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Author Topic: The Writing Column Q & A  (Read 896 times)

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Offline Captain MalteseTopic starter

The Writing Column Q & A
« on: May 30, 2016, 11:22:15 AM »
A thread in the style of the social games (and therefore posted there), but severely limited to the topic of writing. Passing a question on or repeating one from earlier IS allowed.

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What is your personal minimum size for story posts?

Offline Undine

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Re: The Writing Column Q & A
« Reply #1 on: May 30, 2016, 12:22:04 PM »
I don't write by post length, but usually by word count.  Normally, the smallest post I ever write is about 400 words or so.

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Are you capable of "write and release," and if so?  What is your secret?

Offline Beguile's Mistress

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Re: The Writing Column Q & A
« Reply #2 on: May 30, 2016, 12:33:57 PM »
If by that you mean writing something and posting it almost immediately or in short order then yes I am.  Many of my thoughts come fully formed or develop as I write and editing and rewrite happen concurrently for short pieces.  Also, because I procrastinate I frequently have the piece written in my head and merely used the typing as a transcription process.

Do you go back, after posting, to make corrections not simply of typos or errors but also of content?

Offline Captain MalteseTopic starter

Re: The Writing Column Q & A
« Reply #3 on: May 30, 2016, 12:54:12 PM »
Only if I am desperate, having found out that I have managed to omit something absolutely vital. Adding extra content is on the verge of malpractice in my opinion; my cowriter may already have read the post and started writing accordingly.

Where do you draw your character names from?

Offline Lapine

Re: The Writing Column Q & A
« Reply #4 on: May 30, 2016, 01:15:17 PM »
It varies.  Sometimes a name has a specific meaning, some I just like the sound or look of, and sometimes it's for a specific purpose. 

How quickly do you generally reply to a post?

Offline Captain MalteseTopic starter

Re: The Writing Column Q & A
« Reply #5 on: May 30, 2016, 02:05:33 PM »
My rule of thumb is that the story that have waited the longest gets replied to next. My average speed, I think, is about one post per day but there are days when I post nothing and days when I post two or even three. So with eight active stories I think my cowriters get about one reply per week provided they have at least posted once a week. However, now and then I read a new post and immediately know how to respond, and the words just overflow me and then I have to sit down and immediately hammer out that response and post it even if it's technically not that story's turn. So far this system is working for me.

How complex stories do you aim for?

Offline Belle33

Re: The Writing Column Q & A
« Reply #6 on: May 30, 2016, 07:01:58 PM »
I'll answer for the Belle who has time to write, though I haven't seen her in a long while.  I like a story that starts out simple and grows more complex.  Something that I think is just about a boy meeting a girl but turns into an epic journey of discovery with twists and turns I didn't intend are the most fun. 

How do you balance story planning with letting the characters go in whatever directions the moments take them?

Offline CaptainErotica

Re: The Writing Column Q & A
« Reply #7 on: May 30, 2016, 09:31:21 PM »
mostly that depends on my writing partner. I am very flexible with my writing and usually let them decide how much detail to plan out ahead of time. Personally though, I feel that my writing is better when I'm coming up with things on the fly. It gives me more freedom to adjust to any curveballs thrown my way and often times feels more natural when you go back and read the story. The key is to stay consistent though.


How do you know when your partner is truly enjoying your story or just giving lip service.

Offline Undine

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Re: The Writing Column Q & A
« Reply #8 on: May 30, 2016, 11:37:35 PM »
A:  I think part of that comes with the swiftness of the responses, though that's not full-proof.  Still, if you realize a partner is posting ICly (not OOC) everywhere but your story?  No matter what they say, that's generally a good clue you're getting lip service.  Again, that's not full-proof.  I generally try to write IC posts in the chronological order in which received, and on E I do that fairly well.  But there have been stories elsewhere, where the story is coming to an end, and I get maudlin and nostalgic and don't want it to end, and put off writing because I'm being a maudlin and nostalgic moron xD  OR, if I have a hard time writing something?  It may be because I'm just screaming inside, wanting to make it perfect but feeling like I'm just failing in every imaginable way.

Thank heaven, not everyone's as neurotic as I am ;)

And so yes, to your question Captain - in general, if a partner is posting ICly everywhere but your story?  It's a good sign that the "shiny new lovely" has probably worn off along the way.  Only dedication to going the distance on both parts gets it past that point.

Q:  Do you have a ritual for writing, actions you do or take prior to settling in to write, whether it be a specific drink, or music, or time of day, or place where you like to write?

Offline Kono

Re: The Writing Column Q & A
« Reply #9 on: May 31, 2016, 01:30:17 AM »
Yes. I'll listen to a particular piece of music before and during. I prefer to write early in the morning, like right now it is 1:27 am so its the perfect time. No interruptions, no noise other than the music playing.

Is it important for you to have a solid plot in mind before starting a roleplay?

Offline Lapine

Re: The Writing Column Q & A
« Reply #10 on: May 31, 2016, 04:31:07 AM »
No, I prefer a general outline.  Half the fun for me is seeing what happens as it unfolds.  If I were writing solo, I'd need to have it plotted in more detail with the end goal in mind so I could work my way toward it.

Do you create a whole new character for each new story, or do you recycle them?

Offline Captain MalteseTopic starter

Re: The Writing Column Q & A
« Reply #11 on: May 31, 2016, 08:02:05 AM »
Hm. All my characters are an aspect of me either I want it or not. But some have so little of me in them that it would require a DNA test to prove it. All that said, I love to make new characters as far as background goes; they have a new cultural background, a new motivation and a new past. Enough 'new' that it sends me careening though Google to get to understand them. Reusing a familiar character would mean missing out on that fun. Frankly I WOULD enjoy using an old character some time just to see how he had developed since then. The only aspect I consciously keep for all my characters is that they roughly reflect my own age and gender.

How do you keep your cowriters up to date on your status?

Offline Undine

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Re: The Writing Column Q & A
« Reply #12 on: May 31, 2016, 08:43:07 AM »
A:  For the vast majority of my writing partners, if I need to let them know my status - if I'm running behind (with my usual turn-around of about a week) or if something unexpected has come up - I PM them.  I do have an A/A thread I keep updated fairly regularly, but there are enough people who don't bother checking that, that I use the message system here on E (or on other sites).  PMs are also a rather nice way to "keep in touch," to just talk about everyday hellos, what's happening in our own lives and with our story, to plot and plan and simply chat, that's far more personal than a general A/A.  Since many of my partners eventually become friends at some point, I consider it the very least I can do to be courteous to them, and show that extra degree of care for their time and thoughts.

Q:  How much time do you devote to reading for pleasure, and do you find that has any correlation to the quality of your own writing (as I've heard many people claim)?  If so, in what way?

Offline Beguile's Mistress

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Re: The Writing Column Q & A
« Reply #13 on: May 31, 2016, 09:12:13 AM »
I enjoy reading.  It's one of my favorite things to do so I give it as much time as I can.  For a while, when my eyes were too bad for me to drive I spent the commute reading on my Kindle.  I also read in bed when I can't sleep.  A couple hours a day is where I'm at right now for reading.

Several of my favorite authors are my favorites because of the quality of their writing and the style they use.  For example, Nora Roberts writes strong female and male characters that stir the imagination and the quality of her prose is clear, clean and crisp.  She has had the biggest influence on my own writing.  I also pick out things I like and admire from other authors and experiment with their styles when I write.


Question:  Do you believe in using the death of a character to solve a plot problem?

Offline Captain MalteseTopic starter

Re: The Writing Column Q & A
« Reply #14 on: June 02, 2016, 07:02:08 AM »
I must honestly say that I can't recall killing off a character, ever. It has never even occurred to me - I guess I will never be writing for Game Of Thrones! But now that I am considering it, I think I should be braver at including death in my plots.

Question: are you good at working with multiple characters, I mean throughout the story rather than in a single scene?

Offline CaptainErotica

Re: The Writing Column Q & A
« Reply #15 on: June 02, 2016, 07:56:01 AM »
I'd like to think so, but really the opinions that count are your audience's. For me having a few minor characters on the sides gives me an out when the post for my main characters feels too short. I can simply throw in a few more paragraphs involving the minor character. It often helps give the story more depth and realism. Our characters don't live in a vacuum. Someone is bound to see the teacher always talking to his pet student. Throw in a scene where the other students are talking about it. Now you have a. Extra layer of intensity and intrigue.

Do you find it hard to write from inside you characters head? I've found that I am generally pretty good at writing action and dialogue, but have trouble transitioning between those and internal stuff.

Offline Rhedyn

Re: The Writing Column Q & A
« Reply #16 on: June 03, 2016, 05:34:17 PM »
Nope, I find it super easy to write from inside my character's head and I really love exploring how they are thinking and why they are doing what they are doing.

Do you find it easy to know when a story should end and do you find those endings are natural or are they forced because you are uncertain of just how it should end?

Offline Mnemosyne

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Re: The Writing Column Q & A
« Reply #17 on: June 03, 2016, 08:42:39 PM »
Endings terrify me. I don't know that I have ever gotten to a place that I felt like I would be content with it ending, which I am sure causes problems for certain people who might want to write with me but more for a one shot type thing? (( At least what is to my understanding a one shot..? Which is like a short story..? Perhaps I am wrong though... )) This is probably why if I ever were to attempt to write books... they would turn out to be a very long series. Oh but where to put the cliff hangers... that would probably be difficult for me as well. Even if I had foreseen how it might end before I began, I do not think I could keep to that ending? With partners, there are so many variables! That can change the outcome of things. You are sharing a story. You are like the life support on which that story thrives on, one can't simply pull the plug when you don't know what the story itself wants! (( I'm not completely sure this statement makes sense... it does in my brain? ))

How do you develop a story before presenting it to others?

Offline Darius

Re: The Writing Column Q & A
« Reply #18 on: June 03, 2016, 11:04:10 PM »
I like to trust my vision. Its hard to share a story, but I've always written to please me. If others' don't get it. I like to think its just because they themselves are dim.

When you write, does your character talk to you in your head?

Offline CaptainErotica

Re: The Writing Column Q & A
« Reply #19 on: June 04, 2016, 02:17:35 AM »
Sometimes. I've had characters where they simply refuse to talk or even act and others where I can't get them to shut up or leave me alone while in at work. They just keep bugging me, begging me to sneak home early to write their next chapter.

How do you approach writing something that you have no first hand experience with. Research helps, but how do you make it feel authentic when you have no clue what authentic is in regards to the subject?

Offline Rhedyn

Re: The Writing Column Q & A
« Reply #20 on: June 04, 2016, 02:29:13 AM »
I try to break it down into different experiences and imagine what it would be like. For example, I have never been sky diving but one of my more adventurous characters might think that's fun so I would research general information on sky diving then break the experience down into different steps; preparation before the flight, what the flight and build up felt like, getting ready to jump, the actual jump and then the landing. Thankfully I don't usually have trouble with getting into the mindset of my characters so even though I myself would hate even the idea of skydiving when I'm imagining it from a character's point of view who wants to do it I have no trouble putting aside my dislike and seeing what they might enjoy about the experience. I find that going internal and developing my character's thought processes really helps with creating a more authentic feel to something I may not know much about too. It's amazing how much of the specifics of a field you can bypass by focusing more on how a character observes and feels about it than actually delving deep into the details of something you know nothing about  >.>

How much of the plot of a story you are writing do you like to know in advance and how much of it do you like to be a surprise?

Offline Captain MalteseTopic starter

Re: The Writing Column Q & A
« Reply #21 on: June 04, 2016, 07:32:00 AM »
If I plan an entire story in detail ahead of writing it, I have effectively killed my own interest in writing it. But I can't just start with a couple of interesting characters either.

My main writing inspirator is J. Michael Straczynski who wrote most of Babylon 5. His plot arc model is what I always have in mind throughout the story. The model basically goes like this; you need to have one main plot line that stretches through the entire story. Then you have a number of longer subsidiary plot lines that go through a number of episodes each; conflicts, relationships, campaigns of war, such things. And finally you need the short plotlines that gets a satisfying resolve within one episode. Although a post cannot compate to an episode; instead a number of posts will combine to one event like 'the inn fight against the Rocco twins'.

The nice thing about this model is that you don't need to flesh out almost anything of this in advance. Yes, the overriding plot line needs to be clear from the start but not in detail. The longer plot lines can be made only one at at time. And the episode/event lines practically write themselves as you proceed. The tale might not end up where you plan it - but so what? There's no publishing contract waiting at the end anyway.

How much work do you normally put into creating your main character?
 

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Re: The Writing Column Q & A
« Reply #22 on: June 13, 2016, 01:15:30 AM »
A:  A fairly good amount.  I do 'recycle' characters, and that helps.  I don't like creating a character for a roleplay, and then leaving them if that roleplay ends.  My characters are like family, even if they are pains-in-the-ass sometimes.  Someone I've put effort into creating will not be left behind, I guess you could say.  Besides, the more developed a character is, the more interesting and enjoyable they are to write about, and I find my partners usually agree with that.

When I create a character from scratch, I'm often inspired by images, songs, events from my own life, or other people I know.  My characters are usually amalgams of my own personality, friends and family, and interesting traits or experiences I've read, seen, or heard about.  They grow on me, and as I mentioned, I tend to be loyal to them.



Q:  Do you world build, and if so, how do you go about it?

Offline Miscellany

Re: The Writing Column Q & A
« Reply #23 on: June 13, 2016, 01:29:52 AM »
A: Yes !   I love to world build.    In process,  I start with a basic story concept  ;   a place.  a time.  a conflict.   From there, I build out and craft a world around the characters involved.   Supplying NPC's  or other devices,  or more than one character if it is needed.  I figure out the places these people or creatures are from, and just keep adding the layers.   The more layers, the richer the environment and the more there is is play upon and build with.

Q:  When you create a character ,  do you pack in all of the positive traits and then consider the flaws ?  -or-  Do you define the flaw and then figure for the redeeming qualities ?

Offline Undine

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Re: The Writing Column Q & A
« Reply #24 on: June 13, 2016, 08:25:37 AM »
A:  Neither, if we're discussing a main character.  I don't create characters with strong points or weak points in mind at all, but form them up in my head as people first, with a past, present and future - not necessarily a conglomeration of strengths and weaknesses (and as an aside?  I despise making detailed character sheets *ugh*)  Most of their strengths and flaws are further refined/defined by whatever history I have given them, and the context of the story.  NPCs though, are created for a specific purpose and are often at least a touch more two-dimensional as far as strengths/flaws.

Q:  How do you personally see yourself through a writer's block?  (And no, I'm not asking about anyone's "muse" - just you, your thoughts, your writing and how you make it to the other side of the occasional writer's block).