|Said to be Jane's silhouette|
|"Prinny." A Caricature by Gillray|
I entered a few words that are often found in regency novels, and which I used in my first one, Before The Season Ends--and discovered, for starters, that Jane never once referred to the Prince Regent as Prinny. (Though the prince's inner circle of fashionable friends did. Probably not to his face.) Most authors today who have the gall to include the prince in their cast of characters (raising my hand!) almost certainly use the nickname. Of course, he was alive at the time of Jane's writing--an excellent reason not to include him--besides which her stories were provincial, and centered upon ordinary families, not the aristocracy.
So what terms did she use that might be said to be "Austenesque"?
Fortune (ie.,wealth)-- 222 times. (Hmmm.)(Notice how "wedding," "marriage," and "fortune" are used often? And men wonder why we love Jane!)
Jointure --only 3 (A jointure usually referred to a widow's income, sort of an annuity.)
For fun, I entered a few more words we all associate with Jane, such as,
Pride --138 timesAh, but on to the true test, the site's "Austen Writer" app, which allows you to insert a paragraph of text and see whether it rings with, in their words, "Austenicity." I entered the opening paragraph of Before the Season Ends, my first published regency.
Sense --238--quite a lot
Prodigiously--5 (huh. And "prodigious"--only 9.)
How did it do? Aside from the proper names, the Austen Writer told me the only words never used by Jane were:Something would have to be done about Ariana.All winter Miss Ariana Forsythe, aged nineteen, had been going about the house sighing, "Mr. Hathaway is my lot in life!" She spoke as if the prospect of that life was a great burden to bear, but one to which she had properly reconciled herself. When her declarations met with exasperation or reproach from her family--for no one else was convinced that Mr. Hathaway, the rector, was her lot--she responded in a perplexed manner. Hadn't they understood that her calling was to wed a man of the cloth? Was there another man of God, other than their rector, available to her? No. It only stood to reason, therefore, that Mr. Hathaway was her lot in life. Their cold reception to the thought of the marriage was unfathomable.
I could take that to mean the writing has significant "Austenicity," right? But wait, maybe not. I took a paragraph from my as yet not released contemporary novel, FALLING IN, and entered it into the site.
...Grinning, Pat felt in his pocket and pulled out a small felt-covered box, the kind that held rings. Oh, my gosh! He's going to propose! Sharona's heart constricted. Pat cupped the box reverently in one hand, and held it out, waiting for her to take it. She reached for it woodenly, her mind a jumble of thoughts. It was true Pat had given warnings, saying things like, "Junior partners don't become senior partners in my firm without a wife; preferably a couple kids, too." But he'd always followed such statements with a laugh. Sharona never took his words as a hint of something coming. She hadn't dreamed he'd been seriously thinking of marriage.
The app again flagged personal pronouns, but also compound words and contractions; as well as "constricted," "cupped", "reverently," "woodenly," "preferably," and "dreamed." (Jane Austen was not fond of adverbs. I can learn something here.)
1. You cannot use this little tool to write like Austen, although it will tell you if a word was never used by her.
Linore Rose Burkard is best known for her Inspirational Regency Romance Series, which whisks readers back in time to early 19th century England. Fans of romance in the tradition of Austen and Heyer will enjoy meeting Linore's feisty heroines and dashing heroes. Linore also writes YA/Suspense as L.R.Burkard.
NEW! The exciting sequel to PULSE, RESILIENCE, is now available.
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"21st century morality play urging humanity to be prepared." --Kirkus