August 2, 1999
Q: In the novel, Whitney tells Clayton that she told Paul she wouldn’t marry him. However, we all know that she didn’t go straight home and dutifully break it off with Paul as she implied. In fact, she had plans to elope with him right up until the moment she realized what a spineless, dowry-coveting toerag he was. So… Did Whitney ever fess up to Clayton?
…I was working on the assumption that in a real situation like that, confronted with an infuriated man who wasn’t giving her any time to explain or any lee-way, a real-life woman wouldn’t be able to get out clarifying statements. Also, if she meant to soothe his temper, she would wait until he was calmer to give him details that might make him angry. I assumed, as we all should, that “our Whitney” wouldn’t take the easy way out and absolve herself from wrong-doing completely. She would confess the full truth to Clayton a little later, when he was calm enough to listen reasonably. Also I had one other fear in that scene that made me veer away from having her say, “I was going to elope with Paul but when I told him that, he said things that made me realize he was (a jerk), so I didn’t do it. Instead, I told him I wouldn’t marry him.” My fear was that, if I let her make such a full confession at such an obviously “wrong” moment, readers might think she was behaving stupidly, and worse, they might have thought, by her uncharacteristic stupidity, she brought down on herself that retaliation of Clayton’s once he got her to Claymore. Which translates into “contrived,” and “unrealistic.” I may well have been wrong about all this, but it was a judgment call, and I chose the course I did. Not always the right course…
But one way or the other, we can be certain that the Whitney we came to know in that novel would have soon made a full and honest explanation of what happened with Paul.
Copyright: Simon & Schuster, Rememberboard, 1999