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The chandlers, grocers, butchers, clothiers, and every other merchant in Chantsville was yelling in the streets outside the shop where I was studiously working. Their ruckus combined with the bleats and squawks of livestock wandering underfoot, creating a bustling racket that would drive the unfamiliar ear to distraction.

I was used to the noise, however, and I was so engrossed in my work that I would have sworn the world was silent save for the sound of my chisel biting into the cedar box before me. Delicate curls fell from my worktable, collecting in small drifts upon the dirt floor.

I stopped to wipe sweat from my face. The pause gave me a moment to step back and survey my work.

Yes, the casket was coming along beautifully. I had mitered the joints meticulously. I had planed it smooth as glass before tracing out the panels on each side. I had spent days, chisel in hand, carving the scenes into the wood, and the entire workshop smelled strongly of cedar.

It was almost done, and the carved scenes on each side looked alive despite the casket's business of death. I smiled and set back to work, scraping out the shape of a tree looming over a man impaled by a sword. Some of the scenes conveyed happiness, and some showed grim things indeed, but they all brought a smile to my lips.

I had carpenter's blood in my veins and carpenter's calluses on my hands. Nothing in the world could come between me and my craft. I took immense pride in all my works, but this casket was special. It represented my independence. With it, I would win the carpenter's contest that the count of Hillough had announced several weeks ago. That would gain me enough fame to make my living as a carpenter, no longer under my master's shadow.

The door scraped open, quite startling me out of my trance-like focus. I nearly gasped when I saw the count of Hillough's daughter standing behind me. She was perhaps my age, about fourteen, her cheeks flushed rosy from the heat of the day. Her fair hair was plaited around her head with care, reminding me of the haloed angels I had carved into the casket behind me. She smiled brightly. "Good afternoon."

I hastily set aside my tools, and had to remind myself to bow. "M-m'lady. May I be of service?"

"Oh, it's beautiful!" She had noticed the casket behind me, her eyes sparkling. She stepped up to it, tracing my carving with her fingertips.

"Thank you, m'lady." I blushed nervously. What was a count's daughter doing in my humble shop? I moved my foot to discreetly sweep wood shavings over a stain on the floor.

"It is for my father's contest, isn't it?"

"Yes, m'lady."

She felt at the corners, admiring my joints. I felt a surge of fierce pride. My master's work had never fetched the praise of royalty.

"Is this your master's work?" she asked, as I knew she would.

"No!" I shook my head. "No, m'lady. It is mine. Every board, every cut, every notch is by my own hand and none other."

"Well!" she exclaimed. "Your master must be proud to have such a fine apprentice."

"Yes, m'lady," I lied.

"You must be wondering why I am here." She smiled. "I have been looking forward to this contest for weeks, and as my father says, I have many virtues, but patience is not one of them. I travel with my father, but his affairs are stuffy, so I sneak away to look in upon what carpenters' shops I can find. I saw the most glorious table in Caleigh, and beautiful doors in Taffshire, but none compare to this. I'm sure you will win."

"Thank you, m'lady." I blushed again, exhilarated by her praise. After all this time of guarding my pride against insults and rebuttals, finally I was vindicated!

"I love woodwork. If I were a boy, and allowed to practice such a craft, I would have the finest carpenters in Hillough teach me." She eagerly reached for the clasps, but I waved her back, feeling great trepidation at impeding a noble's will. "Oh, don't. Don't open it, m'lady, please."

Her clear, green eyes flicked to my dingy, brown ones. "Why not?"

"Oh, it—it is bad luck, m'lady, to open an—an empty coffin," I stammered.

She paused for a moment, and then shook her head. "Nonsense! Besides, you can't possibly make it without occasionally opening it."

I blinked. A noblewoman who was clever. I hadn't expected this. I bit my lip. I should have known better than to judge her, all things considered.

She flipped up the clasps and lifted the lid. She frowned at what she saw. "Sand? Why is it full of sand?"

"It keeps the wood dry," I answered quickly. "If the wood gets damp before I oil it, the wood shall swell and my fine joints shall split apart."

"Ah, I see. Trade secret." She winked at me. "I won't say a word."

"Thank you, m'lady." I felt perspiration running down my face, and I wiped off the sweat and dust with my sleeve.

Without the pale sawdust on my cheek, she noticed the large but fading bruise. "What's that? Has someone hit you?"

I felt my ire kindling, but I kept it hidden and spoke lightly. "My master has a temper, occasionally."

"Well!" She puffed herself up with outrage. "It's a bleeding shame. You have a fair face to sport such an ugly mark, lad. Anyway, he ought not strike such a skilled apprentice as you. Call him out, that I might speak with him."

I shuffled my feet. "I cannot, m'lady. He is away presently."

She wasn't easily deterred. "When will he be back?"

"I can't say, m'lady." I stared at the shavings upon the floor. I nervously smoothed them out with my shoe.

She scowled and tapped her chin in thought. "I shall write him a note later and leave it for his return."

"Yes, m'lady," I said meekly.

"I must go, before my father finds out I have left and sends a team of handmaidens after me." She hastened to the door, but then she paused. "I could have my father buy that coffin. Grandmother is quite ill, and the physicians say her time is near. You could use the money to start your own shop."

"Oh, no, I couldn't, m'lady. This is one I made special for my master." I refastened the clasps and dusted the lid off with a horsehair brush. "I mayn't sell it."

Concern crossed her face. "Someone in his family died?"

"Yes, m'lady." I bobbed my head. "But I can make a better one. A much better one, if you please."

"I shall see to it that my father comes to you." She beamed, and as she backed out the door, the sunlight glowed around her silhouette like a holy aura. Again she reminded me of the angels on the casket.

When she left, I sighed with such relief that I clutched my ribs. The broken one hadn't healed yet. I ignored the pain.

Maybe I finally had earned some good luck! The contest didn't even matter now. If the count ordered a casket from me, I would have enough fame to build my future upon, easily.

I sat down on a stool, my knees trembling too much to support me any longer. I had come so close to ruin that I had felt Death's icy breath on my neck. He had been waiting with his great scythe, waiting for the girl to notice that my face was too fair to match my freshly shorn hair, and that my waist was too shaped.

I rubbed the bruise on my cheek. My master's continual wrath at me for practicing a man's trade hadn't kept him from selling my work as his own. He pretended his wrath was righteous defense of the law against female craftsmen, but I knew it angered him more that his housemaid—the granddaughter of his deceased master—could produce finer work than his own. I felt a stab of righteous fury. I didn't care what anyone said. Nothing in the world could come between me and my craft, girl or not.

I had crafted my last piece for the old tyrant! I finished the last carving and set to oiling it, which protected the wood and brought out its reddish hues. Yes, I hoped the blighter enjoyed the casket I had made for him.

I rubbed the oil over the angel on the front, and I thanked God for sending me the angel that was the count's daughter. I thanked God that she hadn't noticed me brushing shavings over the stain on the floor.

But mostly, I thanked God that the count's daughter hadn't smelled my master's rotting corpse through all that sand and cedar.

The chandlers, grocers, butchers, clothiers, and every other merchant in Chantsville was yelling in the streets outside the shop where I was studiously working. Their ruckus combined with the bleats and squawks of livestock wandering underfoot, creating a bustling racket that would drive the unfamiliar ear to distraction.

I was used to the noise, however, and I was so engrossed in my work that I would have sworn the world was silent save for the sound of my chisel biting into the cedar box before me. Delicate curls fell from my worktable, collecting in small drifts upon the dirt floor.

I stopped to wipe sweat from my face. The pause gave me a moment to step back and survey my work.

Yes, the casket was coming along beautifully. I had mitered the joints meticulously. I had planed it smooth as glass before tracing out the panels on each side. I had spent days, chisel in hand, carving the scenes into the wood, and the entire workshop smelled strongly of cedar.

It was almost done, and the carved scenes on each side looked alive despite the casket's business of death. I smiled and set back to work, scraping out the shape of a tree looming over a man impaled by a sword. Some of the scenes conveyed happiness, and some showed grim things indeed, but they all brought a smile to my lips.

I had carpenter's blood in my veins and carpenter's calluses on my hands. Nothing in the world could come between me and my craft. I took immense pride in all my works, but this casket was special. It represented my independence. With it, I would win the carpenter's contest that the count of Hillough had announced several weeks ago. That would gain me enough fame to make my living as a carpenter, no longer under my master's shadow.

The door scraped open, quite startling me out of my trance-like focus. I nearly gasped when I saw the count of Hillough's daughter standing behind me. She was perhaps my age, about fourteen, her cheeks flushed rosy from the heat of the day. Her fair hair was plaited around her head with care, reminding me of the haloed angels I had carved into the casket behind me. She smiled brightly. "Good afternoon."

I hastily set aside my tools, and had to remind myself to bow. "M-m'lady. May I be of service?"

"Oh, it's beautiful!" She had noticed the casket behind me, her eyes sparkling. She stepped up to it, tracing my carving with her fingertips.

"Thank you, m'lady." I blushed nervously. What was a count's daughter doing in my humble shop? I moved my foot to discreetly sweep wood shavings over a stain on the floor.

"It is for my father's contest, isn't it?"

"Yes, m'lady."

She felt at the corners, admiring my joints. I felt a surge of fierce pride. My master's work had never fetched the praise of royalty.

"Is this your master's work?" she asked, as I knew she would.

"No!" I shook my head. "No, m'lady. It is mine. Every board, every cut, every notch is by my own hand and none other."

"Well!" she exclaimed. "Your master must be proud to have such a fine apprentice."

"Yes, m'lady," I lied.

"You must be wondering why I am here." She smiled. "I have been looking forward to this contest for weeks, and as my father says, I have many virtues, but patience is not one of them. I travel with my father, but his affairs are stuffy, so I sneak away to look in upon what carpenters' shops I can find. I saw the most glorious table in Caleigh, and beautiful doors in Taffshire, but none compare to this. I'm sure you will win."

"Thank you, m'lady." I blushed again, exhilarated by her praise. After all this time of guarding my pride against insults and rebuttals, finally I was vindicated!

"I love woodwork. If I were a boy, and allowed to practice such a craft, I would have the finest carpenters in Hillough teach me." She eagerly reached for the clasps, but I waved her back, feeling great trepidation at impeding a noble's will. "Oh, don't. Don't open it, m'lady, please."

Her clear, green eyes flicked to my dingy, brown ones. "Why not?"

"Oh, it—it is bad luck, m'lady, to open an—an empty coffin," I stammered.

She paused for a moment, and then shook her head. "Nonsense! Besides, you can't possibly make it without occasionally opening it."

I blinked. A noblewoman who was clever. I hadn't expected this. I bit my lip. I should have known better than to judge her, all things considered.

She flipped up the clasps and lifted the lid. She frowned at what she saw. "Sand? Why is it full of sand?"

"It keeps the wood dry," I answered quickly. "If the wood gets damp before I oil it, the wood shall swell and my fine joints shall split apart."

"Ah, I see. Trade secret." She winked at me. "I won't say a word."

"Thank you, m'lady." I felt perspiration running down my face, and I wiped off the sweat and dust with my sleeve.

Without the pale sawdust on my cheek, she noticed the large but fading bruise. "What's that? Has someone hit you?"

I felt my ire kindling, but I kept it hidden and spoke lightly. "My master has a temper, occasionally."

"Well!" She puffed herself up with outrage. "It's a bleeding shame. You have a fair face to sport such an ugly mark, lad. Anyway, he ought not strike such a skilled apprentice as you. Call him out, that I might speak with him."

I shuffled my feet. "I cannot, m'lady. He is away presently."

She wasn't easily deterred. "When will he be back?"

"I can't say, m'lady." I stared at the shavings upon the floor. I nervously smoothed them out with my shoe.

She scowled and tapped her chin in thought. "I shall write him a note later and leave it for his return."

"Yes, m'lady," I said meekly.

"I must go, before my father finds out I have left and sends a team of handmaidens after me." She hastened to the door, but then she paused. "I could have my father buy that coffin. Grandmother is quite ill, and the physicians say her time is near. You could use the money to start your own shop."

"Oh, no, I couldn't, m'lady. This is one I made special for my master." I refastened the clasps and dusted the lid off with a horsehair brush. "I mayn't sell it."

Concern crossed her face. "Someone in his family died?"

"Yes, m'lady." I bobbed my head. "But I can make a better one. A much better one, if you please."

"I shall see to it that my father comes to you." She beamed, and as she backed out the door, the sunlight glowed around her silhouette like a holy aura. Again she reminded me of the angels on the casket.

When she left, I sighed with such relief that I clutched my ribs. The broken one hadn't healed yet. I ignored the pain.

Maybe I finally had earned some good luck! The contest didn't even matter now. If the count ordered a casket from me, I would have enough fame to build my future upon, easily.

I sat down on a stool, my knees trembling too much to support me any longer. I had come so close to ruin that I had felt Death's icy breath on my neck. He had been waiting with his great scythe, waiting for the girl to notice that my face was too fair to match my freshly shorn hair, and that my waist was too shaped.

I rubbed the bruise on my cheek. My master's continual wrath at me for practicing a man's trade hadn't kept him from selling my work as his own. He pretended his wrath was righteous defense of the law against female craftsmen, but I knew it angered him more that his housemaid—the granddaughter of his deceased master—could produce finer work than his own. I felt a stab of righteous fury. I didn't care what anyone said. Nothing in the world could come between me and my craft, girl or not.

I had crafted my last piece for the old tyrant! I finished the last carving and set to oiling it, which protected the wood and brought out its reddish hues. Yes, I hoped the blighter enjoyed the casket I had made for him.

I rubbed the oil over the angel on the front, and I thanked God for sending me the angel that was the count's daughter. I thanked God that she hadn't noticed me brushing shavings over the stain on the floor.

But mostly, I thanked God that the count's daughter hadn't smelled my master's rotting corpse through all that sand and cedar.

Just a short story. :)

If you like it, you may like some of my other medieval/fantasy genre writing. I don't have any posted yet, but I've got plenty written, so if I don't get around to posting it any time soon, just give me a nudge.

In the meantime, here are a few science fiction stories you may enjoy:

New Moon
Death of a Coward (Start here.)
Viveka, Level One Human Female (Start here.)

And as always, if you like my work, any support by means of comment/fav/DD/etc. is more than appreciated. Feel free to ask me for critiques and writing help, too! :D

--
OMG! DD? *faints* I can't believe I missed it! Wow, thanks everyone! I'll try to get to replying to everything this weekend. :squee:
Add a Comment:
 

Daily Deviation

Given 2013-02-19
:icondoloriferousfrost:
A truly excellent story. The narrative was enjoyable and the characters were believable. I LOVED ‘tracing my carving with her fingertips’ as I’ve never seen *my* used in this syntax before. having I particularly liked the ending, though I think a few aromatic herbs would be needed to make sure the count’s daughter wouldn’t smell a rotting corpse, something that is quite potent. Unless, of course, she had no sense of smell. Something like this would be considered a defect, especially of a nobleborn, so if she lacks a sense of smell, perhaps the apprentice can remember it when the daughter walks in. Your punctuation was used to an incredibly high standard, particularly your use of commas for parenthesis, speech marks (“x”) for speech rather than quotation marks (‘x’) and for correctly using semi-colons.

‘I had planed it smooth as glass before tracing out the panels on each side.’ There needs to be an extra ‘n’ so that it is ‘planned’ rather than ‘planed’ (something acting in the manner of a plane). Also, when using ‘as’ as a simile, there needs to be an ‘as’ on the other side of the comparison, so ‘as smooth as glass’.

‘With it, I would win the carpenter's contest that the count of Hillough had announced several weeks ago.’ As the contest isn’t run by a carpenter and the contest is for multiple carpenters, then it should be ‘ carpenters’ contest ‘. Also, ‘Count of Hillough’, as this is his full title.

‘Milady’. This is short for ‘my lady’, and as such should be ‘ m’lady ’. The ‘defense’ should be ‘defence’ and ‘breath’ (pronounced /brEth/) should be ‘breathe’ (pronounced /breth/).

I was thrown by ‘ "You must be wondering why I am here" ’ because no one says this. Either the other person would ask why they are there, or they would say something like, “Sorry for the intrusion.”

‘ “If I were a boy, and allowed to practice such a craft” ’. I would have thought that ‘ “If I were a boy” ’ comes under ‘being allowed’, so I would say that everything before the ‘and’ could be removed.

‘I would have enough fame to build my future upon, easily.’ The comma before the ‘easily’ doesn’t do anything here.

Again, a truly wonderful story.
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:iconcordaicor:
cordaicor Featured By Owner Mar 27, 2013
Great story! I suspected him(her) of murdering his(her) master (but I didn't guess the character was a girl)
Cheers!
Reply
:iconroskvape:
Roskvape Featured By Owner Mar 27, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Thanks! :D
Reply
:icondarjavine:
Darjavine Featured By Owner Feb 26, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
The fact that she had killed her master and was a girl were both a completely surprise to me. Congrats on the DD!
Reply
:iconroskvape:
Roskvape Featured By Owner Feb 27, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
YES! I finally got a doubly-surprised reader! ;)

Thank you so much! :D
Reply
:icondarjavine:
Darjavine Featured By Owner Mar 1, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
You're quite welcome!
Reply
:iconlacewinged-beauty:
Lacewinged-Beauty Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2013   Writer
I knew he was dead in that casket!
Reply
:iconroskvape:
Roskvape Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Hehe! :D
Reply
:iconhigh-priestessofnyx:
High-PriestessofNyx Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2013  Student Traditional Artist
This was so amazing! I had expected that she had killed her master, but I hadn't even considered that 'he' was a 'she'! It's wonderfully creepy.
Reply
:iconroskvape:
Roskvape Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you so much! :squee:
Reply
:iconhigh-priestessofnyx:
High-PriestessofNyx Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2013  Student Traditional Artist
No prob, hope you do more in the future!
Reply
:iconflamegirl36:
flamegirl36 Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2013  Student Writer
Wow. Super creepy. Awesome.

I also enjoy writing fantasy, but I don't have a lot of things posted yet. :-P
Reply
:iconroskvape:
Roskvape Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
:D Thanks!

Well, whether you post it or not, I hope you keep writing and keep enjoying it! :typerhappy:
Reply
:iconamber-heart:
Amber-Heart Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2013  Student General Artist
I love it! You can see the whole thing! :D
Reply
:iconroskvape:
Roskvape Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you kindly! :happybounce:
Reply
:iconyolen:
yolen Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Horrifying, yet logical. A+
Reply
:iconroskvape:
Roskvape Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
:XD: Thanks!
Reply
:iconpyrotogepi:
PyroTogepi Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
What wonderful writing! I knew what was in the coffin the moment she told the count's daughter not to open it. Though I could never had predicted the other twist in the story!

Readers can definitely sympathize with the main character, though it should be noted that murder is usually not the best way to resolve things (but it was quite effective nonetheless) ;)

Congrats on the Daily Deviation as well! :D
Reply
:iconroskvape:
Roskvape Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Hehe!

(I know, I know, but it makes for a fun story. :stab: LOL!)

Thank you! :D
Reply
:iconamenarae:
Amenarae Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
I KNEW IT!
Amazing story! Kept me going!
Reply
:iconroskvape:
Roskvape Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Haha! Awesome! :D
Reply
:iconjamminjo:
JamminJo Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
Sensational Work of Art :love:

Congratulations on your DD Feature :)
Reply
:iconroskvape:
Roskvape Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you so much! :la:
Reply
:iconfeathersofflame:
FeathersOfFlame Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I did see the last line coming... But not the fact that she was a girl! This is amazing, great imagination!
Reply
:iconroskvape:
Roskvape Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
:happybounce: Thank you!
Reply
:iconsimply-awesome:
simply-awesome Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
I admit, when she acted all nervous about opening the casket, I knew that she had killed her master. It was just a guess, of course. But I never would've guessed she was a girl! That was an amazing story and I loved it :) Great job!
Reply
:iconroskvape:
Roskvape Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you! :eager:

I love the fact so many people guessed she killed her master but not that she's a girl. As a reader, I like figuring things out, but also getting surprised. So it's like win-win. :D
Reply
:iconsimply-awesome:
simply-awesome Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
It's fun to be surprised in a story! Where's the fun if you're not? :P
You're welcome! You deserved it, though! :la:
Reply
:iconroskvape:
Roskvape Featured By Owner Feb 25, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
:D
Reply
:icongonebatty385:
GoneBatty385 Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2013
This is a great story. It's subtle, but the hints are there for the reader to find, about the murder anyways. I didn't see any hints about the gender of the carver, and that was an unexpected twist hiding behind the lesser twist of the master in the casket. I really enjoyed reading this, and I look forward to reading more of your work when I can find the time.
Reply
:iconroskvape:
Roskvape Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you so much for your comment! I'm glad you liked it. Hopefully I can write more really short stories like this in the future, but currently I am writing a massive novel. I do have other short stories and not so short stories, though. You can find most of them on this handy Index.

If you like suspense and gritty justice, I recommend Death of a Coward.
If you like crafty female protagonists, I recommend New Moon.
If you like medieval/fantasy and don't mind a longer read, I recommend Knight's Honor.
Reply
:icongonebatty385:
GoneBatty385 Featured By Owner Jul 1, 2013
I have finally taken your advice and read “Death of a Coward” and “New Moon.” Sorry it’s taken so long, but life has been hectic. I haven’t got to Knight’s Honor yet, but I plan to when I can find the time. You are a fantastic writer, and I imagine I’ll likely go through all of your works eventually.

I plan to comment on those works which I’ve read as soon as I’m able to figure out what I want to say.

I have a question for you, because you seem to be very aware of your process and you don’t seem to mind giving advice.

I have the barest bones of an idea, based on a character from a short story, but in order to do what I want with him I need to go far into the depths of his crazy backstory, and I think that this will become a novel-length project. Unfortunately, I don't know what his backstory is. All I know is where I need him to get to.

I see that you have (at least parts of) two or three longer works on here, and I suppose my question is, how do you take an idea and develop it into a full story? Do you plan out all of the major points and hope that you're able to tie them in together logically? Or do you just start with what you know for certain and write your way towards a possible conclusion, allowing for changes to the plan as unexpected elements arise?
Reply
:iconroskvape:
Roskvape Featured By Owner Jul 1, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Oh, gosh, I know all about hectic, so don't worry about it. Thank you! :)

First, I'd direct you to my writing walk-through (that I haven't yet finished). That may help you with the planning process.

But to address your question directly, and it somewhat fewer words, figure out the key items of your story. Presumably your character is the key part, or one of them, so I'll use that for the example.

What is important about him (for you)? What are you trying to show? Whatever it is, use everything else to help you show that item.

Let's say your character is honorable. That's the central trait you want to show off. How do you communicate that to the reader?

1. Contrast/Comparison. Surround him with one or many dishonorable people, or make him admire and idolize the people more honorable than him.

2. Challenges. Make him prove his honor. Test him, tempt him, torment him. Twist his arm. Make every obstacle try to undermine him. The harder he has to fight to retain his honor, the more the reader will understand the strength of it.

3. Concession. (Totally optional.) Find his breaking point. What could possibly make him cast down his honor? Disillusionment? Betrayal? Loss? Deception? Witchcraft? Drugs? Exhaustion? Temptation? A necessary evil?

4. Redemption. (Useful if using #3.) Having lost his precious honor, having done something he knows was wrong, what is he willing to do to repent and redeem himself? The harder you force him to fight, the better.

Or, maybe you want to show off a skill. Make him use his skill to solve problems (the more creatively the better). However! Don't forget you can throw challenges at him that cannot be solved by his skill. His skill cannot seem overpowered or predictable.

Maybe you want to show off a pivotal event (falling in love, dying, changing paths, etc.). Consider building everything up to that final scene, so that by the time the reader gets there, they understand WHY that moment is SO important.

Now, you said you know where you need him to get to. Trying asking yourself questions, lots of them, like:

-If he needs to reach point A, where is the farthest point from A? Can you start him there? (The rich man was penniless, the thief becomes a philanthropist, the orphan gains a family, the harlot becomes a nun, and so forth.)
-What could prevent him from reaching point A? (These are challenges you can throw at him. Like the penniless man is in massive debt, becomes ill, has to pay for an ill family member, is robbed, has his house burn down, etc.)
-Why is point A important to him? Is it? Or is it only important to you, and he has no idea where he is about to end up? (The penniless man needs money to solve his problems, but perhaps it is more than that. Maybe he needs to impress the girl, save the town, pay his daughter's medical bills, prove his demeaning father wrong? Maybe he never dreamed of being rich?)
-What could help him reach point A? (Hard work? An opportunity given by someone he helped? An ally? An enemy? Cleverness? Love? Passion? His experience being penniless?)
-What would you, personally, like to see happen to him? (A particular test, joke, mishap? Can that be used?)

And so forth. When in doubt, ask more questions. Does the shy character need an outspoken friend? The strong character need a weak friend?

Whatever you go with, give your character tons of opposition, strong opposition. The harder he must fight, the more his victory (or failure) will mean.

And whatever thing you are writing the story around, build everything else with that in mind. Use challenges, other characters, settings, everything to better communicate that one thing. And don't be afraid to let the story evolve. Your character may start giving you hints about where he wants to go. ;)

I plan very loosely overall, just enough to know where I'm going and that I can actually get there without plot holes. I plan out each scene more just before I write it, but not in great detail. I ad lib almost all dialogue and details, and I often find myself with new side plots and new characters (or sometimes new books!). Planning just enough to keep going is my method, but keep looking forward. Keep checking to see if things are lining up, or if you need to steer the story in a new direction.

Don't be afraid to revise. Don't be afraid to explore. Go back and read what you written, frequently. Does it feel right? Did things get too dark? Not dark enough? Does it make sense?

Proofread as you read back through. I like to have a solid foundation before I move on, so if I find myself having trouble moving forward, I go back and make sure everything before that point is up to my standards. Usually I have run astray somewhere. One of my most frequent hiccups is breaking the character. You can't force them to do things they wouldn't do. Rewrite the story if you have to, but don't break the character. Readers get very mad when you do that. At least . . . I do! ;) And don't lose sight of why you are writing it in the first place. Passion for that one part of the story can carry you the entire way. It always has for me.

Best of luck! I hope my million-word response was helpful and not too confusing. :)
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:icongonebatty385:
GoneBatty385 Featured By Owner Jul 4, 2013
Thanks so much for taking the time for this. I appreciate the advice.

I don't think it's too confusing. You're telling me to break my character (give him/her as much or more opposition than he/she can sanely handle), without breaking my character (making her/him do something she/he wouldn't do).

I like the method you're describing here; one firmly planted step after the next, and finding where you're going to place your foot next is more important than walking straight towards your goal.

I'll be keeping those four numbered points in mind as I write; creating secondary characters to support my main storyline is one of my weak points. I find that I'm too focussed on my goal to think of subplots and such, so I'll have to work on that.

Thanks again.
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:iconroskvape:
Roskvape Featured By Owner Jul 10, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
You're totally welcome!

Yep! It's like that old saying, "A woman is like tea. You don't know how strong she is until you put her in hot water." But the tea can't turn into whiskey for no reason. ;)

Subplots will turn up on their own, most likely. Before I start a full novel, I flesh out the characters. I have had this work wonders. For me, it generates a ton of ideas to figure out the characters and how they are related. Furthermore, if you have your characters pinned down really well, they are so much easier to ad lib with. Just throw them in a box together and shake them up!

P.S. Your comments on New Moon and Death of a Coward are probably the best, most helpful criticism I have ever gotten. Thank you SO much! The reason I haven't replied yet is because I'm keeping them as reminders to revise these two stories, and with Flash Fiction Month going on, I don't have time! :( Your remarks are spot on, though. If you can apply this sort of thinking to your own stories, I think you'll do very well. :D
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:icongonebatty385:
GoneBatty385 Featured By Owner Jul 11, 2013
I looked up your character developing link, and I'll probably give it a shot. I've never had much luck with the whole 'building characters' thing, but your shorter version might be more manageable.

I'm glad that my comments were helpful. I hate just leaving comments like "I liked it!" without going into detail; I prefer to explain what about it I liked, and what about it I think might benefit from a second look. And the things I brought up are only suggestions, of course. I wouldn't dream of expecting you to make any of the changes I suggested.
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:iconcoffeecuppup:
CoffeeCupPup Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Whoa. Did not see that last line coming! Your work has a lot of imagination in it, it's very cool :)
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:iconroskvape:
Roskvape Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Great! Thank you! :happybounce:
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:iconcoffeecuppup:
CoffeeCupPup Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
You're welcome! :D
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:iconamianto:
amianto Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2013
That's what I call an ending !!! Beautiful story :)
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:iconroskvape:
Roskvape Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
:D Thank you so much! :la:
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:icondemonlemon:
Demonlemon Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2013
Easily one of the best story stories i've read, I believe I shall have to read your other works!
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:iconroskvape:
Roskvape Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you! :boogie:
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:iconidontknowwhoyouknow:
Idontknowwhoyouknow Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I didn't guess that apprentice was a girl! And why was she hiding her master's corpse in the pretty coffin? (I think this is the only flaw. I knew she must have killed him, but some more explanation please.)
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:iconroskvape:
Roskvape Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Hard to sneak a grown man's corpse out of town when you're a young girl. In my mind, she was buying time to figure out what to do with him because she couldn't carry him and she couldn't ask anyone for help. So she built a coffin around him. I guess she could have chopped him into smaller pieces . . . but she isn't really a cold-blooded killer with a stomach for such things--she killed him in self-defense.

Plausible? :XD:
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:iconidontknowwhoyouknow:
Idontknowwhoyouknow Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I think she could have smuggled him on a box or something, and leave it outside.
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:iconroskvape:
Roskvape Featured By Owner Feb 25, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
But then I wouldn't have a story! :crying: ;)
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:iconidontknowwhoyouknow:
Idontknowwhoyouknow Featured By Owner Feb 26, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Hahaha. :rofl:
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:iconlintu47:
lintu47 Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Congrats on the well deserved DD!
I'd like reading more stories like this from you :dalove:
Have a nice day! :heart:
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:iconroskvape:
Roskvape Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Thank youuuu!

The closest story I have to this is The Blackguard Princess, which is about a hellion of a princess who disguises herself as a boy and gets into trouble constantly--until her fun ends in disaster. But it is over on Amazon, not here on DA. :( I do have a preview here, though.

Thanks again! :D
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:iconlintu47:
lintu47 Featured By Owner Feb 24, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
It seems lovely from what i can read in the preview. Good for you for selling your works and good luck! :heart:
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