Happy Tuesday, and welcome to my blog. For the last few weeks, I have been attempting to begin a story using Randy Ingermanson’s Ten Steps of Design found on his website www.advancedfictionwriting.com.
This is week 4. Thus, I have put together step 4, which is taking the summary paragraph that I wrote last week and writing a paragraph for each of its sentences. Honestly, it took me all week to do this just for my heroine. It might take another week for my hero. 🙂 But, I am only sharing Mercy’s story with you. Can’t give away all my secrets. If you have been with me for the entire process, you will note that I have made some changes. That, dear reader is because the Lord woke me up in the middle of the night over the weekend with clear Scripture on what I was to do to my hero. I have also had time to edit some things on my heroine. So, let’s jump in. Shall we?
Embittered widow, Mercy Wakefield purchases an indentured servant to help her run her farm. Unlike her late husband, he works hard and keeps his word. To her chagrin, she begins to fall for him. Then, he breaks a promise. Hurt and angry and horrified he might be hanged, she realizes she can’t do it on her own anymore. She calls on the God Gabriel has been telling her about and surrenders her life to Christ. After Gabriel receives a miracle, she steps out in faith and embraces love and life God has for her.
Now, let’s take that apart and write a paragraph for each sentence. Actually, my paragraphs turned into scenes, but I have been working on this for 4 weeks, now. Don’t feel that yours must be as mine.
Sentence: Embittered widow, Mercy Wakefield purchases an indentured servant to help her run her farm.
She had vowed she was done with men, and she was. But, someone had to help work the fields, or she would lose everything she had worked for. And, it had been she who had done the work. Her neighbor had said an indentured man would be her best choice. She prayed he was right; she had to be careful with what coin she had. There would be no more until after the harvest. And, to bring in a harvest, she needed a man.
Out of the corner of her eye she caught a glimpse of a tall, blond man at the ship’s railing. Michael? With a Hand to her throat, she concentrated on taking one breath at a time. Morrison had said the Gloriana had gone down, all souls lost. Could he be wrong?
Fury, hot and swift swam over her, and Mercy made a low sound in her chest. How dare he! Before she knew what she was about, she had marched over to where he stood. If looks could kill, he’d be dead in seconds.
The crack of her hand was loud, yet she was impervious to its sting as she raised her other hand and slapped his other cheek. “How dare you think you could lie to me and get away with it! For two years I fell prey to that silver tongue of yours, but no more. Do you hear me?”
“I’ll thank you, Lass to stop damaging my property.”
She blinked. “Your property?”
“Aye, Lass. Did you not see his chains?”
Chains? Gasping, she stepped back and studied the man who was indeed chained to the rail of the ship, manacles fastened about his ankles and wrists. Now that she took the time to study him, she realized he was not Michael. Although the resemblance was remarkable, there were subtle differences. The bridge of his nose had a bump along it where Michael’s had been straight, his growth of beard was tinged with copper where Michael’s had been all blond, and he was pale with a sick look about his eyes. Deep set as Michael’s had been, they were that same clear blue, but where Michael’s had twinkled with mischief, this man’s burned with suppressed anger. His hair was long and matted and streamed out behind him when the breeze picked up and blew into his face. Just like Michael’s it was dark blond.
Heat flooding her cheeks she lowered her gaze. “I beg your pardon, Captain. The man reminded me of someone, is all.”
“Someone you’re angry with, no doubt.”
“If there is any way I can make it up to you, Captain.”
“If you can take him off my hands, Lass, I’d consider the matter dropped.”
Mercy knew he was bating her; the mockery in those beady black eyes of his glittered with undisguised mirth.
“Well and good, Captain. What will you take for him?”
“Same as all the convicts, Lass, a hundred and twenty pounds of tobacco.”
Mercy had to bite her tongue to keep from laughing. “Do I look like a wealthy tobacco planter to you, Captain?”
“Mayhap, your man is in need of someone to help work the fields?”
Mercy straightened, no longer in the mood for this foul man’s jesting.
Turning back to the blond man she took her time studying him. His shirt and breeches were in tatters and hung loose on his thin frame. Reaching out, she fingered the once fine cloth and wondered how a lowly servant had come by such fine clothes. He wore no shoes, and the irons about his ankles clinked together, as he shifted away from her touch.
“A strapping lad, for sure,” the captain was saying, “but unless you got a man who can keep him in line, you’re wasting your time with this one.”
“Aye, Lass. If he wasn’t chucking up his daily portion, he was running that mouth of his. Twice he tried to jump ship. That’s why I got him in chains. Likely to run off, if you don’t mind my saying so.”
Sentence: Unlike her late husband, he works hard and keeps his word.
“Church?” Mercy asked.
“Yes, Mistress. I was in the habit of attending services of a Sunday back home.”
“Well, I’m not in the habit of attending services. The day is yours to do as you please, though, as long as you don’t leave the farm.”
Turning away, Mercy shook her head. Church. Of all the places he wanted to go. She had thought he’d be glad for a day of rest. Those dark circles under his eyes, the blisters on his hands and the fields and even the barn and house showed clearly the hard hours he had put in this last week. The new chair at the table to replace the one Michael had broken, the barn door that now opened and shut without difficulty, the weed free garden,, and she could go on for all day, she supposed. Still, a pin prick of conscience niggled at her. Just because she was angry with God, didn’t mean she had to keep him from worshipping.
“Here,” she said, taking the old Bible down from its place on the mantle. “This was my husband’s. You’re welcome to read it, if you wish.”
Sentence: To her chagrin, she begins to fall for him.
“Yes, Gabriel,” she sighed, “what do you want now?”
“Just to give you this.”
Mercy looked up from the wool and needles in her hand to where he stood in the doorway, his silhouette a darker outline against the night blackened sky. “Well, what is it?”
Instead of answering aloud, he took a step forward and reached out a hand. In his grip was a…
“A new plate!” Stuffing her knitting into the basket at her side, she rose and went to him, hand outstretched. “Oh, Gabriel, you made a new plate.”
“The least I could do, seeing as how I was the one who dropped the other one in the river.”
“Yes, but… Mercy didn’t know how to explain. Michael had seen no need for more plates, and the two that he had made weren’t level, so that if the food on them was thin, it ran off the sides. Yet, this man, who took her bad temper without complaint had made her a new one without being asked.
“Thank you, Gabriel,” she said, finally. “That was very thoughtful of you. And, what is this on the underside?”
“It’s an M and a W. For your name.”
Bowing her head to hide the sudden tears, Mercy took the plate and set it on the shelf atop the other one. “Best be loading the wood box for morning. I think it will snow during the night.”
Sentence: Then, he breaks a promise.
Hanging. That was the punishment when an indentured servant escaped. What she wanted to know, was why? What had been so important as to risk his life?
“Mr. Murray, may I visit with the prisoner?”
“Ain’t regular Mrs. Wakefield, but since he’s dying in the morning, I’ll let you and him have some privacy.”
When the door was barred behind her, Mercy leaned against it and stared at the man before her. “Honestly, Gabriel. You’ve caused me more trouble than ten Michael Wakefields. I don’t even know why I’m still here.”
It was no more than she deserved, she supposed. What else had she expected, trying to buy a man’s help?
“Here, I brought you something to eat and a warm blanket. Surprised Murray allowed it, but here you are.”
Sentence: Hurt and angry and horrified he might be hanged, she realizes she can’t do it on her own anymore. She calls on the God Gabriel has been telling her about and surrenders her life to Christ.
Alone in the room at the Johnsons’, Mercy prays and surrenders to God, asking Jesus into her heart.
Sentence: After Gabriel receives a miracle, she steps out in faith and embraces love and life God has for her.
“Well,” the burly man said, lifting the rope from around Gabriel’s neck, “I always thought there wasn’t much difference between a hanging and a wedding, but in this case, Mr. Wakefield, I’d say you’re getting the better of the two.”
And, that’s it. Piece of cake…if only we had the rest of it. Right? LOL I have begun step 4 for Gabriel, but this is all you need for an example. Just remember, changes are expected. Nothing is set in stone. You can’t mess it up, yet. Give it a try using your own story idea, and let me know what you think of mine.
Thank you for spending time with me this week. God bless.