Here it is, draft one. It’s about as much a tangled mess as the seaweed my protagonist finds on the shore, but like her, I’m gonna save everything. Credit to this beautiful mood board by KJ Harrowick.
Remember, you can follow all of our Writer In Motion journeys via Jeni Chappelle's site or search the hashtag on Twitter.
To be honest, drafting is my favorite. Just dump the sand into the molds and plop your castles onto moving ground. Some will fall, some will remain, many will crumple, only to be gathered and reformed.
I’m not a short-story writer, and I don’t write from prompts, so this exercise challenged me. In a good way. As writers, it’s helpful to step out of our comfort zones. After all, that’s how we unearth the jewels of our talents.
This week, I’ll let the draft sit a bit, then see what needs what.
Take a look at my previous post to learn about Writer In Motion and the visual prompt. We were asked to stick close to 500 words. I docked at 646.
Meet Carly Saves The Kelp Kingdom , a middle grade fantasy (or paranormal...)
The sand beneath my feet rises like the tide as I faceplant, forced to eat wet earth. A thought crosses my mind like a serpent, slithering between a seaweed jungle of fear and regret: I’m going to die.
My hands press into the earth and I rise to stand, spitting out small bits of shell and pebble and unwrapping a coil of seaweed from around my ankles.
Maybe stealing Dad’s boat for a moonlight expedition was a bad idea. I’ll never do it again.
Pfft. I may never get the chance. The boat’s dry docked on a sandbar miles from shore, and it’ll take hours before my parents get home and discover I’m not there. The boat isn’t there. Jeni isn’t there.
Dad’s said it a hundred million times: “Carly, stay off the boat. Watch your sister. Stay out of the harbor.”
I know how to drive a boat. I snuck it out last week when our parents left me in charge of Jeni for the evening, saying twelve’s old enough to babysit. I figured it was also old enough to drive Dad’s sweet Yamaha--The Knotty Jib, aka, the KJ--into the harbor and make water donuts as the moon shone like an alien flashlight glimmering over tiny ripples.
Until Jeni pointed out those weren’t water ripples. “S-s-sea monster,” she shouted.
I told her she was seeing things. It was late. The moon was playing tricks.
But a thick tube crested, undulating with the boat’s lapping waves, covered in scales that caught moon and stars and my breath. Then it was gone. Like that.
I high-tailed back to the dock and made Jeni double-spit swear not to say anything to Mom and Dad. About the boat. About the scaly something that may or may not have been a sea serpent or sea ghost or hallucination from too many cheeseballs.
Tonight, fueled on a Pirates of the Caribbean marathon, liter of Mountain Dew, and bowl of cheeseballs, I decided it’s time I prove sea monsters don’t exist. Not in Armario Harbor. I nudged my sleepy sister awake and grabbed Dad’s key from behind the fridge.
On board the KJ, I wrapped Jeni in a blanket and tucked her at the stern, flicked on the bow’s light, and took the helm, telling myself I’d go so far as the buoy and turn around. No wave-donuts.
Our boat’s small and squeaky like Jeni, so I kept it at a low speed for low attention. No need to anger the scaly creature. If it even existed.
But our cover of night became the problem when I sideswiped the buoy. Rubbing the small lump on my forehead suggests I musta knocked into the dashboard. The bow’s splintered, so even if I can push it back into the water, it’ll sink. The boat’s grounded. Ironic, considering what’ll happen to me when Dad finds out.
As I walk barefoot across the wet sand, I search my hoodie pockets for the key and my phone. Key’s there; phone isn’t. We can’t have traveled too far. But the moon’s dim, and no buoy lights blink in the distance. Nothing blinks in the distance.
“Jeni!” I shout as I approach the boat, trying not to imagine Dad’s monstrous rage at what I’ve done to his sweet KJ. “Come on out before that stupid thing fills with water.”
But the boat’s empty. Jeni’s gone. Unless she’s hiding. Six-year-olds...hmmph.
“Jeni, you’re not funny.” I press my hands to my hips and scan the tangle of seaweed that litters the shore. Correction, the moving seaweed. Uh...standing seaweed?
“I know where your sister is.” A ginormous mess of kelp rises on slimy seaweed-wrapped legs. “The Ghost of the Sea has her. Help us defeat her, and we will save your sister.”
“We?” I ask, barely above a whisper.
That’s when I notice the army of kelp rising from the water.
Things I’ll be paying attention to:
Plot: Are my MC’s goals, stakes, and obstacles clear? Am I starting in the right spot? (*raises hand* NO)
Character: Is this someone readers will care about? Is her voice relevant, relatable, reliable?
Structure: Is the POV working? How can I work the sentences so they support the theme? (Can I create a rhythm with my words that feels much like the sea ebbing and flowing?) --I already see a prob with tense. I 'm pretty sure I want to rework it so it all happens now. Ellen's achilles heel: backstory dumps.
Mechanics: This is the last thing I work on in early drafts--spelling, punctuation, grammar.
Deleted line I might use later: Jeni will tell everybody it’s going to be okay. She’s the family optimist. Five going on twenty. Optimistic and logical.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on my first draft. Ideas for a better title?
Stay tuned for a revised version to appear next week. Then it’s off to my first CP, Melissa Bergum.
Thanks for stopping by!