WIPpet Wednesday the 27th, in Which Chapter 1 Kicks My Ass

So, the twenty-seventh, is it? If chapter 20 would have been too spoiler-loaded, you can imagine why I won’t be sharing anything from chapter 27 today. Boo. I like that one.

But Chapter 1 has, quite frankly, been kicking my ass lately. I’ve laid awake at night for hours, trying to figure out how to properly introduce Rowan. Aren already got his creepy little moment in the prologue (yes, I’ve decided, it’s staying in the story), so chapter one has to pick up from there. Different character, different mood (though not as different as she’d probably like to think), different voice. Going from magic and bad-guy-ness to a far more mundane place and a girl who thinks the only thing unusual about her is the fact that she doesn’t want the perfect life that’s coming to her.

Pfft. Teenagers.

I loved the previous version of this scene, but it lacked excitement, and we all know that stories aren’t allowed a slow build these days. No, I’m not bitter. And this does bring a major plot point to our attention in a much more interesting way. It’s just these first paragraphs that sit there and laugh at me.

Stupid words.

So here’s where we are now, a WIP in the truest sense of the term, though I’m happier with this now than I’ve been in a long time. It’s an unusual start, maybe, but I like it. This picks up right after the prologue ends; I guess that’s all you need to know.

27 lines (according to Scrivener) for the 27th. Enjoy.


(Chapter 1- Rowan)

Another day done.

Another shift at the library, with the smells of the old paper and new ink, with adventure and romance and tragedy. Another volume of fairy tales sneaked out of the restricted section and hidden deep in my bag; another morning of pretending not to listen to Mr Woorswith reminiscing to his cronies about the wonders and horrors he’d seen when he traveled past the mountains when he was a young man.

Another day of pain.

Another day closer to the next phase of my life, to everything I was supposed to be longing for, to the part where my odd little life would finally begin to line up with what it was supposed to be from the start. Still no closer to figuring out why all of those good things sometimes felt so wrong, though.

My boots scuffed over the cobblestoned street, kicking up dust that swirled in the breeze and settled into a thin layer on the bottom of my skirt. My mother would tell me to lift my face to the world, to take pride in myself, and for goodness sakes just smile a little, but she wasn’t there to bother me, and I could hardly be bothered on my own. A bright ray of sunlight broke through the clouds overhead, and the dull headache that had been building all day pressed harder at the back of my skull. The world swam in front of me, and I paused to take a few deep breaths. You’ll be home soon, I told myself. Just get home, make some heartleaf tea, go to bed, everything will be fine. This thing hasn’t killed you yet, it’s not going to happen now.

From somewhere far away, a clattering noise interrupted my thoughts. Hoofbeats on stone, faster than they should have been. I opened my eyes, but the pain made everything slow; by the time I lifted my head and struggled to understand exactly what was happening, they were almost on top of me: four horses with uniformed riders wearing the king’s colours, armed but not armored. What’s the rush, boys? One of them yelled; I tried to step back against the building behind me, but something wasn’t working. Nothing connected. I closed my eyes again.

A hand grabbed my arm and yanked me away, spinning me out of the road as the horses thundered past. It hurt my shoulder, but that hardly mattered when the pain in my head was screaming louder than it had been before, the dull ache roaring to life, growing sharper when my head snapped sideways on my neck. I pressed my hands to my eyes and leaned into my rescuer. My brother. Who else would have bothered?

When I opened my eyes a few seconds later, Ashe was looking down the street where the riders had disappeared. “Didn’t even look back,” he observed.

“Must have been late for something.” I sat on one of the crates that were stacked outside of the grocer’s store.

“Too late to do any good, that’s for sure.” Ashe scratched at the arm of his blue messenger’s uniform and bent to pick up the papers he’d dropped when he pulled me out of the road. “You OK, Ro?”

“Same old thing,” I said, and tried to smile. “Just need to get home to bed.”

He frowned. “I’ll walk with you.” I started to object, but he held up a hand to stop me. “No, I know. It’s not my fault you’re incompetent, but I’d feel sort of bad about it if something happened to you. I just have to post these on the way.” I stuck my tongue out at him. He laughed, then offered me a hand to help me up. “Come on.”

Hmm, where are those soldiers going? Nothing a nice girl would want to get mixed up in, that’s for sure.

As always, thanks to KL Schwengel for hosting WIPpet Wednesday. If you want to join in, or to check out everyone else’s offerings for this very awkward date, head over here for the links.

Thanks for reading!

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And hey, look what I found at Walmart. 🙂

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About Kate Sparkes

Kate Sparkes was born in Hamilton, Ontario, but now resides in Newfoundland, where she tries not to talk too much about the dragons she sees in the fog. She lives with a Mountie, two kids who take turns playing Jeckyll and Hyde, two cats, an intentional boxer and an accidental chihuahua. She's the author of the bestselling Bound Trilogy (mature YA Fantasy). www.katesparkes.com View all posts by Kate Sparkes

21 responses to “WIPpet Wednesday the 27th, in Which Chapter 1 Kicks My Ass

  • elaine jeremiah

    There’s real mystery here to do with the riders – why are they in such a hurry but also with the narrator. Is her headache significant to the story? What role does her brother play. Exciting. I look forward to reading more excerpts. 🙂

  • Kate Frost

    I loved the start of this and the way you built it up to the arrival of the soldiers on horseback. Great details such as ‘my boots scuffed over the cobblestoned street’. The extract left me with lots of questions – who are the soldiers, where are they going, what’s going on with Rowan and her pain – but that’s great because it makes me want to read on. 🙂

  • Alana Terry

    Nice job! The first chapter of my adult novel was really hard for me to finally work out how I wanted too. I sort of liked the idea of a slow lead-in, but it definitely didn’t work. Also my writing changed (hopefully for the better) between the beginning and end so I definitely had a lot to work on in chapter 1. Good job, though! I like the brother.

  • jessicaminyard

    I like this here WIPpet. 🙂

    I think it’s a strong introduction to your world and the character of Rowan. A lot of questions are raised that would make me keep reading!

  • ReGi McClain

    I don’t like the headache. Which indicates you are a very good writer. I almost worked up my own migraine reading about Rowan’s! The pain and that awful disoriented feeling… ugh. I may have to go crawl into bed now.

  • Raewyn Hewitt

    I like it too, you drop in a lot of tantalising world building / story set-up concepts in a short space of time. I liked the reference to the mountain (because we know she’s going to go there and have her own adventure!), the heartleaf tea, the riders – armed by armourless – all very good stuff.

    Looks to me like you’re the one kicking this chapters butt!

  • kathils

    Yeah, kick butt and take names later! Or something like that. 😉 I can sympathize with the headaches but from Ashe’s side of things. Don’t get them myself but have family members who do. Well done.

  • Krista Walsh

    The first couple of paragraphs were really what swept me away. The description of the library was really wonderful – made me so jealous what she gets to spend her time there!

  • Jae

    Wow! This is really, really good. Seriously, I’m usually tolerating people’s WIP, but you pulled me into the story right away. You’ve got good descriptions too, not too much, not too little a great balance. I think your introduction is just fine. My only suggestion for edit would be to break up the sentence “My mother would tell me…” It’s super long. I think you could start a new sentence on “But she wasn’t there to bother…” Additionally, I think the pause would give more emphasis on the fact that she’s not there, a little more tension.

    Otherwise, very well done!

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