A Little Self-Revision

Self-revision week is nearly over for Writer In Motion. Exhaustion set in last weekend after I shared the first draft of my story, both physical and emotion, so I took the time to rest and relax as much as I could before digging into this short piece of fiction. However, even in my moments curled up on the couch, there were still elements that stood out—both as moments I loved and errant character interiority that needed to be sidelined. If you missed it, here’s my prompt reaction and the first draft of The Clocks Inside.

Gutting the Focus Points

When I released my first draft last week, I offered two different endings and let readers choose which one they liked more. Yet, in my head I already had ideas about how to twist the story up further, to darken it to a noir vibe of sex, murder and greed and really end it with a bang.

Nope.

Readers loved the intensity of the darker ending, but there was one thing they all agreed on—Emmaline and Harry needed a happy ending. To my readers . . . you’re all bastards. Ha ha, just kidding. But the difference between author desire and reader wants showed a clear divide, and after more thought on the matter, my vision of a really twisted encounter at the end is just a bit too much for a short story (but maybe perfect for a novel). Besides, the whole point here is to have readers actually want to read my work, right?

So it was time to shift the focus. I could give my readers a happy ending, and probably show the tension leading up to it a lot better. To get in the right mindset, I set to work jotting down notes.

This was a good start. Asking questions, noting areas to enhance or kill, but they were really all just tidbits when I realized I was missing a very important element to the story: Emmaline. Basically, why she would travel by train at her grandfather’s beck and call to do a quick fix. She loves her grandfather, yes, but the ‘why’ of her journey needed some stronger agency, and a way to beef up her conflict with Henry.

Two Worlds Alike

The other big problem for me is still the two worlds. In the feature image for this post, you’ll get a small glimpse into the world Emmaline knows. Think a 1930s Gotham/Sin City blend that’s built on the science found in D’ni worlds. Different from our own, and yet not all that different in function and conflict.

So when Emmaline gets transported through the globe, her only visual shouldn’t be a clock and gears. It’s an important link of familiarity, but also a bridge into the bizarreness that’s definitely not like the life she knows. I’m now down to two ideas for how to beef this up.

Both jungle and desert offer a nice contrast to a world that’s built of steel and concrete. The desert environment offers a great way to induce basic needs conflict if I expand this story into a future novel, but man that jungle . . . the trees look like they can walk, and there are so many things that could be buried in that foliage.

My next steps are to pick one (find out Friday!) and really streamline the focus for Emmaline, her goals, stakes, conflict, and a strong way to open and close this character’s small moment in time.

That’s it for today! If you want to get a taste of how I envision Emmaline’s worlds, you can visit my Pinterest wall. Be sure to check out www.writerinmotion.com for all the juicy details on how to participate with your own short story. Or you can follow along on Twitter with the hashtag #WriterInMotion.


K. J. Harrowick K.J. Harrowick is a freelance web developer and graphic designer with more than a decade of industry experience on a diverse range of projects. As a child, she fell in love with fantasy worlds like those found in the books of Andre Norton and Mercedes Lackey, which continued well into adulthood with the worlds of Ivan Cat and Rand & Robin Miller. She began to world build and create fantasy languages in 2004, and in 2014 it became a full-blown passion to write and publish her own books. Currently she resides in the rainy Pacific Northwest where she works with a broad range of client projects, plots how to destroy her characters’ lives, and occasionally falls down rabbit holes.