In TUFF Love, Carrot Ranch’s Charli Mills asked participants to revise an original western romance through a 99-59-9-99 word process with each step requiring a different craft twist. This event is an exercise of inspiration through to editing. I didn’t enter this one because it turned out to be more about discovering heart’s desire of Self, than traditional Romance. But I still like it, so I share with you all.
Original 99-word Draft: Molly Rides the Rails
Molly rode the rails these days. Cities had sprung up, like oozing boils, over the open prairie she loved. With the spread of progress came the spread of stifling rules.
Forced by her father to shed her buckskin, don heavy skirts with tight collars, binding her hair from the wind’s caressing fingers, she appeared the perfect little miss.
Her pony had been sold to a flinty-eyed man needing a wife for his seven brats. He saw the gold of her energy and aimed to mine it for his own uses.
So she hopped a train and never looked back.
TUFF PART Two: 59-word Story with Original POV
Molly tugged her tight collar, chafing in her heavy skirt as her widowed father droned on: duties of matrimony, raising children, the growth of the mining industry. He glared, mentioning again his widowed friend Caleb and his seven motherless children.
She ached for her familiar buckskins. Mother would have understood.
That night, Molly hopped a train, never looking back.
TUFF PART Two: 59-word Story with Different POV
Caleb leaned back and downed his whiskey, considering his options. His seven children needed guidance. He was too involved in expanding the mines to raise them. He’d courted the banker for money. The banker courted him to take his daughter, Molly, off his hands.
She’d handle the children just fine.
But he needed a woman, one who preferred men.
TUFF PART Three: Three 9-word Taglines for Your Story
Strongest Aspect: Wild hearts can’t be tamed. Molly rides the rails.
What was missing: Every man’s desire is the dream nobody really knows.
Summary of Main Conflict/Tension: Stay safe and oppressed, or ride the freedom train?
TUFF PART Four: Final Revised 99-word Story with Weird Trope Prop
Molly tugged her collar, chafing in her heavy dress. Her widowed father droned on: duties of matrimony, raising children, the growth of the west’s mining industry. He glared, mentioning again mine owner Caleb, his prospects, and his seven motherless children.
She ached for her familiar buckskins. Mother would’ve understood.
A fortnight later, after facing down flinty eyed Caleb and their marriage bed, she slipped away.
Molly’s legs swing, clickety-clack, as she rides the rails. She loosens her hair in the caressing breezes flowing into the open boxcar.
In pace with the train, a unicorn gallops, shimmering with new life.
© Liz Husebye Hartmann (2020)
To see my winning entry, please click on “The Wild, Wild West”