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It is flipping done. 52K words, two years of my life, too many sinus infections, and gods know how many hours of research, revisions and nitpicky edits later…

FANFIC: The Coronation of the High Hierophant

Pairing: Fifth Doctor & Nyssa (mostly platonic except That One Demi chapter)
Rating: Teen and up
Word Count: 51K or 52K depending on archive
Context: Big Finish audios but as usual I provide enough context you don't need 'em

“Those people are gravely mistaken who imagine that all this is mere ceremony.” —Louis XIV, Le Roi-Soleil

Story: On a human colony where Baroque France and classical Rome are so far in Earth’s legendary past that both are mined for “wisdom of the ancients,” the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa are swept into a fantastic world of pageantry, allegory, advanced gravitational engineering, dance and court intrigue.

The Doctor believes Nyssa has found true love. Nyssa believes she has found someone who needs their help. After the Doctor leaves Nyssa to her new life, she’s forced to embrace the masquerade far more deeply than she had intended. Will the Doctor defy the Web of Time to extricate her from the jaws of history?

Tags: trope subversion · graysexuality · queer characters · trans characters
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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.

Read more... )
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Title Banner for Coronation of the High Hierophant

The Coronation of the High Hierophant
New chapter: seven of eight

“Those people are gravely mistaken who imagine that all this is mere ceremony.” —Louis XIV, Le Roi-Soleil


Story: On a human colony where Baroque France and classical Rome are so far in Earth’s legendary past that both are mined for “wisdom of the ancients,” the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa are swept into a fantastic world of pageantry, allegory, advanced gravitational engineering, dance and court intrigue.

The Doctor believes Nyssa has found true love. Nyssa believes she has found someone who needs their help. When the Doctor leaves Nyssa to her new life, she’s forced to embrace the masquerade far more deeply than she had intended. And the Web of Time may seal her fate.

Tags: fairytales · trope subversion · graysexuality · queer characters

Hooray!

May. 30th, 2017 09:34 am
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I jotted down the original outline of The Coronation of the High Hierophant in August 2015.  And it looks like I may finish it within the next month, FINALLY.

I've just written the dramatic climax, which includes lots of derring-do and the Doctor being heroic. (Finally.) All that's left to write is a short epilogue. It's going to clock in around 55,000 words. 

It was inspired by the simplest of exchanges in a Big Finish Doctor Who audio, 1001 Nights:


Nyssa: You’re quite sure this outfit isn’t a little too showy? Oh.

Doctor: Nothing’s too showy for the Grand Coronation of the High Hierophant of the Five Revealed Truths. Oh.

N: We’re not at the Celestial Basilica, are we?

D: Apparently not.

N: Then where are we?

D: I’m not sure. Remote outpost, maybe? Or some kind of fortress? Not exactly bustling with life.

N: It’s a prison, isn’t it.

D: I admit the fifty-foot-high wall does tend to give that impression.

N: I had enough of prisons on Folly. Can we go?

<Cries for help>

D: Did you hear that?

N: Doctor. The Coronation of the High Hierophant, remember? Perfumed rain, falling from clouds sewn with powdered diamonds… you wouldn’t want to miss that.

D: I’ve had the invitation for the past 300 years, Nyssa. I can wait a little longer… come on!
 

Did they ever succeed in going to the Celestial Basilica? What happened?

Babbling about how the story came together... )
circular_time: Nyssa's face seen through the grill of a Dalek's head. (dalek)
Fifth Doctor fanfic bannerThe Coronation of the High Hierophant(Unrevealed Truths)
Fifth Doctor/Nyssa, UST demi or asexual Doctor, queer characters.
6 chapters posted so far; grand finale in progress (either 1 chapter or 1 chapter plus epilogue.)

Summary: What if the Doctor thinks he's in one of those adventures that ends with the companion staying behind, but the companion thinks they're staying just long enough to troubleshoot a problem? What if the companion has to play the hero in the Doctor's absence, while he works through the stages of grief for a friend whose fate is sealed? Nyssa is soon wrapped up in the deadly politics of the Celestial Basilica, a culture that's half advanced technological wizardry, half retro French Baroque. Meanwhile, the Doctor is finding it difficult to move on, but he can't go back for her— not without violating the Laws of Time.


Dalek Free Spirit (sequel to Big Finish "Dalek Heart")
Fifth Doctor, Nyssa, canon Platonic, Turlough Cameo
Chapter 2/8 posted so far. 
Summary: Nyssa is lost, probably dead, and in any case beyond the Doctor's reach. To his dismay, he learns that the Daleks may have kept a clone of her. Now he faces an impossible dilemma: save her imperfect twin, who may be as twisted as her father was after the Master possessed him, or exterminate the last of a dear friend.

And I need to figure out something for the Big Finish contest, since Dalek Free Spirit has become too complex a story (and anyway they probably wouldn't accept it since the rules say no established monsters.) 

You'd think at my age I wouldn't care, but I remember the heyday of LJ fanfic, when everyone commented on each other's stories, and I miss that interaction tremendously. In fact, I find it very discouraging to post without the payoff of reader feedback, although I keep being seized by story ideas that are so good I can't stop writing them. Fanfiction (and Big Finish) keep me going during depression and periods of poor health.
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Let's see if I can enjoy having a classic Who blog again.
So, what have I been doing?

VHSWhovian Reviews now has its own website, vhswhovian.com. For the most part, I'm reviewing audios, but now that Britbox has given us a free, legal option for watching classic Who streaming, who knows: I may start reviewing the show I grew up watching, now with the perspective of middle-aged hindsight.

However, my reviews are falling behind because of fanfiction! One of the recent audios, Alien Heart / Dalek Soul, seized my imagination by dangling some lovely flapping loose ends, and I grabbed them with both hands. Dalek Free Spirit has two chapters posted so far, and its Scrivener file for it has passed 40,000 words despite my being quite ill (severe sinus infections on top of other chronic health issues) for most of the year. I realize that wordcount is nothing for you nano wunderkinds, but I'm old and arthritic and, again: no stamina. 

The Coronation of the High Hierophant fic is winding to a close. I've put the Fifth Doctor through the ringer. So I'm juggling two big fics right now.

In the con department, I made it to both Gallifrey One and Regeneration Who, again while rather ill. (I had to miss most of one day of Galli, but I hung on and spent some lovely moments with a few favorites, notably author/director/Dalek operator Barnaby Edwards who wrote one of my favorite Doctor Who stories in any medium, Emerald Tiger.)

I've continued art lessons, although I'm still not as good as I want to be. Portraits are difficult.

I've been enjoying the new season of Who, for the most part, and absolutely ADORE Bill Potts. Thin Ice, The Pilot, Smile: I loved 'em. The most recent arc is frustrating me, but I like Capaldi and Pearl Mackie so much that I am hanging on.

Why I disliked Pyramid at the End of the World… )
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 Once upon a time, Big Finish tantalised us with this conversation in 1001 Nights:

Nyssa: You’re quite sure this outfit isn’t a little too showy? ...Oh.
Doctor: Nothing’s too showy for the Grand Coronation of the High Hierophant of the Five Revealed Truths. ...Oh.
N: We’re not at the Celestial Basilica, are we?
D: Apparently not.
[chitchat, cries for help]
D: Did you hear that?
N: Doctor. The Coronation of the High Hierophant, remember? Perfumed rain, falling from clouds sewn with powdered diamonds… you wouldn’t want to miss that.
D: I’ve had the invitation for the past 300 years, Nyssa. I can wait a little longer… come on!

Wait what? Go back! I want to visit the Celestial Basilica!

Sadly, they never did, leaving to me to wonder what it was like. I wrote a few scraps, but all I had was a poetic image of the setting. I needed a story to match the grandeur. 

A year later, I listened to Big Finish The Church and the Crown featuring Queen Anne of Austria. As so often, a DW historical inspired me to look up the period and learn stuff I didn't know before. I found a surprisingly readable dissertation about Anne. It had an appendix describing the development of ballet as an offshoot of French court etiquette. Turns out her son, Louis XIV, had won popular acclaim by dancing ballet as frickin' Apollo, and that's why he's called the Sun King.

Look at this video around 2.15 or so. I mean. LOOK. 
 


Invented dialogue, but the scene is pretty much historically accurate.

So what? 

So, Nyssa is a trained dancer. She'd probably like that sort of thing. And I needed a suitably grandiose archetype on which to base my just-about-to-be-crowned Hierophant.

Corollary: why is it that science fiction always imagines futuristic design as minimalist? Why can't some advanced civilization suffer an attack of questionable taste and go for Baroque? 

Before I knew it, I'd decked out Nyssa in something suspiciously Zuhair Murad, and I won't tell you what poor Five's wearing. Now I was getting somewhere. I had dancers. I had a stage. I just needed a libretto.

It took another several months for the story arc to gel, but boy howdy, do I have a plot. I know right down to the sentence where readers are going to start posting "FIRST OF ALL HOW DARE YOU." The hardest part will be holding back the chapters until I've choreographed the whole thing.

*snaps fingers* Write yourself, story. I command you.

Ah well. *frantic typing*


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I really have been shying away from this blog for a while, but I'm determined to get back to what I really wanted to do with it.

So, a few miscellaneous matters.

First, a celebration! My VHSWhovian Doctor Who Reviews blog is up to 78 reviews and counting. It's my permanent home for all my Big Finish reviews, where I'll be sharing progress in my great Big Finish Listen-o-thon, listening to all the Main Ranges and many of the spin-offs in release order as I try to make up for 15 years of missing out.

The most useful part of that website is the interactive, sortable table of Big Finish audios. Sort in order of my rating, the Doctor's timeline, companion, release date, release number, or knock yourself out finding all the audios with "Shadow" in the title. I've linked to the reviews I've written so far, but the rating from 1-10 will give you a quick way to look for good audios to try. (Keep in mind the first 50 of the main range are $3 downloads.)

Second, I'll be at (Re)Generation Who con in March, so I can finally get Peter Davison's autograph on the "Team Nerd" commission and amuse Colin Baker with my Evelyn Smythe cosplay, and Long Island 4 Who Con in November, which usually includes Paul McGann, and this year Sophie, Sylvester, and Loiuse Jameson will be there. I had a ball at LI 3, so it looks like I'm going to act like someone half my age and start attending cons now and again.

Third, I didn't post about it here, but I participated in Inktober last November, trying fountain pen for the first time in 20 years. Results:



View the individual portraits in my DeviantArt Gallery, although I need to re-upload those I got autographed at LI 3. I'll be doing new ones for (Re)Generations: Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant, Frazer Hines and Wendy Padbury, and then if I have time I'll do the other guests (except I'm saving Sophie until November, since I know she'll be there. I hope I'll be able to draw a better Louise by that time as well). 

Fourth, I've joined a fic community, Get Your Words Out, so expect another novella on the level of Master's Thesis by the end of this year. I hope. Another Fifth Doctor and Nyssa adventure, this one a side adventure sometime after 1001 Nights, which mentioned that they were trying to reach the Coronation of the High Hierophant. I decided to write that missing story. It's got a killer concept, and the research and planning stages are fairly far along. ('m treating it as a dress rehearsal for original fiction (not that I mean to repurpose it, just that I'm practicing the skills needed for a commercially successful book). 

I hesitate to mention this in the same post with things I'm proud of, but for what it's worth, I just posted an R-rated "guilty pleasure" Nyssa/Five ficlet on AO3. It has no merit; it's just a fluffy bit of smut as a gift for some old friends. Enjoy.


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