The Beginning & The Ending
Hello again friends. Thank you for taking some of your valuable time to read this posting. In some of my past postings for Soul Mate Publishing, we have discussed many writing topics, settings, dialogue, character traits, villains, heroes and heroines. Today, I’d like to explore the middle of a story with you.
There is always a beginning. Where the story starts must be interesting, holding the readers’ attention. If the readers’ interest isn’t captured very quickly, the book is closed and never opened again. The beginning is that important.
Hopefully the reader will be intrigued enough to continue to the middle of the story. Below, you will find the beginning of Bittersweep, my latest novel to be release May 2018.
After fifteen years, can I find my mother’s box? Can I remember exactly where she tucked the chest away? I was only five. Will her box still be there, hidden, or will it be destroyed?
Elizabeth Campbell peered out the window of the passenger car as the locomotive puffed into the station at Bittersweep, Texas, belching ash from the smokestack. The train came to a screeching halt beside the station. She folded the newspaper dated August 10, 1897, and positioned it under her arm slowly rising from her seat. Drawing a deep breath, she curled her fingers around the handle of her carpetbag. Tension bunched her neck and shoulder muscles as she stepped out onto the wooden platform.
The warm midday sun of late summer washed the scene in heat and vivid light but did nothing to lessen the dark apprehension or the pain in her heart. Perhaps I’ve made the biggest mistake of my life. I didn’t want to return, but I’m back. I need this teaching position, desperately.
She followed her shadow into the shade afforded by the overhang of the roof to the train station’s ticket office. At least I may have a chance to discover what really happened all those years ago.
Naturally, there must be a happy ever after ending. That is the only conclusion acceptable to me as a writer. The ending must leave the reader satisfied with the tale, not only the beginning, the middle, but especially the ending. I won’t post an excerpt from the final chapter in this blog. I wouldn’t want to spoil the book for you.
On to the middle, the most important part of the book. What happened to Elizabeth after this beginning? Are we to learn what transpired when she was young? Certainly the reader will discover her past, not here, but in the book. However, I do have an exciting excerpt moving the story forward and catching the readers’ interest. The middle of the book must always have action both emotional and physical followed by reactions.
Elizabeth slipped books into her satchel beside her pistol, shut her desk drawer, and pulled the windows down before leaving the building. The schoolhouse was a couple of miles outside the town of Bittersweep proper. She’d best make haste if she didn’t want full dark to catch her on the lane. Dust puffed up beneath her hurried steps covering her boots with a fine gray powder.
A wolf howled in the distance, and she shivered. A chorus of coyotes yelped in reply. Nothing to worry about. All the children would have reached home long before now. Staying late to give the classroom a proper clean may not have been a wise decision after all. Glancing into the surrounding woods, she spied a skunk and picked up her pace.
When she reached the turnoff to the Clarke homestead, she stopped and stared at the weed-infested tract. Her heart raced. She hadn’t found the opportunity to search for her mother’s box yet. The thought of finding the tin container terrified her, but the thought of not finding it was even worse. Reluctant to return to the burned-out shell of her home, she kept putting off the dreaded moment. A fierce tide of possessiveness swelled her chest with determination. No matter what occurred, her mother’s box belonged to her, and she intended to claim it—one day soon—but not yet.
This certainly wasn’t the proper time to explore. She took a deep breath with a measure of relief. Dusk slowly invaded the trees and hovered above the lane. Another day would be much better for the search. An owl gave a mournful hoot and swooped over the path with wings spread wide reminding her she should move along.
Before she’d taken more than a few steps, Elizabeth heard a low rumbling growl. Hoping to climb out of harm’s way, she ducked behind a tree with low hanging limbs and peered around to locate the source of the noise. She spotted a huge, gray wolf staggering down the rutted track from the Clarke place. The animal’s mouth dripped white foam with his fierce yellow gaze fixed ahead, a terrifying sight. With the frenzy of her pulse raging in her ears, she couldn’t move for a single heartbeat.
A rabid wolf! The hairs on the back of her neck stood up. Not daring to move and draw the wolf’s attention, she very slowly drew her pistol from her satchel and took aim, her fingers trembling. She must allow the animal to get closer so she wouldn’t miss. Before she managed to shoot, the beast fell to the ground kicking with convulsions, thrashing, and snapping its jaws all the while emitting a strange howl. The animal lurched to its feet and lunged forward.
She gulped in harsh mouthfuls of air and attempted to fire. Her hand trembled so badly she had to lower her weapon for a moment. Drawing in another deep breath, she tried to steady her gun again. She made two more attempts to control her hand before squeezing the trigger. Noise exploded around her. The beast yelped once then collapsed. Although stifled with the smell of gunpowder, she kept her gaze locked on the thrashing animal, alert, watching. Finally, the wolf succumbed and lay still.
A moment later, she crumpled against the rough bark of the tree to keep from falling. She trembled all over, her legs barely able to support her, and her hand still vibrating with the recoil from the gun. While she fought to recover, the light faded into the grayness of twilight. Finally, she regained enough composure to step out and rush toward Bittersweep.
She could hardly wait to tell JP about the wolf. He’d know what to do to protect the children.
I hope I have shown a small sampling of what should go into the middle. This scene moves the story forward. Elizabeth will search for her mother’s box as her longing to claim it clearly displays; the foreshadowing of events to come. The action with the wolf also moves the story forward between the hero and the heroine, or the telling of the tale does so.
Thank you again for sharing your time with me. For further information on my writing, please visit my website.