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
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