Monday, November 28, 2011

NaNoWriMo Excerpt #2

This is the proposal scene I struggled over so agonizingly.  Okay, perhaps I didn't quite agonize, but I did struggle.  Please give me your honest opinion and don't be afraid to tell me if you think it is rotten. :)  I tried to make it sweet, but only succeeded in making it awkward, and finally decided that awkwardness was the way to go.  


It was Mercy who all but shoved the two of them outside to the garden bench.  “Do it,” she said to Rodney, and disappeared back into the carriage house. 

Elizabeth and Rodney looked at each other.

“Elizabeth,” said Rodney, shoving his hands in his pockets, taking them out and then shoving them back in again, “I… ah… have something I need to say, and I have to warn you beforehand that I won’t say it very well.  Er, I mean I won’t ask it very well.  Because it’s a question, you see.  I had it all written out, what I was going to say—I mean ask—and now of course I’ve forgotten most of it.  But, ah, I simply have to ask it and I would like you to say yes.  Just so you know beforehand, I’d like you to say yes.”

Intelligent thoughts, followed by intelligent speeches, tumbled through Elizabeth’s mind, but alas, they were just out of reach.  She succeeded only in saying, “Ah…”

“I shall take that as a signal to begin,” said Rodney.  He took his hands out of his pockets and put them on his knees.  Then he folded them.  Then he put them back in his pockets.  If Elizabeth had not been quite so apprehensive, she might have been amused.

Rodney evidently was amused. “What shall I do with my hands?” he inquired, grinning.

“I do not mind if you put them in your pockets,” said Elizabeth helpfully.  She was quite sure she knew what was coming, but she was not quite allowing herself to think about it.  It was much better that way.  She clenched her own hands together and held them still in her lap.  It would not be appropriate for her to put them in her pockets, even if her dress had had pockets.

Rodney slid off the bench, obviously intending to kneel on the rather muddy ground, but his shoe caught on the wrought-iron leg of the bench and he landed rather ungracefully.  “Hardly an auspicious beginning, don’t you think?”

“Hardly,” said Elizabeth, giving him a hand up.

“Thank you.  Now for what I was going to say.”

Suddenly everything was quiet.  Rodney obviously was a little uncomfortable standing over Elizabeth, so he knelt back down on the ground again, regardless of the muddy grass.  Elizabeth swallowed.  Twice.

“Elizabeth, I can’t do this the way Mr. Darcy did it, or the way Mr. Knightley did it—that is, I mean, the way Jane Austen did it.  I considered that—I mean, I thought you might appreciate a proposal that came straight out of one of your favorite books.  But that didn’t quite seem right, and… uh…”
There was a pause and Elizabeth wanted to help him out, but her tongue seemed glued to her teeth.

“Mmm, ha, this is wonderful.  Now I’m floundering like a fish in a, in an empty fishbowl, I guess.  All right, perhaps I should just say it.  Elizabeth Sophia Markette, will you marry me?  Even if I did not call you ‘dearest, loveliest Elizabeth’, since I have the feeling that that one has been used a time or two before?  I do like to be original.  Please do say yes, because frankly I don’t want to go on any longer not knowing.  Remember you practically promised me before.”

This was almost unromantic, and certainly rather undeserving of Jane Austen’s attention, and yet it seemed so right that there was really nothing more to be said.

“I do not remember practically promising anything,” Elizabeth found herself saying, with a smile that was so wide it nearly hurt, “but I… I can’t imagine saying anything but yes.”

“Really?” Rodney’s face lit up with a smile even wider.

“Really?” Mercy’s face popped into view as she stuck her head out of the carriage house window.
“Mercy!” said Rodney.  “You weren’t listening?  Stupid question, of course you were.”  He was not angry.
“I couldn’t miss it,” said Mercy, with only the tiniest hint of shame, “and now I get to be the first to say that it took you much too long to finally ask her.”
“No, it didn’t,” said Elizabeth.
“Yes, it did,” said Rodney.
“Just engaged,” said Mercy, sighing dramatically, “and arguing already.”


Maria Elisabeth said...

I have to say that I laughed and laughed reading this. From what you've told us of Rodney, it seems like a perfectly in-character proposal and very sweetly awkward. I love it. :)

Melody said...

I really liked the fact that he mentioned Mr. Darcy and Mr. Knightley!! It gains my approval, and I must say, I would enjoy reading this proposal in a book much more than something mushy with a kissing scene.

Like, a lot.

~Marcia said...

♥♥♥ it!!!! I was laughing the whole way through

Miss Dashwood said...

Maria Elisabeth,
Aww, thank you! I prefer "mushy" parts in books to be funny if possible. :)

Naturally... I couldn't have the proposal scene without a little JA stuck in there. And really, Mr. Darcy and Mr. Knightley are the best proposers in her books. Captain Wentworth's never did much for me, ("you pierce my soul"? Seriously?) and Edmund and Henry's AREN'T. EVEN. INCLUDED.

You are so sweet! Thank you. :)

Melody said...

Yes, I agree that Darcy & Knightley had the best proposals. Although I admit I have no low opinion of Captain Wentworth's. It has a certain something which I appreciate. :-)

I've written some of an Edmund proposal before. :-) I know, it always bugs me that they aren't in there! :-( Neither is Edward F's!

Miss Dashwood said...

Ooh, I KNEW I'd forgotten somebody... how could I leave out the illustrious Mr. F? I do like his proposal in 1995 though. "My heart is, and ever will be, yours."

Miss Laurie of Old-Fashioned Charm said...

Miss Dashwood this proposal is so charming! I love that's it's a bit awkward and definitely funny! I couldn't help smiling as widely as Elizabeth herself when Rodney mentioned Mr. Darcy and Mr. Knightley! :D

The only thing I wondered a bit is at there not being really "I love you" or anything from Rodney about why he loves Elizabeth. But as you mentioned a previous almost proposal perhaps you already wrote about that. And the "it seemed so right that there was really nothing more to be said" covers it pretty much. And from what I've read of Rodney this seems like the perfect proposal for him! I like the bit about Mercy at the end too. :)

Captain Wentworth's proposal is probably my favorite, his letter is so much like poetry to me and definitely suited the heroine he was writing to. "You pierce my soul" meaning that Anne touches the very source of his being. "I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that it is too late."
Mr. Knightley's proposal is delightful too as is Mr. Darcy's proposals! Like Melody I've written a bit of Edmund's proposal, it came to me in a flurry one evening so that I couldn't get to sleep before I had written it down. Sometimes moments of writing inspiration aren't very convenient! :)

Excellent proposal Miss Dashwood!

Ella said...

I think you handled the proposal scene nicely.

Miss Dashwood said...

Thank you, Ella!

Miss Laurie,
You know, the fact that he never actually said "I love you" bothered me, too--I'm afraid I'm kind of skirting around that, wondering how to put it. This scene definitely needs more work, but that was why I posted it: to get some suggestions and feedback. :)
There actually wasn't any previous "almost proposal"--I think that part may be a bit confusing. When Rodney says "you practically promised me before", he's alluding to when he said "just so you know beforehand, I’d like you to say yes." I think that, also, is something to be reworked.
After NaNo is over, of course.
Maybe I need to read Captain Wentworth's letter again to get the "full flavor" of it. The fact that I haven't seen either of the movies yet is probably part of the problem... :)

Melody said...

Oh! Yes, what Miss Laurie said is pretty much exactly what I was thinking myself, and probably would have said if I'd had more time. Both the things she mentioned is just what I was thinking.

Miss Laurie,
Haha, I think I always get my inspiration at nighttime and often stay up too late! ha ha!
Maybe we should callaborate and make a complete Edmund & Fanny proposal scene. ;)

Oh and Miss Dashwood, agree that that might be a good thing to work on if you're up to it. :-)

Abby said...

I don't know why you were so worried! :') I think you handled it very well...I was laughing and aww-ing the whole way through! I definitely prefer reading proposals like this. It seemed very in character, and I'm glad you went for the awkward approach. And I loved the mention of Mr Darcy and Mr marks there!

I think in some ways it worked quite well not having Rodney explicitly mention that he loved Elizabeth...I think that might have been very difficult to not make really cheesy or appear very out of character. But that's just my thoughts :') You may be able to find a way round that, since I do think there possibly needs to be some mention of it. it It does need a little work, as you said, but overall I was very impressed! Hehe


Hayden said...

This made me smile the entire time I was reading it! :D Much better than some modern authors who just randomly insert kissing and think that's all they need for a good proposal. Dialogue is actually much more romantic and enjoyable to watch/read about, I believe. :)

Oh, I would SO like to read your entire novel!!! And just from this excerpt I think your characters all sound delightful. :)

As I side note, I love Mr. Knightley's proposal. :) "If I loved you less, perhaps I could talk about it more..." *love* Mr. Darcy is certainly another of my favorites, as well. Rodney gets major points just KNOWING who these characters are :D

Miss Dashwood said...

Thank you for agreeing with me that kissing does not mean the scene is romantic. Ugh. Look, I have nothing against a well-placed kiss as long as it isn't too descriptive, but I decided when I started this NaNo novel that it would have No Kissing.

Which was mostly why Mercy popped in at the end of the scene: to prevent any awkward smoochy moments. :P

I have been thinking that I'd like to insert something along the lines of what Mr. Knightley said. It's just so perfect. Except of course that Rodney is almost never at a loss for words (so maybe he could put in a little disclaimer about THAT).

Oh! And Mr. Darcy does the Mr. Knightley thing too! From chapter 60:
"You might have talked to me more when you came to dinner." [said Elizabeth]
"A man who had felt less, might."

Jane Austen apparently had reusable lines as well as reusable names. :)

Miss Dashwood said...


You remember the Awkward and Awesome posts you wrote a while back? I've always felt that awkward IS awesome, because some of my favorite book (and movie) scenes are the awkward ones. Accidental meeting at Pemberley, anyone?

I have now reworked the scene just a little to include an actual "I love you". I know I said I wouldn't edit until NaNo was over, but I didn't take anything out, I only put things in. So it upped my word count and therefore DIDN'T REALLY COUNT as editing. No, really, it didn't.

Melody said...

Haha, Hayden, you make me laugh, and I quite agree. But with that Elizabeth, one would have to know something about Darcy and Knightley, would not one?

Now, if he read P&P, that would score super major points. ;-)

Miss Dashwood,
I know exactly what you mean about the kissing! One thing I really love about old books is that they can be very romantic and touching without anything of the sort.
I've gotten tired lately (it's happened 3 times now, with Christian books) where they get a little (or actually way too much in one, and I stopt reading it) too descriptive with things like that. Like in the one I've been reading lately, one or maybe two kisses would have been all right, but when it keeps recurring...and describing...I'm just like....

Uggghhh! And then I grunt, roll my eyes, and throw the book down in disgust. :P

Besides, for myself I shan't kiss unless/until I marry.

Melody said...

Ooh, this is sort of off the point of the post, but I think it would be fitting for Elizabeth to call Rodney 'sir' sometimes; perhaps accidentally, because of reading Jane Eyre, and she's always calling Mr. Rochester 'sir', pretty much whenever she says anything to him. :P It's easily picked up on, when I was reading that I found 'sir' popping into my head quite a bit! ;-)

Miss Dashwood said...

Yay! Another girl who wants to save her first kiss for her husband! I'm afraid we're a rare breed, my dear (okay, maybe not in circles such as these, but in the general world). I'm keeping my first kiss in reserve until my wedding day. I think it will be so much more special that way. And Rodney and Elizabeth will, too.

I digress.

About the "sir" thing: I do have to respectfully disagree with you here. My reasons are threefold. 1) Elizabeth and Rodney's relationship has by now progressed to a point where they are really comfortable around each other and don't have the whole formality thing going anymore. (Not that they don't treat each other with respect and courtesy.)
2) Mr. Rochester was Jane's employer and it was quite fitting for her to call him "sir"--however, Rodney is technically Elizabeth's inferior as far as social status goes. She's a governess, he's a hired hand.
3) I just can't picture Rodney letting anybody call him "sir". Not. Happening. He even tells the children Elizabeth cares for to call him Rodney. :)

Thank you for the suggestion, though! I may have Elizabeth call Rodney "sir" a few times earlier in the story, before the part where he insists that she stop the "Mr. Burke" thing. (I had fun writing that scene.)

Miss Dashwood said...

Oh, and Melody? Rodney has read P&P. In fact, he tells Elizabeth that they should "henceforth refer to Mrs. Bennet as Our Mutual Friend."

Melody said...

Oh, well, all right, but I must say that you rather misunderstood my meaning. I meant sort of as a joke; just calling someone 'sir' in an amused fashion, because it popt into their head from Jane Eyre. Not that Rodney was actually a 'sir' to her; that's not what I meant at all. Just sort of a teasing thing. ;-) Especially if it's said in an English accent. tehe
Or maybe say it quite accidentally, and then laugh inwardly at herself.

And furthermore, I didn't really mean at this point of the story; I did mean earlier.

Ah! How nice! I definitely like him now. And did he read it from her suggestion or on his own? Either way is good. :-)

Although I think I'd need the context to quite understand the Our Mutual Friend thing... ha ha

I know, I too believe that we're a rare breed. ;-) I'm glad to find someone with the same conviction/plan, though. Fortunately you're not the first. :-) I know, when it's really a first kiss at a wedding it's so much sweeter! =)

Melody said...

And Rodney not liking 'sir' could actually add to my original thought; if it slipped from her a couple times he could remark upon it. ha

Oooh, that just gave me an idea for one of my laid-aside books (my historical fiction one about a teacher)...I'll have to scribble it down in the notes. It's nothing, really, like we were talking about though. ha

Miss Dashwood said...

Ohhhh... okay, I get it now.
Sorry. I can be a little slow. I didn't realize you meant it as a sort of running joke, although come to think of it that would be an excellent little gag. She could keep calling him sir by mistake, and then he could say something to the effect of, "Look, I'm not Mr. Rochester, okay?" And then she would be embarrassed (as she can easily be) and then he would have to explain that he was teasing and It Would Be Awkward (but awesome).

Thank you for the suggestion! Now my little mind is spinning.

Rodney read P&P completely on his own. He's a real bookworm. Actually, maybe he read it because Mercy dictated that he should. (She can be bossy.)

I think I'm going to write a post about first kisses sometime in the future... now you've got me thinking. An excellent thing indeed.

Oh, and I can't remember if I've mentioned this before or not, but I do love the way you write past-tense verbs the way Jane Austen did: "stopt", "popt", &c. I love old-fashioned spelling! :)

Melody said...

Ha ha ha! That would be so funny! Has he read Jane Eyre too though? o.O Or maybe his sister could have somehow mentioned before that Jane always called Mr. R. that. tehe ;-)
Well, I'm glad I explained myself well enough that time. I do so dislike to be misunderstood! (Although that was quite a minor incident.)

And how nice that he's a bookworm. You know, if this books is not published, on paper or blog, I think I may be quite deprived, desolate, and devastated! (Yes, I am sometimes prone to exaggeration.) It seems just the sort of book I should like to read!

Haha, well, I'm just typing along and 'stopt' comes almost as naturally as 'stopped' with all the old English reading and writing I do! Favourite and colour I do sometimes as well. I just like the way they look. :-)
Oh and learnt, I especially like that one!
I'm glad I amuse others while I'm amusing myself. How very convenient. ;)

I'd like to read that post!

Melody said...

(P.S. I especially like how you said '&c.' :D)

Miss Dashwood said...

Okay, so I'm now going to ask a rather ignorant question. What does o.O mean? I've frequently seen it used in blog posts and what-not, and never taken the time to ask anyone.

Good point--I think perhaps Mercy has read Jane Eyre, and talks about it so much that the characters practically have dinner with them every night.

I read so much 19th-century English, too, that I use it all the time. "Shan't," "mustn't", all those. :) I must say, I learnt how to do the &c from you, though. :)

Melody said...

Uhhh...well it's sort of hard to explain. I only learnt it by context. It's supposed to look like one eye bigger than another; a look of confusion or wonderment; baffled, questioning, something along those lines. Here's a link about it:

Okay, well, I don't agree with their definition of 'o.o' because I use it the same as 'O.O' just when I'm not as surprised/shocked. ha

&c. is fun. I write old-fashioned letters with my friend and I like to put "Yours, &c." at the end. =D

Ha, 'you think perhaps'? Does this mean you think perhaps you shall add it? ;-)

Hayden said...

I feel very much like I am among old friends now :) I am reading all these comments with a huge grin on my face...

Alexandra said...

That was perfect!!! I enjoyed it immensely. You really described the characters so well...I didn't know anything about them before this, but I can totally picture both of their characters. I really, really enjoyed it.

And I've been enjoying the comments, too. :-) I too am a saving-the-kiss gal, and excessive kissing in novels does annoy me. I mean, I'm not going to lie, I have a huuuuuge soft-spot for kissing and nothing's more romantic than that and I greatly anticipate it, but I've chosen to wait myself, you know?

For my books, I stick to no kisses until marriage, although they may *want* to...I don't let them. :-P I do let my married couples kiss, though...especially if it's a sequel and I didn't let them before in the relationship. Like, ahhhh, finally, she's allowing us to. :-D

I'm not going to throw a book across the room (or turn off a film, on the same subject) if it has a few in it, but my view is, if you're going to have it (which I'd rather not period, but you know)...have it at like, the engagement or right before or whatever when they're *really* in love and not like, the first time they meet, which is totally annoying. I read a book like that once where it was literally the first time they met, and it was really cheapened the kiss because it was like, yeah, right. You don't really love the guy yet...seriously?!

It seems to me like a lot of times people will use "lazy" writing by just having them kiss instead of taking the time to write and go into really *describing* the characters and what they're feeling. It's harder than to just have them kiss...but it's better writing.

So there's my (looooooong) two cents. :-)

Miss Dashwood said...

I applaud your bravery in scrolling through all those comments. :) I always feel like I am among old friends when I visit all y'all's blogs. Kindred spirits!

Hooray for long two cents! Lovely to meet another girl who wants to wait till the wedding. :) I don't condemn anyone who chooses to kiss before marriage, but I think it's wonderful to save EVERYTHING for your husband. It just makes it so much more special.

Oh, I totally agree about the whole kiss-at-first-sight thing! Ugh. It makes me think of Dug in Pixar's Up: "I have just met you, and I love you." Yeah, it's cute when a dog says it, but not when it's two people plastering their mouths on each other at first greeting. I think Disney has had a bad influence in that regard: prince meets princess, they fall for each other in thirty seconds, get married the next day (after killing the villains). I love old Disney movies, but the whole love-at-first-sight thing is a little old.

And don't get me started on Romeo and Juliet. Ick.

On the other hand, I've been known to dissolve into happy tears during an end-of-movie kiss... (think Little Dorrit, Pride and Prejudice) so I'm not against it. :) I just think it should be saved until you're serious.

Plus--and this is the real reason I don't write about kissing--I've never been kissed, so I don't know what it's like (obviously). :P

Scullery Maid said...

How Romantic! So, when is your novel going to be published? Or, open to the general public. I, for one would read it as soon as I could. If you weren't planning to have it Open To The General Public, would it help if I told you that I will die of suspense if I never read the whole thing?
Sincerely, CAC or Scullery Maid
P.S. I suppose I would live even if I never read it, but only in greatest misery;).

Anonymous said...

I absolutely love this proposal, Miss Dashwood! You did a wonderful job, and as I was reading through the comments, I was smiling real big. You all sound like old friends here, and I was enjoying your converstation. :-)

I am part of the "rare breed" as well - first kiss is saved for my husband, on our wedding day...that is, if I marry of course!

And by the way, your writing is splendid! Keep up the good work - writing books is a splendid task.

With love from a fellow writer,

P.S. Congratulations on Only a Novel's publication!