Category Archives: First Draft

Staying on Topic

Fart gun

The Infamous Farting Raygun

I am currently writing a children’s novel while editing two YA novels. You might think I would have a hard time staying on topic, but I don’t. This is because I am writing three very different books. The children’s book is about a witch who has been turned into a pig, and she hasn’t had the time or inclination to turn herself back, and my other two protagonists are human women. The two YA books are also very different, as one is in the Steampunk genre set in the Victorian era and the other is a paranormal fantasy set in modern times. This means I can flip between all three without too much confusion.

However, sometimes I will start writing in one genre and find myself straying off topic. This is usually due to enthusiasm (I want to include everything I can), but it is a bad fault. What might make a conversation interesting – exploring tangential ideas – can muddy the clarity of your written prose. This isn’t a terrible problem if you are writing your first draft, but it can be a killer if you are writing an article to a brief.

Reality is for those who can't handle Science Fiction

If you are as bad as I am, it often helps to have a plan or a map, or at least an endpoint you are aiming for. There is discipline to writing, like anything else worthwhile.

 

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Filed under First Draft, Steampunk, Steampunk Genre, Steampunk Writer, The Writing Life, Uncategorized, writing, Writing Style

Changing Gears: the Steampunk Plot

If you’ve done any journalism courses, you know about the five questions you need to answer in any story – news or otherwise – which are :

  • Who?
  • Where?
  • When?
  • Why?
  • How?

In a novel or short story, characterization is the Who; Where and When are described by the setting; and the plot is driven by Why and How. Plot is just as important as characterization and setting in a Steampunk story. The reader might be enchanted by your characters and settings, but they will soon lose interest if there is no plot. All three, plot, characterization and setting, need to be top notch and working together as a cohesive whole. A good Steampunk adventure needs to answer the Why and How.

Any basic plot can be modified to a Steampunk plot. There is a traditional list of seven basic plots:

1/ The Monster, aka Overcoming the Monster. The perfect Victorian examples of this plot are Dracula and Frankenstein. It is a protagonist fighting against fearsome antagonists, or antagonistic forces, that threaten her very existence. The monster can be the protagonist and an anti-hero, and so the protagonist doesn’t always win. I think this plot can be broken down into a couple of subplots, where the monster has no real motivation other than to terrorize/eat the villagers, or where the monster is a misunderstood anti-hero.

2/ Wish fulfilment/Rags-to-Riches. This is the classic Cinderella plot, where the protagonist overcomes many obstacles to achieve her goals. It is often a coming-of-age story. It can be a story where hard work and/or technology achieves the same effect as a magic wand. I think the movie, Back to the Future III is a good example of where technology acts like a magic wand. I know I want a flying time-travelling train. Who wouldn’t?

3/ The Quest.  The classic examples are The Lord of the Rings or The Golden Fleece. Little town girl goes off with a bunch of unique and interesting characters to fulfil a ‘save the world’ goal, and finds her true self along the way. The plot is all about how the protagonist grows as a person.

4/ Voyage and Return. I go, I come back. It might seem very like the Quest plot, but it is more about the exciting places and events of the journey than about the growth of the protagonist or her companions. Examples are H G Well’s The Time Machine and Jules Verne’s Around the World In Eighty Days. It is easy to conflate the Quest and the Voyage and Return plots.

5/ Rebirth. This is kind of the opposite of the Monster plot. The anti-hero/antagonist starts off as wicked or unfeeling, and ends up having a change of heart. At this point, she may sacrifice herself for the greater good, or redeem herself with deeds of kindness. The classic example is Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

6 & 7/ Comedy & Tragedy. You’ve all had to study Shakespeare’s plays so you know what these sorts of plots are like. The movie The Prestige is a good example of a Steampunk tragedy, with none of the main characters achieving a truly happy ending.

Personally, I don’t think these are the only plots available, but you get the idea.

The Prestige

The Prestige

As the Steampunk genre is a subgenre of Science Fiction, the effect of industrial technology and innovation on a society should underpin any Steampunk plot. No science…no Steampunk. You can’t take a plot and just ‘paste cogs on it’ to achieve a Steampunk plot. It won’t ring true.

Some writers favour plot over character, while others favour character over plot. I believe that a proper story needs plot, characterization and setting to work together, and not put any of these elements first. A strong plot will not work within a weak setting and peopled with two dimensional characters; it can’t hold things together on its own. The best way of achieving the balance between plot, character and setting is to sit down before you write your story and work on all three. I know there are writers that can sit down and just write, but the Steampunk genre doesn’t lend itself to this kind of writing.

And then you can tell your family you are plotting…

I run a Steampunk themed site on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SteampunkSunday

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Catching the Moment: writing a scene

hummingbird

The basic building block of a book is a ‘scene’ (to borrow from the cinema). It can be as short as one paragraph, or as long as dozens of pages. It is when you get to see one dialogue or action happening at one time in the same setting. If there is a change in the setting, the time frame, or in the character perspectives, you are in a new scene. Each scene can be considered like a brick, and a book is a castle built out of these bricks. Weak bricks make for a weak story.

You might overhear a scrap of dialogue while sitting on the bus, a scrap of dialogue that excites and inspires you. Suddenly, a plot point that you have been working on falls into place. It is like a hummingbird … a fleeting glimpse of something rare and beautiful; and like a hummingbird, they can disappear in a moment of distraction. When you think of a scene, you should write it down (another reason for always carrying a notebook/pen or a phone). I can think of nothing worse than being stuck driving alone on the highway, knowing that I’ve just had a marvellous idea, and that I will probably forget it as soon as someone cuts me off or I have to take an exit. It’s torture!

Once you are able to work on a scene, just get it down. Don’t worry if it isn’t going to slot neatly into you main manuscript straight away. You are trying to capture an idea, a concept, a feeling. Once you have lured your hummingbird, you don’t want to frighten it away by trying to cage it. This is a first draft … you will smooth out the lumpy bits later.

This is where a lot of writers start having problems. This great scene doesn’t fit into the main flow of your story and so you try to ‘edit’ it while you are writing it. This will be when it all falls apart. You will lose you flow and may even get blocked. Don’t do it. Let the words fly onto the page. Give them the freedom to do what they want.

Don’t clip there wings before they have had a chance to find the sky.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Using background music for inspiration

Victorian-Rose-Cut-Diamond-Brooch

Do you wake up in the morning with a tune stuck in your head? Does your life have a soundtrack? Then you are probably the sort of writer that responds well to music to inspire your muse.

I use music to help create a mood, an atmosphere, a sense of time and place. I favour using music when I really need to nail a certain sensation, like grief or struggle. Some of my favourites are Johnny Cash’s version of Hurt for Sad scenes, and the Proclaimers for any action scene needing lots of energy. Some music and songs tell stories, and sometimes I need to capture those stories on a page. These stories may have no bearing on the actual lyrics.

You might use music to give your character depth, or evoke a setting. You don’t have to use inspirational music in the same way as I do, as inspiration is a fickle thing. That’s the point. Inspiration takes us all in different ways, and I don’t think any two writers are inspired the same way by the same music.

 

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The Aftermath of the Death of a Character – an excerpt from the WiP

Tricksy had a hard time accepting her mother was dead.

Part of the problem was the language everyone used about her mother. She was ‘Gone’; ‘Passed Away’; ‘Crossed Over’; ‘At Peace’; or anyone of a dozen euphemisms that were used when giving comfort to the newly bereaved. No one wanted to use the four-letter words ‘dead’ or ‘died’. Tricksy wondered if it was a spell – if no one used those words, maybe her mother wasn’t really dead.

Every one spoke of how brave her mother had been, and how hard she had fought in her battle with cancer. Cancer was not some knight that had thrown down a chivalrous challenge. It certainly wasn’t a fair ‘fight’. Tricksy knew how frightened her mother had been, and how she felt she had lost her identity to the cancer. Her mother hadn’t chosen to be brave and face a challenge; she had been ambushed.

It just wasn’t fair. Some of her friends even complained about their own mothers when they offered their condolences, like Tricksy was almost lucky to no longer have a mother to nag her. She knew those friends didn’t mean to be thoughtless and cruel. She knew that they really did love their mothers and didn’t wish them dead. And yet it was going to be a long time before she would be able to speak with them without wanting to slap them.

1000 year old yew trees in Wales

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Making Myself Cry… (Writing a death scene)

I am currently writing a death scene for one of my two WiPs, the ‘Vampire Etiquette’ novel. Susan, a member of my writing group, suggested that I should add the scene – which I had planned to avoid by having it happen after the end of the story – to throw other events in the story into strong contrast. AS much as I didn’t want to face the fact, Susan was completely right (or should that be ‘write’?).

Mourning pins

When I created this character, the mother of one of the main protagonists, she wasn’t even sick. She was supposed to represent the contrast between ordinary mortal life and the bizarre events relating to the immortal vampires. I wanted her to be very normal, even humdrum, almost a cliché.

Not enough of a contrast. I had toyed with the idea of making the mother ill with a fatal disease, but having my medically-clever character cure her. Then I had considered giving the mother a choice of becoming  a vampire and being made immortal … and she deciding she would rather be human and taking her chances with her disease. As Susan pointed out, I was avoiding the emotional turmoil of writing a death scene. A real contrast with immortality is not so much being mortal, as dying a mortal death.

For a writer, I have had some experience with death. My culture likes to pretend death doesn’t happen. In fact, I believe that this fear of death is the basis of our Western youth-orientated culture. At the end of this post, I will include Sara Douglass’ blogpost “The Silence of Dying”. This has become my stepping off point and inspiration for writing my death scene. I was hiding from the reality of death because of my cultural bias, and my own personal fear of death.

 

The Silence of the Dying

By Sara Douglass

Many years ago I did an hour long interview on Adelaide radio (with Jeremy Cordeaux, I think, but my memory may be wrong). The interview was supposed to promote one of my recent publications, but for some reason we quickly strayed onto the subject of death and dying, and there we stayed for the entire hour. I proposed that as a society we have lost all ability to die well. Unlike pre-industrial western society, modern western society is ill at ease with death, we are not taught how to die, and very few people are comfortable around death or the dying. There is a great silence about the subject, and a great silence imposed on the dying. During the programme a Catholic priest called in to agree with the premise (the first and last time a Catholic priest and I have ever agreed on anything) that modern society cannot deal with death. We just have no idea. We are terrified of it. We ignore it and we ignore the dying.

 

Today I’d like to take that conversation a little further, discuss modern discomfort with death, and discuss the silence that modern western society imposes on the dying. Recently I’ve had it hammered home on a couple of occasions how much the dying are supposed to keep silent, that ‘dying well’ in today’s society means keeping your mouth firmly closed and, preferably, behind closed doors.

 

Never shall a complaint pass your lips. How many times have we all heard that praise sung of the dying and recently departed, “They never complained”?

 

Death in pre-industrial society was a raucous and social event. There was much hair-tearing, shrieking and breast beating, and that was just among the onlookers. Who can forget the peripatetic late-medieval Margery Kempe who shrieked and wailed so exuberantly she was in demand at all the death beds she happened across? Suffering, if not quite celebrated, was at least something to which everyone could relate, and with which everyone was at ease. People were comfortable with death and with the dying. Death was not shunted away out of sight. Grief was not subdued. Emotions were not repressed. If someone was in pain or feeling a bit grim or was frightened, they were allowed to express those feelings. Unless they died suddenly, most people died amid familiar company and in their own homes amid familiar surroundings. Children were trained in the art and craft of dying well from an early age (by being present at community death beds). Death and dying was familiar, and its journey’s milestones well marked and recognizable. People prepared from an early age to die, they were always prepared, for none knew when death would strike.

 

Not any more. Now we ignore death. We shunt it away. Children are protected from it (and adults wish they could be protected from it). The dying are often not allowed to express what they are really feeling, but are expected (by many pressures) to be positive, bright and cheerful as ‘this will make them feel better’ (actually, it doesn’t make the dying feel better at all, it just makes them feel worse, but it does make their dying more bearable for those who have to be with them).

 

When it comes to death and dying, we impose a dreadful silence on the dying lest they discomfort the living too greatly.

 

I have done no study as to when the change took place, but it must have been about or just before the Industrial Revolution — perhaps with the mass movement into the cities and the subsequent destruction of traditional communities and community ties, perhaps with the rise of the modern medical profession who demanded to control every aspect of illness, perhaps with the loosening grip of religion on people’s lives during the Enlightenment.

 

Certainly by the nineteenth century silence and restraint had overtaken the dying. The Victorian ideal was of the dying suffering sweetly and stoically and silently (we’ve all read the novels, we’ve all seen the paintings). Those who didn’t die sweetly and stoically and silently but who bayed their distress to the moon generally ended badly by dropping their candle on their flammable nightgown, and then expiring nastily in the subsequent conflagration which took out the east tower of whatever gothic mansion they inhabited. The lingering commotion and the smouldering ruins always disturbed everyone’s breakfast the next morning. There was much tsk tsk tsk-ing over the marmalade.

 

By the mid-nineteenth century, if not earlier, the lesson was clearly implanted in our society’s collective subconscious.

 

Death should be silent. Confined. Stoic.

 

Sweet, stoic and silent was the way to go. (Again I remind you that a sweet, stoic and silent death is still praised innumerable times in today’s society; by the time we have reached early adulthood we have all heard it many, many times over.) The one exception is the terminally ill child. Terminally ill children are uncritizable saints. The terminally ill adult is simply tedious (particularly if they try to express their fears).

 

All this silence and stoicism scares the hell out of me.

 

In that radio interview many years ago I spoke as a historian. Today I speak as one among the dying. Two years ago I was diagnosed with cancer. Six months ago it came back. It is going to kill me at some stage. Now everyone wants a date, an expected life span, an answer to the ‘how long have you got?’ question. I don’t know. I’m sorry to be inconvenient. I am not in danger of imminent demise, but I will not live very long. So now I discuss this entire ‘how we treat the dying’with uncomfortable personal experience.

 

Now, with death lurking somewhere in the house, I have begun to notice death all about me. I resent every celebrity who ‘has lost their long battle with cancer’. Oh God, what a cliché. Can no one think of anything better? It isn’t anything so noble as a ‘battle’ gallantly lost, I am afraid. It is just a brutal, frustrating, grinding, painful, demoralizing, terrifying deterioration that is generally accomplished amid great isolation.

 

Let me discuss chronic illness for a moment. As a society we don’t tolerate it very well. Our collective attention span for someone who is ill lasts about two weeks. After that they’re on their own. From my own experience and talking to others with bad cancer or chronic illness, I’ve noticed a terrible trend. After a while, and only a relatively short while, people grow bored with you not getting any better and just drift off. Phone calls stop. Visits stop. Emails stop. People drop you off their Facebook news feed. Eyes glaze when you say you are still not feeling well. Who needs perpetual bad news?

 

This is an all too often common experience. I described once it to a psychologist, thinking myself very witty, as having all the lights in the house turned off one by one until you were in one dark room all alone; she said everyone described it like that. People withdraw, emotionally and physically. You suddenly find a great and cold space about you where once there was support. For me there has been a single person who has made the effort to keep in daily contact with me, to see how I am, how I am feeling, and listen uncomplainingly to my whining. She has been my lifeline. She also suffers from terrible cancer and its aftermath, and has endured the same distancing of her friends.

The end result is, of course, that the sick simply stop telling people how bad they feel. They repress all their physical and emotional pain, because they’ve got the message loud and clear.

 

People also don’t know how to help the sick and dying. I remember a year or so ago, on a popular Australian forum, there was a huge thread generated on how to help a member who was undergoing massive and life-changing surgery that would incapacitate her for months. People asked what they could do. I suggested that if one among them, or many taking it in turns, could promise this woman two hours of their time every week or fortnight for the next few months then that would help tremendously. In this two hours they could clean, run errands, hang out the washing, whatever. And they had to do all this while not once complaining about how busy their own lives were, or how bad their back was, or how many problems they had to cope with in life. Just two hours a fortnight, with no emotional-guilt strings attached. Whatever she wanted or needed.

 

Freely given.

 

Bliss for the incapacitated or chronically ill.

 

But that was too difficult. Instead the poor woman was buried under a mountain of soft toys, dressing gowns, bath salts and bombs, daintily embroidered hankies, a forest’s worth of Hallmark cards, chocolates and flowers and exhortations that everyone was ‘thinking of her’.

None of which helped her in any way, of course, but all of which assuaged the guilt of the gift-givers who mostly promptly forgot her and her daily horrific struggle through life.

 

Modern attention spans for the chronically ill are horribly short, probably because chronic or terminal illness in today’s society is horribly tedious. Tedious, because we are all so uncomfortable with it.

Instead, too often, it is up to the sick and the dying to comfort the well and the un-dying.

 

Just take a moment to think about this, take a moment to see if you have ever experienced it yourself. The dying — sweet, stoic, silent — comforting those who are to be left behind. I know I experienced it when first I was diagnosed with cancer. I found myself in the completely unreal situation of having, over and over, to comfort people when I told them I had cancer. In the end I just stopped telling people, because almost invariably I was placed into the bizarre situation of comforting the well by saying everything would be all right (which, of course, it won’t, but that’s what people needed to hear to make them comfortable about me again).

 

The dying have been indoctrinated from a very young age into this sweet, stoic and silent state. They earn praise for always being ‘positive’ and ‘bright’ and ‘never complaining’. Perhaps they are bright and positive and uncomplaining, but I am certain they lay in their beds with their fear and anger and grief and pain and frustration completely repressed while modern expectation forces them, the dying, to comfort the living.

 

I am sick of this tawdry game. I am sick to death of comforting people when all I want is to be comforted. I am sick of being abandoned by people for months on end only to be told eventually that ‘I knew they were thinking of me, right?’ I am sick of being exhorted to be silent and sweet and stoic. I know I face a long and lonely death and no, I don’t think I should just accept that.

 

I don’t think I should keep silent about it.

 

I have witnessed many people die. As a child I watched my mother die a terrible death from the same cancer that is going to kill me. As a registered nurse for seventeen years I have seen scores of people die. I have watched the dying keep cheerful and reassuring while their family were there (forced by modern expectation of how people should die), only to break down and scream their terror when the family have gone. The one thing they all said, desperately, was “Don’t let me die alone.” But mostly they did die alone, doors closed on them by staff who were too frantically busy to sit with them, and relatives who have gone home and not thought to sit with their parent or sibling. People do die alone, and often not even with the slight comfort of a stranger nurse holding their hand. If you put your relative into a hospital or a hospice or a nursing home, then their chances of dying alone and uncomforted increase tremendously. I want to die at home, but I am realistic enough to know that my chances of that are almost nil as impersonal ‘carers’ force me into a system that will remove me from any comfort I might have gained by dying in familiar, loved and comforting surroundings.

 

My mother, who died of the same cancer which will kill me, kept mostly stoic through three years of tremendous suffering. But I do remember one time, close to her death, when my father and I went to visit her in hospital. She was close to breaking point that evening. She wept, she complained, she expressed her fears in vivid, terrifying words. I recall how uncomfortable I was, and how relieved I was when she dried her tears and once more became cheerful and comforting herself. I was twelve at the time, and maybe I should feel no guilt about it, but I do now, for I know all too well how she felt, and how much she needed comforting far more than me.

 

She died in her cold impersonal hospital room in the early hours of the morning, likely not even with the comfort of a stranger nurse with her, certainly with none of her family there.

 

The great irony is that now I face the same death, from the same cancer.

 

That is the death that awaits many of us, me likely a little sooner than you, but in the great scheme of things that’s neither here nor there. Not everyone dies alone, but many do.

 

Not everyone suffers alone, but most do it to some extent.

It is the way we have set up the modern art of death.

 

I am tired of the discomfort that surrounds the chronically and terminally ill. I am tired of the abandonment. I am tired of having to lie to people about how I am feeling just so I keep them around. I am tired of having to feel a failure when I need to confess to the doctor or nurse that the pain is too great and I need something stronger.

 

I am tired of being made to feel guilty when I want to express my fear and anguish and grief.

 

I am tired of keeping silent.

******************

Thank you for reading this far, and being my companion this far. I promise to be more stoic in future. But just for one day I needed to break that silence.

May 22nd, 2010

Sara Douglass died on the 27th of September, 2011.

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Writing Experiment: a new scene for the first draft

Etty looked down at the young man on the stretcher, and felt the shock of recognition. It was Nick! Even though she hadn’t seen him face to face in a couple of years, she knew the lines of his face as well as her own. He looked awful, his skin was grey-tinged and he was covered in bleeding scrapes and scratches.

She took his hand, and he opened his eyes. Etty hid her concern and gave him an encouraging smile. He tried to grin, and winced.

Etty said, “Well, what sort of excitement have you been getting into?”

“My bicycle didn’t take a corner. I was trying to avoid one of those big Hummers and was lucky it didn’t clip me,” he grumbled.

“Sounds as if you’re lucky not to end up under its wheels!”

“Not likely. The edge of the road dropped off dramatically. I tried to steer down the slope, but it was too steep.”

As he spoke, Etty and the nurses were checking Nick’s injuries. He groaned as they gently investigated his left arm, which was sitting at an awkward angle.

“Well, it looks like you won’t be back on your bike for a while. You have most certainly broken your arm, and we will have to get an x-ray,” said Etty, writing down notes on his chart. “Lucky I know your head was too hard to hurt – though I see hear you were wearing a helmet as well. I want to check you for internal injuries as well, so we will be keeping you in overnight.”

Nick saluted her with his good arm. “Yes ma’am. Is that the royal ‘we’? Should I call you Doctor Princess or Princess Doctor?”

“You can call me Etty, like always.”

Nick grinned, and retook her hand and gave it a squeeze. He said, “I feel much better knowing you’re here.”

Etty grinned back, though her heart fluttered at his warm expression. “You might not be so pleased with me in a moment. Can you remember the last time you had a tetanus vaccination?”

“Um. No.”

“In that case, guess what my next procedure is going to be?” She held up a needle.

Nick groaned again. “Well, don’t look so pleased. Do your worst.”

As it turned out, the broken arm was Nick’s worst injury. It was a clean break that didn’t need pinning. However, this didn’t stop his mother from having mild hysterics when his parents made it to the hospital.

“My poor boy,” she shrieked when she caught sight of him in his hospital bed. She burst into tears.

“There, there, my dear,” said Nick’s father, patting his queen. “Every looks to still be attached.” He turned to Nick and winked at his son over her head.

Nick said, “Hello, Dad. Oh Mum, please don’t cry. I’m being released this afternoon.”

His mother suppressed her crying, and subsided into some hiccupy sobs. She wiped her eyes. She said, “Oh darling, I’m sorry. It was just the shock of the phone call and the trip, and then seeing in that horrible cast.” She tried hard to give him a damp smile.

“I understand, Mum. It was a bit of a shock to me, too,” joked Nick. “And you’ll never guess who my attending doctor is. It’s Princess Odette.”

“Doctor Odette,” insisted Etty, coming in at that moment, as if summoned by the mention of her name. “I just have to take Nick’s blood pressure and pulse. Then you can take him home.”

She took hold of Nick, and pushed his sleeve up to take the blood pressure cuff.

Nick’s parents stared.

“Etty! You’ll get hives,” said the queen. “You’re not wearing any gloves.”

Etty and Nick froze. Etty had been looking after Nick for hours, and it was obvious she wasn’t having any sort of allergic reaction. She had been too caught up in doing her job to remember the old deception, and poor Nick too shaken up. It was too late in the game to make excuses.

“How extraordinary,” said the King. “I’ve heard of children growing out of allergies, though generally they were food allergies.”

Etty left a wave of relief. She looked at Nick, and he gave her the ghost of a nod. Neither of them wanted to admit that her ‘allergy’ had been a long-standing ruse.

“How wonderful,” said the queen. “After all these years of loving each other, you can finally get married.” Her expression had changed from worry to joy in seconds.

Panic overwhelmed Etty for a moment. Then Nick took her hand and gave it a gentle squeeze. He turned to his parents. “You’ve got to give me the chance to ask her, this time,” said Nick.

His father coughed. “Of course, of course.” His eyes were twinkling. He took his wife by the elbow and steered her out of the room. “I believe the children might need a moment alone,” he said, and closed the door behind him. The queen went without a single protest, but her step was buoyant.

“Phew!” exclaimed Nick. “I didn’t think they would go so easily.” He turned to Etty. “You know, you’ve been my best friend for years. What would you say if I told you that I love you, and not like a sister, but really and truly love you? Will it ruin our friendship?”

Etty burst out laughing, a rich, golden laugh of relief. “Thank goodness,” she gasped, at last. She took a few breaths to calm herself, and said, “I’ve loved you for ever so long. I don’t regret not marrying you five years ago, but if our parents had pulled the same trip yesterday…well, I wouldn’t have connived with you to ruin the wedding.”

“Really,” said Nick.

“Really. And if you weren’t all battered and bruised, I’d kiss you and show you how much I love you.”

Nick pulled her close. “I’m not dead. I’m pretty sure I can survive true love’s kiss.”

“Oh good,” said Etty.  

 

 

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