Sometimes, when writing, I have to trust the story and figure out the why’s later.
I began writing this post on April 13, 2019. I had just passed an important point of view shift in Loving Lydia that had taken me some days to be able to articulate to myself why this shift, which seems to go against what I was attempting to do, not only felt right but was right for this story and the series.
As many of my weekly chapter post readers on my blog might know from the discussion in the comment thread, in Delighting Mrs. Bennet and in Loving Lydia, my goal was to show all the events of the story through the eyes of Darcy and Elizabeth. This meant limiting action to scenes where at least one or the other of these two main characters were present.
All of this limiting of point of view has a purpose. It keeps the story focused on the main point without letting it wander off into interesting but non-purposeful tangents.
Knowing these things and the fact that I have been writing in this limited point of view fashion on this series for more than a year, you can imagine the struggle I faced when the story presented the idea to me that it was time to expand the point view to include Colonel Fitzwilliam.
As I said at the outset of this post, it took me some days of just trusting my instincts while doubting them at the same time. I pushed on through those little “this is not what you said you were going to do” whispers and kept writing.
Then, as I was preparing my thoughts for a discussion with Zoe Burton on our Longbourn Literary Society Pages live YouTube broadcast on April 13, 2019, about how our writing has changed over time, the lightbulb switched on and things started to mentally fall into place.
Here is what I figured out:
In book one, Confounding Caroline, Darcy is the character who is going to change and grow the most. However, he needs help both in seeing his need to change and in discovering how to bring about this change. As the audience, we get a better feeling for who he is and what he is experiencing by seeing him not only through his own eyes but also through the eyes of a few other characters such as Bingley. Therefore, we need a more broad point of view lens for this story.
When Confounding Caroline ends, Darcy and Elizabeth are firmly together and ready to move forward towards a happy future.
In book two, Delighting Mrs. Bennet, stage two of their relationship begins. It is a relationship which they will have to work out as a couple — not as a “community of characters” project. Therefore, the point of view narrows to focus on them as they learn about each other and families and love.
The main point of Delighting Mrs. Bennet is for Darcy to not only accept and tolerate Mrs. Bennet but also to care for her. He might start out the story hoping to delight her by marrying Elizabeth, but by the end, he wishes to see her happy because he has a better understanding of her and a fond regard for both her and Mr. Bennet. Marrying Elizabeth is still a focus, but it is not his only focus. His world is shifting and growing.
This changing of Darcy’s world continues in Loving Lydia as he settles into his role in his new and growing family. At the end of Delighting Mrs. Bennet, Darcy made a promise to Colonel Fitzwilliam to continue to see to Lydia’s improvement, but, as we can see in the excerpt below, seeing to Lydia quickly becomes more than just an exercise in fulfilling a promise to a beloved cousin.
“But before we do,” Darcy began, “I wished to tell you that I have had a letter from my cousin.”
“Richard?” Georgiana said eagerly.
Elizabeth looked quickly to Darcy. She had not thought of how his sister might receive this news. Indeed, he had not mentioned it as something which lay heavy on his heart. He had surely thought of his sister, but it was his concern for Lydia that grieved him the most.
Darcy flashed his sister a quick, tight smile and nodded. “I did not bring it to share because it was not all fit for the eyes of young ladies.”
“Oh, I should think it is not!” Lydia said, surprising them all. “I would imagine that gentlemen speak to each other in letters as they do when they have their port after dinner.”
“What do you mean?” Mary asked.
“Well,” said Lydia as the large group started moving forward again, “we ladies are sent away, and I imagine it is so the gentlemen can use vulgar language and speak of indelicate things. Is that not what you do?”
Darcy looked from her inquisitive face to the others who also peeked at him. “I suppose, sometimes that is the case.”
Elizabeth could not help but smile at his uncertain, hesitating tone and the wary expression he wore. It was as if he were uncertain what Lydia might ask him next.
“What did your cousin have to say?” Lydia asked, seemingly satisfied with Darcy’s response.
“He told me about the innkeepers just as he told you. Then, he mentioned a fellow – a Captain G – who likes to sing hymns when they go out to patrol but who, after he has had a pint or two, also sings the bawdiest songs Richard has ever heard.”
“I can see why that would not be something a young lady should read,” muttered Mary.
“Oh, indeed,” Darcy agreed. “There was one thing which happened that is not of a pleasant nature to have to report. It seems that during a disagreement between some gentlemen one night at a tavern, a window was broken, and Richard received a cut during the dispute. As a result, he required a few stitches to close the wound, but he assures me that it makes him look very distinguished,” Darcy added quickly over the gasps of the four young ladies in their group.
“He is well?” Lydia asked, turning fearful eyes toward Darcy.
Elizabeth wished to gather her into her arms at the sight of her distress. She glanced up at Darcy. His throat moved up and down as he swallowed while he nodded.
“He assures me he is well.”
Lydia’s shoulders relaxed as she expelled a quiet, relieved breath. “That is very good news then,” she said after a moment of silence. “Was there anything else?”
“Nothing I can share,” Darcy answered.
“He spoke of fighting?” Lydia asked quietly.
“I knew that there could be some,” she added. “He told me before he left.” She shrugged. “No one wants to lose their livelihood or their lives.”
“He told you that?”
Lydia nodded. “I am not a child, Mr. Darcy.” She pulled her shoulders straight. “But I thank you for not sharing any of the fightings with me aside from the colonel’s injury.”
They walked on for some time in silence. Elizabeth was impressed by how Lydia had accepted the news. There were no tears or fits of nerves. Her response had been more reminiscent of how Jane might react rather than how their mother might — which had always been Lydia’s normal wont up until now. Lydia was improving. How had Colonel Fitzwilliam known to share such serious matters with her before he left? Elizabeth would have expected him to assure her sister that he would be well and would return soon. She had not thought he would tell her about the grave nature of his duty. Once again, she was struck by just how very good Colonel Fitzwilliam was for her sister.
Darcy fished in his pocket and withdrew his handkerchief. Then, he touched Lydia’s shoulder and gave it to her.
So, there were tears. Elizabeth had not seen them, but Darcy had. She smiled up at him as he wiped at the corners of his own eyes with his hand. Her brow furrowed. Was he thinking of his cousin?
He tipped his head toward Lydia and then touched his heart.
She nodded her understanding before laying her head against his shoulder. He was still thinking of her sister — her youngest, most troublesome sister — and his heart was touched. The thought could only endear him more firmly to her. He truly was the best of men.
Darcy is beginning to see Elizabeth’s sisters as his own, and he will care for them just as fiercely as he would Georgiana. In Loving Lydia, as the title suggests, the main Bennet sister who is going to be protected is Lydia.
As things progress through a few trials, Darcy and Elizabeth remain the main point of view characters so that we can see their growth. However, at the point I had just passed when first sitting down to write this, Darcy has reached a moment in the story where he must entrust the care of Lydia to Richard. Therefore, it is only natural that Richard steps in and allows the audience to rest assured that Darcy is not misplacing his trust.
This is the point where that shift happens. (As it is from near the end of the book, this excerpt will contain spoilers, so read at your own risk.)
“Richard,” Darcy said, motioning for Lydia to follow him to the far side of the bed, “I have brought you some guests.”
Lydia’s hand rested on her heart and tears spilled down her cheek.
“I look dreadful.”
“You do,” she agreed, approaching his bed. “Does it hurt horridly?” She took his hand. “I’ll not move your shoulder,” she added. “I understand it is also injured.”
“It is not as bad as it was,” Richard replied.
“The room spins, and he can see you best when you are on this side of him,” Darcy added.
“I wish I could take it away,” Lydia whispered. “How dreadfully boring it must be to lie here and have nothing to do but consider if you hurt more today than yesterday.” She perched on the side of the bed.
“It is rather dull except when Darcy or Westonbury are here. Did you know that each swag of the flounce around the top of the bed on this side has between four and six folds?”
Lydia peered up at the material. “You are right!” She then looked at the other side of the bed. “It is the same on the side you cannot see.” She sighed and smiled at him. “I have missed you, and I was so dreadfully afraid you had died.”
Darcy handed her his handkerchief and then, without a word, he and Elizabeth left the room.
By this scene in Loving Lydia, Darcy has basically done all he needs to do before marrying Elizabeth, and, as he reaches his happily-ever-after moment (aka his wedding), the point of view in this series is going to shift yet again. Darcy and Elizabeth will step back from center stage and others, who are still in need of finding a happily ever after, will take up leading roles. Darcy and Elizabeth will still make appearances, but they will not be the sole focus.
And just as it has since the beginning of this series, the point of view lens will shift as needed, panning out to give us a wider view or honing in to give us a narrow focus, but as always, it will be done with intention and purpose as it helps the audience to best experience the unfolding story. (Even if that intention takes me by surprise and causes me a time of unease while trying to articulate why what seems right is right. 🙂 )
Books 1, 2, and 3 of the Marrying Elizabeth series can be purchased at your favourite ebook retailer, while book 4, Persuading Miss Mary, is now posting on my blog. Oh, and book 2, Confounding Caroline is on sale for 99 cents USD (other currencies also reduced) in the Kobo and Kindle stores but only until July 4, 2019.