Hi everyone. Hope you are all well and enjoying the wild and wacky weather we are experiencing.
I have been writing stories since I was young, though I never would have believed anyone would want to read them. Being dyslexic, in a time and place that didn’t know what it was, I learned on my own. But it all came down to styles of writing that connect in my overflowing brain.
If you were to ask me if I read the Lord of the Rings books, I would have told you absolutely not. I tried, but my muddled mind would not accept what Tolkien wrote. The first books which pulled me into reading were the Harry Potter books. The writing style of JK Rowling opened a flood gate (I read the first 4 books in one week). Then I turned to Jane Austen.
When my mother was still alive, she would constantly tell me she could not understand how I could keep finding new storylines. To that, I will say it is due to Jane Austen’s unique writing style.
If you take Pride and Prejudice, think about what the lady did with the characters. We find such a great structure of a story, as well as characters that can be loved…or know a range from love to hate. Last year, when I was at the hospital, one of my nurses was a young man. We were talking about my service dog, Darcy. I get a lot of people who automatically think Darcy is a girl, until I say Mr Darcy. The nurse said that it was good that I named Darcy by that name, and especially not named him Wickham. I loved it. He knew Wickham to be a character that had… well, lets put it politely… morality issues.
We fall in love with the characters. It is weird to see that many of the JAFF community have complete dislike if we writers change some of their beloved characters from the behavior JA had written them. How many of us have seen the scathing reviews when we make Colonel Fitzwilliam or Bingley bad guys? Or Jane or Georgiana? Our fans have strong feelings on some of the characters. One of my stories has Elizabeth marry Mr Collins at the beginning of the story. I have heard from several people that they thought of Lizzy being Mrs Collins, being married to the obnoxious man, was revolting, but they read my story and were relieved to know that Collins dies before they arrived at Hunsford on the day of their wedding.
People don’t have a problem with changing some of the other characters around. Lady Catherine is usually one of the disliked characters that people love to hate. But change her character and make her nice, surprising, but acceptable. Same with Wickham, Caroline Bingley, and even Mrs Bennet, allowing us to come up with many scenarios.
Looking at Jane Austen’s characters, she gave us sturdy groundwork, yet kept so many things vague, allowing us to play with them. Things as simple as Mr and Mrs Bennet’s first names, Colonel Fitzwilliam’s, even the colonel’s parents name/title. Many of us go with Richard for the colonel, but that was not from JA, it is from the JAFF writers. Same with his family. They are Fitzwilliams, yet what were their names and titles? Where was their estate? How about the given name of Darcy’s father? Even the ages of the Bennet sisters is vague? Jane Austen leaves her stories with groundwork and it makes us use our imagination. Little did she know how far our imaginations would take us.
Now we have a vast array of categories of JAFF stories. We have the classical JA characters. Then we have the supernatural and magical. There are sexy versions of the characters and chaste versions. If you prefer modern versions or futuristic, we have those as well. It has grown so much that we need to have our own category in the fiction section, with sub groups within JAFF.
Thanks to Jane Austen’s ability to tell a story yet leave much to the imagination, it makes me grateful. I have written some stories with sex scenes in them, yet now prefer to write up to the couple entering their rooms, writing that it is for the reader to use their imagination.
That is yet another thing I love about the genre. We all have a different idea of what Mr Darcy or Elizabeth would look like. What is it that we love, what draws us to the characters? Do we prefer a tall, dark, and handsome man who has a great body? What attracts us differs constantly. I love watching Colin and Matthew, but I love their interpretation of Darcy for different reasons. One of my all time favorite scenes in P&P movie is when Matthew comes walking across the field, his great coat flapping around him. For some reason that scene is so appealing to me. But we each have a different view of what attracts us. Matthew and Colin are amazing. Another actor I think would be an amazing Mr Darcy is Theo James. He has the brooding look down. Then looking at the women who have played Elizabeth, they have been so different from each other. No offense to Kiera Knightly, but she did not have the curves of her body that many of the JAFF authors describe Elizabeth as having. Is Elizabeth tall, short, voluptuous, raven hair, red hair, and so on? Each of us has a mental image of what the character should look like. It can even vary from my image when I write the character and what each reader imagines in their own minds. This is one of the reasons I don’t have couples on my book covers. The only one that I have had an actual photo of a human being on my covers is A Pair Of Dancing Brown Eyes. The photo is of my daughter, who has beautiful brown eyes (her great grandmother always called Cate her dancing brown eyed doll). My vision of what makes the character attractive may be far different than yours. Also, it drives me crazy when I see the cover, then as I am reading, the image in my head is different from the one on the cover, and I stop being able to read the story. Yes, I am weird. But if you have read any of my books, you already knew that fact.
Well, this is the ramblings from my muddling mind. Stay safe and have a fabulous day.