Elements of Romantic Comedy: Pain

Physical pain and emotional pain. If handled right, these keep readers turning pages. Of the two, I consider emotional pain to be the most hurtful. Broken relationships do not heal the way injuries do.

But if your lead characters are to grow and change, pain must be part of their journey. If you can juxtapose pain with humor, it’s even more poignant.

Photo: Joe Penna (Creative Commons Flickr)
Consider adding pain to your storytelling arsenal. Photo: Joe Penna (Creative Commons Flickr)

DBAON-thumbnailIn Chapter 9 of Darcy By Any Other Name,  Darcy-as-Collins is coming to grips with his new reality.
Readers smile and then grimace at Miss Bingley’s whispered rudeness. And poor Darcy discovers that not only does his aunt have contempt for Mr. Collins–hardly a surprise–but so do his friends.

Darcy crossed to the mantelpiece and, as was his habit, stood frowning into the flames. His negligent stance was not easily accomplished, for Collins was not only wider but less dexterous.

It was bad enough to be fat, but to be clumsy and fat?

And stupid? Ah, but was Collins as unintelligent as he appeared? Darcy thought over what he had observed at Bingley’s ball. Yes, he decided. Most unfortunately, Collins was thoroughly stupid.

The library had two doors; the one on the far side now came open.  “Charles, you didn’t,” he heard. It was Caroline Bingley, and if she meant to keep her voice low, she failed. This was no surprise to Darcy. Neither Miss Bingley nor her sister knew how to whisper.

Bingley murmured something in reply; whatever it was did not please her. “As if we have not had enough of provincial society—”she began.

“Not provincial,” her brother protested.

“And now,” Caroline continued, as if he had not spoken, “you must thrust this—this person on me. Honestly, Charles, what will you do next?”

“Should I let the fellow starve? He has been very good to Darcy, calling every day.”

Miss Bingley gave an unhappy huff. “I daresay I shall yawn myself to death.”

“Would you rather hear Lady Catherine gabble on? I thought Mr. Collins would be an improvement.”

“It is most unfair, Charles! You needn’t sit at the table looking at him.”

“Caro, do understand.”

Darcy could hear the pout in her voice. “It isn’t as if he’s anyone important. How I am to converse with him I do not know.”

“Fine,” Darcy heard Bingley say. “We’ll go up to the billiard room until luncheon is ready.”

Miss Bingley gave an audible sigh. “I suppose I must now greet the creature.”

Darcy heard her footfalls trip across the parquet floor until she reached the carpet. He did not turn to look at her.

“My brother tells me that you are to join us for luncheon, Mr. Collins,” she said. “What a pleasant surprise.”

From beneath his brows Darcy gave her a quelling look.

He heard her gasp; her hand crept to her throat. “Why, my gracious,” she said in an altered tone. “Oh, my gracious. For a moment, Mr. Collins, standing as you are, I could have sworn that you were—”

Darcy raised an eyebrow, but did not smile.

“But no, that is silly,” she went on unsteadily. “How could you be anyone but Mr. Collins?”

“How could I indeed,” he said drily.

“I fear it will be some time until luncheon is served.” She gave a brittle laugh. “We do not keep country hours among ourselves, Mr. Collins. And why should we? As soon as Mr. Darcy is able to travel, we shall return to London.”

Thus Miss Bingley made her recovery. Bumbling Collins, her disdainful gaze said. What care I for you?

Darcy had seen this expression in Elizabeth Bennet’s eyes. But then he remembered Collins’ behavior at ball; perhaps Elizabeth had reason. But what had Collins ever done to Miss Bingley?

No, her contempt was solely because Collins was beneath her. She could claw higher on the social dung hill by putting someone like Collins beneath her feet.

Conversation lagged. Darcy was of no mind to break the silence.

Tomorrow: Q is for Questions…which you, the author, won’t answer. Thanks so much for reading.

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

Laura Hile (1)

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

9 thoughts on “Elements of Romantic Comedy: Pain

    1. Part of my reason for writing this story is to highlight exactly this, Gayle. Amid the laughs, a reminder that we are not all that we think. And that those whom we dismiss as unimportant are anything but. “Remember the human” is an old “netiquette” saying that too many forget.


  1. Having grown up poor and poorly dressed I have suffered the slings of those more fashionably dressed or whose fathers drove nice cars, not clunkers, like my parents. Overheard whispers about me, my sister, my father HURT. When rearing my own children I emphasized that they judge a person by how they treat each other, not the house they live in, the clothes they wear or the car they drive…pointing out that GOD gave us different abilities and IQ’s so it is not always possible, even with hard work, to earn enough money to buy all those external signs of wealth…or that it was inherited, not earned.

    I am now middle class so I fit in but I do remember those days.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I was born in 1950, five years after the end of WWII. I went to a small, rural school and attended a small, rural church. Everyone was poor — we just didn’t realize it. I thought our Kannapolis relatives were rich — they worked in the cotton mills, making or folding sheets. I remember the boxes of hand-me-downs they sent to my sisters and me — such excitement! Things are so different today, primarily because people can buy on a credit card what they would never be able to afford if they had to pay for it. You can often find clothing items at yardsales that still sport their price tags. I have to wonder if the people selling them have even paid for them yet. Just got to have the next “new” thing. At school, I have a poster in my classroom: The best things in life aren’t things. When students ask about it, they open the door for me to explain the difference. Those are good days.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The best things in life *aren’t* things, Gayle, and bless you for sharing this with your students. Because most of them don’t know. Seems incredible, but there we are. Young people nowadays have clothes and gadgets and supervised sports activities. I’m thinking that your rural upbringing gave you something far more wondrous: freedom, and later on, independence.

        I have found, too, that it is those who have done without who are sincerely generous, both with possessions and time.


    2. What I do every day…

      …work with my 7th grade students to quit judging others on looks, athletic or academic skill, but most especially possessions. By and large these are nice kids! But the “claw to the top of the heap” instinct is strong (I call it the inner selfish pig), especially among insecure 12 and 13 year-olds. So many do not know what it is to do without something…

      I am sorry you experienced this, Shelia, and good for you for taking the time to enlighten your children. Until we walk in someone else’s shoes, we have no idea how hurtful whispers and jokes can be.

      Granted, Mr. Collins almost begs to be kicked, because even in his straightened circumstances he is proud and condescending (and oh-so-annoying). Darcy learns a thing or two when he has to be him.


      1. I love P&P but reality is that he (Darcy) judges others by their connections. And it still goes on today. Look at cyber-bullying by which come targets have committed suicide. When I was a substitute teacher I found 14-year-olds to be so mean!

        Liked by 1 person

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