Now, I've been mulling for a few months over what my next project should be. I have very specific plans for this novel. Originally, I was considering a Turn-of-the-Century steampunkish Romance novel involving an enchanted pocketwatch, but it just didn't hook me. Or rather, the characters weren't hooking me.
Oh well. Toss that idea aside. Maybe it'll develop itself later. Still am in need of a novel.
I'd been reading other A to Z Challenge blogs, and one of them spoke about how we needed to bare ourselves on our page. Only then can our novels come alive.
Normally I'm a bit nervous about baring myself on a page because I fear that someone will use my weaknesses against me.
Then I thought, my fear is the Real Me. How honest would it be to explore that on the page?
What if Our Heroine had the same fear and It Came True? The fear of someone deliberately using your weakness against you is a very real fear. I know this because it has happened to me. It's terrifying.
Thus, Our Heroine was born. I realise that she'd been lurking in me for decades. I'd even attempted to draft her into an earlier novel. I trunked that novel because it Hadn't Worked. Now I see why, because I was too busy bolstering up my heroine with hubris so she didn't get hurt. Not an attractive character trait.
I speak from experience; that does not work in real life. Yet that's exactly what too many people do.
(Now that I think about it, elements of her also appeared in my very first novel, when I originally attempted to put my personal experiences down on paper.)
Once I made the decision not to be afraid of Our Heroine's vulnerability, that's when she was truly freed.
Unlike most of my other newly-drafted characters, she even came with a name: Victoria Arden. Now, I'm terrible with names. I've completed final drafts of novels with characters sporting placeholders such as "His Badness" and "Lord MMMM", preferably with terms that are easy enough for search'n'replace without compromising any other text.
Our Story so far:
Miss Victoria Arden is no stranger to loss. She lost both of her brothers during military campaigns against Napoleon. When her father died, she and her genteel mother discovered that he was not as well-off as they thought. There simply wasn't enough money to keep poverty from their door for long. The only solution: Victoria must marry.
When a cousin offers to host Victoria in London for a Season, naturally she jumps at the chance. He even provided a chaperone in the form of another poor relation.
Alas, the chaperone proves herself inadequate to the task. At a society do, Victoria is lured away by a less-than-savoury character with intentions of compromising her. Thanks to being raised by two brothers, Victoria is capable of surprising her attacker and escaping with her skirts down.
However, she never counted on her attacker's final weapon--gossip. To punish her for getting the best of him, he spreads the rumour that she was compromised. Based on this lie alone, Victoria finds her reputation completely and utterly ruined. The invitations stop coming. In public she receives the cut direct. Society quietly puts Victoria Arden away.
There go her chances of an honourable marriage.
One day when she's moping away, an invitation arrives for an "intimate supper", hosted by the Duke of Whatever. In her experience, "intimate suppers" often feature only a hundred guests or so. Plus, it's hosted by the Duke of Whatever, and he's considered good ton. Naturally, she accepts the invitation.
However, when she and her chaperone (who desires an atonement for her earlier lack of duty) arrive at the Duke's town residence, she discovers it's truly an intimate supper--only Victoria and the Duke.
There, he offers what many a fallen woman would consider a lifeline--carte blanche. A truly compromised young lady might consider such an offer.
But Victoria is furious. She lashes out at him for the insult. It's her lashing out at the unfair stricture that demands a young lady must remain virtuous or she is ruined forever, that a lie was stronger than the truth, and that Society is so shallow that they would seize any opportunity to squish a little ladybird like her purely for entertainment. But deep down, she lashes out at him because he would never have considered her wifely material; she's only good to tumble for a season, then abandoned at whim when he grew bored with her.
Nobody else might believe her, but Victoria is convinced she has some sort of value. If only someone else would recognise it.
So that's the premise. It's like this story is writing itself. I love it when they do that.
However, I need your help.
1. I'm terrible at names. Victoria's name came to me the same day the plot did. Also, the Duke's first name is John:
"I insist you call me by my Christian name." Amusement tweaked at the corners of his lips.That's the sort of fun I'm looking for.
Victoria frowned at him. "I will not call you 'John' in front of others. It wouldn't be proper." It'd be too intimate. If she were to embrace such familiarity openly, then the ton would naturally assume she'd accepted his offer. "I won't do it."
"And I will refuse to answer to any other name. My mother gave it to me. It means 'beloved'."
Her temper flared. "I most certainly will not call you that in public!"
I welcome suggestions for names for the following characters:
- John needs a last (family) name and the Duke of ______________. I was considering claiming an existing title that was currently not in use at the time of the novel. I am open to something made up.
- Victoria's Cousin. His father was Mrs Arden's brother. He's minorly-titled nobility, late 20's, unmarried, and extremely fond of Victoria in a protective brother sort of way. Isn't above supporting her in some harebrained scheme, but only if it makes sense. Will often act as a voice of reason.
- The Chaperone. A poor relation. On the far side of middle-age, slightly foolish in many things. Easily distracted. Untitled gentlewoman.
- The Compromiser. Serial ruiner of poor young debutantes for sport. Victoria spurned his advances and he's the one who spread the initial rumour. Son of gentry, maybe minor nobility, with an overblown sense of entitlement.
- Society Matron. Moves in the highest circles and insists on proprietry. She's the sort of lady of which the Patronesses of Almack's approve.
2. The Duel. Compromiser is called out in a duel over Victoria's honour. He is shot. Should it be:
- a minor wound--his pride is dented more than his skin.
- a major wound that will affect him for the rest of his life.
- his death. (slow or quick?)
3. Subplotty fun. Cousin needs a subplot. Could be romance, but it doesn't have to be. He needs something to centre his life on other than meddling in the affairs of Victoria.
I'm open to your ideas and suggestions in the comments. If I am influenced by a comment of yours, I'll put your name in the acknowledgements.
Her Grace acknowledges that writing is a lonely profession. However, novels are rarely spawned in a vacuum.