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In 2013, after having been a fan of Captive Prince for a while, I decided to write a Captive Prince fic in November as an attempt at NaNoWriMo. I didn’t expect to write 50,000 words, but frankly told myself that even if I got 10,000 I’d be happy and far ahead of the writing I’d done in the years before that.

After about seventeen separate false starts and complete revisions, I ended up with An Arranged Marriage (posted 31 Dec 2013). It was somewhat inspired by the famous Captive Prince passage in Book 2 where Damen speculates on if he knew at nineteen what he knows in the present, whether he would have had the courage to ignore his father’s call to arms, seek out Auguste for common ground, and court Laurent. Except my thought was that it was far more likely Laurent make that type of plan than Damen, so the story begins with Laurent sneaking into Damen’s tent to find common ground.

I told a friend of mine that my goal in 2014 was to write twice as much Captive Prince fic as I had written in 2013.

After moping for a solid two weeks thinking that I had zero other ideas of Captive Prince stories (a perpetual trap I fall into, I’m in it right now!), I decided to do more with an idea that I had abandoned during the writing of An Arranged Marriage, which was the notion that Damen doesn’t think that Laurent likes him very much because Laurent keeps avoiding him, and he needs to be clued in by Auguste that Laurent wants to be chased. It all came together well with the conceit of a garden maze, which felt very Veretian to me. And I had been recently rereading the portion of Book 2 where Laurent and Damen are trapped in an inn and then Damen just pulls the bars off of the window. I felt that was a similar moment to the one where Damen just bursts through the maze wall. Laurent doesn’t anticipate that type of blunt action, but is pleasantly surprised by it nonetheless. So all of that became A Maze in the Garden (posted 19 Jan 2014).

One thing I was pondering when I wrote both A Maze in the Garden and my next CP fic, The Arena (published 25 Jan 2014), was the idea of Laurent being frightened. It was (and is) kind of a personal kink of mine, and I was trying ideas of scenarios in my head that might lead to him being afraid. None of them really worked! I still think about this occasionally but I’m really no further toward how to do it.

I don’t have much else to say on The Arena. It is the product of thinking about how Laurent might be afraid and watching too many documentaries about the coliseum. I’ve periodically contemplated a sequel to it (spoilers for the first fic so skim ahead if you haven’t read yet) where Laurent and Damen continue on their adventure across the desert after their escape. I wanted Damen to fight a lion. However, besides the idea of Damen fighting a lion, the only other scene I had in mind was Damen and Laurent sitting down together at the fire post lion fight, and Damen is feeling sort of warmly toward Laurent, because they just escaped! And he saved Laurent from a lion! And then Laurent says, “I hate you.” And Damen is suddenly all on pins and needles, and he says, “Because of what happened in the arena?” because he feels less comfortable with the sex and deception involved in their initial arena encounter than Laurent does, and Laurent hasn’t given that a second thought, and he’s like, “What? No, because you killed my brother.” Because Laurent actually knows who Damen is.

However, it’s very hard to write Damen and Laurent on the run together! (I learned this later in the year writing Escape.) So now the lion-fighting story has even less appeal for me, and I still haven’t come up with any additional plot.

Anyway, at this point I rejoiced to my friend that I had succeeded in January at my 2014 goal, because by having posted 2 Captive Prince fics I’d doubled my output from 2013. She said that I should measure by word count, not by number of fics. I was like, oh no, because An Arranged Marriage was long, and that meant I still had a ways to go. But since it was still only January I figured that was reasonable and agreed to increase my goal.

One of the scenes in canon that has had a powerful impact on me is when Laurent hands Damen the knife and they agree that Damen isn’t going to use it in the present, but that when Laurent’s border duty is over things might fall out between them as they will. Laurent says that he knows what it is to want to kill a man and to wait, and the reader is all -- does he mean Damen? Except he tried to kill him early on with the beating. Or the Regent? Both? There are so many men Laurent seems to be waiting to kill! And my earlier fics were all AUs, so I didn’t have to take a position specifically on whether Laurent knows who Damen is. The reveal of Damen’s identity is another moment that I suspect all CP fic writers toy with. So all of this culminated in: An Unfair Fight (published 1 Feb 2014).

One question that many CP fic writers ask is, “What if Laurent were the slave?” This led me to Revenge (published 17 Feb 2014). I owe a great deal to lettered for talking through this one with me and helping me with the planning. Despite her able assistance, it’s not one of my favorites of my own stories. I was frustrated with the conceit of the story placing Damen and Laurent apart. I would like to write another Laurent-as-slave story someday, but I’m still pondering exactly what I’d want to get out of it.

I’m not sure exactly where or when the idea of Laurent fostered in Akielos came to me, though it was a bit lower on my personal priority list and I owe actually getting started with it to lettered’s enthusiasm for the concept. So in February and March I wrote that series of vignettes about young Laurent in the Akielon court:

Sent Away (published 20 Feb 2014)
Ran Away (published 21 Feb 2014)
Scared Away (published 22 Feb 2014)
Stay Away (published 1 March 2014)
Called Away (published 9 March 2014)

I remembered posting this how exciting it is to post things as they are written (the vignettes can stand somewhat independently but I was writing them as I went along) and to have everyone’s enthusiasm bolster your energy to write the next portion.

I’d been working prior to the vignettes even on a sequel to Maze in the Garden, and again, I owe a huge thanks to lettered for her assistance with planning and talking me through how the story would work. The sequel ended up titled The Prince and the Beekeeper (published 27 March 2014).

Geneva generously wrote a comment on the story that it was complicated and she wasn’t always sure she understood, which I think is a spot-on diagnosis of some of the problems with this story. I struggled a ton with Laurent point of view. The challenge is that we believe as readers that Laurent is always observing and always thinking, so a story from his point of view has to show this. He has to notice things and slot them into place. Writing that persuasively requires a degree of world-building that is challenging. If a courtier slights another with a jab through ignoring one of the social norms of the day, the reader isn’t necessarily going to observe that directly, yet it seems out of keeping for Laurent’s point of view to note his own social norms too much. Damen’s POV in Vere is easier since he’s a stranger so he can observe things about Vere that help the reader with perspective.

However, even more challenging about Laurent point of view is that even though he is always thinking, he’s not very in touch with his own feelings. He doesn’t seem to acknowledge to himself how he feels (he’s not likely to be thinking, Damen made me angry just now!), nor does he attribute actions that the reader might read as emotionally motivated as due to his own feelings. In his own mind, he’s likely to attribute different causes.

This all culminates in being very hard to write. I struggled with it in The Prince and the Beekeeper and I think Laurent reads as being indecisive and bipolar. So after that I swore off Laurent POV.

Retaking Ios (published 13 April 2014) was written and posted relatively quickly. It was originally going to combine two ideas, one about Damen returning to Ios and another about Laurent and his motivations for refusing to perform fellatio. But the mood didn’t work for the second part, and I eventually just left it with the first part and posted.

My next story was the first that I posted in pieces that didn’t stand alone! When I started posting it I had very little idea what the end would bring so it was a giant risk, but I wanted the motivation of readers to carry me through. The story, Three Pieces of Advice (published 14 through 23 May 2014) turned out to be very popular.

Most of the ideas of Three Pieces of Advice and actually several of the early chapters were taken from an earlier draft of An Arranged Marriage. Instead of the battlefield of the beginning of An Arranged Marriage, earlier drafts envisioned a Field of the Cloth of Gold-type meeting. And while Damen’s father is alive in An Arranged Marriage, I had earlier drafts that began with his death and advice to Damen. So those discarded early drafts became a different story.

To me, Three Pieces of Advice is notable because of how much I didn’t know when I was writing it, and yet how coherent it seems in retrospect. For example, when I started, I thought the Regent was dead and Auguste would be alive, but in hindsight that would have ruined much of the drama.

Three Pieces of Advice ended with some things I wanted still unaccomplished -- mainly I wanted a melt-down scene where Laurent told Damen, “You’re just like him!” So I had to write an entire 10,000 word sequel to get that: In Need of Advice (published 1 June through 2 July 2014).

For more details that probably no one cares about -- I care way too much about historical veracity in setting in the most ridiculous ways than really anyone else would think. For example, it distinctly bothered me that in A Maze in the Garden I wanted a porcupine in the menagerie because porcupines are American and the setting is European. Sometimes I just have to get over these things.

But anyway, my settings were turning more French, and more late medieval/Renaissance, simply because those were the time periods I was familiar with. I was starting to feel that I wasn’t being fair to Akielon culture since I didn’t know as much about ancient Greece. So I read a book on Greek history right before writing this fic, and the book reminded me of the important role of the theater, so theatrical performances became a central concept in the fic.

In late July, I wrote Dreams and Waking (published 27 July 2014), which showed me starting to think more about the Vaskians, who recur in a few more stories once they were on my mind.

For a long time I’d thought about writing a story set during Book 1. This eventually became The Offer, but back in August I was still pondering the idea. One of the concepts I had was Damen escaping from Arles and running away, but that didn’t turn out to be that interesting. If Damen escaped successfully then he and Laurent were separated, which was not interesting to me. If Damen was recaptured by Laurent, then we were back to the canon plotlines of Book 1 and I wasn’t sure what to put in my fic.

Around that same time, I saw a list of fic tropes, and one of the ones on the list was amnesia, and I was reminded how much I love the amnesia trope. It struck me immediately that I wanted Laurent with amnesia. How much of how he acts is innate versus how much is what he knows and is doing deliberately? I still want 29304823423 fics with this premise. Laurent with amnesia worked conveniently with my half-developed idea of Damen escaping, and that became Escape (published 30 July through 20 September 2014).

I wrote earlier that I had sworn off Laurent point-of-view. I convinced myself that it would be okay for this fic because Laurent had amnesia. Ha! That was completely wrong, and it was just as hard this second time. I have the greatest respect for those who write Laurent POV but after Escape I swore it off again, only to break that resolution for Yuletide.

I have to give credit to my friend for making Escape infinitely more interesting by suggesting that Laurent encounter the Regent. That had not been part of my original plan, but their brushes with the Regent are some of the most interesting parts of the story so she definitely saved it there!

Shortly after finishing Escape, I posted Thirty Lashes (published 24 Sept 2014), which was a Captive Prince hurt/comfort story.

I mentioned that over the summer I’d been pondering a story set during Book 1. With some amazing plot help from petrichoral, that eventually became The Offer (published 25 October through 19 November 2014). The primary motivation of this story was that I wanted scenes of Damen, Laurent, and Nicaise sort of forced into close proximity and all annoying each other in hilarious ways. I went back and forth on whether I should just do a bunch of vignettes of them hanging out in a lighthearted way, or whether I had a whole plot of scheming against the Regent, or whether those could both fit into the same story or not. Petrichoral was invaluable in assisting me with my plot struggles throughout.

By this point I’d clearly surpassed my initial 2014 goal of twice as much Captive Prince fic as 2013, whether you measure by number of fics or by word count. In fact, over the summer I’d set a new goal of posting >100,000 words of Captive Prince fic in 2014, and I’d already exceeded that and was thinking perhaps I could approach 150,000 words by the end of the year.

So my goal toward the the end of the year was to try to write as many Captive Prince Yuletide treats as I could.

Two ideas that came to me didn’t quite work for requests I’d originally envisioned them for, and I just went ahead and posted them in the meantime:

Seven Daughters (published 23 Nov 2014)
The Portrait (published 11 Dec 2014)

And other ideas did turn in to Yuletide treats:

For ourobors, thanks to Brigdh for beta: The Jacket
For pluvial_poetry, thanks to Brigdh for beta: A Game of Pretend
For cathalin: Just Talk

Yuletide was a fun time for Captive Prince in general since there were several fun requests and then a number of wonderful stories that were posted in a fandom that doesn’t have a lot of fic overall.

So overall, my 2014 count is:

22 Captive Prince works
138,828 words posted

By any measure, that far exceeds what I ever thought I’d accomplish in 2014 and I’m so excited to have done so much writing and found so many friends in the Captive Prince fandom.

I hope to be similarly inspired in 2015, but I’m not sure I can match that level of energy! If anyone is interesting in talking about Captive Prince, trading ideas, or needs a writing buddy, please let me know, as evidenced by this post, I could talk about this all day. :)
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