Saturday Snippet: Redeeming the Demon’s Daughter

On Saturdays, you can check out a snippet from my latest writing efforts.  All snippets are copyrighted.  These excerpts from my writing are first draft, unedited words, and may not appear in the final work.

Wow, it’s been a very long time—over a year—since I last posted a Saturday Snippet.

As I mentioned in my last post, “Redeeming the Demon’s Daughter” is almost ready. Here’s a sneak peek at the writing process and how the story changed from the first draft to the final draft.

From the first draft:

Abandoning my son by the seashore was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I cursed his father’s name, knowing he could have taken his son and raised him. I could not: my precious baby could not live in the ocean with me in the human form he’d taken. He was a godling but not in possession of his father’s transformative powers, or at least not yet. And I could not raise him on the seashore myself, since the humans who worshiped Rama saw my inhuman form as one of a monster. My heritage did not help me either, for I was the daughter of Ravana, the demon who kidnapped their beloved king’s wife.

They showed me what they thought of that, and I banished my clan to safety in the depths of the ocean. One by one the mermaids swam away, until only I remained, clinging to my son and holding him above the surface as the humans on their small boats, armed with wicked blades and heavy clubs, gave chase.

From the final draft:

Abandoning my son by the seashore was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

I cursed his father’s name, knowing he could have taken his son and raised him. I could not: my precious baby could not live in the ocean with me in the human form he’d taken. He was a godling but not in possession of his father’s transformative powers, or at least not yet. Even the seashore was not safe for him, since the humans who worshiped the god-king Rama saw my inhuman form as one of a monster. My lineage did not help me either, for I was the daughter of Ravana, the demon who kidnapped their beloved king’s wife.

They showed me what they thought of that, these loyal devotees of their god-king, proving that my kind did not solely possess the capacity for cruelty. I daresay my father and his followers could have learned something from them. Whatever my father was—a kidnapper, certainly, a demon by birth, a harsh king over his people—he tempered that side of his personality with those he loved. And though he lusted for the god-king’s wife whom he held captive, he would not lay a finger on her without her permission. Such was the honor of the demon these people reviled. They did not offer me or the rest of my kind the same courtesy.

I might not have ten heads like my father, but I do have a fish’s tail in place of legs, a form that some kinder souls call “mermaid” and others merely see as an abomination borne of demonic powers.

Perhaps that day we swam too far from home: my son, floating in his little crib, my clan, basking in the sunshine and the soft ocean breeze, and me, oblivious to the dangers we faced. I did not know that more of Rama’s followers challenged the borders of my uncle’s kingdom, that they saw what at first appeared to be women with a baby swimming deep in the ocean. Perhaps at first they thought us in need of rescue and intended to help us, but when their boats drew near, they saw what we were and realized from whom we spawned.

They didn’t know, of course, that the child they were so intent on saving, whose mother they wanted to destroy, that very child was borne of one of their own gods—his father, Hanuman, directed much of Rama’s army against my father. They also did not bother to ask. We were less than animals to them, and they did not care that we spoke the same tongue, that we felt the same pain, that we bled the same blood.

“Suvi, help!” cried one of my clan-sisters when the first of the small boats came upon us. Armed with wicked blades and heavy clubs, they hacked and struck. Her blood stained the water. She needed me and there was nothing I could do to help her.

“Save yourselves,” I screamed to my clan. “Dive deep—the ocean depths will keep you safe.” At least the rest could find safety: they could escape the villagers’ violence.

My loyal sisters tried to take me with them, but I stubbornly clung to the surface and the edge of the small crib when they grasped my arms. “Go! Quickly! I cannot leave Macchanu.”

The waves worked against me as I tried to push the crib ahead, further from the coastline. With only my tail to propel me forward, I quickly lost any lead I had on the boats with their rabid oarsmen. Several of my sisters stayed with me, lending their strength to my own. Fervent prayers stuck in my throat as Macchanu’s tiny hands twitched in his sleep. So innocent and so unaware, my precious son slept through the clashing weapons, the raucous yells. Fear choked me—would my scant protection be enough to save him? I carried no weapons, and my lover, god though he was, did not answer my pleas. He’d made me no promises, but surely he wouldn’t abandon me—or his own son—to this terrible fate. I pulled my baby from his crib, abandoning his only refuge outside my arms in order to protect him. If I failed in this charge, he would surely drown.

My sisters’ strength also flagged, so I bade them again, with gasping breaths, to save themselves. Promising to bring what help they could, they finally agreed. One by one, always mindful of the baby they helped me protect, my sisters took twisting dives into the water, the ends of their beautifully colored tails my last sight of them. At last all the mermaids swam away, until only I remained, clinging to my son and holding him above the surface.

Boom!

You can see that the final draft is longer, involving more characters with their emotions and motives. It also gives a greater sense of the main character in this opening scene.

What do you think?

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