Sometimes working with critique partner’s feedback is like a shell game. Especially if there are more than one writing partners giving you advice. As you read through their comments and find places for them within your manuscript, you can lose sight of your own story goals and vision.
When I receive feedback--usually in a Word Doc with tracking changes--I read through the suggestions and deletes several times before making any decisions. The first time, I’m always like, ‘oh they don’t understand my story; they’re WRONG.’ But as I read again and consider the ideas more seriously--in other words, lose my EGO--I find value.
Our WriterInMotion challenge this week was to work with the other writers in an exchange of critiques. I’ve spoken before about the value of CPs. This week, I was lucky to have three amazing writers read my words and offer help. Melissa Bergum, Sean Wilson, and KJ Harrowick. And lucky for me they all agreed on everything… NOT. I wish. In fact, for the opening lines, each of them had a different take: works great, doesn’t work, where are we?
After wiping tears and screaming into the void, I gathered my tweezers and a scalpel and began the painful but necessary revisions per these wonderful people’s ideas. You might want to read my first draft (if I haven’t burnt it) and the revised draft with self-edits before taking a look at this third draft.
Carly Saves the Kelp Kingdom is now in the capable hands of my editor, Carly Hayward (*ahem* yes I did). Enjoy! Come back soon for more!
All I want is a little adventure, and the Knotty Jib is the perfect vessel for one. Before anyone argues I’m not old enough to drive, I’ll say: if twelve’s old enough to babysit my annoying sister Jeni, it’s old enough to take Dad’s speedy Yamaha into the harbor for moonlight water donuts.
Boats bob and creak against their slips as the KJ sputters from the dock and the moon glimmers across tiny ripples until vanishing within the salty mist.
So far, so good.
Until Dad’s words echo in my mind: Carly, watch your sister, and stay off the boat.
“I’m hungry,” Jeni whines behind me. She’s wrapped in her Care Bears fleece blanket as the moon plays hide and seek behind the fog, and I have to squint to see over the stern.
What ever possessed me this was a good idea? The Pirates of the Caribbean marathon, liter of Mountain Dew, or ginormous handfuls of my favorite orange snack?
I toss a baggie of cheeseballs at Jeni. “Eat these, you little monster.”
“Yuck, no,” she says, throwing the baggie at me.
I dodge it and nearly sideswipe the bobbing buoy.
“Fine. You can starve,” I say, righting the boat. If anything happens, I’ll blame the cheeseballs.
“I’m gonna tell Dad,” Jeni shouts, twisting a curl around her finger.
I would’ve left my six-year-old sister home except I’m responsible for her while our parents have their date night. Gross.
“You mean after I tell Dad you’re the one who drew hearts all over his blue prints?” I press the throttle and straighten the wheel.
“Carly!” Jeni screams.
“What now?” When we get home, I’m asking for a raise.
“S-s-sea monster.” She points into the darkness, leaning up against me.
“Stop, Jeni. Sit down.” Our bright orange life vests sit tucked in a plastic basket.
“C-C-Carly, please,” she screams again.
The fog clears as I slow and a thick tube crests through the boat’s lapping waves.
I press the throttle and yell again at my sister to sit.
Jeni staggers to the back of the boat, gripping her blanket, sucking her thumb. Something she quit before she started school.
My heart stutters as we pass the undulating form glittering in the water. Iridescent scales catch the moon and stars and my breath.
Then it’s gone as a dragon’s gust of fog and mist encases us, turning the sea black.
The KJ hits something, jerking me headfirst into the dash. Hazy blackness fills my vision, before consuming all of my sight.
The next minute, water’s licking my toes, and I’m spitting sand from my mouth. I press my hands into the earth and unwrap a coil of seaweed from my ankles.
I blink away the blurriness and wobble to standing and rub the small lump blooming on my forehead. Musta side-swiped the KJ on that buoy before slamming into the dash. I tiptoe over the seaweed landmines to examine the splintered bow. Even if I can push the boat back into the water, it’ll sink. Grounded. Like I’ll be when this is over.
“Jeni,” I shout, avoiding the thought slithering inside me like a serpent caught in a seaweed jungle of regret: Dad’s gonna kill me.
Stealing his boat for a moonlight expedition was a bad idea. I don’t want to even think what my parents’ll do when they get home and discover I’m not there. The boat isn’t there. Jeni isn’t there.
I blame the cheeseballs.
My bare toes squeeze the wet sand as I search my hoodie pockets for my phone. Nothing but sand and shells. No buoy lights blink in the distance. Nothing blinks in the distance. How is it we traveled so far?
“Jeni!” I shout again as I near the boat, trying not to imagine Dad’s monstrous rage at what I’ve done to his sweet KJ. “Come out before that stupid thing fills with water.”
But the boat’s empty. Jeni’s Care Bears blanket clings to its edge as the waves threaten to pull it with them.
Maybe she’s hiding. Please be hiding.
“Jeni, you’re not funny.” I hug myself against the cold night air and scan the tangle of seaweed that litters the shore. Correction, the moving seaweed.
“The Ghost of the Sea has her.” A deep voice cuts through the night, and a mess of kelp rises on slimy seaweed-wrapped legs. “Help us defeat her, and we shall save your sister.”
“We?” I ask, barely above a whisper.
That’s when I notice the army of kelp rising from the water.
Welp, let's hope Carly can save the draft! I have total faith in her. Please comment with your thoughts on the draft changes, working with critique partners, or your opinion of cheeseballs.
Read all the other lovely words from the Writer In Motion crew:
KJHarrowick ( Blog 1 & Blog 2) | Jen Karner | H.M. Braverman | J.M. Jinks | Melissa Bergum | Thuy Nguyen | Kristen Howe| Sean Willson | Paulette Wiles | Talynn | Ellen Mulholland | Jeni Chappelle | Carly Hayward
Sheri MacIntyre | Jessica Lewis | Susan Burdorf | Stephanie Whitaker | Dawn Currie | Megan Van Dyke | SKaeth | Ari Augustine | Fariha Khayyam | M. Dalto | Sheryl Stein | Belinda Grant
Thanks for stopping by! My next post will be up by July 6.