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  • Writer's pictureSteph Whitaker

#WriterInMotion: First Thoughts > First Draft


My first thought after seeing the prompt photo was: Oh, ice and water totally makes me think of The King’s Magic Book Two!

Then I noticed the tiny boat in the distance, and this solidified the idea in my head. The prompt photo felt like the story, but a part of it I had yet to write—the backstory. It's kinda cool how most of the #WriterInMotion short stories I've come up with have ended up being backstories for several of my manuscripts.

I wrote The King’s Magic a few years ago, and after I’d finished it, I’d had some loose ends that I wanted to tie up with a second story.

 

For those of you interested this is the blurb for The King's Magic (TKM) book one:

A street-fighting princess gifted with magic and in love with her best friend, Theadessa is used to doing as she pleases. But when war threatens, and the queen falls ill, the surrounding kingdoms send their princess to capture Theadessa’s heart and the magic only Parthian’s royal family holds.


But when the queen dies, magic will flee the royal family in search of the next king—and he could be anyone.


Now Theadessa must trick a castle full of power-hungry princes into believing she has the power to bestow one of them with magic and the crown.


To cover up the truth, Theadessa must play a dangerous game of love and political intrigue, all while searching for a cure to her mother’s illness. Drawn deeper into her tangled deceptions, even she begins to question her heart. But she soon learns one prince will stop at nothing to gain magic for his kingdom. Driven by love and fear, Theadessa must put her faith in a magic she’s spent her entire life resenting or risk losing everything including; her kingdom, her love, and quite possibly her life.

 

Thea's resentment toward her magic not only comes from her lack of choice in who she will marry, but also in that it wasn't able to save her brother when they fell in the ocean as children.


Frozen Magic (TKM book 2) is the story of what actually happened to her brother. The story connects with TKM book one and gives a pivotal character from that story time to right his wrongs, find himself, and love.


Frozen Magic is a Young Adult Historical Fantasy with LGBTQ+ characters, found family, and a pair of thicker than ice brothers.


The tiny boat in the distance made me think of Prince Valerian’s rescue of (Thea's brother) Espen, who ultimately becomes an adopted prince of Vale and a brother to Valerian.


The cliffs and the icy water, totally gave me those vibes and made me feel like it was totally that story calling to me from the prompt photo.


Then I thought about what I’d originally said I was going to do with this prompt: something completely new.


But sometimes you have to write what is speaking to you at the moment, so I decided to write Prince Valerian’s rescue of Espen.


I started with a simple outline:

  • Who is the main character: 14-year-old Valerian (Prince of Vale)

  • What does he want: not to be alone (ice magic under control > not a danger to others)

  • What stands in the way of him getting what he wants: accidentally harming (possibly killing) Alec

  • Starting Action: closed off > severely lonely (always cold - ice magic > think Elsa from Frozen)

  • Inciting Incident: invited to play by Alec (dare)

  • Turning Point: sneaks out of castle (breaks rule > stay inside)

  • Crisis: freezes boy (might die or be dead) Valerian panics

  • Climax: steals a breaker ship > runs away (will be forever alone)

  • Resolution: finds Espen in ice globe (cracks ice with touch)

  • Valerian touches Espen w/o gloves (accident) and he isn’t harmed > calls Espen his brother

Then I worked it out a bit more, giving the story its own backstory (above) to get things rolling.

  • Starting Action: runs away (stole a boat) icy waters (recalls inciting incident) freezing Alec

  • Inciting Incident: finding a boy (Espen) frozen in the ice globe

  • Turning Point / Crisis: (key moment): realizing the closer he gets to the boy (Espen) the more his ice magic retreats (becomes tamed) sees an opportunity to be normal (not alone anymore)

  • Climax: places his ungloved hands on the ice

  • Resolution / Ending Hook: frees the boy (Espen) from the ice but boy doesn’t remember who he is or how he got in the ice / Valerian’s ice magic is tame around the boy (Espen) finally Valerian doesn’t have to be alone or afraid of his magic (they will face the unknown together)

 

And for those who are curious about the complete story, here is the blurb I created for TKM 2:

Tucked away in the icy kingdom of Vale, eighteen-year-old Espen is protected from his past and the lost memories frozen within him—as long as he continues to suppress the wayward magic that circles his heart like a burning sun. But when his adoptive brother, Prince Valerian, insists on visiting a nearby village together after a Glazed attack, (ice zombies) Espen saves two strangers from a sudden frost flood revealing his magic. Soon, keeping control of his abilities becomes more important than learning the truth of his past—because if he doesn’t, the people of Vale may very well become a frozen army of monsters.

 

And now to explain my process. It's pretty darn messy. I'm one of those people who likes to edit as I go (I know... bad) but what I try to do is I find a jumping off point. A sentence that opens the scene in a unique way and sets up the story to come. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

A lot of the times I come up with several first sentences until one of them sparks the story within and from there I just keep writing. Along the way, a picture of the story forms in my head as if I'm watching a movie and describing what is happening. And as a lot of stuff happens at once, it's sometimes hard to focus in on the important things... so when that happens I tend to copy and paste that section and drop it to the bottom of my story and work on fine tuning that paragraph or sentence (whichever is bothering me in that moment) then I continue on from there.

Keeping the bits and pieces at the bottom help me keep from deleting something I might end up going back and using later on and by dropping it to the bottom, it's not in the way of the story moving forward or confusing me. Hope that makes sense.


So I'm going to share the story without the markups and then with, so you can get a clearer picture. In the second copy I've marked out the text I edited or cut as I wrote.


And without further babbling, here it is, the first draft of the backstory for TKM 2 somewhat complete at 979 words:


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 barely 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 and clanged 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.

Though it was the loneliness that was far worse. No one was allowed near him. Not after he’d accidentally frozen an entire table at his sister’s birthday celebration years ago. The gloves helped, but only if he remembered to leave them on.

Which he hadn’t.

A bone deep ache throbbed in his chest.

He wouldn’t cry.

Skirting along the snow-covered cliffs, Valerian angled the ship out to sea. The ship could devour thick packed ice several feet deep. There was nothing going to stop Valerian. He wouldn’t go back to being a prisoner. Locked away in his room with no one to talk to, he’d been about to go insane. Then Alec appeared at his door on a dare.

Want to play?” he’d asked with confidence radiating from him like the sun.

Valerian had promised himself he’d keep the gloves on. That everything would be alright. Lost in the thrill of freedom, he’d forgotten. One touch and Alec’s sunlight skin numbed to blue, and he dropped to the ground with a thud. The echo of screams ripped through Valerian’s memory, and he pinched his eyes closed.

He wouldn’t cry.

He trimmed the sails, catching the wind, then pulled them taught generating a driving force. Slowly, the clouds darkened into night. His eyes stung with the dropping chill. Still, he held fast to the helm, boots planted and icicles stiffening his clothing.

He wouldn’t die from the cold. No matter how numb he got, his aching heart would continue to beat; slow and steady. He’d never be warm. Not truly warm like everyone else.

The thought drifted through his mind as an updraft jerked the sails and the helm from his grasp. Metal crunched against rock 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, and by now everyone in Vale was searching for him.

Moonlight shimmered across the dark water as Valerian used his grip on the rail to pull himself over it to see how stuck the breaker was. Rising from the glacier sat an odd semi-circle formation. It glittered 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 to the glowing ice dome. The light inside pulsed like a heartbeat, illuminating what appeared to be 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 warmth radiated from him, even frozen within the ice.

Their gazes met, and Valerian stumbled backward with a gasp. The heat in his limbs faded and the bone-deep chill in his chest spread.

Was that warmth? Valerian wasn’t sure. He hadn’t felt it in so long. Edging closer to the ice bound boy, the ice in his veins thawed further. He placed a gloved hand against the ice.

Nothing happened.

“I-I don’t want to hurt you,” Valerian stammered. When he pulled his hand away, the ice vibrated with a soft hum and his fingers itched within his gloves.

One touch, he told himself. He’s already frozen. My touch can’t make it worse.

Fear that it would, made Valerian hesitate. The heat inside the dome pulsed harder, as if the boy were pleading with him.

Do it.

“I don’t want to hurt you,” Valerian repeated.

Do it. The ice thrummed louder.

Maybe he was losing it. Maybe he was imagining all of this. If that were true, one touch wouldn’t hurt. If the boy wasn’t real, Valerian couldn’t harm him. Hands shaking, Valerian slowly removed his gloves.

“No promises,” he whispered, slipping them through his belt.

The boy blinked slowly. There wasn’t time. Valerian shoved aside his trepidation and pressed his hands to the dome.

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

“Thank you,” the boy sighed, skin still aglow.

That was when 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 and for the first time in a very long time, he felt a warmth like hope expanding inside him.

“Who are you?” Valerian asked in awe.

The boy tilted his chin up, evergreen eyes creasing with confusion. “I-I don’t know,” he said.

Valerian smiled, realizing he never again had to be alone. “That’s okay,” he said. “From today on, you are my brother and a prince of Vale.”

 

and now for the messy version: (I've colored the deleted - edited text in red)


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 the age of fourteen. Instead, he’d stolen a breaker ship and fled the icy kingdom of Vale.

There was no way that he could have known that sneaking out of the castle would end this way. Closed off the loneliness had set in and given an opportunity to be normal he’d leaped at it. He’d promised he’d keep the gloves on. But lost in the thrill of tossing balls of snow, he’d slipped them off.

Bone-chilling winds cut through Valerian’s crisp blue vest and snow dampened trousers. He his gloved hands holding fast to the helm. He looked like a corpse. Pale skin, blue gray eyes, and white-blond hair tied into a braid that barely reached his slim shoulders. That’s what some of the others had called him. The Corpse Prince of Vale.

Bone-chilling winds cut through Valerian’s crisp blue vest and snow dampened trousers. With gloved hands he held fast to the helm. The pointed nose of the ship sliced through the frozen ocean with a shuddering groan.

Bone-chilling winds cut through Valerian’s crisp blue vest and snow dampened trousers. He held fast to the helm with gloved hands. The nose of the ship sliced through the frozen ocean as the sails snaped overhead and ice crunched and clanged against the metal hull.

The burgundy vest and onyx shirt he wore were strung with gold thread. Crumpled black trousers covered his legs and leather boots his feet.

He his gloved hands holding fast to the helm. He looked like a corpse. Pale skin, blue gray eyes, and white-blond hair tied into a braid that barely reached his slim shoulders. That’s what some of the others had called him. The Corpse Prince of Vale.

That’s what they’d called him- The Corpse Prince of Vale. Rumors had been whispered through the kingdom for years after his father had locked the castle from visitors.

They called him The Corpse Prince of Vale. 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 many times he’d sat in his window and tried to soak up the sun, he remained pale and constantly cold.

The loneliness was worse.

No one was allowed near him. Not after he’d accidently frozen an entire dinner table at his youngest sister’s birthday celebration years ago. The gloves helped, but only if he remembered to leave them on. Which he hadn’t.

A bone deep ache throbbed in his chest, but he wouldn’t cry.

Skirting along the sandstone cliffs covered in snow, Valerian angled the ship away from the thicker patches of ice, though the ship could devour thick packed ice several feet deep. Skirting along the sandstone cliffs covered in snow, Valerian angled the ship away from the shore. The ship could devour thick packed ice several feet deep. There was nothing going to stop Valerian. He wouldn’t go back to being a prisoner in his own kingdom. Locked away in his room with no one to talk to, he’d been about to go insane. Then Alec had appeared at his door on a dare.

“Want to play?” he’d asked with confidence radiating from him like the sun.

Valerian had promised himself he’d keep the gloves on. That everything would be alright. Lost in the thrill of finding a friend, he’d forgotten. One touch and Alec’s sunlight skin numbed to blue, and he dropped to the ground with a thud. Screams ripped through Valerian’s head, and he pinched his eyes closed.

He wouldn’t cry.

There was no going back now.

He trimmed the sails catching the wind, then pulled them taught generating a driving force. Clouds darkened into night and his eyes stung with the dropping chill. Still, he held fast to the helm, boots planted and icicles stiffening his clothes. The ship could devour thick packed ice several feet deep, but as it splintered through a densely compressed area of ocean the ship shuttered and jerked to a sudden stop.

He wouldn’t die from the cold.

No matter how numb he got, his aching heart would continue to beat; slow, and steady. He’d never be warm. Not truly warm like everyone else.

The thought drifted through his mind as an updraft jerked the sails and the helm from his grasp. Metal crunched against rock and the ship tipped sideways. Valerian grabbed for anything within reach, ropes slipped through his gloved fingers and the bag he’d packed tumbled into the subzero water with a splash. Tearing a glove off, Valerian slammed his bare palm against the deck. Ice snaked down his fingers and dug into the wood.

The thought drifted through his mind as an updraft jerked the sails and the helm from his grasp. Metal crunched against rock and the ship tipped sideways nearly dumping him into the ocean before shuddering to a sudden and complete stop. Metal crunched against rock and the ship pitched sideways as it ran along a massive glacial sheet of ice floating in the middle of the ocean. Valerian stumbled and grabbed hold of the rail.

Valerian grabbed for anything within reach, ropes slipped through his gloved fingers and the bag he’d packed tumbled into the subzero water with a splash. Tearing a glove off, Valerian slammed his bare palm against the deck. Ice snaked down his fingers and dug into the wood.

“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, and by now everyone in Vale would be searching for him.

Moonlight shimmered across the dark water and ice as Valerian dug in his heels and used his grip on the rail to pull himself over it to see just how stuck the breaker was. Rising from the middle of the odd formation of ice sat a semicircle of solid ice. Rising from the glacier sat an odd semi-circle formation. It glittered in the dim lighting as though lit from within by the sun. Valerian didn’t know how he’d missed it.

Curious, he slid down the side of the ship and to the ice below. A layer of snow covered the ice. His boots slipped and slid as he made his way across the short distance to the ice dome. The closer he got the more details came into view. Something was inside.

Water splashed along the breaker’s far side and against the glacier, but the ice held firm. This far out, the silence throbbed in Valerian’s ears. The sails flapped in the wind, a rippling sort of noise, he’d grown fond of as a child. It reassured him now, but the nearer he got to the dome of ice the deeper the chill in his chest shrank. Was it warmth? Valerian wasn’t sure. He hadn’t felt warmth in so long.

The light inside the dome pulsed like a heartbeat. Steps away, Valerian sucked in a gasp. A boy near his age but opposite in every way lay curled inside. His dark hair fell over his bronze skin in curls around his ears and along the back of his neck. There was no way that he could be alive, but in that moment his eyes opened and met Valerians curious stare.

The boy’s eyes widened with hope and Valerian stumbled back a step. The heat he’d felt growing in his limbs faded and the bone-deep chill in his chest spread.

A step forward and it shrank. Valerian took another step toward the ice bound boy. The ice in his veins thawed further.

“How?” he whispered against the silence, not expecting a reply.

The ice hummed, a small vibration at first, but as it grew Valerian could

Valerian took a hesitant step closer to the ice bound boy and the ice in his veins thawed further. The heat radiating from the boy was like nothing he’d ever felt before. The longer he stood by the boy the warmer he felt, and it didn’t want it to end. He placed a gloved hand against the ice. Nothing happened.

“I don’t want to hurt you,” Valerian said, fear crawling through him in flashes of memories. The ice-covered table filled with birthday decorations. Alec laying frozen on the ground at his feet. He pulled his hand away and the ice began to vibrate with a soft hum. Staring into the boy’s eyes Valerian struggled with what to do. His fingers itched within his gloves.

One touch, he told himself. He’s already frozen within the ice. My touch can’t hurt him. Fear that it would made Valerian hesitate. The heat inside the dome pulsed harder as though the boy was pleading with him.

Do it. Please.

“I don’t want to hurt you,” Valerian repeated.

Do it, the ice thrummed.

Valarian glanced around the glacier, but they were alone. Maybe he was losing it. Maybe he was imagining all of this. If that were the case, one touch wouldn’t hurt. If the boy wasn’t real, Valerian couldn’t harm him. Hands shaking, Valerian slowly removed his gloves.

“No promises,” he whispered before slipping them through his belt.

The boy blinked, as though exhausted. There wasn’t time for anymore hesitation. Valerian pressed his hands to the dome. Heat washed over him and stole his breath. Cracks raced across the dome in a spread of splinters and a crack echoed through the darkness. Valerian stumbled, losing his footing as the ice crumbled and the boy rolled free colliding with him.

That’s when Valerian noticed the bands of glowing ink around the boy’s upper arms.

Ice cold fear coursed though Valerian but where the ice inside him had once ran wild, it now remained calm, despite his direct contact with the mysterious boy.

“Who are you?” Valerian asked in awe.

The boy tilted his chin up, evergreen eyes creasing with confusion. “I-I don’t know,” he said.

Valerian smiled, realizing he never again had to be alone. “That’s okay,” he said. “From today on, you are my brother and a prince of Vale.”

 

As you can see, I'm a bit of a perfectionist and there were some areas that just flowed, while others that I got stuck on. If I'm being honest there is a lot that I still feel needs work, but overall, this is typically what a first draft looks like for me. Had I not already had a story to go with this backstory, I wouldn't have had names for the characters and probably filled in those names with my typical [BLANK] as a holder until I'd figured it out. I do the same thing with places.

I look forward to reading other writer's posts and learning more about the many different writing styles out there. #WriterInMotion is an amazing way to connect with other writers and learn more about writing process. I hope my blog post has helped another writer in one way or another and that I'm able to learn just as much from the process, even if it is my fifth time taking part.

As an Alumni member of #WriterInMotion, I've also been a part of the behind the scenes work (Graphic Artist and Social Media Coordinator). I wasn't able to help out this year due to some personal reasons, but I encourage you all to volunteer. It's totally worth the time and an amazing learning experience.


Thank you again for reading my post!


- Steph Whitaker




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