Another season of Writer In Motion is ready for a final wrap, and it feels like the end of a crazy ride. Behind the scenes felt like a lot more work this time around. We had more writers, more editors, and I booked more clients during those weeks than I usually do. Plus add in the madness that is 2020 and preparing the family for homeschooling—I can honestly say I’m ready for a little breathing room in my schedule.
As a writer though, this season turned out quite different than I anticipated. From my brain bluescreening on the prompt to attempting an entirely new style of voice I’m not at all comfortable writing, this season once more gave me good insight into who I am as a writer. Some things were affirmation of what I already knew, and others were a bit surprising.
Surprisingly, I didn’t change the title of this story five thousand different times, but the first lines definitely changed.
First Line 1.0: I dreamed of her again last night, the woman who started a war none of us could escape.
First Line 2.0: The day the mad commander died, he said five final words to the woman he loved: “Go back to the beginning.”
First Line 3.0: I was born on a now-derelict starship beyond the night sky hologram, back when war brewed around a woman who wielded starship fuel like magic.
First Line 4.0-FINAL: It was always night beyond the rim.
On the first two drafts, those opening lines offer a strong connection to the story where Braygen sees Herana alive for the first time. By the third draft, the opener starts to pull away a little. But honestly, it wasn’t until the final draft that the opening line made the story feel independent of anything else. This also says a lot about how my books tend to go. My drafts tend to feel unconnected, and then slowly they hone in to their own independent bubble of a tale.
First Line 1.0: He had what he’d come for, now all he had to do was trust that Sumra wouldn’t kill him the next time she opened her bag.
First Line 2.0: Time to search for the real Herana and to do that I must find the beginning.
First Line 3.0: Time to search for the real Herana and to do that I’d have to start at the beginning, the last place her boots touched the soil of this world before she’d been kidnapped.
First Line 4.0-FINAL: No going back home to the old starship, but I could search every inch of this world for her, and I wouldn’t stop until I had Herana in my arms.
My character seriously has an obsession problem with a woman he’s never met. My first closing line contained a character I’d since cut, but really it makes no sense on its own. If I’m honest, I don’t see a lot of growth in how the story closes. The last line makes the most sense on its own, but it still doesn’t feel sharp enough to call a reader back for another tale.
One of my favorite things to do as I’m writing a story is to curate images into aesthetic blends. I absolutely love looking at concept art of bizarre worlds, and I’ve even dipped into concept work a little in the past. It’s something I really REALLY want to learn, but these days my time is so limited, so I poke at it when I can. Here’s how Braygen’s aesthetic panned out:
To me this progression feels a lot like how a story is told. The first draft has your core characters and setting, and each revision makes the story sharper, richer, and more engaging for readers. I actually struggled with this blend a little as I wanted to really show Braygen’s deeper personality, but what came across was more his desperation to find Herana. My hope is that by the time I finish telling their story, readers will have a deeper understanding of why Braygen has given up so much for this woman, and how their lives were intertwined long before either of them set foot on this small moon.
THE REAL HEROES OF THIS STORY
Before I close out this article, I need to do a huge shout out to my critique partners and my editor Carly. Each one of them really dug under the lines to help me unwind the extraneous and over-complicated areas—which is my kryptonite, by the way. Every one of them saw potential for Braygen’s story to be better than it was, and didn’t hesitate to how what parts of the story stumbled them and why.
And of course ginormous thanks to Carly Hayward of Book Light Editorial and my RevPit editor. She already knew a little about this character from my RevPit book, so it was nice to be able to share with her more of Braygen’s deeper personality.
And finally… to my partner in crime Jeni Chappelle. Without her, the Writer In Motion project wouldn’t exist. She always knows when to nudge, when to pull back, and when I need a good gator image to brighten my day.
And of course, this project wouldn’t run half as smoothly without my amazing leadership team: Stephanie Whitaker, S. M. Roffey, Morgan Wilson and S. Kaeth. Y’all are such badasses and amazing people. Thank you for all your hard work and for believing in this project.
Cheer and happy writing! I’ll see you all next season. ^_^