thoughts behind Letters premise

Now that you’ve had the chance to read Letters, I thought I would give you a glimpse into how the story came about.

If you’ve ever read any of my explanations about how I come up with my stories, you know that I always start with a premise and then work my way to my plot from there. When I begin writing, I have my basic premise and a fairly good idea of what the end will be, but most everything else in between is rather fluid. I have a bare bones outline in my mind, but I pretty much allow my imagination loose.

(I should stop here to remind you that Letters is a working title. The final title will be the number of letters that end up in the story and then Letter. So if there end up with 26 letters, the title will be Twenty-Six Letters.)

Anyway, when it came to creating the premise for Letters, I asked myself what could be the circumstances where Elizabeth married Collins willingly, and not because her father was dying or something. Others have done that. I decided that for this to happen, she had to marry him very young. And so I choose to bring Collins to Longbourn when Elizabeth was 14/15.

We know that in canon Collins’ father has died sometime before the start of the story, and that he was not a nice man. I have been around teens enough as a coach to know that a parent can make life miserable for young men and women. If Collins came to Longbourn right after his father had died, he’d be at sea and looking for a positive father figure to replace the hard man who was his real father. When he met Mr. Bennet, he had to have met someone who was as opposite his own father as he could ever have met. Again, remember in canon that Mr. Bennet and Mr. Collins senior were at odds so this isn’t that big of a leap in character understanding.

So, I have an impressionable William Collins, a young Elizabeth Bennet, and a shrewd Mr. Bennet that could see he was dealing with a young man who was starved for attention.

From there it seemed obvious that Mr. Bennet saw an opportunity to provide for his family’s future with a little effort on his part. He knew his daughter could manage a man like Collins if she wanted.

And so we have this emotionally scarred William Collins who comes to Longbourn and becomes enamored with being a part of a family so unlike the hard one he had been raised in himself. He was needy and Elizabeth filled his emotional and spiritual needs. He was grateful she could accept him – he had not yet developed his self-importance as a shield against rejections. So we have a younger William Collins that adored the woman who consented to be his wife. He literally worshiped the ground Elizabeth walked on.

Now I had my premise. Of course, I needed Elizabeth to be a widow when they met, and thus the reason I killed him off. I knew I wanted to use canon timeline with Collins taking the living in Hunsford in 1811. That meant that I needed to kill him around the time of Ramsgate and thus I filled in one of the major elements of the story. From there I came up with the letter to warn Darcy so that when he showed up at Longbourn and found a pregnant Elizabeth Collins, he had a reason to be in her debt and not make an ass out of himself. I’ve always enjoyed D&E meeting and getting along well from the start.

I figured out pretty early on that I wanted to use the correspondence and things that represented change, or the next direction for the plot. They are like milestones you have to accomplish to finish a task. A letter warns Darcy about Wickham, a note announces that Mr. Bennet has died. Love letters show how much the couple has come to need each other. That’s why they are there and that’s why they are the title. It was fun and different to write it this way.

Anyway, if you have questions you’d like to ask about the story, now is the time to ask.

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Coming attractions

You may be wondering now that Letters is completely posted what is the next project you will be seeing from me. The story is entitled Patience is a Virtue. The tale begins at Hunsford, the night that Darcy goes to the parsonage intending to propose to Elizabeth. Unbeknownst to him, his aunt has been watching him very carefully and is afraid she knows the purpose of his absense. She races to the parsonage and arrives just as Darcy is about to propose. Here is a bit of what happens next.

 

“In vain I have struggled. It will not do. My feeling will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.”

Elizabeth was shocked. She started to speak and then stopped, unable to answer him. He must have found this enough encouragement and began again.

“As my wife, you…”

What he would have said was lost, as Lady Catherine deBourgh entered the room unannounced. The door hit the wall with a loud thud such was the force it was pushed aside in her haste.

“Stop this at once, Fitzwilliam. You cannot ask this girl to marry you, you are engaged to Anne.”

Elizabeth, shocked as she was by the intrusion, did not miss the note of desperation in the woman’s voice.

“No, Aunt, I am not. I have never offered for Anne nor is there any arranged marriage that I know of, nor papers binding me to your daughter.”

“Your mother and I planned the union.”

“But my father did not. I am my own man, free to marry wherever and whomever I want. If I choose Miss Bennet, then there is nothing you can say or do to stop me.”

Lady Catherine turned to Elizabeth. “Have you accepted him?”

“Lady Catherine!” Darcy interjected. “This is highly improper! You shall not interfere in what is to be the happiest day of my life.”

“Have you accepted him?” she persisted. Elizabeth would have answered, but again Darcy spoke.

“You have not given her the chance.” The great lady relaxed a little.

“Then it is not too late. Miss Bennet, how can you aspire to such a position so decidedly above yourself? You will be censored and scorned.”

“I will not allow you to be treated poorly, Elizabeth. As my wife you will be under my protection, as will your family.”

“Miss Bennet, society will laugh at you, despite my nephew’s promises. He is intended for my daughter. She will not discredit him.”

“Enough, Aunt. I will marry Miss Bennet and there is nothing you can say or do to stop it.”

Elizabeth had watched the two of them go back and forth, not believing she was in such a situation. She wanted to tell Lady Catherine she could have Darcy for a son, that she did not want him, but then he had come so spiritedly to her and her family’s defense. She was not willing to accept him, but a part of her did not want to give the old dragon the satisfaction of having her way yet again. Before she could think of a reply, the older woman spoke.

“You cannot marry her, Fitzwilliam. I need you to marry Anne. She…”

There was something peculiar in her voice and Elizabeth and Darcy both looked at her. What they saw shocked them both. She looked defeated.

Lady Catherine swallowed thickly, “Anne is dying and if you do not marry her, I will lose everything when her cousin inherits.”

After some further conversation, along with Lady Catherine offering to give Elizabeth her dowry is she would agree to wait to marry Darcy after Anne dies…

Elizabeth did not think it was such a little thing. She needed to know more of Mr. Darcy.

“Would you have married Miss deBourgh if you had not met me?”

“No…”

“But would you, if you had learned that this information about her health?”

“Yes, I believe so. I take my family duties very seriously. But I will not abandon you now that I have offered my troth.”

Elizabeth thought at that moment that it spoke well of him. She made her decision. It was the only sensible one to make.

“I think you should marry your cousin and protect Lady Catherine. My mother has long worried about her future once my father is gone. She has just enough from her marriage settlements to survive, but it will not be anywhere near the manner to which she has grown accustomed.”

Lady Catherine almost collapsed with relief. “I will send word to my solicitor in the morning to make the necessary changes to my will to name you as my heir.”

“That is unnecessary.”

“I gave you my promise, Miss Bennet, just as my nephew did.” Elizabeth thought she sounded offended. “My word is just as good as his. I only ask that you do not tell Anne of our agreement. Do not weigh down her conscience in what time she has left on this earth. You will have my nephew soon enough.”

Elizabeth nodded her head numbly. Had she just agreed to marry Mr. Darcy?

Apparently she had.

That should whet your appetite. I don’t expect to be far enough along to begin posting this until after the new year. This is not going to be a light and fluffy story. I will be writing about watching a person slowly die, something I have experienced myself, dealing with the aftermath of physical violence, and  learning to go on with life after having your heart broken. Do not fear, only the first of these will happen to Elizabeth but she will be affected by the other two as her family is involved.

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Letters Epilogue

I forgot to post this before I went to bed last night. The story of my life. I am unsure I will keep this but here it is, mostly to answer the question – how did Mr. Collins die.

I intend to write another post about my thoughts for the premise for this story, and about the character of Mr. William Collins, Elizabeth’s first husband, which is really the driving force behind everything that happens. He surprised me, to be honest. But that is for another day…

Cheers!

Go to Letters Epilogue

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Last Part of Letters is here!

I just posted the end of Letters. I do have an epilogue written, but I’m not really crazy about it like I once was. I’ll post it but it is debatable if it will stay in the final version. I do have a few loose threads to tie up and they are tied in this version. I will probably post it before I go to bet tomorrow night.

Until then, enjoy Mr. and Mrs. Darcy!

Go to Letters Part 40

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Letters 36

I decided not to make you wait very long for the next section. I think this may be the longest chunk I’ve posted. That alone should make you happy.

I’d love to hear your impressions once you’ve read it. If you haven’t commented before I’ll need to approve it before you can see it online, but the notifications seem to be working again so I should get to it pretty quickly.

Cheers!

Go to Part 36

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More of Letters – Part 34 is posted

My son starts his second band camp at Arizona State tomorrow. This is their 100th anniversary of the marching band so it should be an interesting season. To kick things off, how about a new section of Letters? Yes, I think that will work.

Our couple is in the middle of almost 2 months without seeing each other. Will Elizabeth be able to hold out with her vow of widowhood much longer? We are getting close to the answer!

Go to Part 34.

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