WIP Wednesdays

I love how several authors offer an opportunity on their blogs for other authors to strut their stuff. Imitation being the sincerest form of flattery, I figured I’d give it a go, so look for me to post a Work-In-Progress Wednesday every week. I’ll set a theme and show you one of mine, and you give me five to seven sentences in the comments.

This week, since it’s the first, how about first meetings? Don’t forget to share once you’re done!

Here’s mine, from the made-to-order story I’m writing for Mary Anne Landers.

As she turned the corner into Frederick Street, a particularly sharp gust skittered a broken branch across her path, tangling it into her skirts.

She stumbled, and would have landed in the mud if firm hands had not suddenly caught her. As it was, in putting out her hands to break the expected fall, she had dropped her burdens. The shopping basket fell sideways, tumbling fruit, vegetables, and the wrapped parcel of meat into a waiting puddle. The parcel from the haberdashers that she carried on her other arm thankfully stayed intact and landed on a relatively dry spot.

She took all this in at a glance, most of her attention on her rescuer. A craggy face bronzed by the sun, amused brown eyes under thick level brows, a mouth that looked made for laughter. He was bundled against the cold wind in a greatcoat, muffler, and cloth cap.

The image is of Dunedin in the mid 1860s, the setting for my story.

Dunedin Farley's Arcade

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33 thoughts on “WIP Wednesdays

  1. @Mary – I think @Marichristie’s story is supposed to be a character remembering her past. So although the last paragraph is further on in time from the meeting, it’s still the character remembering the past.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, @Marichristie! 🙂

  2. Thanks to everyone else who’s shared an extract from their work here! Very interesting reading. 🙂 And thanks to Jude for giving us this opportunity. 🙂

    This if from my novel in progress, which is called (for reasons which will become evident during the story) Verdandi’s Thread. But I might change the title. 😀

    The quote is more than 7 sentences, but no one else seems to have worried about that, so I figured, what the hell. 😀

    The scene takes place at night in a back garden, which is why Edwin, Emmi and George can’t see the figure clearly.

    * * * * *

    The figure was still there, silent and still by the gate. As the three of them drew nearer, it became clear that it was the figure of a man, taller than Edwin and broad in the shoulder. He seemed to be wearing some dark, hooded garment that reached to his feet and hid his face in shadow. The effect was not reassuring.

    Edwin, with Emmi and George flanking him to either side, stopped a few yards from the man, who made no move to leave. Edwin took another step forward.

    “All right,” he said. “Who are you, and what do you want?”

    “Stay within your home this night.” The voice had a heavy accent, but it was hard to place. German? Swedish maybe?

    “That doesn’t answer my questions. Who are you? And what do you mean by skulking around people’s gardens and frightening women?”

    “There is danger. Stay within.”

    Edwin frowned. “Is that a threat?”

    “A warning. The Host will be abroad this night. Do not leave your home.”

    And before Edwin realised that he was moving, the man had vaulted the gate and was gone. By the time Edwin followed, he was lost to sight in the darkness of the alley.

  3. Those are terribly tiny problems compared to what faces me in finishing the rest of the first draft. Thanks for the comments, but by the time I get back to them, the entire manuscript will probably be a completely different animal than it is right now. You know… process… 🙂

  4. I love this idea. Like a #1linewed with some room to breathe 🙂

    This is from my novel-in-progress The Revolution of Edwin Fiddler:

    The house blurred into view from the top of the hill as if it had been painted in sweeping brush strokes against the land behind it. Edwin wiped sweat from his brow and laughed to himself a little, a congratulatory chuckle for not passing out. He saw no movement below, but it being a farm, he assumed much of the day’s work had been done hours ago. He made his descent and his legs moved much more quickly, appreciating the break. A low white fence surrounded the perimeter of the farm house. Edwin ran his fingers along the posts as he stepped through the gate. The bumps in the paint and raw wood were like braille under his fingertips. He stopped when a tall man emerged from the side of the house wiping his hands on a rag. He wore a plaid shirt that bunched at his middle where the dough hadn’t cooked through and his palms were not unlike the road by Edwin’s house—bumpy almost everywhere but the edges.

    “Morning, friend,” the man said. “Can I do for ya?”

    “My name is Edwin. I live in the house just up the road.”

    Tensions eased and they shook hands.

    “So you’re the guy who bought the old Taylor place, eh? Thought that old shack’d never sell.”

    Edwin flinched at the comment and the man soon realized his mistake.

  5. Thanks so much, Jude! I really appreciate this chance to get feedback on my works and to give other writers the same.

    And of course, I enjoyed the excerpt from the story you’re writing for me. Vivid description, a keen sense of detail. I can feel what the protag is going through. All this in just two paragraphs!

    My first-meeting excerpt is from my WIP, an offbeat medieval fantasy romance titled “The Weeping Dragon”. More than seven sentences, but most are pretty short.

    Joan looked up at a second-story window. The flickering glow of a candle told her the master of the house must be awake.

    She calmed her nerves. Grasping the knocker, she pounded on the door.

    No response. She tried again, repeatedly.

    She was about to give up when a grizzled head and a hand holding a candlestick stuck out the window. “Who’s there?”

    “Master Polycarp?”

    “Speaking.”

    “My name is Lady Joan Surtees. I’m need of the services of a master magician, and I was told you’re the best in the north country.”

    “You want to see me at this ungodly hour?”

    “I can’t get away from my keeper during the day.” She reached in her pocket for a silver coin and held it so that the candlelight shone on it. “I’ll make it worth your trouble!”

    He paused, then withdrew. Joan tensed; would he ignore her? Was all her effort in vain?

    But presently she heard the sound of the door being unbarred.

    Feedback is welcome, whether its thumbs up or thumbs down. Good luck, everyone!

  6. This is from the novel I’m currently editing, Little Birdhouses. Still rough. I’ve been editing it forever. The kids are in high school, at a football game.

    “I’m hungry. Let’s get a hot dog from the concession stand,” Amy said.

    “Sure,” Bea said.

    “You guys go on. I’ll just wait here,” I said, parking myself on the bleachers.

    I looked out at the field and watched the football players scurry about. I felt far away. The weight of the heat was oppressive, even after nightfall, and I shifted on the uncomfortable metal seat trying to feign interest in the game.

    “You by yourself?”

    I looked up to see Gideon Peterson standing in front of me, hands on his hips, knees almost touching mine. I looked down at my hands, afraid to meet his eyes, then slowly rose my eyes back to his.

    “Um, yeah, I mean…no. I’m just waiting for my friends, Amy and Bea to come back. They went to grab something to eat.”

    He sat down, a little too close to me. “I don’t think we’ve met. I’m Gideon. In your homeroom.”

    I nodded, feeling unable to speak, as his eyes swept over me.

    “I’ve heard things about you,” I said.

    He let out a mean-spirited laugh, but shifted closer to me on the bench anyway. I wanted to shift away, but I felt drawn to him and instead shifted closer until our sides barely touching.

    “Yeah, I bet. People love to talk. But you can’t believe everything they say.”

    His too-long hair swept into his eyes, and as he brushed it away I caught a glimpse of his sleeve tattoo. What was it? His eyes met mine as I squinted at the ink on his arms. Before I could stop myself I touched the pattern etched into his arm, because it seemed unreal. A tight smirk crossed his lips as my fingers brushed against his skin.

    “It’s another world. Aztecs. Do you know they used to sacrifice people? Sacrifice—huge part of life, you know?”

    I looked into his eyes and felt an intense connection between us. He winked, and when I looked down the bleachers I saw Amy and Bea walking our way. I dropped my fingers by my side startled by the emptiness that seemed to crawl under my skin and scooted away from him.

    “I don’t think I caught your name,” he said as he stood up.

    “Lana,” I said.

    Bea glared at Gideon as she and Amy arrived. He smiled a toothy grin and bowed.

    “Girls,” he said, nodding at them. “A pleasure meeting you, Lana.”

    • Thanks, Lauren Greene. Interesting passage. I like the way you make the situation seem real and the characters come to life. Even in an excerpt as brief as this.

      I’m probably not in your target readership, so you might want to take the rest of my feedback with a grain of salt. If not a whole shaker. But here goes.

      I’m in Lana’s shoes, and I’m speaking to this guy for the first time. He sits too close to me, wears a tattoo, smirks, and talks about human sacrifice.

      I’d be going, “Ewwww!” But in your passage, she’s intrigued by him. Or starting to feel that way.

      Maybe she’s got issues, the kind that would make her susceptible to this sort of approach. And, of course, to guys like Gideon. I can’t tell from just a snippet. But regardless of what’s going on in Lana’s head, all this would pose a problem for me if I were reading your story.

      One more thing. It’s too early for her to look into Gideon’s eyes and feel “an intense connection between us”. Give ’em a little time, please!

      • Thank you for an input. First of all, she’s a naive teenager, and she’s drawn to this boy who she’s seen around school. She can’t explain why she’s drawn to him–she just is.

        Teenagers have a way of saying what they think without a filter, and Gideon is dark but also charismatic and intriguing. In reality, he’s a sociopath which would go to show some of his behavior.

        As far as an intense connection upon first meeting, have you never felt electricity upon shaking hands with someone? An instant connection that’s unexplainable (or maybe it is just physiological chemistry? Because I sure have. There are people who you feel an instant connection with who may be bad for you BUT you act on your feelings because you’re brain is basically high on the “love drug.”

        I’m still editing so maybe I need to do a better job of describing that. Thanks for your input!

  7. “Mom!” David snapped, bringing her back to earth with a thud. “This is my boss, John.”

    Violet stretched out her hand, “Like Bruce Willis in Die Hard,” she stuttered. “His name was John, too.”

    “I loved the Die Hard series.” He smiled.

    Oh my. She’d found her Bruce. She blushed.

    “I’m terribly sorry for the mix-up, John. I honestly thought I recognized the man, but I was clearly mistaken. Please don’t let this impact negatively on David. It’s not his fault. The stork dropped him off into the arms of a total nut job.”

  8. This is from my just-finished sequel to To Kiss a Rake, tentatively titled The Rake’s Irish Lady.

    Bridget crept past the mews in the murky London darkness and into the tiny garden. She’d planned it all ahead of time, so she knew exactly where to go. She knotted her skirts front and back, climbed onto the rain barrel, shinned up the drainpipe, and pulled herself onto the roof of the bump-out behind Colin Warren’s lodging house.

    The bump-out housed the landlady; conveniently for Bridget, Colin occupied rooms on the first floor at the back. His windows could be accessed from its roof.

    It wouldn’t have come to this if Colin Warren wasn’t a lazy, good-for-nothing rake.
    Well, perhaps not good for nothing at all. He’d been incredibly exciting in bed years ago. What a pity that one wild night was the cause of so much trouble now.

  9. From a full-length novel (that will hopefully finished before the end of the summer), tentatively named The Firstborn:

    As soon as she was gone, Sophia returned her attention to the stranger still standing in the doorway. “I’m so sorry,” she began, aware of the streaks of flour on her arms and dress as she took in the precise cut of the man’s fine clothing. “May I help you?”

    He dipped his head, his eyes disappearing for a moment before they found her again. The blue of them was striking, a pale color that reminded her of the water that beat against the shore not more than a mile away. But it wasn’t the color that made her next words pause on the tip of her tongue, but rather the cold displeasure that emanated from them, as if he had come to scold her for some crime which she possessed no memory of having committed.

    “Lucy Brixton?”

    He spoke the name with a distaste that matched the cool glint in his eyes. But she noticed that the rest of his face remained calm, his expression giving away nothing of his reason for being on her doorstep.

    Her mind worked quickly. It was obvious that he was a gentleman, a gentleman of some distinction judging by his clothes and his manner. And he wished to speak with her sister. However, if he assumed her to be Lucy at first sight, then that meant he had never actually met Lucy, so…

    She blinked up at him and pushed her shoulders back against the twinge of tension that had lodged itself there. “I’m sorry, but I did not catch your name.”

  10. From an as-yet unnamed novella:

    Rose Allen was sweeping the front stoop for the second time today, after a group of four men traipsed across it in muddy boots on the way to demolish the midday meal Rose’s aunt had spent all morning cooking.

    “Miss… Miss? Is this the boardinghouse? A man pointed me here.”

    She smoothed her apron reflexively, then her hand went to her hair, finally resting at her side, twitching slightly. “Yes, Sir. This is my aunt’s house.” She tried to put some steel in her voice, and ended resembling a kitten mewling and flexing its claws. “If you haven’t a week’s rent, you can turn around and go. She won’t talk to you for less than a week’s rent.”

    “I can comply.”

    In short order, John had a room for the foreseeable future. At least, he would until the night he woke screaming the roof off the establishment, when the proprietress would turn him out.

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