Character: Building an Arc

I am told that I am too rushed in my writing. I need to slow down and cook my ingredients thoroughly. Also, in order to develop style I need to ferment my knowledge and ultimately the use of grammar. I am told that I know how to make a good sentence, but in my tendency to rush through I seem to forget what I know write something else and on a read through tend to ignore the errors, or not see them is more accurate. I am also told that I have moments of ‘clarity’ in my writing; whereby, my voice comes through showing humor and an interesting style. My ideas are marketable but cluttered with cobbles in the road that make the reader stumble and possible put the book down forever.


My long story is clogged with so many ideas and plot twists that it was suggested I stop midpoint and make a story from that chunk of work. There is enough there to focus on the protagonist and explore her journey. My story went from 5,8000 words to 17,000 once the line of demarcation was established. So, I have an MS that is now incomplete, needs additional research, and a lot of digging into the journey, setting and scenes of the first part of PLACES.

I’m taking the critique to heart and reading the suggested books I mentioned in an earlier blog. Therefore, I am continuing with my current MS Summer Palace and applying the ‘fix’ before I resume with the major revision to my third MS. So, with that in mind I’m exploring a character from Summer Palace which may or may not make its way into the final work.

Wiley looked into the face of the man he had attacked in a moment of rage. His eyes diverted to the floor his hand flexed and his feet swapped position against the wooden planks.

“Thanks for the food, come on Henry let’s go,” he said finding that the words of regret he was feeling didn’t come.

Henry shrugged and shook his head only hearing his response and not being able to see into his heart for no one could.

“Okay, Wiley, lead the way,” Henry said glancing over to Her Boer and lifting a hand slightly.

“There are six horses in this stable, the care and maintaince of these animals could take the good part of a day. Unfortunately, there are other chores that need to be done around here. I’m glad to have your help, but I also enjoyed the solitude of working alone. I don’t know what your problem is and why you would attack a man like Herr Rolf, but it is up to him and not me to deal with you.”

Wiley’s back was to Henry and he didn’t bother to turn around.

“Yes, I agree. It’s not up to you, so why are you bothering?” He said trying to keep his anger from escalating.”

“There is a grain delivery this morning if you would help Calhoun unload after the troughs are filled and the hedges are clipped around the farmhouse. I will tend the horses and get Starlight, the horse the Baron’s son rides every morning, ready. That should take most of the morning, then there are some repairs to fencing you can help me carry the tools and I will show you the borders of the Baron’s land.”

From the farmhouse, Wiley could see the Baron’s son, the same boy he had threatened and figured that Henry had timed his  hedge clipping perfectly so that he wouldn’t be in the stable at the same time.

Just as well, he thought. I don’t need him adding to my day’s troubles.

Pavel, was alone and by the time Henry was done sending him off the hedges were trimmed and Wiley met up with Herr Rolf as he picked up the trimmings and started back to the stable.

“Wiley, fine job on the hedges,” he said trying not to get too personal with the moody boy.

Wiley nodded and swore under his breath.

“Hey, give me some of that,” Herr Boer said aleviating Wiley of some of his burden. “Since you’ll both be off surveying the border fences I’ll be there to stable Starlight when Pavel returns.”

“Yes, keep me away from him.” Wiley said barely audible.

The trimmings were sending a soft evergreen smell to the pair of them as they entered the stable.

“Taking the horses?” Herr Rolf asked Henry.


“Yes, I thought we’d go out to the orchard instead, I checked the wood shed and the stacks are getting low.”

Wiley will be of help then. His mother tells me he has been splitting wood for Ed Emerson,” Herr Boer said patting Wiley on the shoulder.

Wiley shrugged away from his touch.

“The owner of the Emerald Inn?” Henry asked as he nodded at Wiley approvingly.

“Have him ride Ebony,” Herr Boer said not taking offense by Wiley’s harsh reaction to his attempt to be familiar.

Henry strapped one axe on the saddle of each horse and rode out to the far side of the property. Shirtless both boys split wood for the farmhouse and inspected the rails and stone wall boundary markers.

“Take a break Wiley,” Henry said as he wiped his brow and watched the intensity of Wiley’s strikes against the wood upon the tree stump.

Wiley spit the last piece of wood and went to grab another but hesitated and turned around to face Henry.

“I could use a drink,” he said.

Henry fished in his saddle bag and came up with a water skin. Handing it to Wiley he suggested they sit under an apple tree and offered him a ripe apple as well.

“Whew, that is tart.” Wiley said shaking his head side to side.

“Yes, but if we bring some to your mother I bet she can make a nice pie or tarts from them,” Henry said grinning. “She’s at the farmhouse.”

“Yeah, she’s avoiding me,” Wiley said. “Doesn’t want me to know she still seeing Rolf.”

“You know, Wiley, she couldn’t do better than Herr Rolf. He’s a good man, I’ve known him for some time and he’s always the same. Never saw him out of temper.”

“Unlike me?” Wiley said looking for an excuse to fuel his anger.

“Wait, that isn’t at all what I meant. You know, he’s been suffering. He has days when his head aches and he loses focus in this right eye. That is your doing,” Henry said.

Wiley didn’t respond right away. He stared off and Henry tried to see what had caught his attention.  T hen Wiley picked up a a green apple, stood up, and threw it.

“Let’s get back to work,” Wiley said picking up his axe.

Several hours and several cords of wood later Henry noticed a wagon approach with Herr Rolf and Fiona, Wiley’s mother, approach.

“Henry,” Herr Rolf said. “Looks like you’re ready for a break. Fiona was kind enough to make us lunch. I’ll have you load up the wood and we’ll take it back.”

Wiley was exhausted and his first reaction was to take the horse he rode out on and leave this group of insufferable people.

I just don’t have the energy, he thought.

Henry put a bushel of apples on the wagon.

“Mrs. Breuder, I hope I’m not being too presumptuous but I was hoping you’d make some tarts out of these,” Henry said holding up one of the he had picked from the tree.

Wiley sat quietly and took the plate his mother offered. He averted his eyes and popped a morsel in his mouth. Henry sniffed the food he held in his hand before taking a bite.

“Fiona, your cooking is second to none,” Herr Rolf said smiling and patting her arm.

Wiley tossed his plate on the blanket and went back to work.

“Wiley,” Herr Rolf said thinking his rude behavior needed to be corrected but Fiona stayed his remarks.

“His anger will subside unless you call attention to it,” she said knowing any comment would be mistaken as fatherly advice.

Wiley mounted the black stallion and held on tight as the horse seemed to know where he was going.

“Come along Henry,” Herr Rolf said. “You can ride back with us.”

Willey was brooding when Henry got back to the stable, without prompting Wiley helped unload the wagon of the wood and left the apples outside the farmhouse door.

Henry put out the lantern light and said goodnight after the horses were put in their stalls.

The next morning Henry woke and Wiley’s spot was empty. Henry looked up and silently asked for patience not know what this day and the unpredictable newcomer would bring.

Wiley was sitting on a fence outside the stable and didn’t hear Henry’s approach.

“There you are,” Henry said noticing a flinch as Wiley reacted to his approach.

“Okay, boss. What do you have planned for us today?” he said placing the knife and piece of wood he was whittling away.

“What’s that?” Henry asked curious about whatever would posses Wiley to take up a hobby requiring patience and talent.

“Nothing,” WIley said as he jumped off the fence and stalked back to the stable.

Henry, looked up again raised his hands and shrugged.

Pavel arrived and Wiley stepped out the back door. Henry looked around to give Wiley the task but thought better of it. Pavel rode off and Wiley watched him race out of sight.

“I’m going up to the farmhouse, mind the stable,” Henry said and Wiley waved in acknowledgement.

Wiley took the piece of wood and started to carve. The exercise of the previous day reminded him of peace of mind he got from splitting wood for the owner of the Emerald Inn. The work exhausted him so much so that his mind didn’t have time to work him into an angry fit. It was best for him to keep busy.

Father will be back and things will be the way they should, he thought.

Pavel returned to find a stunned Wiley looking over his shoulder for Henry who hadn’t returned.

“What’s the matter, nothing to throw at me?” Pavel said dismounting and handing Wiley the reins.

Wiley ripped the reins out of his hand and decided it was better to say nothing. He turned his back and disappeared into the stalls. Pavel walked away.

The bright sun of the day and the exhausting work contributed to Wiley’s lack of will to disregard the invitation for a home cooked meal by his mother at the farmhouse.

“Finally. I’m hungry,” Willow said. “Brother, we’re waiting for you.”

Again, Wiley had nothing kindly to say and decided to say nothing. He sat and accepted a basket of warm rolls and passed them along to Henry.

“Another serving?” Fiona asked Wiley after he cleaned his plate. Smiling he said, “Yes. Potatoes mostly.”

Fiona looked at Herr Rolf and smiled because of the only words Wiley had spoken in their presence in a while.

Wiley caught onto the sideways glances and went to stand up until Willow came out with a cake fresh out of the oven. The apple and spice aroma surrounding her.

“I guess I can stay a little longer,” he said sheepishly.

Willow sliced the cake and gave him the first piece. Fiona looked to him for a word of confirmation, but had to settle for an empty plate.

Henry and Wiley left, Henry thanked Fiona over and over while Wiley’s only communication was the slamming of the front door.

“Rolf, he’s not going to forgive me,” Fiona said after Willow went outside to the carriage.

“He’s a boy who needs a little reality. There’s nothing to forgive Fiona,” he said gently kissing her.

She placed both hands on his face and looked into his light blue eyes. “You know sometimes I see a hint of red in your hair, don’t tell me you’re becoming a red head as well.”

“Well, Fiona you are rubbing off on me, but as far as my hair being red, I don’t think so. That’s your domain. Besides, one hot-hot in this relationship is enough.”

She feigned a reaction to his comment but kissed his forehead and stood to check that Willow had cleared the table and cleaned the pots and pans.

“She is a treasure,” she said and kissed him goodbye.

As Fiona and Willow left the farmhouse the lantern went out in the stable.




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