The lovely author Nancy Kelley had this fab idea to swap posts this week and so I am thrilled to welcome Nancy here today! We were chatting about how very often, when writing, the characters in your novel can behave unpredictably, and as much as we try to keep them in line they go their own sweet way and start demanding to change the plot! Other problems occur when an author thinks she has resolved a carefully constructed plot, which suddenly falls apart because another character complains that they've been left out or have not been given a big enough voice or part in the unfolding story. The eventual plot can be something of a surprise!
Here is Nancy to tell us about her experiences of the surprise plot when writing Loving Miss Darcy.
Nancy is giving away an e-book copy of Loving Miss Darcy, open internationally - to enter, answer Nancy's question below by leaving a comment! The Giveaway is open for one week only - closes Tuesday, April 30th 2013.
Thanks to Jane for agreeing to trade places with me today. I love meeting new blog friends. Jane has posted on my blog, along with a giveaway; make sure to check it out!
Every author, from the ones who plan out every detail to the ones who just write as the story comes to them, is eventually surprised by something in their book. The characters start doing something you hadn’t anticipated, or a plot development arises that you weren’t expecting.
When I started writing Loving Miss Darcy, I was absolutely adamant that the main plot of the book would have nothing to do with George Wickham. This is Georgiana three years later, after all—wouldn’t she be over that by now? From the perspective of the author, I knew that several other books had already investigated that plot line and I wanted to do something different.
There followed six months of struggling with the book, trying to find the plot. Finally my good friend and critique partner told me I needed to explore Wickham. I fought and railed against it (for reasons not wholly creative), but finally gave in.
As soon as I allowed Georgiana the space to still feel shame for what Wickham had done, her personality and story unfolded beautifully. I hadn’t let her be herself, so I couldn’t see her story.
Now the Wickham debacle plays a central role in the plot of Loving Miss Darcy. Though it was three years ago, she knows others would be scandalized if they knew. In this rather poignant scene with Richard, she asks how she’s supposed to marry a man without letting him know all of who she is.
|Loving Miss Darcy - Nancy Kelley|
I do not deserve anyone! she thought morosely. I have made more mistakes than a young lady is usually allowed, and yet they pretend…
She paced in front of her fireplace, her fingers clenching and unclenching in the folds of her dressing gown. Elizabeth had asked her over a month ago if her reluctance to go to Town had anything to do with Wickham, and she had denied it.
How could I have been so blind to my own fears? And why do I still allow him such a hold over me?
The thought grew in her mind that she must make Richard see how little she deserved his regard. Knowing his habit of slipping out of the house early in the morning, she did not tarry in her own room. As soon as light touched the eastern horizon, she dressed as best she could without any help from Annie and walked silently down the stairs to the breakfast room. A word to the maid laying the fire ensured a cold repast would be laid on the table soon, along with Richard’s preferred coffee.
Richard did not disappoint. He appeared not long after the food, clearly dressed for the road. “Good morning, Cousin,” she greeted him.
He stood still for an instant before turning to face her. “Good morning, Georgiana. I did not think to see you up so early. Why are you hiding in the shadows?”
She stepped into the light and shook her head. “It is hardly my fault it is still so dark—it is your habit of sneaking out that drew me from my bed,” she chided him. “I could not let you leave with yesterday’s angry words hanging between us.”
Richard sat down and poured two cups of coffee. “Break your fast with me, Georgiana.”
Though phrased politely, Georgiana heard the note of command in his voice and sat in the chair opposite him. She could feel his gaze on her as she filled a plate with cheese and bread, but she did not return it.
“Look at me, Georgiana.” Reluctantly, she raised her eyes to his and sagged in relief when she saw no anger there, only confusion. “Our argument kept me up most of the night, and there is one point I do not understand.”
“What is that?”
“When you spoke of going to London for the Season, you still sounded… unenthusiastic.”
Georgiana bit her lip and pondered her answer. “Do I truly need a Season, Richard?” she finally asked, deciding at the last minute not to bring up Wickham unless she absolutely had to.
Richard leaned back in his chair. “I am afraid you do, Cuz.”
“But why?” Her own desperation took her by surprise, but she would not back down from the request.
His brow furrowed. “I thought the suggestion to have Kitty join us in Town for the Season had allayed most of your concerns.”
She shrugged and ran a finger over the pattern of the tablecloth. “Most, but not all. Kitty is so much… friendlier than I am. She does not worry what people will think of her.”
Richard took a swallow of coffee. “I see. And you do?” Georgiana nodded. “Tell me what it is about London that bothers you so much.”
Georgiana clenched her hands together in front of her. The food on her plate remained untouched, but she had no appetite for it. “You know enough of my past to guess, surely,” she said finally, seeing there was no way around it.
A gravelly sound caught her ear, and she looked up at Richard. His hand clutched the handle of his mug so tightly that she honestly feared he would break it. “Richard?”
He set the mug down carefully and spread his hand out, palm down, on the table top. “You cannot allow him to control your life, Georgiana.”
She raised her eyebrows. “How can I look these young men in the face and pretend I have nothing to hide, that I am as innocent and unblemished as any of the other ladies they might dance with?”
Richard’s face turned an alarming shade of red. “You are innocent.”
From anyone else, this level of anger would have quieted Georgiana. However, she was upset enough and trusted Richard enough that instead, she matched his vehemence with all the bitterness she felt. “Oh yes, of course I am—I am innocent of all but foolishness, but you know as well as I that not everyone will see it that way. How can we know which of those young men would not turn away from me when they found out the truth?”
“They need never know.”
She laughed, though she felt no amusement. “Oh, that is not fair to them, not fair at all,” she protested. “You cannot expect me to keep a secret like this from my husband. And if I am as innocent as you and my brother constantly proclaim, then why should it be a secret at all?”
Richard stared at her, gape-mouthed for some minutes. “I do not like to admit it, but you have a point,” he finally said.
Georgiana spread jam on her thick slice of bread and took a bite before speaking again. “So I ask again, how can I know which gentlemen would understand and stand by my side, and which would run, or worse, try to ruin me?
The room was quiet for a very long time, and finally Georgiana wiped her hands on a serviette and rose from the table. “You see why I do not look on the idea of a Season with much pleasure,” she said.
In the end, it is the threat of scandal that drives the final confrontation and climax. If I hadn’t let Georgiana surprise me, the book likely would never have been finished. What do you think? How much long-term impact would Wickham have had on Georgiana?
Nancy Kelley—Janeite, blogger, and chocoholic—is the author of two Jane Austen sequels, His Good Opinion: A Mr. Darcy Novel and Loving Miss Darcy. Her third novel, Against His Will, will come out in fall of 2013.
If Nancy could possess any fictional device, it would be a Time-Turner. Then perhaps she could juggle a full-time library job, writing, and blogging; and still find time for sleep and a life. Until then, she lives on high doses of tea and substitutes multiple viewings of Doctor Who for a social life.
You can find Nancy on Twitter @Nancy_Kelley , at nancykelleywrites.com and on Indiejane.org. She also blogs regularly about Doctor Who for Smitten by Britain.