Writing Status: Improving Plot Structure for Salvage, Ep. 1

So, sometimes a writer has to tighten her belt, er, plot.   Did I mention my unique talent for making a short story very, very long?  Turns out that’s something to rein in to create a great story.

After research, thought, and analysis, I’ve tightened up the plot for Salvage’s episode 1.

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“So, Kili, want a treat?” The doctor held out a jar of lollipops.

It’s “Kaylah.” She shook her head.  Does he think I’m three?

A flicker of a frown crossed his face.  “Suit yourself.”

They were not alone in the cramped medical bay.  Beyond the doctor the medical assistant checked supplies with deft, efficient movements.  The younger man had short hair that spiked up in the oddest directions.  His lip curled up in an odd way on one side, yet, when he had glanced her way…

He seems friendly. More than the doctor, anyway.  I wonder what— 

“How are you enjoying your trip so far?” The doctor offered a false smile.

“It’s okay,” she said softly. I wish Mom had stayed with me. She shifted uneasily.

“It can be scary leaving home for some people.”  He leaned forward and pressed his hands together at the fingertips.

Who does that steepling thing? 

“It’s no big deal,” she said aloud.

“Do you miss Earth?”

Well, duh, it was my home, all I ever knew.  She shrugged.

Behind the doctor the assistant medic looked over his shoulder at her and rolled his eyes.  Her mouth twitched a little, and the burning sensation in her stomach eased.

The doctor continued, “Space is really big. Does it bother you?”

“No.”  What, he can’t use big words? Wait– didn’t he even check my file? My space stuff is all over it.

“How about ship life? Others onboard?” He asked, now scrutinizing the tablet in front of him.

The lights overhead seemed really bright, almost harsh.  Why is he asking about that stuff?

“Passengers had a water leak an hour ago.” The air suddenly seemed to sharpen.
Water had been critical to interstellar travel from the beginning. Reclamation tech had never lived up to its promise, and building craft with large enough water supply tanks proved too expensive for most. So, ships like the Pinoche carried less water, relying on carefully planned stops along the route to collect ice.

A Recent Writing Exercise: Beach Prompt

Some time ago I pulled this prompt from Writer’s Digest University’s “Showing Character Emotion“. As an exercise I recently wrote a snippet in response.  It resonates with me because of the beach experiences of my childhood. The snippet is in draft form; I’ll be returning at some point to polish it by convey more emotion, directly and indirectly.

“Create a character who’s favorite place is the beach. Describe her thoughts as she stands on the sand and looks out at the ocean; use specific, imaginative, and active verbs.”

My response:
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Although incredibly clean, like the rest of the ship, the floor in the corridor showed its age with scuff marks and scratches, the kind paint doesn’t hide.  As she strode along, the worn metal grating beneath her feet rattled occasionally.  Kaylah tipped her head back to examine the conduits running overhead behind a series of grates.  Several were taped together with what looked like duct tape.

“A budget ride is a budget ride,” a family friend had warned as they said their last goodbyes back on Earth.  He had added earnestly, “but it will get you there in one piece.  The captain’s a good man.”

“Whatever that means,” Kaylah thought.  She pulled her coat tighter.  The air smelled musty but better than in the passenger rec area.   On any given day, when too many of the unwashed crammed into the converted cargo hold… Her nose crinkled in disgust.  She understood the need for limited water rationing, but she didn’t have to like it.

The arguments people in Christian circles propose for not pledging allegiance to our flag and our country are specious.

Some talk of divided loyalties – how pledging allegiance to the flag and country has us impossibly serving two masters.

Others talk about allegiance being contrary to our faith in Christ, defining it as acting out one’s duties to his lord, as loyalty and faithfulness, as constant commitment to further its object’s good name and cause.

Still others object as meaningless the phrase “Under God” or pledging to an inanimate object (the flag).

All three arguments are all somewhat plausible – but wrong.