There are a lot of words that a writer has at their disposal. In the English language alone there is a dictionary full of them, not to mention hundreds of other languages in the world. Some authors are even crazy enough to create their own languages, particularly in the Science Fiction and Fantasy genres. Yet no matter how many words a writer uses, it is safe to say there is one they prefer to write above all others. It is the holy grail of words, signifying achievement.
That word is, simply, “END”.
Last night I reached that achievement. There is a big difference between completing a 1,000 word flash fiction story on this blog and a 10,000 word story. My serial blog series, Curse of Fierabras, was a longer achievement in terms of length but the satisfaction of concluding that was nowhere near the satisfaction from finishing my latest writing project because it wasn’t broken into fifteen posts.
That one word is the beginning of a transition, moving the project from an incomplete first draft into a work that is under revision. The easy task of writing the story is done, and now it falls on the writer and their beta readers to polish the rough patches of inconsistency and choppy dialogue.
But amidst the incoming waves of rejection (3 so far this month, including one just last night) there is a cause for celebration. It is a rejuvenating sensation that trickles through every fiber of my being, delighting in completion. The task of revision will come soon enough, but it can wait until I am done basking in this elation.
There are more stories to tell. Beta readers to recruit to read the story with a critical eye and offer honest input (a rare thing to find! Interested?). Smaller stories to revise and submit. And books to read. Always books to read.
But for now I shall share another sample from the completed story while I revel in the joy that comes from writing one little word.
* * * *
Ava squatted low to the ground, observing the prints from a distance. Edgar had been right in his description of the tracks, but something didn’t seem right to Ava. She crept closer, skirting along the edge of some thick mud near the prints. She strained, leaning in as far as she could, staring at the tracks for a missing sign. When she realized what it was, she sat up with a scowl on her face.
“These are fresh enough,” she said slowly, “but something isn’t right about them. Edgar, what do you see that is missing?”
Edgar crept closer, hesitating to get too close as he peered at the tracks in the mud. “I see two prints there before it disappears into the grass and bushes beyond. Nothing is unusual about there not being more prints.”
“True, but how could it make these prints along that edge without leaving more in this mud down here? It would have passed right through this, and left an obvious trail behind.”
“Maybe it jumped?” Edgar offered.
“Maybe you forged these tracks to get me down here,” Ava said. She stared at Edgar, a cold glimmer in her eyes. Edgar looked away, fidgeting under her stare. He looked up to confess when a deep grumble in the distance made them both pause. Ava raised a hand, signaling for silence as she turned toward the noise. The grumble repeated a few moments later, answered by a higher-pitched whistling noise. Ava slipped a knife from her belt, handing it to Edgar before unsheathing her sword. She motioned for him to follow, stealthily moving toward the noises.
They ducked behind a large rock when they were close, listening for a change in the sounds. Hearing nothing, Ava peeked around the edge. “Goblins,” she whispered to Edgar when she pulled back, “three of them are asleep in the clearing. They must be a scouting party.”
“I bet they are checking out the village, to see if we’re undefended now that father is gone. We can’t let them report back or we’ll have the whole horde swarming down on us.”
“But there are three of them and only two of us.”
“There is one on the left, just around the rock. You take him, and I will get the other two.”
“I’ve never killed a monster before,” Edgar whispered back, concerned. “What if I miss and it claws my eyes out or rips my heart from my chest?”
“It is sleeping. It’ll be dead before it knows we’re attacking. My father will be surprised when he gets home and sees three goblin heads.”
Ava motioned for Edgar to circle around the rock. She clutched her knife in her hand, creeping toward the sleeping goblins. They were as hideous and disfigured as she had always imagined, having heard her father describe them in a dozen tales. Their skin was a pale green and looked like rough, bumpy leather. Their joints were knobby, sticking out at angles that looked painful. Thick, pointy ears stretched above the crown of their heads and a long, crooked nose jutted from their face. She watched one snoring, seeing the rows of small, sharp teeth that could tear the flesh off a man with ease. Small patches of wispy yellow hair were matted down atop their heads, making them all look as though they were going bald.