#I’ve started the novel for fic-writing purposes. researching this on top of all the articles I’m collecting for winter begonia
Here we go again...
This looked like fun. Hijacked from the amazing @the-random-fandom-one, so the actual title of this should be “@dammittmarie, you made me do another survey!”
Reblog with your answers! I want to get more communication going in the writing community here. Answer one, answer some! Answer whatever you want to!
1. What was the first character you ever created?
I’ve been writing stories since I could pick up a writing utensil. I think the first character I ever really put a ton of thought into, though, was this character I played in an MMORPG during undergrad. Her name was Lindarian, and her past was tragic: the half-elven child of an illegal union between a mortal and an elf princess, she was basically raised in seclusion only to watch her three older half-brothers and her parents be brutally murdered on her eighteenth birthday. Man, even before I knew what fanfiction was, I knew how to whump a character.
2. Is there a specific thing that made you want to start writing more?
The MMORPG I played as an undergrad and grad student went down for good in about 2005, and after that, I stopped writing stories because there was no reason, really, to further develop that character. I got a job and started doing some professional writing--blogs and reviews and that kind of thing. Then I reconnected with an old friend who had written an entire book, and he started pushing me to do fiction again. I played around with some ideas, even published a short story, before I discovered fanfiction through a professional development class that I had to take. I can’t go back to school for my MFA in creative writing at this point, but I think writing fanfic is saving my sanity as well as giving me a sort of ad hoc, DIY MFA where I work at my own pace and set my own curriculum. Plus, some days it really saves my sanity. In the wise words of Lin-Manuel Miranda, I can pick up a pen and write my own deliverance.
3. Favorite character you’ve ever created?
In the short story I published, “Swan Song,” I had this side character who existed simply to be my villain. I didn’t pay him much attention until very late in the creative process, when the editor said the big reveal was too abrupt. (He was right.) So I took that character out to coffee--literally, I took my laptop and a notebook to my favorite coffee place so I could have a distraction-free conversation with him--lit him a smoke (funny thing, I don’t smoke, but literally everyone in that story does and my smoker friends say I got that exactly right), and really, for the first time, tried to get to know him. I knew only the basics, but it turned out he had this whole past (tragic) and motivations that I’d never even seen. Knowing all this didn’t just change the reveal, it pivoted the entire story, and when I sat down to rework that reveal, the words just poured out. It turned out that he was rather an anti-villain and he ended up in an awesome place--if I ever write a sequel to that story, it will be his to tell. Nik, the villain of “Swan Song,” is my favorite because he taught me to look deeper, love harder, and never have a character unless you’ve taken the time to know them all the way down to their shoe size.
4. Do your stories tend to have only a few characters or a lot?
As few as possible. In fact, I kind of freak out a little bit when I realize I need another character to serve some purpose.
5. Do you sit down and plan out your worlds or just let them build themselves as you write?
Some of both, really. I tend to write a lot of fanfiction exchanges (or at least, that’s what gets published), and I always do a thorough canon review before I start plotting so I can get voices and world-building details right. My one published original short story is set in Moscow during WWII, and I did a bunch of research on that setting and time period before I went in, but I never really tried to force anything to fit. Interestingly, during revisions, I was able to go back and add date stamps to certain plot points based on my historical research. But that story also has a magic twist to it (it was for a fantasy anthology) and the magic part just came to me, no building required.
6. Do you ever meet people and want to write about them?
Fictional characters, all the time. I love writing missing scenes. I don’t put much of real-life people into my characters (but I totally could--I work in a public library. Public libraries are literally the last remaining free resource in this country and my job is madness.)
7. What kind of environment do you do most of your writing in? Music or no music? Loud or quiet? In private or wherever?
Depends on the day and the story. I have a novel in progress (which will never be finished, probably) and for that I have entire playlists of music for each character. But if there’s music, there can’t be words in a language I can understand, because I will end up singing along. No TV or movies, because I end up watching instead of writing. I like my backyard, and even better, my parents’ backyard. But when all else really fails, I’ll jot out whatever in the notes on my phone. I’m picky, but not picky at all. And if I’m on deadline, I will make that deadline come hell or high water or plague or fire or mass destruction.
8. Do the people in your life ever read what you write, or do you tend to not show them?
Not fanfiction. I’m very, very protective of my writing in general. My mom was an English teacher (in fact, she was MY English teacher in tenth grade), and even when I was an undergrad getting my B.A. in English comp, she read all my essays with a red pen (after they’d been graded--and I graduated with a 4.0 in my major!). When I published my original short, she was so proud--and then she pointed out a glaring continuity mistake I had missed in about nine million rounds of editing. When I read my own stuff, I only see the mistakes, so I’m also shy about showing it to anyone else. That said, I have about a million partial fics rotting on my hard drive, phone notes, and Google docs, so someone might want to go after them if I ever shuffle off this mortal coil.
9. What inspires you?
Oh my, so much. Music, other people’s stories, history, walks in the woods, the way the lights in the children’s room at the library change color. Literally everything. Probably the better question is who pushes me, and the answer to that is @dammittmarie, who got me into the school’s Dead Poets Society in undergrad (we met at midnight in the basement of the library and damn, we were cool) and the beautiful @rain-and-roses-in-the-city, who puts up with my crazy ideas, my headcanons, lets me play in her sandbox, and sometimes has even seen the partial stories I talked about earlier.
10. What’s the weirdest character you’ve ever created?
Don’t really have one.
11. What’s the most boring character you’ve ever created?
All of them, it feels like sometimes :)
12. Do you name your background characters? Do you even have them?
I learned a hard lesson about knowing my characters, so now, if I can’t flesh them out, they don’t appear.
13. Are you one of the writers who writes in symbolism and specifically thinks about things like the color of a hat or that kind of thing? Or do you just pick those things at random?
Sometimes. Not always.
14. Are there any authors you feel have influenced your style? Published authors, fanfic authors, ect.
I learn things from everywhere. My gold standard for plot twists is the end of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, which made me screech out loud on an airplane years ago. I think the Hamilton fandom in particular is full of talent, and the WhamFam especially (you know who you are). And going back to @dammittmarie, she’s the one who made me unashamed of being a whump writer.
15. Were you a story teller before you could write?
Yes! I devoured books as a kid, and handwriting came super hard to me. You couldn’t read my penmanship until I was in junior high, so I learned storytelling in the oral tradition first.
16. How many characters have you created?
Not too many. I tend not to write OCs in fanfiction for fear of them coming out like total, obvious Mary Sues. There are maybe a dozen characters in “Swan Song.”
17. Do your stories tend to take place in the real world or in a fantasy world? Both? Neither?
That depends on the story
18. Do you tend to set your stories in the present or the past or the future? Do you think about when it’s set or does that not factor into the story?
Whatever works on a given day for a given story, I guess. I love, love, love the canon era of Hamilton, but I also like modern AUs if they’re done well. So yeah, whatever works.
19. What kind of things do you like to write? Poetry? Short stories? Novels? Fanfiction? Children’s Books? Nonfiction? Something else entirely?
Fan fiction for pleasure. My professional life includes writing book reviews, blog posts on various topics, and newsletters, so fan fiction is escapism for me.
20. Do you like to do events like NaNoWriMo or the Three Day Novel, or do you prefer to do things at your own pace?
Yes and no. In my professional life, I’m a volunteer blogger and reviewer on top of the demands of my day job, so I’m almost always on deadline for something. (Right this second is actually an exception--I wrote two articles this weekend and I’m deadline-free until at least April 1.) I tend to write fan fiction at my own (snail on a strong sedative’s) pace, but I have signed up for NaNoWriMo a few times, and I might do Camp NaNo in April because I have a 5k exchange piece due at the end of the month. And the one piece that I’ve published that wasn’t fan fiction actually got finished because I went to a signing where there were like six people and ended up pouring my heart out to this poor author. I told her I had a story and no idea how to start, and she told me to write 100 words a day for 100 days and tweet her my word count every day. If I missed a day, I had to start over. I made it to 100 days, just over 11,000 words, and that piece is good--you can even buy it on Amazon.
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