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[personal profile] circular_time
Whew.The Coronation of the High Hierophant, a Fifth Doctor & Nyssa novella I started hashing out in summer 2015, is DONE. 51,261 words. I'm going to let it percolate until the end of the week before posting the final chapter, because I polish and buff prose for days. But it's ready to go, and I'm proud to have conquered it despite some nasty stretches of health problems over the past few years.

This was one of those stories that grabs you and demands to be written. For once, I put in months of research and development before writing any scenes.

Not just because I had a trans character, and I needed to be damned careful when writing a queer experience quite different from my own. (I'm bi.) I hope I didn't screw up too badly, although I know I was steering perilously close to several clichés. Ironically, that happened in the course of subverting certain het, "princess falls in love with prince charming," love triangle, and damsel-in-distress clichés. 

Not just because my background in classical studies means I can't be satisfied with a generic setting. I must build a fully-realized world and culture. Which meant delving into primary sources on the court of Louis XIV and his Regent mother Queen Anne, and researching the early history of ballet, none of which I knew anything about beyond the Big Finish audio The Church and the Crown (that's what set me off on this time period).

It was mostly because I wanted to learn a better approach to writing, after thinking of myself as a writer for 30 years yet failing to finish a novel save the dreck I wrote as a teen! I usually write seat-of-the-pants, craft the ending scene and then the beginning, and trust the characters to find their way from point A to B. That worked with stories up to about 20,000 words. I've even written one (Master's Thesis, a Fifth Doctor/Turlough/Tegan/older!Nyssa novella) that clocked in over 40,000. But I needed a more integrated, organized method.

This time, I bought a book called Story Engineering and followed its guidelines and structured approach. It's the difference between writing a sonnet and winging it with free verse. The result isn't perfect, but it's better than anything else I've written so far.

There were a couple classic Who-related themes I wanted to tackle beyond the "Cinderella subverted" backbone, which is why I had to write this as fanfic instead of publishing it as original SF.

One thing on Doctor Who bugged me growing up, which I wanted to address: the way the Doctor ditches companions who fall in love. To some extent, that's because he can't stay around. But when I was little, I didn't understand why he never looked up Jo again. More importantly, he decides for Susan; against her protests, he leaves her behind with the first boy she falls in love with. What if she changed her mind? In fact she said quite clearly she did NOT want to stay with David; the Doctor presumed to diagnose her conflicting motives and overrule her. Susan's fate is picked up in the audio Circular Time, when the Doctor gives Nyssa a deadline to make up her mind when she, too, has her first affair. He says, "at least I'm giving you fair warning." Again, it feels a little high-handed.

I wanted to poke at the way the Doctor behaves when he thinks companions have fallen in love. I wondered: what would happen if the Doctor thought he was in a serial where the companion departs, but the companion thinks they're in a regular adventure? What if he leaves the way he left Susan (or Jo), so the companion has to step up and take charge of a problem in his absence? That gives the companion more agency than they have in many stories.

And also: the Doctor was very fond of Nyssa, and he's lost her in two rather traumatic ways, both in Terminus and Entropy Plague. I wanted to see him come to grips with her departure in a way that neither of those stories did.  

In the end, The High Hierophant boils down to fangirling two particularly noble-hearted classic Who characters. They have been my favorites ever since Big Finish explored their friendship's potential in a way that I always wanted to see, but which only appeared in brief snatches and glimmers on TV. For this story, I wanted to poke at their understated yet tight-knit relationship, which the Doctor says pointedly in Circular Time is "nothing one could so easily define."

Anyway, I hope I've done all that. I'll be sorry to leave the world of the Celestial Basilica, where I've spent a lot of headspace over the past few years. But I won't miss hunting for names of ballets by Jean-Baptiste Lully that reflect the plot of each chapter. Which reminds me, I still need a title for the epilogue.

Date: 2017-06-13 11:31 am (UTC)
romanajo123: (Default)
From: [personal profile] romanajo123
*loud applause* YAY YOU FINISHED IT!!!

For me the hardest part of writing is coming up with an ending (especially for Who fic), making sure everyone's IC, and coming up with a good climax.

My goal is to (eventually) write a novel; preferably for kids/Young Adults. I might have to see if that book is on Amazon and Kindle-friendly. :)

July 2017

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