Found in a Pride and PrejudiceVariation


Ah, yes, Diana Wynne Jones famously talked about Horse-bicycles.  How non-horsey people like me will write horses as though they were bicycles, that can start and stop whenever the character wants; never have to eat or be rubbed down, and don’t have to be tied up.

I’m not a horsey person. This might change. It occurs to me horseback riding is not a bad pastime for my old age, and you know, I love all animals (and most plants) so there’s no reason I couldn’t get along with some horse somewhere. As much as I disdain cars and other machines, and suspect them of having malevolent minds of their own, at least horses have mostly people-friendly minds, having co-evolved with us.

But that’s neither here nor there, and though I try to learn when writing horses, I’m sure I made/make mistakes (another reason to learn) and I’m sure I’m not kicked out by things that would kick out people who know horses.


Okay, so I was stuck for about six months reading only Pride and Prejudice variations, which is Pride and Prejudice fanfic for sale on the kindle. (I even wrote one of my own. Well, several. This one was the first I wrote and put up for free at an austen fan site, oh, over 20 years ago. I’ve just pulled them from the free site an am putting it up on Amazon. It’s … insane. Look, I had toddlers, and my husband worked away from the state 5 days a week. Eh.)

This is the equivalent of my wanting to eat only vaguely sweet, tasteless things (bread, vanilla pudding) which is in me a manifestation of extreme stress.  Not depression. That usually involves reading Disney comics, because I can’t understand anything that takes longer than a minute and has no pictures. P&P fanfic I read when I am so stressed I can’t stand emotional stimulus of any kind, even in fiction.  And while P &P fanfic has SOME emotion, it’s usually predictable, and you know — of course — it ends well.

I’ve never been stuck in this phase this long before. Normally I get bored after two weeks. But… well, it is 2020.

I’ve just popped out into mystery and we’ll see if it lasts.  I’ve tried to pop out twice before, then 2020 went… well…. 2020 and I dropped back in.

Anyway, good P & P fanfic writers are as rare as anything else, though there are a lot of tolerable ones.  (My DIL writes some. It’s good.)

And because I was stuck in it so long, I was giving chances to writers I wouldn’t otherwise try.  Which is why I found an obvious beginner.  I mean, I think he did his cover using P & P cover creator…

His stories are good, the type I like that sticks pretty close to the story.

But he desperately needs a good proofreader.  Most of the errors are those I myself make because my fingers take dictation from my ears.  Sight for site, etc.  Proofreaders catch that.

Others are weird and consistent over his two books, and lead me to believe it’s a lack of understanding of history.   For instance, a woman in his books, always has pen money, not pin money.

I can see how that would make sense to a modern person “pen” sounds like something that would be expensive in the regency, while pin just sounds stupid.  But in fact, pins, that ubiquitous lost thin in our entire lives, used to be rare and hand made. And women, who did most of the sewing for households, bought pins fairly regularly (and they were expensive.) Hence a woman’s allowance was called pin money. (Even if you were a great lady, and your pin money was more likely to go for carriages and services.)

That’s fine.  Made me giggle, but fine.

But building over the many books, I got the strong impression that his headcanon had horses as …. cars. Not bicycles. CARS.  It was just the way he talked about them, plus the very bizarre idea that a great house like Netherfield lacked stables and therefore guests horses would be stabled… at the blacksmith?????

Anyway, all of this came to a head on this sentence:

They started up their horses and road away.

I don’t speak horse lingo, so it’s entirely possible that tchk sound riders make and the shaking of the reins are called starting up the horses.

But in my head? Those horses took off with a vroooooom vroom sound and laid down asphalt as they went.

68 thoughts on “Found in a Pride and PrejudiceVariation

  1. BTW, I *really* enjoyed your DIL’s P&P variation. I straight up bought it, because it’s one I will reread. 🙂 I am a sucker for good Anne deBourgh fic!

    1. *bounces around the room in a state of authorial bliss*

      Ahem. I’m glad you liked it. Anne is one of my favorite characters, because there’s so much that never gets explored in P&P canon.

  2. Weeelll, in Mercedes Lackey’s series about elves and stock cars, some of the elvish horses to disguise themselves as cars (and motorcycles) from time to time. But that’s about as close as I can make my brain get to a non-fantasy, non-robotic-horse “started the horse.”

    In my experience, it’s more about keeping the horse from starting to move without you than getting them to go.

    1. Well, if you a) have characters in the business of causing the horse version of cut brake line ‘accidents’ b) want to word things in a peculiar way…

      My thought on riding animals this post was 1) you don’t have to worry about not killing the things in a fantasy where there are usable creatures that breed fast, grow to maturity quickly, and are routinely killed and butchered 2) you don’t have to worry about training them with the right magitech. I’ve read a lot of Isekai fantasy, which has a stock device of magical slave runes, which could be related to an automated training system for animals.

      1. Bedlam Bardz is also a side shoot of that series. And the Jinx High (Diana Tregarde) Series is also a side shoot in the same world.

  3. “They started up their horses and road away.”

    Given some of the other mistakes, pen money for pin money etc. it sounds like the author was channeling things he’d only heard and not bothered to look up.

    Sometimes I use sayings that I’ve heard from grandparents or similar, and I find it a good idea to look them up. “Beyond the pale” is a good one, because you could easily say “pail” or think pale as in colour. How many people know that a “pale” is a picket out of a picket fence? So the saying means “outside the fence” of what is acceptable, or usual.

    As to horses, I know -nothing- of them so they don’t appear in my stories. Much too easy to write a howler. I don’t know much about plasma guns either, but I know as much as anyone else, given that they are imaginary. ~:D

    1. I had wondered, as The Pale was the portion of Russia to which I gather Jews were restricted …

        1. I much prefer “Here be taters.” Baked, mashed, fried, scalloped, boiled…

    2. Search engine of choice is your friend … if you weren’t pretty widely read and had a memory for historical and social trivia.

      And, incidentally, we had a horse for about five years when I was a teenager. That relatively brief experience has come in very useful.

  4. It is funny; these days hardly anyone knows a thing about horses but we are all quite knowledgeable about horses asses.

    I’ll see myself out …

  5. Oh, as I leave you, one pettish peeve (or is it a peevish pet?) of mine is the use of “tow the line.”

    No, no, no, no, NO!

    It is toe the line, T. O. friggin’ E, not tow! Have you never played darts? (Although I suspect the phrase originates in fisticuffs, back before the Marquis of Queensbury, when pugilists started a line scratched in the dirt.)

    1. Ugh, that one drives me nuts too.

      There’s another one, but I can’t think of it at the moment, alas. But it’s a “common” saying I see regularly messed up…

      In the spoken word, I want to scream anytime someone says “Supposably”…(I have a former boss who does this. I love her to bits, she’s a good friend of mine, and so I never told her how much that irritated me, but…AUGH!!)

        1. Oh, that one is cringe-worthy!

          Everybody knows the correct phrase is “didn’a” – as in “I didn’a do any such thing!”

      1. I knew fellow who did that. I asked about it once and found he a dyslexic habit where he tended to use ‘b’ and ‘d’ in each others places when writing/typing and it carried through for at least that word.

        1. I’m dyslexic (sort of, actually it’s discalculia), and come from a long line of ’em, so I get THAT. It’s the people that SAY it that drive me nuts 😀

          1. I asked him because he DID say it. That was the one place, that I knew of, where it was also in speech for him. It was still distracting to hear it.

      2. There’s another one, but I can’t think of it at the moment, alas. But it’s a “common” saying I see regularly messed up…

        One I see regularly is ‘hone in on’. NONONO, it’s home in as in homing pigeon or missile!

        Flout and flaunt are regularly crossed, too.

        I’ve seen “reign” for ‘rein’ in published fiction by a BPH. And a bunch of other misused words in the same book. I called them out in my Amazon review. (Stain, by ag howard).

    2. People who say “reign in.” No, no, no, it’s not like a 60s “love in”, it’s reining in a horse, REIN in.

      Though I will give a pass to those who use “free reign” because even though it’s technically incorrect (it’s “free rein,” again as HORSE), it’s logically reasonable, as in “free to reign over whatever”.

    3. If asked by law enforcement as to why I snapped and went on a rampage, a reasonable guess would be “she saw ‘discrete’ used as ‘discreet’ one too many times”. All I ask is a jury of my writing peers…

          1. Although a canon is a religious thing, I would say that there is a Canon of Cannons. Failure to obey the canon tends to get one smitten rather definitively, after all.

  6. A Summer in Scarborough was a very GOOD P&P variant. We all have stress reading. I veered into erotica for 3 weeks, now I’m back into reading Mary Balogh’s Westcott series, with #8 due on August 25th. Ocasionally I pull a history text from my 3 bookcases of unread books. Have enough for a decade.

  7. Pins were also used to PUT ON outfits in the 17th century. No zippers, often not buttoned, you’d pin on the stomacher or even that lace that has slipped in Lydia’s case. (She obviously didn’t pin it in properly!)

    Historical outfits are often fascinating, and sometimes very disturbing. Like pockets in the sleeves to carry small animals to help keep warm.

  8. Some of the spelling errors and word choices I’ve encountered in other fanfics (for example Lord of the Rings fanfics) lead me to believe that the writer was working solely from the cinematic or televised versions – in the book, the spellings are right there, but if you’re going by memory of what someone has it is easier to guess wrongly.

  9. Sorry, that last line should be “memory of what someone has said”…

  10. A lot of the problem could be solved by simply remembering the horse also has an opinion 😀 Horse opinions I have encountered: a) “I hate you and all properties adjoining” b) “Just give me the carrot and nobody gets hurt” c) “You are stubborn monkey, aren’t you? All right, have it your way…” d) “It hurts, but I trust you.” e) “WHAT THE HELL IS THAT ARE YOU TRYING TO KILL ME??” (it was a white plastic laundry basket. It wasn’t even rampaging…) Ah, horses…

    1. There was a web cartoon, now sadly vanished, by a cartoonist who was also a rider. In her cartoons, the horse mentally referred to his human as “Small Predator.”

      Oversimplified but basically true: Horses are prey animals, and they think like prey animals. Anything unfamiliar is labeled “dangerous” unless and until they know otherwise. Horses are also social animals; the higher-rank individual always takes precedence over lower-rank ones. If Horse gets the idea that Human is either “dangerous” or “lower rank,” well, a 1000-lb animal vs. a 200-lb human is Not Going To End Well for the latter.

    2. Yes, but having the horse’s opinion affect the events is hard to pull off without the reader noticing the author’s hand. And if it doesn’t affect the events, it should be omitted like anything else that doesn’t.

  11. Horses are a different sort of critter. A pack animal , like a dog, and if brought up right, considering people as part of the herd. Opinionated like a cat, and perfect willing to show their person the limits. And being herbivores, always ready to run away from a predator. Or a scrap of paper blowing past, a manhole cover, the freshly painted stripes on the road, bicycles . . .

    1. Dunno if this will work (I’ll see if WP accepts it), but if not, the meme of the horse freaking out in (shallow) ocean waters “SOMETHING TOUCHED MY FOOT!! SOMETHING TOUCHED MY FOOT!!” pretty much sums up a LOT of horses I met. (It’s been a long time, because these days I can’t get within ten feet of a horse without breaking out in hives and wheezing.)

      My former boss/a good friend of mine is very much a Horse Person, and one her horses is famous for being totally chill at spotting a mountain lion BUT THAT BUSH OVER THERE IS GOING TO KILL HER.

    1. Also cars generally don’t *deliberately* try to scrape you off.

      To be fair, that was a Shetland pony, and they are notoriously evil beasts.

      1. Somewhere I saw a ‘meme’ picture.. two actually..

        Picture One: Kid sitting on a HUGE, placid horse.
        Caption One: “This is your child on a draft horse.”

        Picture Two: Kid flying through the air, or nearly so.
        Caption Two: “This is your child on a pony.”

        1. 1000% accurate. Ponies are the nasty small dogs of the horse world.

          Which is funny, because miniature horses–which are MUCH smaller–tend to be very sweet tempered (with a few exceptions that I’ve known that inevitably have more pony blood than horse blood in them). We had a little stallion when I was a teen who wasn’t more than 28 inches tall at the withers, whose name was Bit o’ Love because he was SUCH a sweetheart. (Some of the *mares* on the other hand…)

          1. I once knew a gal who did pony rides at Ren Faires. She said had a drafvter stallion that was incredibly laid back. How much so? One day, the story went, she was talking with an Amish fellow and he complimented her on the gelding. “He’s a stallion.” And the Amish fellow did a/the “duck and look” and expressed… astonishment.

            It seems as with dogs, so with horses: If they ARE the biggest of their kind around, they don’t feel a need to prove it. Hrmm.. does this explain Maine Coon cats, too?

            1. It certainly explains my cat. Not a maine coon, but twice as big as the average maine coon, heh). He chase out of the yard recently, and that was all it took. Now all he has to do is lounge on the porch “guarding” the property, and the ferals stay well away.

              He’s very smug about it.

              1. Yeah. Greebo was HUGE and the MOST muscular cat I ever saw. He looked fat, but was like a hard bolster of muscles.
                VERY chill and fought only in defense of those he loved.
                And with Valeria, though he did finally beat her, even then he pulled his punches.
                I got his ashes back. He’s our eighth to go to the bridge. His ashes weigh twice as much as the other cats. I guess his bones too were massive and strong.

                1. Lots of hugs. 😦

                  (Heh. Fat Cat can’t lay claim to a lot of muscle. Oh, he’s fairly sturdy, but in his case…yeah, it’s mostly fat, heh. Though he’s gotten a bit sleeker this summer, going outside to hassle the ferals.)

            2. I have no problems working with stallions. Stallions can be trained that there are times and places for work, and times and places for, ahem, adult recreation. I detest mares. Stallions and geldings are wonderful beasts. Someone else can ride/train/show mares, thank you.

              1. One of the major complements my mom got from my godfather was that she could actually ride the ranch’s mare.

                Probably due to very similar temperaments, but she could get productive work done while on the creature.

                  1. Goodness, yes, mom’s mare would have been one of the last batch of “wild horses” or the daughter of the same, before they nationalized the herds.
                    (Not sure how else to describe taking herds that had been managed, fed and harvested for years and making them a protected species. There’s a reason that modern gathered “wild horses” fall so far short of what folks remember from the 80s, and it’s not all idealism. )

                  2. There are some very sweet mares. I’ve met a few. Then, I seem (admittedly small and likely extremely biased sample size) to get along with equines in general.

                    Of course, there also rascals in all sorts, too.

                    1. I don’t know much about horses. For various reasons, would like to remedy that eventually.
                      Maybe I can find a horsey local fan to give me lessons (Can’t afford to pay right now.)

  12. I think one reason that expressions get mangled is that their relevance ages far faster than the language changes. “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.” Huh? What is a “gift horse” and why would one look in any horse’s mouth? If you’re somewhat horse-knowledgeable, which almost everyone was 100 years ago, it makes sense. Now, not so much. These abound. “Hair of the dog”, “coon’s age”, “hoist on your petard”, “set of his jib”, “like a chicken with its head cut off” (which I’ve never seen; I was told it was far too messy to demonstrate).

    I wonder how long we will be “hanging up” to end a phone call. That’s been obsolete my entire life. Even as a child, one “set down”, not “hung up”, the handset – although there was that wall phone with the 20-foot cord…

    You can date people by whether they use the word “film” or “tape” when they mean “record” (the verb; odd that all three are both nouns and verbs).

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