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16 February 2008 @ 01:38 pm
A meme on writing process  
About a week ago I was working on a post that discussed my writing process, but luckily I came across this meme courtesy of only_passenger. Structured questions always make organizing your thoughts a bit easier. I may have a follow-up post to address things like writing style, which this baby doesn't cover. 

1. What was the first story you ever wrote? What inspired you to write it?
My first fic was a Spuffy one-shot called The Heart of Her. I had been reading BtVS fic for four years at that point and had noticed a distinct lack of fics that dealt with the issue of menstruation. This struck me as odd considering how integral and powerful blood is on the show and for vampires themselves. As a menstruating woman, Buffy must have had to deal with all of the drawbacks that come with it, including being a moving target for Sunnydale's demons. 

I have always been a big fan of kink and NC-17 related fics, but too often felt dissatisfied with PWPs that didn't bother to delve into the reasons why characters were engaging in the sexual acts they seemed drawn to. I wanted to address that added sense of realism, the nuances of human motivation, and the beauty and trust behind taboo sex acts. I took this project on wanting to portray an honest interaction between Buffy and Spike in which the reader learns something about them by the end of it. Buffy is a person that communicates her needs and feelings best physically, and her blood and sexuality as a revelatory device for Spike seemed like an obvious choice for me to try and explore the hidden depths of her pain.  

2. Which of your stories received the best response? Why do you think that is?
Beneath Us has gotten the biggest response by far. Writing popular pairings tends to garner more of a response because there's a set fan base out there to cater to, but at the time I was writing mostly Spuffy, and this fic blew the others out of the water. As

kcarolj65 once pointed out to me, Season 7 was riddled with instances where the viewer was left in the dark, and certain key questions were never answered. The church scene in "Beneath You" is arguably one of the best Spike scenes we ever got on the show, and a powerful one at that, but the episode leaves us on a question that was never addressed: What was Buffy's reaction to Spike's soul and how did he manage to get out of that church? The omission leaves a lot of room for interpretation, and I tackled it with what I believed/wished had happened - that Buffy felt compassion for Spike, faced the reality of her behavior and how it drove him to do this, and ultimately was able to forgive him. Buffy is often given short shrift in Spuffy pairings, even to the point of being villainized. When I write her, I like revealing why she steadfastily protects herself and how those blocks color her actions. Although the girl's had it tough, she has a big heart, and in this fic I gave readers a peek into its depths. 

3. Which of your stories received a less favorable response than you expected? Why do you think that is?
Surrender is definately my most overlooked fic. It could have to do with the fact that it's Spillow, and there isn't a huge audience for it, but it's a pretty fun romp into the life of evil!Spike. I really like the pacing on that fic, as well as the naughtier bondage-style sex acts I got to work with. Willow's vulnerability, self doubt, and ultimate surrender takes a believable turn over the course of her encounter. I love scene re-writes, and if Spike really was as evil as he said he was, he wouldn't have let her off the hook in "Lover's Walk." Bottle-in-face be damned!    

4. Which character do you enjoy writing the most? Why?
That would be Faith. She's such a colorful character with a lot of depth that was only just hinted at on the show. I often see a lot of potential to explore those hiddens parts of her personality when I'm writing. Plus her dialogue is a blast to work through, and having a character who speaks as distinctly as she or Spike makes it easier to get a handle on their voices.  

5. Which character do you enjoy writing the least? Why?
Giles. It's hard for me to peg his voice, mannerisms, and speech. In general, it's easier for me to write women. An added challenge with Giles is I can't put myself in his mind easily or suss out how he would or wouldn't act. This can be particularly difficult because I tend to write tight POVs. This has definately contributed to my slow progress on the Faith/Giles shot I've been working on. 

6. You wrote it and you loved it. Quote your favorite opening line. Quote your favorite closing line. Your favorite title.
Opening line: "The rhythms of her body were like a symphony to him, each pulsation and internal rush a carefully choreographed orchestration." (From The Heart of Her)

Closing line: "The blood runs fresh when it is called, resurrected from its quiet sleep, and she is drained all over again as her thoughts dally back, wishing she were finished, until his tongue snakes through her and she is brought to life again." (From Unquenched)

Title: Drive it Home. I had a lot of trouble naming that fic. It had the working title of "Bound," but it needed something with more pizzaz. It's a play on words, and illustrates the point I make in the story really well. Plus, it's unusual, and I dig that. 

7. Do you identify with one pairing? If so, do you tend to write mostly that pairing? When you don't - what inspires you to step off the beaten track?
Spuffy was what brought me to the fandom. Initially, I would have labeled myself as a kink writer, and if you're after canon dirtybadwrong sex you need look no further than those two. But I've never been an OTPer, and the second story I posted was Spike/Dawn. Spuffy is my comfort pairing, and while I've written them together more often than any other, I frequently, especially of late, have been exploring different couples like Faith/Angel. I look to grow and always want to challenge myself. When it became to easy or too boring writing Spuffy, I looked for other characters to tackle. Nearly all of my non-Spuffy pairings are in fics that are episode stealers. I like taking canon moments where we saw a lot of potential for two characters to hit it off of and never did, and take us there. What would it have taken? What would it have looked like? I love exploring the hows and whys. 

8. Do you reread your fic? Why or why not? What is your favorite fic to reread?
I do reread my fic, especially if I'm jonesing for a certain kink (and I've written it). I will also reread if I'm doing a story continuation in either the form of a WIP or a series. Right now I've been reading By A Thread often since I'm working on its sequel. I need to track the progression of the story, match the style from one installment to another, and keep the emotional development of the characters consistant. I also just really love what I was able to with it. It's a fic I went in knowing I wasn't going to agonize over, and I didn't. It happened organically, and those are my favorite fics. I also enjoy rereading Window-Dressing. It was one of my more original ideas, and the alternate endings still are fun to consider. 

9. Some writers find writing difficult. For others, it comes easily. Tell me about the experience of writing for you. How do you write? When? Where? Do you plot stories or just start writing? Which of your stories was easiest to write? Which was the hardest?
It's almost always hard. The ideas are the easy part. My ideas are generated from a kink or pairing I wish to write, prompts, requests, or a snippet of scene, like a piece of dialogue or narration that comes to me. I usually write fics out of order, filling in plot points that need to be hit in the beginning or the end first, and then figuring out how it's all accomplished in the middle. Dialogue often comes first and I use it as the bones of a story and flesh it out with narrative and POV. I revise as I write, which can hose up my progress if I'm nitpicking over a certain word or can't figure out what I want to say. 

I write when I'm in the mood and inspired. I have tried sitting down because it's "writing time," but that rarely works for me. Because I never know when I'm going to get an idea, I aways carry a notebook with me so I can scribble fic ideas. I have written entire ficlets on the subway, like Not Yours, Tea for Two, and Truth Discovered. If I'm half-way through a story, I'll print out what I have and take it with me. Last week at work I was scribbling onto the print-out of my in-progress Faith/Angel story. Most often my fics are composed at home on my laptop. I usually work in bed, and it needs to be quiet. 

There are fics that just happen, no thinking prior to the writing. These are my favorite because they're the least painful. A Spectator Sport and Beneath Us were like that. For Spectator,  only_passenger had a very detailed request with all the plot points she wanted, and I cranked that out in two days no fuss. Beneath Us was not a planned fic. I woke up in the middle of the night and just wrote it while I was half asleep. Pretty easy. 

The hardest was Show Me How because I didn't want to write it, and had to force it out. In many ways I felt like I was writing blind. Drive it Home was also pretty difficult. It was a request which called a sub/dom dynamic between Buffy and Spike, which is something I never write. Finding a way to make it believable and meet the request was a balancing act. But my beta was a wonderful support on that fic, and I'm very pleased with how it came out. 

10. How has the delivery of fanfic changed since you first started in fandom?  Where did you first start posting? Do you have a website? Did you maintain it? Do you belong to lists? How do you find new fic to read?
I read for many years before I started writing. I started in the Batman fandom, and I used to be a member on a DC Universe chat board, which occasionally linked fics from large archives or webrings. One such archive was called Fonts of Wisdom, and still exists. I also would google certain pairings and see what I got. When I started on BtVS, I regularly visited fanfiction.net. There I was introduced to authors like moxiefic, hollydb, and eurydice72. I followed links to their personal websites, which then got me to archives that featured work by Europanya, Herself, Kantayra, Kindred, NautiBitz, DevilPiglet, and many other classic Spuffy writers. I forget exactly how I stumbled into the realm of LJ, but I suspect it was through links from personal sites and award sites, which I often used as a source for my reading material. I used to read A TON of fic.  

I first started posting on LJ about a year ago. I created an account so I could. Prior to that I had been following some WIPs on LJ, including "A Soul to Seduce" and "Mating," so I knew that's where a lot of the buisness was happening. I was familiar with how comms worked, so I joined a few, and hollydb suggested a few archives like Bloodshedverse to post at. I have never had a website, and don't intend to. 

The amount of fic reading I do has dropped dramatically since I started writing. I only reguarly follow a few writers and WIPs. Betaing for two people also takes up some of my fic-reading time, especially since I'm editing and commenting extensively on their drafts. I peruse my flist, and if a pairing or intriguing summary catches my interest I'll stop to take a look. I mostly avoid longer fics since I don't have the time to read them, and keep my eyeballs open for shots or ficlets. Rec lists are helpful, as are recs from people's whose work I enjoy. I also definately use award sites. I was introduced to writers like snowpuppies that way. 

11. No shows = no inspiration. Let's face it, it's all been done, right? Or has it? How do you find inspiration in the Buffyverse? Do the comics help? Do you consider them canon?  
I'm a pretty new writer, so I certainly don't think it's all been done. If I were writing longer, more epic fics I might struggle with a huge arc. But I tend to write shots that really are character studies. I don't so much have plots as scenarios or emotional arcs. A lot of inspiration comes from the show itself. I like writing missing scenes, and expanding on bits of canon. There are so many moments like those to choose from that I don't fret over not being able to think of something original. Also, ideas might be done to death, but I think you can always attach a new spin to something, and some of that comes from your own writing style - it literally doesn't sound the same as someone else's work - as well as the nuances of how you approach the story. It could be from a different characters POV, who knows. Writing odd pairings are also good because it forces you to think of a plausible situation to put them in. 

I don't read the comics, and don't intend to. I don't consider them canon either. I actually love comic books, and read them for years, but when I heard about Season 8 I just rolled my eyes and shrugged. 

12. Feedback - how important is it to you? What sort of feedback do you like to receive? Do you leave feedback when you read?
I love feedback! What writer doesn't? It's encouraging to know that people are reading your work, and the only way you know that on LJ is through comments. It's also a wonderful opportunity to swap ideas with other readers/writers, and get to know your audience a bit. Call it a form of networking. I got recruited as a beta because of the comments I regularly left. I like feedback that is detailed and specific. Of course, we don't always have the time or inclination to go that far. But a thoughtful observation, a bit of quotage, or an emotional response goes a long way. Concrit is also always welcome, and when I receive it I often revise, whether it's merely a typo, a continuity error, or a plot hole. For those writers on my flist who don't have a beta, you get the most awesome feedback from them.  eowyn_315 is very detail-oriented and thorough, and that's where I've gotten very honest an critical comments. It's gold. I do leave feedback, but have been pretty lax about it of late. I also have been reading very little, which contributes to a lack of commenting. 

13. How has fanfiction changed your life?
It's given me an outlet to do more creative writing. For years I did only journalistic writing, so it's been refreshing and freeing to return to my roots and write from my heart. I've als met some wonderful people on LJ, which I'm grateful for.

14. Do you write professionally? Did you before you started writing fanfic or did it pave the way?
I do write professionally. For four years I wrote for a daily newspaper with a circulation of 10,000 copies. I did this long before I started writing fanfic. I have also held various internships where I have been paid for my writing. So, I've been published many many times, just not for fiction. I'm not a novelist, and never plan to be, but I do see a career for myself in media or communications where I could use my writing skills to my advantage.

 

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shawty got flava like a peach lifesaver: btvs: buffy communicatingonly_passenger on February 17th, 2008 12:11 am (UTC)
loved reading this. thanks for the post.

ClawofCat: hotchicksclawofcat on February 17th, 2008 02:44 am (UTC)
welcome! damn thing took me like two hours to write.
eowyn_315eowyn_315 on February 17th, 2008 12:25 am (UTC)
Yay! Glad you did this one. :)
ClawofCatclawofcat on February 17th, 2008 02:45 am (UTC)
*raises the roof* woot, woot.

And you're icon is made of awesome.
eowyn_315eowyn_315 on February 17th, 2008 06:00 pm (UTC)
lady_meander did a bunch of icons in this style here. I think it's so cool.
louise39: JM  guitar  animlouise39 on February 17th, 2008 02:20 am (UTC)
Delightful look into your processes. Very enjoyable to read.
ClawofCat: faith reflectionclawofcat on February 17th, 2008 02:48 am (UTC)
I'm glad I could satisfy the itch. I may follow up with some thoughts on my style and why I write short fics.

Aw, lookie! James strumming his guitar. Boys and their toys.
Mspankulert on February 17th, 2008 07:24 am (UTC)
yay I love this meme! So interesting to see how others work/write. I looked up Window Dressing btw, probably have a peek at it later today :)
ClawofCat: faith reflectionclawofcat on February 17th, 2008 05:22 pm (UTC)
Yeah, the two other places I've seen it, I've really enjoyed reading the writers comments. I hope that more people do it. It's fascinating and pretty cool to see the similarities and differences between how people think about the work they do.

Yay to Window-Dressing! I hope you enjoy. Faith breaks my heart in it everytime.
chrislee: angelchrisleeoctaves on February 21st, 2008 12:18 am (UTC)
Thanks very much for tracking me down and pointing me to this post. I am really happy to have inspired people to talk about their writing- I have always loved to hear from the writers with whom I share this fandom.

And I have bookmarked some of your fic for later reading!
ClawofCat: angel stareclawofcat on February 25th, 2008 05:24 pm (UTC)
Thanks for stopping by. only_passenger always speaks very highly of your writing, so I think I'm going to have to take a look at what you have to offer as well!

I know you're an Angel fan, so I thought I would mention I'm on a kick with him recently. I came to this fandom in love with Spike, and I still am, but lately I've been writing all these Angel fics. It doesn't come easily for me, at all. Angel has a sort of indistinct way of talking, I'm not as familiar with Angel canon as I am with Buffy, and I sort of don't like him (and yet I do). So, it's been a great challenge to get into his head a little. I have an Angel/Kate fic with the beta right now. I hope I mostly hit the mark *worries lip*
chrislee: doylechrisleeoctaves on February 25th, 2008 05:34 pm (UTC)
I actually just did a huge Master Fic post in my LJ....lists all my fic by pairing and such. I have your Angel/Faith fic bookmarked...and I look forward to reading your Angel/Kate. Rattle my cage when it's posted. *g*
ClawofCat: Kate believeclawofcat on February 26th, 2008 07:52 pm (UTC)
A bit of Kate and Angel for madam - Call it Closure