Standing my ground – WIPpet Wednesday

Welcome to this week’s WIPpet Wednesday, the brain child of K.L. Schwengel.

First off – I had a very productive weekend! I came to a decision about the name of my female protagonist – perhaps a surprising one. I’m sticking with Audrey. It feels good to stand my ground 🙂 So, no more indecision. It just wouldn’t feel right to change it and she’d never forgive me if I did 😉 I’ve also decided on a title. I’ve scrapped ‘Outlanders’ because it caused too much confusion, and settled on ‘The Fifth Watcher.’ When I say settled on, I mean I’m about 75% sure! I’ll sit with it for a while before I set it in stone.

So let’s get to the math – I was going to go with a page/paragraph combination linked to the date, but I didn’t think it was fair to leave you hanging from last week! So I just added the numbers together, came up with 40 and shared with you the same number of sentences directly where I left off. It also helps me, because although I’m happier with the majority of the book, I’m still having difficulty with the first chapter. This way, you might be able to help me figure out what I’m missing! Oh, and feel free to tell me if something doesn’t ‘sit well’. I have thick skin – I can take it 🙂

Here’s how I ended it last time:
As I watched my father struggling for breath, I felt anger bubble to the surface. The disease had taken so much from him, from all of us. It was hard to believe this was the same man who had trained me relentlessly for hours, preparing me for a future only he could see.

Then I caught the look in his eyes, the steely determination that spoke of his character. Whatever else the cancer had taken, it couldn’t take that.

He sat straighter in his chair and began again in a raspy, uneven voice.

“I’ve had so many opportunities to tell you the truth, opportunities I squandered because of my own cowardice. When we lost your mother, and then years later when I met Ann and we became a family again. I should have told you then. It haunts me knowing how much I failed you. All the hours we spent together, preparing you for this, and not once did I share the truth about your heritage.”

I paused the tape before he could go any further because, even though I knew it was delaying the inevitable, I wasn’t ready to let go. Real or not, my memories were the only thing I had left.

It’s not that I’m a coward. Until that point, I’d spent my life doing my father’s bidding. The simple fact is, at the root of his paranoia was a genuine fear for my safety.

He had almost lost me once, and it haunted him. I was five years old when they came for me. I still don’t recall everything that happened, and perhaps I never will. But I know I got away.

That was worse somehow, being stranded in a place I didn’t recognise or understand. It was dark and cold, a place I was forced to revisit night after night in my dreams.

I remember the strange pull it had on me and though I didn’t understand it as a child, later, when I could identify the emotions, I knew something had been tracking me in the dark.

Perhaps that’s why I tucked the memories away, and why, when we continued to run from an invisible threat, I didn’t question it.

Looking into my father’s tired, drawn face, I couldn’t help but remember the man he’d been before the abduction; his sunny smile and easy-going temperament. That part of him shifted overnight, and to a young girl, the change had been terrifying.

He took longer to laugh, his eyes became troubled, and his face tense. In a way he embraced the soldier in him and forgot about the man. When I was old enough he trained me to protect myself, and we grew further and further apart.

I was thirteen when I began to rebel against his teachings, to question his decisions. Then my mother died and, for a while, nothing else mattered.

We found our rhythm again, and I continued to train without complaint, as we moved around the country.

I never felt a sense of danger, never once feared for my safety. But I came to believe he was the reason for that and I found my father again.

He was always there to protect me, and I relied on his strength. When my best friend died, he was the one to sit with me night after night as I cried myself to sleep.

However many friends I made, and however easy it was for me to connect with people, I did so with an understanding that those friendships were fleeting. Our lifestyle taught me the danger of attachments, and I was careful.

With Nathaniel it was different. For reasons I didn’t understand at the time, his family travelled with us. Right from the start.

Not an ideal place to leave it I know, but the math is there for a reason.

Thanks in advance for your feedback, and for reading.


40 responses to “Standing my ground – WIPpet Wednesday”

  1. Intriguing snippet! I found my mind wandering during the flashback, though — you might want to consider cutting it back a bit and feeding some of the other information in later. What does the reader absolutely have to know at this point?

    Hope this helps!

    • I find this such a hard thing to do! But I agree. The snippet is really interesting, but a little more mystery couldn’t hurt. I know I’d keep reading to find out those details!

      • First chapters are a bugger, aren’t they? *sigh* But I really did enjoy this, even having missed last week’s snippet. Good stuff.

        I had to laugh at your name thing. I’ve had characters go through changes years after I created them. I love the name Audrey. Used to wish that was my name, actually…

      • Nice 🙂 It’s my grandmother’s name, and I like it too! And yes, first chapters can be a thorn in a writers side. I’ve only got myself to blame really. I mean who writes a novel in third person and then decides to change it to first and effectively start all over again? Me, that’s who! I need to take a step back from this one. It’s for my Dad, and I got it into my head that as this is the ten-year anniversary of his death I need to publish it this year. Far too much pressure!

        Thanks for the words of encouragement. I appreciate it, and your honesty. Sometimes we can’t see the wood for the trees 🙂

    • I’m glad you found it interesting, at least I’m doing one thing right! But, just one question – is it too long/too much? I’ve been circling around it for a while. The more I read it, the more I lose the will to live! 🙂

      • It certainly didn’t read as too much for me, but then I’m a sucker for good character development and enjoy a bit of backstory.

        Given that, I’d say the info isn’t too much but as Ruth said, if some can be spread out to other parts of the story so we learn gradually, that may appeal to some readers more.

      • Thanks, Callum. That’s useful. I’ll give it some thought. It needs a little back story because so much happens to Audrey after the revelation, people will feel lost if they don’t have it. But then I agree that I could maybe temper it a little and choose the parts that aren’t vital right away. Food for thought, and just what I was looking for. I appreciate your input 🙂

      • Not at all, happy to help in whatever small way I can. I know the dilemma of overthinking and sometimes we immerse ourselves in our work so much we struggle to see the bigger picture 😛

      • That’s why we have friends who can relate and tell us to snap out of it! Plus there are beta-readers – both are invaluable 🙂

        Which reminds me. Any news to share on your WIP?

      • Absolutely 🙂

        Well, I’m working on a final read through to iron out little bits and pieces here and there so that I can take care of the formatting and get a proof copy ordered, so I’m certainly in the later stages of the process 🙂

      • That’s awesome news. I didn’t realise you were that far along! Let me know if there’s anything I can do on or before release day 🙂 I can’t wait to read it!

  2. very interesting! I like the part where she doesn’t like attachments yet is so clearly attached to her father.

    This part is a rough transition for me. It made me lost for the next few paragraphs.

    “He had almost lost me once, and it haunted him. I was five years old when they came for me. I still don’t recall everything that happened, and perhaps I never will. But I know I got away.

    That was worse somehow, being stranded in a place I didn’t recognise or understand. It was dark and cold, a place I was forced to revisit night after night in my dreams.”

      • For my two cents on whether or not there is an info dump…I didn’t feel dumped on. When a book starts off with a bang like this, I totally look forward to finding out what the rest of the story is. I don’t know the rest of what you have in store for the book, but if you’re going to ramp up and escalate, which is what I would look for as a reader from this intro, then I think you’ve laid the ground work well.

      • Actually, that’s exactly what happens 🙂 I put her through a lot…so much that her past is almost irrelevant – but nice for the reader to know! I’m glad you didn’t feel dumped on, and I really appreciate your ‘two cents.’

        Thanks, Gina. Your encouragement means a lot.

      • I’m glad I’ve piqued your interest 🙂 This is the beginning of the prologue, explaining the watchers, it will leave you wondering about the fifth!

        The Watchers were so named for their ability to observe and detect. Nobody knows how old they are, just that they are part of the very fabric of time.

        They reside within the Hub; a cross-roads of sorts, and the centre of a dimensional structure which is theirs to protect.

        Though they are one being, they present as four; each part responsible for a strand of the multi-layered continuum. Its shape a quadruple helix – a chain to link all worlds as one.

        I’ve been working on this non stop, so it will be a relief when I can sit back and let others enjoy 🙂

  3. Almost 20 years ago, my fiance died. I wrote him a series of letters for several weeks after he died, as if I was really able to communicate with him that way.

    I’m wondering if it might help to have Audrey talking to her Dad as though he can hear her; imagining his side of a current conversation, with the memories woven in – she could ask all the questions she’s saved up through the years, maybe, or tell him how she felt when she was little, how she feels now –

    It might be a way to get your backstory in without an expository chunk…

    I also second the idea of parceling out the bare minimum people will need to know. I expect to be a little lost in the beginning of a book – lost, and intrigued.

    One last thing that I noticed. “Steely determination” feels very cliche. Maybe use an actual image, instead, like a blade being wielded?

    • That’s an inspired idea, I love it! I’ll play around for a while and see what I can come up with. Thanks so much for all your advice. I know what I need to do now and am feeling better about it already 🙂

      • Glad to be able to help. Those letters really helped me get through the numbness and pain of those first terrible weeks. I’m not sure I still have them, but I did, for a long time.

  4. I loved this, “He took longer to laugh, his eyes became troubled, and his face tense. In a way he embraced the soldier in him and forgot about the man.” I would maybe leave out “in a way” just because it seems to take some of the punch out of it. I do tend to agree with those commenting on the backstory. Some of it could be saved for later, or told in such a way as to not hit the reader over the head with it. I love a first chapter that pulls me right into the action. I’ll have time to figure things out later. 🙂

    • Thanks. I’m definitely beginning to see where I need to go from here, which is pretty fabulous! I’m going to be bold and scrap the whole of the first section and start from scratch. I’ve made notes to guide me and I really appreciate the assistance from you guys 🙂

  5. I did love this snippet, and I am a greedy reader, so I’m all happy for learning tons of info in one go 😀 But after reading the comments, it’s all up to you if you spread it out. Might indeed keep some mystery to spread out the info.

    Brilliant though, and I have to say I love the title ‘The Fifth Watcher’, definitely catch my interest!

  6. I’m a bit torn because I can see both sides…I like a bit of back story, and it can be so hard to set things up. Plus, you don’t want to do things like reveal important information at inopportune times or rely on dialogue to do it (unless there’s a reason for the characters to be discussing the back story). On the other hand, if there’s a way to pare it down to only what we absolutely *must* know, that’s probably good too. It didn’t really feel like too much to me, but I see why others thought it was.

    I do like the name Audrey. 🙂

    • Thanks 🙂 I felt torn too! But when I sat back, took a breath and read the comments collectively, what I got was that people don’t hate it, but it could do with a little refinement. Maybe I’ll reduce some of the back story but keep the general flavour. I’m going to start from scratch with everything I know (the first section – not he whole thing!), and whip it into shape! It’s time to move on already 🙂 I appreciate the feedback, and I’m glad you like the name.

  7. I keep my writing in series so I don’t have to think too much about names. Though, I struggle every time I have a new character who needs an identity. The book name–that constantly changes. It’s never good enough. I like both your choices. Audrey has a lot of depth. I promise not to steal it!

    • That’s okay, the world needs a few more Audrey’s! I think I’ve settled on the title. I’m feeling a lot more positive since I scrapped the first chapter and started again. It’s better, I think 🙂

  8. Kind of echoing everyone else. It’s very nifty, but a bit backstory-ish. I’m intrigued about the abduction and the thing chasing her the most. If you need to pick a point to leave in, that would be the one that caught my attention. 🙂

    • Strangely, I scrapped the whole first section and started again – taking into consideration the feedback. I began with the adduction and it’s much better – great minds… 🙂

  9. Not bad, the snippet is interesting indeed. it seems that you got a decent feedback.
    Thanks for stopping by, I decided to return the favour. Writing its an interesting journey. When you hit a wall.
    “Write with your bouncy booty. NOW HIT IT!!!!”
    Can’t write this…..
    cue a squirrel dancing in background, holding a boombox.
    It’s hammer time,.

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