For the fifth year in a row, I successfully completed National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). I’m still amazed I pulled that off. 50k words in 21 days with 9 days to spare.
What does it say when I can average 2380 or so words a day ranging from lows of 1700 to highs of 8500 in the face of a deadline (however self-imposed) and otherwise struggle to write 250 words a day for weeks—nay months at a time?
The thing is, I was hesitant to take part in NaNoWriMo this year, so convinced as I was that I would not finish once started. I entertained every excuse I could even the absence of a working book cover as a valid reason to forgo the event. I did, however, have a working title and a compelling idea I’d been tossing around for months.
Finally, I told myself that NaNoWriMo only happens once a year, and it was not as though I had anything better to do. Seriously.
I must say, I really like this story. Here’s the premise:
What if Mr. Thomas Bennet’s first born daughter is promised to the elder Mr. Darcy’s first born son?
Here’s a first draft sneak peek:
By Reason, by Reflection, by Everything
Chapter One (Excerpt)
The day Elizabeth’s eldest sister, Jane, had been waiting for — nay preparing for, all her life had arrived. At long last, Jane shall meet the gentleman whom she very well may marry and with whom she may spend the rest of her life. Elizabeth could not imagine being anywhere but by her sister’s side during such an auspicious occasion, and thus the two of them sat next to each other, arm in arm, as their well-appointed carriage rounded the bend headed for Pemberley, hailed as one of the most magnificent estates in all of Derbyshire.
Everywhere Elizabeth looked she beheld the estate’s natural beauty. When at last the manor house came into view, she gasped on behalf of her sister as well as herself. There stood a massive stone mansion backed by a ridge of high woody hills. In front of it flowed a large stream, its banks neither formal nor falsely adorned.
Never have I seen any place like this, Elizabeth silently reflected. One glance at her sister and she rightly supposed their thoughts must have tended along the exact same lines. Both of their countenances overspread with contagious smiles.
“Dearest, Jane,” Elizabeth remarked, “how fortunate you are. To be mistress of such a place as this must surely be something. How fortunate you are indeed.”
Jane squeezed Elizabeth’s hand. “Dearest, Lizzy, I appreciate your enthusiasm over the prospects for my future life but truth be told, I feel more overwhelmed than fortunate at this moment. What if the gentleman takes one look at me and concludes he wants nothing to do with me? What a considerable distance to travel to be summarily sent on our way.”
“Not like you! Jane, do not be ridiculous. I posit Mr. Darcy will fall madly in love with you the moment he lays eyes on you. How could he not? Unless of course, the gentleman is a fool. But even a fool would fancy himself the wisest and the luckiest man in the world to proclaim himself your future husband.”
“We shall see,” Jane replied in a voice that lacked the joy the moment warranted.
“Jane, I can see you are not as convinced of your unmitigated charms as you ought to be. But you need not worry, for I have sufficient confidence for the two of us. Mark my words, there will be a wedding here at Pemberley in under three months or my name is not Elizabeth Bennet.”
“Oh, Lizzy! Where on Earth would I be without you?”
“Pray you will never find out.”
“Then does that mean you will indeed accompany me on my wedding journey? That is to say should events unfold as you anticipate.”
“I agreed to spend this time with you here at Pemberley, did I not? I see no reason to abandon you once you have accepted your prince.”
A little while later, a mixture of wonder and intrigue commanded Elizabeth’s thoughts as their carriage drew to a halt in front of the imposing manor house. The number of people who awaited them was such that she had never witnessed before. What a welcoming reception.
Two tall very distinguished looking gentlemen were flanked on either side by lines of servants uniformly attired in stark black and white. The older of the two Elizabeth quickly surmised as being the master of Pemberley, Mr. Gerald Darcy. His countenance was stern and dignified, but there was something about his eyes that gave a real glimpse into his character. While indeed a man to be reckoned with, Elizabeth suspected buried beneath his austere outward appearance was a heart of gold.
The gentleman who stood beside him, much to her surprise, wore a military uniform.
How could it be that the future heir of Pemberley was an officer? Elizabeth immediately questioned herself in silence. As they were mere moments from meeting their magnanimous hosts for the summer, she suppressed her urge to ask her father how such a bit of information had not been conveyed to any of them.
How Mama will be pleased to learn that not only does her eldest daughter stand a chance of being the next mistress of such a grand home but moreover her would-be son-in-law is a dashing officer.
Not very long afterward, Mr. Bennet, Jane, and Elizabeth descended the carriage and awaited the approach of the two gentlemen. Elizabeth tossed her sister a tentative smile. Slowly, any nagging reservations she suffered that Jane might be subjected to a less than desirable alliance faded with each step the eminent gentlemen took.
A good measure of formality was cast aside as the older gentleman eschewed the expected handshake and embraced her father. “Bennet, my old friend, after all these decades it gives me enormous pleasure to say to you, welcome to my home. Welcome to Pemberley.”
Her father responded to his old friend in the warm manner that was to be expected of acquaintances who had not had the privilege of sharing each other’s company after a great long absence, and soon thereafter it was time for introductions to the other members of the assemblage.
Suddenly a quiet hush fell spread throughout the gathering as all heads swung in the direction of a new addition to the welcoming party. Elizabeth could hardly believe her eyes. She knew without being told that she had been mistaken earlier as regarded the officer’s identity. The tall, handsome gentleman with dark hair, brooding dark eyes, and noble mien who appeared before them was the most beautiful sight her eyes had ever beheld. Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy.
My sister Jane is a most fortunate woman, she could not help but think even though the gentleman’s eyes were not fixed on Jane. To Elizabeth’s bewilderment, his eyes were fixed on her. She was powerless to turn away. But turn away she must, for this was Jane’s moment, and Elizabeth truly did not want to miss bearing witness to a single second of her sister’s joy.
Elizabeth must have blinked an instant or two for before she knew it, the gentleman stood by the elder Mr. Darcy’s side and was introduced to her own father. And no sooner had her father been introduced to the officer did the three gentlemen focus their full attention to Elizabeth and Jane.
“Allow me to present my eldest daughter,” Mr. Bennet began directing everyone’s eyes to Jane. “Mr. Darcy, Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy, and Colonel Fitzwilliam, Miss Jane Bennet.” Each of the gentlemen starting with the eldest greeted Jane in their turn. Elizabeth could not help noticing the decided contrast in the manner of the gentlemen’s addresses. The elder Mr. Darcy’s expression was lively, his manner warm and welcoming–very much the same as it had been towards her father. Colonel Fitzwilliam’s greeting was equally pleasant, but the other gentleman’s (the one that mattered the most) was rather wanting.
Before Elizabeth had too much time to mull over the implications of what such a reception might mean for her sister’s prospects, it was her turn to be introduced. Once again, she detected in the gentlemen the same measure of civility that had been extended towards Jane with but one exception, for she was confident that the younger Mr. Darcy’s eyes held fixed with hers a second or two longer than was necessary—his hand lingered upon hers just a bit longer than that.
Oh, the possibilities! Is there any wonder the 50k plus words flowed onto the pages from November 1st through November 21st?
If you enjoyed the excerpt half as much as I enjoyed sharing it with you, I’d love to hear your thoughts.
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