The Rules of the Game

image from open clipart.org by nicubunu

 

I am the self-appointed editor of our group round robins.  Anyone who’s read our work knows I am LEAST qualified of the four of us.  ProWritingAid is the great equalizer, or at least I have to tell myself it is.

As the editor I have self-imposed rules.

 

1. Don’t change the core of other’s sections.  Whatever they wrote is what they intended and I have to work with that, not hack and slash around to change inherent meaning.  Too much change makes it “my story” instead of “our story” which runs contrary to the round robin’s goals.

 

 2. Seamless flow from one writer to the other is the goal, but I can’t change all the phrasing to be “Jessica” (or anyone else’s) style to achieve this.  It’s not right to erase someone else’s voice on a joint work to showcase another’s.

 

This worked well in our first round robin.  I used ProWritingAid first to correct grammar, style, to catch and rework repetitive phrasing, and to delete adverbs.  The major change I made was plot continuity driven.  One writer misread another’s part of the story.  Where Anges finds a dead body that writer interpreted it as Anges being the dead body.  I had to change content.  I adjusted three lines.

 

Fast forward to our second round robin project.  We used Reedsy to find a prompt.  The gist was: “Your grandmother makes pancakes for you every morning.  Your grandmother dies, but there are still pancakes the next morning.

 

This prompt was a different challenge from the last.   The first story blooms from three words/themes.  Using a specific scenario, encouraged more partnership instead of competition to “take over” the story.  This second round robin was smoother and required a lot less finessing to make it seem like one person had written the work.

 

If reworking it was simple why isn’t it posted here?

 

The “problem”: I hate my part of the story.  Not all.  I’m happy with the first three almost four paragraphs, but it goes downhill fast.  My ambitions to churn the most words and be the first to “finish” a round robin in fifteen minutes left me with a rambling sticky mess.  I do not want to publish such a poor expression of my writing.  Everything I think is weakest in my form is on display.

 

What might be worse, my closing section only drives towards a handful of endings.  I broadcasted the only natural conclusion, and that’s driving me to play with the less obvious choices to thumb my nose at myself (because I hate authority so much I’ll rebel against myself when I become the authority and isn’t that an unattractive personality quirk).

 

Help!  Do I publish and unfinished story as it stands?  Do I scrap this work as hopeless?  Do I make my changes because if I cut the last two paragraphs I could write three kinds of separate endings on my own?  Are more drastic changes to my section a benefit I gain as the person completing the editing work?  Do I have to keep everything I wrote in the spirit of the exercise and endure the cringe?  Tell me what’s a “professional” writer/editor to do in this situation with my minor conflict of interest.

Love, Murder, & Romance~ Patrick O’Kelley’s Ending

Part 1 of “Murder, Love, & Romance”

 

“Oh, only God knows that. She was already in his service when we wed. I onced asked her about where she came from but Henry shushed me before she could speak.” The cold, dead hearth behind Batson sparked a ember flame. He didn’t care to notice.

“I see… Well, I am doubtful she took her own life out of grief for killing him. She must’ve leapt to her death from a broken heart. Still, this begs the question…. how did he die? Who killed him?”

“Heavens, I wouldn’t know. I woke up and he was… he.. he…” she broke out into a sob and blew her nose with her handkerchief. The fireplace burped another large flare, this time gathering the attention of Batson.

“What the hell?” The flame burst into a stout raging fire, not able to be contained by that mere fireplace. Batson backed away, grabbing Beatrice by the arm, pulling her with him. The fire spilled out into the parlor room, chasing them into the corner. Fearing the worst, Batson broke open a nearby window pane and was about jump out with Beatrice in his arms. The flames however, hadn’t had their way with him just yet.

The fire wrapped around his ankle like an octopus from the sea. He fell down to the floor screaming for help. Beatrice stood in front of the broken window long enough to see his body get swallowed up completely.

 

By the time she had jumped to the garden below and made her way to the forest just to the edge of the property, the entirety of Kimberly Manor had sunk into the ground. The Earth was continuing to eat up the stone and marble when Beatrice gave it one final glance.

“Thank you, Henry. You were the best supernatural being I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing.”

The ground belched in appreciation. Henry had been returned to his true form by the act of the breaking spell: murder by one’s true love

End

 

Did you like Patrick’s ending best?  Let him know in comment below!

To read other endings for this work check our Christopher M. Palmer’s Ending or Jessica Donegan’s Ending

Love, Murder, & Romance~ Christopher M. Palmer’s Ending

Part 1

 

She managed to collect herself enough to answer. “Three or four years.”

“Well, it doesn’t seem that we have much of a mystery here. She was obviously involved with him for some time and it appears he was killed in a jealous rage.” Batson was a local and he seemed to know which side his bread was buttered on. “There will be an inquest, of course, but, the way I see it, the facts are rather cut and dried.”

Beatrice dared hope that he was playing along. Surely he couldn’t be so dim as to believe that was all there was to it. She resumed dabbing her tear-filled eyes, but her sobbing subsided. “I can’t believe it. She always was his favorite and I’ve never had reason to suspect anything untoward going on between them.”

“Yes, well. I’m sorry for your loss, Lady Beatrice. I will take my leave to deal with the county authorities and you will have your obligations to handle as well. I’m truly sorry for your loss.” He rose to go.

Beatrice took his hand, but didn’t dare look him in the eye, yet. “Thank you, Constable. It’s going to be hard, but I’m heartened to hear that the family won’t be dragged through the mud with this.”

“As you say, Lady Beatrice.”

Batson really was a handsome man. Perhaps after a suitable period of mourning, she would have him over for tea.

 

End

 

Like Christopher M. Palmer’s Ending best?  Let him know in the comments below? 

Want more? See Patrick O’Kelley’s Ending or Jessica Donegan’s Ending

Love, Murder, & Romance~ Jessica Donegan’s Ending

Part 1

 

“Ms. Anges tends to those new to the manor.  She administered me as a child, but her allegiance transferred to Henry when he came to live here some years ago,” Beatrice swipes at her tears.  Batson offers her a handkerchief.  She nods her thanks and  cleans her face.  Murder and Suicide, such a messy business.  Beatrice must strive to avoid it.  

Batson considers Beatrice.  The whole affair is highly unusual.  There hasn’t been a murder in one of the large manor houses in many generations.  Such atrocities are left to the lower end streets.  Everything about this place seems a little off, but some things are clear.  The murder was an impetuous  act of emotion.  Anger, passion, lust, Batson has seen them all.  It would be convenient if he could wrap both deaths up and return to his usual more comfortable beat.  But something about that solution seemed too simple.  

“Did Sir Lochley have any enemies?” Batson asks, working on a hunch.

“Henry was always a kind, bright man.  He carried a compliment on his lips for everyone he met.  And he’s retired from any business dealings years ago,” Beatrice adds.  

Batson nods but his face drops.

“Thank you Miss Lochley, I believe I can proceed from here on my own,” Batson says.  

“So soon?  Of course Captain, please let me know if there’s anything I offer you to help,” Beatrice murmurs, eyes downcast.  Her lip twitches but she wills the errant smile to stay clean off her face.  

Batson takes her hand, it’s forward, but he’s compelled to reassure her.  

“We will find who did this to Sir Lochley and we will bring them to justice,” he swears.  

Beatrice nods and allows a single tear to roll down her cheek.  

“I have complete confidence in your ability Captain.”

Batson shifts under her gaze.  He wishes he had the same belief.  At least the serving woman’s suicide gives him a culprit to pin it on, if all else fails.  He should interview the rest of the staff, ensure Miss Beatrice’s safety first.  That she’s still alive and unharmed suggests the killer had no ill intent towards her, a jilted lover perhaps?  But no, people of this station don’t commit crimes of this magnitude over base emotions like jealousy and they have no need of money.  It will be a baffling case.  

“You should eat and get rest Miss Lochley, recuperate your strength,” Batson encourages.  

“Thank you Captain, but I fear I can’t rest right now.  Perhaps a walk in the garden to calm my nerves if you think it’s safe?”

“Madam, we’d have left immediately if there was any indication of danger.”  

Beatrice dips into a small curtsey.  She leaves the gore behind and walks into the rising dawn light.  Her mind wanders over the past day, replaying her kill and all the events since.

Before long, Beatrice is at the decorative Greek temple.  She stares at the lamps on either side.  Grandfather, spared no expense when he commissioned it.  Footfalls echo across the marble entryway.  She walks to the inner sanctum and kneels before a statue of Hera.  

An odd choice, Beatrice thought.  Of all the gods, Grandfather could choose, Hera seems underwhelming.  A Goddess often proclaimed powerful but rarely seen in action.  And what good did her strength ever do her?  She, like all the rest, submits to Zeus’ might.  

Warm mass presses against Beatrice’s hands, arms, shoulders, and head.  If forced to describe, Beatrice would claim it was like a person wrapping themselves around her and making her support their weight.  But Beatrice is alone and instead of the force pressing externally, this pressure comes from within rising out of her.  The strangeness passes into a kind of terror, it’s like her soul is leaving her body.  She wants to run but an external force is heavy on her brain, willing her remaining kneeling.  Beatrice’s body trembles with exertion.  

“Just wait, it will be over in a moment little one,” a feminine voice echoes.  

Beatrice believes it’s meant to be comforting, but the whole process is too unsettling such a simple salve.  What’s worse, why are these sensations almost familiar?  Like a mirror reverse of something that happened weeks ago.  Beatrice struggles to pull the thought closer, but it’s not forthcoming.

“There, that’s better isn’t it,” the voice soothes.  

She’s right.  The warm weight retreats and Beatrice is on her own.  She collapses before Hera’s statue, a trembling mass.  But for all her bodily troubles, Beatrice’s mind is clear for the first time in months.  

“I must thank you for the ride.  It’s always cathartic to help women murder their tyrants that dare to name themselves Husband.”

Flashes are coming back to Beatrice. She’d planned to remove this temple, but they told her the cost out of her budget.  She settled on removing Hera’s statue.  When questioned, Beatrice explained she didn’t want to look at a statue that reminds her of her own bondage.  Beatrice didn’t deign to explain how a woman might view an arranged marriage.  How Herny wanted her, but she never had the chance to feel the same desire.  Those details were for Beatrice’s heart alone.  A bout of dizziness befell her, and then the next weeks are a fog.  

Henry!  He’s gone, murdered with her hands, though not her will.  Never her will.  Beatrice didn’t get to choose to marry him, it was a sick parallel, she didn’t get to choose to murder him either.

“You,” Beatrice stammered.

“I did you a favor, child.  He limited you.  Gave you an allowance that kept you leashed to him like a dog when this estate comes from your family.  With my strength, my power, I freed you.  Your indecision, your resentment, your compromised soul none of it was a match for me.”

Beatrice flushes.  There is part of her that’s enticed by Hera’s claims.  Uncertain if the cost if worth the gain, Beatrice hesitates.  

“You have time and space to learn what a great gift I gave you.”

The nod is slow and tear filled.  Her large bed empty and cold fills Beatrice with loneliness, there is no way to go but forward.

“Thank you,” she whispers, bowing low.  

“I do not require thanks, I require work.  Bring me a pair of peacocks I may observe in the gardens, and fresh laurel every full moon.  Do this and I will bless your home and make you powerful within it.”  

Beatrice nods, she need not hear about what could happen if she refuses.  Hera’s possession offers a myriad of tragedies to her quick mind.  She picks herself up off the ground and heads to the exit.  

“And Beatrice,” the voice calls, “never again question my strength or plan to remove me from this place.  I will make your current loss look like a child’s punishment if you cross me again.”

Beatrice’s blood stalls even as her heart pounds.  She flees the temple, and runs mindless through her gardens, falling to one of the many benches.  As she sits in the warm sun, she cries over her foolish words and careless thoughts.  The world is full of strange and horrible consequences.

End

Like Jessica’s ending the best? Comment below to let her know! 

Want more?  See Patrick O’Kelley’s Ending or Christopher M. Palmer’s Ending