Have you ever been sitting around reading a book, or a blog, or an article, and you think to yourself, “Wow, this person is really great at writing. It’s obvious why they became a writer and why I didn’t. I could never write like that.”? I know I do. A lot. Yet for some reason, I am about 25,000 words into a novel that I’m writing. I know that it’s hot garbage. I know that it doesn’t compare to actual authors works and manuscripts. I’m just not really that great of a writer.
Or am I?
By the time a story reaches you, especially novels, it’s gone through LOTS of editing. There’s the authors own revisions, critique partners, beta and sensitivity readers, professional editors, agents, and possibly more! The book can find itself in its 10th or 12th form before you lay eyes on it. Unfortunately, that’s also all we as authors have to gauge our own works against.
Even if you’re another authors critique partner, it’s still been through at least one or more rounds of revisions and edits. So it’s really hard to see that within your pile of garbage that you call a first draft, there could be a shiny gem waiting to be seen. Even if you have to pull it out kicking and screaming. That’s what Writer In Motion is all about.
So if you follow along over the next 6 weeks, you’ll see a short story based off a prompt I didn’t see until Nov. 1st grow and evolve and become something (hopefully) unrecognizable from where it started. With all of that out of the way, lets get to the prompt!
I’m not gonna lie, I don’t do great with prompts. My writing ideas generally spawn organically from something I’m doing, or some conversation I’m having, or some situation I’m in and complaining about (so many airport stories from when I was traveling every week for work). So I was definitely nervous to see a prompt. What if I’m not inspired? What if I take it too literally? What if I simply don’t find the image interesting enough?
Unfortunately, at least one of those things happened. Nothing was coming to me at all. I spent a good 30 minutes just digesting what I was seeing. A woman, holding a flare on what could be a pier or a ship mast or something, with a partly cloudy blue sky behind her. Nothing says a story with conflict like a sunny blue sky right? Especially when I had in my head before anything was released, that I wanted to write a middle grade “horror” story, since it was the day after Halloween and I still had all the fun thoughts of trick or treating, horror films, and spooky decorations floating around in my head.
Finally, I saw something I could work with. The entire lower portion of the photo looks like a storm brewing out at sea. Tall, dark, ominous clouds creeping over the horizon is definitely a view I’m familiar with. At the ski resort I used to work at, it was a common thing for it to be sunny and beautiful until about 2pm, at which point clouds like that would race over the mountain and bring their downpours for an hour before moving on further east.
All of this is to say, I had a setting. A dark and stormy afternoon. How many horror stories include a well timed crack of lightning and thunder? Like, all of them! With setting in hand, I decided to break out my trusty laptop and start to pants like there was no tomorrow! In my writing, I’m generally a plantser, so pantsing was definitely not the best thing to do. I found myself 200 words in, with no idea where to go. Like I was spinning my wheels in deep mud.
I did the best thing I could do, and planned out a little bit. All I needed was an idea of where I was going, so I could figure out how to get there. Honestly, y’all pantsers are crazy! I will never understand how you can get somewhere without knowing where you’re going first. It’s madness!
I did finally figure out where I was going though, and I think you’ll be able to see the transition in the draft. I like to think that it goes from “Scooby Doo” to “Goosebumps” in the span of like a sentence. All that really means though, is that I’ve got a great spot to start with revisions come week 2! Stay tuned, the draft will be up tomorrow!