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Happy 235th Birthday Jane Austen!

December 16, 2010

After flipping through my newsfeed on Facebook, handing out some happy birthdays and doing my fair share of stalking, I log off and move on to my next course of action in my nightly routine-Jane Austen FanFiction.  FanFiction, according to UrbanDictionary.com is “a piece of fiction within a fandom utilizing characters and situations from a pre-existing work including (but not limited to) books, television programs, films and comic strips.”  There is a staggering amount written for Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, and I fully intend to discover it.

What is it that attracts so many readers and writers to this odd genre?  What compels us Austen-ites to log on after a long day of work and read about the lives of Lizzy and Darcy with their strong wills and Regency era mannerisms?  Being guilty of this indulgence, I cannot help but compare my addiction to that of my addiction to Facebook.  It is the phenomenon of being able to hold on to old friends; to study their latest thoughts and to be privy to their moments of joy that draws us in.  Much is the same with FanFiction.

In an article for Time Magazine, Masterpiece Theater’s The Complete Jane Austenexecutive producer Rebecca Eaton says “I wonder if the fact of the formality of getting together, the rules of engagement, the obstacles that are necessary to overcome, have an appeal for young women, particularly now, where getting together is pretty easy.  Maybe there is an appeal to it — a yearning for it.”  It is that yearning for the lives of Austen’s characters that has sparked so many FanFiction stories.  They provide us with the perpetual opportunity to check in on our old friends from our much loved copies of Pride and Prejudice.  This yearning for connection with the regency world has brought about a phenomenon that has taken hold of the FanFiction blogging community.

After searching through a vast array of Austen related websites to find new FanFiction, I finally hit the jackpot.  The Jane Austen FanFiction Index (jaffindex.com), a website that catalogues all of the FanFiction on the web for Pride and Prejudice, has ruined all hope of abandoning my love of FanFiction.  Among its 4,000 titles and counting are tales written by authors young and old, stories modern and regency, and in all languages.  In order to search its vast collection, an extensive search engine is provided for readers.  It gives the option to pick exactly which part of the story you want to read about; readers can choose anything from an alternate first proposal to the life of the Darcy children.  Whatever your mood, there is bound to be a FanFiction story to match, and the JAFFIndex search engine is designed to help you find it.

After reading my fair share of FanFiction, I decided to try my hand at creating a story of my own and discovered that becoming a FanFiction author is as simple as create, write and post. Or so I thought. First, you need to create a scenario that differs from the other 4,000 FanFiction works already published.  After finally discovering an untapped topic, the story begins to take shape and the dialogue begins to flow.  You may be feeling good about your story telling abilities at this point, but then you discover that the simple task of timing the introduction of your great ideas has a huge impact on the plot.  It can take your original brilliance in an entirely new direction.

After you smooth out your various character plots and story lines to your satisfaction, remember that you must write in a style that sounds like Austen.  “Please be witty, cleaver and correctly portray everyone’s favorite heroine” you hear from the legions of fans.  Failure to follow these guidelines may result in angry comments by compulsive Austen lovers.  After laboring extensively creating clever interactions and descriptions, it is time to choose one of the many FanFiction sites to post on.

Austen FanFiction can be found on sites ranging from large posting communities, to Austen-specific blogs.  One of the most popular larger blogs is www.FanFiction.net, a site that allows any user to post a work for any one of the hundreds of novels listed in the database.  Unlike the previous site, www.Austen.com allows its users to post only Austen related fiction in one of two categories; Regency or Modern.  Similarly the “Bits of Ivory” section of www.Pemberley.com allows its bloggers to post in an area designed specifically for each of Austen’s books. Upon choosing a site, creating an account and ultimately uploading your piece, congratulations are in order.  You may finally claim to be a contributor to the vast Austen FanFiction blogging community.

So as I check for comments on my latest contribution to the Austen legacy, I flip to my favorite FanFiction site to find the newest posting of Austen stories.  And while I am reading through the latest blogger’s offering, I can’t help but wonder what kind of people these electronic authors really are.  Are they as incurable about reading FanFiction as I am?  I think so.  The thousands of chapters, the fresh contributions, the works that attempt to keep the story going, reveal the impact Austen’s ideas have on a large and lively community.  The FanFiction blog is the new outlet for the Austen-ites of my generation.  The blog provides the venue for the seemingly endless Austen influenced material.

If you ever find yourself eager to continue your acquaintance with Lizzy and Darcy, or want to try your hand at making better decisions than our favorite headstrong heroine, I invite you to discover the world of Jane Austen FanFiction.  But be forewarned, the automatic email updates for new chapters and posts create quite an addiction challenge.  And if you are feeling adventurous and embark upon creating a story of your own, you run the risk of hours of frustration over a new twist in your original plot idea.  You may even suffer from a lack of sleep.  But one thing is for certain, if you love Austen, FanFiction is something you must discover for yourself.

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From → Austen

3 Comments
  1. Kendra Kosirog permalink

    I totally remember reading this in AP English groups last year!!

  2. I love reading your website for the reason that you can always get us fresh and cool stuff, I think that I should at least say thanks for your hard work.

    – Henry

  3. Hannah Smith permalink

    Nice….this is so precious. I love that you love Fan-Fiction. You are a very compelling author. =)

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