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Giving a Viewer’s Story a Total Makeover – Writing Stream Recap

For the last stream, we did something that we haven’t done in a while: rewriting the beginning to a viewer’s story.

When MetaWarrior shared their piece during the freeshare part of the previous stream, I thought it would be a perfect candidate for a writing makeover. It had potential, but it was a little vague and bland at the beginning. So we decided to rewrite it and spice it up!

To do this, we made sure to set the scene and tone right from the start, and to give the reader the who/what/when/where/hook as soon as possible. That way they could visualize what was going on, and want to continue reading.

Here’s what we came up with:

On the first day of high school after summer vacation, all anyone cared about was the new alien at school. Except for Grant. He had other plans.

The whole bus ride to school, Grant was bouncing with nervousness. He clutched the small box in his hand, wrapped in leftover Christmas paper. All around him students were chatting about the alien, the Planet Newlyan, blah blah blah, but Grant couldn’t hear any of it. He just kept rehearsing the lines he was going to say over and over again in his head.

The bus pulled into North West High’s bus loop and everyone clambered off, with Grant following slowly behind after the others had left. The entire school body, a measly two-hundred students, was gathered at the front doors, craning over each other’s heads and standing on their tiptoes to try and get a view of the currently-empty podium outside. News trucks filled up the parking lot, with reporters brushing themselves off in front of cameras and getting ready for the big day. There was even a helicopter circling above.

But none of it mattered to Grant. Once he stepped off the bus, he only had eyes for one thing: Emma. She stood at the back of the crowd, wearing a loose shirt, jeans skirt, and black tights. Her short, dyed-white hair made her stick out from the crowd, but Grant would recognize her anywhere. Even in a snowstorm where everyone’s heads were covered in snow, even in an old folk’s home where everyone’s hair was white. She would always shine the brightest to him.

Grant swallowed hard. It was now or never. Grant had spent the whole summer preparing for this moment. He’d remembered last year, when he and Emma had geology together, and she’d mentioned that amethyst was her favorite rock. Then they’d worked on a project together about amethyst, and it had been the best homework of Grant’s life.

So over vacation he’d bought the biggest amethyst necklace he could find on Amazon, wrapped it up, and brought it to give to her today. There was no way she couldn’t go out with him now! Grant walked up behind Emma, cleared his throat, and grinned as she turned to look at him.

“Oh hey,” she said. “How are you doing?”

Grant felt his stomach coming up into his throat, but he persevered using his carefully-rehearsed lines.

“Hey, uh, Emma. Good to see you. How was your summer?”

“Oh my god, it was amazing!” she said. She ripped her smartphone out of her pocket and held it up to him, swiping through photos. “My family and I took a trip to Paris, and I met this really cute French boy who showed me around. He even gave me this!”

She reached into her shirt and pulled out an amethyst necklace, letting it dangle around her neck in front of her shirt. It was twice the size of the one in Grant’s tiny box, and it shone so bright in the sun that he had to squint.

All of the butterflies in Grant’s stomach died. They crumbled into ashes and all he felt was shollow inside. His hands weak, he slowly slipped the stupid Christmas-wrapped box back into his backpack.

“Oh… that’s great,” he said.

Emma beamed at him and looked at her phone. “Yeah. But who cares about that, right? I mean, today’s the day that–”

A microphone warbled and squeaked as the school principal walked on the stage. The reporters clambered over and the cameramen started rolling as Principal Higgins began his speech.

To make this rewrite, we basically transplanted the soul of the original into a completely new body. Whereas we weren’t sure how to feel when reading the original, here we made it nervous/awkward, whereas the beginning didn’t mention aliens in the original, here we brought them front and center.

So what do you think? Would you be interested in reading more? I know I definitely would!

After that we moved on to today’s prompt, and chat voted for this image prompt submitted by Syraphia: (click here to see the image)

Our second image prompt in a row (and by the same Reddit user, no less!), but this one was a lot harder than the previous one. This one just gave us a pink-haired anime girl with some cake. What kind of story could we possibly write about that?!

Thanksfully chat had some great suggestions as always, and I was hit by the Bat of Inspiration. Those two things combined to give us, what I think, is a pretty funny and satisfying take on the image.

You can read our story here.

If you want to join us and help write a story by trolling in chat, or share your own writing for feedback, then we’d love to have you. We stream on Twitch every Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday at 7:30pm-10:30pm (U.S. Eastern Standard Time).

And you missed the stream, you can still watch Rubbish to Published, the writing exercises, or the writing prompts on YouTube, or watch the full stream reruns until Twitch deletes them.

Hope to see you next time, friend!

Scott Wilson is the author of the novel Metl: The ANGEL Weapon, forthcoming November 2018.

Featured image: Pakutaso

Published inLivestream