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Medium Dawn Felagund of the Fountain

Creative Personalities, or How We Write

The (Cyber) Bag of Weasels

bread and puppet




"About as much fun as a bag of weasels"...when I first saw this Irish adage, it made me think of the life of a writer: sometimes perilous, sometimes painful, certainly interesting. My paper journal has always been called "The Bag of Weasels." This is the Bag of Weasels' online home.

Creative Personalities, or How We Write

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art not war
I am rather blue and blah at the moment; it is pouring rain outside (at least it's not snow?*) and the wind is howling something fierce. I'm wrapping up my contribution to the B2MeM review award grand prize banners, trying to think of how to represent mithril seasonally, and feeling like wasting some time but not on something completely fruitless. Anyway. There is a rather interesting discussion going on over of Oshun's LiveJournal (it's f-locked, so I won't link) concerning B2MeM, which morphed into the inevitable discussion of format preference that sometimes feels to me like it is one of the great insurmountable dichotomies of our age. Sharks or Jets? Bears or Packers? Grunge or rap? (Yes, I spent my formative adolescent years in the '90s.) New York-style or Chicago-style? Daily prompts or omg-anything-but-daily-prompts-for-the-love-of-god-please?

* Never mind.

What I find interesting about this annual discussion is what it reveals about us as writers. My number-one takeaway from running B2MeM all these years is that 1) the creative process is different for everyone, 2) this tends to be relatively fixed, and 3) people become can very distressed/resentful when asked to step outside this pattern. Perhaps this isn't surprising to many or even most writers. But I'm sort of the swallowtail in the garden who, in terms of method and inspiration, flits from tiger lily to dandelion to lantana whilst chortling "Tra-la-la-la-lally" and ignorant of my apparent weirdness. (This is actually a fair description of me in more ways than just creative method.) But then there are the honeybees of the garden who gather pollen from only clover, and you offer them a bunch of bee balm and they gasp and reply, "How very, VERY dare you?" and I look around and realize that there are far more honeybees than swallowtails.

(Now's a good time to say--because it sadly always has to be said--that I don't find one creative method/approach/whatnot superior to another. My way isn't the "right way"; there is no "right way." When I think back to my own early creative experiences, I realize that my preferred way was fixed pretty early in life, and I can only assume the same of others. That I don't think this is something easily changed is why I stopped looking at "how to write" books by successful authors. I just find it interesting to speculate on these things.)

Anyway, from my swallowtail-eye-view, I rarely meet a fandom challenge I don't get along with. I like daily prompts, signing up for prompts (like this year's B2MeM), fixed prompt challenges (like SWG's or MPTT's), ficswaps, big bangs (even though my grad school schedule prevents me from committing to one), personal challenges/requests from people; I can be inspired by songs, poems, pictures, or quotes. The one thing I don't see myself wanting to do is the role-playing that I see a lot on Tumblr, mostly because I don't prefer to work with other people creatively and much of the purpose appears to be advancing a plot/dialogue with understandably little opportunity to wallow in characterization, world-building, or commentary on theme or the texts, all of which are what I enjoy about writing. The same issues with working collectively (and having to accept other people's characterizations as my own) would probably prevent me from writing in a round-robin.

Yet this shows that even swallowtails won't do it all. And when I think of my own background as a writer, then this makes sense, which is why I tend to think of one's preferences for inspiration and method to be rather fixed, kind of like a creative personality. I cannot remember a time when I didn't invent stories, although I was nearing adolescence before I started writing them down. (The first story I remember writing was called "Desert Challenge," when I was 9 years old.) These stories were carried on in my head or in play with my sister Sharon, who was also my partner in creative crime until well into adulthood. They usually started with a character or the desire to inhabit a world. We purloined characters from books, TV shows, and movies and fit them into worlds of our invention. The character obviously had some appeal to start but, after that, was open to development in whatever direction we chose. It was essentially fanfiction, and anyone who knows anything about my writing in the Tolkien Silmarillion fandom will tell you that I operate in much the same way today. We also invented characters, but these were often created in conjunction with the characters seeded from books and media, even if they eventually took on a life of their own.

As I grew older, I found stories springing from a variety of inspirations. Songs and music are huge for me, and when I was a teenager, Sharon and I were insatiable consumers of music videos. This is when MTV actually played music videos, and my parents' cutting-edge-at-the-time television had a picture-in-picture feature, so we'd watch MTV with VH1 in picture-in-picture (or vice versa), and if a video we liked came on the other channel, we'd switch. I particularly liked the videos that told a story, and I often made up short stories that went along with songs, kind of like mental music videos. My short story Cogs (f-locked; also published in the anthology Magic and Mechanica) was based on a song. Other times, it was lyrics or intense images that inspired me. Certain lines from songs created an instant scene, behind which there seemed to rest a whole world worth exploring. I recently heard "The Sound of Silence" by Simon & Garfunkel for the first time in years, and this was one such song for me, and even when I was too young to know what it meant, the images it created were extremely evocative and inspiring for me.

I have written here before about my theory that writers tend to fall into two camps: those who start with people (characters) and those who start with plot. For me, a story starts with people, and the plot unfolds as that unique individual interacts with the world and other people around her/him. For this reason, a variety of prompts and challenges have always had appeal because writing takes the shape of the same sort of hypotheticals that people entertain themselves with all the time. "What would I do in such-and-such situation? What would I do if I had this ability or power? If I lived in this historical period, what would my life be like?" In fiction, we can do that to our characters, and that's part of what I love about it.

Most of my stories these days are done for prompts or challenges. I find it motivating during a time in my life when it is hard to carve out time for writing to commit to something and have a deadline to force me to prioritize my writing in a way that is difficult for me to do otherwise. Once I have a prompt, I need a person. For example, my B2MeM prompt was the song "Autumnal" by Arcana. When I first heard the song, I was struck with strong images, as I always am when listening to evocative music. I saw a woman of a certain bearing in a certain scene that began to crystallize into a coronation. The woman was Indis. I had never written Indis in any serious way, but once I had that piece in the puzzle, images from the story came to me so fast that it blew me away, and I had to figure out what they meant and then connect them. (And since this was right before B2MeM began, I had a boatload of admin tasks and so couldn't write right away, which was difficult to say the least.) Once Indis was in place (and once I'd done my research in the texts to develop her character with confidence), then I could bring in characters familiar from my existing Felakverse (Finwë, Fingolfin, Nerdanel), and as those characters reacted to Indis, something like a plot began to develop. In mind also was what I wanted the story to say. When researching Indis, I was struck how, in the published Silm, she seems without agency; she is someone who is acted upon by others, and even her reaction to those actions is missing. In the HoMe, this is less the case, which got me thinking about historiography and how texts often shape what we come to believe as truth--and how authors with all their human flaws and biases shape those texts*--and this gave me the idea to intersperse "primary sources" throughout a story told from Indis's point of view. From this, Prayers about Rain came into being.

*Case in point, Douglas Charles Kane in Arda Reconstructed documents how Christopher Tolkien, in editing the published Silmarillion, tended to cut characterization and details about women characters, making them less complex and interesting. I don't recall if Indis's story was reduced for this reason or if Tolkien decided to take out the more interesting details about her; in any case, she was reduced and simplified in the published text because of someone's editorial decision that presumably didn't represent the broader reality of her character in JRRT's imagined world.

When I was younger, I used to often pick up those "how to write" books at the bookstore and peruse them, where I encountered insistence from other writers--and writers far more successful than me--that I needed to outline my plot before I began or write early in the morning or force myself to write for 15 minutes a day and so on. At the time, I thought there was something wrong with me as a write that these things seemed so ineffective and unappealing; I know differently now. It is not part of my creative personality to write in this way (it is not part of who I am, period, to do anything by choice early in the morning), and I've accepted that and learned to think about and work with what I have learned does work for me, and I find my writing getting a bit better with each story as a result.

B2MeM is interesting to me because it is a chance to see how other creative personalities work. Some people don't like to work under pressure; others don't like to work off-the-cuff. Some people hate deadlines; others need them to get anything done. Some prefer vague and very open-ended prompts or very specific prompts or hate prompts altogether. Of course, people differ in how much they share of a story and its process at varying stages of its development and how they revise. Some people like to lovingly craft each word of a short story over the course of weeks or months while that drives others mad with boredom and they'd rather have lots of prompts in little time. And of course, I see the character-based writers and the plot-based writers, to say nothing of how comfortable people are straying from what we're told in the texts. It's part of what makes B2MeM so difficult to plan but also so interesting to watch unfold, year after year.



This post was originally posted on Dreamwidth and, using my Felagundish Elf magic, crossposted to LiveJournal. You can comment here or there!

http://dawn-felagund.dreamwidth.org/335258.html
  • For me, a story starts with people,

    As far back as I can remember mine started with people first, too. I always have a vague idea of the plot, but don't they say there are only a few plots anyway? One of them is some-one's looking for something, and the others are (commercial fiction) they find it or (literary fiction) they don't.

    I don't care for, and cannot get attached to, books where the plot gets the characters in an armlock and marches them through the book. Why should I care what happens to the people if the writer has spent no time making them real? The whole planet could dive into the sun, and I wouldn't care because the people were boring anyhow.

    One of my favourite living writers, John Connolly says he can get half-way through a book and have no idea what's going to happen next. He's a great writer :)

    much of the purpose appears to be advancing a plot/dialogue with understandably little opportunity to wallow in characterization, world-building, or commentary on theme or the texts, all of which are what I enjoy about writing

    I role-played for about five years, but what I did was write it like a novel, and the other participants acted within it. I created a world and they were free to do what they wanted.
    That was enjoyable; whether rp (or collaborative writing) is any fun or has any real 'quality' depends who you're rp-ing with. If you're writing with some-one who can really write, it's great. Although I say I don't like prompts, what rp offered was really a series of prompts because it was clear we were all grown up and didn't care if other people flung sometimes shocking scenarios at us. We had to react to things which we'd not considered before, and although there was no time-limit on replying save our own determination not to let the stories lag, there was a lot of challenge in having to deal with things quickly. That was one of the things I enjoyed, apart from the world-building. There were other things I really did not enjoy, but good role-play can be a really fun challenge.
    One of the downsides is you kind of have to take all the other characters 'with' you everywhere, whereas when writing alone you have control over all of them. I don't rp now, (I am not saying I wouldn't but it would depend on who with) but I have written with Pink Siamese and Esteliel as well as Anwyn, and that really kept me on my toes. It can sometimes shake you up, which to me is like a booster-shot every so often, because I am on my metal :)

    • don't they say there are only a few plots anyway?

      Yes, I've seen it said that there are only like 30 different plots or something. I suppose a plot-centric writer would argue that the use of devices like suspense and plot twists keeps those dusty old stories interesting, but I find it's people. I don't even really need much to happen in a story to interest me if the people are interesting. I am fascinated by human nature, and fiction provides endless avenues to explore that fascination.

      Why should I care what happens to the people if the writer has spent no time making them real?

      Exactly. Some of my favorite writers can make truly reprehensible people nonetheless empathetic and relatable.

      One of my favourite living writers, John Connolly says he can get half-way through a book and have no idea what's going to happen next.

      And Tolkien was the same! He famously writes in his letters about how he discovered Saruman's treachery and that Strider was Aragorn the King right alongside his characters! :D

      I will sometimes write a very brief outline before starting a longer story if I have an idea of where I want the story to go simply because I'll forget otherwise. I have no memory for plot and will sometimes reread my own stories and be surprised at what happens in them. (Never the characters, who are like old friends.) Likewise, I cannot tell you the plots of even favorite books or movies. But I've also written stories where I just let the characters lead and see what happens right alongside them.

      Of my longer stories, By the Light of Roses and The Work of Small Hands were outlined in that I wrote a short note on major events in the order I wanted them to happen in and then kind of wrote to connect the dots. Another Man's Cage and The Tapestries were not. For The Sovereign and the Priest, I knew the endpoint (because it was for SinS and was the request I'd been given!) but let the story do it's own thing in how it got there.

      I created a world and they were free to do what they wanted.

      That's what I would find difficult. I can gladly wile away thousands of words on world-building or characterization, and unless the other person is willing to accept my view, then I could see myself become boring or perceived as heavy-handed. In truth, though, writing remains something that is so ridiculously personal to me until a story is finished that I rarely even reveal that I am working on a new story until it's done. I've too often had where, in the excitement to share a new idea, it feels like all the momentum goes out of something that was really interesting and inspiring. I am also very, very bad at any sort of collaboration because, even though it doesn't make me sound very nice to say it, I always think I know best. Being a fannish group admin has been good for me in this regard since I get to work with people who very often do know better or more than me! :D But creatively, my work is so personal, that I cannot imagine making it work.
      • The Sovereign and the Priest definitely has that flavor of events unfolding much as they do in real life.

        About collaboration. I consider it collaboration when I steal things from your stories or people steal from me! Usually in fic swaps I get prompts from strangers and feel like a pretzel, twisting myself into knots trying to fulfill them or cheating and just tacking them onto a story of my own. But there was one time, when someone very close to me at the time gave me a prompt--the was for my story No Justice to Yourself, about Erestor, Arafinwe, and Earwen (I threw in Elrond and Celebrian because I had to get to Valinor somehow), but his prompt was so specific and detailed it amounted to a plot outline. Writing that story was like falling off a log. But that was because we had very close ideas as to what makes a good story at the time.

        I have three points I make about collaboration: 1) I don't really want a partnership, I want someone to clean up the typos for me; 2) I largely imagine the entire story before I ever sit down to write it, so there is not a lot of room in my vision for other twists or details. (I fall asleep every night imagining a story I am working on--or sometimes, not the one I am supposed to be working on at the moment but another one (which is why I do not like deadlines and hard commitments for fiction). When the muse is hot and screaming in my ear, if I refuse to listen it might leave and not come back. I lose serious momentum when I interrupt a project to work on something else externally motivated like a fic swap or something like B2MeM. I got lucky this year because of the very flexible prompts and only one hard commitment instead of dozens of temptations and the pressure not to lose in the contest.
      • I am also very, very bad at any sort of collaboration because, even though it doesn't make me sound very nice to say it, I always think I know best.

        LOL! :D

        Well, the people I rp-d with did agree beforehand to let me have free rein; it suited them as they didn't want to do all the world building themselves, but they did enjoy 'acting' in it. Although we were in Middle-earth it was into the Fourth Age. I set up different kingdoms in the south and east, I wrote back-stories for them, and basically said: 'Right, if you want to use them, feel free.' and they did. But we'd come to know one another very well, and there was a lot of rapport.

        As for me, at that point, it helped me get over a decades long phobia of letting people see my writing. I didn't even realise it at the time, but it was setting me up for when I publicly posted fanfic.

        Reading role play is completely different; it feels like listening to a conversation you don't really understand. It's only interesting for those who do it, while fic is (hopefully) interesting to readers.

        But creatively, my work is so personal, that I cannot imagine making it work.

        At the time, I was working out my long-held ideas about Fourth Age Arda. It was not like Tumblr where you have to directly answer people on one thread. We used a message board so you could make as many threads as you wanted, even different Ages, and run different story-lines on each one. So I could go off and write somewhere about an empire in the Harad, and go back to a story in Imladris.
        It helped me, at that time, to explore my ideas without pressure. But rp is so often about instant gratification now, it seems. Very few people are interested in creating or fleshing out characters from the beginning; they just want to 'be' so-and-so, and interact with others. I was never into that. I wanted to write stories.

        I still look at my rp years as a bridge that helped me to write for a (theoretical) audience and got me into writing male characters and slash, so I would never consider it a waste of time. It showed me, over a period of years, what I really wanted to do when I went back to writing on my own.

        Nowadays, well in a sense I am still writing those stories.
    • Well, in my case inspiration just happens. Always has been like that though I have learned to write better with time. I've been doing it for more than ten years (started with vamp chron), but it will always be writing in another language for me, so I guess I cannot really develop a style unless I write in Spanish. I am working on that, non fiction, and I have a few non fiction arcs in English as well.

      I like deadlines, but I don't like waiting, which is why I didn't commit to this one (apart from the compilation). I also had real life problems going on at the time, or I would have written at least one non compilation story. I might write it anyway, but not as part of the B2MeM. =)

      I see there are many stories. I have read a few. After being a fanfic writer for so long I no longer read everything, but I loved what I read!

      Congratulations to all the mods! =)
  • I'm similar in not strongly preferring a particular format; for me, anything can work, and also anything can totally not work--much more dependent on other things that are going on in my life and in my mind, than on the format.

    I definitely AM set in my ways about the characters > plot thing, however. =D I could never write out a plot outline. Not only would it be like pulling teeth, since I never know what's going to happen next aside from a few "signposts" (which often have to change drastically from my original conception anyway, by the time I finally arrive at them), my characters would never cooperate with that kind of thing.

    (Sorry about your snow. Sheesh!)
    • It's still snowing! We have like three inches now. :^|

      Ah, a fellow swallowtail! (I remember seeing you mention that on, I think, Oshun's post that inspired my post and being grateful that it wasn't just me. It's funny how even when a creative method works for me, the perception that it's somehow still not the "right way" to do things sticks with me. My failure to understand the hoopla surrounding the B2MeM format each year often makes me feel very much the outlier.)

      I could never write out a plot outline.

      The most I do is jot down a few words on what I want to happen and in what order for long stories. (Kind of like your signposts ... I like that term. :) I am so bad at plot that I will forget otherwise. I sometimes reread old stories of mine and am surprised at what happens in them.

      Other times, I let the characters decide entirely. Of my longer stories, By the Light of Roses and The Work of Small Hands had a mini-outline; Another Man's Cage, The Tapestries, and The Sovereign and the Priest did not.

      But sometimes I will also jot notes to myself at the top of a story about what I'm trying to show about a particular character, if it is rather nuanced and I am afraid of losing focus. It helps me to read that before I resume working on a piece to remind myself of where I'm going and why I'm there. :)
  • This was a post to roll around in happily! It's been ages since I've read a good writing practices post.

    I write so infrequently these days, I'm not sure what buckets I fall into other than being more character focussed than plot, both from a reading and writing perspective. My B2MeM experience was a little unusual for me in that I had to ask for extensions, never had to do that before. But glad I did :-)

    • It's been a while since I wrote one! :) As I near completion of my MA within the next year, I find myself really looking forward to having time for this sort of thing again. :)

      I find it interesting that, in these discussions, most of us identify as character-centric writers. I'd wonder how many commercially successful writers would identify similarly. (I find I enjoy Tolkien fanfic--at least, the Tolkien fanfic being written by the people I talk with--more than most popular fiction, and this is probably a reason why.)

      Your reason for needing an extension was definitely understandable! And I'm glad we kept things laid-back in terms of extensions and scheduling so that you could post your story. :)
  • Inspiration usually comes to me from asking "what ifs," from pictures, from song lyrics. I love Big Bangs and some other forms of challenge. (Exchanges I've had bad experiences with. In theory I like them; not so much in practise. Same with fandom-style bingos.) But daily prompts-- sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. I'm also not able to work with prompt tables or quotes, and RPing makes about as much sense to me as nuclear physics does. I think, with prompts, there has to be a sense of "I can go in whatever direction I want" rather than a "shoehorn this element into your story." (What's maddening is that one type of prompt can morph from one into another depending on my mood.)

    When I was younger, I used to often pick up those "how to write" books at the bookstore and peruse them, where I encountered insistence from other writers--and writers far more successful than me--that I needed to outline my plot before I began or write early in the morning or force myself to write for 15 minutes a day and so on.

    I think what helped me to learn to ignore those books was the (fortunately swift) discovery that outlines kill my ideas because I've "written" the story already. Once I'd realized they were wrong on one account meant they could be-- and likely were-- wrong on others. And the instance on X words per day or X amount of time… Nano was helpful in that for me as a beginning writer. Now it's a crutch I don't need. That sort of thing is something that I don't see a lot of writing advice touch on: that you can outgrow methods and tools, or that they'll stop working for a time and you have to find new ones. There seems to be an unspoken corollary to the "one right way" mindset that a technique will always work for you.

    I am very much a character writer, to the point where I'm only interested in writing fanfic for a handful of characters (my fanfic reading tastes are much broader). It's lonely, sometimes, seeing so many people write about A-Z and I'm toddling around with only B, X, and G. It makes me feel strange. And I agree that plot comes from the characters, not the other way around. To have the plot first feels artificial and forced.

    On a random note, the discussion on Oshun's LJ made me realize a likely explanation why some people seem to have missed that my RAFA'verse is done. Part of it may be not wanting it to end, part may be that generally the people who've asked if Story X is set in it tend to write in a single universe-- but I think it's largely because my Maglor, no matter the story and hints/statements of differing backstory in them, is recognizably my Maglor: the basics of his character do not change. Now whether that's a good thing or not, I don't know.
    • I think, with prompts, there has to be a sense of "I can go in whatever direction I want" rather than a "shoehorn this element into your story."

      As a fan of prompts, I'd agree with you that I'd prefer this type too. I like something that's either open-ended (like the song I claimed for this year's B2MeM) or that provides a starter for the story. When I wrote The Sovereign and the Priest for SinS this past summer, the most challenging aspect for me was that the request was something I'd decided to put at the very end! So it was like I was constantly reining the story back onto the road it needed--but didn't always want--to walk. (I loved that challenge and was pleased with the story as it came out, but it was indeed a challenge.)

      outlines kill my ideas because I've "written" the story already.

      Yes! I used to think this was just me. It was the same with talking about a story to others beforehand. I usually don't even tell anyone but Bobby when I'm working on a new story ... and he only gets the very basic, if that. (It's more like, "What are you doing tonight?" "Writing." "Oh! What are you writing?" "A story." The end. :)

      That sort of thing is something that I don't see a lot of writing advice touch on: that you can outgrow methods and tools, or that they'll stop working for a time and you have to find new ones.

      Yes. I totally agree.

      It's lonely, sometimes, seeing so many people write about A-Z and I'm toddling around with only B, X, and G.

      I am lucky that I glommed onto the House of Feanor, which is quite a large number of characters to start with, plus the peripheral characters who inevitably become involved. It is very difficult for me to write something that doesn't touch on the House of Feanor at all. But, of course, this is a ridiculously popular group in the Silm fandom, so "lonely" would never fit my experience with being rather particular myself in what I write.

      I think it's largely because my Maglor, no matter the story and hints/statements of differing backstory in them, is recognizably my Maglor: the basics of his character do not change. Now whether that's a good thing or not, I don't know.

      It seems to me to be something of a hallmark of a character writer, based on the discussion on Oshun's LJ and here. I think it makes sense. We construct our verses around people. Other people who don't center as strongly on a character might find it impossible to imagine certain scenarios taking place because that's not how things go in their vision. I find myself far less particular about that--hence, I can write Feanor with Nerdanel and Erestor with equal joy--because it's almost like exploring the hypotheticals people tend to like to imagine about themselves and others anyway.
      • Even starters can be hit or miss for me. I really, truly have no idea what makes a prompt work for me versus what doesn't. It frustrates me sometimes. With exchanges, I actually need a prompt and some likes and dislikes so I know I'm not writing something the recipient will hate. (I'm still bitter about the last exchange I participated in for that reason. No likes/dislikes and no response to my story from my recipient.)

        I can bounce ideas with my sister, but even that's unhelpful when she disagrees with my interpretation of canon (not just Silm, but in general). But she's the only person I can do that with. And while I can mention I'm working on a story, I can't do that with all of them and I can never go into detail. It's too easy to kill the idea. :( (Which does make asking for research into unfamiliar canon territories hard because I generally need to give details!)

        The thing with glomming-- I glommed onto Maglor. I almost don't care about the rest of the House of Fëanor for writing purposes. Which is, as far as I can tell, not the usual thing. (Maglor's not the only character, of course, but he's the most blatant example.)

        because it's almost like exploring the hypotheticals people tend to like to imagine about themselves and others anyway.

        That makes sense. But even then, I still can't write certain scenarios with a given character because it's OOC for my version. Some things just wouldn't make sense. But the love of exploring hypotheticals is why I love canon divergent/fork-in-the-road AUs so much: what would have happened if something had changed?
  • Ha! I now really wonder whether I come across as a character-based writer or a plot-based one...

    (I honestly cannot tell. I am clearly obsessed by plot to a degree rare in fandom, but then I am obsessed by characterization too. And my stories don't really start with either -- it's more like I have plots and characters running through my head all the time, some vague, others rather polished, and then one day one setup will start looking story-shaped to me, so I will try to get it down.)
  • This was very interesting to read. I haven't had much to reflect about my writing previously, since I simply never managed to write much for others to see, and what I wrote for myself was written because I needed to write it, no matter if it was just snippets or longer parts, or whole stories (mostly not). I went through several stages since I started writing fanfic (and generally for others to see) in 2006, and have learnt quite a bit about myself, and my writing; but more about what I can't and don't wont than what I can and would like to. The most important lesson so far very likely was that I have to find my own way, and do it in a way it gives me pleasure, not stress. I was quite good in stressing myself out with my writing! *g*
    I prefer building my own world and moving inside it, also when writing for a challenge, but seem to be better with the spontaneous small things like Drabbles, though I like them less because it's not the writing process I enjoy.
    I found it also very interesting to "play" in many different courts. I was in several corners of several fandoms, also in two different languages, and from the observational point of view this provided me with a large amount of experience and material, if not always pleasant memories. ;o) I also RP'd for a while, but that is totally not my cup of tea, I found, as I want to work at my character and want to develop it, and tend to the more introvert ones anyway which didn't work well in a RP.

    I'm trying to decide whether I'm a plot- or character-starting writer, and can't say. Usually the plot idea comes first, but goes hand in hand with a character or two, and then switches to being character-driven. My B2MeM story was different, there decidedly was the plot first, inspired by the prompt, with different characters than I now have. The main character of the first idea was sparked by the plot, Lindir, but the second main character drawn into it, Maglor, was sparked by thinking about Lindir and the prompt. Then I realised some things which made the idea unusable, and I went back to the plot idea to see what would happen next. And so eventually the twins emerged, as children, and I suddenly had to fight to get the plot back in, or some remains of it... *g* My last story before that, and longest so far, for Slashy Valentine, had characters as a prompt and clearly went from there.
    I find it totally interesting to look back on the creative process of my stories and the meandering ways they sometimes took, and remember what brought me where and why. I would have to look closer at it, but if I'm not completely mistaken, this process also reflects each time how my life went, and what I needed from my writing. Escapism, enjoyment, community exchange, consolation, challenge...
    • what I needed from my writing. Escapism, enjoyment, community exchange, consolation, challenge...

      This is really important, I think. I usually know what I need for myself. My first long fanfic was begun at a very bad point in my life, immediately following a series of major losses, and I really needed consolation. Interestingly enough, it was a pretty light-hearted novel, but at the core of it it was about people who made a lot of mistakes and bad life choices, but they did those things with passion and optimism. (Sounds pretty autobiographical actually.) Now a lot of what I write is centered around puzzling out human nature and motivations. The challenge is using Tolkien's characters, but he had different intents for them than I have!


      • but he had different intents for them than I have!

        *g* Well said! I came to fanfic through coping with grief, and sought a mixture of escapism and consolation. My favourite genre back then was the kind of hurt/comfort where you can cry wholeheartedly and invest intense emotion so you don't need to deal with the emotion for real. I still prefer well-done hurt/comfort, but the need for a good cry has long since gone.
  • There are people who I love/am fascinated by and things happen to them and I watch it unwind and write about it - that's what it boils down to. Ideas come from snippets of thought kept from months, years ago, or from music, or just wander in, then I need a setting and a point, which can be as simple as 'trapped in a cave overnight: talk' or as vague as 'tired honour' (because unless I know the point I wander down too many bunny trails and it all goes pear shaped). I'll show my beta bits, she'll say yes it works or no, what are you smoking? Otherwise, I don't discuss it till the first draft's done, in fact I try not to think too hard about it, because otherwise my brain decides 'boring, we've already dealt with this', and I won't get any further

    I loved this year's B2Me format. I adored the Bingo cards (I don't want to remember how many cards I ended up with), but it meant there was no time to read. This time there was time to read - I think I've done 38 reviews - and I've loved that part of it too, instead of feeling it was a chore I should do something about.

    Books about writing: I will read about writing by, for example, Stephen King, if I want to write exactly like Stephen King. And so on. Which I don't. The 'right' way to write is so personal, so subjective, I don't believe there can be a right way. Grammar rules, yes. Nothing wrong with a good grammar book. It's better to know the rules before you throw them out the window. But not how to plot, how to outline, how to create believable characters *shudder*, how to write dialogue...

    Oh, and writing first thing in the morning? Hahahahaha! Just no.



    Edited at 2014-03-31 03:09 am (UTC)
  • Oh, Bears and Chicago-style pizza, hands down! (which gives you pretty blatant hints about my origins, hah).

    As for writing, however: I'm very much like you in that I start with a character (or an idea, I suppose?). Once I chose harvest as my prompt, I had a very specific image of Ivorwen in mind (one that eventually made it into my final draft, which doesn't always happen), and knew the fic had to be about her (though given my one-track mind I imagine I would probably have written an Ivorwen fic no matter which prompt I chose. Oops).

    Daily prompts are harder for me (my creative process is far too slow/perfectionist oriented), but I also enjoy that little nudge to force myself to try something new and step out of my creative comfort zone. Because heck, banishing that inner perfectionist for a bit can't be bad, right?

    I'm pretty sure I've said this elsewhere, quite possibly on your LJ, but the thing I've loved the most about B2MeM is getting to see how many different interpretations and approaches are brought to the forefront. It's such a rich collection, and though this is my first year participating I imagine it remains a rich collection no matter what the format. And it's been a pleasure to read.
  • Oh I felt so happy to read that what I do can be a swallowtail like you.. and then:
    The one thing I don't see myself wanting to do is the role-playing that I see a lot on Tumblr, mostly because I don't prefer to work with other people creatively and much of the purpose appears to be advancing a plot/dialogue with understandably little opportunity to wallow in characterization, world-building, or commentary on theme or the texts, all of which are what I enjoy about writing.

    I am not sure if that is always the case with RP'ing. When still playing D&D, our DM's asked us to create background, what their life was before they decide to join that group of adventures and such. This is what I do like to bring onto the table before I RP.

    I must be a very odd being by now then :) But I think what I like to see the most is that others are happy in whatever makes them want to write and create. In that respect what I do want to do is not that important, although backing away from many processes and events hopefullly will make time for me to dabble for myself.

    Hum, this was not what you were asking.. *hides*
  • Hmmm. Well, I am with Suz: Da Bears and Chicago-style deep dish, hands-down, although as time goes by, The Pats and lobstah rolls are coming to the fore.

    I despise writing recreationally under pressure. That's what I do for my work ("Time and tide wait for no man, and neither do the FDA and the EMA"). I absolutely do not want to do that for play.

    With regard to style, I am not remotely as introspectively articulate as you are or those who have contributed so far in response to your reflections. With regard to fan fiction, I guess I would say I started with An Idea, namely a visceral response to Tolkien's castigation of his technologists, and at the time, I thought (and still do) that Tolkien fan fiction could do with a bit more humanism, skepticism, and feminism (particularly from the standpoint of women trying to negotiate "a man's world") thrown into the mix. That entailed choosing a canon character representative of my beef with Tolkien, i.e., the fallen technologist. Fëanor had already been done and done well so... :^)

    Although characterization is clearly important to me, so is plot, and for my major WIPs (poor, sad things, languishing as they are), I have the general story arcs laid out in my head. Actually, I have the whole overarching Pandë!verse set out, and 3 or 4 folks (Russa, the erstwhile Claudio, Rampaging Frodo) know the whole of it. The details for stories often appear as I write, but largely, I know where things are headed when I set fingers to keyboard.

    On collaboration, no problem there. surgicalsteel and I have written together, and I'd say that Dreamflower's and my collaboration has been successful. Both collaborations have been enjoyable experiences.
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