So, since I feel kind of bad that I’ve only ever shared rough drafts, I thought I would revise the rapid-fire prompt I slapped up in my last post. Granted, this isn’t a priority, so I only took about 20 minutes to go through and revise, but I thought I would share so you can see how drafts can improve.
Everything highlighted in red are sentences that I’ve either changed or moved around. Most of what bothered me about the first draft was the lack of internal logic. The draft was a series of sentences that had no reason to run together, only haphazardly forming images and telling a story. This is okay for a first draft, especially one written with the idea of getting as much out as I could, but it is not appropriate for a second draft. So I moved a lot of things around, reworked and reworded. I added some more emotional impact. I took out bits that seemed unnecessary. Though the ending needs more work, I left it as is for now, mostly because the prompt ends on a cliffhanger, and so the details of what’s next don’t matter as much. I probably should have been just as careful at the end as at the beginning, but this isn’t something I’m going to be submitting–I would have to finish the story in order to do that.
Ryan had never seen her like this before, and he never wanted to see her like this again. She lay on the bed, eyes blank and sightless, short hair matted with sweat and plastered to her forehead and face. Her brow, normally creased in thought, was smooth and empty, slick with the shine. He reached out and carefully drew back her hair away from the implant at her temple above her ear. He knew better than to touch it, though a part of him yearned to slip in his drive, to link up with her hardware, get some idea of what had happened to her, maybe pull her free of whatever had her. He knew better than to try, of course, but it did not stop the wanting nor the feeling of helplessness as he sat uselessly by her bedside. But what had her? It’d been just a normal gig, a casual run through of data, schematics, public forums: information gathering. Nothing should have gone wrong–but now here they were, surrounded by sterile white walls and professionals.
“Katja!” he called again, the one thing he could do, but there was no response.
“We’re losing her,” the doctor said, but that was obvious by the slowing blip-blip of the heart monitor, the jagged lines on the screen built into her headboard losing their pitch and crests. “Damn it.” The doctor left her side, reaching up to tap his implant as he began a rapid fire of instructions to the nurse link.
Ryan squeezed Katja’s hand, hoping that she would feel it, but her hand was loose in his. Clammy, too. Old sweat turned to a chilly coldness. Terror seized him. “Let me link with her!” he bellowed, fear making his voice louder than he’d intended. Professionals never responded well to panic.
“That is the last thing we want you to do,” the doctor said, reaching for some wires, sorting through them quickly. “You were right in bringing her here immediately. This isn’t something you can do, kid. Now let us do our job.” The doctor chose a probe and hooked it to her implant.
The moment the drive connected and the connection light began to pulse and flicker, movement swelled within her. Katja’s eyes fluttered and her chest rose, her back arched as she heaved in air. Her lips moved over unspoken words. Her fingers jolted in Ryan’s, clenched instinctively. Ryan rose from his chair, ignoring the doctor who was now typing hastily at his station, to lean over her and come into her line of sight. “Katja? Look at me. Stay with me,” he pleaded.
“Ryan,” her lips formed his name and she reached up a hand to him. He lowered his head to meet her halfway, coming down to hear the breath leave her lips, ragged. “Surfa–” She hissed out the word only half-formed on her lips. “Surface!” It had always been her word for coming out of that other world like a diver coming up from an ocean, breaking the waves of cyberspace, the Internet: that networked world of alternate realities so numerous as to be impossible to count. Fiction and reality all melded into one. The sweet seduction of creation and possibility. The danger of self and loss, the skirting of distance and intimacy.
Katja reached for him, her palm bumping clumsily into his cheek. He grabbed her hand as her finger reached his temple implant—but too late.
She tapped the button, and he connected.