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ravurian, one of those rare birds who is an accomplished writer and an incisive editor, has been helping me face the editing of Restraint for publication by breaking the massive project into a series of approachable steps.

  • Task One: summarize the whole novel in a sentence.

    This is painfully difficult, and I couldn't have done it without stealing from 's original review of the story. It takes an outsider to boil the outpourings of your heart down to a single sentence, lemme tell ya.

    Here's a Twitterized version:

    A story of art, identity and sexuality in 19th century England, and the changing fortunes of two men whose love defies society's constraints.

  • Task Two: write a three-sentence summary of each chapter.

    Not nearly as painful as Task One, Task Two has thrown into high relief all the dear scenes of pure, beloved fanservice (shaving scene, anyone?), and the authorial self-indulgence for which the story has been justly criticized.

  • Task Three: print out these summaries (paper! I know, right?) and slice them into strips, then lay them out and scootch them around to find new structure possibilities.

    A steel table top covered with strips of paper, each containing a chapter summary
    Laying it all out.

    A steel table top covered with strips of paper and a big gray cat sitting on them
    Junior editor

    Strips of chapter summaries all heaped up in a jumble
    Randomness! Maybe I can read the pile like Tarot cards or something.

So far, I've identified four places other than Chapter 1 where I could potentially start the story for greater impact. Three big thematic groups have emerged. The key points of conflict are clear. I'm starting to see the story's new shape. It's kind of exciting.

So, thanks to ravurian (and Graydie), I'm on my way.

(I need a project name. Hmm. "Project Publish"? "Project Cut 100,000 Words"? "Project File Off The Serial Numbers"? Suggestions?)


( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 6th, 2013 02:26 am (UTC)
Wow--how exciting! and scary too, I'm sure! I'm so glad though, that you've decided to take this on. As much as I love, love, *love* the original story, I'd love to see folks outside of our little pond find it, however it changes.

The junior editor has an intimidating stare....
Jan. 6th, 2013 02:52 am (UTC)
Her glare is positively Derek-Hale-esque, isn't it?

And thank you for your encouraging words. I'm hoping not to make any serious changes in the tone and spirit of the story.

A lot of people have said that Restraint barely qualifies as fanfic at all (a strangely double-edged comment in our world), but there's a hell of a lot of fanfic to file off it nonetheless. It turns out that a global search-and-replace on character names and telling traits isn't quite enough. Go figure!

But it will still be the story of two hot guys and their forbidden love, because if it's not, then I'm quittin'.
Jan. 6th, 2013 03:20 am (UTC)
It turns out that a global search-and-replace on character names and telling traits isn't quite enough.


But it will still be the story of two hot guys and their forbidden love, because if it's not, then I'm quittin'.

And all the beautiful color and light and art remain!
Jan. 6th, 2013 03:40 am (UTC)
Them too!
Jan. 6th, 2013 07:35 am (UTC)
That is exciting. I like "Project Publish," though "Re-straint" is also fun.
Jan. 6th, 2013 07:37 am (UTC)
Re-straint! I love that!
Jan. 6th, 2013 10:51 am (UTC)
I found Restraint very late i.e. after it was finished, and I can't remember (if I ever knew) which fandom it was in. Please enlighten me? (I saw it recommended as a story on its own merits rather than as fanfic, so I think I never knew.)

Good luck with the project, and I hope the junior editor's way with paper throws up some good ideas!
Jan. 6th, 2013 09:35 pm (UTC)
Hi! It's odd to think of "after it was finished" as being late in the life of the story, because of course my memory is of a massive and sometimes-terrifying scramble to polish and post chapters; and after that the story started to live in the world.

The nominal fandom Restraint derives from is Supernatural RPS, aka J2, and one of my most gratifying experiences with the story has been having it read and acknowledged from outside the fandom. In fact, that's what has encouraged me to take it "legit."

Anyway (God, I do go on), thank you for dropping by, and for your good wishes.
Jan. 6th, 2013 10:46 pm (UTC)
I love Restraint to pieces. I'm sure it needs tinkering, but please keep lots of it as it is because it's fantastic. I never saw it as related to Supernatural at all, so to me it always was an original fic.
Jan. 6th, 2013 11:15 pm (UTC)
I love Restraint to pieces.

Hee! Me too. See? Right there--it's all in pieces. :D

Thank you. You've been such a consistent supporter of the work! I value your views and feelings about it highly. I intend to keep the sense of overwhelming passion, and the high price John and Tristan pay to live it, and that ache of loss and regret. I honestly don't think anything really significant needs to change. Mostly some cuts and tightening-up.

You know, I'd love to know what stands out in your mind as the story's strongest point--and, if you're willing, what you'd skip right over on re-reading (aka the boring bits). No obligation, of course!
Jan. 7th, 2013 11:51 pm (UTC)
What stands out most for me are two things. The first is John's sense of wonder, joy, excitement, and bewilderment at the passionate relationship with Tristan, especially as it is just starting out. How many first time scenes have I read in fandom?...but the scenes where those two fall into their passion still make my heart beat faster.
The second thing that stands out for me is John's despair when T gets married, and the path of self-degradation he goes down...what is especially poignant is that he has very little choice at that point. John's desperation, romantically and financially, hit me right in the gut.
There is something hugely satisfying about a very intelligent fic's power to hit the primal emotions of longing and pity in the reader...
Jan. 8th, 2013 12:08 am (UTC)
P.S.: I think your one-sentence summary is pretty impressive. You shld be a writer! ;)
Jan. 8th, 2013 06:01 am (UTC)
LOL! Thanks. I totally should!

And thank you for your insights. Much appreciated. I've had some misgivings about how to re-work John's downfall. I'm glad to know that you feel it as a key part of the story, because so do I. I feel more confident about proceeding now.
Jan. 9th, 2013 05:26 pm (UTC)
I'm so glad to help out! I'm rereading now, bit by bit, and my global suggestion would be to lay out the parts you want to keep and sew them together, then work later on polishing the prose. Most of the parts are very polished already, but for the book you will be able to spend some time on making your prose even more poetic.

Jan. 10th, 2013 03:26 am (UTC)
I've been thinking about this simple and elegant suggestion all day. Thank you!
Mar. 29th, 2013 10:03 am (UTC)
The pic of Graydie with all the little pieces of paper!!!! So much the cat!!!! Ah, makes me smile. :-)
Mar. 30th, 2013 02:07 am (UTC)
Isn't it amazing? She's a fairly aloof cat and certainly doesn't do a damn thing I invite her to do, but put out some papers and she's like every other cat in town: jump right up on those things!
( 17 comments — Leave a comment )



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