Writer in Motion - Week 2/Second Draft

It's almost four in the afternoon and I just made a fresh pot of coffee--so any and all erratic comments in this post are a product of my waning sanity. I won't get too long-winded in this particular post because I have very little wind to give this week. My wind is broken so to speak.

Anyway, more to the point, I printed out a copy of Towering with the intention of hand editing it while I was in the mountains this week. I DID get a chance to work on it for about 15 minutes yesterday, scribbling several insults in the margins in that fatal red ink. But then I left the pages on the floor of the car and they have footprints on them. On brand really.

So today I'm just going to post screenshots of my process from MS word with a few explanations if I'm able to manage them. The coffee hasn't kicked in yet.

(Important to note that my Grammarly emotion detector thinks this text reads worried, including a little emoji that looks horrified by the things it's seen.)

Something I'll point out that isn't totally evident on this page is my tendency toward conversational line notes. I like to make little jokes or comparisons that I'll enjoy reading later when I'm implementing changes. My favorites include {Insert gif of xyz here}. Strangely, these convey emotions to me that I might not be able to communicate otherwise. Some writer, huh?

I got distracted and ended up on Facebook after that last paragraph so here's this. Now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

As a writer, one of my favorite resources is Onestopforwriters.com -- particularly their Emotion Thesaurus. The website is run by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi, who wrote the Writers Helping Writers thesauruses (Rural setting, emotional wound, etc.). I turned to that for this piece while trying to explore nonverbal signs of grief for Orion/Jaime. I didn't have a ton of space to work with and I needed succinct words. I tend to stray toward long, flowing descriptions.

Content-wise, I didn't make any changes, really. The draft I started with followed the scenes I wanted to address and I didn't have much space to expand on anything. I attempted to use more specific imagery and words to give it more color. While in the chat it appears many of my fellow writers worked to cut words this time around, I actually ended up adding 35, putting me just shy of the 1000 word limit.

Am I totally happy with it? Not necessarily. While nothing is ever perfect, there is a distinct feeling of "ready" or "fully cooked" when it comes to stories and I'm not there yet. I'm really looking forward to working with CPs to see where I might not be seeing changes to make this story better for readers.

In all honesty, I'm just patting myself on the back for getting it done. It's a small victory with everything else going on. I didn't get much time to check out the forums this last week and I'm hoping to tap into some of the other writers work this round.

This event has been really fun and eye-opening and I appreciate you tagging along with me!

Check out other writers participating at writerinmotion.com

In the Shadow of the Tower

By Natalie Lockett

The hearth lit with rollicking flame of its own volition. Save for the muted roar, Thea barely noticed it anymore. Each evening, as the sun kissed the snowcapped mountains across the channel, her tower came to life – unseen servants fluffing pillows and delivering decadent dishes of glistening meat and aged cheese making it a comfortable place to be held captive.

Her entire memory was of this place, its stone walls and rich furniture never changing, and her own ageless face staring back in the mirror. She spent her days following paths of imagination through the pages of books, but her favorite characters milled about in the streets below. She watched through the glass as the villagers fell in love, had children, and most enviable of all -- lived.

Tonight they busied themselves boarding windows and setting lanterns afloat along the shore to warn away passing vessels in preparation for the full moon. An older boy with strong shoulders and a wicked grin danced along the bank, kicking up tiny waves and splashing girls who giggled in spite of themselves.

Soon, the ripened moon traded places with the sun and the village fell quiet, its paths dark and deserted. On the edge of the surrounding wood a thick fog crawled ever closer, as familiar and inexplicable as Thea’s tower. She shut the curtains as the screaming began, crossing to her bed where she pulled the covers over her head until the sound stopped in the late hours of darkness. High up in her tower, she was safe, but nightmares don’t have to touch you to keep you up at night.

The morning was worse. From the hush, a new sound rose with the sun, settling in Thea’s stomach like a rock. Villagers wailed, mourning their loved ones lost during the cursed night, while others said prayers of quiet thanks that they had been spared. Thea used to cry with them, the loss as near as her own. But after years of suffering it only thwarted her appetite.

The curtains opened themselves, light spilling across the stone floor and inviting her to rise from slumber. As if she’d gotten any sleep. Though fear gripped her, she took up her perch, surveying the waking village. One house in particular held her attention, its thatch roof glittering in the sun. The door opened but she could not see inside. The black void seemed to grow darker as time stretched on.

“Please be ok,” she whispered into her fist.

A figure stumbled from the house, nearly hitting his knees before catching himself on a low, split rail fence. It buckled under the weight of his bowed shoulders. Thea’s heart stuttered.

The first time Thea saw Orion from her window perch, she named him after the hero from her favorite novel. He was strapping and handsome, with hair the color of winter wheat. While she couldn’t see from up so high, she imagined his eyes were green as new grass and always alight with mischief. But even from her tower she could see today was different.

Orion wiped at his face with his sleeve, nose red and glaring. He staggered toward the wood, breaching the line of trees where he crumpled to the ground and clutched his chest. With that action, Thea thought he might tear out her own heart.

Back at his cottage, the village men carried out a wooden plank draped with a white sheet. Thea was too preoccupied to see where they took the body, instead watching the boy in the wood, taking out his pain with his fist on the dirt. She cried for him, smudging the glass with tear dampened fingers.

The sun tumbled over the moon again, the night quiet and uneventful. Though the village moved forward as usual—tending gardens, fishing, letting go—Orion did not. After a week of missing him in the morning, Thea woke before the sun to see him stalking into the wood. He returned just before dark each time, his hair coated in mud and face stained. When he wasn’t hidden by the canopy of trees, he was inside his house. In the moments between, he never smiled or even looked up. The afternoon of the next full moon he did not board his windows.

When the sun set, Thea tugged at her curtains, but something moved on the path below, catching her eye before they closed. The moonlight cut his shadow out in the dark, glinting off his golden hair. Her heart crawled into her throat like a spider, its spindly legs threatening to make her vomit.


As the fog crept over the quiet village, Orion lit a torch, a beacon in the night. The dense mist shied away from the fire, like a hand afraid of the heat. He swung the flame in wide arcs keeping it at bay, but it surrounded him, circling as close as it dared. He would tire eventually. Or the light would go out.


Thea slammed her fists against the glass, screaming a name that didn’t truly belong to him. The name of a beloved hero. She hated heroism now.

She climbed onto the ledge, her feet slick against the cool stone. Standing at her full height, she pounded harder as if it made any difference. Tears blurred her vision and her hands throbbed.

The glass shattered.

From his place on the path, surrounded by fog, it sounded like the tinkling of bells to Jaime. A distraction, he thought -- if he turned around the fog would swallow him whole. But instead it began to retreat, slinking back through the trees.

In the morning, the sun rose over the tower, reflecting off the glossy stone roof. The broken window sat jagged and empty, no one looking on as Jaime was praised as the savior of the small, tormented village on the edge of the wood.

The fog never returned.

Natalie Lockett is a real estate agent, videographer, and unacclaimed one-on-one comedian you didn't invite to the party but she showed up anyway.

She's been featured in Bob Eckstein's LitHub piece about the Writer's Digest Conference and her personal essay Rural in the City can be found in Across the Margin.

Natalie is also the producer and host of the podcast Write Away with Natalie Lockett, on which she interviews writers and publishing professionals. When not writing, she can be found annoying her critique partners and trying to convince herself to switch to decaf.  

Talents include being caught on film laughing in really unflattering ways. 


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