My dear Fanny,
I received your letter this morning, despite the best efforts of the postmaster. I see that you enjoyed yourself greatly at the social last week, and for that, I'm entirely pleased, for it seems that the gentlemen there were paid enough attention to you to keep you in good humour for at least a fortnight.
You asked me about the newest venture you've set your hand to and I confess, after examining the details closely, I take the occasion to lecture to you - kindly, I should hope - on the summary you have so diligently provided to your old aunt.
Seven to eight people, that is the very thing to work on. You must place all of your characters in one location, preferably a small starship with the possibilities of dispersion to other locations.
Hold firm to this ideal and you shall not find yourself astray. Your world shall contain both the foolish and the wise. The fools must find the fools, and the wise, well, they shall suffer greatly the pangs of unrequited love and other such miseries. I am convinced, to tell this tale properly, you must write it with a light hand.
Your first act in telling any story is to first discover a proper setting. It is easiest to open your tale in a place well known to yourself, but when the occasion presents itself, send your children on their way. I advise, however, when you send your characters elsewhere, you must be careful not to go with them; you ought to stay behind, as you know nothing of that place.
Once you have discovered your place of intrigue, you must then find yourself those who will populate your story.
In your group of seven or eight, invite a good mix of personalities, otherwise you may find yourself with a story of exceeding dullness which even you would not find a particular joy.
Like all stories of this time, you should have one character with a gentle propensity for good humor and wit. It may also help your efforts if you also find a young man who still has much to learn. Your women must be strong, beautiful and on occasion, even fashionable.
You must create at least one character whom no one but yourself shall like very much and you must be sure that this character meddles in affairs of which he or she knows nothing at all. This will create hours of enjoyment, as there exists the possibilities of humor within the witless situation. Of course, you must resolve such lack of intimation with delicacy and care to your characters, as not to permanently scar them and render them completely useless.
To know more of the characters is not necessary; it is better that you focus on one character at the expense of all others. This character, around whom all of your stories ought to revolve, should be too good for you, her author. Hence, you may delight in your creation to the dismay of others. But do not worry about such trifles - those who have not more must be satisfied with what they do have.
And you can prove your neglect quite easily since it is a well-known fact that concentrating too deeply on the defects of character removes all mystery from the tale. You should do your best to create those dangerous situations of which little is revealed and spend your time instead on newcomers with a talent for intrigue and who may even pose a threat to our brave heroes and heroines. You may even consider writing about battles that create great emotion and thrill, but illicit little in the way of character development.
It is also best that your characters have no memory. They must be willing to forget all that ails them and should not be troubled by events gone past. Stay strong and let none contradict you on this point. Concern yourself not with history because to do so is tiresome and few shall recall the relevant facts of your story.
You may resolve your deepest conflicts at a social gathering of some kind, for it is common knowledge that all stories require interaction. The possibilities for tensions and romantic intrigue is complete when you line up your cast of characters in a room and drop pretty words from their lips. Those living in your story must always know the newest dance steps and do not be afraid to lead them prettily from hall to hall, with little regard as to how they got there in the first place.
Above all, you must have excitement and such excitement that is easily resolved with little or no retribution; few among your audience relishes harsh treatment of their idols, so you must not disappoint. Remember: few tire of what is too good for them.
your Aunt Jane
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