What's the last juicy bit of gossip you heard?

Somewhere along the way, gossip has become a theme in my WIP. I knew it was there and I knew it was an important theme because of the story--new neighbor moves into small English village. New neighbor has two kids of obviously different racial origins. New neighbor lives in 1800. Commence gossiping!

But then the gossip element took on its own life--one of the best things about novel writing--and it is a huge part of the climax and denouement, even if I think the ending is still a bit rushed.

I have these three minor characters in my book--Mrs. Henson, the innkeeper's wife; Mrs. Thomas, the wife of a naval officer whom we never meet; and Mrs. Brown, His Lordship's gamekeeper's wife. They all play a part in their friendship: Mrs. Brown, as the wife of one of the local lord's employees, brings gossip from the estate to her friends in the village. Mrs. Thomas clucks disapprovingly about everyone. Mrs. Henson hears everything in the inn. They were kind of inspired by the ladies in Cranford, who gossip and spread news around town.

The idea is that these ordinary people in this tiny village spend a lot of time talking about their version of a soap opera or a gossip blog: the estate owners around them.

They talk about:
-what Miles, my MC, is doing to the house he bought
-about his daughters, getting a lot wrong in the process
-about Miles's late wife (and his mistress), getting everything wrong
-whether Miles will remarry any time soon--and who he could remarry to
-about that servant he brought with him from Barbados
-about Lord and Lady Banston's comings and goings, though they're a very happily married couple with five children and an heir and several spares.

As we know, gossip and rumors can be hurtful. The ones surrounding my MC grow from speculation on the mothers of his daughters to his interactions with a local widow to bringing the girls' nanny, who came with the family from Barbados for her own reasons, into the swirl of stories. Some of these rumors are harmless and some of them are malicious.

In terms of writing structure, the gossip starts to become a form of unreliable narration, which is something I always wanted to play with.

For this portion of the story, I listened to "Famous In a Small Town" by Miranda Lambert a lot, to get that nosy neighbor who knows everything about you feel.

What kinds of themes do y'all have in your stories?


  1. Unreliable narrators are fun! I did one in a short story once and it was so much fun to have people in the class debating and arguing about what was really going on. ^_^

    I have anger themes in my books a lot. Lol!

    1. Anger's a good theme. The gossip doesn't really replace the narration but there are a lot of stories floating around, most of them unflattering, and in such a small environment in those days, reputations were a big deal.

      It's great when people talk about your stuff, isn't it? :-)


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