Where to start on WIP Wednesday

When I write, I have trouble starting at the beginning, because I have to find it first. In life, all beginnings continue from an earlier story, and all ends transmute into a later story. But in fiction, we need to start each book and each chapter at the beginning. At that point in time and space where at least one of the characters we care about is revealing their story, and making it matter to us.

Dear fellow authors, share a beginning with me and the blog readers, if you would. Something from a current work in progress. The start of a chapter or perhaps the start of the whole book. Mine is from The Realm of Silence, and it is the first scene in the book. At least, it is at the moment. Anything could happen in edit.

Stamford, England

1812

Gil Rutledge sat in the small garden to the side of the Crown and Eagle, and frowned at the spread provided for him to break his fast. Grilled trout with white butter sauce, soft-boiled eggs, grilled kidney, sausages, mashed potatoes, bacon, a beef pie, two different kinds of breads (one lightly toasted), bread rolls, a selection of preserves, and a dish of stewed peaches, all cooked to perfection and none of it appealing.

Two days with his sister, Madelina, had left old guilt sitting heavy on his stomach, choking his throat and souring his digestion. And the errand he was on did not improve matters.

He cut a corner off a slice of toast and loaded it with bits of bacon and a spoonful of egg. He was too old a campaigner to allow loss of appetite to stop him from refuelling. He washed the mouthful down with a sip from his coffee. It was the one part of the meal Moffat had not trusted to the inn kitchen. His soldier-servant insisted on preparing it himself, since he knew how Gil like it.

No. Not his soldier-servant. Not any more. His valet, butler, factotum. Manservant. Yes, his manservant.

Gil raised the mug to the shade of his despised older brother. “This is the worst trick you’ve played on me yet,” he muttered. The viscount’s death had landed the estranged exile with a title he never wanted, a bankrupt estate, a sister-in-law and her two frail little daughters left to his guardianship but fled from his home, and an endless snarl of legal and financial problems. And then there were Gil’s mother and his sisters.

Lena had at least consented to see him; had assured him that she no longer blamed him for her tragedies. Her forgiveness did not absolve him. He should have found another solution; should have explained better; should have kept a closer watch.

With a sigh, he took another sip, and loaded his fork again. The sooner he managed to swallow some of this food, the sooner he could be on the road.

Beyond the fence that bordered the garden, carriages were collecting their passengers from the front of the inn. Stamford was on the Great North Road, and a hub to half of England, with roads leading in every direction. As Gil stoically soldiered his way through breakfast, he watched idly, amusing himself by imagining errands and destinations.

Until one glimpsed face had him sitting forward. Surely that was Amelia Cunningham, the goddess’s eldest daughter? No. This girl was older, almost an adult though still dressed as a schoolgirl.

He frowned, trying to work out how old little Amy must be by now. He had last seen her at the beginning of 1808, just before he was posted overseas, first to Gibraltar and then to the Peninsular wars. He remembered, because that was the day he parted with the best horse a man had ever owned. More than four years ago. The goddess had been a widow these past two years and Amy must be— what? Good Lord. She would be sixteen by now.

He craned his head, trying to see under the spreading hat that shielded the girl’s face, but she climbed into a yellow post chaise with a companion — a tall stripling boy of about the same age. And the woman who followed them was definitely not the goddess; not unless she had lost all her curves, shrunk a good six inches, dyed her golden hair black, and traded her fashionable attire for a governess’s dull and shapeless garb.

No. That was not Susan Cunningham, so the girl could not have been Amy.

The door closed, the post boy mounted, the chaise headed north, and Gil went back to his repast.

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Beginnings in WIP Wednesday

I’m toying with beginnings for the next two projects as I come to the end of the first draft of Embracing Prudence. The Bluestocking and the Barbarian begins with my hero in a family group riding hell for leather for London, mourning-1810-cropheading for his grandfather’s death bed. He needs to do some fancy trick riding to scoop up a child from the middle of the road and return it to the lady at the gates of the orphanage where the child belongs.

A Raging Madness begins in one of three places: at the funeral of the mother of a deceased fellow officer of Alex Redepenning, in the home of the bereaved daughter-in-law, where she hears her relatives plan to put her in Bedlam, or in Alex’s hotel bedroom when she flees to him to ask for help.

How about giving me up a few lines of beginning? The first chapter, if you will, or any other chapter if you prefer. And don’t forget to share!

1819_society_ballHere are the first few lines of Embracing Prudence.

From within the protective camouflage of the gaggle of companions, Prudence Virtue watched her sometime partner and one-night-only lover drift around the banquet hall. No-one else noticed him. Like the shadow he named himself for, he skirted the edges of the pools of candle light, but even when his self-appointed duties moved him close to a group of guests, they looked right past him. None of the privileged, not even the host and hostess, noticed one extra footman.

He was very good. He had the walk, the submissive bend of the head, the lowered eyes. She had overlooked him herself for the first half hour that she sat here, just one more brown-clad, unimpressive companion among a dozen others, waiting patiently in an alcove for the commands of an employer.

But Prue’s body was wiser than her mind, and left her restless in his presence until her eyes caught so many times on this one footman among all the others she began to take notice.

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