Or rather, what not to do, writer edition.
If you’re a writer, I’ll bet you’ve had Debra Dixon’s GMC: Goal, Motivation, and Conflict** recommended to you as a necessary read. I mean, I know I have. As of right now, I’ve not yet made the jump and purchased it. And for the last few years I’ve – Well, I’ve not actually finished anything, have I, so perhaps that hasn’t mattered.
But now? Well, I’ve set myself a challenge – I don’t get to work on anything else until I finish the first draft of my current project. I mean, I’ll never be a published author if I don’t finish anything, will I?
And I’ve managed some really good scenes – scenes that started from a sentence or a thought or an impression, but weren’t mapped out before hand. Some of those, I’ve shared here; some I have kept to myself.
Today is about what not to do, however. Yes?
Yes. And this scene I’m sharing with you today? A great big rambling word vomit. I knew I wanted to introduce my character and hint at her problems, but I didn’t achieve any of that. Never mind that this meek girl does not exemplify my Heroine at all. It’s more than that. At least, that’s the impression I was left with upon a read through.
I’m sharing this with you because (a) I’ve completely scrapped it and (b) I think it’s a great lesson on why we need to learn and understand GMC.
What do you think?
* Of note, that is a straight link to Amazon – I am making no money on sales if you decide to purchase that book 🙂
“The music room must be opened and cleared, of course.” Lady Stokesbridge swept gracefully from the library. In the large entry hall, she glanced to the room in question, but did not enter it. The double doors, imposingly large (type of wood) and carved by hand, were flung open to air the room, but the few remaining contents were shrouded beneath (holland?) sheets.
Trailing behind her, Mary Frances recited the instructions as she noted them upon a stray bit of paper rescued from the mess that passed for Papa’s desk. “Open the music -” She stopped just short of stumbling into her mother’s back, looking up for the first time. “You cannot mean that, Mama. You cannot open the music room.”
“Why ever not, child?”
Fanny blinked rapidly as her brain fought to retrieve a plausible excuse, for she surely could not admit the truth. When she could find none, she said simply, “Must we really clear it out, Mama? The drawing room has served us well for our balls, even the magnificent crushes when Thomas was searching for a bride. ”
Where would she hide her music sheets if the room were cleared and used, she wondered. She cleared her throat. Perhaps she could bribe one of the maids to tuck the case of sheets under the bottom layer of her wardrobe. Mama hadn’t looked there yet.
Lady Stokesbridge, for her part, ignored the odd behavior of her eldest daughter. After six years of such outbursts, one became used to it. Waving away Jenkins, the butler who had come running at the outburst of voices in his silent domain, she said, “Do not be daft Fanny. Where else would we hold the ball to announce your sister’s betrothal to Braithwaite?”
Fanny blinked. Had she not already suggested the perfect location? “The drawing room, Mama,” she said, as if speaking to a small child. “Surely it is to be a small affair, after all.”
Lady Stokesbridge paused, one foot slipping down to the third step of the polished staircase that wound around the corner of hall. From that great height of three steps, she actually towered over daughter, something she had not done for ten years. She steeled her spine, as if gearing up for an argument. One dark brow quirked up, and she said, “A small affair?”
“The Duchess of Malham is having a ball that night, Mama. I told you to choose a different night.’ Her mother’s eyes narrowed, and she immediately regretted the words.
“Yes, you did, but I did not imagine that you…” Lady Stokesbridge trailed off, words failing her for the first time in many years. She tried again, but still came up with nothing more than, “That is, I -”
“I know, Mama. Justin is back in town for the season, and her grace wishes to find him another wife.” The list, long since forgotten, fell from her numb hands. Even just saying his name hurt. After six years, one would expect a girl to get over the boy who broke her heart, but Fanny had not.
“But how did you -”
“The invitation, Mama. You left it in the morning room, and Eliza showed it to me. She was quite excited to be invited to the Malham ball.”
“Yes, so she said. And when I explained we would not be attending, she was so crestfallen that I suggested we hold her betrothal ball the same night. Braithwaite might not have much of a title, but the family is well connected.”
Fanny felt a chill slither down her spine. Despite the actions of six years prior, she counted the duchess a good friend, as did Mama. And regardless of Braithwaite’s connections or her father’s money, they were not a well-connected family. She set to pacing the width of the stairs, forward seven steps, then back. “We cannot be seen as slighting your oldest friend, Mama. This will not do.”
“You’re being daft again, my dear. Charlotte will be here for the first hour, and then everyone will make their way to the Malham townhouse for her grand to-do.” Lady Stokesbridge pointed to the fallen list. “You’re much too agitated for my nerves today, girl. Take that list and get started. “
With a disdainful glare through the open doors, she added, “And do get that wonderful artist who chalked up the floors of Tindall House last week.”
From the corner of her eye, Fanny caught the barest glimpse of pale pink. That would be Mary Elizabeth, in from the garden and hoping to escape the attention of another never-ending lecture. She said the first thing that popped into her head as distraction. “I am not certain we can afford that particular artist, Mama.”
A pale blond head poked around the drawing room door, well out of sight of their mother, and tossed her a wink.
Lady Stokesbridge stilled, her rigid spine inching further erect, thought Fanny could not say how that was possible, and turned her full attention to her eldest daughter. “Not afford him? Don’t be daft. It doesn’t become you. If the Tindall’s can afford him, so can we.”
Quite true, of course. And irrelevant. Her mother would go into debt to give her younger daughter anything she desired. There was no arguing it. “Yes, Mama.”