The short story from University that I want to rewrite is terrible.
I’m going to scrap it and start from scratch, keeping the parts I like, and continuing to wonder why I put in some of the parts I did. I went through each section and asked important questions and made decisions of what was important to the story. The main character might not even be a dragon anymore! That was the whole thing that started the idea, but now I’m not sure it fits the story. This is good though. It means I’ve grown so much as a writer in the last ten years. It means I’m getting good practice with the editing and rewriting process.
I will post the original version, and my comments on what needs to be revised.
I decided to change the name because it was hard to pronounce. I now spell it as it sounds. Halomyrne looks like hay-lo-mayrn? Mern? Halo- is a Greek prefix meaning “salt.” Mer means “sea” in French. I chose this name for the shape-shifting dragon knowing her destiny to become part of the sea.
I remember once when all was still possible; the mind free to believe in the forces of the universe unexplained by science. We could communicate with nature, we could read prophecy in the stars, we could rearrange molecular structures to assume other forms, and most of all we could harness the energy of life to create or destroy. The humans called us fire-breathing beasts, bent on murder, when truly as protectors of the land we loved every single one of our humans. It was the dragon Torthszel who discovered how easy it was to manipulate their minds. He toyed with emotion cruelly to achieve his desires, but sadly fear and doubt, and later avarice, insanity, and corruption of power ultimately brought our fair land to ruin. Uncountable suns later, I find I have awakened from a non-intentional mind trance to feel my mind completely alone of my brothers and sisters, there is only nature who can understand me now. The humans have turned off their minds entirely. Except you child, and that is why you must listen close.
This sounds so hokey to me now, almost embarrassing. I am deleting it all. I need the intro chapter to show that the protagonist is a dragon, possibly the last, and is speaking first-person to her human friend. It will explain the dragon magic of this world- energy of life, communicate with nature, shape shifting, prophecy from stars. I will also write the memory of when dragons were hated by humans and hunted almost to extinction, because of fear and corruption.
Halomyrne chose to live alone among the waves and caves of the sea. Her comforts were the silver green bed of sand and the familiar constant noisiness of the turbid water’s essence. She had lived so long she no longer remembered if she had ever had a family or if her memories were imagined. Regardless, she knew at this time she was the only one of her reptilian kind that was or would ever be. She stretched out her long, radiantly scaled body and listened to the babble of crabs, seahorses and any creature that came to her caves, occasionally picking up the chatter of gulls and the shallow gossip of insects. The echoing walls and lichens were her constant company, but usually had not much to say.
I will need to go more in depth of the sea-cave setting, based on my experiences of cenotes and underground caverns in Mexico. She would be friends with a lot of bats, small fish, probably not seahorses. I need to show more of her personality. She is not exactly lonely, but would like some more interesting company. She should see a prophecy in the stars that she doesn’t understand, that she will fall in love with a human but sacrifice herself and become the sea. I need to find a way to show that without giving away the ending.
All would have remained at a stagnant, unremarkable peace, had it not been for the adventurous soul of young Evan. He was a child who the humans, but not the stars, claimed destined to become a member of nobility, a ruthless leader of men. He came upon her not in fear but awe, her smooth and glittering silver sheen accented by her eyebrow ridges, claws, and horns of golden hue. In places it seemed jewels were encrusted on her magnificent hide, but truly it was reflections of the sea upon her metallic flesh. Her eyes shone sapphire in the dim light of the sea drenched cave, and he was not afraid. She could feel his mind speaking to her, and at last, had found someone who inspired in her something more than that of a barnacle.
This young boy returned almost daily to the cave throughout his youth. She watched him grow, and learned to take the shape of a human skeleton, her gender filled in the rest beautifully, so that she did not shapeshift into the same body as Evan. She turned herself into human form to wade along the sandy edge of the coast and run her delicate fingers through the waves of the sea, to climb among the rocks and caves, to frolic, to dance, to whisper thoughts and daydreams, and fall in love as the years of adventure and discovery passed joyously. Every time he was around she would become human, for she thought this was what he wanted, to love her forever and for Halomyrne to be his wife.
The whole part about how she is shapeshifting feels so clumsy and forced, I need to explain differently how she can magically become a human with the energy of life, it doesn’t need to be too technical. The child meeting the dragon should be a separate chapter from their growing friendship. 2- she meets child 3- he is growing into a teen 4- she starts falling in love and considers being human.
The character of Evan is very underdeveloped. Who is his family? Why is he alone in the cave? I’m thinking his parents have sent him on a vision quest, coming-of-age ritual that he needs to find his way out of the caverns to be a warrior.
Halomyrne wanted to return to the life she remembered through dream. She felt more true to her destiny as her glowing, sparkling self, although she could choose any form. The stars were more obscure than usual when it came to guiding her decisions. If she were to be with her lover, she must form human shape almost indefinitely. She could not deny her true shape any more than the chemical emotional impulses of her aching heart. The thought of her dilemma pained her and kept her from happiness.
I don’t know why I said she could read prophecy in the stars and then she can’t? What? Need to make it so she receives visions of the future that don’t make sense but will at the end. She struggles with staying a dragon or changing her shape for love. If she can be anything, why is the default a dragon? Is it difficult to shapeshift, maintain other forms? Is there a sacrifice, is it draining, etc?
Since the beginning of time Halomyrne had no need of food or sleep, she spent her time thinking and observing, changing shape occasionally for warmth or swimming, reading prophecy in the stars, sometimes using telepathy to converse with all the life forms in the universe- clouds, plants, the earth, and its creatures. This new friendship with Evan interrupted her entire awareness; she knew she must consult her mentor for guidance, the eldest lifeform that ever existed, Mthusulo. His bark was gnarled and in places revealing silver white polished wood, other places the knots revealing representations of facial features. The moss strewn across the brow gave the impression of wistful eyebrows of the elderly, untrimmed of course. The tree lacked the musculature necessary of speech but was able to communicate directly through thought impressions and emotion. This wise entity gave her the advice to try accepting life as a human, or she would always regret never knowing what it would be like if she had not. As she crept silently back to her cave, she began to feel serenity.
She has not been around since the beginning of time and she does need food and sleep. I need to mention Mthusulo in the chapters where Evan and Aylomerna develop their friendship. I was considering making the old tree character the narrator. Why would he tell her to be a human? Wouldn’t it be more wise to stay true to herself?
Gazing upon the wondrous tangerine and lavender fire of the sunset, she could not wait for Evan’s return to tell him the decision she had made, to take a leap of faith and face all that would stand in the way of their happiness. If she flew she could find the village by nightfall. She stepped awkwardly along the unfamiliar flattened ground as a human woman and immediately met the stares of those in the village. They were amazed by her stooped figure, nude, with scarcely visible remnants of bumps and ridges on her face. Halomyrne had never been self conscious in her natural or human form with Evan, but she now felt the others forming judgments of fear and repulsion. She had not realized the cultural codes of acceptance. Looking the people in the eyes, she frantically searched for a mind to respond to her own, muttering illegible throat noises. She heard their responding shouts but did not understand.
It’s sunset but she’s going to find a place she’s never been by nightfall? Then I picture the scene in the afternoon, when people are out in the village, not going to sleep. I think she has fashioned some clothing from seaweed and shells or something, Evan hasn’t been hanging with some hunchback naked mute chick all these years has he? Wouldn’t the villagers be more curious than hostile?
Confused, attacked, about to be held captive, shrill cries arose from the villagers with a loudening chaos she suddenly found herself surrounded in. Halomyrne did all she could do to protect herself, taking her full natural shape as a dragon and releasing a fury of concentrated energy visible as burning blue light. They lashed at her with leather ropes, poked her with sticks, and sprayed pain into her eyes with poison. With a screaming roar, she brought her head down to the ground in search of safety, only to hear the clink of a metal collar around her tender scaled neck. In the surrounding clamour of surprised and violent voices, she heard the frantic yelping of dogs, understood them barking for her release, but the humans had long stopped paying attention to the language of the canines.
Why is she attacked and tried to be held captive?
When she is attacked why wouldn’t she just turn into mist right away? What happens so that her human form can’t hold and switches back to dragon?
Upset and disturbed, but unable to be captured, Halomyrne willed her molecules into mist and quickly whisked away with the wind back to the security of her cavernous eternal refuge. From then on she adamantly refused to enter human life. Evan tried to explain how not everyone in the human village was so abusive and cruel, but Halomyrne saw that he too carried weapons of harm and became confused and afraid of him, afraid to trust him, afraid of how continuing to love him might alter her existence. The ordeal remained whether she should choose love and selfishness, and make him abandon all he knew to join her in the cave, or deny love and live alone but allow him to go on living the human life he was born to fulfill.
Evan told Halomyrne he would leave his village and would never put her through the torment she faced when she came unannounced and unprepared. He had never wanted her to be hurt and would sacrifice his life for her. Happiness was not his social standing and career but his companionship, and Halomyrne’s reward for the patience and kindness she had always showed toward him was to be forever cherished and enveloped in the warmth of his love.
Is it weird if there is inter-species coupling? Should she even be a dragon then? Maybe just some magical humanoid thingy? This could be a chapter where they fight and make up, romantically. Or is it a platonic love? He’s from a rich and powerful family, she would be protected, they wouldn’t have to live in the cave. Maybe a chapter where they try that and it doesn’t work and that is why they return to the cave? Then his family finds out what she is and hunts them down in the cave.
Halomyrne was resting peacefully, blissfully unaware of approaching doom that she must have overlooked in the stars. Evan too was caught unaware when the knights appeared with orders to rescue him from the evil dragon’s lair. He became aware of their presence in time to witness several armoured men approach the gently methodical rising and falling bulk of Halomyrne’s body, and instantly reacted to the flick of motion in the corner of his eye. He lunged his body impulsively towards his sleeping friend. The pike went right through, and Halomyrne was alerted to the danger. In that moment, each lover feared it would be themselves who would die, that the other would be left alone, and then feared the other was stricken and had been taken from them. Evan’s lifeless body crumpled limply and unnaturally to the feet of his beloved. The knights were subsequently roasted in their metal body ovens, all except for one coward who had remained hidden behind a rock and ran back to the village before Halomyrne reacted to the murder.
Is she a human or a dragon when she is sleeping? Isn’t she usually a human around him? Would knights attack a sleeping woman?
If she reads prophecy in the stars there should be some kind of warning that she doesn’t figure out in time. Or scrap that whole idea.
Halomyrne cried out in a rage to the heavens, her mind searing with the passion of her emotions. She pleaded directly to the universe to resurrect his life. Mthusulo joined his mind with her to comfort her rage, and show her the option that lay before her. She could not read her destiny in the stars because it would never had made sense until now. She was told that in exchange for the restoration of Evan’s life, Halomyrne could stay a dragon and forget all of her magic, becoming a simple beast; ignorant to emotion and thought. At sunrise the deal would be struck.
If the deal is to stay a dragon, why does she choose a different shape?
The first rays of light immediately felt the mind of the waiting Halomyrne. Her decision had been reached. Evan awoke later that morning at the entrance to the cave, light splayed upon his face. In a dizzy stupor he opened his eyes, his mind, and his heart to perceive his true love changed into the rolling waves of the sea. He lived to be a grizzled hermit, forever an outcast from society, forever looking forlornly out to sea at the dancing glow of the surrounding waters.
How does he know what happened? Would his family just let him be a hermit? I still have many unresolved questions.