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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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Wouldn't you know it. I finished writing High Hierophant three days ago, but I knew better than to post it then: I always find myself fiddling and tweaking.

This time post-processing included writing a 1600 word additional scene (only to conclude that no, really, honest, that scene didn't belong; I had decided it was unnecessary while planning the epilogue and was perfectly correct to leave it out). Also about 500 more words of adding/subtracting/editing/tweaking/flossing the cat.

I'm glad I did it. A story needs a satisfying emotional payoff and resolution that ties together all the threads, themes, and most of all, reader expectations. I asked myself what a reader would want to come away with at the end, I inspected what I had to see where it failed to meet that goal as well as it could, and -- I hope -- did a better job of delivering it.

In other news, this is very silly cover art.

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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... )

July 2017

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