A ton of things Jane Austen did not say

Okay, not a ton, but…

We haven’t read a lot of Jane Austen Fan Fiction (or variations) since we also write those kinds of stories. I guess we just want to model ourselves after Miss Austen herself and would never want to somehow copy another writer’s line of thinking or that sort of thing. But I am interested in what others may have happening to our favorite characters, so I have read a few.

I noticed right away that some of the writers of this genre use words that stand out in my mind as not belonging, that I could not remember being in Jane Austen’s stories. One is the ton … what is that, exactly? Well, it is not this: “informal use: … a large number or amount;” but instead, according to one regency glossary, it is this:
Ton - (pronounced 'tone') High society; the elite; generally the wealthiest and those of rank, with royalty at the top; in today's terms, the 'in' crowd, such as Hollywood stars. To be "good ton" was paramount, and opened most any door in fashionable society. Occasionally, those without either fortune or pedigree could become a member of the 'ton' ...

That sounded like a good term for that day, but did Jane Austen use it? Another word often used is missive … and here’s what that is: “a written message addressed to a person or organization.” So instead of using the word letter, this word sounds more formal, like something you might think those people of the ton would use - and maybe some people "without either fortune or pedigree" would too, so they could sound like they had fortune! But did Jane Austen use this word?


I decided to look just these two up in all of JA’s works to see if I was simply not remembering her using them. Using Amazon Kindle’s handy little search feature, I found not one instance where she used either of those words. It was kind of funny, because for “ton” such words as these popped up: Meryton, Brighton, Lambton, etc, and even astonishment, tongue, monotonous, atonement and simpleton! And for “missive” there was submissive and submissively, but neither of those is used in Pride and Prejudice - I suppose pride doesn’t go with being submissive!

Some JAFF authors also use phrases such as “five and ten” to mean fifteen, but I was certain Jane Austen said Georgiana Darcy was ‘but fifteen years old’ when Wickham tried to get her to elope with him, and that fifteen was Lydia Bennet’s age as well. I’m sure using that kind of terminology didn’t start until after a person reached twenty years of age, when it was proper to say “one and twenty” and so on, because again, I used that search feature and didn’t find one time where “one and ten” - “two and ten” - “three and ten” … you get the idea … was ever used by Jane Austen.

So why do some JAFF authors choose such words or phrases? I think it may be that they’re looking in ‘Regency era’ dictionaries and not checking to see if Jane Austen herself ever used them … but of course, if they were paying close attention to her writings, they would know that, wouldn’t they? As a consequence, instead of sounding like Jane, to me their stories sound more like Georgette Heyer or others who write about that period. That's the beauty of her works: although Jane Austen wrote 200 years ago, it sounds fresh, as if she was writing today. 

Anyway, the point is she didn’t use those words and if we’re going to call ourselves “Jane Austen fan fiction” writers, we should try to write like she did. Perhaps one JAFF author started it and others are just copying her instead of Miss Austen. I really couldn’t say, I just think it would be so much better if they would model themselves after her style, since after all, they are taking her works and expanding them. Of course, don’t get me started on the liberties some take on utterly changing the characters into horrid mean people or sex-crazed maniacs … that’s a whole 'nother blog ...

Call me proud, or maybe I’m just prejudiced, but I’m happy to say that none of our stories based on Jane Austen’s works uses these terms.
Here's some of what our Amazon reviewers say about us:
On The Sun Also Shines for me
“This is a story that Jane Austen could have written.”
“I think Jane Austen would have approved!”
“I think Jane Austen would have loved this sequel!!”
Maybe I'm a bit obsessed about P&P and Jane Austen but happily she can still live in her stories and in fan-fictions. After 200 years it's so sweet to read something which actually Miss Austen could have written. Because this book is in an old-fashioned-style. The Autor (Noe and Cindy) took the magic from her into theirs. I really hope more Janites would find these books.” (Germany review)

On Mr Darcy falls in love
“The author was also very true to the original Darcy, not taking liberties with his character. The Darcy in this book is the same person, we are just able to understand him.”
“Unlike some P&P books, he did not turn Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett into different people. And though I have nothing against sex scenes, but between these two and before marriage just does not make sense. Jane Austen would not approve, but she would approve of ... this book."
“Jane Austen would love it herself!” (Germany review)

On Mr Darcy and the Space-time Continuum
“It was Douglas Adams meets Jane Austen. Just what you would imagine but wackier.” a review by another JAFF writer - we really appreciate her comment.
"Short, charmingly unusual."

To read more about Regency time, check these references:
Regency Period Glossary -- note that neither ton nor missive are in this glossary
When is the Regency Era? -- this is a great explanation of things
Write Like Jane Austen

Thank you for reading what noeandcindy.write !
This article was written by CINDY