charioteer

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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charioteer

25 Days of Writing: Day 12

12. Do you want your writing to be famous?

Let's face it: I write fan fiction for what mostly are very rare fandoms. By the standards of anyone into a megafandom, my stuff is scarcely read at all. And outside fandom, no fan fiction has any fame—well, unless it's had its serial numbers scrubbed off; and, even then, it pretty well has to be badly written BDSM smut. (I assume you know what THAT jaundiced remark refers to!)

Seriously, though, of course I would like my writing to be famous. (I'm only human.) It's just that my own definition of "famous" involves things like being found in libraries and taught in university courses. So I doubt if it will happen unless I finish some original fiction and get it published and it's critically well received. A fair few conditions there—and all dependent on the first, i.e. writing it.

Saving that, I think I'll settle for having those few who do read my stories enjoying them, commenting on them, and maybe even reccing them.

"Fame" in fandom tends to end in infamy, anyway. Who wants that?

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charioteer

25 Days of Writing: Day 11

11. What do you envy in other writers?

The ability to keep on going to the very end of some really long fic idea.

Novels are being written out there today: I've read several written by ardent Arrowverse authors. Mind you, I've also encountered more than a few bogged-down WIPs. But there are people who really do slog on to the very utter end of something that's 200+ K words long. And there's a fabulous comics-based Flash AU by enina that started in 2015, is already well over a million words, and still going.

Once upon a time, long long ago, I slogged my way all the way through a K/S pon farr novel which had, besides that, a main action plot and a subplot involving a set of junior crew members. I made myself write at least one page a day, every day. Longhand. It got written piecemeal; so there were big gaps between the scenes. If you can even call them scenes! Bitty wee bits. Eventually I typed the whole thing out, filled in the gaps, and revised it a few times. The first few months took a lot of determination; but, in the end, I got inspired to real speed and wrote several pages a day. I've never gone back to re-read it, and I dare say it isn't very good; but the point is that I did actually finish it.

Once upon a time, almost as long ago, I wrote an entire 22-episode virtual season. Initially, I was just doing "an episode" (and then another, and another); but I quite quickly got the idea of writing a full set. They, too, were written out of order. Eventually I had to decide how to organize the thing and fill in blanks. It took years.

Nowadays, I often find myself daunted approaching a gift exchange assignment that typically finishes up at a mere 3K or so. And it's not the fact that I'm writing to a prompt, either. What's depressing is the fact that I do still have a "big idea" or three; and I just can't get down to working on any of them really.

There is always something else to do. Witness the fact that I'm doing this instead of my [community profile] worldbuildingex assignment!

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charioteer

25 Days of Writing: Day 10

10. How would you describe your writing process?

Painful.

Well, not physically. But there are times when it feels like pulling teeth. Stories don't write themselves; and some of them are downright uncooperative. Yes, okay: drabbles and ficlets can be written very quickly. (Otherwise there's no point in bothering with something that short.) But the longer works! Aaargghhhhh!!!!

Oh, otherwise? Once upon a time I wrote longhand. Then I typed, and literally had to cut and paste alterations in using scissors and cellotape. Nowadays, I compose directly onto the computer.

Then I revise. The first revision is the one that really pulls things together. After that comes as much polishing as I have time for (given deadlines when I'm writing for a gift exchange). Even so, when I re-read my old stories, I often find typos that have eluded me. One advantage of posting on-line is the ability to correct them ... even years later. :)

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25 Days of Writing: Day 9

9. Are you more of a drabble or a longfic kind of writer? Pantser or plotter? Do you wish you were the other? Both, or neither?

I've not done much real longfic writing: novels and the like. However, I've written everything from drabbles to novellas. The shorter the fic, the more I pants it: inspiration goes straight to keyboard. Longer stories need plotting. This often takes place over weeks of thinking before I ever start writing.

Sometimes it happens through research: this is especially true for stories with a strong historical component. In such cases, I often wonder if I'm ever going to start to write; but actually what it means is that there's a period in which I'm taking in so much data that my brain needs time to synthesize it into worldbuilding before the plot can come.

Sometimes it happens through daydreaming: often I'll focus on critical scenes, going over and over them and working out what happens around them. At one time, I'd write those scenes first; but nowadays I usually go Humpty Dumpty style, i.e. start at the beginning and go on to the end and then stop. And then revise!

However, there are other times when the plotting is done section by section. This is especially true for the handful of longer things I've written. In that case, it's still done by thinking things out; but I only have a vague idea of how things are heading in the long run. The details of each section are worked out, it's written, and then I move on to the details of the next section. I do always know how it will end, though!

I don't write outlines. The planning is normally all done in my head. The only time I can recall ever working anything out on paper was the subplot flow for FK4; and that was done very near the end. Most of the virtual season was held entirely in my head over the years I took to write it. However, I should point out that each episode was written separately. It was only piecing it all together that needed a bit of pen and paper to make sure each subplot got ordered correctly across the episodes.

I'm basically pretty okay with how I plan (or don't plan) my stories. I just wish the actual writing came more easily.

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25 Days of Writing: Day 8

8. Is what you like to write the same as what you like to read?

Yes and no. I'd say that everything I like to write is included in the sorts of things I read. However, I read more widely than I write. When scanning the stories in a gift exchange collection, I'll take a look at fic for most fandoms where I'm familiar with the canon. I'll also take a quick look through the Original Fiction to see if anything tickles my fancy.

I read a lot more romance than I write, if only because such a high proportion of fan fiction includes at least some such scenes. I'm there for the plot, though—well, plot and characterization and worldbuilding. If I realize it's a PWP, I'll just back-button. Even with lovely plotty stories, I mostly skim fast over any smutty bits, because I find them boring.

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25 Days of Writing: Day 7

7. What do you think are the characteristics of your personal writing style? Would others agree?

Ooh, this is a tricky one. I've done a bit of an analysis of the first and last lines of some of my stories. (In 2019 it was just first lines; in 2019, it was both first and last lines.) I concluded that, in both cases, I had a tendency to write something short and snappy. As I put it, "They're designed to grab you fast and toss you on to the rest of the paragraph, wherein lies the real interest."

Beyond that, I would say that I tend to change my style depending on the story. For pastiche, of course, I try to simulate the style of the author. For historical fiction, I try for something with the sort of complex sentence structure of a Victorian novel. For casefic, I'm more likely to write choppy vivid sentences, such as one might find in a police procedural. But it's very much "horses for courses".

In this year's Snowflake Challenge, No. 12 was to do one of the old memes from LJ days. I picked the "I Write" meme, and applied it to some of my FK fic. This is what I reported:
There was a tendency for the stories with a cop-show feel to be compared to Stephen King, while the historical vampire ones got either Anne Rice or Arthur C. Clarke. Agatha Christie turned up a couple of times. However....

The story "En Vacances" is written from alternating perspectives in Paris and a hospital room in Toronto. It is supposed to have a certain enigmatic air about it. Even so, I was surprised when the Paris sections got ascribed variously to James Joyce, Margaret Atwood, Charles Dickens, Leo Tolstoy, and Cory Doctorow. And the hospital scenes were ascribed to James Fenimore Cooper, Vladimir Nabokov, Stephen King, Ian Fleming, Mark Twain, and Oscar Wilde.

Granted, some of the sections are fairly short. But the whole thing was written by just me; and it's all one story, too. (On my website and on AO3.)
I don't know about other people; but it would seem the "I Write" meme agrees that my style varies a lot.

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25 Days of Writing: Day 6

6. What character do you have the most fun writing?

In some ways I think I answered this already: as a Die-Hard, I don't play favourites. Of course, that applies particularly to my FK fic. However, a lot of what I write nowadays is giftfic in exchanges—and much of that is treats, which being motivated by intriguing prompts in rare fandoms that I've often never written in before, tend to be one-offs. So it's not so much specific characters that appeal to me as worldbuilding.

I'd have to say, though, that I am intrigued by the character of Leonard Snart. Not so much in the comics—though he was always one of my favourite Rogues in The Flash, especially in the early versions of the group. The iteration in the Arrowverse series, on the other hand, has a lot to offer a writer.

There's his "Captain Cold" persona, which is clearly a role he plays for effect. There's his backstory: how his childhood and youth shaped him into the man he becomes. There's the shift in characterization from the villain whom the Flash first fights, to the more complex man who decides to join the Legends, to the hero who sacrifices himself to save his friend, his crew, and time itself. And last, but far from least, if he is somehow saved and returned to the present day, there's the further evolution of his character going into the future.

A lot of potential for fic, in other words.

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25 Days of Writing: Day 5

5. What character that you're writing do you most identify with?

When I first joined FORKNI-L, people asked me what my faction was; and I always replied that, as someone who had written a virtual season, I don't play favourites since I have to be able to write all the characters. As far as that goes, I hold to it; but that didn't stop me from playing in three Forever Knight Wars as a Die-Hard. Then again, that's the faction for people who refuse to pick a faction.

My parents always told me that it's important to be able to see the other person's point of view. (Mind you, I think this was mostly because I was the eldest of three. If you have siblings, you know what I mean.) Nowadays, I'd say it's more like seeing all sides of a situation.

For example, I have to admit to a certain fellow feeling with Natalie. Her interest in researching Nick's condition from a medical perspective is one that I can identify with. Having said that, though, we are otherwise very different: she's a good "people person", and obviously interested in Nick romantically. The hours she works (and the fact that she's attracted to a guy who's a vampire!) make it more difficult; but I'd say her goals in life include marrying and having a family. In that respect, I don't identify with her at all.

You can say the same of pretty well all the characters in every fandom: to write them, one needs to be able to see their point of view; but I never really identify with them.

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25 Days of Writing: Day 4

4. Share a sentence or paragraph from your writing that you’re really proud of (explain why, if you like).

I found this one remarkably hard to do. It's not that there aren't things I've written that I'm proud of. However, they can't usually be pinned down a single line or so. They're more often longer passages that have a point to make, or sections of a story that took a lot of research. In the end, I picked this:
She cherished every memory. She had never wanted to move on. Yet still things slipped out of mind.

Photo albums had been her preserve. So a couple of the best pictures, blown up and framed, presided in the living room: one on the table by his armchair and the other on the mantelpiece. His face, never changing, never forgotten. Always dear. She had long since gone grey, but he never would.

And at first she could hear him in her head. With a dry comment, perhaps, as she watched the TV news. Or praising her cake, as he’d done so often (just before stealing a dollop of icing, and licking his finger with loud smacking appreciation). Now, though … now she woke, once in a while, from a dream that he was alive: amnesia for years perhaps, finally returned home. Yet, once her eyes were open, she could only remember that she had heard his voice and known it instantly.
It comes from "Festival of Festivals" (on AO3), which I wrote for [community profile] fkficfest in 2016. It was a remarkably difficult passage to write. I think I spent at least an hour over just those few words. Maybe more. My mother had died less than a year earlier; and it evoked all the loss I was still feeling.

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