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Title: 'Once' Author: proteinscollide Fandom: Popslash… - Welcome to the 2nd round! [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
The Critically Constructive Feedback Project

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[Nov. 23rd, 2004|09:16 pm]
The Critically Constructive Feedback Project


Title: 'Once'
Author: proteinscollide
Fandom: Popslash
Rating: PG (Justin/Lance)
Reviewed by: randomblade

Let me start with saying that this is a very good story, and one that I probably wouldn’t have read off my own bat, so thank the ccfpII for that.
The idea is a really interesting one; at least as far as I got it. The disintegration of Lance and Justin’s relationship under the pressure of the fictions that they are forced to spin.
The line ‘nothing new under the sun’ flagged for me the more overtly literary sides of your writing style. I enjoyed the fact that your clear love for the language as an abstract comes across in every sentence. It feels as though you’re savouring every word. The up-side for your readers in that is the energy of the story, and the feeling that you love what you are doing.
The downside, (and I get it in my own writing as well) is that some things are implied, or touched on which could afford to be driven home less subtly. The hate line is again the example that I’m going to pick on here, because while we get Lance’s wish, I’m not sure that the implication of his emotional state has been hammered home enough to make it feel absolutely necessary that he say those words. We can see that he cannot say them, but the pressure for him to say them is rather implied than expressed. I think that it would be more powerful if it were expressed. On the other hand, the style you’ve chosen to write in means that you don’t need to express everything and your ‘you draw you own parallels’ is a very nice signpost to the reader that not everything is going to be laid out on a silver platter and that he or she is going to have to do a bit of work him or herself.
Everything happens behind the screen of this fairy-tale analogy. I think that having that as a premise is both a fantastic idea, and a difficult one. On the one hand, it created for me a fantastic tone and justified the use of high rhetorical and beautiful language. It lifts the story out of the mundane. The snag in that is that it means the story feels disconnected. As though the fairytale thing is a screen that is on the surface, and the actual events are obscured and distanced by the screen. This in turn means that there is a sort of emotional disconnect from the events that the boys are actually experiencing. It feels less immediate to me than…well I suppose than I am used to.
On the other hand, as it’s a lance POV story, this feeling of disconnection was very fitting, and worked in an aesthetic and conceptual if not a visceral way. It almost ALMOST worked for me in terms of getting me to feel emotionally for him. I got the wistfulness at the end like a pipe to the gut, but the beginning, and the hate line felt distant to me. On the other hand, the floating unfulfillment and uncertainty at the end comes across very well BECAUSE of that particular choice, so I think it’s just a matter of what I’m used to reading.
Lance’s emotional confusion is written fantastically well. I really enjoyed it, as it stands on its own. I think perhaps the combination of the fairy-tale distancing from reality and the distancing from reality that is provided by Lance’s subjective perspective means that the objective reality is very uncertain. I’m not sure if that’s a deliberate choice; whether you’re making the (not unwarranted) assumption that your readers already know the ‘canon’, or even the fanon characterisations of both Lance and Justin. Reading it the first time, with minimal knowledge of this particular fandom, I was much more confused than when I re-read it later, with a better knowledge of the characterisations that are generally given to each of the boys.
The unremembered dream at the end is such a good device. It leaves that wistful taste in your mouth so clearly. VERY good example of showing what Lance is feeling without saying it in an overtly narratorial way, which is the risk you run both with a fairy-tale story and with the kind of segmented story that has a poignant line to finish each vignette. I think you pull it off well.
I’m not sure if I’m expressing myself very clearly here, and it is just myself who I am expressing – just my immediate impressions on reading this story, so if anything comes across as offensive or unclear, it’s probably not meant to be. Send me a line and I’ll try to clear up what it is that I actually meant, because I found this sotry very interesting. Unfortunately for me, the more interesting I find things, the more convoluted my thoughts on them tend to become.

[User Picture]From: proteinscollide
2004-11-24 09:25 am (UTC)
I don't know how I was so lucky to get two pieces of concrit, but thank you for this one. =)

I had big reservations when I first posted this one (wow, it's been over 2 years...) because it was my first piece of popslash, and yeah, as you noted, the canon/fanon lines are a bit diluted since I hadn't yet seen much canon material. But I've fixed that now! But yeah, at the time of writing the story, I didn't have a clear handle myself of what characterisations I ascribed to either of the guys.

some things are implied, or touched on which could afford to be driven home less subtly

I totally agree with you about this. I've had it pointed out to me before by other people (in other fics). In the case of the "I hate you" line, I actually meant for it to mean that Lance couldn't say it even if he could mean it. I don't think, emotionally, that he does hate Justin, but it sort of balances out the idea that even though they said "I love you", neither of them knew what it would mean in the long run. Er. So yes, definitely, I need to be less subtle (or really, obtuse).

Thanks for the nice words about the my style of writing; it is a bit formal, which doesn't always suit the fandom, but I do find it easier to write that way. I'm glad you liked the ending too, and that it worked for you, that wistfulness. It makes me happy to know that it conveyed what I wanted it too.

Anyway. I don't know if you still feel a little confused about the fic, since I didn't meant for there to be such a level of emotional disconnect, but this is what I originally meant for it to be about:
- the first, fluffier happier version of Cinderella is the perceived dream the boys have lived out (rags to riches and magic) and thus what Justin believes and conforms to in his solo career
- the second darker version of Cinderella is the one closer to reality, where the magic can come back to hurt people, which I guess is how Lance perceives the whole experience of being in the band and falling in love with Justin and having it end badly

Thanks again for the really lovely and interesting review. I hope I haven't bored you with my response either, and feel free to rebutt, etc. =)
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[User Picture]From: randomblade
2004-11-24 08:08 pm (UTC)
It was really my pleasure. I think that the strong ending meant that I left the fic not feeling confused about it at all, but re-reading it for the purpose of concrit drew my attention to the things that I mentioned which are all pretty much earlier in the fic. On the other hand, examining it so closely meant that though I noticed those rougher bits, I also got a better Idea of what you were saying elsewhere. I was really happy to review this fic.
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