In the years that I’ve been reading and writing JAFF, I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve heard someone say, “Oh, I like to read these stories, but I could never write them!” Maybe you’re heard someone say this too. Perhaps you’ve even said it yourself.
But every single JAFF writer I know of started off writing it the same way- by reading JAFF first! Today there are hundreds of JAFF authors around the world, writing in every kind of JAFF imaginable. Some write variations or continuations of the original story, while others place our favorite characters in more modern settings. Some use only Austen’s original characters while others add their own. There are time-travel JAFF stories and fantasy stories. There are stories set in the old west, in corporate America, and in boarding schools and colleges. There are stories incorporating famous historical figures. There are even stories with vampires, witches and wizards! The sky, quite literally, is the limit. So, if you are an avid fan of JAFF but you hesitate to dip your toe into the authorial waters, let me be the one to encourage you: jump right in!!!
But why write JAFF? Why not other fiction?
First, as the examples above show, JAFF is versatile. Austen’s characters can be placed in other settings because they are so vivid and so realistically drawn. We’ve all known lively, intelligent women and proud, condescending men. We’ve all had to face character flaws like pride and prejudice in our own lives, and most of us have dreamed of finding that one perfect someone to share our lives with, in spite of every obstacle in our way.
Secondly, with the plethora of JAFF sites online, you will never lack for an audience to read what you write. Many of us started writing on fanfiction.net, but there are also DarcyandLizzy.com, A Happy Assembly, Austen Underground, and dozens of others, and they all have substantial audiences. The JAFF sub-genre started in 1850 when Jane Austen’s niece completed and published her aunt’s unfinished novel The Watsons, and it hasn’t stopped yet. And despite dire predictions in the past, it shows no signs of abating any time soon.
And when you add your own voice to the collective body of JAFF, you help establish its place as a legitimate sub-genre of modern literature. You can help expose JAFF to a wider readership and promote it to people only you can reach.
So I hope you’ll be brave enough to try your hand at writing JAFF. Pick up a pen, turn on your computer, or prepare to use the medium of your choice. Please let me know if you decide to take the plunge- it’ll be fun to watch your progress! And remember: