ljlee: (candle)
[personal profile] ljlee
What do you think about using political, social, religious and other ideas in fiction-writing? Do your beliefs find their way into your work, and if so how? Alternately, do you believe enjoyable fiction is free of ideology and partisanship?

These questions were touched off in me when members of another comm that I admin were quite open about expressing political and moral ideas through their works. I've given a lot of thought to this issue, too, for instance in a long rant about a post by Holly Lisle on her website, in my review of Changes by Jim Butcher, my review of Frozen, my review of Kingdom of Heaven and... oh, let's face it, everything I've ever written, including fiction. Especially fiction. As I noted in the Changes review, my political views are inextricable from the literary.

That's not to say my goal is to preach or proselytize, quite the opposite in fact. I believe the role of fiction is to tell a truth that lies beyond and below facts. Having an uncompromising agenda tends to distort the truth, and if a writer finds herself going into contortions to make her side look good then she has some issues to work out before she can write to her full potential. On the other hand, truth doesn't exist free of viewpoints, and every work of fiction has some moral standpoint no matter how well or poorly expressed. That's the way I see it, anyway. What do you think?
sarillia: (Default)
[personal profile] sarillia
Hey all! I haven't done this in a while. How are you doing? How's the writing going? Things to celebrate? Complaints? Let's hear it!

Today's picture is Awaiting the Rebirth by Peter Gric, a wonderfully weird example of fantastic realism:

ljlee: (persistence)
[personal profile] ljlee

No Plot? No Problem! was recommended on [community profile] write_away's writing advice book rec thread. It's by National Novel-Writing Month founder Chris Baty, and purports to be a road map to the process of writing a 50,000-word draft of a novel in one calendar month.

The book did at least one thing right for me as a reader: It got me excited about the idea of drafting a novel in a month and I decided to dive in with my own long-dreamed-of novel. I also decided to put off the review of the book until after I had tried the challenge so that I would have a handle on the subject matter. That chance came when I entered the July Novel Writing Month and Camp NaNoWriMo challenges. The following is my recounting of my NaNo experience along with the review of No Plot? No Problem! week-by-week, following the organization of the book.

An emotional rollercoaster in five weeks )

I believe the true meaning of No Plot, and of timed writing challenges, comes down to this: Discipline, determination, and dedication are how we fight the clinging mud of our doubts and reach for our dreams. That is how we do our true work and make contributions that only we can make. If writing 50,000 words in a month is the way to do that, awesome. If writing every day at a more sedate pace is how to make it happen, awesome. The victory is not against a rival or a deadline or a word count, but against the resistance to creation--which, when you look long and hard at it, is in truth yourself.
sarillia: (Default)
[personal profile] sarillia
When you first have an idea is it usually based on plot, character, setting, theme, something else?

I'm very much plot-oriented in the beginning. I usually start with a scenario and only later do I think about the person who will be put in the scenario and the surrounding culture.

I do have a list of bits of characterization and setting details that I come up with, but those aren't often the start of my story. I tend to mix and match those with the plot idea that's the real kernel of the story to see what looks good rather than having the story come naturally from that character or world.

How does this work for all of you?
inkdust: (Default)
[personal profile] inkdust
Hi everybody! It's been a while.

I'm putting off continuing my work for the moment because I'm stuck on one part of the last line of this scene & chapter (12, yay, halfway there!) that needs something to make the sentence feel complete. I have a gift for sitting on one piece of one line. So I figured I'd stare at something else for a minute and ask how all you fine people have been.

What's new? What's old that you want to be rid of? What's good, and what feels more like dragging a dead zebra behind a bicycle?

(No zebras were harmed in this mental interlude)
sarillia: (descent)
[personal profile] sarillia
Is there a way to tell before you start writing whether an idea is more suited to a short story or a novel? I seem to be completely hopeless at judging this right now and I’d like to get better at it. It feels like it should be obvious but somehow it’s not for me. I look at a few of the novel-length stories I've written, and I don't know what made me think that the idea would sustain a novel, even though it did work. They could have just as easily been short stories or novellas.

I got my start in writing with National Novel Writing Month, so novels sort of became my default. Now I'm trying to write more short stories and I'm shifting my thoughts so that I assume each idea will be a short story unless it feels like it should be a novel. But I'm not sure how to judge that.
serria: (Default)
[personal profile] serria
I know this is a broad question, but what is your experience of deciding to write something? Whether it's just a little plot bunny that you spend an hour toying with using a Wordpad document, or a novel that you start charting. Do you think there's a pattern in what "inspires" you to write? Where does it tend to come from?

If I were to divide my inspiration sources, I'd say they went something like this. A tiny portion might come from real people. Something someone said, or the way someone I knew acted, or the way two people acted around each other might inspire a story in my head (though I wouldn't say any of my characters have ever been total replications of real people). A good chunk of inspiration comes from my own experiences, usually while I'm having them. I could be hang gliding or something nuts like that, and while I was doing it I'd start working a story in my head. A lot comes from my study of history (being as my genre of choice is fantasy/historical) - learning about some kind of ancient system of society, or even the little things, like how people cooked or what games they played, make me want to write something. Then, I have to admit, a lot of inspiration comes from existing media. I don't mean writing fanfiction or anything, but when I read, watch or play something with a lush fictional world, and I get plot ideas in my head that are never actually realized in the real story, I like to tinker with them until they become unique. That's especially easy with really open world video games, like Skyrim, where a lot of the game is just wandering around the detailed map.

How about you guys? I know a lot of people who are inspired by social issues, family or work experiences, their friends, and so on. What gives you that rush that makes you want to start something new?
ljlee: where I work & play (workspace)
[personal profile] ljlee
I was originally going to write my first draft in August as discussed with sarillia, but I had a change of plans when I learned my best friend whom I plan to vacation with can only get vacation time in the last week of August. Besides, July makes a lot of sense for me. It's when everyone else (including my boss) is on vacation, meaning things will be slow at work, and it will leave me August to recover and prepare for next semester. It's not ideal, but no month is going to be ideal.

Is anyone else doing this in July, or thinking of doing so? It would be great to have someone to commiserate/compete with. :)

Update: I've created a private comm, [community profile] go_nano, for off-site chatter between participants. Ask by comment or PM, and ye shall be invited.
graychalk: (Default)
[personal profile] graychalk
Hiya fellow writers! I'm looking for some thoughts / advice / suggestions regarding something I feel rather conflicted about (in that I keep swaying back and forth between what to do), and I'd really appreciate any opinion you may have on this.

Basically, I'm digging up a WIP from about 10 years ago as it's my intention to go back and hopefully finish the darn thing. In terms of where it was left off story-wise, I'd say it's roughly around midpoint. But what I have so far was also written so long ago that it not only has large areas that need major fixing, a character I'm likely taking out, another character I might insert, and several scenes I know are missing... but the tone and style has also evolved. Some of these changes require complete rewrites of certain chapters, others not as drastic.

So... the question I keep bouncing back and forth in my head is this:

Since it's been so long, would it be better for me to just start fresh and write the entire thing from the beginning again? Or would I be better off continuing the story and then coming back and heavily comb through and fix the first half?

I feel like the second option would be the "smarter" choice (however hard it might be for me psychologically because I know myself and I'd keep thinking about all those things I wanted/needed to do about the first half). I'd have to try to find a way for it to not distract me. On the other hand, while the first option of starting the whole draft fresh from the beginning sounds very appealing, I'm almost afraid that that way is a rabbit hole where I end up having a WIP that will never finish. What do you all do when you return to work on very old unfinished drafts?

Help? :\
rainbowshy: (shyness)
[personal profile] rainbowshy
I want to write a story about an autistic girl who is also an empath. I just don't know where to start. Like, I want it to be part slice of life where she deals with her empath abilities, but I also want it to tie into something paranormal related. I just can't seem to think of anything to help the story along right now. I was hoping you guys would be able to help me brainstorm some ideas at the moment. I don't exactly want it to be a horror story per se... because I'm not good at stuff like that. I get scared by anything horror-related, so why would I write it? lol
caecilia: (yeah gurl yeah)
[personal profile] caecilia
I got my hardcopy of Women Destroy Science Fiction today (early birthday present to myself because why not) and it's awesome. And it made me go to Lightspeed's website for the first time in the past couple of months only to find that they are planning THIS and you can sign up for their newsletter and offer to help. They need editors, slush readers, social media people, and they're not open for submissions yet but you can check off if you're interested in being a writer (which I'm assuming is only open for LGBT people since WDSF only accepted writing from women). I am way excited!!
ljlee: why not? (conch)
[personal profile] ljlee

20 Master Plots and How to Build Them by Ronald B. Tobias was recommended by [personal profile] splinteredstar on the [community profile] write_away writing books recommendations thread. I really liked it and recommend it even more for its introductory chapters than for the master plots, though the plots weren't bad, either.

A good book hiding an even better book )

Still, even in its disparate parts 20 Master Plots was well worth my time for its intelligent discussions about story, plot and morality. If nothing else I would recommend Chapters One and Four for the theory of plot and deep structure.

See also: 20 Master Plots smacks down Plot Versus Character, at least in my febrile imagination.
sarillia: (Default)
[personal profile] sarillia
Hello all! It's Friday the 13th today! I hear it's also a full moon tonight. Hope none of you are too superstitious.

Anyway, how's the writing coming?

This time our picture is Elihu Vedder's Questioner of The Sphinx. And it should work, unlike last time

[personal profile] lyriel
Greetings, everyone. Hope this question is appropriate for this comm; if not then feel free to delete.

I would like to hear people's feelings on the following issue. I know it's subjective, so there's no "right answer", probably:

How would you handle warning/tagging for a fic where it *seems* like a major character has died, but it later turns out that he didn't? Think of a Sherlock Holmes type of situation where someone disappears, is presumed dead, then comes back a few years later.

Would you use the "Major Character Death" warning on AO3? How can I warn/tag this story properly without giving away the plot twist? Would you feel disturbed/squicked/annoyed if you read a story like this and there was no specific warning for "major character death"?

Can I get away with using a vague warning like "dark themes"?

Assume that the death is not graphically described, and this is a canon where death and violence are not common occurrences.

Thanks in advance; this one has been puzzling me.
ljlee: where I work & play (workspace)
[personal profile] ljlee
Plot Versus Character by Jeff Gerke is a how-to book for both plot-centric and character-centric fiction writers to integrate these these two aspects of the craft. I have aired my decidedly mixed feelings (cross-posted to this comm) about Part 1 of the book dealing with character. However, as expected, Part 2 on plot was much more satisfying. Plot is the author's own admitted strong suit, after all. I'll discuss where I found Part 2 helpful and where frustrations and questions still linger for me.

Some swell chapters and some big problems )

Despite the book's problems, I think Part 2 is still worth a read especially if you keep the book's overall limitations in mind, or have a good internal filter like recommender inkdust does. If you can winnow the chaff from the wheat, discarding the incomplete or flawed parts while internalizing the good, I think this book can serve as a good guide for story structure and how it can integrate with character development.

Cross-posted to my journal
inkdust: (Default)
[personal profile] inkdust
Amend the click-bait style title to add "...if you already know what you're doing." I was pleasantly surprised by this list because it seems to articulate some of what we've said about writing advice (I know at least I've said it) - that so much is directed toward total beginners, stated as utter absolutes, and ends up running counter to our instincts as storytellers. This list is intended as an antidote.

"The Ten Worst Pieces of Writing Advice You Will Ever Hear" [if you already know what you're doing]

What do you all think?
sarillia: (Default)
[personal profile] sarillia
Hello everyone! It's another Friday. How is the writing going? Anything to celebrate? Anything you need to vent about? Let's hear it!

This week's picture is by Zdzisław Beksiński. He is another favorite of mine and I definitely recommend looking into his work if you're like me and enjoy fantasy and surrealist art.

Pen Names

May. 28th, 2014 03:31 am
sarillia: (Default)
[personal profile] sarillia
How do you go about choosing a pen name? I don't know where to start.

I've been going back and forth for a long time about whether I would want to use a pseudonym if I ever actually got published. I finally decided yes because I don't need to worry about my bigoted brother seeing the shameful empathy towards things he disapproves of in my writing and judging me, even if I know that it's unlikely that they would google me and find out that I have a few stories that a handful of people have read. True story: his girlfriend once refused to lend me a book because she had discovered since buying it that it was "immoral" and said that she regretted lending me other such books in the past because she shouldn't be enabling me in poisoning my mind with such things.

Anyway, pen names. Do you have one? How did you choose it?

I kind of feel like I'm getting ahead of myself, but in my defense, I did write today.
caecilia: (cool girls yeah)
[personal profile] caecilia
You know, instead of writing. Just kidding. I wrote a little bit and read, too.

It's kinda long, so here's a cut. )
rejectionchallenge: (Default)
[personal profile] rejectionchallenge
Just an update for those of you who expressed interest: posting has started in the [community profile] artistsway community, and there's an "introductions" post up for those who want it, so come by if you want to!

Every week will have a different theme related to creativity. Weeks begin on Monday (so the first weekly post is up this morning).

Hope to see some of you there!


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Write Away: A Writers Community

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