Tag Archives: prompt

SF prompt draft 1.5

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.

“Katja!”

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 implantbut too late.

She tapped the button, and he connected.



Write or Die: SF Edition

Write or Die: Dr. Wicked’s Writing Lab.

So I’m writing this post April 27, but I won’t likely post it today. I’m giving you the date because…well, because. (I like to know when I write things).  Anyway, I’ve decided to do a series of posts about some of the tools I use for my writing–or some of the fun things available out there that happen to be tool-like. Write or Die is one of those fun things. You set a wordcount, you set an amount of time in which you want to get it done, and then it gives you a word box in which to type. If you don’t type continually, if you take breaks or procrastinate–then the page around you starts turning pink, then red, then it starts making evil sounds and so forth. It punishes you for not writing, in other words.  This can be helpful for those of us who need to get over writing blocks or pre-writing jitters. I first stumbled upon this back in the days when I was doing NaNoWriMo. Probably in 2005 or 2006. It’s still up and it’s still awesome. They even have a desktop version now.

I should also mention that there are three modes. I always do the normal mode, but if you’d prefer, here are the others, according to the website.

Consequences:

  • Gentle Mode: A certain amount of time after you stop writing, a box will pop up, gently reminding you to continue writing.
  • Normal Mode: If you persistently avoid writing, you will be played a most unpleasant sound. The sound will stop if and only if you continue to write.
  • Kamikaze Mode: Keep Writing or Your Work Will Unwrite Itself

So, a demonstration!  To give you some background, I have been writing fantasy pretty consistently. I’ve been reading a lot of fantasy.  I don’t mind this. However, these past few days I have been WANTING TO DIE because of the lack of science fiction in my life. So, being dramatic and thinking about dying if I don’t write something SF NOW…I remembered Write or Die and decided to get it out of my system.  So here’s a very rough prompt I gave myself so I could go back to finishing my other projects.

Process: Write or Die pulled up. Check. 500 words in 20 minutes goal. Check and check. Fun and inspiring music. Check. Need a character name. Check. Madly begin typing. Check! The very rough results to prove this is both fun and possible, check:

“Katja!”

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 hadn’t yet wiped away. 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, get some idea of what had happened to her. “Katja!” he called again, but there was no response. If only he could link up with her, maybe pull her free of whatever had her. But what HAD her? It had been just a normal gig, a casual run through of data, schematics, public discussion forums, information gathering. And now here they were.

“We’re losing her,” the doctor said, but it was obvious by the blip-blip of the heart monitor, the jagged lines slowly losing the pitch and crests on the screen built into the headboard above her. “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. As if once she had been sweating, exerting a great effort and now all that was left was a chilly coldness. “Let me link with her!” he bellowed, louder than he’d wanted to say it, but fear forced it out of him.

“That is the last thing we want you to do. You were right in bringing her immediately here. This isn’t something you can do, kid. Now let us do our job.” And the doctor was reaching for the wires, pulling the probe up to hook up to her implant.

The moment the drive connected and the connection light began to pulse and flicker, Katja’s eyes fluttered and her chest rose, her back arched as she heaved in air. Movement swelled within her: over her face, down her neck, into her back. Her lips moved over unspoken words. Her fingers jolted in his, clenched instinctively. He rose from his chair, leaning over her to try to 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. “Surface–” She hissed out her breath. “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.

She 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.


The Miller’s Daughter – snippet

Avesnois

While I was in France, I started up a “word prompt exchange” between myself and a couple of my writing buddies. We would give each other a word and then use that word as a jumping-point to story.  Then whenever we posted we would give each other a new prompt and begin again. Sample words they gave me included “turtle”, “gold”, and “mill”.

Last month I went back and reread all of these prompts, selecting two short stories that I thought were worth keeping or expanding into something more.  One of them I recently finished editing, and this one, I’m now currently working on as a short story, for now entitled The Miller’s Daughter.

Here is the original prompt, in all of its rough, cut-short glory.

– – –

March 29, 2007 – word prompt xchange – “mill”

Valérie stepped out into the grey light of morning. The sun had been up for hours but the waiting rainstorm had driven everyone inside. Only the farmers and monks had reason to be out and about. A little cloud cover had never stopped the weeds from growing nor could it dampen the Brethren’s spirits. There was always music to be had at the Abbey.

Valérie smiled to herself and her father, looking back at her, noticed. He called her up to where he led the beasts at the front of the wagon. She squished her way through the mud up to him, enjoying the sucking, smacking noises and the squishing between her toes. “Eh, papa?”

“C’m’ere. What’re ya smilin’ about?” He grinned at her. “Thinkin’ about yer beau?”

Valérie covered her face as heat rushed to it.

“Get, then! I don’t need yer help at the mill t’day. One of the Brethren will help me, no doubt. He’s around her somewhere, I ‘spec. But be back before noon or yer ma will give us both a readin’!”

Valérie raised her skirts to her knees and ran back along the wagon’s trail, grinning as she stumbled and slipped with every step through the mud. At the bend, she cut back through the forest. She made quite a racket, squeaking as she did every time her bare feet landed on something particularly pointy, but nothing could burst her bright mood. She ran her hands along the tree trunks as she passed, feeling the rough bark slide over her hands. She twirled through the fog and vines creeping over the forest ground and giggled at the gloomy sky. She knew right where Danophin would be, and it wasn’t far now!

But the further she went the thicker the fog beneath her feet became and it was soon difficult to pick her way over the rocks and sharp twigs of the forest floor. It became necessary to tread carefully, and, much to her displeasure, to slow down. Walking barefoot through the forest was suddenly not looking like the smartest idea, but the road had been relatively clear and her shoes had always been close at hand in the cart. Why hadn’t she grabbed them.

Then suddenly she became aware of the forest growing darker though the trees were no more dense than before. Valérie glanced up and three raindrops fell on her cheeks and forehead. She stopped immediately, opened her shawl and pulled it over her head, across her shoulders and tight against her arms as the temperature dropped with the rain now falling.

When she glanced up again, she was not alone.

A dark man sat on a black horse before her. Neither he nor his horse were like anything she had ever seen. Both were tall, elegant, refined. When he spoke, his voice, his accent were exotic. She never forgot the words he spoke.