After completing my first thoughts and outline, it was finally time to begin my first draft based on the above prompt picture. One of my initial fears was going over the 1,000 word limit a huge amount. Actually ended up with 1,078 words which I can work with.
The hardest part was resisting the urge to correct typos to show the first draft in all its raw glory. Like most of my first drafts there are numerous errors and places that need tightening and others that need more description. First drafts will also sometimes serve as a way for me to get the know characters better even if I have to cut large parts later on. The draft isn’t the worst thing I’ve ever written, but there’s a reason I typically don’t let others read anything until after I’ve self-edited several times.
I’m also not completely happy with the final line. Spent quite a bit going back and forth over what to actually write before ending up with the result to get something down, figuring I could always edit it next week.
Things on my to-do list for the self-edit:
- Fix typos
- Shorten and rephrase dialogue
- Include more details and descriptions so it’s not all diaogue
- Rework ending
- Make sure wordcount is under 1,000 words
And finally, the first draft of The Magic Jar:
“We’re lost, aren’t we? I can try Googling it on my phone.”
“Calm down Ray, we’re not lost. I’ve rode with my parents like a million times, I know where we’re going.”
“But Ray! Trust me, I’ve got this.”
“Alright,” she mumbled sinking down into her seat. “But if we go another thirty minutes and we’re still not there, I’m using Google.”
“You do that Ray. So you never did say, but how was your internship.”
“Boring. Did nothing but crunch data all day. Not as exciting as spending two months in Spain.”
“Yeah, except by the end of it I was dreaming in Spainish and English seemed like the foreign language.”
“Numbers aren’t much better. One day I was so frazzled by a project I spent ten minutes trying to text on my graphing calculator.”
“Nice. God, can you believe we’ll be seniors in college this year? One more year and we’ll have to be actual adults with jobs and stuff.”
“Don’t forget paying off those student loans.”
“Ugh, don’t remind me. Oh look the turn is ahead.”
“Behind the tree.”
“Luce, there’s a bunch of— oh, I see it now.”
With a jerk, the car turned left off the smooth asphalt and onto a narrow gravel road. It crunched beneaht the tires and sent clouds of white somke blowing up in front of the windshielf. The car continued to tear tdown the road, flying over the small hills like they weren’t even there.
“Geez Luce, there’s no need to go so fast.” Slightly afraid, Ray clutched her bag a little tighter to her chest. “Are you trying to kill us?”
“No, just trying to get there faster. You’re the one who was complaining about not getting an early enough start.”
The jolting of the car was a bit much for Ray, who closed her eyes. She couldn’t afford to get car sick when she was finally so closed to her goal. As Luce had said, they’d been running late all day. Summer was coming to an end as well, so Ray had to make this weekend count. Even if meant putting up with Luce’s Mr. Toad’s wild ride driving-style and swallowing every few seconds to keep the greasy hamburger from lunch down.
Relieved at the stillness, Ray opened her eyes and glanced out the window. Sleek, glass modern windows. Sturdy, thick log beams, appearing like they were cut yesterday. Two stories, with a balcony and wrap-around porch. A handcarved wooden ‘Welcome’ sign hanging over the entry.
“Where the hell are we?”
“What are you talkking about Ray? We’re at the cabin.”
“This is not a cabin… this is… this is the cover of one of those flashy magazines you see in the checkout lane of the grocery store filled with unrealistic homes you can never afford to live at.”
“That’s awfully specific… and do you mean the cabin from when we were kids? Luce, that place was barely standing then, and that was before the rossion got bad. Grandpoa tore it down and built the new one. I told you baout it, remember?”
“You just said he was building a new cabin, not that he was tearing down the old noe.”
“I thought it was implied. And what’s the deal? You said you wanted to spend a weekend together at the summer cabin. Who cares if it’s not the old one? The new one has a movie theater with a popcorn macahine and hot tub at back.”
“But it has to be the old one! That’s where we measured our heights on the back door, and left the beaded bracelet on the porch post, seeing if it fit year after year. And there was the firepit overlooking the back where we’d make hot dogs and s’mores, and…” Loosening her hold on the package close to her chest, Ray opened the flap and peered inside. In a quiet voice she said, “and catch magic bugs.”
Reaching over the gray center console, Luce plucked out the small item Ray had been clutching protectively. “You still have this old thing?”
“Be careful with that!” snapped Ray, taking the item back. “It’s magical.”
“Magical? Ray, it’s an old mason jar we drowned in glue, tissue paper, glitter and ribbons in to catch fireflies in. Pretty sure we were more covered in glitter than the jar. Our moms told us to wash off in the lake before we’d be allow back inside, and that night we caught more skeeters than magic bugs. Remember that?”
“Of course I remember. That’s why I wanted to come back.” Nestled safely back in her lap, a chaotic rainbow of mismatched shapes and colors looked like a minature stained glass window. The ribbons were fraying, close to losing the stolen Christmas bells tied to their ends. Glitter came away with each finger touch. Yet to Ray, their old Magic Jar was the more beatiful than a Faberige egg in all its glory.
“Rachel, what’s really going on? You’ve been on edge all day.”
“It’s just… we’ve barely spent any time together this summer, the last few summers actually. The last time we were here was like when, we were thirteen? Like you said, next year we’ll fully be actual adults… what if this is our last change to be together? To catch magic bugs?”
“Oh Ray…” Cold glass was replaced by a warm hand giving a gentle squeeze. “Do you remember what we’d do at the end of the night?”
“We’d release them.”
“Exactly! We’d release them because otherwise they’d die. But they always came back. The next night, the next year… they’d always come back. Just like we will. Trust me. How about we make a promise? Each summer we set aside one weekend for each other, no matter where we are. It doesn’t have to be at the cabin, it could be a city, the beach— they all have magic bugs we could catch. Promise?”
Ray stuck out her pinky finger in the crook of her friend’s. “Pinky promise.”
“Good. Now let’s get on inside, my butt is starting to stick to the seat and you have to try my new sangria recipe. We might be a little tipsy tonight when we catch us some magic bugs, but it’ll be fun. Just like the old days… but with alcohol. Adulthood does have some perks, some magic. You just got to find it.
“Yeah, I guess it does.”
And that’s it for this week. Next week: The Self-Edit.
All Writer in Motion posts:
Writer in Motion Post #1: Initial Thoughts on Prompt Reveal
Writer in Motion Post #2: Insight to Writing Process and Outline
Writer in Motion Post #3: First Draft
Writer in Motion Post #4: Self-Edit
Writer in Motion Post #5: CP Edit
Writer in Motion Post #6: Editor Feedback and Final Version
Writer in Motion Post #7: Final Thoughts