Don’t forget to check out the other stories from other Writer In Motion writers! And take a look through the previous Writer In Motion posts to see the development of this story from first draft to final!
After collecting comments on my copy of the story, it was time to dig in.
The first thing I did was address huddle, for not only was my CP right that cows don’t really huddle, but huddle often implies company, and my Space Cow is all by its lonesome. Then I addressed “howls”, changing it to “shouts” and “roars”, the latter because I wanted to keep the monster idea. The former I’m not in love with, but I disliked the way “roars rose” sounded.
I decided to keep “derelict” despite the confusion because I like the rhythm it gives the sentence and didn’t want to break it by adding another word. I changed the first “feet” to “hooves” to dive right into the strange anatomy of the MC, and then nixed the next instance of “hooves”, smoothing the sentence. I found an extra “howls” and fixed that, too.
Then I decided I really didn’t like “shouts” and changed the whole ending of the sentence. I bounce around a lot in editing.
Most of my feedback concerned word choice, so I went through them, searching for the best word choice. Sometimes I liked what I had better, and sometimes their suggestions. Sometimes, neither, but I found a better word choice anyway, which is what it’s all about. Some word choices meant other words which had been fine now needed changing: like because I changed “howls” to “roars”, I needed to change “they roared out from the brush”.
I took out the “Matt” explanation as I think it’d be cooler if the reader made that connection on their own, between “Matt” and mat. Besides, as one of my CPs pointed out, cow fur is generally too short to mat most of the time.
I needed to shine up that the abandoned boat was not of Space Cow design, but instead, just where the Drop Site and Matt were located. I also needed to clean up some sentences, consult with some grammarians I am lucky enough to know, and to consider the Space Cow’s atheism. I like how it adds some to its character, but it’s not really used in the character arc or story arc at all. So I need to consider whether it’s worth the words simply from a characterization stand point.
Finally, after I addressed every concern or not as I pondered, I went through with one last read through in a funky font to force my brain to read more critically. I’m becoming extremely familiar with this story to the point where my brain may not register small things, and I want to make sure that I haven’t messed anything up with my changes.
The semi-final result, the story I will send on to my editor, is below:
You lay among the scraggly brush, your rasping breath loud in your ears. Around you, the roars sounded, closing in around you. A sandy stretch of barren land lay between your meager cover and the Drop Site. It waited, concealed in the rusting remains of a small ship which listed to starboard on a sandbank. Nothing the monsters could understand.
You lunged for the derelict, breaking cover. The packed sand crumbled beneath your hooves as if plotting with your pursuers to slow you down. You stumbled, pattering a staccato beat. The scent of your own fear clogged your flaring nostrils. It was a wonder the monsters didn’t smell it too.
Or maybe they did.
They swarmed out from the brush, and a strangled squeal ripped from your throat. It seemed to drive them ever faster, their huge splayed feet grabbing the sand you struggled on, throwing them forward with ease. The primitive creatures never stopped, never needed to rest, and their eyesight was better than yours. They’d seen you watching them, and they hadn’t taken kindly to observation. That moment was frozen in your mind: the flapping hides of dead creatures they’d tied around themselves, their swinging limbs, and their eyes gleaming in the dark. Fodder for nightmares, should you be lucky enough to have them later.
You galloped across the sands and through the tide which tugged at your hooves, as if the water too conspired to drag you down. Did the monsters compel all of nature to do their bidding? You shivered, your hide twitching and jumping. It couldn’t be. Such a thing would be magic, and everyone knew magic was for children. Just silly superstitions, is all. Believing in magic would be as likely as you hunting and killing some poor creature. Ridiculous.
You flung yourself into the derelict. It had no door to slam in the monsters’ faces. You lunged across the small ship to grab the crate the Wolves had sent down for your return, the crate which held the Matt and made this rusting boat the Drop Site. It banged against your knees as you hauled it back to the entryway, then pushed it into place. It was too small to block the opening, but there was nothing else. Only a few planks peeling away from the interior wall. The ship screamed, too loud in your sensitive ears, when you cannibalized the ship, pulling the planks away and slotting them into place. The planks rattled and shivered when you shoved the crate against them. There was no way they would hold.
Hoping you’d at least bought yourself enough time, you opened the crate, scanning the instructions. The Wolves had set up the Matter Teleportation Device, but they hadn’t told you how to use it.
This was supposed to be an easy mission. Drop down, catalogue the natives, and Matt up. No one was supposed to get hurt. But the Wolves, likely thinking it a prank, had not set the Matt up with a verbal or physical passcode. The crate held a sensor, along with a hoof-hand-friendly lighter, kindling, and two slabs of raw meat. You recoiled, even as you read the Wolves’ instructions: the Matt would initiate automatically when the sensor detected cooking meat.
You stared in horror. Who was this? Surely not another Cow? Could you live with yourself if you cooked another Cow?
You cursed the Wolves and their set up. Some prank, forcing a vegetarian to cook meat in order to return to the ship. To safety.
But whoever this was, they were already dead. You dying too would not bring them back. Bile rose, and tears flowed from your eyes and down your sensitive muzzle, but you weren’t ready yet to die. Fumbling, you grabbed the lighter, dropped it, and grabbed it again. Your hoof-hands trembled as you struggled to work the simple tool.
Something slammed against the planks and they jumped, but you lunged to hold them up. You muttered prayers under your breath. Of course, there was nothing in the starry expanse to pray to, but desperation drove out reason.
You were going to give the Wolves an earful if you saw them again.
Finally, a flame lit, just as the barricade slammed against your back under the weight of the monsters. Screaming in wordless terror, you scrambled with your hooves on the slick metal flooring, but there was no good footing. Maybe if you had massive flat feet like the monsters did. The lighter dropped from your grasp onto the kindling.
The kindling caught, lucky for you. Hairy arms snaked in through the holes in your barricade, scratching at you with blunt nails as the fire flared brighter. Another weight bounced against your back, and roars echoed all around the derelict. Fortunately, the metal wasn’t rusted all the way through.
Shallow, quick breaths puffing out of your mouth, you dropped the meat on the flames and wafted the smoke toward the sensors. Your stomach turned, nausea rising. The things you were willing to do to survive were horrifying. You were disgusting.
As the stench of cooking meat filled the cabin, the monsters outside paused, snuffling around the edges of the planks. And then, they threw themselves like a wave at the barricade. At you.
Your eyes widened and you shrieked…
…and disappeared, safely Matted up to the ship.
The Wolves considered the mission a success. After all, you survived. Even more, in one single exposure to the concept, you taught the humans how to harness fire.
You taught them to cook their meat.
Check out the other Writer In Motion participants!
– Jen Karner http://www.SyllablesandSass.com
– H.M. Braverman http://hmbraverman.com
– J.M. Jinks www.authorjmjinks.com
– Melissa Bergum (will be posting via KJ’s site)
– Thuy Nguyen http://www.tmnstories.com
– Kristen Howe https://kristenswritingendeavors.wordpress.com/
– Kathryn Hewitt https://spinningmyyarns.wordpress.com/
– Sean Willson https://www.seanwillson.com/blog/
– Paulette Wiles http://www.paulettewiles.com
– Talynn Lynn inkinthebook.blogspot.com
– Ellen Mulholland www.ellenmulholland.com
– Steph Whitaker stephwhitaker80.wixsite.com/swhitakerwrites/
– Sheri MacIntyre https://sherimacintyre.wordpress.com
– Susan Burdorf https://writingnotes.home.blog
– Dawn Currie https://dawncurrie.wordpress.com
– Megan Van Dyke http://www.meganrvandyke.com
– Ari Augustine https://bookishvalhalla.com
– Fariha Khayyam http://www.farihakhayyam.com
– M. Dalto https://authormdalto.wordpress.com/blog/
– Sheryl Stein http://www.wrekehavoc.com
– Belinda Grant https://belindagrantwrites.wordpress.com
– Coffee Quills https://coffeequills.com
The amazing editors:
Jeni Chappelle https://www.jenichappelleeditorial.com
Carly Hayward https://booklighteditorial.com
Maria Tureaud https://twitter.com/Maria_Tureaud
Justine Manzano https://www.craftquest.org/