#AcresOfInk Writing Challenge ~ Week 38: Question 32 & 33

Part of the 52 Week Writing Challenge. Click here to view all questions.

32. What is your protagonist’s biggest weakness?

Melora’s biggest weakness is definitely her naïvety. She’s also incredibly spoiled, which goes hand in hand with her naïvety, because it means she has a rather idealised view of the world. Her inability to recognise when she’s being manipulated lands her in a lot of trouble in The Mayor, which is ironic really, because she’s pretty manipulative herself.

I feel like these traits are quite well-demonstrated in my answer to the question below.

33. Your favourite scene

OK, so I made a list of favourite scenes vying for my top spot, and all six of them are spoilerific. Thus, I’m actually answering the question, “What scene do you have a soft spot for that doesn’t give anything away?” as opposed to which is my favourite

Disclaimer: this passage is very much in the draft stages. Please forgive the horrible syntax and my chronic verbosity.

Melora was in a far lighter mood for having seen Mr Kale again. She even saw fit to compliment Jaspher later that afternoon on his shiny new cravat pin — a silver oval with a garnet embedded at his centre — which suited his appearance very well.

“Thank you, Miss Winship,” Jaspher blushed, his expression lighting up at the compliment.

“Ahem,” Craven cleared his throat. The two hastily resumed their work, but as an unfazed Melora hummed quietly to herself, Jaspher kept his head down, furiously scribbling with his quill, neck prickling as he felt Craven’s cool, penetrating gaze upon him.

He wore the pin again to work next day. Then the next day. And the next. Although Melora extended no further compliments, he couldn’t help but squirm each time Craven looked his way, subtly covering his throat as the man sized him up like a specimen pinned beneath glass.

*

In the weeks that followed, Melora saw Mr Kale only thrice more, and each time, much to her bitter disappointment, he completely ignored her.

The first time, he seemed to be in a hurry, walking in the opposite direction with little time for small talk. The second, he dropped by to speak with Jaspher, not deigning to acknowledge her at all before the two of them departed for the shipping yard.

The third was just before her father bumped into him in the corridor, dumping her unceremoniously in her office before dashing off with Mr Kale, who scarcely spared her a glance. She fought the urge to cry as she flounced into her chair, rubbing her eyes and sniffing with the effort it took to restrain her tears.

“Miss Winship?” Jaspher’s voice jarred enough to make her grit her teeth. “Are you quite alright?”

“I’m fine, Jaspher,” she snapped, mood instantly souring as he hastened to his feet. Swords, why did he have to be so saint’s damned attuned to her distress? Could he not just leave her the hell alone for once?

She glared at him as he approached, temper flaring as her eyes were drawn to the pin nestled at his throat.

“Have you no grasp on the concept of fashion, Jaspher? You’ve been wearing that self-same cravat pin every day for the last month.”

Immediately she felt a stab of self-reproach — Jaspher’s face fell faster than cannon shot. Recoiling, he shuffled his way back to his desk, and Melora bit back the overwhelming urge to apologise, guilt only serving to stoke her anger.

Why should she apologise? She’d only spoken the truth. Why could he not change his attire every day like Mr Kale? The man paid her more attention than anyone she had ever known. Why could he not take more pride in his appearance? Be a little more sure of himself? Be a bit more interesting? Why could he not–

Why could he not be more like Mr Kale?

Copyright © S.E. Berrow 2018

S.E. Berrow

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#AcresOfInk Writing Challenge ~ Week 9: Questions 7 & 8

Yes, I’m massively behind. WHAT OF IT? You’re not the boss of me. Don’t tell me what to do.

Part of the 52 Week Writing Challenge. Click here to view all questions.

7. Favourite relationship in the story

Telling you my actual favourite relationship (which, incidentally, is a romantic one) would be spoilerific, so today I’m going to talk to you about a non-spoilery relationship instead:

My favourite relationship to write in Book One of The Mayor is the sibling relationship between Jaspher and Jonathan Carson.

As brothers, Jaspher and John could not be more different. Jaspher is calm, level-headed and responsible, taking it upon himself to keep the Carson family afloat despite some serious financial difficulties and his father’s rapidly developing illness. John meanwhile is a notorious libertine, fond of wine, women and song with a penchant for attracting trouble.

In some ways, the two brothers perfectly embody their father, Jeremiah Carson, who is an ex-sailor turned shipwright. Despite his working class background, Jeremiah Carson rose to become a wealthy and successful entrepreneur in New Hardway, and is now a respected member of society. Jaspher seeks to uphold his father’s legacy by following in his footsteps as a shipwright. Unfortunately for Jaspher, John is far more interested in sailing ships than building them, and shamelessly engages in activities one might typically associate with that profession such as drinking, smoking and gambling.

John’s carefree, hedonistic lifestyle is a constant source of embarrassment for Jaspher. His peers make snide and insidious remarks regarding his brother’s behaviour and use it to undermine his authority. Being an ex-sailor himself (and for other, slightly more upsetting reasons), Jeremiah Carson prefers to turn a blind eye, but Jaspher refuses to let things slide. He will often step in as disciplinarian, which naturally causes a lot of tension between the two. This is fun to write.

What I like most about Jaspher and John’s relatonship is the complete juxtaposition between how much they love each other — how they’d do absolutely anything to protect each other — versus their complete inability to see eye to eye. Their relationship is fraught with jealousy and misunderstandings; the inevitable result of conflicting ideologies. As the plot of The Mayor progresses and pressure upon the Carson family mounts, Jaspher and John’s relationship will be tested to its absolute limit.

Fun!

7. Alternative realities: what could have changed everything, and how?

The obvious answer to this question would be, “What if William Kale had never come to New Hardway?” Because there’d be no plot, essentially, and everyone would be a lot happier and be able to get on with their lives.

How boring.

No, there’s actually a moment I can specifically pinpoint as being pivotal. It could have changed potentially everything, and I know this because I actually wrote it out and had to do away with it immediately for the sake of progressing the plot.

~*~ Warning! Minor spoilers to follow – I’ve redacted most of them but you never know… ~*~

In the scene before this one, Jaspher and Melora have a huge, relationship-altering fight. When I originally wrote it, Melora managed to catch up to Jaspher and apologise to him:

“Jaspher, wait,” Melora hurried down the stairs. “About last night, I… I just wanted to say I’m sorry.”

“Sorry?” Jaspher frowned, sounding as nonplussed as he looked. “Whatever for?”

“For how I reacted [REDACTED BECAUSE SPOILERS].”

She swallowed, tongue sticking to the roof of her mouth. Seeing him flush red at the reminder of his shame, she ploughed on before he could interrupt her.

“I… I was angry and upset. I lashed out because of it. After you’d gone, I had some time to think about what you said — why you did what you did — and I realised… you were only doing what you thought was best for your family. [REDACTED, FIGHT ME] And I don’t know if what John said about Mr Kale is true, but if it is true, Jaspher, then you need to be careful, because we don’t know what else he’s capable of, and we’ve lost so much already [FIGHT ME SOME MORE].

She felt rather than saw the tension ease in him as her voice trailed off. She stiffened as he pulled her to him in a gentle, one-armed embrace, then relaxed as he released her.

“You have nothing to be sorry for,” he said, slipping his hand into hers. “I’m sorry. I swear to you, I’ve never regretted anything more in my entire life. If I could wind back the clock and refuse to sign those damned papers, I would do it. I’d do it in a heartbeat. But it’s done now, and we’ll have to find a way to work through it. Somehow.”

He gave her hand a gentle squeeze, and she nodded, forcing a smile to her lips. It warmed her heart to see that smile returned, just the barest flickering at the corner of his mouth.

“But now I really, really must go. We’ll talk about this later, all right?” He kissed the backs of her fingers. “I promise.”

Copyright © S.E. Berrow 2018

Aww, isn’t that nice? Communication! Resolution! A willingness to understand each other and make things right!

Well I’m sorry, but we can’t have that. For the sake of the plot, I needed to carry on driving as big a wedge between these two as possible, so I ended up swapping the above out for this:

“Jaspher, wait,” Melora descended the stairs, reaching out as he yanked open the front door. “About last night… I just wanted to say that I’m—”

The door swung shut just as she reached the bottom, obscuring him from view.

“—sorry…”

Copyright © S.E. Berrow 2018

… Shame.

S.E. Berrow

Meet The Characters

I have added a new section to The Mayor section of my website entitled ‘Meet The Characters’. Here you can see beautiful illustrations of each of my four main characters –Melora, Jaspher, Kale and John — drawn for me by my wonderful illustrator, Brettarts (read more about him in Affiliates).

By clicking a character image you can read more information about their story as well as discover some fun stuff like what dæmon I think they would have (Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials), what Hogwarts house they belong to (J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter) or what Tarot Card I most associate them with.

I may add to these character pages as time goes on so be sure to check back regularly for updates. In the meantime, click here to get acquainted.

Take care,

S.E. Berrow