Why hello again! I’m so glad you’re back. Yesterday, I made a post to show my revision plan based on stellar feedback from my critique partners, Paulette and HM. Today, I’ll reveal the fruit of all that labor—my CP-edited draft.
So when I said it would be bloody, I really meant it would be bloody. Here, just take a look:
Eek! Right? Yeah, I ended up fiddling with a few things. This drove my word count up from 967 to 985.
So while the changes might not be too obvious at first, I did slip in some hints and clues about what’s happening in the story. I hope they’ll answer all those points my CPs brought up, but if you’re not sure how and are interested to find out more, stick around after the draft for a Revision Plan Q&A!
For those who just want to get on to the draft already, I won’t waste another sec of your time. Here she is, and hope you enjoy!
The Third Draft (CP-Edited)
He came to me on a midnight clear. An old man in a broken boat, rusted and screaming of tetanus. There was something odd about him—the way he seemed to light up from within, the way he floated across the splintered hull. Otherworldly. As if he’d come from another time and place. His crimson cloak fluttered in the salty breeze as he approached, silent like the moon, bare feet soft on the sand.
“Bonjour,” he said with perfect inflection.
I scanned the New England beach for late-night stragglers, but all was still as stones. Never was a thing there when you needed it most. Pulse quickening, I craned my book light up at him. It was midnight on a deserted beach, and I had nothing but a cheap IKEA lamp and a pilfered paperback for defense. Master was snug in his Holiday Lettings bed, a sand dune away, too far to hear me scream. My fingers knew but one thing to do. They flew to clutch the crucifix at my throat, reaching for the Lord to keep me aground.
Fear besieges not the faithful, for through Him I am protected.
A hasty “bonjour” escaped my lips, along with a prayer he wouldn’t carry on. French was a rarity found only in Master’s library, and a few more phrases would’ve exhausted my repertoire. He didn’t, thank God. Instead, he stood staring at me with bottomless eyes, raising the hairs on my skin. I didn’t know this man. Yet somehow, I recognized him.
“You must go back, Joan,” he said, his deep voice resonant with the waves.
I blinked at his peculiar accent, his familiar tone of address. “How’d you know my name?”
His smile pierced the dark. “Ah, mon coeur, you have always been Joan.”
Snapping the book shut, I stumbled to my feet, bare toes gripping the cool sand grains. I lifted my face into the dim circle of light and frowned. “Go back where?”
“Là où tout a commencé,” he said. “To where it all begins.”
My heart lurched as he reached a hand inside his cloak. He drew out a glowing sword, the silver of its blade so fluid, it lit up the night like twelve moons. Powerful grey wings burst forth from beneath heavy folds as he pointed the sword’s tip at me. And in that instant, I was bestowed with knowledge. Divine remembrance.
Centuries reeled before my eyes like credits at a movie’s end. All the lives of my past. A thousand strings of cause and effect. And in each and every one, I was Joan. Jehanne d’Arc. A poor farmer’s daughter called to march an army to victory. An innocent damned to rot in cells until the end of my days. But it wasn’t enough. It was never enough. For if it was, the angel called Michael wouldn’t be here, summoning me to launch yet another sequence of events.
“Once more, you shall convince the Dauphin of France to grant you his army,” Michael said. “You shall liberate the city of Orlèans, chase the English from the Loire valley, and deliver Reims so that Charles may be crowned king.” His hand seized my shoulder. “But this time, when they capture you at Compiègne, you must not recant. You must burn in martyrdom and light France’s flames into victory. For without France, the new nation cannot rise.”
I staggered under the weight of his grip, under the toll of his proclamation.
Yet how many more times must I relive death, my Lord? Yet how many more times must I wield the banner of war, watch the massacre of innocents, condone the tortures of men?
Tremors rippled down my spine. “And by what sin must I burn?”
“Man will find reason to suit their agenda,” Michael said gently. “When they cannot charge you for heresy, so shall they settle for the donning of men’s clothes.”
To die as a woman shamed for improper dress—that was to be my fate!
He released me to sheath his sword, fixing me with pity in his onyx gaze. “One day, your sacrifice shall be a copper torch at the new nation’s golden shores,” he comforted. “A beacon to steer the lost and the homeless. A hope to ignite the wretched poor, who yearn to breathe free.”
But his words were an enigma, filling my mouth with the bitterness of doubt. How many strings of cause would it take to conjure such a place on this suffering earth? For even I, though blessed, was not altogether free.
“Will this time even matter?” I dared to whisper. “Or will it all be in vain, like the thousand times before?”
“God does nothing in vain, dear Joan. Lose not your faith.”
Shame washed over me like the sea as I clenched the book in my fist and swallowed doubt down my throat. Who was I to question His design? The answers were not for me to know. I was but the hand to do God’s will.
I stared at the black waters crashing against the withered boat that would take me back through time to the banks of the River Vienne. The perfect vessel upon which to ruminate my inevitable roasting at the stake. I released my breath until the last drop depleted from my lungs. Then unto Him, I lifted my soul.
“Let His will be mine.”
The angel folded his wings and vanished into heaven’s stars, leaving me alone with old Tetanus. I laid Master’s book upon the sand and set my light atop its cover. I could not take these items where I was going. I could take nothing but my faith and conviction. But perhaps one day I too could escape to those golden shores, and live free at last beyond nineteen.
If God wills it so.
Until then, I won’t be afraid. I am Jehanne d’Arc. I was born to do this.
Again, a huge thank you to my amazing CPs and WiM writers who helped me with my story! Needless to say, I’m super excited to hear back from Editor Jeni and wrap up Joan with a final edit!
While we wait for that, I thought I’d share some additional notes, in case you find that stuff as interesting as I do. As a reader, I always enjoy coming up with my own conclusions after a story. But then again, I also love catching behind-the-scene interviews with the author to discover little things I might have missed as well!
So just for fun, here’s my Revision Plan again from yesterday, along with my author commentary in blue.
The Revision Plan Q&A
- Body language suggests she’s afraid, but words indicate otherwise
Joan is afraid, even though she doesn’t want to be. I tried to align her thoughts and actions better and hope that came out okay.
- What are the world building implications of a fallen France at this point in history?
- Would she be in America, or would it still be the Colonies?
I snuck in terms like “Holiday Lettings” and “New England” to hint that the alternate modern world we find her in is indeed a British Colony. She herself may be from a foreign place, however, as she’s there with her Master on holiday.
- Would the French language be wiped from the world?
I wouldn’t say “wiped”, but it’s definitely dying in this particular string of events. It’s also safe to assume that book thief Joan learned a few French phrases by pilfering books from her Master’s library.
- Would the concept of “spring break” exist without America?
It wouldn’t, good catch! I changed it to the less exciting but viable “late-night stragglers”
- Cross dressing comment feels out of place with tone of story
Okay, in case you’re like me and weren’t aware, historical Joan was truly burned at the stake for, that’s right, cross dressing! Say what?? You bet I wanted to throw that fascinating bit in there! I did get too slangy though, and agree it took the reader out of prose. So I fixed that, I hope.
- Crisis/tension not really present and lacking in punch – there was almost complete acceptance immediately
Joan was a well-documented servant of God, driven by her unquestioning faith. But even for the most faithful of followers, some small doubt must have crept in and she faltered; she was human after all. I tried to play that up a little to increase the tension.
- What are Joan’s personal stakes?
- Why should she give up her current life for a potential future nation?
- What’s so important about the nation that she must sacrifice herself?
To give her personal stakes, you might have noticed I changed her parents to Master, hinting that though she’s likely well treated, she’s still a servant in this world. By further lending herself to God’s will, she’d have to give up what little freedom she does have. But in turn, she’ll light the path for a new nation to rise, one that would mean freedom for others like herself, offering them—and future Joan—a new and better chance at life.
I played with this part a bit, putting words from Emma Lazarus’s sonnet The New Colossus into the angel’s mouth as a foreshadowing of what Joan’s effort would ultimately lead to.
- Time-traveling element could use a little massaging
- Will she be able to return if she creates a new cycle?
- Will her death at the stake end the cycle?
I left this open ended. Only God knows how many more life strings poor Joan needs to burn through to truly get us to the new nation we were always meant to be.
As always, thanks for reading and see you next week for Joan’s final episode!
I’m running out of superlatives Thuy! Your edits have made a strong piece even stronger. You know how much I have loved this since the rough draft.
I can’t thank you enough, Sheri. Your kind words mean so much! <3
This is fantastic! Your changes have really made it sing. I was able to connect with Joan more as a character, and the world-building definitely felt more real. I like that IKEA was going to happen whether or not America existed LOL!
You rock, HM! It wouldn’t be anywhere near here if it weren’t for your deep-dive story analysis! Sooo many thanks, my friend. And no, ain’t nuttin gonna hold IKEA back lol!
I love it, Thuy!! You answered all the unanswered questions and like HM said, those wily Swedes still managed to bring IKEA to the Colonies! I’m glad you left some humor in your new draft.
Great edit and I can’t imagine how it’ll get better! You are so talented.
Your first paragraph is stunning….then I kept reading and was like… WOW! The improvements you’ve made have really brought your story to life. Love it!