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  • Writer's pictureSteph Whitaker

#WriterInMotion: 3rd Draft > CP Critique

Updated: Oct 18, 2022

This weeks is the Critique Partner round of #WriterInMotion. This time I swapped my story with Sasha Kielman

She had some very insightful comments that helped me tighten up my story and (I hope) make it stronger.

So... without too much rambling... here it is... the CP revised draft of my #WriterInMotion Short Story:

Ice Prince

The boy was dead.

Or maybe they’d saved him. Prince Valerian wasn’t 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 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. No matter how long he sat in the sun, he remained pale and ice cold.

The loneliness was far worse.

All he’d done was accidentally freeze 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. He wouldn’t go back to being a prisoner, locked away 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.

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. 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 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 an odd semi-circle formation of ice. It gleamed in the dim light, as though lit from within. How had he 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. Cautiously, 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 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.

Maybe this boy didn’t have to die.

Their gazes met, and Valerian gasped. He stumbled backward. The heat in his limbs instantly faded and the bone-deep cold 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 tighter.

The ice vibrated with a soft hum, as if the boy were 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 the boy solid.

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, and 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.

The boy watched with a forlorn gaze. 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,” he 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.

He attempted to sit up, using Valerian for support. “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’s okay,” Valerian said. Neither of them had to be alone or cold ever again. “We’ll figure it out together.”


Thank you again for taking the time to read my blog post. I hope you enjoyed the story. Next week is the Editor round, where I will pass my story on to a professional editor for feedback.

This time, I've been assigned to Carly Hayward of Book Light Editorial. I'm thrilled to pass my story on to her skillful hands and see how the story evolves.

Until next time...

Thank you!

Steph Whitaker

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