I’ve allowed For Better or Worse to rest for over a week, and feel quite good about it. In the second draft I ask myself if any words can be swapped in, or out, to make the story more immediate and evocative. This is what I came up with:
Martin regained consciousness while entering the MRI machine with a dull feeling his body was broken in many places. He tried to object to the scan but a tube down his throat turned his words into a series of gurgles. When he strained against the straps holding him firmly in place, a nurse jabbed him in the leg with a syringe. As his vision blurred, he saw his wife peering through the observation window - oblivious to the chaos about to ensue - and realised he could do nothing to prevent the examination from exposing his unearthly origin.
Even though the story has less then than 100 words, I believe it contains the most important elements of a short story. It has:
- a definite beginning, middle and end,
- a main character faced with a life changing conflict,
- something preventing Martin from achieving his goal of escaping with his secret intact (the straps, tube and sedative),
- increasing pace and tension that leads to a rewarding climax,
- a distinct and appropriate point of view told via a narrator who arrives late and leaves early.
Although, as usual, I’m not entirely happy with the voice. It feels a little stilted and long winded. This is apparently the hardest skill for writers to learn, and takes years of practice… I’m tackling this head on by studying hard, reading with sentence patterns and narrative voice in mind, and writing - a lot. My confidence is increasing with each story I write and by taking in all feedback.
Once again, I’d love to know what you think of the changes, both for and against, and hope you check back for the next draft.