MAD about the Boat (Personal Edits)

Writer In Motion Week 3 is when I make my own changes. Those little personal edits that so many writers dislike doing. I’ll be sending this changed draft to my critique partners and I’m incredibly nervous and excited all at once!

In total my story should be 1,000 words or under, and yes, I deliberately left about 500 “open” so I could put more words in later if I want too.

Changes Made

  • Making sure I have all 5 senses in there somewhere
  • Possibly putting what was in the safe in there (or keep teasing people)
  • Better link from MAD in the title to MAD being in the story
  • Small edits, typos, etc.

Comments thought over (Twitter and WordPress)

  • Thuy wants to know what’s in the safe
  • Paulette loved a specific line (so not changing that!)
  • Sheri like the imagery & world building
  • K.J. Harrowick liked learning about the feuding brothers

And since this is about showing what a writer changes from the first draft to the last, I’ll bold anything that I’ve changed or added.

( Photo by Casey Horner on Unsplash)

MAD about the Boat (Edited)

…and people lived out here? Gale pinched her nose, defending herself against the cloying scent of sea muck highlighted with a rotten overture of dead and dying things. The beached boat in front of her was a vision of determination. Wooden strips had weathered and warped, now creaking a high-pitched hello for every gust of wind sweeping across the waters.

Gale stepped from the sand dunes onto the deck. It screamed from her weight, sagging, but didn’t betray her. Not yet. Just like the rest of humanity, it was waiting for the best time to screw her over.

Speaking of dregs… not only did people live out here, but old arguments had turned into feuds, which was never good for innocents caught in the crossfire. She and Bear had needed supplies though. Food and water were running lower than rain levels in a desert wasteland, so they had discussed it. Uncertain death by accident was better than a parched, surefire death by starvation and thirst. Bear was even now back in town, calming the locals down and explaining that Gale was the best equipped to figure out the mystery of the boat.

The stairs were simultaneously better and worse than the deck; some of the crawling darkness was less a lack of light and more about missing steps, but when they were there, they didn’t threaten to snap. A soft, moth of a curse was lost to the night when a splinter from the rail bit her hand.

Both sides of the feud laid clam to the boat, and to the treasure inside. “Claim,” in some cases, also meant setting fire to the boat, because apparently mutually assured destruction was just as pleasurable as getting whatever was hidden here.

Differing details put aside, the main gist was easy to understand. Two brothers had been traveling down the river when war exploded in the sky. They’d puttered into the first port they could to find that the world had started playing ping-pong with illnesses, disease, and nukes. Countries collapsed, and small, independent nations founded by individuals who banded together flourished, then fought like hell against anyone else. The brothers had each started their own group,evolving over the years from freighters to fighters.  

The floor was dry; a surprise since Gale had been expecting a carpet of water. It was also completely open to the elements from the back, thanks to the previous match-player, which meant she hadn’t needed to take the stairs. On the plus side, it also meant that the decaying threads of the picture were easy to spot in the moonlight. A few more steps, and she was removing the frame to reveal a safe weeping orange tears.

“Wait. Why haven’t they done this?” muttered Gale, raising her hand to enter the combination she clutched. Even if they didn’t trust each other, then both groups could have traveled here. Watched each other like hawks. Seen the item first and then decided to fight over it. Her hand trembled. Fell.

Then she set her jaw and dialed the number. Wrenched it open. Mold was the first thing that fell out, causing her to choke, gasping for the fresher rotten air. After that came silverfish, discoloring the wood as they skittered away. Finally, there was a book. One of crumbling pages. Of loose photos. Two little boys with smiles wider than the river’s mouth. Worthless.

She turned to leave, to go back to the village and, most likely, rescue Bear before stealing back their meager supplies.

The stars weren’t the only clear things tonight.


  1. I love, love, love your word choices. You are poetic and evocative without crossing the line into purple prose. Lovely revision! Just the right amount of additional words.

  2. An AMAZING revision!! I loved this draft and how you highlighted your changes. They show so clearly how you amped up the story with, like Paulette said, the perfect choice of words. And the treasure! I never would have guessed, but it was the perfect memento. Bravo!

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