Awesome, I’m glad I could help!
Hmm, here’s how I would write that paragraph:
Joelle’s gut twisted at the memory and the dark, cynical laugh that had floated back to her. He blamed her for it, of course, he did. She loosened her horse’s girth with more vim than needed, shoving her heels into the hard dirt, trying to get a grip.
They could all do whatever they pleased, it was none of her concern. She had done everything she ought, and any mistakes were entirely their fault. Especially that arrogant thundercloud of a Hugon. His cynicism seemed to attract misfortune.
But what if she had– She cut herself off and shook her dark hair out of her face. It clung to the sweat on her forehead. No. This wasn’t her problem. They had gotten themselves into it, they could get themselves out of it.
Her scowl softened when she saw Hugon kneeling by the stream. His shoulders sagged. His blond hair obscured his expression, but he looked defeated.
He looked up suddenly, and their eyes locked. He scowled, his hatred burning holes in her. She stiffened and threw back her head, fixing him with an equally cool glare.
(I changed it slightly, just so I could get my point across without rewriting the entire thing.)
(You don’t have to use this, but it’s just easier for me to rewrite it instead of trying to explain how I would rewrite it 😉
Now, I didn’t actually state that she feels guilty about it. I’m kind of using the ‘doth protest too much’ principle here. (I just made that term up, that isn’t a thing that I know of, but you get what I mean XD)
I mean, for someone who claims indifference, she’s thinking about it an awful lot, and she’s been justifying herself for almost two paragraphs. If she actually didn’t care, she’d just dismiss it in a sentence or so.
If you want to make her guilt more pronounced, you can show her thoughts drifting back to the incident now and then. Or you can even have an entire scene where she crumbles a little and blames herself for it.
Oh, something else I noticed while rereading Joelle’s piece:
She ran her hands aimlessly through the water and tried to stop the war raging in her mind and heart.
You have to be wary of that last bit: “Tried to stop the war raging in her mind and heart”
When you say something like this, it’s either an introduction or a conclusion for introspection. If you say something like that in the middle of an action, it feels vague and leaves the reader hanging.
The reader expects you to expand on it, and when you don’t, it loses its impact. I know what conflict you meant, but you already showed it earlier, so you don’t need to tell the reader again.
In short, it’s like telling your reader ‘Oh, this character is having conflict but we don’t have time to unpack all that now– moving on’. You can use this occasionally if the narrator is hiding something from the audience, but it creates distance between the reader and the character.
All that to say, you can cut that sentence and use the resonance of the earlier introspection 🙂
Hope this helped!
Without darkness, there is no light. If there was no nighttime, would the stars be as bright?