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  • Writer's pictureSteph Whitaker

#WriterInMotion: 4th Draft > Editor's Feedback

This week is Professional Editor Week!

After finishing up my last blog post I passed my story on to my assigned professional editor, Carly Hayward of Book Light Editorial. I’d gotten some feedback from Carly a while back during #Revpit or #10Queries … it feels like it’s been a while and I can’t recall which. But That being said, I had a rough idea of Carly’s approach on Editing. I’ve been working on strengthening my writing and I was curious to see if all the hard work was paying off. It was actually one of the main reasons I decided to do #WriterInMotion this time. Like most writers, I’m super critical of my writing and never feel like it’s “Good Enough.”

Carly’s words of encouragement and feedback were very uplifting and exactly what I’d been needing lately. Seeing her say that my writing has “just gotten so strong” seriously made me giddy with excitement. She went on to suggest deepening the themes of the story to strengthen it even more and I hope that I’ve been able to do just that with this version of the story. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. If you are interested in reading more of my thoughts on Carly’s feedback and suggestions, you can check out the pic after the story where I've put her comments in “blue” and added my thoughts in “green.”

And here it is, my fully edited short story for #WriterInMotion:

The Ice Prince

Alec was dead.

Or maybe they’d saved him. Prince Valerian hadn’t stuck around long enough to find out if he’d officially become a serial 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 ship’s nose sliced through the half-frozen ocean as the sails snapped overhead and ice crunched against the hull.

They 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. But that wasn’t the real reason. The truth was far worse.

His father had closed off the castle to visitors after the first incident. A moment in which a foolish tantrum had ended with several servants encased in ice. Closing him off from others had only increased the rumors and his loneliness.

The gloves his mother had given him gave a sense of warmth, but looking back now, it had all been a lie. A false comfort in a prison of ice.

Skirting along the snow-covered cliffs, Valerian ignored the throbbing ache in his chest and angled the ship out to sea. He wouldn’t go back to being a prisoner, locked in his room. He would have gone insane.

Then Alec had appeared at his door on a dare.

Wanna go outside?” he’d asked. “I know a way.” Confidence had radiated from him like the sun. A beacon of warmth and friendship Valerian couldn’t ignore.

Valerian had promised himself it would be alright. That he could contain the icy chill and allow himself to indulge in Alec’s warm enthusiasm. That the gloves would indeed stop the ice from spreading past his fingertips.

But they hadn’t.

Lost in the thrill of a snowball fight, the ice had escaped Valerian’s hold. One slip and it had broken past the gloves. Screams of terror had squeezed from Alec’s lungs as the ice absorbed his radiance and coated his sunlit skin, numbing him to blue. The echo of those 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 slowly 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. He’d never be like everyone else. He’d always be cold and alone.

A sudden updraft jerked the sails and the helm from his grasp. The hull crunched against something 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 would need an ice pick to free the breaker. Rushing to the lower cabin, he fetched one, then tossed a glance over the edge of the rail.

Rising from the glacier sat a sphere of ice nestled in frozen waves that curled up around its base. The edges of the dome curved in a perfect radius. It almost looked as though someone had dropped a mini version of the moon into the water and it had somehow pushed itself to the surface before freezing in place.

How had he almost sailed past 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. Valerian shuffled closer, and the light inside the ice dome pulsed like a heartbeat, illuminating a boy inside. He looked about 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 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. Before he’d become a monster.

Their gazes met, and Valerian gasped, stumbling backward. The heat in his limbs instantly faded and the bone-deep chill in his chest spread.

A thought occurred to Valerian. Maybe this was how he could make up for what he’d done. This boy didn’t have to die. Maybe he could save him.

But how? One touch and the ice would condense and choke the life out of him.

Within the tight confines of the ice, the boy pressed his palms against the inside of the dome, and heat radiated from the sphere in a pulsing glow. The desire for warmth drew Valerian. Hesitantly edging forward, the ice in his veins thawed, chasing away the chill that was his constant companion.

“I don’t want to hurt you.” Valerian gripped the ice pick tighter.

The sphere vibrated with a soft hum as the boy silently pleaded with him, eyes widening with hope.

With a frustrated grunt, Valerian aimed for the edge of the ice dome, and swung the pick. It struck with a reverberating clang, but nothing happened.

One touch of his hands might crack the ice. Then again, it might freeze the boy solid. Valerian circled the dome, searching for a weak spot, but there were none.

Would the warmth radiating from the boy protect him? Valerian’s ice pick dropped back to his side. Fear that it wouldn’t, made him hesitate. The dome pulsed harder.

“But I don’t want to hurt you!” Valerian dropped the ice pick.

The boy clawed at the ice as his expression pinched with desperation and the thrumming grew louder. The glimmering light within the dome flickered like a candle about to go out.

Thickly encased in the ice, maybe Valerian’s touch wouldn’t harm him.

It would work. It had to.

But if it didn’t, at least he would have tried.

Valerian hesitantly removed his gloves and slid them through his belt. He glanced up at the boy before drawing in a quaking breath.

“I don’t know if this will work,” he said. “No promises. Okay?” Valerian clenched his bare fists at his side. Ice coated his fingers in a glistening sheen.

The boy frowned, dark brows bunching for a second before he nodded.

“Here goes,” Valerian said, then pressed his hands to the dome.

Heat washed over him and stole his breath. Fissures raced across the ice in a spread of splinters, and a loud crack echoed through the darkness. Valerian stumbled, and lost his footing as the ice crumbled and the boy rolled free, colliding with him.

Using Valerian for support, the boy attempted to sit up. Dripping wet and shivering from the howling northern winds, the boy radiated heat like a blacksmith’s furnace.

“Thank you,” he wheezed.

It was then Valerian realized he was touching the boy and nothing bad was happening. In fact, the icy chill that ran wild through him now remained calm. For the first time in his life, Valerian felt a warmth like hope expanding within him.

“Who are you?” he murmured.

The boy’s eyes creased with confusion. “I… I don’t know.”

It didn’t matter.

What mattered was that with this boy by his side, Valerian never had to be alone or cold ever again.

“It’s okay,” Valerian said. “No matter how long it takes, I promise I’ll help you figure it out. And until then, we will be brothers and you will become an Ice Prince of Vale."

Now you might be slightly confused by the title or maybe it makes sense to you now. If not... I encourage you to read Carly's suggestions (in blue) and my thoughts (in green).

Thank you again for reading my story and I hope you enjoyed it. Working on this piece was fun and got me excited about finishing the full length manuscript. BUT... I'm currently working on revisions for Defying Gravity (my YA paranormal scifi) and with any luck I'll have those finished up soon and be able to work on TKM2. I look forward to reading all the other #WriterInMotion stories and learning even more about writing better stories. Thank you again Carly, you're words of inspiration were wonderful.

Until next week...

- Steph Whitaker


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