notice the black sedans and Everson Group security. But it’s Vivi my horrified gaze returns to. That and the blood soaking her pale blue zip up hoodie. The one I bought her last week, just because she liked it so much.
I scramble to my feet, slipping in the rain that showers down upon us in a deluge. Without asking, I pull Vivi’s unmoving form from Melyn and cradle her in my arms. My tears blend with the rainwater pouring down my face, matting the loose strains of my long black ponytail to my cheeks and neck.
“No… No… No…” The word pours out of me on repeat. Panic bubbles up inside me like a tsunami, and the wind from the storm overhead howls. “Vivi!” I shout her name and try to shake her enough to get her to open her eyes. Melyn’s crying and I’m choking on the air that isn’t in my lungs anymore.
I can’t think.
I can’t breathe.
“Vivi!” I shout her name repeatedly.
Even after the Everson Security guards try to calm me and the media arrives.
I can’t breathe and it’s not because of the bullet wound in my shoulder. A normal person would have passed out long ago. But I’m not normal, and the storm threatening to collide with the city as Vivi is pronounced dead and pried from my grasp isn’t either.
Vivi’s dead, and it’s all my fault.
Thank you again for taking the time to read this VERY long post. I hope you enjoyed reading Ryatt's backstory. The Edited and unedited versions. If you missed it, you can find it and the rest of my Writer In Motion posts here:
The Self-Edited Draft: https://stephwhitaker80.wixsite.com/swhitakerwrites/post/writer-in-motion-week-2-self-edits
The CP (swap) Edited Draft: https://stephwhitaker80.wixsite.com/swhitakerwrites/post/writer-in-motion-4-revisions-based-on-cp-feedback
Thank you again,
- Steph W.