I Am Addicted to JAFF

I am an addict.  Yes, it’s true.  If you had known me years ago, you would surely have thought me the last person in the world to have come under such an affliction.

I am not very particular about the delivery system – books, kindle, movies, TV series, on-line versions, blogs.  I will read completed stories, PIP’s, one-shots… I even find myself reading WIP’s – WIP’s for heaven’s sake!  I have been known to haunt fan sites and check chat rooms. I have even gone so far as to PM or email authors and suggest ways to speed the process along,  offering to come clean house or run errands – anything to get them back to writing the story I was currently imbibing. I never considered it stalking.  I can’t imagine why anyone did. But the officer who came to the door was very insistent that it stop.  Oh, well, I guess I’ll just never know if Frederick manages to recover and bring

justice to bear on Aine and her cohorts, or find out who killed Mr. Collins, or if Darcy really would take Lizzy as his mistress (eeek!), or if Elizabeth took the job in Hunsford and left Will to his Dreamliner, or if Darcy cut his concert career short to humor Lizzy’s desire to teach.  I mean, come on, I love teaching, but would I choose that over Darcy?  Who are we kidding here?

I am all too familiar with the language used in Regency.  Thither, whilst, pelisse, curricle, rattlepate, modiste, breeches, barouche, Abigail, hoyden, rake – perfectly wonderful words in sentences with a flowing cadence. And the places I’ve visited! – London, Lambton, Longbourn, Meryton, Bath, Pemberley, Derbyshire, Kellynch, Somerset, Highbury – all within the pages of the books I greedily devour.

I love the Regency stories, but I’m an equal opportunity reader.  I’ll also read modern stories, as well as stories set in the depression era, World War I, World War II, or the American colonial period. I’ve been to England, Ireland, Canada, New York, Seattle, the San Juans, Cape Cod, and Hudson Bay. I’ve even time-traveled.  And recently, I’m making trips to heaven with my Darcy angel.

I’ve often been asked (mainly by my son) why I enjoy reading stories that follow the same basic plot.  Well, it’s obvious he’s uninformed.  He spends way too much time reading psychology journals and research analyses.  But the question has merit; so, I’ve given it some thought.

JAFF basically falls into three categories:  1) sequels, 2) re-tellings, and 3) variations.

I enjoy sequels because they answer the question of what happened to these wonderful characters Jane Austen wrote.  Did Anne and Wentworth have a wonderful marriage with almost no time to test their love for each other?  It’s not like they were writing to each other during those eight years they were apart.  Did Darcy and Elizabeth find happiness or did they struggle to control their stubborn natures and find that balance in their marriage that would enable them to share the life we all imagine that they had?  Did Emma give up her match-making agenda or did she test Knightley’s patience time and time again?  He was, after all, almost two decades older than she.

There are so many paths to wander down in sequels, but re-tellings focus on filling in the gaps, revealing to us what Darcy was thinking after the Netherfield ball, showing us how he spent his winter before visiting Rosings Park, taking us through his summer before his reunion with Elizabeth at Pemberley.  Re-tellings give us background for those eight years Anne and Wentworth were apart.  They give us insight into the man who wrote the most beautiful love letter in any Austen work.  The words “pierce my soul.”

But the most possibilities abound in the variations.  They take the skeleton of Austen’s plot and drape it with a different era, or a different location, or a different outcome.  They are the great “what-if” stories. And I love them.  I love that I can follow a Pride and Prejudice variation knowing that the insult is coming, the attraction is brewing, the confrontation is looming, the explanation is following, the reunion is at hand, the crisis is averted, and the proposal is accepted. I don’t read any story where Elizabeth and Darcy don’t end up together.  An author can play with the colonel, Jane, Charles, Charlotte, Wickham, Lydia, Georgiana, and Caroline.  But D & E must be together when the dust settles.

I used to be of the same mind with Persuasion variations until I read Love Suffers Long and Is Kind, the marathon story Susan and Laura wrote. By the time the story was nearing its conclusion, I totally loved Captain Benwick and was perfectly satisfied to find him married to Anne. Of course, that was an anomaly – one I don’t expect to be repeated any time soon.  Laura’s done much the same thing with the Mercy’s Embrace series. She’s taken a character we all love to hate, and made her into a character that I can totally embrace because it’s easy to see myself in her.  I just love variations.  Did I say that already?

I do have standards, however.  I’m not a total lush yet.  I want a story that’s well-written and edited.  The plot must at least be credible.  The characters must remain true to the qualities that defined them in Austen’s works. The era and the circumstances may change, but the characters and their quintessential natures must be identifiable in order for me to believe the story is a legitimate Jane Austen Fan Fiction.

Otherwise, why bother?

What’s your addiction? How are you handling it? Let’s talk.

 

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31 thoughts on “I Am Addicted to JAFF

  1. Robin Helm

    Woo hooo! Wonderful post, Sis!

    “I do have standards, however. I’m not a total lush yet. I want a story that’s well-written and edited. The plot must at least be credible. The characters must remain true to the qualities that defined them in Austen’s works. The era and the circumstances may change, but the characters and their quintessential natures must be identifiable in order for me to believe the story is a legitimate Jane Austen Fan Fiction.”

    I totally agree! I love a well-written, perfectly edited story. Anything else is distracting.

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    1. Gayle Mills Post author

      Thanks for your helping in figuring out the posting process here. I have posted this once already. It’s out there in the ether somewhere. Of course, it’s lonely, since nobody can find it. 🙂

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  2. Monica P

    Yes! Thank you for summing up my feelings about JAFF, way more eloquently than I could. I keep saying I’m not going to start any more WIPs, and I have gotten more discerning about those I choose, but they keep pulling me in. It’s excrutiating when you get 5 or 12 or 40 chapters in and then…nothing! 😦

    Darcy and Lizzy’s story never gets old. I keep trying to branch out into the other novels but P&P won’t let me go. I’m quite a willing captive, though.

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    1. Gayle Mills Post author

      When I first started reading JAFF, I assumed that any story that I found on line would be completed in due time. What a shock to find out that some of them would never be finished. I really wish that some of those orphans could be adopted and given a decent ending. Of course, I know that’s impossible because of copyright issues. Still….

      Like you, I do love my Darcys, but Susan and Laura have opened my eyes to the beauty of Persuasion. (Rupert Penry-Jones has helped with that, as well.) And Barbara’s Knightley is truly wonderful, too

      So many swoon-worthy heroes, so little time. *Sighs*

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      1. Monica P

        I have, on occasion, seen stories put up for “adoption” on FFN. Not sure if it was the request of the original author or if someone asked “if you’re not gonna finish that, can I have it?”

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    2. Laura Hile

      Gayle does snark and eloquence with equal finesse.

      And I’ve seen her own fan fiction. This girl can write! What is more, she has a sister who knows the ins and outs of publishing.

      So, my dear Gayle, do the math. With this combination in place, your precious summer vacations from teaching are a thing of the past. You will spend them writing. You will write for us. And then, launch out into the wide world!

      Because the Crown Hill Writers’ Guild isn’t just a writers’ club. Hon, it’s our best defense against retirement! Little old ladies in rockers we’ll be. But with laptops. Writing!

      (My sons are waiting for the fortune I’ll amass that will ruin their lives. It’s going to be kind of a long wait. 😀 )

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      1. Gayle Mills

        Sheesh, Laura. No pressure. I had this feeling when I saw my name on the banner that you were going to want something on that page. I do have a few ideas, but, as you know, there isn’t much time during the school teacher to actually do the writing (especially not if you spend several hours a day reading JAFF). The story I have in mind will require some research, so I’m beginning a little of that now (that means two books are now permanent fixtures on my table).

        I appreciate the encouragement. I decided when I came up against the brick wall known as THE BIG SIX-O that I would spend the rest of my productive years doing the things that made me happiest. Right now, this makes me happy. I’m not sure retirement is ever going to be in my future (too many years in Christian ministry for that, and I don’t regret it at all), so I will always have to balance work responsibilities with pleasure. But then, you know all about that, I’m sure.

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  3. P O Dixon

    “So, my dear Gayle, do the math. With this combination in place, your precious summer vacations from teaching are a thing of the past. You will spend them writing. You will write for us. And then, launch out into the wide world!” ~ Laura Hile

    I second Laura’s sentiments, wholeheartedly. I am always entertained by whatever you write, Gayle. Such elegance, such imagination, and so eloquent!

    I can hardly wait for you to share your gift with everyone and I know the world will be a better place for it!

    As for my addiction … one guess 😉

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    1. Gayle Mills

      I certainly can guess your addiction, POD. 🙂 I have certainly enjoyed your wonderful stories. One thing I really appreciate about you as a writer is your commitment to excellence. The writing is important to you, and it shows.

      Note to readers: if you haven’t checked out POD’s stories, they’re available on Amazon. (He Taught Me to Hope is my favorite, but they’re all good reads.)

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  4. Susan Kaye

    You may get your wish. Gayle. I am taking Pleasant Days to a writer’s confab next weekend and if I get the right feedback, it may get stepped up on the list of stories I really need to finish.

    And now that you’ve reminded me, I think seeing the interaction between Aine and Frederick, with him captured by the smugglers, and after he’s free might be pretty interesting. And give Anne a run for her money!

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    1. Gayle Mills

      Now you’re scaring me, Susan. Aine and Frederick? As in to-ge-ther? Eeeek! Could he really have any feelings for that witch other than hate and disgust? She did have him plastered into the wall, if I remember correctly. But I would be willing to read through even THAT to have the story reach its LOGICAL conclusion. I do wonder what happened to Sir Walter and Elizabeth. Did they ever notice Anne wasn’t on board?

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      1. Laura Hile

        Singing:
        This is the way we write a lot,
        Write a lot, write a lot.
        This is the way we write a lot …
        We terrorize our readers!

        Yes sir, that’s the sure-fire key to cranking out fan fiction! Just when the readers think they know where you’re going with the plot, twist it, crank it, cliff-hang it. Make them scream! Then “lather, rinse, repeat.”

        As far as Pleasant Days is concerned, the fellow I worry about is that young officer who took a liking to Anne at Lady Dalrymple’s. He fairly leaps off the page. A shame to waste a fellow like that …

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  5. Susan Kaye

    Oh, GAD, Gayle, no.Not Frederick and Aine romantically. thoug I am her creator, I’m not sure Aine even has a heart that Frederick could touch. As I was doing the dishes, I thought of something Anne could do.

    It might be quite interesting.

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  6. Gayle Mills

    Whew! What a relief! Although, in a contest of determination and will, my money’s on Anne. I think she’s put her shy and retiring ways behind her. Sleeping in a spider hole after nearly drowning in icy water helps with that. And somebody needs to repay Aine’s thoughtfulness for the cooking lessons.

    Laura, I’m having trouble remembering the officer at Lady Dalrymple’s. Will he be a problem later on? Was he aware that Frederick is a spy?

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  7. AmyFlo

    My personal interest is with Persuasion fic, preferably sequels. Not modernizations, and I have limited patience with variations. The original was torturous enough with “will they ever get back together?” angst. I don’t need to read about them possibly not getting together in another fashion. Even if it wasn’t likely they’d sail off into the sunset like P2 concludes, I like to think of high seas adventures they’d encounter. Encounter them *together*.

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    1. Susan Kaye

      I learned a while ago that Anne and Frederick are in another’s blood and will never be truly, or forever parted. I learned that even while, eyes wide open and lots of forethought, I married off Wentworth to Louisa Musgrove in a story called Love Suffers Long.

      I even let him fall in love with her. But, the spectre of Anne is always in the back of his mind.

      One day, when Laura Hile and I are old, widowed, and raising cats we’ll finish it and get Anne and Frederick back together for good.

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    2. Gayle Mills

      I agree with your take on the modern Persuasions, AmyFlo. I really like some of the modern P&P adaptations, but I just don’t find the modern Persuasions as interesting. Maybe it’s just harder to wrap modern sensibilities around a couple that stays faithful to each other after an eight-year separation. Or maybe it’s that it’s hard to imagine a modern daughter who would actually call off her engagement because her godmother advises her to. The angst of the original story that worked so well in Regency just doesn’t seem so big of an obstacle in a modern adaptation.

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  8. janashe

    you know ladies, Anne could accidentally poison Benwick, you know, with a wild mushroom or something .. no, that wouldn’t work, she’d suffer too much guilt .. hm, but then Frederick could help with that … let’s see .. goodness, you’re JAFF writers – you kill people all the time. Just make sure Benwick dies – and Frederick is there to try to save him – and Anne is there all sad and grateful at the same time … yep, that ought to do it … serioulsly LOVE your persuasions Susan and Laura.

    And Gayle – GREAT blog. you soooo nailed my addiction …

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    1. Gayle Mills

      I think Louisa could easily have a brain aneurysm after that nasty fall she took in Lyme. And, Benwick was a little chubby, if I remember correctly. Maybe he has a heart attack. Then when Benwick dies, Wentworth would naturally be notified by Captain Harville. See? Problem solved. I don’t think we need to wait till we’re all old and wrinkly. Hey, wait, I’m already old and wrinkled. Better start writing soon.

      Thanks, Janashe. If we all stay after Susan and Laura, maybe they’ll relent and give us what we want.

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    2. Susan Kaye

      Laura reee-lly likes Benwick. But in the conclusion we envision, Benwick is dead. And so is Louisa. I wrote her a wonderful death scene years ago and then lost it. I made myself cry. Anyway, if we ever get around to LSL’s conclusion, they will get together. Without the threat of the noose for either Frederick or Anne.

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  9. Terry J

    Gayle, Great blog! I do believe you’ve defined a specific addiction not found in any psychiatrist’s DSM manual. Your son may want to make note of this. 😀

    I love all JAFF, but must read high angst all at once, so WIP’s are approached with caution. These are things that you learn about yourself in JAFFdom.

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    1. Gayle Mills

      You know, Terry, that’s a great idea! And we all know some of the crazy research studies that the government funds (why Chinese prostitutes drink more alcohol comes to mind). I’m sure that some researcher could point out the necessity of investigating the phenomenal rise in the number of middle-aged women (*clears throat*) who succumb to the lure of this addiction. Of course, I don’t know that the study itself is feasible. Think of the problems with a double-blind study: someone would have to read something that was not REALLY JAFF while thinking that it might be. I mean, what could they possibly do in follow-up therapy to make THAT right? I’ll definitely have to discuss this with Dr. Hill.

      I sympathize with your problem concerning angsty WIP’s. That really isn’t a problem for me. At least you can remember where you were in the story (Susan left Frederick half dead in an attic room with Anne patiently taking care of him). I have problems with the stories that are so predictable that you really can’t remember the details from one story to the next. If the author doesn’t update several times a week, it’s almost impossible to follow the story. Of course, that doesn’t stop me from reading it.

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      1. LucyParker

        Or how about the WIP that has huge lulls between chapter postings? Arrgh! How many stories have I restarted from word one because my puny brain couldn’t recall who or what the new chapter was talking about? Too many, but we’re in total agreement – we keep reading!

        Any true JAFFer would triumph in the double-blind study. We *know* when we’re being fed fake JAFF. It’s an innate warning system unique to all experienced JAFFers. It’s the newbies that would take a fall, which could be viewed as survival of the fittest. Sadly, not everyone is cut out for JAFF. My BFF’s book club just read P&P: they were bored to tears. We’re still friends, but now we have that quizzical thing hanging between us. *sigh*

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  10. Gayle Mills

    Hi, Terry!
    Strangely enough, your friends might enjoy JAFF more than the original novel (I know that’s sacrilegious to say so). Some people get lost in the sentence construction and the nuanced communication. They need their action overt and their sentiments obvious. They might really enjoy some modern adaptations. If they enjoyed those, then they might be willing to try some of the Regency variations. Modern authors tend to “feel” Regency without necessarily “being” Regency.

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  11. Sandy C

    Hi Gayle, I have to agree with your love of the ‘what if’! And, for all the reason you gave us. One little thing might change the way the story unfolds…but all the pieces are there in some form and I love it too!

    And oh…those abandoned wips! Eeekkkk! The worst part for me is that I will actually go back and re-read some of them just to be sure that they were that good to keep me wanting more, only to find out that it just refreshes the desire to know what is going to happen next! Yep…I definitely think that’s an addiction! LOL!
    Hugs and have a wonderful Valentine’s Day!

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Why yes, we DO want a piece of your mind. ;-)

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