Fallen Angel

The Carrot Ranch flash fiction contests came to an end in December, and I’m delighted to share my final entry. This last challenge involved 5 steps! Don’t feel you have to read them all, but… it’s a good example of how different 1st drafts (step 1) are from final drafts (step 5). You can see how crappy my first drafts are. Gak!

Challenge #8: 

In 5 steps, write about a hero’s transformation after facing a crisis. Each step is its own flash fiction, but it is the evolution of a single story.

The Rules

Step One: In step one free-write for 5 minutes. Stop even if it’s incomplete. No Editing! 

Step Two: Edit your free-write into a 99-word story.

Step Three: Edit your 99-word story into a 59-word story.

Step Four: Edit your 59-word story into a 9-word story.

Step Five: Transform it into a 599-word final story in three acts: beginning, middle, and end.

Step 1: 5-Minute free write – no editing allowed

Tris stood before the archangels, with his plea. “How can I truly know love, if I have nothing to compare it to?” To know something, doesn’t one need to know it’s alternatives?”

“You wish to be reviled?” asked Gabriel.

I wish to understand love in its fullest form, and if that is to be scorned, then scorn me.”

“As you wish”

Tris plummeted through the air, white feathers in flames, this skin blazing, cracking, charring, sloughing off all that was beauty. His eyes filled with fire and he plummeted to the sea with a trail of smoke.

The woman wading in the waves saw his fall and ran into the waves to save him. But when she saw the charred pinions of his skeletal wings, the blackened bloody flesh and the scarlet eyes, she screamed and ran panic driving her to flee. Webbed wings, quilled pinions.

He stalked her, haunted her, black wings unfurling in the corner of her room. What do you want? She screamed. “What do you want from me?

“Love he croaked, and the sound of his voice scared even him.

She held her pillow, curled in her bed. “If you love me, you would leave me alone.”

The demand stunned him. How could he love her under such restrictions? He knew then what it meant to be reviled and his wings curled around him, relegating him to shadows.

Step 2: Edit it into a 99-word story

He plummeted through heaven’s void, white wings in flames, skin blazing. Sloughing his beauty, he plunged into the sea.

A woman beheld his charred pinions and fled the waves. He haunted her moonlit nights, wandered her dreams until she survived on pills and prayers, woke in a sea of sweat, and screamed, “What do you want from me?”

“Only love.”

She curled around her pillow. “If you loved me, you would leave me alone.”

His breath caught. How did one love if banished by love? His burned wings enfolded him, condemning him to shadows, for love her, he did.

Step 3: Edit it into a 59-word story

He haunted her moonlit nights, wandered her dreams until she survived on white pills and prayers, woke in a sea of sweat, and screamed, “What do you want from me?”

“Only Love.”

She curled around her pillow. “If you loved me, you’d leave me alone.”

His burned wings enfolded him, condemning him to shadows, for love her, he did.

Step 4: Edit it into a 9-word story

For love, his burned wings enfolded him in shadow.

Step 5: The final 599-word story – a hero’s journey

Fallen Angel

He pled before Hadraniel. “How does one value love if one has nothing to compare? How does one know light without darkness?”

“You choose to be reviled?” the archangel asked.

“To experience love in its fullest form.”

Thus, he plummeted through heaven’s void, white wings in flames, skin blazing, cracking, sloughing his beauty in a trail of ash. A shooting star, his eyes brimmed with fire, and he plunged into the sea.

A woman wading in the waves ran into the surf to save him. But when she beheld the charred pinions of his skeletal wings, blackened scabs of skin, and irises licked by fire, terror pooled in her eyes. Her screams echoed the shrill keen of circling birds.

She fled the sea, drove with the wind’s howling, and spun through the city’s roiling anonymity. He hunted her with wings unfurled, bristling with burned quills. And each time he drew near enough to speak his heart’s yearning, fear prevailed and she failed to hear.

He spurned the sun to haunt her by moonlight when wounded souls melded with the dark. Cloaked in smoke, he inhabited the seams of her room and whispered love’s longing in her sleep. He wandered her dreams until she survived on white pills and prayers and woke in a sea of sweat. “What do you want?” she screamed. “What do you want from me?”

“Only love.”

Thunder rumbled in his voice, and she curled around her pillow. “If you loved me, you would leave me alone.”

His breath caught. How could this be? How did one love if banished by love? What had he chosen? Burned and broken wings enfolded him, condemning him to shadows, for love her, he did.

For years, he watched her spiral in shouting matches and botched marriages, estrangements, peals of pleading, and regrets for promises shattered. He kept his word and hid in antiseptic halls with chemical restraints, through prescriptions that muted the sun and blurred the hours into strings of dull-seasoned days. Through vodka and heroin, overdoses and scars carved into her skin.

Until fear surrendered its grip.

He lingered in the corner when she lay on her deathbed, downy hair a soft cloud on her pillow, the callous blinks and bleeps of machinery her only company.

“You’re still here, aren’t you?” she asked.

His head rose from his chest, and he dared speak, “Yes.”

“You’ve followed me all these years?”

“Yes.”

“Well, there’s no sense in hiding anymore.”

By inches, he unfurled a shadowed wing, revealing his blackened form, the sharp contours of bone, and embers of his eyes. Congealed darkness swirled aside, traces of old smoke dissipating into the night.

“Why did you haunt me?”

“To learn of love.”

“And did you?”

“I learned that love and pain and forgiveness are companions in this mortal world.”

“So, they are.” She closed her eyes, breath a murmur, and reached out a hand. “If I could live this life again, I would choose differently, my loyal demon.”

“Forgive me,” he whispered, and with skeletal fingers, careful of his claws, he caressed her hand. The yearned-for touch peeled away the char and ash of his skin, the scars that were his wings, and extinguished the blaze in his eyes. As she exhaled her last breath, he plummeted through heaven’s void, white feathers in flames, skin sloughing its beauty in a trail of ash. A shooting star, he plunged into the sea.

The woman wading in the waves ran to save him and halted at the sight of his seared pinions. Undaunted, she plunged into the surf and seized his hand.

 

***

To read Liz Husebye Hartmann’s winning submission and the honorable mentions for this mega challenge, click here: Carrot Ranch

***

116 thoughts on “Fallen Angel

  1. You did quite well with that exercise, Diana even though it was difficult.The end story was lovely. Happy New Year 2018 to you also. 🙂 — Suzanne

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This challenge seems to actually be a very good writing process technique. Your story turned out great.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It was totally new to me and I found it useful in drilling down to the core of the story and the point at which it pivots. The person who designed the process suggests using it on every chapter of a book. I might just do that on my current WIP. Thanks for checking it out and I hope you give it a try. 🙂

      Like

  3. Wow, what a cool insight into the creative process! Thanks for making this available, Diana!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. That’s quite a challenge. Good job on it!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Carol says:

    Wow…I have just read this for the second time and have to say it is so powerful and just awesome…I have seen these challenges before and our writing group did a very similar one I must say none of them compared to yours Diane your mastery of the written word is just amazing x I loved it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much, Carol. I spent about a week on this little piece – it was for a competition after all. I’m so glad you enjoyed it. I’ve had a little obsession about misunderstood fallen angels and it was fun to work it out on paper. 😀 Have a wonderful week!

      Like

  6. Captivating story, Diana, and brilliant piece of writing. I love having insight into your editing process as you whittled your story down to a single line. And the final story was amazing. Actually the first draft wasn’t too shabby either. You are an inspiration!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I found it really interesting to read the various stages of development of your story, Diana. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This is a great testament to the TUFF process. That train just kept picking up speed! Power. I had trouble getting out of the station when I tried it, but still realized the potential of the five steps.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, D. I’d never tried this process before and I really liked it. That “picking up speed” is a wonderful compliment. I enjoyed the process of narrowing down the story to it’s core and plan to do this as an exercise with the book I’m working on. Have a wonderful Sunday and Happy Writing!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Charli Mills says:

    This was such an amazing process to watch unfold. All the writers who entered were both brave (to show their writing process in the raw) and bold (to come up with such incredible short stories through the process). Wonderful writing, Diana!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. rijanjks says:

    What a wonderful exercise to take part in, Diana. And, you did an amazing job. I felt the woman’s fear, pain, and isolation as she tried to escape what she beheld as a demon. Only on her deathbed did she realize what it was. Wow!! Great job!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. paulandruss says:

    Diana, knowing how much I admire your talent, It will come as no surprise to learn I really enjoyed this. Not only for the 99, 59 and 599 stories -all excellent by the way. I looked on it as a lesson in how to turn an idea into a tale worth reading.
    From your initial impulse you extracted the same core tale emphasing different elements to suit the length. Each and every one complete in itself. Even the one liner read like an elevator pitch for the concept.
    This is just my opinion… so many writers have good ideas, and they go some way into translating those ideas but underestimate the time needed to develop and polish them into a satisfying whole.
    For me writing is like a grain of sand in an oyster. The idea niggles and irritates so you have to get it out, by putting it on paper. That is the first layer of the nacre, but it takes many more layers to make a pearl – each one the subject of a single area of focus on pace, character, motivation, language, coherence, etc.
    To make something great from the mere good takes patience time and effort. But when you do the quality shines through. There is so much to learn in examining how your pearls link back to the original grain of sand.
    Nuff said P

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks so much, Paul. I’d never done this exercise before, so it was insightful for me too. I found myself drilling down to the core of the story and the point on which it pivoted. I love the pearl analogy and it’s true. This story took about a week to write, layering and honing and layering and honing and then letting it bloom. The word constraints meant that every word had to count. Well, enough said, I’m so glad you enjoyed it and appreciate the thoughtful comments. Happy Writing! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Diana. I am stunned right now. This story touched my heart profoundly and your raw talent and imagination have truly blown my mind. WOW. WOW. WOW. This story is so beautiful and heartbreaking; it will stick with me for a very long time. Your imagination is extraordinary, and I am reading this has blessed my day beyond words. You inspire me immensely, and I am so grateful I found you! Happy New Year to you! Lots of love and hugs!! ❤️ And just for emphasis, one more time…WOW.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Reblogged this on Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life and commented:
    The Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction contests came to an end in December and the last challenge was daunting.. with several steps towards a final 599 word story. Head over to Diana Wallace Peach to see how it should be done.. a mesmerising series of flash fiction. Fallen Angel wow.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. dgkaye says:

    Wow! That is some wonderful writing Diana. You’ve done quite well through this rodeo series at the ranch. I’m watching you! LOL 🙂 xx

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Jennie says:

    Marvelous, and I echo Teagans words: you couldn’t write a bad one if you tried.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Bel says:

    Wow just wow Diana…I had to read it twice because the story evoked such emotions from me. This is amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. cindy knoke says:

    Powerful and engaging writing!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. oh my god, Diana, this was incredible.
    you’re so talented – I’m in awe as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. A great exercise beautifully written, Diana. Much impressed.x

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Tina Frisco says:

    Stories of transformation always give me chills ~ cellular memory of lives and experiences veiled by the imperative of mortality. And when the story is brilliantly written, the veil, once laden with the crust of corporeality, becomes diaphanous. Reading your work inspires me, Diana. Happy New Year, my friend! ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    • What a great comment, Tina. It’s one of the best things about writing fantasy – getting to put all that wonder and possibility into something tangible. Stories give it substance and means to communicate the ideas and emotions. I’m so glad you enjoyed this. Happy Writing.

      Liked by 1 person

  21. Great exercise and a great outcome! It was good that you posted every stage of it – I loved seeing how it all evolved. I think I want to try it too.

    Your nine-word story is a poem in itself!

    Liked by 2 people

  22. reocochran says:

    I finally read each step of this writing process. Yoy were excellent in each approach.
    I didn’t want to “jump in” and not tell you my entire emotional response. Oooh, you must try to enter a contest outside of blogging world with your final entry. . . Please!
    I thoroughly could visualize the woman’s tortured journey and the ending helped redeem her rejection of the fallen angel. As well as made me have tears filling my eyes. He found out how heart wrenching love can really be. . .
    She chose a different ending with the falling star ending. I liked this new twist you worked into the ending, Diana. A gorgeous entry with a bet; really, my bet to others. . .:
    Can anyone forget this story? It will haunt me for quite some time, but also give me Hope. I might change the title to make it more of an intriguing start. . . xo 💖

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks so much for the lovely comment, Robin, and I’m thrilled that you enjoyed the story. I heard once, and don’t remember where, that fallen angels were angels who wanted to experience “the dark side” in order to fully appreciate the “light.” The perspective changed my view of them, and I wanted to show that misinterpretation of their motives here. I have no idea if any of that is “true,” but I find it intriguing. Thanks for the visit, my friend. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  23. Magnificient, Diana! This story has such a beautiful arc to it, I love how it connects and comes full circle. The process is so interesting, and I’ve never tried anything like it before. I think you did exceptional in all stages of the story. Keep up the beautiful work! xo

    Liked by 1 person

  24. I imagine this was a satisfying exercise. The different stages of the process work well, and the final result is quite remarkable. And, most of all, the message is a most profound one concerning the reality of love

    Liked by 1 person

  25. mistermuse says:

    Beautiful! That warrants a musical salute:

    Liked by 1 person

  26. That is a good exercise for any writing (which I suppose is their point). The most challenging is distilling a long story to one sentence. Nicely done.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The challenge was presented as a way to drill down to the essential crux of a story, Jacqui. I hadn’t done that before and was thinking about it as a way to get at a logline or focus a blurb. Thanks for stopping by to read, and Happy Writing!

      Like

  27. An excellent exercise and way to show the writing process. From my (admittedly strange) perspective, I liked your first draft. Without the first draft, we writers would have only blank empty boring pages. Your first draft gave you the power, the pain, the grit of the story. The other parts (until the last one) were writing practice of the theme, in my mind. The last story was superb and will stay with me all day.

    Liked by 2 people

    • That’s exactly how I looked at the middle steps, Pam, a honing down on the core of the story. And I don’t mind the roughness of first drafts at all, though I rarely share them! Just part of the process and typical of most art. I’m so glad you enjoyed it. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  28. Annika Perry says:

    Wow! Wonderfully crafted story and with such emotional power and impact. I read the last first before starting at the first stage … fascinating to see the process and I’m tempted to try something like this and see what develops.

    Liked by 1 person

    • This process was new to me, too, Annika, and it was an interesting exercise. The narrowing-down of the word count helped hone in on the core theme and the pivot point. And I’ve never saved a first draft before, so that comparison was eye-opening. Definitely worth a try. I’m so glad you enjoyed it. Happy Writing. (PS. I started your book last night. 😀 )

      Liked by 1 person

  29. acflory says:

    Oh, this is beautiful in all its permutations!

    Liked by 1 person

  30. What a fascinating exercise, and it shows your process, D. But the story’s essence came through in each version. Wow.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Van. I’ve never done this process before, so it was interesting and insightful to me as I went through it. Sharing my first draft was a little intimidating for sure! I’m glad you enjoyed the story. A new year begins. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  31. cagedunn says:

    Wow! I might have to try that; it became more and more powerful with each rendition.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Oh! A happy ending, I’m so relieved. I felt so bad for the fallen angel… The final draft is amazing, really.

    Liked by 1 person

  33. I thought you did this so well, Diana. I was certainly reading it with envy at how you managed to tell your story so eloquently with each number of words you had! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  34. Michelle says:

    I’m in awe. What a neat process, and so brave of you to share all 5 stages. Very enjoyable.

    Liked by 1 person

  35. Like your written word Sir. You got da gift. As well, thanks for the read and follow.
    Ryan Donovan

    Liked by 1 person

  36. Teri Polen says:

    I’m in awe and agree with Teagan – you couldn’t write a bad story if you tried.

    Liked by 1 person

  37. Carrie Rubin says:

    Very cool idea, and I love your end result!

    Liked by 1 person

  38. Steph McCoy says:

    I really enjoyed seeing your 5 stages in this challenge Diana. You have such a gift for writing.

    Liked by 1 person

  39. Wonderful story, Dianna! I completely agree with Pauline’s comment. Happy New Year!

    Liked by 1 person

  40. Diana it is a marvelous story. You couldn’t write a bad one if you tried. While I doubt this was much of a challenge for you, I think this process would be educational for most of us. I’m intrigued. Happy New Year, my friend. Hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The process was new to me, Teagan, and really got down to the core theme or “pivot point” of this story. I’m not sure it’s something I will do regularly, but it was insightful. Thanks for stopping by to read, and Happy New Year! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  41. Oh how I like this! You made me weep and I thought I was wept out. There is always more and always opportunities to change, to redeem , to live again! Beautiful!!

    Liked by 3 people

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