My Dear Mr. Collins, One Author’s Journey, Part 1

My Dear Mr. Collins, One Author’s Journey, Part 1

Later this month, I will be releasing Master of Longbourn, the sequel to Mr. Darcy’s Comfort. If you own Mr. Darcy’s Comfort, you may or may not have noticed that the first chapter of Master of Longbourn was included in the back matter. If you do not yet own Mr. Darcy’s Comfort, you can read the first and second chapters of Master of Longbourn here.

If you have read that first chapter, you know that the hero of Master of Longbourn is none other than Mr. William Collins.

I like taking on challenges when I write, and I thought as I was setting up Master of Longbourn in Mr. Darcy’s Comfort, that making Collins likable would be a challenge. However, I was wrong. I came to like the gentleman before I had even finished writing Mr. Darcy’s Comfort, and my affection for my dear Mr. Collins grew as I wrote.

Now, you will have to suspend all previously conceived notions of whom Mr. Collins is when approaching my version of the gentleman. Hopefully, the cover model will help you imagine someone different as you read the book because that is the sort of fellow I was imagining as the new and improved Collins at the end of the book.

But, how did I come up with the Collins who appears in Master of Longbourn?

Well, I started with his description in canon and made notes about my interpretation and plans. I have arranged those thoughts, which were scrawled willy-nilly on a sheet of paper that has since found the recycling bin, into the chart below. [I had a few more notes written in. However, I don’t want to give too much away and therefore have left them out of what I am sharing here.]

Canon My notes
MR. COLLINS was not a sensible man He doesn’t catch on to things easily
the deficiency of nature had been but little assisted by education or society awkward in society and not a high-flyer academically
the greatest part of his life having been spent under the guidance of an illiterate and miserly father Motivation — horrible father; this will be heightened
and though he belonged to one of the universities, he had merely kept the necessary terms, without forming at it any useful acquaintance. Change – he did make at least a few connections that were useful; one of these is his “fortunate chance” which recommends him to Lady Catherine
The subjection in which his father had brought him up had given him originally great humility of manner, but it was now a good deal counteracted by the self-conceit of a weak head, living in retirement, and the consequential feelings of early and unexpected prosperity. The subjection of his father is a key in his development; however, changing I am changing this to not being conceited at heart but appearing to be (anxiety); also he’s not prosperous or does not think of himself in such a fashion (is concerned with expense)
Having now a good house and very sufficient income, he intended to marry; and in seeking a reconciliation with the Longbourn family he had a wife in view, as he meant to chuse one of the daughters, if he found them as handsome and amiable as they were represented by common report. This holds true and is covered in Mr. Darcy’s Comfort
Mr. Collins had only to change from Jane to Elizabeth This happens in Mr. Darcy’s Comfort, but Darcy then dissuades Collins from Elizabeth. When Collins arrives at Longbourn, he finds one daughter particularly captivating which is covered in Mr. Darcy’s Comfort.
He was a tall, heavy looking young man of five and twenty. His air was grave and stately, and his manners were very formal. He is a young man with height and substance (think stocky, not fat) which would give him a bit of an imposing figure if he were to carry himself well (which he does not always do) He is somber and not given to jesting, his formality will be attributed to his not knowing how to act and the reason for his appearance of arrogance (We see Darcy decipher this reason in Mr. Darcy’s Comfort, and Master of Longbourn will build on this and help Collins work through it) He’s not ugly. He’s handsome but it is hidden in awkwardness and poor clothing choices. Think ugly duckling trope here.
Mr. Collins seemed neither in need of encouragement, nor inclined to be silent himself He has a propensity to talk – a lot – but for a very specific reason.

 

Knowing these things about my Mr. Collins, I then had to devise the story plot.

I’m not the sort of author who makes great detailed outlines before I begin writing. I have a few main points jotted down such as who is the hero, who is the heroine, what is the main obstacle, what is pushing them together, and what is pulling them apart. While I don’t have an outline to follow before I begin writing, I do fill in a chart of chapters as I write.

In the past, this has often just been a list of events followed by a bullet list of relationship points (where I check to see that the romantic relationship is building properly). This time, however, I decided to combine the chapter events and relationship points into one chart. That meant, under the events for a specific chapter, I wrote out what part each scene and chapter played in the story structure.

A peek at my “as I go” story notes

That seemed like it would be an easy thing to do. I mean, I had always analyzed events for how they fit in the story before. I had just done it mentally. How much harder could it be to put it into words, right? Apparently, the answer is a good deal more difficult for me. However, I truly enjoyed the exercise of putting my thoughts into concise statements of how the action was building the plot, and I will continue to use this method.

Getting back to Mr. Collins…

The pulling apart action in this story is not from an outside force or a misunderstanding. The force keeping Collins from his goal comes from within.

While plotting this story, I had to keep two journeys in mind.

First, I needed to take my hero on an outward journey from arrival to happily ever after.

Of course, a few obstacles had to stand in his way, but these obstacles were not large. They were not rife with danger. There was no deep and serious love triangle. There was no opposition from family or anything of that nature.

The obstacles in this story appear relatively small but were made larger by Mr. Collins’s inward journey from what he saw himself as to what he wished to become.

This was the second and most important journey that I had to keep in mind — the true battle to find happily ever after was fought within the gentleman. His growth was the key to his happy future. Without that growth, he would have inherited an estate, but he would never have become the true Master of Longbourn.

As I was writing, there was a statement that Collins made which caused me to pause. It seemed wrong from where I was sitting and looking at Collins’s journey, but try as I might, he insisted that what he had said was correct. And he was right. I’ll tell you more about that next month after you have had a chance to read Master of Longbourn for yourself. I fear it might spoil something for you if I were to discuss it now.

When you pick up your copy of Master of Longbourn, pay attention to the discussion between Collins, Bingley, and Darcy in Chapter 11. The statement I am talking about happens in that chapter. It is the pivotal moment or the climax of Collins’s inward journey, and that’s what we will discuss next month.  

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Did you read chapters 1 and 2? You can find them here.

After you have had a chance to read those chapters…

  • you might want to enter your thoughts into the discussion about reading that is being held in Longbourn’s sitting room. Are you with Kitty and would never read the ending without reading the rest of the book? Or are you more like Bingley and perfectly happy to read the ending and move on unless the book entices you to read more? I’ll admit that I’m a Bingley in this regard. 🙂 Yes, I am an end of the book peeker. No, it does not ruin my enjoyment of the book. In fact, it enhances it for me. I’m pretty sure Kitty would not understand that, but then, we are all individuals and as such, do things differently. (And different and wrong are NOT synonyms.)
  • you might also wish to give your first impressions of my dear Mr. Collins. He has become one of my favourite characters that I have written now.  But could you see his verbosity coming out at times due to nerves? And how did he respond to himself? Can you see where his view of himself is starting? And where he wants to go?

~*~*~

Leenie B Books

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25 Responses to My Dear Mr. Collins, One Author’s Journey, Part 1

  1. You certainly chose a man most (if not all of us) dislike and even hate in some variations. I have not read those chapters…yet. I am just saying that it will take a lot to change my opinion…but we’ll see. Thanks for sharing your reasons and how you set up your writing.

  2. I agree with several PP, this Mr. Collins is so relatable with his awkwardness but good heart. There is a scene in there with Mr. Bennet that makes my eyes tear up a bit. Really well constructed Leenizing on Mr. Collins. I’ll be watching for it to go live!!

    • Oh, you know what? I was rereading as I was making my last fixes on the manuscript last night and got to the dinner scene and wouldn’t you know I heard one of my boys coming down the hall. So I was swiping at my eyes so whichever one of them it was would not either be concerned that I had tears in my eyes or tease me about crying over a book. I have read that scene so many times now and still I get so caught up in the sentiment of it. I’m hopeless about not crying at some things. 🙂 I’m really pleased that you found him relatable because I had hoped he would be. And I still giggle when I see my name as a verb 🙂

  3. I really like where you are taking Mr Collins. I enjoy the stories where he is villainous, and this opposition to his original character looks to be very enjoyable. Thanks for your willingness to share with us!

    • I’m glad you like this take on him. Amazingly, it really was only small changes made on what is in Pride and Prejudice toward the positive that lead me to this Collins. Small or large changes to the negative can also make for a good villainous creation, however. I don’t think I have made him villainous yet in any of my books but have read a few where he was written that way quite well.

  4. After reading the first two chapters, I totally “get” your version of Mr. Collins. How many of us can recall at least one occasion of “open mouth, insert foot” when we are unsure or uncomfortable in a situation. At least he is self-aware and not oblivious to his so-called faults. Good luck to you (and Mr. Collins). Thank you for sharing.

    • Oh, my goodness, I am very good at open mouth, insert foot 😀 I’m happy to hear you get him. Part of why I wanted to share such a long preview was so that readers could get a good feel for my Mr. Collins and how he might improve and win Kitty’s heart by being endearingly awkward. 🙂

  5. I finished Mr Darcy’s Comfort and about cried when I realized Master of Longbourn wasn’t out! I have to say, I like seeing Collins portrayed in a better light. Can’t wait to read the full story!

    • Oh, Leah, you’re going to love it (I think 🙂 ). Collins is just so sigh-worthy in this one. And I am so excited to hear that there are people waiting to read a Mr. Collins book 🙂

  6. All right, Leenie. I must admit that I like this Mr. Collins. Anyone who is shy, timid, or unsure of themselves always has my sympathy. And I can identify with him opening his mouth and all the words that keep pouring out because I have to be careful of doing the same thing. I look forward to seeing how he learns to be comfortable in his own shoes and finally wins Miss Kitty’s hand. I’m assuming, of course, but I don’t think I’m missing the mark. 🙂 Look forward to this story.

    • Nope, you are not missing the mark there at all 🙂 I’ve made Kitty more Jane Bennet like — very sweet and caring but a bit naive (young — since she is just 17). I loved writing this pairing. It’s one of my favourites.

  7. Oh my goodness, I am seeing the vulnerability in Mr. Collins and my heart breaks for him. To constantly being put down by one’s parent can definitely wreak havoc on one’s confidence. I believe I am going to love this book! I wasn’t sure about Kitty being the one to capture his interest, but you are changing my opinion. I thoroughly enjoyed your thought process on developing this story. Thank you for that. Definitely looking forward to reading Mr. Collins’ journey.

    • One thing that helps them relate to each other in this story is having been “picked on” so to speak. True Collins’s father was mean, and Mr. Bennet is not. However, there is an amount of understanding that can be had between them.

      I could talk about writing all day 🙂 I love the process — not always in the moment as I struggle with something, but overall.

    • I’m glad you like him! Seems odd to say that, doesn’t it? 🙂 He’s going to get some good help to help him become more confident. (Bingley is rather hilarious with his help.)

  8. My goodness. I certainly enjoyed chapters 1&2. They were a pleasant surprise. I… how do I say this… I like this Mr. Collins. What?? The sky didn’t fall down around me? How do you do that? You completely turned this around and made us like Mr. Collins. You have succeeded in creating 1) a likable Mr. Collins, 2) given him a make-over and new appearance, 3) defined his personality and revealed his inner dialogue, 4) established a most amazing cover to match said description, 5) and finally… creating such a desire within us to read more of this gentle man. I loved this excerpt. I look forward to reading this. Poor Mrs. Bennet… always choosing incorrectly and missing clues and misreading behavior. Thank you for this delightful post. Blessings on the success of this launch.

    • One thing that is nice about this big awkward teddy bear Mr. Collins is that he has the patience of Job 🙂 and is probably the best person in the world to have to put up with Mrs. Bennet. LOL I’m so glad you enjoyed chapters one and two, and I am delighted to hear about where I have succeeded and that you called him a gentle man — because that’s really what he is under that “I don’t know how to fit in” exterior and just a little love can draw that out.

  9. Well, I think it will be fun to see your version of Mr. Collins. As to the physical description given by JA, I think the 1980 PBS version with Elizabeth Garvey and David Rintoul did a good job portraying Mr. Collins. Looking forward to your new tale.

    • It should be fun — there’s sweetness and humour. It’s just delightful to watch this outcast become accepted and blossom through the story. I agree about the 1980 version of P&P (although I have not finished watching all of it) — Mr. Collins seems to fit the description best except that I thought he looked too old. To me he appeared to be about 35 or 40 and not 25. But otherwise, the physical appearance is good.

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