Do you ever hit one of those moments while writing and think, “Okay. I know where I’m going. But what’s the next step to getting there?”
I have three POVs in my current WIP–Victoria is kind of the main one, but Ursula also gets herself in there and so does Beatrice, Victoria’s younger cousin.
I finished Chapter Nine like this (excerpt below the cut):
It’s got a lot of tension–a lot of feels. So then where do I go with Chapter Ten? I began writing a Beatrice scene. Beatrice is 14, so she’s at that age where she knows things but doesn’t really know things, y’know?
So I’m like, does it give us a break from the high drama of Victoria’s parts? Or does it just make the tension in the previous chapter fall flat? Is a tone shift too jarring?
For some reason, I’m especially neurotic about the basic story structure with this story, so yeah, I’m writing chapter ten the way I started it, but something’s nagging me about it.
Yes, I know, I know, it’s up to me, what does the story need, blah, blah.
Victoria’s Father had several magnificent items made for Mother in India. They weren’t the Koh-i-Noor Diamond, but the gems were glittery and colorful, if her distant memory recalled correctly. Valuable, too. They’d been in the vault here for all that time.
If they were Mother’s, then weren’t those jewels really hers?
They were. They had to be, legally. They’d been bought with Father’s money, given to Mother, and kept here in Malden Court for Victoria’s use, surely. Wouldn’t it be part of her inheritance? At the very least, common courtesy would suggest that she ought to be informed.
That night, Victoria could not sleep for tossing and turning. The next morning, she distractedly ate breakfast and after a half-hour’s gathering of her thoughts, knocked on Uncle Malden’s study door.
“Enter,” he said in a gruff voice. She opened the door and found him sitting in an armchair in the small, wood-paneled room smoking a pipe. “Victoria. Goodness, I thought your aunt was coming after me about something. What brings you here?”
She closed the door behind her and clasped her hands together. Then she said, “The jewels Conrad means to sell.”
“It’s what’s left of the jewelry that aren’t entailed, I’m afraid. We’re keeping some pieces back to give to Ursula and—”
Victoria put a hand up. It was the first time in her life that she’d silenced her uncle.
“They’re my mother’s,” Victoria said. “Aunt described a piece last night—a necklace with sapphires and a diamond clasp. I remember that necklace, Uncle. Mother wore it when meeting with the Viceroy when I was five.”
Uncle Malden sighed. “Darling, do you know why they were sent on with you?”
“Because when your father died, he died without a will. Your mother sent you home because you were legally my ward after his death and it was thought that England would be healthier for you. She sent the jewels on to pay your way, in case something happened, but also for safekeeping—they became part of the estate.”
“But not entailed. They’re Mother’s personal effects. And she’s still living!” She was standing still, muscles rigid, except for her hands. One of her hands’ nails was digging into the other. “They’re mine.”
He heaved a long sigh. “Yes. They are yours. They’re not entailed, so I can leave them to anyone I want. I didn’t sell them with the last round because I knew they weren’t necessarily mine to sell.”
Well, good. Because they weren’t. Her father had paid to have them made and Mother had worn them and Victoria was their only child.
“Then he can’t sell them,” Victoria said. But Uncle did not answer right away. He stared into space for a long second. “Uncle! He can’t…you could tell him he can’t. They’re not his.”
“Victoria, they’re already gone to Sotheby’s. Them and the art. We cannot retract them. I understand Conrad’s instinct to make Ursula feel welcomed here—and the house needs work, you know that.”
All through it, Victoria felt the bite of her corset as her breathing grew uneven, then ragged. They were already sent to the auction house, so there. There was nothing to be done. He’d let Conrad sell her mother’s jewels to pay for something for his little American chit. Her chest felt like there was a boulder on top, crushing everything, her whole body, her whole world.
“Victoria,” Uncle said, sounding alarmed. He stood and came to her. “Breathe, darling, breathe. My one goal in this life to preserve this estate. It’s also my biggest burden.”
She gave a short nod.
“Which I must pass on to Conrad.”
She nodded again.
“By any means necessary.” He searched her face and gave her a small, sad smile. “My brother would not be best pleased with me, failing his only daughter. But you’re a strong one, Victoria.”
She shook her head, not even bothering to hide the tears that were dropping from her eyes.
“Don’t placate me, Uncle,” she said. “There’s nothing you could say to make me feel better.”
She turned and walked out of his study, wondering if she could pry one of the swords off the front hall’s wall and ram Conrad through with it.