Step-by-Step Edit No.1: Second to Third Draft

For the third draft, I put the story on a critique forum.  This is the clean second draft:

Mirage stood stiffly on the cliff as the fiery ball of day drifted beyond the horizon. He grasped his sword hilt, clenching so violently his knuckles whitened. Every night he stood here. He, a warrior, captive to a simple spell.

There is one way to conquer anything.

Mirage closed his eyes as tightly as he could, trying to block the words. The last rays danced along his chest before dying. As they left his body, a tiny splotch of gray rock appeared over his heart. It rapidly grew, branching fingers all over Mirage’s body. Mirage didn’t struggle. Years had taught him movement did nothing.

The cold stone encircled his body, covering most of it. As the last stone tentacle wound around his face, freezing his expression, locking his hair, the words came to him again.

There is one way to conquer anything.

No! His eyes flashed with desperate anger seconds before he lost his sight to the advancing stone. He was a warrior. He was his own man. He had no need for others, much less some god that let this happen to the world!

Others. Curse them all, the Complacent who had given up their freedom for comfort. His body contracted. Surely there were more options; stone most of his life or hazy submission to the Dark Land. . .

There is one way to conquer anything.

. . . or that woman’s God. Mirage’s body contracted a second time, with a desperate struggle to remain flesh. He could still feel the fading warmth of the sun, the only thing in which he ever found comfort. Ironic that God was supposed to govern the light. But a comfort would not even stall the process. How long could he remain his own man? Each night something gave way to the Dark Prince. If he did nothing . .

No! his mind screamed. But something else had a voice, something special ripped at his soul. Mirage’s lips began solidifying. In a sudden first of resolve, he forced the words off his tongue. “A servant of Your’s told me to ‘Seek the Majestic One while he may be found, call out to Him while He is still willing to answer. . .’ Are you still willing to answer? I need You. . .” Mirage choked on the words. “. . . and I can’t do this on my own.” It was done. Even as the petrification completed, relief soothed his mind. But did the Majestic One truly hear him, this puny creation who had fought The Way of Light for so long? Mirage’s mind slipped into a stone-sleep with that last conscious thought.

In short, here are the responses I received:

Critic1:  Mirage didn’t struggle. Years had taught him movement did nothing.
Is that because this has happened to him before, or from seeing it happen to other people?

Critic2:  Thisisfantasticwillyoupublish?

Critic3:  Wonderful, I loved your imagery, but you might want to check your spelling again.

Critic4:  Mirage’s conversion seems to happen too quickly.  One minute he’s resisting, the next he’s calling on the Majestic One.

There was much more, of course, but I am only showing you the critique relevant to this scene, not the entire story.  Throughout this critiquing stage, I learned two major things.  Number one, even after reading the hard copy you will not catch all the spelling mistakes.  Number two, not everything the author thinks is clear is clear to the reader.

Mirage stood stiffly on the cliff as the fiery ball of day drifted beyond the horizon. He grasped his sword hilt, clenching so violently his knuckles whitened. Every night he stood here. He, a warrior, captive to a simple spell.

There is one way to conquer anything.

Mirage closed his eyes as tightly as he could, trying to block the words. The last rays danced along his chest before dying. As they left his body, a tiny splotch of gray rock appeared over his heart. It rapidly grew, branching fingers all over Mirage’s body. Mirage didn’t struggle. Years of experience [It’s a simple phrase and answers Critic1’s question.] had taught him movement did nothing.

The cold stone encircled his body, covering most of it. As the last stone tentacle wound around his face, freezing his expression, locking his hair, the words came to him again.

There is one way to conquer anything.

No! His eyes flashed with desperate anger seconds before he lost his sight to the advancing stone. He was a warrior. He was his own man. He had no need for others, much less some god that let this happen to the world!

Others. Curse them all, the Complacent, who had given up their freedom for comfort. His body contracted. Surely there were more options; stone most of his life or hazy submission to the Dark Land. . .

There is one way to conquer anything.

. . . or that woman’s God. Mirage’s body contracted a second time, with a desperate struggle to remain flesh. He could still feel the fading warmth of the sun, the only thing in which he ever found comfort. Ironic that God was supposed to govern the light. But a comfort would not even stall the process. How long could he remain his own man? Each night something gave way to the Dark Prince. If he did nothing . .

No! his mind screamed. But something else had a voice, something special ripped at his soul. Mirage’s lips began solidifying. Something special ripped at his soul, an urge, a calling. No, Mirage repeated to himself. He was his own man. The words fell hollow as Mirage’s lips began solidifying. [Critic4 was quite right. This is my redo.] In a sudden firstburst [“First” may rhyme with “burst” but that’s all they have in common.] of resolve, he forced the words prayer [More specific.] off his tongue. “A servant of Your’s told me to ‘Seek the Majestic One while hHe [we’re capitalizing the pronouns referring to the Majestic One, aren’t we?] may be found, call out to Him while He is still willing to answer. . .’ Are you still willing to answer? I need You. . .” Mirage choked on the words. “. . . and I can’t do this on my own.” It was done. Even as the petrification completed, relief soothed his mind. But did the Majestic One truly hear him, this puny creation who had fought The Way of Light for so long? Mirage’s mind slipped into a stone-sleep with that last conscious thought.

First in the series:  First to Second Draft

Next, we get nit-picky.

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About Kathrine Roid

I'm an science fiction and fantasy author living in Texas with an undead parakeet and teleporting cat. Think about that for a moment.

Posted on January 8, 2011, in How to Edit and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. First of all, this piece is great to begin with, and the editing has made it even better. I love watching you edit it, because then I see what kind of stuff I should be looking for as I’m editing. (Or, well, as I will be editing.)

    Second of all, what is this teen critique forum you speak of? That sounds like it would be really cool. 🙂

  2. Nice to see how it’s evovling! Weird for me, since I don’t do a lot of editing 🙂
    But nice 🙂

  3. Abby aka PrincessoftheKing

    @Dani: I think she’s talking about Holy Worlds Christian Fantasy Forum… there’s a link on the blogroll. 🙂

    Great job, Katty! Keep it up!

  4. ~
    Sorry, Dani, I could’ve sworn I had posted a comment on here answering your question. . . 😕
    Specifically, I was talking about the NaNo Young Writer’s Program. After I posted this article I realized I included Abby’s critique, and she is from Holy Worlds, so I deleted the phrase about the teen critique forum.
    To my understanding, there are actually many teen critique forums. Do a google search if you’re interested.

    ~
    Well, I’m glad to show you what the rest of us writers do, Louisa!

    ~
    Thanks, Abby, although I dare say you’re partial to your post because your critique is mentioned.
    For the record, Abby is Critic4. One of the useful ones. 😉

  5. PrincessoftheKing

    Me? Partial? Never! 😀

    And I’m glad I could be of service!

  6. Yeah, because I’m alike in any way to other writers. 🙂

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