It’s our job to pull our readers out of their world and into the one we’ve created: to, as I say above, thrill, intrigue, and delight. In this week’s work in progress Wednesday, your challenge is to find me a scene that provokes a strong emotion in your readers: laughter, sorrow, fear. You choose.
I’ve chosen one from Never Kiss a Toad. This is a tender moment between Sally and her father, one that ends all too soon. Does it work?
“Can you spare a minute for your Papa, Sally?” he asked.
“Of course.” She followed him through to his study.
“You always seem to be hurrying somewhere, sweetheart,” he said. “I miss having my little princess curled up in a chair in my study, keeping me company.”
It was true, she realised. Before her debut, she had sought her father out whenever she could escape the schoolroom. Since she came out… “I have so much on, Papa,” she said. But it was Toad’s exile that came between them, even more since her father began believing lies about him. They were lies. They had to be lies.
Papa smiled, sadly. When had the last of his hair faded to grey? “I know, my love. You are very popular. If a sennight goes by and I do not receive an application for your hand, I know to expect two the following week. Am I to expect a visit from Lord Elfingham? He would make a fine husband, Sally.”
She suppressed a surge of fury. Papa should know that she waited for one proposal, and one only. Would he even tell her if it came? No. That was unfair. Papa had said from the beginning that he would not choose her husband, but would allow her to make the decision.
“He will make Henry a fine husband, Papa, when her mourning is over. If she will accept him. She has this notion that she is not fit to be a duchess because of her mother’s… Um.” Oh dear. She had not meant to discuss that with Papa of all people.
“Henrietta, is it? I hoped it was you, Sally.”
“We decided early on that we would not suit, Papa. It has always been Henry for Elf.” And Toad for Sally.
“You shall be nineteen soon, sweetheart. What would you like for your birthday?”
“Toad to be allowed home.” She had not meant to say that out loud. Her father flinched as if she had hit him, and his eyes, before he hid them by turning away, were pools of pain.
“I know you miss your childhood friend, my darling, but he… He is not as you remember him. If he came back you would suffer for it, and neither his parents or yours are prepared to risk that.”
“You say that, Papa, but you will not tell me how he has changed. You won’t give me any real reasons. And I do not believe it, Papa. Someone has been telling you lies. I know him, and I know you are wrong.”
He had his face shuttered again when he turned back to her, the cold ducal mien that she never used to see before the day it all changed. “You must trust that we know what is best for you, Sarah.