darkemeralds: Photo of fingers on a computer keyboard. (Writing)
[personal profile] darkemeralds
The biggest difference, I'm finding, between a novel-length fanfic and a publishable novel isn't that you have to change the characters' names and give them different haircolors (though there is that).

The biggest difference is that you're writing for strangers.

I'm sure it's been said by every fan writer who's ever decided to go pro: your fandom friends will forgive tons of story faults for the pleasure of reading about beloved characters they know well and already relate to.

For strangers, the characters have to be fleshed out on the page. They have to be made sympathetic or antipathetic through their words and actions. What's more, the little research faux-pas have to be corrected. The plot holes have to be stitched shut. The stakes have to be higher and the conflicts more developed.

And every instance of sweet, sweet "fanservice" has to be reconsidered, and probably cut. Does that extra sex scene do anything for the story? Does that personal kink (of mine) really move that character's arc forward? What about that Real Life event that you baked into the plot: is it safe or even ethical to leave stuff like that in?

And then, when you cut the obviously cuttable, you have to scour the rest of the text for references to the deleted material, and snip those, too. You lose whole themes that way. The plot itself starts to change.

You go back, over and over, to the seed of the idea--the thrilling original moment of inspiration--and try to tease the purely squee-fangirl-fun (not to mention, in my case, the unrelenting Gaze At Beautiful Men) from the sturdy bones of the real story--the story suitable for strangers--and you cut. And cut. And cut.

So Restraint the novel is becoming something quite different from Restraint the fanfic. The through-line is still there. The plot, setting, and main characters are more or less the same. But it's darker and less graphically sexual, and the characters are neither as noble nor as unscathed as before--because they're no longer the Real Persons of RPF. They've got to be more human than that.

Also, one of them now has red hair.

Handsome redheaded male model

Date: 2016-03-10 08:17 am (UTC)
ranunculus: (Default)
From: [personal profile] ranunculus
I may want to read both versions.....

Date: 2016-03-13 03:15 am (UTC)
cookiemom6067: (Default)
From: [personal profile] cookiemom6067
Huh - maybe it's because Restraint has become its own thing to me, but I can't think of a single Real Life even that was baked into the plot. You must have been very subtle if you had.

So, is that Tristan, then?

Date: 2016-03-20 10:44 pm (UTC)
greghatcher: (Default)
From: [personal profile] greghatcher
Honestly? I'm just delighted that you're doing it. I've been around writers of one sort or another pretty much my whole adult life but damn few make the shortlist of the ones that have-- this is a terribly arrogant thing to say, but I have spent enough time in shitty creative-writing workshops and classes to say it with confidence-- Real Chops. I've always known you were one of the few, ever since you wrote that deadly Regency-style Scholars parody so long ago; and it made me sad to think that you were permanently down the fanfic rabbit hole. It's a very seductive and entertaining environment, but I truly believe-- I've seen this play out in fandom, particularly comics fandom and Star Trek fandom, a LOT-- that living there all the time damages one's actual skills. For all the reasons you name but also because of the instant gratification and applause. I know, I'm a mean old man, but a lot of the time that applause strikes me as about on the same level as a Little League participation trophy, and it seriously impairs one's ability to take meaningful criticism. It's one of the reasons I was so vitriolic about the Kindle Worlds thing.

This is not to disparage fanfic, because that's where a great many of us start. It was my first dip back in the pool once I cleaned up. (As recounted here.) But I don't think you should live there, especially if you are serious about what you're doing. Sooner or later you have to let go of the crutches.

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