How long have you been writing, and what made you decide to start writing fanfic?
I have been writing fanfic for almost as long as I have been writing at all, although in my earlier years I didn't realise that there was a term for it. It seemed natural to me to solve the questions a particular book/movie/television show left in my mind by writing out the potential answers myself. It was an intimate manner of interacting with what I took in; of giving back to the stories that touched or affected me deeply. It wasn't a conscious decision, I don't think. When I hit the dreaded teenaged years and became stereotypically hormone-saturated, the fic I wrote inevitably turned from answering leftover questions about the story to directly involving myself... but I think this is a phase everyone goes through, in some way, shape or form. Some of us imagine ourselves as movie stars. Some of us imagine ourselves rock stars. Some of us write ourselves into stories.
How did you discover fan fiction?
Fanfiction discovered me, I think. It hunted me down and dragged me, kicking and screaming, into the fray. I blame my sisters- they started reading the Harry Potter books well before I did, and would insist I do the same. Wretched creatures. And of course, as with everything else I discover and enjoy, I wound up interpreting and interacting with the stories through writing about them in my own voice. Being inextricably bound up in the online community by this point, it was inevitable that I'd discover the flourishing subculture of fandom, and fic writers in particular.
What is the writing process like for you? Do you find any part of writing difficult? (Coming up with ideas, narrative, dialog, etc.)
The writing process usually begins, for me, with a single word or phrase. It will pop into my head at the most random of moments, typically when I'm at work and not at liberty to explore it further, and will set the machine in motion with the question "Now why the hell did I just think that?" And I will daydream about it for the remainder of my workshift, usually pausing to scribble down the barest skeleton of the idea, whereupon the seed will gestate in the depths of my notebook for anything from a week to six months.
I will then discover it, whilst idly flipping through the pages, and the whole thing will come crashing down into my head again, and I will have no choice but to write it down, or drown in it.
Sadly, this usually only applies to the initial idea itself. The difficulty comes in fleshing it out and structuring it into something resembling a whole story, which means I have a great deal of unfinished fiction littering my hard drive, because I am notoriously lazy. That's the hardest part, for me- slogging on through the story once the initial, burning drive to write has burned down to coals.
I like the analogy, though, come to think of it, because ultimately, coals are by far the most useful bit of the fire. Flames are pretty enough, but the best cooking is done once they've died away and the embers are left glowing in the grate, burning softly liquid and far hotter than any flame.
Where do you get your ideas or inspiration? Do other people ever suggest the ideas for your stories?
Inspiration is everywhere. Literally everywhere. The trick is seeing it for what it is. It may help to give some background: I am paid to do data entry, which means I sit and type and listen to music for a full-time shift, five days a week. It's incredibly easy to simply let the mind wander, in this environment, and I rarely pay attention to where it meanders off to until I am struck with one of the aforementioned little bits of word or phrase (or, rarely, image), and the process begins.
A good chunk of my story ideas (including Bindings) come from off the cuff conversations with others, which usually begin with "Wouldn't it be cool if...?" and end with "Well, now I have to write the damn thing, don't I?" An idea, once it presents itself to me as viable, generally won't leave me alone until I scribble it down.
Which story was the most difficult to write and why?
I think this honour falls to an unfinished and insanely long fic I've got waiting for me to develop enough ambition to rewrite it. I started and wrote a goodly chunk of it, then got stuck for an ending. When I finally thought of the perfect ending, I realised that in order to make it work plausibly, I'd have to rewrite the whole damned story to fit.
I like the ending enough that I'm willing to do this, eventually. Aside from that, rewriting will allow me to fix some serious characterisation issues. It's a sad thing when you can't stand your own protagonist, really it is.
The story is called Spectre More Accursed, and it may never, ever see the light of day. Er, again.
Do you have any favorite authors (original and/or fanfic)?
The list is endless. I am a voracious reader, and have been for as long as I can remember, and I've accumulated quite a collection of favourites. I think, were it necessary to choose a handful, I would have to say Shiv and The Stars Hold Nine Serpents sit almost permanently at the top of the list.
Is it difficult to write dialogue that stays true to the characters?
Not at all! I love dialogue; I especially love any exchange of wit or insult, and the characters I prefer to write are talented with this trait. I'm not sure what the trick is, if there is one. I have a tendency to try to think like the character I am writing; I try to let them in my head, if that makes any sense at all. I rather suspect a lengthy history as a roleplayer helps with this...
Do you have any advice for people thinking about writing their first fanfic?
Just write. :) As with so many things, writing is something that improves with practice. The first thing you put on paper will not be very good. It will, in all probability, suck more than a stripped-down Hoover. You'll look at it again in a few years and cringe, and probably want to bury it out in the yard where no one will ever chance upon it. But, and this is key: it will be yours. Good, bad, or ugly, it's yours, and it's the first step.
Whatever it is in your head, write it down. Edit it. Take bits out; add things in; rewrite whole passages; tweak the dialogue. Give it to someone you trust to tell you the truth, and ask for a blunt, honest criticism. Don't get mad at what they tell you. Apply their advice to your story. Write some more. Keep on writing. That's the crux, after all: if you're going to be a writer of any sort, it's sort of necessary to apply pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard). So many people I know would like to write, and just... don't.
Almost every writer at some point or another suffers from writer's block. Have you ever had that problem and if so, how do you get past it?
God, yes. I hate it. I dread it with a burning, fiery passion. Bindings was comprised almost entirely of short bursts of text interspersed with longer, dragging bouts of "well, NOW what?" The best method I've discovered of countering writer's block is simply to do something totally non-text-related for a while. Get up and go play the Xbox, or watch a movie. Wash some dishes. Play with the dog; call your mom. Engage the other parts of your brain for a while, and let the bits that do the writing and reading rest. Once they've refreshed, you can go back to writing with a fresh eye and more energetic mind, and what you write will be better for it.
What do you find most and least enjoyable about writing fan fic?
The most enjoyable bit of writing fanfiction is getting the damn ideas out of my head so they will let me sleep. The worst part... The worst part is reading other peoples' fanfiction, particularly in a discriminating archive like this one. I read someone else's work and become immediately convinced that mine is utter tripe and should never see the light of day and just what the hell was I thinking, anyway, letting another human being read this?
Fortunately, that part doesn't last long, but it's withering when it does.
Was it harder to read fanfic after you started writing it?
Yes and no. Yes, for the reason stated above... no, because it's reassuring to know that there are other people out there holding the same sort of illicit love affair with texts that I immensely adore. I learn a lot from reading other peoples' fics; I look for stylistic similarities, and themes that I visit in my text as well; I look for ideas similar to what I've written, and study how other people explore them. It's interesting to read something along similar lines and say to myself, "Oh! I never would have thought of that; what an extraordinary idea."
Do you find love scenes more difficult to write than other types of scenes?
No, but I am, I think, renowned in certain circles for the filthiness of my mind. *g* I am incurably interested in the internal workings of sexual relationships, particularly when there is atypical emotion involved. Pure romance doesn't appeal to me much, but if there are other elements thrown into the mix- jealously; the taboo; unrequited passion- I find it great fun to explore these. That element of fun and interest removes the difficulty in writing.
Do you work on more than one story at a time? If so, how do you keep them straight in your mind?
I have countless stories going at any given time, in varying stages of completion. I have never really had any trouble keeping them separate once I've started writing- they each have something like their own defined space in my mind, a little fencing circle around them, and by stepping out of one circle and into the next, I close one story off, and open another, totally separate from each other.
Have you ever been flamed or received negative feedback regarding your stories? How do you handle it?
I don't think I've ever been flamed, but then, I haven't posted enough fanfiction to attract enough attention for it. Hypothetically, I think I would simply ignore an outright flame. Negative feedback, if it has a valid point, I try to treat with more gravity, and examine it for how it might improve my next story. Generally, however, if I receive negative feedback, it's because I asked for it, so that reaction may be moot.
Would you describe your ideal writing surroundings (food, weather, music, etc.)?
Quiet, with tea or coffee ready to hand, and a solid chunk of time in which to daydream, scribble, type, and otherwise apply the tools of the trade. I am easily distracted, unfortunately, so the best way for me to write is offline, with pen and paper.
Is writing sexual tension different from writing smut?
Yes indeed, and I think I almost prefer the former. Smut is, or tends to be, almost purely physical by definition, and is therefore a bit limited in scope. Sexual tension involves the entire being, from the body to the emotions, to the mind, and there are few if any boundaries to what a good writer can do with it. Any situation can be layered and granted subtext, and it's that subtext that I think so many of us are so very fond of reading.
What do you think makes a really good love scene? Are there specific things that you try to include or avoid? Are love scenes difficult to write?
I don't think they're particularly difficult to write... any difficulty arises, I think, in ensuring the scene remains plausible and interesting for the reader. There is a delicate balance to be walked in providing enough detail without being overly florid. I have a tendency to the purple (a good friend called my writing aubergine, which was, she said, purple for refined tastes), and I usually have to go over a love scene several times to remove extraneous portions and make the writing flow more easily.
A good love scene incorporates emotion with the physical act, whether positive or negative. It's realistic while retaining a quality of fantasy- let's be honest; sexual fanfiction by necessity incorporates a level of personal fantasy. It's why it's so titillating, I think.
What do you look for when you read a fan fiction story?
Strong, solid writing, and an interesting story. I think this is why I avoid PWP, because I'm not interested in reading just sex, no matter how well-written. I like well-structured plot with good writing to flesh it out, and if it involves a sex scene, then I consider it a bonus.
Do you usually write in a linear fashion or do you write scenes out of order? Does one method work best for you?
I couldn't write in order if my life depended on it. Usually the first idea that springs into my mind takes place somewhere around the middle of the story. I write it out, then try to figure out both where it came from, and where it's going. If I get stuck while writing, and can't move past a certain point, I leave a marker and skip it to return to later and fill in the blank. Eventually, the whole story takes shape along the basic framework, and it all comes together at the end.
What was your first fanfic story? What was it like to post your first story?
My first fanfiction was, I think, a Dragonlance story. I was just approaching teenagerdom and was absolutely swimming in hormones, and had the hugest crush on both Raistlin and Dalamar (and what IS it about the bad boys?). I wrote some very, very bad fanfiction based on that series of books. Thank all that's holy those notebooks are lost. I never posted any of those; I wasn't aware you could. The online community was a total enigma to me at that point; I don't think I was even aware such a thing existed.
The first fanfiction I posted was, I think, the aforementioned Spectre More Accursed (I later took it down again, when I realised the extent of the rewrite that was needed). It was terrifying. Would anyone like it? Was it crap? Would it get a review? Would everyone point and laugh and snicker behind their hands? What the hell was I thinking, clicking send?!??!one1!
Posting Bindings was, I am glad to say, by far less traumatic than this.
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