Motherhood in the New Age: Revised

I’m playing with the sci-fi microfiction I produced for the NYC Midnight 100-Word Challenge. I liked what I did, but even when I submitted there were things I didn’t feel I conveyed as well as I could have. I thought I’d post the original, the judges’ feedback, and my current revision (I may revise further). My prompts were: Sci-Fi genre, “changing a diaper” (action that must be included), and “million” (word that must be included).

Original submission:

Shala was putting a diaper on her orphaned nephew when the Farhope lurched. She gathered him up, holding both the last child born on Earth and the first child to be born in the Mars colony. Bronwen’s team would lay the groundwork for the million people to follow. Despite her lack of relevant skills, Shala had refused to stay behind, giving birth alone on a dying planet. The baby in her arms laughed, the baby in her belly kicked, and she felt a surge of joy and belonging. 

“I think it’s peeing on you,” Asha said, and the spell broke. (100 words)

Revision:

Shala was putting a diaper on her orphaned nephew when the Farhope lurched. Her stomach, already stirring with morning sickness, rebelled against the motion. She gathered up the fussing boy, her body protecting both the last child born on Earth and the first child to be born in the Mars colony. Her partner Bronwen’s team would lay the groundwork for the million or so people to follow and Shala had refused to stay behind to give birth alone on a dying planet. The crew barely tolerated her presence out of respect for their captain, but she heard the murmurs about her uselessness. The baby in her arms laughed, the baby in her belly kicked, and she felt a surge of belonging and purpose.

“I think it’s peeing on you,” Asha sneered as she walked past, and the spell broke. (139 words)

Feedback:

WHAT THE JUDGES LIKED ABOUT YOUR STORY – {1801}  You build a detailed world with this story. Kudos. You’ve established so much about the past of these characters and the planet they are coming from , as well as the HIGH STAKES for Shala. In so few words! You do well to add details about Shala’s character. You give us a good sense of how she is feeling and what kind of world she is living in. (That being said, you bring up to other characters who we learn nothing about. why?)   {1943)  I really enjoyed this sweet, endearing story. I loved the portrayal of Shala’s love for her nephew, and for her unborn child. I liked the concept of the two babies, one as the last to be born on Earth, and the other, as the first to be born on Mars. I thought the ending was very cute, as the baby did what babies do, and peed on her! A really entertaining story – well done!  {1913}  You have a sweet story and an interesting setup. I particularly like your backstory, as with it, you show us a lot of Shala’s personality.  

WHAT THE JUDGES FEEL NEEDS WORK – {1801}  Regarding the ending – the pee joke is an unnecessary addition that has little to do with the story told previous. BUT if you really want to keep it, you need to do 2 things. 1) You need to couch the backstory with living in the present moment. SO the beginning of the story needs to be Shala and Asha in the present moment. Then we can go into Shala’s head, thinking about her circumstances. That way when we go back to Asha, we know who she is and we get the sense of the beginning and end of Shala’s “spell.” And 2) You need to build the tension a little bit more in the Shala “spell” so that the peeing is a shock. The sharper the contrast, the funnier it is.   {1943)  The concept of Shala “holding both the last child born on Earth and the first child to be born in the Mars colony” was very clever. I would maybe think about using this sentence later in the story, after we know she’s pregnant. When the sentence comes early in the story, it seems like it is referring to the orphaned nephew being two things, which of course is impossible. I don’t think it quite works as a teaser for the fact she’s pregnant, as it causes us to stop to process the meaning. However, it is a brilliant sentence, and I think it would work really well at the end.  {1913}  I suggest you develop Shala’s goals further. Apart from taking care of two babies, what does she want? Even if she doesn’t have relevant skills for this mission, show us more about what she plans to do after giving birth.

NYC Midnight Microfiction Challenge

Group #51

Genre: Sci-fi, Action: Changing a diaper, Word: million

100 words

Motherhood in the New Age

Shala was putting a diaper on her orphaned nephew when the Farhope lurched. She gathered him up, holding both the last child born on Earth and the first child to be born in the Mars colony. Bronwen’s team would lay the groundwork for the million people to follow. Despite her lack of relevant skills, Shala had refused to stay behind, giving birth alone on a dying planet. The baby in her arms laughed, the baby in her belly kicked, and she felt a surge of joy and belonging. 

“I think it’s peeing on you,” Asha said, and the spell broke.