Week 4 of Writer In Motion is the CP swap. This week I shared my self-edited story with two talented writers, Tennille and Dietrick. They read my story and added their comments and thoughts, everything from clarity to flow of the story.
As a writer, sometimes I get lost in the story. I forget that I know things the reader doesn't and it is my job to make sure they know that info too. I think I'm getting better at this, but there will always be those parts that slip past me. Tennille and Dietrick did an awesome job of catching a few of these areas for me. Thanks guys!
So, how did I approach their feedback?
First, I waited until they'd both read my story and shared their thoughts. Then I read through both and made notes without changing anything yet. This way I can look at both and see if they agreed on any specific areas that needed more work or clarification. Which there were a couple. These automatically go on my list of notes/changes.
Then I looked more closely at the other comments and tried to decide if I agreed with the suggestions. AND if I felt I had an idea or vision for how I might handle it.
There were a handful of changes that needed to be made. Some that were easy and others that took a bit more thought and consideration.
Here is the rough list of changes I scribbled down:
Change the title to something a little more catchy (give it a real name)
Add more info about Sirus / Add connection between Sirus and Ryatt (sirus is Ryatt’s bodyguard but also his childhood friend) Make sure Sirus’s struggle between being Ryatt’s Bodyguard and friend is visible.
Sirus is not 100% okay with the outing, BUT he doesn’t want to see his friend unhappy.
Make sure to mention how Ryatt and Beck know one another and that they’ve texted a lot and met up before.
Also mention how Sirus knows this - it gives him another reason to go along with it instead of protesting.
Consider Vivi’s part in the story! Ryatt’s connection and love for her needs to be felt from the start.
Make the reader LOVE Vivi, so when she dies they can understand Ryatt’s immense pain.
Make sure it is clear that Ryatt is trying his hardest NOT to lose control of his abilities (compare to how easy it was before for him to shut them down and how hard it is now).
Make sure the searing hot pain piercing his shoulder is explained to be a bullet in that sentence even if you have to say it there instead of on down in the story.
Make sure it is clear bullets fly from the gang members hiding in the shadows first and the Everson Group shoot back once they arrive.
Differentiate the gangsters from the Everson Security guards.
As you can see there isn't a lot, but some of the changes need to be felt throughout the story which can get complicated. After letting these thoughts stew in my head for a day or two I tackled them with what I hoped was a clear head. LOL
Then I did a proofread. I always do several just to make sure I haven't missed anything or made a silly typo. Fixed any last minute things I spotted and then set it aside again. After one more final proofread and a few more changes, I called it done.
Now, here it is, my newly titled Writer In Motion Short Story:
Becoming The Storm
(An excerpt/backstory from my novel: Bulletproof Beck)
YA Contemporary Fantasy
It’s nearly midnight. Vivi gives my hand an excited squeeze, and I smile, buzzing with excitement. The moonlight makes her skin glow as bright as when she uses her Cloudwalker abilities. Something we’ll have to make sure not to use in front of Beck.
Rule number one, never use your abilities in front of a norm.
Clouds cast us in shadows as we make our way toward the Washington Street bridge. My bodyguard and friend, Sirus, and Vivi’s sister, Melyn, follow at a reluctant distance. If I hadn’t already met with Beck several times before, Sirus wouldn’t have agreed to our excursion. Because of that, and his crush on Melyn, convincing him was a breeze.
“Are you sure you’re up to this?” I ask, knowing Viv’s answer. She’s fearless.
A mischievous smile curls her lips, “Careful, Halston Everson, or I’ll push you off the bridge myself.”
“And here I thought you loved me.” I laugh.
She snuggles closer. “And what gave you that illusion?”
“Gag,” Melyn grumbles. “Why can’t you two just get a room for the night like a normal couple?”
Vivi giggles as we reach Founder’s Fountain, and Sirus gently admonishes Melyn. A room alone with Vivi would be nice, but it wouldn’t last. Sirus can only keep my security detail in the dark about my whereabouts for so long before checking in. If he doesn’t, they’ll track us down. And if the Media found out the heirs to the Everson group and Blaine Industries were bungee jumping off a bridge at midnight, it would cause a scandal for sure.
“Is that him?” Vivi points to someone standing by the edge of the bridge. Dressed in a black hoodie and matching ripped jeans, Beck nearly blends into the darkness. He stops pacing when he spots us. Briefly, his hooded face expresses something akin to disappointment or possibly frustration. He quickly replaces it with a smile and trots toward us.
“Hey, you brought friends?”
“Yeah, hope that’s okay.”
“Don’t worry. I’m jumping, too,” Vivi cuts in with a smile.
Beck smiles, as though amused. “You sound like my sister.”
“Is she coming?” Vivi asks.
His smile flattens. “She’s not much of an adrenaline junky.”
“That’s too bad,” I say, and his gaze flips to me as though I’ve said something wrong. “Maybe next time?” I add, and he frowns before glancing to the darkness along the edges of the tree-lined street. It seems strange. Then again, we are planning on jumping off a bridge, and it’s not exactly legal.
“Can we talk? Alone?” Beck asks me.
“Is everything okay?” Sirus edges closer.
“Everything’s fine.” I elbow him and break away from Vivi. “Just give us a minute.” I walk away from my friends and toward the bridge with Beck. He stuffs his hands into his hoodie, shoulders hunched.
“Please hear me out.” He turns. “I thought you would come alone.” His gaze darts to the shadows. “I need you to leave with me, Halston.”
“W-What?” I freeze. I’ve only ever gone by Ryatt. I've never told him my real name.
Beck’s frown darkens. “I need you to come with me willingly-”
I snort and take a step back. Sirus tried to warn me to be more careful after my last near kidnapping, but I didn’t listen. I turn to run, but Beck lunges. A sudden jolt of electricity surges through me—a taser.
But I’m a Cloudwalker and it’s like jumpstarting a battery. Heat sears through my veins, and my abilities rush to the surface without my calling them. I swing around to face Beck, glowing with an overload of energy. Shouts ring out, not just from my friends, but from people hiding in the shadows. I stare as Beck’s eyes widen and reflect the storm swirling in my now silver eyes.
Bullets ping against the fountain as my friends scream. My abilities need an outlet, but there is nowhere safe for the overwhelming energy to go but the sky overhead. Before I can release it, a bullet rips through my shoulder. The force throws me forward into Beck. He screams as we crash to the ground, and the current burns through him. I try to pull back, but it doesn’t work. I’m like a cloud filled with too much moisture. The energy spills over in waves. When I scramble backwards, it’s already too late. The bullet that tore through my shoulder struck Beck, too, and the electricity did the rest. He stares up at the darkening clouds overhead, blank eyes wide.
The thought slams into me as my abilities continue to surge out of control. Thunder rumbles and lightning flashes. Every breath is pain filled. Fog rises from my skin, coating the street as rain falls with force. I take a deep breath, trying to get a handle on my wayward abilities. Nothing works. Flipping around, I search for my friends.
When I spot them, my heart stops for a second before thundering back into rhythm, like a tidal wave racing for the shore. Melyn is on the ground, wailing and holding Vivi as Sirus leans over them. The bullets have stopped flying, and I finally notice the reason. My security detail has arrived and frightened away Beck’s accomplices. But it’s Vivi’s blood-soaked chest my horrified gaze focuses on. I scramble toward her, slipping on the drenched pavement. I pull Vivi from Melyn and cradle her in my arms as rain pours down my face. It blends with my tears and matts my hair to my face.
“No… No… No…” The word pours out of me on repeat. “Vivi!” I shake her, trying to get her to open her eyes. Melyn’s crying, and I’m choking on the excruciating pain in my chest.
Even after Sirus tries to calm me and an ambulance arrives, I can’t breathe. A normal person would have passed out by now. But I’m not normal and neither is the storm threatening to collide with the city as Vivi is pronounced dead.
Thank you for reading my story!
I'd love to here what you think of the changes and story in general. And for those of you who are interested in the full length version of Ryatt's (Halston) backstory, before any edits let me know and just maybe I might share it in my final thoughts blog post. Until then, you can go back and re-read my previous WIM 4 posts if you missed them: