Outtakes


All of these were just extra scenes that either did not fit with the POV restrictions or didn't fit with the flow of the chapter. They are entirely unnecessary, but here they are.


1813

It was early April when the news reached Hiddleston Hall of the sale of the neighboring estate. Gossip around various prospective tenants had abounded for some time, but it was only now that they could eagerly look ahead to the newest additions to their Yorkshire neighborhood. Sir Andrew could not wait a day before informing his beloved sister of the news.

My dearest sister,

You will never guess the news I have to impart to you! Birmingham Manor is sold at last! A single young man of good fortune will take residence the end of May or beginning of June, so the town gossips say, and his sister will take up residence as his hostess. I had the good fortune to meet both during their visit this morning and I believe you will find them both to your liking.

The new owner, Charles Bingley, is a man both amiable and fashionable. He is a man as willing to be pleased as to please and he will add no little enjoyment to our small society. His sister, on the other hand, is determined to be pleased by nothing but admiration for her own person and refinements. She is a handsome woman in possession of an even handsomer dowry.

I cannot help but think favorably upon the acquisition of such neighbors nor do anything but look favorably upon the future prospects such an acquaintance can provide. As much as you are enjoying your party in London, I would encourage you to make plans to return to us as soon as the days turn warm and you can be spared.

Your devoted brother,

Andrew

Birmingham Manor welcomed its new owners the very last week of May. It was not a full day that passed before Mr. and Miss Bingley began to receive callers and warm invitations from their neighbors. Soon, dinner parties, morning rides, and afternoon picnics abounded. The society, while not as large and varied as London, contained two and twenty families. These were all more than willing to gather for good conversation and pleasant companionship. The most engaging company of all was to be found at Hiddleston Hall. Mr. Bingley and Sir Andrew were only too eager to cultivate their friendship, though how much this willingness was encouraged by the growing attachment between Miss Bingley and Sir Andrew can only be surmised.

For an older widower in need of a wealthy wife and a single woman in her middling twenties in need of a titled husband, there were very few excuses to prolong the inevitable. Not a week went by before each member of the future pair was quite determined of their course of action and had very few reservations about carrying out their intent to its predictable end. Thus, it was a mere six weeks after their first introduction that Sir Andrew and Miss Bingley announced their engagement and plans to wed in early August.

With the greatest of joys, Sir Andrew wrote to his sister again, informing of her of the upcoming happy event and urging her to join him in Yorkshire. Her answering letter was just as full of her congratulations and delight as a devoted sister's ought and by the seventh of July in the Year Thirteen, Miss Evensworth returned to her brother's estate in anticipation of his marriage.

The young Miss Evensworth found their new neighbors to be everything her brother described them to be. In Miss Bingley's estimation, Miss Evensworth was everything a young woman ought to be and she was only too happy to encourage the acquaintance with her soon-to-be sister and her brother. With an engaged couple in need of daily chaperones and two unattached, handsome, amiable siblings only too willing to assist their siblings in their quest for propriety, is it any wonder in the constant and increasing intimacy between the two households?

When a young man, in possession of a good fortune and in need of a wife, finds himself in nearly constant communion with a young woman, also in possession of a good fortune and in need of a husband, it is no great surprise what expectations were aroused by their constant interactions. In addition, when such a young man, determined to be pleased by his company, is paired with a young woman as equally determined to charm and give pleasure, very few wonder at what rapidity the inevitable conclusion progresses. When all the greatest wishes and desires of their families are fulfilled in such a match and when no great hindrance stands in the way of such a union, the pair has very little reason to delay. Thus, only four weeks passed between the introduction of Mr. Bingley and Miss Victoria Evensworth and the announcement of their engagement.

Caroline Bingley, who claimed full responsibility for the origin and progression of such an advantageous match, was only too delighted to postpone her own wedding an additional fortnight in order to include the new couple in their joy.

"I cannot bear to wait any longer than that, Charles. There is no reason to delay any further. We have already made all the arrangements. What other reason can be supported for you not to wed when we do?"

Thus, the bans for the newly engaged couple were read, the joint-wedding prepared, and the two pairs of siblings married on the 28th of August, a scant seven weeks after the day they first met at Hiddleston Hall.

ooooo


Charlotte Collins to Mr. Darcy, after Jane left Rosings:

"You have to understand…. Lizzy was so angry, then. After Mr. Bingley… well, if not even all of Jane's beauty, kindness, manners, and affections could overcome her lack of fortune and family connections, well, Lizzy had no hope the rest of them could marry well enough to please her mother or to keep them in the sphere they were born to. Then, after Lydia, well, there really was no hope. If they were considered unsuitable without scandal, now they would be pariahs. Thus, she insisted the sisters go to London and meet with as many of her uncle's tradesman acquaintances as possible. She did not inform her mother of this, of course, and attended enough events among gentry to mask her true intents from her mother's interreference, but she was ultimately successful. Kitty married the moderately successful owner of a _ in London and he appreciated gaining a gently born wife to tend his shop. He said she makes up in manners what he could have gained in a dowry and she is an asset to his business.

"Lizzy, well, Lizzy refused to marry a gentleman. She was so angry, still, and she held such resentment against the sphere of influence she felt had so mistreated and did not appreciate her most beloved sister, that she vowed she would not wed a son of landed gentry. She proved her point and made her mother quite furious when she married the less than polished Captain Hayward. Despite his lower birth and informal education, Captain Hayward was in possession of an adequate position and could well support a wife. In addition, he has opened up his home in Falmouth for Mrs. Bennet, Miss Mary, and young Oliver to move there, now that they must leave Longbourn, and he has promised they will lack nothing. While Captain Hayward may not gain the approval of the Ton, his actions have been every bit those of a gentlemen and he has looked out for the interest of the Bennet ladies with even more diligence than their closest of kin. "

Oooo


Lydia's story

Miss Lydia Bennet was never informed of the vitality of secrecy and was not one to naturally hold her tongue. Since Wickham did not wish to be recognized, he sent Lydia out for his various errands and she ran her tongue freely, speaking of herself as Mrs. Wickham and of her handsome militia man husband. Well, after a few weeks of this, as Wickham failed to take her to Scotland and as she noticed her dwindling pin money and his lack of incoming funds, she began to ask more questions. He lied and charmed his way through most and perhaps would have come away without her the wiser, if he hadn't decided to gain funds another way. He brought up another man and told Miss Lydia to allow him the same liberties that Wickham had already taken with her and they would eat well that night if she complied. She may have had many a failings, but she was also a creature of profound loyalty and jealousy and this was a situation she would not accept. She flew into a rage, demanded they marry immediately and rejoin the militia in Brighton.

He refused.

'I will never marry you,' he screamed at her in rage, after he had enough of her arguments and pleas. 'No one will. You are ruined. Fit for nothing but a brothel. Your family will never receive you. Polite society will never accept you. You are fit to be nothing but a whore, and a cheap one at that.'

It was then that Lydia Bennet felt the full extent of her situation and saw Wickham truly for the first time. He went out that night and drank himself into a tizzy. He came home and fell unconscious into the bed, without so much as removing his boots.

Quietly, she packed her belongings.

"If you do not marry me, then you will not marry anyone," she wrote on a note beside the bed. Then, she penned a note to Mrs. Forster, telling her of Wickham's location and plans to flee.

She stole what remained of their money and made her way to her aunt and uncle's house, throwing herself on their mercy and weeping uncontrollably.

When it was discovered that she was with child, the best course of action was to marry her off as quickly as they could to whoever would be willing. By a stroke of Providence, a relation of Mr. Phillips visited the Gardeners on his way to _. He was a simple shop assistant, but he had his own home and, more importantly, was willing to take on a gentleman' daughter and her bastard in exchange for a significant sum of money. The Gardeners wrote to Longbourn explaining that Lydia had eloped with a Mr. _ and not Mr. Wickham and she was now married and shipped up north.

She never saw her family again. Lydia attempted to apologize to her family and make right some of her errors. While not enough to cover up all the scandal, it was enough to mitigate some of it.

Colonel Forster, with the news of Wickham's location, sent some men to fetch him to face his court marshal. It was unnecessary. They discovered his throat had already been cut. His own sword was found on the bed beside him, soaked in blood.

Unfortunately, she died of childbed fever after giving birth to a healthy boy.

Oooooo


Jane to Mr. Darcy, reflecting more on her experience after the death of her brother.

"The time in London was quite formative for Lizzy and me. Our aunt and uncle are the very dearest and best of people and they cherished the time with us, as we did with them. They taught us so much. They had no children of their own, yet, and were quite prepared to keep us as their own if mother failed to recover.

"Well, it was Lydia that returned home first. Mama wished for the comfort only her lastborn babe could give and she doted on her darling from morning till night. It was Lydia who first helped Mama leave her rooms and start to live again. Yet, Lydia's high spirits were so much that she required a companion. Soon, Kitty returned home, as well. Mary remained with Aunt Phillips, left to her own pursuits. She spent most of her days playing the pianoforte and reading while Aunt Phillips continued to tend to Mama.

"Lizzy and I returned to Longbourn with the Gardeners each December and again in the summer and it was not until our second Twelfth Night that Mama asked we remain. Well, I had grown so much during those years away and Mama realized I would soon reach five and ten and she realized she had a new source of hope for her future. She placed all her energy into bringing me out into Society. If she could not produce an heir, she could at least forge a match for her eldest daughter that would be enough to provide for her and her older daughters when she reached her dotage.

"She transferred all her incubating hope onto my prospects. I failed her and she takes that as yet another failure on herself. Then – in Lydia- she placed so many of her old cherished hopes, they were so much alike, and she hoped to have the chance at youth again through her lastborn and that Lydia would accomplish all that Mama never did. She hoped that Lydia's youth and beauty could charm a husband and maintain his affection in a way her own never could. Well, Lydia's elopement and subsequent events broke her heart. She took to her rooms in such deep melancholy that we feared she would reach her grave before Papa.

"She blamed Lizzy for refusing Mr. Collins. She blamed Papa for allowing Lydia to go to Brighton. She blamed Kitty for not speaking about Lydia's preference for Mr. Wickham. She blamed Uncle Gardener for not discovering Lydia in London sooner. And, she blamed me for not securing the match she always dreamed I would achieve. Papa's illness only made her worse.

"In all this, the only people she would tolerate were my Aunt Philips and my sister Mary. While she bemoaned that Mary was so plain and dull, she held nothing else against her and if anyone else attempted to tend her, she fell into hysterics. She roused again after my three sisters married. While they may not have been as high of marriages as she had hoped, she was delighted to have three daughters married and she boasted freely about them.

After Lydia's death, she fell into such a deep silence, we feared she had lost her spirits entirely. She refused to speak or eat or sleep for three days and it was only Mary who managed to rouse her and encourage her to eat again. It was young Oliver who brought her back to life again. I do not believe she would have survived without that babe. Oh, he was such a beautiful baby! So much like Lydia! It was as if Lydia was back from the grave and placed in Mama's arms and she had the chance to raise the son she never bore! She doted on that boy from the moment she first held him. She quite protested each time he was sent to stay with his other aunts and she was never quite as happy as when they were reunited. After Papa, well, we knew Mama must stay with Oliver and Mary.

"Well, he is every bit as vivacious as his mother and even more charming than his father. He will be quite the force to be reckoned with, but he brought hope and new life into our family and we all love him dearly.

"Well, John has graciously taken in Mama and Mary and Oliver. When Lizzy is at home, I will join them, but when Lizzy and John are away at sea, my presence upsets Mama too much. She constantly remembers all her old hopes and all she has lost. Her nerves grow so disturbed she retreats to her rooms again.

"I am afraid I have proved a great disappointment to my mother. She placed so many expectations on me and I have failed to live up to all she hoped. I have quite broken her heart."

Oooo


Alright, now, the real purpose of my outtakes… to provide enough narrative so I can write all the author's notes I want without 'violating' the terms and conditions of ff...

Well, we somehow made it to the end. There have been some truly beautiful people out there who have carried me across this finish line. After over a thousand scathing, insulting reviews and nine parody attempts, I can honestly say it is the handful of kind, encouraging, brave souls who kept cheering me on that made this story possible. What a gift you were and you helped remind me of the good humanity still possesses.

There are so many thoughts as we seal this story up. One of my favorite book on writing is by Joanna Russ called How to Suppress Women's Writing. It's a fantastic, snarky, and fascinating analysis of women in literature. In the Prologue, she writes:

"In a nominally speaking egalitarian society the ideal situation (socially speaking) is one in which the members of the "wrong" groups have the freedom to engage in literature (or equally significant activities) and yet do not do so, thus proving that they can't. But, alas, give them the least real freedom and they will do it. The trick thus becomes to make the freedom as nominal a freedom as possible and then – since some of the so-and-so's will do it anyway- develop various strategies for ignoring, condemning, or belittling the artistic works that result. If properly done, these strategies result in a social situation in which the "wrong" people are (supposedly) free to commit literature, art, or whatever, but very few do, and those who do (it seems) do it badly, so we can all go home to lunch.

"The methods indicated above are varied, but tend to occur in certain key areas: informal prohibitions (including discouragement and inaccessibility of materials and training), denying the authorship of the work in question (this ploy ranges from simple misattribution to psychological subtleties that make the head spin), belittlement of the work itself in various ways, isolation of the work from the tradition to which it belongs and its consequent presentation as anomalous, assertions that the work indications the author's bad character and hence is of primarily scandalous interest or ought not to have been done at all (this did not end with the nineteenth century), and simply ignoring the works, the workers, and the whole tradition, the most commonly employed technique and the hardest to combat."

Later, she writes, "Once the informal prohibitions have failed to work, what can be done to bury the art, to explain it away, ignore it, downgrade it, in short make it vanish? Whatever these techniques will be, they will have one thing in common: they will be logically fallacious."

Russ goes on to give a historical comparison of the experiences of historical "Others" (women, minorities, etc.) who dared to "commit" writing, and all the informal and formal barriers they faced as they sought to make their voices heard.

After all, even Jane Austen hid her writing under her sewing, sneaking out lines between her 'real work' and she published under a pen name.

Here we are, hundreds of years later, and it remains a challenge to "commit" art that goes against the majority of voices, the accepted norms of society, to see the world in another way. With over five-thousand Pride and Prejudice fanfictions in honor of our beloved Austen, and when a single story pops up which presents the story in an alternate light, which explores the characters and the world in a different way, it cannot be tolerated. After all, what better way to explore the depths and meaning of "prejudice" than by excluding anyone with a "different" voice?

bell hooks observed that one of the greatest flaws in "Second Wave Feminism" is the insistence that the experience and ideals of womanhood are defined by only a single perspective. It is only the Voice of a single group of women who may speak into and define what it means to be a woman and all others must be wrong. Yet, there are a multiplicity of global experiences, global voices, and ways of being that also cry to be heard, be recognized, and be permitted the freedom to embody womanhood as they choose. The agency is their own and is not determined or constrained by the experiences of a small elite group of women who have never inhabited their social context or lived life from their experience.

Part of the mastery of Austen is her ability to write about and inhabit a feminine sphere, to highlight her lived experience, and to create compelling stories out of her own world. Sarah Morrison, in her article, "Of Woman Borne: Male Experience and Feminine Truth in Jane Austen's Novels," highlighted this unique emphasis on the world of women. She writes:

"Historically feminism embraces two conflicting impulses; the impulse to condemn stereotypical and limiting roles for women, with the rather paradoxical goal of achieving pull participation and equality for women on a male-dominated society's terms; and the impulse to validate and elevate traditional women's roles and concerns, placing these in opposition to entrenched patriarchal values…As a feminist Austen falls into the second camp. Her novels assert the primacy of a feminine experience by reducing the characterization of men in the novels to their roles in the private domestic circle and by confining their movement to a restricted social scene as viewed from a distinctly feminine perspective."

She goes on to quote Elaine Showalter who writes:

"The radical demand that would yoke women writers to feminist revolution and deny them the freedom to explore new subjects would obviously not provide a healthy direction for the female tradition to take. But the denigration of female experience, the insistence that women deal with 'the real business of the world,' is also destructive."

The Measure of a Man is a story that explore both the role of men and women in different classes at a specific point in history. It is not meant as a generalized description of ideals for all times and places but explore the development of characters at a particular time and place.

In the virtual universe of the internet, human beings are still predictably human beings. Here, through our experiences with this story on our virtual world of fanfiction, we have first hand experience in a 'social experiment' of sorts.

Mary Douglas, in her studies on "Taboo" argues that whenever a deeply held belief is challenged or a social construction within their cultural universe is brought into question, the immediate response is to attack the miscreant and ensure order is restored to the social categories so they may be maintained in all their socially constructed glory. We must make sense of our universe and those outliers, those marginal voices in society who dare to be different, to think different, to embody "Otherness" must be silenced, rejected, refuted, and erased or the entirety of our well-guarded social structure is in danger. Taboos, rules to protect our social categories, are put in place to maintain social order and any who come to close to those boundaries must be punished and taught the error of their ways.

Thus, we see the process of "Othering" take place throughout the process of this story. Lines are drawn between "Self" and the "Other" and then the Other is viciously excluded from the realm of all acceptable social norms. What an excellent example of both social control mechanisms and the predictable escalation into both dehumanization and violence the more the transgressors insist on balking at taboos and questioning the social order! When social shame, public mockery, and defamation of character fail to silent the miscreant, then the miscreant "deserves" worse treatment in order to bring them into line. Thus, they prove their "bad character" and are progressively linguistically dehumanized until violence against them is both rationalized and applauded. After all, the taboo must be upheld, at all costs and the social order is more dear than any of the individuals who inhabit it.

Jojada Verrips, in the article "Dehumanizaiton as a Double-Edged Sword," writes: "The implicit and explicit degradation and devaluation of people via specific words, especially negative adjectives and metaphors, almost always seems to be the first step on a road which may ultimately lead towards a more or less radical elimination." The purpose of the backlash is to ensure the Other is set in their place, is shamed into conformity, or is eliminated from existence. It is a struggle for power, a struggle to enforce the order of a particular cultural universe and realm of social existence, and those who do not fit are expelled by any means possible. Gerd Baumann, in "Grammars of Identity/Alterity" writes "the denial of the right to be different turns into a denial of the right to be."

Thus, a literary death must occur to extinguish the assault of words from the recalcitrant author who refuses to conform, who refuses to be silenced, who refuses to learn from the error of her ways and be brought into line with the masses. After all, there is no crime quite like Otherness to earn the greatest of ostracism, insult, and violence. Other voices cannot be tolerated. Other perspectives cannot be seen. There is only One Way of Being and all others must be silenced, refuted, mocked, or violently extinguished.

Let us turn to the natural progression of humanity- once social shame and public attacks fail. Then, of course, the power of "mob justice" sets in and out come the torches, pitchforks, ropes, and rocks. The Other must be silenced, at all costs, and they have "earned" their fate.

Among the many imagined deaths I had hurled at me, someone wrote that I deserved to be "hung, drawn, and quartered"- the fate due to traitors. While I am a woman and therefore would have been burned at the stake, the idea behind the sentiment is what I wish to bring up. In England such a punishment was publicly held and the corpse was often left in public view as a warning to other possible transgressors for a period of time after the punishment was complete. Thus, all who passed by would know just what happened to such "traitors" and it would serve as a cautionary tale. This can be seen around the world whenever mob justice involves some form of capital punishment.

Yet, the line between heretic and martyr can so often be blurred by who holds the pen of history. The distinction between the 'scarlet letter' and the 'badge of honor' is in the eye of the beholder. Otherness can be the voice of the prophet or the voice of the dissenter, depending on who is listening.

Now, in this digital medium, such insults are as imagined as they are confined to the threads of the world wide web. Yet, the sentiment remains. When part of an anonymous mob, when faced with Otherness and the breach of one's long-held social norms, the gut instinct is to reach for the torch and the noose and to wield verbal violence against the Other. Whether imagined or real, literal or figurative, this particular human response is one that historical has shown again and again the danger of.

Whenever such a violent reaction to Otherness occurs, a healthier approach is one of self-reflection. Why is such an emotive response occurring? What long-cherished belief, ideal, or norm is being challenged? What aspects of ethnocentrism are being challenged and how can the viewpoint of the Other prove a springboard into a greater understanding of the world? Cognitive dissonance and cultural discomfort provide avenues for growth, if seen as an invitation to self-reflection and growth.

However, I doubt many out there will take this invitation or permit genuine growth and questioning. They would much rather cast stones and so, here we are. Yet, this story is complete and it is written for the minority. For the few who wish for another voice, who wish for another story, who are open to other ways of being.

It is, most especially, a story for Other authors who will someday be inspired to write stories out-of-the-ordinary and which go against the grain of all the others. Let it be the cautionary tale it is intended to be – as each who comes across it can view the displayed corpse of the author and either applaud or mourn the corresponding pile of ashes. If you are brave enough to follow after and try your own hand at such 'heresy', you, too, will be burned at the stake and face the full fury of the mob.

However, history tells us that if you can manage to withstand enough decades of burnings, eventually the heretics become seen as martyrs and those who spoke from the margins are deemed as "ahead of their time". Even their Otherness can be seen as a much-needed reprieve from the ocean of Sameness they were mired in. Now, all that the majority of readers want is another reiteration of the Hunsford proposal and five thousand more stories where Darcy is made to regret is "barely tolerable" comments. For the few, the brave, and the downright scandalous, here's to you.

ooooo


Now, for the brave souls who wish to write their own Jane/Darcy or Darcy/Anyone Else stories, here are a few tips of survival. This note is a list of things I wish I had known BEFORE I started this story and faced the fury of the angry mobs.

First off, this is NOT a 'normal' fandom. The rules which apply to writing in other fandoms DO NOT apply to this one. In normal fandoms, if readers do not like your story, they will go read something else, possibly after leaving a scathing review or two. In this fandom, displeased readers will intentionally read every single chapter you post and them bombard you with as many critiques as they possibly can (often utilizing guest accounts so you can hear their displeasure more than once). They will do this for Every. Single. Chapter. And if you post on multiple fanfic sites, then they will post on Every. Single. Site. Repeatedly. In their eyes, your story is a failure before you have put pencil on page and everything you write will only serve their self-fulfilling prophecy. Nothing you do or write or say will change their minds.

Next, by even thinking about writing a Jane/Darcy story, you have become such an object of repugnance to a posse of zealots that they will do everything within their power to erase you from existence, silence you, chase you from the fandom (and writing in general), and suffocate any bit of literary life you have in you. You are automatically classified as "an idiot, a fool, a failure, and without any literary or intellectual capacity". All your research is wrong. All your writing is 'barely tolerable' and your interpretations of the characters flawed. You have become an abhorrence to Jane Austen and no self-respecting Jane Austen fan will tolerate you, or so they will remind you ad nauseum. Here is what you need to be prepared for:

They are organized and work together and share ideas so it sounds like you have a flock of people thinking the same way. They will recycle reviews used on past Jane/Darcy stories to bombard yours. They will try to report you and have your story removed from and your account banned (for the sin of writing a non-canon pairing). Their reviews will grow progressively more scathing until they eventually become violent.

Questions to ask yourself: Are you an experienced Fanfic author? Have you written a P story before? Is your story written in its entirety? Do you have a supportive group of friends to help you through this? If your answers to all of these questions is no, you might consider writing for a different fandom. I know, you have a great, brilliant, wonderful idea. Change all the names and post it in another fandom. Any other fandom.

If your answers are yes, here's what you need to know to possibly survive. Before you do anything else, research DDOS attacks, Sea Lioning, Brigading, and other methods of trolling now. These will ALL be used against you.

Next, turn comment moderation on BEFORE posting your first chapter. Then, clearly state in your summary and first chapter that it is a Darcy/Jane story. (Note-this will be like putting a target on your back and you will be bombarded with people who will not even read past your summary but will flood you with criticism and negativity simply for the premise. Still, better to get it out first thing so no one is surprised later on.)

Next, if you survive the first chapter and want to continue, think through your personal boundaries for comment moderation. What will you accept and what will you decline and why? (In a 'normal' fandom, authors will say 'anything goes,' and 'criticism is welcome.' Reminder: this is NOT a normal fandom and you better think hard over just what lines you will not allow to be crossed. You DO NOT have to tolerate author abuse… and you WILL get abused. Incessantly.)

My boundaries evolved over time. My first set developed after my review page was flooded with extended arguments over whether Jane/Darcy should be a pairing at all. Well, it's a moot point since I had already written a Jane/Darcy story. The reviews had nothing to do with my story or my take on the characters and everything to do with the existential possibility of the characters possibly getting together. These went on for pages and pages and grew progressively more vitriolic and so I put an end to them. They were not about my story. They helped no one.

'Constructive criticism' is welcome. 'Author bludgeoning' is not. Constructive criticism is granted by those who genuinely wish to see the story improve and see the author grow as an author. The reviewer will share both positive and negatives responses and show they have an investment in the story. It will be specific suggestions for improvement (i.e. work on your comma usage, this word choice is not period- appropriate, this is not Regency-appropriate – and here is a website/book/author that explains WHAT IS historically accurate, this paragraph here is confusing, I do not understand how you went from this plot point to this plot point – can you clarify?, etc.) (For more on this, read Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way- the best book on writing I have ever read.) Author bludgeoning is criticism meant purely to tear down the author and bash the story in its entirety. It seeks to destroy and wound, not build and encourage. (i.e. you are an idiot, your entire story is full of plot holes, this is not historically accurate -note-no link to resources to make the story accurate is given, stop writing and delete this, only a fool would write such nonsense and such an illogical story, etc.). There will be attacks on other reviewers who support you as well and attacks on those who don't. The review board will get real ugly, real fast and that's the point. The more provocation there is on your review board, the more readers will walk away from your story. The trolls know this and they want to make your review board focus only on them and not on you or your story.

Note: FF moderation automatically posts after three days or so and if you aren't fast enough at deleting things, they go up by default. You can go back and delete guest reviews later, if you change your mind on them. You can report abuse to for anyone who uses their signed names and attacks you with profanity or verbal violence. They are not fast in taking reviews down, but they will do it eventually. However, there is NO protection from continual guest reviews and the same 'guest' can spam your page a thousand times and there's nothing you can do about it. Thus, Ao3 is a better option since you can limit reviews and have more protections.

The first time a reviewer insults you as an individual, block them. Don't bother responding or trying to debate with them. It's not worth the effort. In addition, look through past Jane/Darcy stories. This will give you a good baseline for what you are in for and what reviews are recycled. If you find a reviewer who gave scathing, unnecessary commentary, consider preemptively blocking them to spare yourself the drama. Also, block them the first time they show up on your review page. They are part of the anti-fan club out for your blood. It's not worth interacting.

In a 'normal' fandom, 'debate' is possible. I made the mistake of thinking this fandom is 'normal.' It is not. Debates will go on for pages and pages and inevitably end with 'this pairing can't work, the author is an idiot.' Which, honestly, we could have all been spared the pages and pages of lengthy arguments and debate points by simply stating the underlying premise. There is very little respect for Jane/Darcy authors and thus any argument you give and any research you provide to 'prove' your point will be immediately dismissed purely on the basis of you being a Jane/Darcy author (and thus an 'illogical idiot'). Also, humor, sarcasm and irony are entirely unacceptable in this fandom. Logic, also, is looked down upon. As hard as it is not to defend yourself, it really isn't worth it.

'Debates' tend to devolve very quickly and into very ugly situations where other, more supportive, reviewers get attacked and insulted. The anti-Jane club wants to provoke and make people angry. They want to wound. Do not let them. (Remember, look up "sea lioning"). There are some types of reviewers who will send you novel-length reviews questioning everything in your story, claiming to be "skeptics" in need of "evidence" or "explanations." No amount of explanations or evidence will ever be enough and, really, they are more like leeches draining the life from the story than they are constructive critics. A test for these ones: ask them to give you equal amounts praise as criticism. If they cannot name a single thing they like in the story or their "praises" are veiled criticisms, you can disregard. I would have saved myself a lot of trouble if I had used this test earlier on and didn't take the "leeches" as serious reviewers. (Also, beware the 'gaslighting'. These ones will really use every tool of psychological manipulation to make you seem like you are the crazy one. You aren't. This is not normal behavior and no author should have to put up with it.)

There is a predictable pattern of events. Once comment moderation is turned on, ugly guest comments are deleted, and incendiary reviewers are blocked, they WILL turn to other methods of harassment. Be prepared for guest account reviews to grow increasingly more profane and insulting and violent. Your blocked signed account reviewers will create 'parodies' of your story (which are, in fact, extended insults against you and compilations of all the negative guest reviews you rejected.) These become a sort of gathering place for every single person who hates your story and despises you and they will permit all the ugly vile things you have not permitted to be said. You can report these to as abuse, but it may take time to get them removed. Once they are removed, the anti-fan club will just repost them again under another name and it will all start over again.

There is not use trying to defend yourself because anything you say will be dismissed or rejected (because you are an 'idiot' who 'can't handle criticism' and 'only posts positive review'-note-this is gaslighting and does not need to be accepted. You have the right to protect yourself and have healthy boundaries.) If you choose to publish your story for profit, they will even follow you onto whatever platform you use to blast you with negative reviews.

You may consider posting your Jane/Darcy story on a different ff account than the one you normally use. This would enable you to give moderation privileges to someone other than yourself or to keep trolls off your other stories. If someone else, less connected to the situation, were to moderate comments for me, it would have been very helpful and I could have been spared the thousand of trolled reviews.

Now, let's talk about protecting yourself. This is important. NEVER SHARE PERSONAL INFORMATION. I can't emphasize this enough. Do not state your profession or your favorite type of candy or what you did over the weekend or anything about where you live. Absolutely, DO NOT TALK ABOUT YOUR FAMILY. Any personal information you share WILL be used as a weapon to insult you later on. This is NOT a safe fandom. These are NOT your friends. In a 'normal' fandom, you can chat about your upcoming vacation and your pet cat and your kids' antics. This is NOT the place for it. Protect yourself. Protect your families. There are members of the anti-Jane club that have no morals and no conscience and whose only goal is to stop you from writing, by any means possible.

Do not be surprised if the comments descend into violence. Every Jane/Darcy author, at some point, is told to go and kill themselves or receives graphic, elaborate death wishes directed at them and their children (hence, DO NOT LET THESE PEOPLE KNOW YOU HAVE KIDs! The transgression you have committed by starting a Jane/Darcy story is so grave that your opponents will literally fantasize about your death and the gruesome, violent deaths they wish would befall your children (who are guilty for being connected to you). Unfortunately, since they send these comments under a 'guest account,' nothing can be done except delete them. (hence, my suggestion to create a secondary account or set someone else in charge of moderation.)

Next, have realistic expectations for your reception and yourself: No matter how awesome and well-written your story, it's a Darcy/Jane story. You will never get the amount of favorites/follows/reviews as a Lizzy/Darcy story. Never gonna happen. Those you do get: treasure!

There are some amazing, encouraging, helpful supportive reviewers in this fandom. They provide constructive criticism, insightful feedback, and beautiful observations on stories. They help new authors survive the crazy and grow as authors. They bend over backwards to try to help you survive the madness. These people are worth their weight in gold.

Try to focus on these ones as much as possible. Keep a list of the best reviews and bury yourself in them when the criticism is too much. Critics are louder and more memorable than praise. As hard as it is, repeat the praise over and over again to drown out the criticism. Hold these precious reviewers in the highest of regard, treasure them, respond to them, engage with them. Do not spend all our energy on winning over critics who will never be won. Instead, enjoy the journey with the beautiful souls who are joining you because they wish to join. I am indebted to the kind souls who had read Jane/Darcy stories before and knew what I was about to run headlong into and gave me advice on how to survive it. They were invaluable.

Be realistic in your own emotional capacity. While you may be able to respond to some of the criticism with humor, snark, and amusement, the sheer volume and constant repetition drains. If you need to turn off comments, do it. (I turned off email notifications of comments for awhile just so I wouldn't know of the negative ones until I was good and ready to deal with them and then just stopped reading comments entirely. There's a good three or four chapters I still haven't read any of the guest reviews on. It was a great life decision.). If you need a break, take it.

It's ok to feel hurt and angry and incredulous. Self-doubt is normal. Even in a 'normal' story, there are days of inspiration and writing frenzies and days of deserts and absolute despair. The words that will be the hardest are those which echo your own insecurities and long held wounds. Dig into those, process with trusted friends and family, and remember- you are writing for that precious handful who want to hear your words. As hard as it is, you have to block out all the others. If there is only a single fan of your story and a million opponents, you are still writing for that one.

If, after all this, you survive this writing experience, take the time you need to process, heal your writer's soul, and take care of yourself. If you are able to survive the flames and make it to the end (even with a limp), you deserve a medal of courage and bravery. You will join the very small, elite group of Darcy/Jane stories in existence. That's an accomplishment to be proud of.

Remember, if you get tired at any point in your story, all you have to do is replace Jane's name with Elizabeth's and suddenly every single criticism and point of contention will automatically be cured and those who once despised your story will praise it. Your 'tolerable' writing will become wonderful. Your historical inaccuracies will be cured and every single plot hole will be filled in, all with one simple cure.

Or, you know, you can just make your own club of Jane/Darcy authors and bombard the fandom with so many new stories that they become "normal" and "accepted" and no longer get burned at the stake.

And, for those of you who may not write but do read and review, the best way to encourage future Jane/Darcy authors is to "minister in the opposite spirit." What I mean by that is rather than descending into the midst of the chaos and "fighting fire with fire," instead, do the opposite. Every time a reviewer wishes death on the author, write two reviews wishing a long, full, beautiful life upon the author. Every time a reviewer tells the author they are stupid, tell the author they are intelligent. Every time a reviewer says the author doesn't belong or shouldn't write, send five more reviews telling the author they do belong and to keep writing. Compete with praise rather than mutual vitriol. You see, "regular" reviewers will comment once and will praise the grammar or the plot or comment on a character. There's nothing wrong with that. However, as I have said before, this is not a "normal" writing context. The anti-fan club will go beyond the story to attack the author personally over and over again. Rather than attacking grammar, they attack the person of the author. The best way to support the author is not necessarily to tell the antagonists that they are overstepping bounds. They want the attention and the counter-attacks. They want the review board to become ugly. If every negative review leads to five positive reviews saying the opposite and pouring praise and encouragement on the author, it will change the dynamic of the review board significantly. Maybe we can call it "fairying" rather than "trolling"? Spread the pixie dust and bless all the authors out there with the strength and life to keep writing. That way, the focus of the review board can be the story itself rather than the premise of the story and the boundaries of fanfiction as a genre.

Happy writing, happy reading, and the best of all wishes!