Saturday, September 7, 2013

Goodbye, Lady Rossmore

Quick Note: For those of you reading this on an iPhone, iPad or iPod, Blogger's comment box and those devices do not go together. My phone freezes when I try to reply to comments and then won't post. Why? I don't know.

For whatever reason, somewhere during the first draft of my WIP, I wrote a few chapters with this one character, Lady Rossmore, in it. I think I created her to a) fill up the middle of my book and b) to contrast her with Mrs. Braddock, a saucy widow who lives in my village and is all up in my MC's business.

There's some chitchat about Lady Rossmore, who is a countess, the widow of a dead Irish earl who died during the 1798 rebellion possibly looking for a husband, and look, we have this widower in the parish, after all. Problem was, Lady Rossmore has 5 kids and as much as I loved writing the few scenes she was in (three, all told), I could never get her to come across as less-than-haughty and cold.



I described her like this:


Lady Rossmore's skin was very pale. Her clothing gave off an impression of age, but her face was smooth—only lines around her mouth—and what Miles could see of her neck showed no wrinkles. Where Lady Banston was blond-haired, open and friendly, despite being unmistakably patrician, her cousin was every inch an aristocrat. Lady Rossmore stood erect and her expression was still. Her dark, curved brows lent a haughty air to her face. Only her flinty blue eyes moved, taking in her surroundings.


She always reminded me of Lady Mary Crawley from Downton Abbey (Mrs. Braddock is totally based on Anne Boleyn from The Tudors).

But Lady Rossmore was literally in three scenes. I made one of them pretty important--Lady Rossmore's son, the current earl, is cruel to my MC's daughters--but after I finished the second draft, I wondered if I should cut her out entirely. What was her purpose in this story? Was she a subplot? Not really. She gets mentioned once after she leaves the story. She never connects with the MC. Her presence is an excuse to talk about the impending Act of Union, which fused Ireland to England.

My beta didn't seem to have strong feelings on whether I should cut her out or not, but "please get rid of that vaguely pornographic affair Miles has with Mrs. Braddock."

Which I did.

But yesterday, I was reading Chapter Thirty, where the second mention of Lady Rossmore goes like this:


            "When was the last time you saw her?"
            "At her wedding, I believe. Once she went to live in Ireland, I imagine her social stream became more focused on Dublin than Bath or London."
            Banston's face turned thoughtful. "Do you think she'll regain the lands?"
            "With the Act of Union…" Juliet put her palms up. "Her son has the title. I wondered whether she might not have been searching for another husband."
            Her husband nodded. "Bath makes sense in that respect. Although as a countess—and a well-connected one—London would be the place, if the Season hadn't already passed."
            "True. I almost thought of seating Kitty near Miles Keegan Monday night, but then, I supposed that rank ought to take precedence."
            ...He looked amused. "I'm not sure that a countess with five children and uncertain land is quite the unblemished lady that Keegan ought to marry, if he chooses to remarry."
            "Oh, I know it's a gamble," Juliet replied. "He still wears his armband. But he'll want a wife again, eventually. He's in the prime of life and if the girls are any indication…"
            "True."
            "And the girls will need a mother as they grow."
            "But will Kitty want a husband?"
            "I suppose I'll have to find that out when she comes."


Love the dialogue, but couldn't see a way to salvage this pointless sequence. Not when I should be devoting space to Pearl the nanny or the matter of Mr. Taylor and his son Nathaniel's trust in terms of subplots. Instead, I kept the crucial scene with Alex, Mady, and Lady Rossmore's son Lord Rossmore because he gets farmed out to his mother's cousin for a little visit. His mother is talked about, but never makes an appearance and I was able to cut out six hundred more words or something.

I kept her scenes in a separate doc though because I thought they were well written. Maybe they'll be the root of something else one day.


6 comments:

  1. I really like that first bit. Sometimes characters are just cold and unfriendly. I'm strongly pro cutting people that don't really need to be there though. I end up having to make up a bunch of people on the spot because I never start with enough. I get the craziest names that way. Lady Rossmore should definitely be saved for a future project. She seems interesting. :)

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    1. Total case of liking those scenes and not wanting to let them go. But she had to. She's not completely erased--I kept a few mentions of her and we meet her awful oldest son.

      But I liked the scenes she was in, even if they're very expository, so they're in another document. And there were too many women around acting as potential romantic interests to my MC that it was getting ridiculous.

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  2. I had the opposite problem. I'd killed off one too many of my characters and during rewrites my editor suggested I keep alive one of the women I'd dispatched :)

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    1. Really? That's funny. I hope she added to the story!

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  3. I feel your pain. I had a minor antagonist who had I think three scenes. I really liked his arrogant swagger, but... There wasn't anything accomplished by his scenes that I couldn't have used to spend more time with the MC's.

    I'm fighting to save another because, with each draft he becomes more interesting, but most of his POV scenes really can be told by someone else. I suppose I could keep him as a non-POV, but sometimes he's the only who sees things!

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    1. It sounds like he has a purpose, then, if he sees things others don't. Lady Rossmore didn't have a POV, only the scenes she was in and she didn't affect the outcome of the story.

      Delete

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