Category Archives: What-if?

Tip My Hand Tuesday

I’m editing today. “No One Cared to Notice” is a short story that interrupted things with In Favor of His Constancy. It may be the story I place in an anthology, or I may just put it up at Beyond Austen. There is no telling these day.

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Not the smile he was expecting! Photo: Daniel Johnson (Creative Commons Flickr)

To add insult to serious injury, my mouse is dying. (I know this is not a mouse. But, the internet is taking it’s time getting a pic from my phone to my email so I have to improvise.) I use a laptop and despise the touch pad so I have a wireless mouse as my writing companion. But, Purp is dying a slow and frustrating death. When mice die, they refuse to perform properly. So, highlighting is impossible, pointing is whimsical, and clicking is nearly out of the question. Another mouse is coming from Amazon but won’t be here until Thursday. I’ve got a couple of says to figure out how to dispose of the body and then I will have to learn to use the new on. It has buttons and such that control CPI and DPI. I don’t know or care as long as I can point and click without all the drama.

I’ve saved the best for last on this bright May Tuesday. My daughter’s mother-in-law has suffered from COPD for years. Last Wednesday she was taken to the hospital with a serious viral infection. It was serious enough that all the proper papers were signed and the conclusion was that she was not coming home. I mean in the people-flying-in to say good bye way.

She came home yesterday.fireworks-light-japan-festival-66277.jpeg

I am grateful to live now when medications are wondrous things. But I also know this woman is stubborn as HELL. To the point of emotional damage in some cases. But in this case, Welcome Home, Sue.*

MY lesson in this is not to roll over and die when things look bad. Literally.

*There are a lot of weird coincidences between my daughter’s MIL and myself. Too many for me to be comfortable with.

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Tuesday’s tip-o-the-hand

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This is supposed to be terrible. Original clip art: Flickr

It’s been a lousy spring around here. A bit of good news was that my mom doesn’t have to have chemo after colon surgery. Yay for that. Other than this, all is rattling on as before. That being said, the best I can do for a post, (hoping to get back into the swing of things. Again.), I have a bit of writing from a new project.

I referenced this new story back on March 6th. Time flies don’t it? I showed how a piece of writing changes as you discover things about the story itself and the characters. Even the title is up for grabs.

The first title of the piece was “Though I Had A Son.” Then it was changed to, “Anne Elliot’s Most Degrading Alliance.” Now, it’s “In Favor of His Constancy.” You, the reader, aren’t supposed to see any of this, but what the heck, this is sausage making, people, watch and be amazed!

The following is not a rewrite, but was fun to write. I hope you enjoy it.

In this story, “In Favor of His Constancy,” Lady Elliot (Anne Elliot’s mother) is alive. This scene takes place after she finds out that her dear friend, Lady Russell, was instrumental in breaking off Anne’s engagement to Captain Frederick Wentworth.

“Elizabeth, see reason. The man is handsome and a force to be sure, but even you must see that he is not Anne’s equal in rank or refinement. It would ever be a wedge between them.”

Elizabeth paused, then faced her. “Rank and refinement. Those are words you are happy to use when speaking of marriage. Admit it, you did not think me refined enough for the Baronet of Kellynch Hall.”

Lady Russell now paused. Her right brow raised, and her lips tightened.

“In every way, the Stevenson money was superior to his rank. Even if it was earned in trade and farming. I was besotted enough with a pretty face to accept a proposal. But when reason, in the form of dark doubts loomed, you stood me and them with a bright light of reason to convince me that I must keep my word.” Her hands were trembling, and she could feel a flush overtaking her. She took a seat at her dressing table.

“And I was right to do so. You had an obligation to fulfil. Your reputation was at stake and you were prepared to ruin it. As your dear friend, I could not allow that to happen.”

“I could have broken it off with little damage to my reputation.” Lady Elliot turned to her friend. “When, after a few years, you comprehended the deep unhappiness that my choice had brought me, did it give you pause?”

“It did.” Lady Russell pinched seam of the thumb of her right glove. Poorly made. “But when I realised you would have children from the match, no matter your feelings about him.”

It was deep grief she felt for her friend. There were no children with Sir Henry Russell. Whose fault it was, was immaterial. Elizabeth’s children were lavished with gifts and praise from Jane. Her particular favourite was Anne. This might account for her friend’s razor-sharp dislike for Captain Wentworth. She did not wish her daughter to suffer her fate. And yet.

STUFF

“He is still beautiful, even at his age, but his looks are so negated by his deficiencies.” Lady Russell says nothing, and Lady Elliot looks at her and realizes something. “So that is it. You are still smitten.”

Jane fidgets uncharacteristically.

“You are still in awe of that pretty face.” Lady Elliot rises and approaches Lady Russell. “Though, I see you are not so besotted as to do something stupid if I am called out of this life.” The revelation was not surprising but was more a relief. It cleared the air and would allow them to have an honest friendship now, and not one couched in suspicion. Her hands still trembled, and she would have to call for Trotter to help her change into a fresh dress for dinner. Jane still said nothing. “And that is because you can admire him from the comfort of Henry’s good management.” She took her seat once more. “You are far smarter than me. Better to view some beauties from a distance. And in this case, not have to live with the consequences of his vices.”

Yep, POV problems, notes to myself about the scene rather than the scene itself, and a sentence that makes no sense whatsoever! Again, this is sausage. I’ll work on this and post the rewrite next week.

Oh, and I’m still not in love with the title. Stay tuned.

Later.

3 Persuasion Changes that doom Anne and Frederick

From the opening of Persuasion:

Elliot of Kellynch-Hall
Walter Elliot, born March 1, 1760, married, July 15, 1784, Elizabeth, daughter of James Stevenson, Esq. of South Park, in the county of Gloucester; by which lady (who died 1800) he has issue Elizabeth, born June 1, 1785; Anne, born August 9, 1787; a still-born son, Nov. 5, 1789; Mary, born November 20, 1791.

Tomorrow is November 5th and I’m taking a break from Wentworth Wednesday to wonder aloud how Persuasion might have been different if the still-born son of Walter Elliot had lived.

When I first thought of this, my gut feeling was the story would change but not so much that Anne and Frederick wouldn’t get together eventually.

Boy, what a good night’s sleep can accomplish when it comes to a plot line.

My mythic Elliots at play

My mythic Elliots at play

My thinking was, with a son, Sir Walter would have been more preening and ridiculous with that “look at what I’ve done” sort of vibe. Even if Lady Elliot had managed to keep her husband’s financial flamboyance in check, her death would have assured a cascade of son-centric reckless spending, and shortened the trip down the economic wormhole for the Elliots.

Here’s what happens if, instead of fourteen years, it’s only ten years after Lady Elliot’s death that the retrenchment takes place:

 

The Crofts are still in India. This means they do not lease Kellynch Hall. Without the Crofts renting the Hall, the story fails.

Frederick is still at sea. This means Frederick will not return to Somerset and the story fails.

Mary is not yet married to Charles Musgrove. Even if the stars align and the first two events do occur, at this point there is no reason for Anne to remain in the area and not go directly to the white glare of September in Bath.

There is a bright spot. William Elliot never comes into the story. The only reason we even know of him is because he is the heir presumptive to Kellynch Hall. With a son, I’m sure Sir Walter would never deign to seek out “the great grandson of the second Sir Walter.” This being the case, instead of mooning over her cousin, Elizabeth might have married and had a semblance of a happy life.

Heroines who have older brothers are thin on the ground in Austen novels. And even when they appear they have little to do with changing the course of the story. But had Anne’s brother lived, her life would have been very sad indeed.

Well, maybe.

Maybe not.

Austen was a clever woman and she might have created some spectacular adventures to get Frederick and Anne back together. Like the younger brother falls in with Dick Musgrove and runs off to sea, meets Captain Wentworth, and …

What if the son, taking social cues from his father, disdains Wentworth’s pursuit of his sister in the summer of ‘06? Family honor must be satisfied, so the little gherkin challenges the Captain to a duel and kills him. Wait, then the story again fails so we can scratch that one.

Any other ideas? What if the brother is more like his mother and less a knucklehead like his daddy? What if, in ’06, he encourages Anne to run away with Frederick? Or at the very least not break the engagement? Or, if Anne follows through with the break-up he encourages her later to marry Charles Musgrove.

Anyway, you see how an absent character, mentioned outright only once, can make all the difference to a fan fiction writer.

R. I. P. still-born son, born Nov. 5, 1789.