#WIPpet Wednesay

So what I’ve learned recently, and as I complained on Twitter the other night, the problem with writing a derivative work is that if the original source says two characters had sex in a barn, then that’s what you have to roll with. So, uh, thanks for that, Arthur Miller. I posted that tweet on Thursday, and, well, Abigail and John Proctor are still just hanging out in said barn, being kind of awkward with each other (awkward I can do! Awkward is easy!). Though in my head, I have at least got as far as John removing her bonnet AND stroking her cheek, which I’m sure in Puritan Salem practically amounted to an affair anyway.

During the past week, Afflicted got to the point where I ended up putting it into Scrivener so I can more easily keep track of what I’ve already written. Initially, I had been writing chronologically, but then I wrote a scene that takes place not long before the events of The Crucible, and then the Abigail/Proctor stuff, which is somewhere in the middle. I spent half an hour writing something of an outline for the rest of the story this afternoon, though at the moment it does feature items such as “A scene that shows Proctor’s violent side and how Abigail reacts to it” and things like that that don’t actually help me much because I’ve still got to figure out exactly what takes place in them.

So! Today’s WIPpet. Today is the 25th and 5-2 = 3, so you get three short paragraphs. Those of you familiar with The Crucible may remember that Abigail uses the fact that she saw Mary Warren sewing a poppet and sticking her needle into it when she’d finished as a way to incriminate Elizabeth Proctor in the witch trials. It’s only recounted in the play, but since I’m writing from Abigail’s POV, obviously I need to show it.

Back downstairs, Abigail, Betty and the other girls along with Reverend Parris, Reverend Hale and the judges from the court all crowd around the table. Abigail ensures she is seated on a corner of the table; the plan she has in mind will be more easily enacted with a little space around her.

She waits until everyone is nearly finished dining, her hand on the needle in her pocket. When she thinks it is time, she draws the needle out and after only a moment’s hesitation, drives it into her stomach. Pain shoots through her entire body and she gives a loud cry as she lets herself fall to the floor.

“Abigail?” In seconds, her uncle is playing the part of concerned guardian, just as she expects. He circles the table and crouches next to her. She waits a moment more until she is sure all eyes are upon her, and then slowly pulls the needle out of her skin.

I’m trying to convey in scenes like this that even when she puts herself in situations where she’s in pain (physical or mental) there’s still one half of her brain completely detached that’s just making sure that everything is still following whatever plan she has set out. I mean, the way she acts sometimes, I can kind of see why some people would call her a psychopath.

I was going to get this post finished all early-like, but then I got distracted trying to clean the kitchen and then the Hunger Games was on TV, and now it’s really time I considered going to bed. To join in on WIPpet Wednesday (and please do!) simply post a snippet from your current WIP (geddit? WIPpet) that somehow correlates to the date, and then join us at the linky. I’m going to head off and go read some more of Kate Sparkes‘ novel, Bound, which will be officially released tomorrow, but there are e-book links up on her blog already so y’all should go get it. 😛

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19 thoughts on “#WIPpet Wednesay

  1. rachelalsowrites says:

    I always thought Abigail was a bit psycho…but I love the way you’ve really gotten inside her head. I sometimes struggle with fanfic because of this issue, but the voice you use seems authentic, if that makes sense. 🙂

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    • Emily Witt says:

      Well, there’s definitely a little bit of a psycho in there…

      I’m always really nervous writing fanfic until I really have a sense of the character I’m trying to write; sometimes that never actually comes, which makes me a bit sad. I’m glad I’ve caught this one. 🙂

      Like

  2. Adrian says:

    Yeah…definitely cray cray. I wonder if it would be clearer if there was more time spent in the pain and needed to step away from the pain to finish the plan. Just a thought. Not trying to increase your 3 paragraph wippet to a 6 paragraph wippet at all.

    I do love the retelling you’re doing here! It’s fantastic!

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  3. Alana Terry says:

    He took her bonnet off? O my. You’re going to have to put some serious disclaimers on your book about “mature content.” 🙂 And what an intense scene. I love how you’re taking someone written off as a sociopath and figuring out what makes her tick. Nice job!

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  4. Elaine Jeremiah says:

    Great excerpt Emily. I haven’t been around for WIPpet Wednesday as much as I was, so I didn’t realise you’d started another project. I found this excerpt intense and dramatic. To me Abigail comes across as devious doing what she does in this scene.

    I will admit I’m ignorant about ‘The Crucible’ having never read/seen the play or the film. So I only have a very vague idea of what it’s all about and what goes on. But the excerpt you shared really pulled me in to the story so well done!

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    • Emily Witt says:

      Thanks, Elaine!

      All you really need to know for this scene is that Abigail had an affair with John Proctor, whom she was working for at the time, but he ended it because he realised his wife had figured it out and saw how much it was hurting her. When the witch trials start in Salem, Abigail starts doing all she can to get Elizabeth Proctor out of the way so she can have John to herself. Everyone tends to sort of treat her as the crazy psycho bitch/villain the play, but after playing her in a production last month, I decided that wasn’t fair and there is far more to her than that!

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  5. ReGi McClain says:

    She certainly sounds like a master manipulator, at the least. It’s not terribly hard to separate your logical side from the side that is experiencing pain if you know it’s coming (speaking from childbirth experience), but it certainly takes some twisted thinking to do it to yourself on purpose in order to get someone else burned at the stake. *shudder*

    How deep did she drive the needle? I’m not sure how much pain I would have felt, personally, just sticking a needle into my belly. Or is it a knitting needle?

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    • Emily Witt says:

      It’s more darning needle size, so bigger than average, though not huge. The script says “two inches” (except for those times when the guy playing the character who said that in our production accidentally said “six inches” which made me shudder quite violently at the thought!) and while you’ve made me realise I don’t actually make it clear here (I will fix that), I imagine her doing it just below the sternum more so than in the fleshy part of her stomach as you would with an insulin injection or some such.

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  6. Eden says:

    Fierce little snippet here… and I’d been so hoping to discover that Abigail was just misunderstood. 😉

    (Isn’t Scrivener just awesome for all those out of sequence scenes?)

    Like

  7. kathils says:

    I have to admit to not knowing this story at all, but it certainly sounds interesting. And you’ve done a great job of portraying the somewhat psycho aspect of Abigail. Okay, so she may only be misunderstood, but at this point I’m going with whack-job! 😉

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  8. shanjeniah says:

    I was definitely intrigued by The Crucible when I read it in high school. And I love when someone adds dimension to a character. Having played Abigail yourself, I would imagine you have a far deeper perspective.

    I think the “villain” very seldom really sees themselves as such – to them, they’re justified in what they’re doing. They’re the heroes of the story in their heads.

    You’ve captured this powerfully, here.

    And, oh! The utterly risque doffing of a bonnet in a barn! The scandal of it all!

    I’ll be interested to see what happens in the barn scene, when you complete it.

    Like

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