Monday, March 14, 2011

Style and the Austenesque Novel--Take 2

In one of my first posts, I asked how closely an Austenesque author should follow Jane Austen's style. The general consensus was that it's better not to try, and I agree with that. Not only would it be extremely difficult to manage, copying someone else's writing style doesn't allow our unique voice to come through.

That being said, I've discovered one place where it's crucial to sound as much like Jane as possible. The nature of HIS GOOD OPINION means I've brought over quite a bit of dialogue from Pride and Prejudice. These have been the hardest scenes to write. Seeing my unpolished rough draft next to her delightful prose is... frustrating, to say the least.

But there's hope! Twice in my revisions, I've stopped over a bit of dialogue and asked myself, "Is that mine or Jane's?" Both times it was something I wrote, and I danced a dance of writerly joy.

While I believe myself to be a good writer, I make no claim to being Jane Austen. That being the case, how did I manage this, not once but twice? Hearkening back to another post, it was all about the character development. Both of those lines fit into the story not because they sounded like Jane Austen, but because they sounded like her characters.

This then is the key to writing the Austenesque novel. Study her characters. Learn to speak like them, and you in turn will sound like Jane.