chekov

The last of the writing meme

blackxlupin asked three questions.

What aspect of your writing do you think has most improved since you started writing?
I've gotten much better at expanding my stories and managing the writing process for longer works. I'd been lurking in fandom for six years when I finally started writing in the summer of 2009. Writing fic was something I'd never thought I could do, and I was terrified that the ability would disappear as quickly as it had arrived. My priority was finishing stories, not expanding them to their fullest potential. When I started to explore longer narratives, I struggled to keep them organized. I'd always written scenes in whatever order they occurred to me, which was fine for a 3,000 or 5,000 word story. When I was trying to write 10,000+ words, I'd end up with a disorganized mess. Dating Older Men and Other Adventures in Growing Up took more than a year to complete because I didn't know how to organize my writing process. Writing longer stories is still time consuming, but I rarely get miserably stuck the way I used to.

If you could give your fledgling author self any advice, what would it be?
Just chill. People won't unfriend you if you don't have a brand new story every week. Abilities don't mysteriously vanish overnight, so you don't need to worry that you'll wake up one morning and not know how to write anymore.

I really admire the way you use theme in stories. Is it something you start out with consciously, like, "I want to write a story about guilt/loneliness/...", or is it more Stephen King-like, where you write a first draft and then see the potential for theme and work to develop it in the second draft?
This is an extremely flattering question! To be perfectly honest, I had no idea that so many of my stories had a theme at all. I can think of a couple explanations. One is that I'm very conscious of the idea of emotional resonance -- that a story needs to have an emotional hook that ordinary people can relate to, even when the characters are having wacky adventures in space or fighting evil super villains. When I wrote The Proper Treatment of Sexorexia way back in 2009, I remember really worrying about how I would make Gaila a sympathetic character. Even though it's mostly a comedy about awkward roommates at Starfleet Academy, I also wrote about homesickness and culture shock because I think a lot of us have been through that.

I also suspect that the stories that have strong themes are the ones I've written to tell myself something I need to hear. My mom is an alcoholic, and I spent most of my adolescence and a lot of my adulthood grappling with her addiction. I've written a lot of stories about people learning to make it on their own, and quite a few about people working out tricky situations with their families. I wrote When We Used to Be Friends after my mom refused to celebrate my thirty-third birthday, and I need to write something totally honest about what it's like to grow up with an alcoholic. In January of this year, I realized that my mom is too toxic to have in my life, and I immediately started writing a story for myself about someone moving on with a chosen family. We'll All Float On Okay is about Leia getting close to Rey, but it's actually about me giving myself permission to let go of my mom and focus on my friends instead. Burn My Past to the Ground (The Epistolary Remix) is much more explicitly about my life, because it's about Veronica dealing with the fact that her mom might as well be dead, but there's not a funeral or a socially-sanctioned grieving process for when you have to cut a relative out of your life. That one ends basically the same way as "We'll All Float on Okay," which is the affirmation that you really can choose your own family.
Carter: Peggy gun

More of the getting to know your author meme

Nothing weirds me out quite like checking my profile and finding that LJ ranking is in the top 100. I don't really even understand what that means, except that if I am among LJ's 100 most active users, this site is well and truly fucked. I've been poking around imzy and my cautious verdict is that I like it. I have invitations to spare if anybody wants one.

Onward to the questions from inkvoices and lokifan.

Are there any stories you're holding off on writing for some reason?
Ugh. Yes. I still really want to write a story where Leia confronts Kylo Ren, but it would definitely be the most ambitious thing I've ever written. I also broke my rule about either outlining or writing the scenes in order, so I have tons of random scraps -- and they are beautiful and I love them, but I'm completely baffled by how I thought they fit together. Then I thought it would help if I wrote a prequel about Leia and Ben. It was supposed to be a set of 500 word ficlets for every few years of Ben's life, but it quickly got out of hand. Now there are 7,000 words and Ben is only four, and I haven't looked at it in a month because I don't know what to do with it.

When it comes to more complicated narratives, how do you keep track of outlines, characters, development, timeline, etc.?
See above. After some disastrous attempts at longer stories, I learned that I absolutely must outline or write the scenes in the order from beginning to end. Sometimes I just sketch out the scenes rather than writing full drafts, but no matter how tempting it is, I do not skip around unless a clear plot outline is already done. Actually, although it's not readily apparent, a lot of my longer stories start out as 5+1 fics. I got into that habit a couple years ago when I was struggling with writer's block, because I could usually pound out five little ficlets even when the big stories couldn't get done. Eventually, I started thinking of the "five things" as more of a plot outline, and the structure dissolved into a more traditional narrative. We'll All Float on Okay, the Leia & Rey story I wrote, actually started off as a 5+1 fic and then turned into a normal story.

Were there any works you read that affected you so much that it influenced your writing style? what were they?
On Writing by Stephen King remains one of the most influential books I've ever read (which is ironic, since I don't actually like Stephen King's books). The last section of the book is about how he almost died in a hit-and-run accident, and the prose was so spare and haunting. Not one word was wasted, and I knew instantly that was the writer I wanted to be. Also, although it's not a book, Buffy the Vampire Slayer was hugely influential. Hating on Joss is fashionable now, but I'll never be able to climb aboard that bandwagon because I feel like I owe some of my best writing habits to him. In the DVD commentaries to Buffy and Firefly, he talked a lot about emotional resonance. When you're writing something funny, you still need something to give your story emotional weight; and when you're writing about wacky things like vampires and spaceships, you still need to ground your story in every day concerns that people can relate to. Seeing the huge variety of female characters on Buffy and Firefly also taught me that true empowerment doesn't come from "strong" women; it comes from showing lots of different kinds of women who are strong and weak in different ways. I dearly hope that I've done the same in my writing.
B99: amy

Get to Know Your Author Answers

megan_moonlight asked three questions.

What, if anything, do you do for inspiration?
Comment fic memes have always been my best source of inspiration, and I miss them horribly now that livejournal is mostly dead. I browse kink memes sometimes, but it can be really hit and miss for me since I'm not a kinky writer. The Daredevil one is really friendly to genfic and low-rated het, which is 90% of my writing, but I haven't found a similar space for other fandoms.

What is your biggest weakness as an author?
Probably that I argue with myself too much, and that can make the plot overly complicated. Telling a plausible narrative is really important to me, and I also coach debate, so my mind is programmed to look for reasons why a story doesn't work. Sometimes that helps me build credible stories, but sometimes it tempts me to over-explain stuff that the audience would be quite willing to believe.

Do you write in long sit-down sessions or little spurts?
It really depends on what I have time for. My preference is long sessions, but during the school year, it's almost impossible, so I have to do whatever I can with the time I have.

favorite characters and writing strengthsCollapse )
true blood: sookie sunglasses

True Blood prompts wanted

My binge watching left me with a hankering to write ficlets, and searching old comment fic fests for prompts is a ridiculous waste of energy. Prompt me please! Any characters or pairings welcome, but I am so not the girl to write the Eric/Bill slash of your dreams.
avengers: darcy approves

I wanna do bad things to you

Last night I stayed up till 3 a.m. to finish my month-long binge watch of all seven seasons of True Blood, and I'm really sad it's over. I mean, it was not a perfect show, but it was one of those shows that made me not care about how imperfect it was, you know? It was like Buffy for grown-ups, where half the conflicts are about vampires and the other half are about normal life stuff, like dating and having a job and paying bills. Unlike Buffy, the vampires aren't the enemy: they've come "out of the coffin" and revealed themselves to the rest of America, and now they're trying to live normal lives amid prejudiced communities. What I really loved about it was how well they recreated small town life. Watching it made me feel like I was back in my childhood hometown, surrounded by the exact people I grew up with.

I was also intrigued by how similar the story arc and the quality of each season mirrored Buffy.

+Seasons 1-3: Pretty much perfect. Large yet balanced ensemble cast. Adorable and slightly campy horror stories with lots of real-life conflict mixed in.

+Season 4: Hm, I still like these characters but the Big Bad is kinda weird and plot cannot withstand close scrutiny.

+Season 5: I love these characters! There's some really high-quality angst here! I'm just going to pretend that the Big Bad is not some kind of deranged god.

+Season 6-7: Wow, this show got really depressing all the sudden. Must we always say goodbye to our favorite series by destroying EVERYTHING and EVERYONE?

Also, guys, this show is basically soft core vampire porn with many beautiful naked people having sex in creative positions. Honestly, it was worth watching for that alone.

I had issues with the series finaleCollapse )
chekov

Based on a true story

illariy asked me if any of my stories are based on obscure experiences from my life. The answer to that question is almost all of the good ones. "Write what you know" is actually my favorite writing advice. A lot of people misconstrue that as "write only what you know," but I think that's missing the point. Of course none of us have ever had superpowers or defeated a galactic empire, and I've never had a child but I think my stories about Laura Barton are pretty damn good. The point, though, is that our lived experiences can give truth to the words we write, in tiny every day details and our characters' emotional realities.

stories about New YorkCollapse )

stories about travelCollapse )

stories about culture shockCollapse )

There could be a whole other post of stories I've written about being the child of an alcoholic, but that's for another day.
hp: hermione fifty points

Answers to the Getting to Know Your Writer Meme

For alphaflyer

Character you were most surprised to end up writing? I'm not sure, since I always end up writing for random obscure characters in most of my fandoms. Here's an Horace Slughorn, Seamus Finnigan, and Pansy Parkinson for example, and here's a random one I wrote about Valeris from Star Trek: The Undiscovered Country.

When asked, are you embarrassed or enthusiastic to tell people you write?
I think I've only ever told two people IRL that I write fan fiction. It's not embarrassment exactly - it's more that I share so much of my life with my students and my coworkers that I really, really like having one thing that's just for me.

What do you think when you look over your older work?
This is an interesting question! A lot of the time, I think about where I was and what was happening in my life when I wrote the story. The memories are very detailed, down to where I was sitting while I wrote. Like, I know Lucky in This Life was the first story I wrote in my new house, and I remember sitting on the bed to type because I didn't have a sofa yet. I pounded out The Difference Between a Tool and a Monster in Starbuck's while I was waiting for the state debate tournament awards assembly. I remember how blessedly relieved I felt to have finally had some time to myself for the first time that week. Regardless of the stylistic issues I notice when I re-read old stories, it's fun to have a time capsule back to these random, specific moments in my life.

As far as the quality, I'm mostly happy even with my older stories. I can't tell you objectively whether they're "good" or not, but since I've always written stories I want to read, I like them. Sometimes I notice issues, especially with formatting, and I wish I'd expanded on some stories more. Ultimately, though, I'm happy when I notice that my older stories aren't as good as my newer ones. It would be so depressing if my writing hadn't progressed since 2009!
vmars: veronica marshmellow

Veronica Mars Fic: Burn My Past To the Ground (The Epistolary Remix)

This is the treat I wrote for FemmeRemix. Of the four remixes I wrote last month, this is the one I'm most proud of in terms of remix technique. The original story -- And Your Mother Too by Zhailei -- is a straight narrative with some Veronica "voice overs" thrown in. I used a few sections of those voice overs (plus some of my own) to create a letter Veronica might write to her mother, and wove scenes from the original story in between them. In the process, the tone shifted from hopeful to more cynical, which is how basically all of my VM fic ends up. Unfortunately, I don't think my remixee liked it very much, but remix isn't a gift exchange, so I guess that's okay.

Title: Burn My Past to the Ground (The Epistolary Remix)
Rating: Teen
Characters: Veronica, Logan, Wallace, Mac, Sheriff Lamb, Dick Casablancas
Summary: The person Veronica had called Mom was gone, just as surely as if she'd died, but there was no tombstone to visit and no one to mourn her loss. The day before she leaves for Stanford, Veronica finds a way to say goodbye.
Word Count: 2,000
avengers: maria hill

MCU Fic: The Dating Rituals of Superheroes (The Role Reversal Remix)

This is a remix of geckoholic's lovely story The Moon Don't Hang Quite As High. In her original, Sam is the POV character who's unsuccessfully pursuing Maria. In my remix, Maria is the POV character who's struggling to ask Sam out. Competent people feeling out of their depth is one of my favorite themes, so I enjoyed exploring a Maria Hill who has her career 100% under control but isn't sure what to do when she actually really likes a guy.

Title: The Dating Rituals of Superheroes (The Role Reversal Remix)
Rating: Teen
Characters/Pairings: Maria Hill/Sam Wilson, Natasha Romanov
Summary: In hindsight, when Maria asked Sam out, she shouldn’t have brought flowers or aimed for the traditional dinner invitation. After her first attempt failed, she shouldn’t have enlisted Natasha as a matchmaker.
Notes: Based on The Moon Don't Hang Quite As High by geckoholic
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