Assumptions in WIP Wednesday

Many plots rely upon characters being wrong about the motives, feelings, and even activities of other characters. If they’re just too dumb or too self-centred to talk, the author is going to really pull out the stops to maintain my interest. But many good reasons might prevent such conversations, and so the circuses begin.

This week, I’m inviting excerpts where one character has completely misread another. My example is actually two: two short pieces from The Mouse Fights Back, my next short story for my newsletter subscribers. First Tiberius.

As always when travelling to Redfern and Mouse, his heart lightened with the miles, and he whiled away the time thinking of places he could take his sweet wife once he no longer feared for her safety, and things they could do together while they waited for that happy day.

Would she be pleased he planned to stay at Redfern until she could travel with him? He found it hard to tell how she felt about him. When they joined at night, he felt he knew her through to the bone, but in the daytime, she would slip away, speaking with shy reserve if their duties brought them together, but otherwise finding other places to be.

At least now that he had destroyed their enemies, he would be free to court his wife.

And now Mouse, whose real name is Claudia.

She feared he would not bother to visit even once a month when he knew he had attained his objective. She was, after all, a means to an end, and however considerate and courteous he was, however passionate at night, she would do well not to forget that he had married her to secure the earldom away from his uncle.

And still she loved him, tumbling a little further every time they were together, but she need not embarrass herself by letting him know.

This is immediately before Tiberius and his entourage are ambushed on the road.

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Explanations in WIP Wednesday

What is a romance without misunderstandings? They met, fell in love, courted, married and lived happily until they died in old age, surrounded by their children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren? It makes for a highly desirable life, but lacks interest as a story.

And if we have misunderstandings we have to have explanations, or the story would come to an early end.

So this week, I’m inviting you to post excerpts where one character explains a misunderstanding to another. Mine is from The Lost Wife, which is a short story in my forthcoming collection, Lost in the Tale.

“I am Imanol Mendina de la Vega. Welcome to my humble residence, and that of my hermana.”

Hermana. He had said something similar earlier. Long ago, David had learnt a little Spanish to please Teri’s Mama, stranded as she was as a widowed Spanish lady in the very English household of her brother-in-law. But he did not know that word.

He shifted his head on the pillow, the closest he could come to a bow. “David Markinson, Captain of His Majesty’s Royal Marines.”

Something fierce suddenly surfaced in Imanol’s dark intent eyes. “Markinson? Is that a common name in England?”

“Not particularly. It is more common in Scotland. My family are border people.”

“Border? Ah. Between two kingdoms. And what is the name of this border town you come from, Captain Markinson?”

“Blackwood,” David said. Once he had thought to spend all his days there; to take his articles with his employer, Mr Hemsworth, to raise a family of children with Teri and grow old in a cottage with roses around the door. After his dreams turned to dust, he had enlisted with the marines, and his mother’s death two years ago severed his last links to the place.

Imanol was scowling, his heavy brows nearly meeting above the bridge of his nose, but his voice, courteous and calm, showed none of the emotion written on his face. “And have you a wife back there in Blackwood, captain? Or a girl who loves you, perhaps?”

“No.” Not that it was any of this man’s business. “Not anymore. I have no-one.” I have a wife somewhere, his heart protested. Not back there in Blackwood, he answered his own objection.

Imanol opened his mouth to say something more, then turned to the door and fell silent.

David shifted his head on the pillow, but couldn’t turn it enough to see who stood there; who was asking a peremptory question in Spanish that was too fast for him to follow. A woman’s voice, and Imanol did not like what she said, for his answer was sharp. They argued for a few minutes more, and David tried still harder to see the woman. He could swear he knew the voice.

The altercation ended with Imanol saying to David, “Be careful, English. She says I must not gut you like a fish, but she does not rule here.” Another sentence or two in Spanish, and he left. David lay back, waiting, and sure enough the woman came into the room where he could see her. It was her. Older. In the clothes of a village woman rather than those of an English lady. But it was Teri. Maria Teresa Markinson, his runaway wife.

While he gaped, lost for words, she rested the back of her hand on his forehead, and picked up his wrist to feel for his pulse. “How is the head?” she asked. “Do you feel any pull from the stitches?”

David grabbed the hand before she could remove it. “Teri.” He struggled to order his thoughts, but they slithered out his grasp and he could only cling to her hand as if she anchored him to reality instead of driving him out of his mind.

“Take your hand off her.” Imanol’s cold voice gave David words.

“She is my wife!” he declared at the same moment that Teri said, “Go away, Imanol.”

“Your abandoned wife,” Imanol sneered.

“No! Is that what you thought, Teri? No. I did not leave you. Not by my choice.”

 

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