Editing, the Second Freak This Time

Since I spruced up the Fabulously Flexible Man’s introduction from my Freakshow creative writing post, I need to do the same for the others. I was the least satisfied with the paragraph on Annie, the Armor-Skinned Woman because I didn’t feel like the paragraph clearly separated her from a regular strong woman. Let’s see if I can better capture her unnaturally tough skin in this post.

Circus strong woman, 1905. Photo from Physical Culturist’s Top Ten Old Time Strongwomen.

They tear into the second tent and into the impenetrable chest of Annie. Instead of comfort from a maternal embrace, they feel the jolt from her brick wall stance and fall into a jumble of limbs. They are jelly fish flailing in her shadow. Her guests stumble to their feet and cower under her gaze.

Though she may have a five o’clock shadow, she’s no bearded woman. The dark glean along her jaw reflects the strength of a steel cross-beam. The silver plates of her bikini sparkle as much as her oiled skin in the light of the iron torches. The oil slicking her muscles may define every contour as well as the next body builder’s, but Annie’s need to protect against corrosive attacks is the main reason she greases up each morning. 

Her guests ogle as she draws a sword and runs it against that could slice through rhino hide. They recoil as she drags it along the taut skin of her bicep. A collective gasp echos as the blade is sliced to ribbonsThey cluster around her bare feet like pencil shavings. They Her guests look eager to stay until she flicks her sledge hammer toward them as if she expects that they, too have, the diamond toughness.

“Don’t go,” she cackles after, “I’ll toughen you up yet!”


I like this better than the original paragraph, but now I worry that I’ve not given Annie any feminine qualities. One of the things I liked about the circus strong woman picture I found is that she’s clearly strong but she’s hasn’t been masculized (is that a word?).  Often it seems like female characters can only be tough if the become physically/emotionally like men/ male stereotypes. Annie should be able to have armored skin and be as graceful as a swan, should she so choose. Unfortunately, I can’t figure out how to write that now, so maybe I’ll revisit this later.

Editing, One Freak at a Time

I knew as I was writing my last creative writing post, I’d be editing. I didn’t elaborate on the circus employees (or freaks, if you prefer) as much as I wanted to. So I’m going to expound on what I’ve written in a series of editing posts.


Rubber Ritchie, contortionist. Photo from Acts and Attractions.

A The blind curve into of the first tent leads wary patrons inside a mammoth steel cage. Few dare to snicker gleefully at the what appears to be an empty attraction,. T and they are the first struck. A tickle along the back of their necks excites the hairs that stand on end at the scent of as if sensing danger, setting off a chain reaction that drains their smirks and sets their hearts pounding. Their agitation spreads.

Soon everyone sees the spandex snake slithering through the bars. The elongated arm Everyone catches the slithering in the corner of their eyes. Spandex weaves through the bars, the end unrolling toward the nearest patron who squeals and falls back into the crowd. The elongated fingers of man in a stretchable suit flourish, the index pointsing upward. Eyes with more white than iris follow.

The Fabulously Flexible Man has wrapped the top of the cage as if he were its canopy threaded himself through the bars of the cage’s canopy. Though his skin groans from the strain, he does not break. The muscles in his neck stretch like taffy under the weight of his head. As it descends, he coils around to take in all of his guests. They gasp as the features of his face contort. His muscles tighten until he grins down at them, shining like a Botox addict.

When his ear extends drips downward like as a bit of wax escaping would escape its candle, a woman shrieks and begins a stampede.

I guess this is good enough… for now! I mostly wanted to incorporate something about Botox, which I only thought about after I posted.



Mood #6: Editing!

I need to get back into the habit of posting again. Moving/writing my thesis really threw off my game. Luckily, I got a huge chunk of my thesis done so now to focus on this little blog again. Because my fall courses are starting again soon I think I’m going to focus on writing the flashiest of flash fictions, so this blog doesn’t become a chore.

Since I never actually finished my quest to write the same story in six different moods, this post will do that. Except, instead of another mood, I’m going to string all the previous posts together and edit them as if they were one story and the protagonist is going through some serious mood swings. Hopefully, it will work out nice.


Canyon Lake, Thailand

The kayak drifted steadily through the lake corridor as if it too were surveying the scene with childlike eyes. She stood on the wooden seat, not noticing unconcerned with how she made her craft sway as she took in the nature around her. Although the water was the same green as bottle glass, it offered far more wonders below its crystalline surface. Schools of fish with scales flashing like precious gems swam along her kayak. She followed them out into the water A river of diamonds, they carried her attention out on the water. She marveled at the way the forest seemed to defy the canyon ahead. The break in the mountains was no impasse. Mother Nature’s indomitable spirit sent her flora scampering down the canyon walls as if the gorge were flat earth. Their flourishing leaves swayed in the gentle wind, beckoning her deeper into the jungle.

The rough grooves in the canyon walls looked like fingerprints that if pressed to the earth would illuminate the stories of this valley. Her mind floated over the secrets the ancient eyes of the rockfaces have seen might keep, and their imagined splendor ensnared her breath.  How  many legions of explorers had, like her, filled their boats with all the goods  necessary for civilized survival before setting off trekking into the vibrant wilderness? How many had come to the realization now dancing with the sunlight across the lake surface: everything she needed for survival was already here. It had been here for ages before she arrived and it would endure for ages long after she passed through. All the gear and fancy gadgets she’d stuffed in her bags would only serve as technological barriers, separating her from the peace of mind offered here free of charge.

She lounged along the rows of seats, letting her arm dangle off the side of the kayak and so her fingertips grazed the cool lake water. She closed her eyes to focus on the rhythmic lapping of water against the wooden hull. As she floated along, she felt the protective canyon walls kepteping watch over her. Their shadows fell across her body as if Mother Nature herself were laying down a weightless blanket to guide her into sleep. The shade offered her the perfect relief degree of protection from the blazing sun. Blistering heat gave way simmered to a steady, balanced warmth. The breeze caressing the lake surface carried off the last of the stifling humidity. She breathed in until her lungs could hold no more and breathed out as slowly as her kayak drifted. The rhythmic lapping gradually lessened until she lay in still waters. She made no effort to propel onward, choosing instead to linger in the moment.

As she drifted beyond the shadows, the sun whisked away her perspiration. She ran her tongue over drying lips now cracked like the stone walls surrounding her. The kayak swayed as she rose to her unsteady feet. With one hand on each side to balance herself, she climbed to the bow of the kayak. It rocked when she knelt down to rummage through her rucksack. Where was supply of water he promised to pack? Her throat itched with dehydration further irritated by the sweltering summer sun and  the lack of breeze long dead over the canyon lake. Her fingertips scraped along the bottom of the bag, knuckles dinging off everything but a water bottle. Her throat tightened as she gripped the kayak sides and twisted around. He lay along the stern, hat pulled down over his eyes and a smug grin dripping from his lips that looked far from parched. She crawled toward him, nails digging into the kayak’s paint until they stained red. He tilted his head back to digest her poisonous scowl as her unforgiving shadow smothered him.

The stiff wood walls of the kayak felt like a coffin, her black shadow a death shroud preparing to choke the life out of him. The air became icy as s She loomed, blocking the crackling sun with a face warped into a murderous scowl and giving the air a vengeful chill. His heart pounded against his chattering rib cage as if desperate to crawl out. His muscles tightened, winding him down into bowels of the kayayk.  He was a shaking hermit crab helpless to protect his shell from a vicious stomping. He was a rolled-up hedgehog as an eagle plucked out his quills one by one. He was not long for this kayak. Their craft convulsed when she lunged for them. He released a pitiable shriek as she dug into his arms and wrenched him up. As the kayak thrashed, the water whipped over them like razor blades stinging his eyes, swamping his throat. His chest slammed into the metal-capped sides and shocked his chest. The once crisp, cool, clear lake water looked like a black abyss as she shoved his face into its depths. His lungs compressed against the metal siding and the air trumpeted out of him until the churning water simmered to died down to lifeless percolation. The kayak assumed a slight tilt as his body dangled from the side.

She sat in the center, stiff and unable to acknowledge the origins of that choppy splashing or  the thunk against the kayak’s side. It  that reverberated through her body  muscles and seized until it gripped her heart. She drifted onward, her breathing hushed, the world around her stunned to silence, her mind howling in its cage of flesh and bone. The rockfaces of the surrounding canyon walls glowered down at her with their repulsed rockfaces. She bolted up onto legs that quaked with such fury the kayak pitched and seized. With her face turned up to the sunlight biting tears out of her eyes, she let her jaw drop fell open. She shrieked until her breath was like his.

As her kayak drifted through the stagnant lake water, she caught the sound of another’s boat cutting the surface. The plunk of an oar pulled her attention to the shadows by the canyon walls. A fleet of kayaks fast approached hers. Their oars rose and fell in perfect time as if their rowers shared one mind. Their finely tuned movements directed the current in their favor. The lead rower cut through the water with powerful swipes with each of his kinsman close behind.  Without a sound, sShe watched silently as they passed her by. When her kayak failed to bob in their rhythmic wake, she knew they were just an illusion. Each member of the fleet vanished in the stark light on the lake horizon. With even her thoughts deserting her, silence descended. She waited minutes, hours, days, for a bird to chirp over head, for a fish to nibble the water’s surface, for just a hint that someone else was out there. The whisper of the kayak’s drift quieted until it too died out.


I think this worked out alright, although I didn’t do too much editing for my first Editing Adventures post. When I write the flash fictions, I have to come up with stories off the cuff. That should give me more stuff to edit. I had to might time to think about these stories before I wrote them.