charioteer

25 Days of Writing: Day 25

25. What part of writing is the most fun?

And so we come, albeit belatedly, to the end of the meme. Its "25 Days" have spread over more than a month. But all good things....

Fun? Given the "pulling teeth" (occasionally hen's teeth!) aspect of writing, I'd have to say that the most fun is going back afterwards and reading what I've written.

I don't mean editing, which is really part of the writing process. Nor do I mean the repetitious rereading required for polishing, which is a compulsive process that continues for several days—if not weeks—after a story is posted. Call that the necessity of self-beta'ing: time is needed to gain perspective. I can go back weeks later and spot not only typos but places where the story could be tightened up. Even plot holes. If it won't be too obvious, I'll tweak. Posting on line does have advantages over print.

No, I'm talking about going back much later. Years, like as not. And then you look at what you wrote with wonder that the words actually came from your own brain. So coherent! So pertinent! So insightful! So true to character!

Well, sometimes. ;)

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25 Days of Writing: Day 24

24. Would you say your writing has changed over time?

I like to think my writing has improved! Seriously, though, the obvious change is that a major part of my early writing was in the form of scripts (or a modification thereof) whereas now I write prose.

I think one consequence of the way I modified the script format so that I effectively transcribed what one would see on screen (i.e. with all the camera angles and edits) is that I had to learn how to visualize action. It wasn't easy, either! I could hear the voices quite easily. All I had to do was put the characters together, give them a bit of a nudge, and write down what they said. After that, of course, I had to go back and clean it up by removing ums and ahs and digressions; but that's pretty straighforward. However, I had great difficulty seeing things in my head.

Nevertheless, this was necessary, not only so that I could write out the larger things, such as car chases and fight scenes (which were relatively rare) but how people moved around the sets (which they do all the time). I also had to add in the small stuff you see on screen that is added by the actors in performance—the so-called "actor's business", in which they bring the part to life with such petty details as picking something up, scratching their nose, or shifting in their seat. As a result, I'm a bit better now at adding such things into prose fiction as well. Usually I do it as I revise the story. It helps me fatten up the bare dialogue.

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25 Days of Writing: Day 23

23. What’s the story idea you’ve had in your head for the longest?

Back around 2006, I got an idea for a long Alias Smith and Jones story that would tell the early history of the characters. By the time I'd written Chapter Two (at which point they were still kids), I'd already decided to scratch off the serial numbers. I'd come to the conclusion that I didn't want to be bound by the hints in canon, but preferred to create my own story. So I renamed the two protagonists, did a fair amount of library research into the early American West, and figured it would finish up a full length novel if I put into it all I envisioned.

Well, what can I say? I got as far as Chapter Eight, plus doing the final chapter. Then the AS&J message boards where I'd been lurking suddenly closed; and shortly thereafter I discovered maryrenaultfics, which, at that time, was a very active community just about to start a major meta discussion. Between that and FORKNI-L, which was also active back then, I somehow lost the impetus to forge on.

So The History of Hadrian Deane wound up abandoned.

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25 Days of Writing: Day 22

22. Do you reread your old works? How do you feel about them?

Not the very oldest, which are in a box somewhere. And it's been a while since I've dipped into my virtual season or my war!fic. However, I do go back and reread my old stories—not all of them, but at least some. How do I feel about them? It's hard to believe sometimes that I actually wrote them: that I managed somehow to pry out the words and phrases and get them reasonably right. I look on my handiwork and see it is good—and it's downright astonishing.

In case you are curious, these are ones I probably reread the most. Most of these are longer works, which is not to say that I don't now and then browse through the ficlets. I also check my more recent stories; but that's partly a matter of belated polishing. Not that I don't find typos, even sometimes after years!



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25 Days of Writing: Day 18

18. Do any of your stories have alternative versions? (plotlines that you abandoned, AUs of your own work, different characterisations?) Tell us about them.

No, not really. When I was writing FK4, since it was designed as a virtual season, each "transcription" had to be the same length as an actual episode would be (if it had been filmed, that is, which obviously they weren't). Often this meant that I had to cut scenes to fit the time; and, as the plot had to remain intact, it was character bits that got snipped. However, I always saved them as separate files; and most of them got worked into episodes that I wrote later. So one could hardly say they were "abandoned".

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25 Days of Writing: Day 17

17. Do you think readers perceive your work - or you - differently to you? What do you think would surprise your readers about your writing or your motivations?

Readers? I don't know. Most comments I get seem reasonably to the point.

Non-readers, definitely. Quite a few people who make anonymous comments on [community profile] fail_fandomanon (FFA) seem to think that I was the person who wrote a problematic Dragonriders of Pern story ("Queen") that was written for Yuletide in 2011. This assumption has been dragged up off and on for years. It's irritating because, although "Queen" has a cute ending, it's not really all that good a story. Fortunately, it's fairly clear from other FFA posts that people who have actually read my fanfic don't believe the canard, basically on the grounds that I'm a better writer than that. (Thank you!!!) Gossip, right? It can be a pain.

I think most fan writers feel there's never enough feedback. Current FK writers owe a debt of thanks to [personal profile] brightknightie for, as the mod of [community profile] fkficfest, she encourages comments and always herself responds at length; and people do follow suit. Of course, one would always like more comments on all one's fic in every fandom! Comments are gold.

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25 Days of Writing: Day 16

16. Tried anything new with your writing lately? (style, POV, genre, fandom?)

In one sense, obviously. Whenever I do the Yuletide gift exchange I do treats; and these are often for fandoms I've never written in before. On the other hand, I've been doing Yuletide since 2011; so that part not's new. This year, I wrote stories for Diana Wynne Jones's Eight Days of Luke ("Embers") and Josephine Tey's Alan Grant detective series ("Queue for Exit"). I've seen requests for the latter each year for quite a while; and each year I've put it on my "long list" of potential treats. But it was only this past year that a plot bunny finally poked up. It's not the first time a story has come to me in such a belated fashion; and the probability is high that I'll never write in either fandom again.

Basically, I don't think I've done anything particularly innovative lately. Same old, same old.

This is not necessarily a bad thing!

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25 Days of Writing: Day 15

15. Which is harder: titles or summaries (or tags)?

Oh, summaries. Definitely. Sometimes even a single, rather uninspired sentence is difficult. I don't want to give away too much, especially if it's a plotty sort of story. At the same time, I don't care for the common fallback of just quoting the first few lines. Especially given that my first lines are often short and snappy, but not very informative.

Tags are hard, too.

Not the character tags: they're straightforward. But the freeforms can be tough to decide on. The one that's easy is "canon-divergent AU": if it is, then that certainly needs to go in. If the story is heavily derived from a particular episode, then I cite that. Otherwise, I guess I may mention things like "historical" and "canon-derived", if they apply. Mostly, though, I don't use a lot of freeforms.

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25 Days of Writing: Day 14

14. At what point in writing do you come up with a title?

Usually, the name comes to me fairly soon. Occasionally before I even start writing! (There's a plot bunny named "Summit Blues" that has not a single word to its name.) Mind you, that's pretty rare; but it is true that, if I don't have a title to hang on the fic, I find it hard to get down to writing. Sometimes that means I use a working title, and hope that something better will eventually occur to me. Most of the time it does. If not, then somewhere towards the end I will start googling for quotations, quips, or sayings that have some relation with the theme or subject of the story in the hope that one will hit the spot. Normally, I find something in under an hour. And that's only if I have to go hunting.

It's rare for me to post a story and then alter the title; but it did happen recently. I wrote a M*A*S*H story in which BJ got a tin of peanut butter cookies from his wife, leading to some slice-of-life banter involving Hawkeye and Frank Burns. I initially gave it the title, "The Peanut Gallery"; but, at the last minute, I whipped in and altered it to "The Peanut Butter Gallery".

There was one multi-part story, though, that never did get its proper name. It was written piecemeal in response to a prompt on maryrenaultfics: "apple". As I couldn't think of a title, I simply referred to it as "my applefic". I did this so long that, when it came time to collect all the ficlets together, I couldn't think of it in any other way. So "Applefic" it remains to this day.

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25 Days of Writing: Day 13

13. Do you share your writing online? (Drop a link!) Do you have projects you’ve kept just for yourself?

Most of my stories are on the Archive of Our Own and my own website. However, there are two groups of things that are on my website but not on AO3: my virtual season and my war!fic.

In the case of the war posts, it's partly because it would mean little to someone who was not on the FK mailing lists, and partly because—even if you are a Forever Knight fan—you'd need the rest of the War to really get what's going on. I fought in Wars 13, 14, and 15, as well as writing a couple of ficlets set in the war!verse.

In the case of the virtual season, it's a matter of formatting. Actually that's the reason I have a website at all. I wrote FK4 in a modification of full script format. Trying to adapt that into text in order to post to the mailing list proved so much of a nuisance that it was actually easier to learn HTML. (Plus, of course, it afforded the chance to do pretty things with webpage design. The actual episodes were uploaded as zipped Word files, each linked to its own title page.) AO3 also has formatting constraints; and, although I did essay the translation of the first two episodes into a form acceptable to AO3's server, in the end I never bothered to do any more of them. So FK4 is on my website.

There are things that aren't on line. These include a few things written once-upon-a-time long-long-ago, i.e. my old K/S Star Trek novel and five or six Next Gen scripts. Also an unfinished novel that started out as Alias Smith and Jones fanfic, but had the serial numbers scratched off before I'd even finished Chapter Two. I only got eight chapters in, plus the final chapter.

Wow! I'm more than halfway through this already!

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