This week for #WriterInMotion is Self Edits. I'm going to try to make this post shorter than the last one. Basically, for this round of edits, I went back through the story after letting it sit for a few days and re-read it. Then I added notes (green) and started marking out things and making changes. The (blue) text is the added or rearranged wording, while the (red) text is what I took out or changed.
Then I checked my pacing:
I felt like it was pretty good, and I was mostly happy with the changes that ultimately became this... somewhat cleaner version of the original story. (see below) But the downside is that I am now 99 words over the 1000 word limit. Which, I figure I'll work on during the CP round of Edits next week.
So... here it is... My Self-Edited Version of Ice Prince:
The boy was dead. Or maybe they’d saved him. Prince Valerian couldn’t be sure. He hadn’t stuck around long enough to find out if he’d officially become a murderer at fourteen. Instead, he’d stolen a breaker ship and fled the icy kingdom of Vale.
Bone-chilling winds cut through Valerian’s crisp blue vest and snow dampened trousers, but he hardly felt it. With gloved hands, he held fast to the helm. The nose of the ship sliced through the half-frozen ocean as the sails snapped overhead and ice crunched against the metal hull.
They’d called him The Corpse Prince. If he was honest, he probably looked like a corpse; pale skin, blue-gray eyes, and white-blond hair tied into a braid that barely reached his slim shoulders. No matter how long he sat in the sun, he remained pale and ice cold.
The loneliness was far worse. All it had taken was accidentally freezing a buffet table at his sister’s tenth birthday. After that, his parents closed the castle to visitors. The gloves his father had given him helped, but only if Valerian remembered to leave them on.
Which he hadn’t.
Skirting along the snow-covered cliffs, Valerian ignored the throbbing ache in his chest and angled the ship out to sea. The breaker could cut through thick packed ice several feet deep. He wouldn’t go back to being a prisoner, locked away in his room. He’d been about to go insane.
Then Alec had appeared at his door on a dare.
“Wanna go outside?” he’d asked. “I know a way.” Confidence radiated from him like the sun.
Valerian had promised himself he’d keep the gloves on and that everything would be alright. But lost in the thrill of freedom, he’d forgotten. One touch and Alec’s sunlit skin had numbed to blue, and he’d dropped to the ground. The echo of screams ripped through Valerian’s memory, and he pinched his eyes closed.
He wouldn’t cry.
Instead, he trimmed the sails, catching the wind, then pulled them taught, generating a driving force.
Hours passed, and the clouds darkened to night. His eyes stung with the dropping chill. Still, he held fast to the helm, boots planted and icicles stiffening his trousers.
He wouldn’t die from the cold. No matter how numb he got, his heart would continue to beat; slow and steady. He’d never be like everyone else. He’d always be cold and alone.
The thought drifted through his mind as a sudden updraft jerked the sails and the helm from his grasp. The hull crunched against something hidden in the darkened waters, and the ship pitched sideways as it ran along a massive glacial sheet of ice. Valerian stumbled and grabbed for the rail.
“No!” He shouted as the bag he’d hastily packed tumbled into the subzero water with a splash. Without it, he’d starve before he reached land that didn’t belong to his father.
Moonlight shimmered across the dark water as Valerian used his grip on the rail to pull himself upright with a grunt. He had to see just how stuck the breaker was, but needed an ice pick first. Rushing to the lower cabin, he fetched one before tossing a glance over the edge of the rail. Rising from the flat glacier sat an odd semi-circle formation of ice. It gleamed in the dim lighting, as though lit from within. Valerian didn’t know how he’d missed it.
Curious, he slid down the side of the ship and to the ice below. Water splashed along the edges of the glacier, but the ice held firm. Slowly, Valerian shuffled closer. The light inside the ice dome pulsed like a heartbeat, illuminating a boy inside. He looked near Valerian’s age, but opposite in every other way. Dark hair fell over his bronze skin in curls, and a pulsing amber glow radiated from him.
“Was that warmth?” Valerian wasn’t sure. He hadn’t felt warm in so long. It reminded him of a time when his mother had bundled him in blankets and held him close. A time when his shivers had melted with her hug and his cheeks had flooded with color. Before the curse. Before he’d become a monster.
Maybe this boy didn’t have to die.
Their gazes met, and Valerian gasped, stumbling backward as the heat in his limbs faded and the bone-deep chill in his chest spread.
Hesitantly edging closer, the ice in Valerian’s veins thawed, chasing away the chill that was his constant companion.
“I don’t want to hurt you.” Valerian gripped the ice pick in his hand tighter.
The ice vibrated with a soft hum, as though the boy was pleading with him.
Aiming for the edge of the ice dome, Valerian swung the ice pick. It struck with a clang, but nothing happened.
One touch of his bare hands might crack the ice. Then again, it might freeze him solid.
Would the warmth radiating from the boy protect him? Valerian wondered, ice pick dropping back to his side.
Fear that it wouldn’t, made Valerian hesitate. The heat inside the dome pulsed harder, as if the boy were silently pleading with him.
“But I don’t want to hurt you!” Valerian dropped the ice pick.
The ice thrummed louder.
He couldn’t save Alec, but maybe he could save this boy. Thickly encased in the dome, maybe his touch wouldn’t harm him. Maybe it would be just enough to crack the ice and free him.
The boy watched with forlorn eyes. It would work. It had to.
Valerian hesitantly removed his gloves and slid them through his belt. He glanced at the boy before taking a quaking breath.
“Here goes nothing,” he said, then pressed his hands to the dome.
Heat washed over him and stole his breath. Fissures raced across the ice formation in a spread of splinters, and a loud crack echoed through the semi-darkness. Valerian stumbled, losing his footing as the ice crumbled and the boy rolled free, colliding with him.
The boy attempted to sit up, using Valerian for support. “Thank you,” he wheezed, gasping for every breath.
It was then Valerian realized he was touching the boy without gloves and nothing bad was happening. In fact, the icy chill that had once run wild through him now remained calm. For the first time in a very long time, Valerian felt a warmth like hope expanding within him.
“Who are you?” Valerian asked in awe.
The boy’s evergreen eyes creased with confusion. “I… I don’t know.”
“That’s okay,” Valerian said, realizing he never had to be alone or cold ever again. “We’ll figure it out together.”
Thank you for taking the time to read my story. I hope you enjoyed it and I'm excited about sharing it with Critic Partners for next week's revisions. It is always interesting to see different people's perspectives and thoughts.
- Steph Whitaker