Engineering Restraint
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When an artist in 19th Century London falls in love with the young nobleman who has commissioned a portrait, he must deny his feelings, or risk losing status, livelihood and even liberty by giving in to his forbidden sexuality.
1Part 1--The SetupIntroduce protagonist, hook the reader, and set up First Plot Point (foreshadowing, establishing stakes); major goal is establishing empathy (not necessarily likability) for the protagonist.
John resists accepting a portrait commission from Viscount Penrith because he's afraid that Penrith's attractiveness (and his flirtatious overtures) will release his carefully restrained sexuality. They are seen together, however, and society immediately begins gossiping about them. Gossip reaches John's family in Winchester and his sister tells him that their father is suspicious. This angers John enough to accept the commission out of pique. Penrith, meanwhile, has an ill-advised one night stand with ex-lover Charles, who shows signs of wanting more. Over several portrait sittings, John and Penrith become friends. Penrith openly wants more; John is still fighting his nature, but he gives in to his desire enough to create a provocative and telling portrait.
1107137500Ch 1-8
1.aOrdinary LIfe OpeningOpening scene or sequence of story; protagonist must be introduced within first 1-3 scenes.
Portrait artist John Waterfield has had a success with his portrait of Mrs Danforth, and is looking for a studio which he can now afford. Mrs Danforth, meanwhile, urges her good friend Viscount Penrith to have his own portrait done. Waterfield receives a peremptory summons from Lord Penrith, and consults his friend for information about him before deciding whether to accept the commission.
11113750Ch 1
1.bHook Moment 1%-5%
aka Coyne's Inciting Incident
Something that creates a question the reader wants an answer to or an itch that needs to be scratched; doesn't need context with protagonist's needs or stakes. Set premise, build dramatic tension
Waterfield and Penrith meet; Waterfield is so struck by Penrith's face and form--and so tempted by his request for a "scandalous" portrait--that the sexual nature he has long repressed begins to demand expression. Will he accept the commission, even though it will ruin his peace of mind? How long will he resist temptation?
12117500Ch 1
1.cInciting Incident 10%-18%*Optional* Game-changing event occurring during Part 1, often leading to a decision at the First Plot Point.
Rumor volat: After overhearing gossip about himself and Penrith in the street, John gets a letter from Meg saying that gossip linking him to Penrith in unsavoury ways has reached all the way to Winchester and their father. John reacts with anger and rebellion.
185129625Ch 4
1.dFirst Plot Point 20%-25%Primary conflict makes its initial appearance. The Answering-The-Call moment in the Hero's Journey. Antagonistic forces come fully into play, defining the goal, stakes, and obstacles for protagonist; first time the meaning and implications of antagonistic events are seen.
Option 1: John sees what Martin and Albert have, and realizes that he wants it for himself.
Option 2: John comes out to Tristan on Danebury Hill
Option 3: When Tristan is shot, John can't control his reaction (2 and 3 happen in the same scene)
861073000037500Ch 8
2Part 2--The ResponseThe protagonist's reaction to the new goal/stakes/obstacles revealed by the First Plot Point; the protagonist doesn't need to be heroic yet (retreats/regroups/doomed attempts/reminders of antagonistic forces at work).
John's fame increases with the completion of his masterful portrait. The excuse of sittings is over: he and Tristan begin a social friendship, and John's status increases as a result. In the whirl of London high society, John receives both crude bullying and invitations to stylish parties. A visit to his uncle and benefactor reveals that John is not the only gay man in the family, and John begins to want what Uncle Martin has. At a lavish country house party, John's strict standards loosen. When Penrith is accidentally shot, John allows his growing feelings for him to show. Society's censure is swift and immediate: his friend Grace, his twin sister Meg, his father, and even God seem to turn against him. Only those secretly-gay members of high society are willing to support him. Angry, defiant, and alone, John he goes to stay with Penrith at his remote country house, and they begin a sexual relationship.
2.aFirst Pinch Point 35%-38%Reminder that antagonist is still out there gunning for our hero. Not filtered by narrative or protagonist's description, but directly visible to the reader. Simple & quick, from POV of antagonistic force.
When Tristan is shot, John's reaction is disparaged by the men in the field. Alternatively, Tristan's butler at Ravensworth is seen to have religious suspicions about Tristan
16156250Ch 13
2.bMidpoint 50%New information or awareness that changes the experience or understanding of context for the protagonist and/or reader; a catalyst activating new decisions/actions.
John goes to Ravensworth in defiance of family & society, and the sexual relationship with Tristan begins. THE SIN IN JOHN'S HEART BECOMES A SIN IN THE FLESH.
21475000Ch 19
3Part 3--The AttackMidpoint information/awareness causes the protagonist to change course in how to approach the obstacles; the hero is now empowered with information on how to proceed, not merely reacting anymore; protagonist also ramps up battle with inner demons.
In the honeymoon phase, John and Tristan both become careless. The butler is reporting them to Lord Alston, whose main concern is for the family name. Charles, who has secretly followed Penrith to the country, finds erotic drawings and begins a long-range blackmail scheme, which Tristan keeps secret from John. When Charles threatens to expose not only Tristan's sodomy but his illegitimate birth, Lord Alston takes out a hit on Charles, and demands that Tristan marry and get an heir. When Tristan finally confesses the whole to John, John ends their relationship and, on Tristan's wedding-day, has a breakdown.
3.aSecond Pinch Point 62%-64%Reminder of the story's antagonistic forces, as the antagonist ups the game against the protagonist's attacks.
John creates the means for Charles to blackmail Tristan. Tristan's father or mother appears
3.bAll Is Lost Lull*Optional* A slower paced, all-hope-is-lost lull before the Second Plot Point.
Tristan's wedding, John's breakdown
3.cSecond Plot Point 75%-80%The final injection of new information into the story (doesn't need to be fully understood by the protagonist yet); protagonist's quest is accelerated.321112500151075
4Part 4--The ResolutionThe protagonist summons the courage and growth to come up with a solution, overcome inner obstacles, and conquer the antagonistic force; all new information must have been referenced, foreshadowed, or already in play (otherwise, deus ex machina).
John has fled the country and fetches up, sick and broken, in France. Tristan comes to his rescue and they make private vows to each other. They return to England to live outwardly acceptable lives. John's portraits are no longer commissioned by society's highest, but by its most eccentric. He marries, and eventually has two daughters and a son. The son dies in infancy; the family name will not be carried on after all. Tristan fathers a son and heir, and succeeds to the earldom. The two families interact awkwardly, and Society wins: John and Tristan can never live together or love openly. But they subvert Society's victory by remaining beloved friends throughout their lives.
4.aResolution Moments 95%-100%John and Tristan meet at Les Poiriers 20 years later, still in love. The epilogue takes them to the end of their lives.
Setting:London and rural England, c. 1819
Concept:What if two men with public lives meet & fall in love in a time when law and society prohibit same-sex love?
PremiseClergyman's son falls in love with nobleman, secrecy is necessary, blackmail ensues anyway, lovers must compromise
Face togetherexternal: Risk and danger of same-sex relationship, society's demands, blackmail
internal: True self-expression, daring to love
Separate sub-plots:
Johnexternal: Rebel against religion, upbringing
internal: True self-expression, love
Tristanexternal: A political career based on his title/privilege
internal: living up to his title and privilege, noblesse oblige, being a protector
Main Plot
Regular Life OpeningAll of London high society is discussing the arrival on the scene of the new portrait painter, John Waterfield. Waterfield, meanwhile, receives a summons from Viscount Penrith, who wants to commission a portrait.
Beginning HookWaterfield and Penrith meet; Penrith recognizes him as the artist who once drew his picture in a public house; Waterfield doesn't remember the occasion, but is so struck by Penrith's face and form--and so tempted by his request for a "scandalous" portrait, that the sexual nature he has long repressed begins to demand expression
Inciting IncidentRumor volat: John hears from Meg that even people back home are talking about him and Penrith
1st Plot PointTristan is shot and John, in shock, allows his feelings to show in front of others; society, his twin sister, his best friend, and even God all turn away from him
Pinch PointJohn goes to Ravensworth in defiance of all canons of propriety, and begins an intimate relationship with Tristan. The remoteness of the estate lulls them both into a false sense of security as they enjoy their idyll. John draws a series of erotic sketches of Tristan
Midpoint ShiftJealous ex-lover Charles gets hold of the sketches and begins blackmailing Tristan with them
Pinch PointTristan thinks he's thwarted Charles, but Charles has one more ace up his sleeve: he threatens to go to the press with the secret that Tristan's birth was illegitimate.
All Is Lost LullTo thwart his blackmailer and meet his father's ultimatum, Triistan is forced to marry, causing John to have a breakdown and flee the country
2nd Plot PointJohn, having joined "Normal society" by coming home and marrying Georgina, finally has a son to carry on the family name, but the child dies in infancy
ResolutionJohn & Tristan, in their 40s and with nearly-grown children and unsatisfactory marriages, get away together and reflect on their imperfect lives and their lasting love