Complications on WIP Wednesday

I can think of several plot complications from this scene: a painting called The Knight at the Crossroads. Talking raven? His bride’s tombstone? He is really a she?

The devious plotter’s mantra is ‘What can possibly go wrong?’ And I’m nothing if not a devious plotter.

I love to throw complications at my poor characters, the more snarled the better. And I’d enjoy seeing yours. Give me an extract where things are just getting more and more complicated. Here’s mine, a scene from the little story I wrote for my April/May newsletter.

Helen sat holding Olivia until she fell asleep again, and only then tucked her back into the bed. Helen should try to rest herself, but her fears and her plans kept her awake, chasing one another around inside her skull as she lay in the dark staring towards the slightly lighter rectangle of the window.

Eventually, she got up and lit a candle. She wished she had a book to read. If she had known Collingwood had intended to abduct her, she could have put one in her basket. The foolish thought brought a wry smile. If she had known, she and Olivia would have sought her step-son’s escort to the village, or stayed at home. She had thought nothing of the carriage that crept up behind her on the road, just moving to the grass beside the road, while trying to keep Olivia under her umbrella. She had not noticed the two bullies until they seized her and hurled her into the carriage where Edward Collingwood had waited.

It was only the second time she had seen him since she fled her aunt’s house after her father’s death. The first time had been at her husband’s funeral six months ago. For weeks after, she had waited for him to storm in and claim her, though Rick said he would not let it happen. “My father left you to my care, Helen,” he assured her.

The Bancrofts owned their own farm, and were not answerable to the local baron. Dickon Bancroft had married her to protect her and Olivia when Edward uncovered her hiding place with her aunt. But she doubted he could have prevented Edward taking her if Edward had known where she lived. The Collingwoods were gentry, and no-one, common or gentry, had ever held Edward Collingwood accountable for his misdeeds except his cousin Jacob, who had suffered for it when his own father and brother took the villain’s side. The former Lord Collingwood had exiled Jacob because of Edward’s lies. Yes, and Colin Marfield, Jacob’s closest friend.

Helen had always known that staying hidden among the yeoman farmers’ wives was her greatest protection. Who would have thought that paying her last respects to the man she had married would be her downfall?

The inn was quiet. Helen snuffed the candle and stood at the window to study the inn forecourt. The rain had eased to a drizzle, but the creeper-clad walls still dripped their burden of water. All the better. This late on so foul a night, no-one would be tempted into the outdoors, to witness Helen and Olivia as they made their escape.

She eased up the window, taking care to make no noise. She could hear the angry grumble of the river that churned between her and Bancroft Farm, but no matter. It was not worth risking the bridge tonight. Her home this past six years was no longer safe.

Helen had no idea where to go next, but time enough to worry about that. She could only plan as far ahead as she could see. She would get them safely out of this room. She would take shelter somewhere hidden, and wait for the storm and her enemy to go away.


The plot twist on WIP Wednesday

ginger-root-gingerbreadI’m at the point in my current WIP (The Prisoners of Wyvern Castle) where something needs to happen to stop the story from ending too soon. You know that moment? A complication. A change of plan. A misunderstanding. A new discovery. A missed opportunity or one taken.

So this week, I’m inviting you to share up to nine lines from a spot in your story where things change. Here’s mine, from Gingerbread Bride, my novella in the Bluestocking Belles’ box set Mistletoe, Marriage, and Mayhem. My heroine, Mary, is baking gingerbread for a local wedding, while trying to avoid the attentions of the father of the bride.

She inclined her head, the barest minimum politeness required.

“Have you come to collect your daughter’s baking, sir?”

“No, no. Ruthie will do that herself. She’s just out there in the kitchen with your good aunts. What have you there, eh?” He came around the table to her side. As Mary moved backward to avoid him, her head struck the shelf behind her, upending a canister that struck her a glancing blow as it fell. Mary staggered, and was momentarily grateful for Mr. Owens’ steadying hands.

Until she heard the gasp from behind him.

Until she opened her eyes to see both aunts, her cousin, and Ruth Owens standing in the doorway, their mouths identical O’s of shock.