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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Maria Grace: Crafting the Perfect Mrs. Darcy

Welcome Maria Grace and Blog Swap Day to Darcyholic Diversions!
And The Continuing Countdown to the Decatur Book Festival...32 Days to Go!

Hi, Darcyholics!  Today we visit with Maria Grace, my very good friend thanks to the world of Jane Austen.  She shares her father comical OCD adventure through the editing process of her book that definitely qualifies her for My blog! She will be joining us Labor Day weekend for the Decatur Book Festival--Jan Austen: Then and Now.  Today we have swapped blogs!  Please drop by and read MY POST on Random Bits of Fascination.

If you have not yet checked out the information about the Decatur Book Festival Events here is The DBF Event Link.  We have 26 Austen-Inspired Authors that have made a commitment to be a part of the event.  If you can make it to Decatur, GA over Labor Day let me know and I will be sure you have the information about our hotel room block (contact information can be found in the link).

If you have not read all of the posts for the month of June, there are still six authors with open drawings.  Check out the archives on the right and read posts from Pam Dixon, Marilyn Brant, Karen Aminadra, Jennifer Petkus, Amy Cecil and William Deresiewicz and leave a comment.  And now an additional give away with Grace's post today.

Upcoming Guest Posts Are As Follows:
August 3--Wendi S.
August 5--Laura Dabundo
August 7--Laura Hile
August 10--Abigail Reynolds
August 12--Cynthia Hensley
August 14--Colette Saucier
August 17--Regina Jeffers
August 19--KaraLynne Mackrory
August 21--Sally Smith O'Rourke
August 24--Pamela Aidan
August 26--Lory Lilian
August 28--Jack Caldwell
August 31--Decatur Book Festival Eve!
September 2--Live from the Decatur Book Festival
September 4--Fun Stories from the DBF
September 7--Jack Caldwell's Experiences at the DBF
September 11--Karen Cox's Experiences at the DBF
September 14--Mary Simonsen
September 21--Moira B.
November 2--Amy Patterson
November 13--Karen Doornebos
And Many more to come!
Comments on Maria Grace's post will be included in a drawing for 1 softcover (US) and 1 eBook (International) of her new book The Future Mrs. Darcy. You comment will also be entries into the monthly drawings here at Darcyholic Diversions.  Entries will be based on comments on blog posts; but additional chances will be given for joining this site, tweeting this post, Joining this site as a member via Google Friend Connect (GFC) (See the left hand column on the blog to join!), sharing this on Facebook or your blog, Friend me on Facebook, clicking 'like’ on Barbara Tiller Cole, Author's Facebook page, Join Darcyholic Diversions Facebook Page or following BarbTCole on Twitter.

Crafting the Perfect Mrs. Darcy
One thing that nearly all Darcyholics can agree upon is that our hero deserves a worthy heroine. The question though, is what does it take to craft a heroine equal to our favorite hero?  The answer, for me at least, was much more than I expected, especially when Darcyholic meets perfectionist.

My family knows about my closet CDO—that’s like OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), except with the letters in alphabetical order AS THEY SHOULD BE—and it came out in force while preparing The Future Mrs. Darcy for publication. I spent six months and hundreds of hours in editing and obsessing.

What could you possibly do with a manuscript for six months, you might ask. How much perfecting could poor Elizabeth actually need?   Well, the perfect party for making her debut into society takes a lot of planning.

To start with, I needed to make sure the Future Mrs. Darcy had a proper dress to wear. She needed a plot.  A plot you say--you had a manuscript what problem could there be with plot?  Unfortunately random stuff happening is not the same thing as a plot. So I did what any self-respecting 21st century woman does and got on Google and researched plot. Enter Larry Brooks' Story Structure. There went a month, structuring a plot to showcase a suitable Elizabeth for our Darcy to meet.

Whew! She is dressed with a suitable plot, we’re ready to go now right? Ah, um, no.  After all, what good’s a pretty dress if you don’t have the right event to wear it to? According to Randy Ingermanson's Advanced Fiction Writing site I needed to make sure there were great scenes to show off the plot. He did a great job explaining Dwight V Swain Scenes and Sequels and adding one more thing to my to do list.  So, next I was off to discover all the (many) incomplete scenes and missing sequels.  Argh! I feel like I planned a dinner party worst that Mrs. Forester's in my book.

But, at least I got to fix things before the guests arrive.  One more pass with Janice Hardy's Plot Template Cheat Sheet and I’m ready to go.

Or not. Mrs. Darcy has her dress and an event to attend, but the rooms were not decorated! How can she invite guests without properly appointing the rooms! Time to call in the decorators! Margie Lawson's Deep Edits and Jodi Renner and Jill Elizabeth Nelson with deep point of view to the rescue.

Now the event is really taking shape! All is nearly ready for her debut. She just needed a final toilette with her lady’s maid to put every hair into place perfectly.  So every single word got scrutinized in line edits. Using the trust ‘find’ function in MS Word, I searched out my very long list of words that signaled weak, wordy or passive construction, a list Janice Hardy helped construct.

Now scrubbed and polished to a shine, it was on to filtering words that would put a distance between Elizabeth and her guests. Those were shown to the door and excused from the event entirely.  Finally, a dab of rouge and lip color as I checked for repeated gestures and expressions. Can’t have characters sighing fourteen times on the same page! What would that do to our party?

What joy was mine to slip the last hair pin in place and say farewell to line editing. She just needed a little bit of jewelry and all would be perfect. It was time to proofread and get all those irritating commas in place and tweak the grammar into perfect order. If only MS Word could be trusted with this final step, but alas, my dear friend and companion in this process was destined to fail me.  Oh, it tried valiantly, but it never read the Purdue OWL's extensive list of comma rules. But I had, so with that in one hand and the Grammarist Grammarist open on my desktop, I chose Elizabeth’s jewels.

Oh, she was lovely now! What flutterings in my heart as I saw her turn about the room. She was ready to face the Ladies of Almack’s my most trusted proofreaders. Under their watchful eyes, the last stray hair were pinned in place and stray threads clipped. Finally, she was ready for her debut….

But wait! She needs her wrap! What about a bookcover?...That’s another story.


  1. Very cute post! I laughed out loud several times. I particularly enjoyed your analogy. Thanks for sharing.

    I have looked forward to this book. I won your first one when this was a new blog! Thanks for the giveaway opportunity.

    Barbara, I enjoyed your post of Maria's blog too! :)

    1. I remember mailing that book to you! Glad i could make youlaugh a little!

  2. I'm peering through the looking glass at a similar scenario - my husband is writing a book so I'm seeing it from the same perspective that your loved ones are viewing you. Your account of your process is delightful. Wishing you great success! elain489(at)gmail(dot)com

  3. Thanks so much. I suppose it is pretty funny to look at from the outside.

  4. Fun post, Maria! I loved "Darcy's Decision" and I am so excited to read this new book! Thanks for the giveaway!!=)

    1. Thanks, Kelli! I'm glad to hear you enjoyed the first one.

  5. Thank you for the links! These are very helpful.

  6. Haven't heard of those books before but they sound interesting. It's much easier to be a reader than a writer!

    1. Some of those are books, some are websites. You're right though, reading is much much easier!

  7. I loved those links you provided.I feel like I've gone to school and have a mountain of homework now. Good that my teachers are very aproachable :)

    1. Glad you found them useful. I refer back to nearly all of them very regularly.

  8. oh i feel like i NEED to read The Future Mrs Darcy!!!!

    thank you for the giveaway!!!

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  9. loved reading of your process! yikes, that's a LOT of work :)
    and i'm sure the finished product will be as polished as possible ~
    looking fwd to the 'cover' story ...;)
    Well Done, Maria Grace! anticipaaation...

  10. You really put in a lot of thought in your writing process, Maria. Thanks for sharing the analogy.

    GFC as LĂșthien84
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