Elements of Romantic Comedy: Duplicity

Because everyone has secrets, even ones that seem harmless. We are afraid to risk something or to be misunderstood. Or to be understood and then be criticized or worse, rejected. So we lie a little. And those lies trip us up.

Photo: Kristian Dela Cour (Creative Commons Flickr)
Photo: Kristian Dela Cour (Creative Commons Flickr)

Elements of self-protection give power to your story, as long as they’re believable.  We don’t like treacherous liars, but everyone understands self-preservation. It’s part of being human.

One of my favorite romcom movies is While You Were Sleepingfeaturing a likable heroine with a secret she can’t bring herself to reveal. She’s lonely and conflicted, and we get her dilemma. The truth has to come out, but at what cost? In spite of the deception, we’re rooting for her.

Love is all about becoming vulnerable, daring to trust. Readers enjoy seeing the barriers come down, as the hero and heroine become their authentic selves.

DBAON-thumbnailIn Chapter 3 of Darcy By Any Other Name, Elizabeth is worried that Mr. Collins will say something stupid–a thing he excels at. By now everyone in Meryton knows that Mr. Collins is heir to Longbourn; Elizabeth cannot escape the connection. If only she can keep him from talking! And making himself look even more foolish!

Mr. Collins lifted his head. “Mr. Darcy will recover?” he repeated.

“In time, perhaps. Shall we have a look at that shoulder?”

Mr. Collins glared at Mr. Jones. “I am not accustomed,” said he, in a tone that brooked no argument, “to having my questions brushed aside. What of Mr. Darcy?”

Mr. Jones looked uncomfortable. Elizabeth held her breath, waiting for his answer. What had happened to Mr. Darcy? And why was Mr. Collins so insistent?

“As of this morning,” said Mr. Jones, “Mr. Darcy has not regained consciousness. This could be a good omen, a sign that his body is healing—like yours, Mr. Collins.”

Mr. Collins spoke slowly. “Is he expected to live?”

“We have every hope.” Mr. Jones was now examining the contents of his apothecary bag. “I was not aware that you were acquainted with Mr. Darcy.”

“Ah, but I am.” Mr. Collins’ lips twisted into a wry smile. “Rather intimately, in point of fact.”

Elizabeth’s heart leaped into her mouth. What new disaster was this? Would her cousin begin babbling on about Mr. Darcy?

“What Mr. Collins means,” she said hastily, “is that he serves as rector to Mr. Darcy’s aunt in Hunsford. And naturally, he is concerned—for the family.”

“Ah,” said Mr. Jones. “A professional interest; I quite understand. If Mr. Darcy takes, shall we say, a fatal turn, you’ll have of plenty of time.”

“Time for what?” Mr. Collins wanted to know.

“Why, to compose your funeral sermon. Or perhaps Dr. Bentley will do the honors. Now then.” Mr. Jones resumed his prodding. “Ah-ha,” he crowed. “Yes, it becomes clear. A dislocated shoulder is what you have and not a broken bone, Mr. Collins.”

“Please stop calling me that.”

Mr. Jones looked surprised. “Eh, very well,” he said. “With this sort of injury, Mr. Col—eh, a-hem! —a fall or a blow causes the top of the arm bone to pop out of the shoulder socket.” Mr. Jones’s fingers pressed a sensitive spot, and Mr. Collins gasped.

“The shoulder is incredibly mobile, but the joint is, unfortunately, prone to popping out of place.”

Elizabeth winced. She did not like the way Mr. Jones said the word popping.

Tomorrow’s post? E is for Eggheads! (Otherwise known as comic relief.)

Find out what the other A to Z bloggers are doing by clicking on this link. 

Excerpt is from Darcy By Any Other Name by Laura Hile, copyright 2016

Laura Hile (1)

7 thoughts on “Elements of Romantic Comedy: Duplicity

  1. I’m with Elizabeth on the whole issue of “popping.” On every cooking show, chefs are constantly popping things in a bowl or oven, and every bit of greenery is used for a “pop” of color. And there are many other over uses. The thought of Darcy’s shoulder will no doubt pop into my thoughts as I go about my day.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. This was my reaction to WebMD (or whichever site I culled the dislocated shoulder details from). Just ew. The Jack-in-the-Box can pop out, but not my knee or hip or shoulder…

      “We’ll soon set that to rights,” my medical friends chirp.

      Yeah, well, not without a major ouch.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love “While You Were Sleeping.” The heroine didn’t intentionally deceive anyone — at first. Then she discovered the sweet feeling of being enveloped in the love of a family, and suddenly, that was more important than the boyfriend who lay unconscious. She was so close to having everything that she had dreamed of having, only to find that she couldn’t continue the deception. The truth was, she loved his brother, and by admitting that, she was sure she would lose it all. It was the perfect romance. I think most authors have real problems when it comes to self preservation. They wear out the good graces of their readers before they hit the “crisis” moment. A little of that goes a long way. You, Laura, hit the perfect balance, and you do it with grace and good humor.


  3. Yes, it (duplicity) does add some angst to stories and then when someone contradicts the character not knowing that they are attempting to hide something…What a tangled web!!!


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