Elements of Romantic Comedy: Nighttime

Romance stories beg for nighttime scenes: The carriage traversing the torch-lit drive leading to the mansion. A stroll through an ornamental garden. A midnight chase, lit only by stars and moon.

Photo: Rachel Kramer (Creative Commons Flickr)
That rascal moon! Best to keep track of him in your novel, because he tends to wander off. Photo: Rachel Kramer (Creative Commons Flickr)

Well, the moon can be a problem. Because you’ve got to know where you are. Mention it twice in your story, and you’d better have the phase right. Two full moons in two weeks? Oh, I’ve written it. I haven’t (yet) forgotten the color of the heroine’s eyes, but that moon is one slippery customer.

And don’t forget the nocturnes. Ha, vampires (if you write them), along with other nighttime hunters:  birds (owls, nightjars, poor-wills, etc.), raccoons and foxes, mosquitoes and crickets and moths. And, of course, orb weaver spiders waiting on their newly-made webs.

These add a touch of authenticity and, perhaps, unexpected drama. The cry of a distant nighthawk, the rustle of a fox in the hedgerow…or how about a full-on collision with a spider’s web? (This is romantic comedy, after all.)

DBAON-thumbnailTo illustrate, I  mention the moon in Chapter 28, as Darcy heads out (in borrowed clothes) to spy on Mr. Wickham. I bailed on the phase, as you will see. But my google doc spreadsheet tells me that it’s six days past full, ha. So I was safe.


Darcy set his teeth. To think that he used to pride himself on his clothing! Beneath the cloak he wore a borrowed frock coat and beneath that, a brown waistcoat of boiled wool—heaven help the buttons! The most shudder-worthy item was the plaid neck cloth. Never had Darcy worn anything other than white in the evening. This might be only Meryton, but a man had his standards. He’d wrapped Collins’ muffler high around his throat and hoped for the best.

The moon was hidden by clouds. The temperature was falling, with waist-high fog drifting across the lane. Darcy knew that he ought to have begged a lantern from Mrs. Hill. But then he must confess to her his errand, and he knew where that would lead. Mrs. Hill would raise a ruckus, and in the end he would look even more a fool.

And wasn’t it too bad that his letter to Fitz had gone awry. Ten to one his cousin had been sent off somewhere—with Fitz one never knew—but how he would enjoy himself tonight. Unlike Darcy, Fitz was fond of larks and pranks.

Darcy turned his mind toward his destination. There was a name; Denny had said it or perhaps Captain Carter. About how the officers’ usual game could set a fellow back at— Darcy paused to think. Yes, that was it—at the Rose and Crown.

Tomorrow’s  (oops) Monday’s post for O is Outsmart. Because like me, you probably have very intelligent readers. Keeping ahead of them is a piece of work!

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)

18 thoughts on “Elements of Romantic Comedy: Nighttime

  1. How right you are! The clouds (and mist rising, oh, and fog too) have saved me plenty of times. Before I moved to Oregon, I had no idea how many different kinds of rain there were. Or how many shades of green…

    It ain’t Ireland, but I’ll take it. Thanks for stopping by.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Is he planning on gambling? or Drinking? Where does this Darcy in Collins’ body get the wherewithal? I know he is going there to spy but he must pretend to fit in the place.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh, that was lovely. Yes, the moon is a slippery fellow and your description of the fog in the lane is gorgeous and brought back a host of memories. Also, loved the description of the clothing. And yes, yes, yes to the nocturnes and the unexpected.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Many times descriptions mean research–reading articles about the English countryside, etc, to mine out just the right words. At the end of the book, I finally hit upon “dappled sunlight.” I wish descriptions came more easily!

      But fog rising from fields is something I’ve experienced here in Oregon. A relief to find the words on my own! When I lived in the mountains (California), sometimes fog would rise from the valley and creep through the the passes, wraith-like. I do love fog. And the stormy sea, but that’s fodder for another post…or book.


  4. There are many reasons I don’t write fiction, and the noon details are just one example of things that would trip me! I know the details are important, and will pay attention the next time I’m reading. I notice when something is not right so maybe I’m more attuned to it than I think.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The trouble with nonfiction (if it’s personal and not technical) is that I have to be, well…personal. Vulnerable. Honest. Not that I struggle with those, but they’re not very interesting. So I hide behind fictional stories. In my post for Y, I talk about how when someone finishes one of my books, what they know about me (particularly my sense of humor) is a lot. 😀

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Yes, good personal nonfiction requires honesty and vulnerability. But, real life is so fascinating. And if I wrote my real life as fiction, people would doubt these events could really happen to one person! 😉

        Liked by 1 person

        1. “Stranger than fiction” is absolutely true, which is why we fiction writers collect details. You know, like spying on people at Starbucks? (Not my fault that they talk so loud! And have so much drama!) Or poring through newspapers…

          I tell my students that fiction writing is the domain of the Introvert. Romance! Adventure! And without risk! You should see the delighted expressions on the faces.

          Liked by 1 person

  5. Well, there’s yet ANOTHER reason for me to shy away from fiction. Look how clever you have to be. I loved your descriptive excerpt. I used to run at 4 in the morning while the moon was still visible (at certain phases, of course!) My favorite memories are of a full moon reflecting off of barren fields covered in snow. I loved having SOME light, as there are no street lights on the dirt lanes in our rural area.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. See, we city dwellers have no idea. When we lived in the mountains (California, Mount Pinos, an area so remote that the silence made my ears ring), I was astonished to discover how bright the stars were. And that the full moon on snow was like daylight!

      For years I walked two miles at 5 am. I miss that…

      Liked by 1 person

  6. This was fun, and a great example of why the details matter. I have problems with holidays, often putting Christmas before Thanksgiving. In Canada, that’s December before October, so it’s a problem indeed. I’ve solved that somewhat by keeping a calendar now, having learned the hard way that it’s much easier to do it as I’m drafting rather than going back to fix it later. Little details like the moon though? Oy. They continue to astound me. Great details in your writing. I, too, loved that bit about the fog.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am learning to keep a Google Doc flow chart, imposing a calendar with moon phase and the weather I’ve chosen for that day, etc.

      It’s easier to assemble this as I go, writing session by writing session. To impose method on a 130k manuscript is a horrible chore–I have done this! –and then there are the horrible discoveries. Like the time I skipped days, had a journey of several days be accomplished overnight, etc. It’s too hard to straighten these kinds of things out of the draft later. 🙂


  7. Oh, goodness. When reading, I immediately notice a wrong moon phase or eye color change or vegetation that doesn’t match locale, or whatever. My own novel? Every day is Tuesday, and other problems! Much enjoy your posts!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I am easily cowed by details because I’m writing Jane Austen’s England, a place I know little about. Visiting London for a few days does not count! I rely on books and photos and the Internet.

      How many times have I shaken my head over novels set in “glamorous” Hollywood–which is not Beverly Hills–that had little resemblance to the real thing, (well, as it was in the 7os and 80s). The city streets were nothing special, aside from a few old theaters and the stars on the sidewalk. I should add that the past twenty-five years have seen a lot of redevelopment in the downtown area. Okay, so I’m rambling. Details matter, although I do my best to be pleasingly vague!


  8. This is something I have never considered when writing my stories! It is so easy for details like celestial bodies to fall through the cracks when you’re caught up in the emotion of your scenes. Laura, I found it very effective how you gave pointers on writing, an insight into your own methods, and an excerpt from one of your pieces. By describing the element of nighttime it got my imaginative juices flowing and totally put me in the mood to be beside Darcy in a costume of my own! I probably would have brought a lantern though… Mrs Hill’s questions or no. Might be something I could try on my own blog every now and then.
    I definitely want to find out what Darcy discovers on his evening escapade! I am so glad you shared this 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. With me at the helm, lots of story stuff falls through the cracks! “Write the ending FIRST,” I tell myself. “Fill out the spreadsheet AS YOU WRITE.”

    Yeah. Noble ideas to work toward as I move the new story ahead, sometimes in Slug Mode.

    Nine more days for the A to Z Challenge. To quote the Little Engine That Could, “I think I can. I think I can.” One idea at a time. Thanks for reading, JB. 🙂


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