Feb. 2nd, 2017 05:21 pm
owlmoose: (star trek - bones and sulu)
My WIP triage didn't turn up much to work on next. Just one story really, a Hawke in DA:I epic that's way too big to finish in one month. I don't want to start a new giant thing immediately after finishing up a different giant thing.

Any suggestions?
owlmoose: (cats - lexi innocent)
Because I'll be out of town for the rest of the week, and not bringing my laptop along, I think it's time to call it in terms of fic writing and posting (although not writing goals for the year -- I'll take care of that when I get back).

Stories Written )

Questions and Answers )

In Conclusion

Not a great writing year, for a number of reasons both personal and structural, although it could have been worse. It seems so long ago, now, with everything that's happened since, but dealing with Lexi's illness, then losing him, took a toll on me in the first part of the year, and then during the second half I was consumed with the election. Either of those issues would have been a problem at any time, but they only worsened the problem of what feels like a long-term writing slump. One thing I did manage to mostly do, though, is meet most of my writing goals, especially the annual ones. I'll be able to take a closer look at that next week; I'll also decide at that time whether to participate in [community profile] getyourwordsout again. Right now I'm leaning toward no, although I could easily be convinced otherwise. One thing I've really lost over the last few years is the feeling of being part of an active community of writers. I fell out of touch with [ profile] ushobwri this year, and never really jumped into GYWO at all, and have been mostly off Tumblr lately as well. I need to think about what types of communities and challenges are the most useful to me, and how it all plays into my longer-term issues with motivation. Giving up writing is the last thing I want to do, but I have some big questions to ask myself about what I want out of it.


Nov. 28th, 2016 07:04 pm
owlmoose: (ff12 - ashe)
I might have just sent a draft of Wardens of Ivalice Part 2 out to beta. Maybe I will actually finish this thing.
owlmoose: (da - varric)
I got all the way to November 20th without having to post about how I don't have anything to say today, so I guess that's a good thing?

At least I did manage to get a little editing done on Wardens of Ivalice, and roughed out a missing section that was giving me trouble. My plan is to get it to beta this week; we'll see.
owlmoose: (da - alistair sword)
One of the roadblocks I've found in working on this story is that it's just been too long since I played FFXII. And since we recently got rid of our only television that will effectively run a PS2, I don't see the opportunity to pick it up again on the horizon at all. (Dear Square Enix: I understand that this remaster rumor is essentially just a rumor, but can't you at least port the darn thing to modern consoles or iOS? Pretty please?) Probably I need to apply myself to some Let's Plays, but I did find this collection of all the cutscenes, and I watched it over the space of a couple of days last week.

By all, I mean all, not just the FMVs -- it even includes snippets of most major boss battles, at least one shot of each Quickening, and the introductory shots for most of the world areas. The video is over six and a half hours long, and it was worth every minute to remind myself of details of story, landscape, and characterization. The characters' voices live in my head again, more so than they have in years. It's no substitute for living with the characters and Ivalice through a hundred hours of gameplay, but it was decidedly better than nothing.

Making writing progress, too, if slowly. What's mainly got me blocked at this point is giant plot details that I don't know yet. But I'm hoping that sitting down and writing up the character work, the character moments, will give me plot. It's worked before, anyway.
owlmoose: (marvel - steve profile)
Master List )

Questions and Answers )

In Conclusion

I find it interesting that so many of these stories are flashfic written to prompts, and (as mentioned above) that I like them better with some distance. What's missing is writing my own ideas, in part because I haven't been struck with enough ideas to write -- and when I have been hit with an idea, more often than not the writing has fizzled when I don't have a deadline to push toward. (I doubt I would have finished "The Right Partner" or "Face the Music" if they hadn't been Big Bang stories.) I've always known that deadlines are helpful to me, but I still miss the rush of inspiration. There hasn't been as much of that lately. But more on that when I get to my goals post. Stay tuned.


Nov. 27th, 2015 11:13 pm
owlmoose: (california - freeway)
I just wrote 4,613 words. In one afternoon/evening.

Don't ever let me do this to myself again.

But hey, good news: I have a complete draft! Yay, complete draft.
owlmoose: (book - key)
(And so the experiment in regular Tumblr cross-posting begins. I'm not going to lie; I'm pretty excited. I hope it works out!)

[ profile] maybethings tagged me in a first lines meme, which as far as I can tell is posting 10 first lines from things I've written. Without context, have some first lines:

  1. The first thing Steve knew, after the cold and the dark and the pain like being slammed into a brick wall, was the familiar cadence of a ballgame.

  2. It had seemed inappropriate to hold any sort of wedding festivities on the actual nuptial day of the King and Queen of Ferelden, given that the Blight had ended not even a week before, and so a formal ceremony was called three months later, complete with foreign dignitaries, a feast, and dancing.

  3. Alistair woke in the dead of night -- jolting upright, writhing body twisted in soaked sheets -- and knew it was time.

  4. "I still don’t understand why you forgave me, but I’m grateful that you did."

  5. Once upon a time, there was a young summoner named Yuna.

  6. Carlos snaps his head toward the radio and stops breathing.

  7. The entrance of the church is dark and quiet, a stark contrast to the bright sunshine just outside, to the sounds of the street now muffled by the heavy wooden door.

  8. "Hey Tasha, it's Clint, and it's Day 47 of watching a bunker in the middle of nowhere."

  9. ""They say that Princess Ashelia died of grief."

  10. The newly minted Judge stood before Drace's desk, his arms stiff at his sides, his face hidden beneath a black helm.

  11. I don't think I'll tag anyone here, just invite anyone who wants to do it to give it a try. It's a worthwhile exercise, this little jog down fic memory lane. :)
owlmoose: (B5 - Ivanova)
[personal profile] yohjideranged asked me about the character types I like to write.

I gravitate toward a few character types in my writing. Probably the most common, and the one that other people have commented on most often, is competent women. My favorite character list is riddled with women that fit this mold (Paine, Yuna, Fran, Aveline, Natasha Romanoff, Peggy Carter, Susan Ivanova, C.J. Cregg (whom I've never written, but someday, who knows)...) and when I have to create a one-off OC for a fic, there's a very good chance that she'll be very similar. Most of my female Wardens, too, as is my first Inquisitor, and I tend to push my female Hawkes in this direction as well (which is why I don't really play along with the dominant fandom image of Hawke as a Jo Shmo who just happens to be in the right/wrong place at the right/wrong time). I like writing about women, and I like writing about people who, for the most part, know what they're doing, so this is a natural intersection.

Another character I enjoy writing is typified by Alstair Thierin and Steve Rogers: the guy with a strong sense of right and wrong, cares about people and wants to do what he can to help, snarky sense of humor when he lets it show, a bit too earnest, a bit too naive, commits to a course of action and sees it through. I say guy, but Yuna fits this category, too, in a lot of ways. I like competence in a male character as well, although it's not a bulletproof kink in quite the same way.

I also like characters with secret pasts: Auron, Balthier, Paine again. I like digging out the details, figuring out how they might be seeing a situation based on what they know that we don't.

I feel like I ought to have more to say on this topic, but I'm blanking for now. Ask me again later, I might come up with a dozen more. :)
owlmoose: (quote - back to work)
Sure, let's do a post about writing when I haven't written a word in three days. ;)

Anyway, [personal profile] wallwalker asked me to talk about my typical writing process. This got pretty long. )
owlmoose: (heroes - hiro dino)
So folks may have noticed that I haven't been around so much lately, and I haven't been writing a whole lot, either (this is particularly notable in my monthly writing goals posts). There have been some real-world reasons for my absences, but I've had other busy periods in my life without much time to sit down at my computer, and those haven't necessarily kept me from posting -- here when it was my primary posting spot, on Tumblr once I semi-migrated over there.

I've thought about this relative lack of posting off and on: why it might be happening, why I haven't been particularly motivated to change it. But it didn't really come into focus until today, when [ profile] tarysande reblogged a great post by [ profile] jadesabre301, "Jade's Guide to Not Caring About the Number of Notes You Get" (which I immediately reblogged with a link to "Internet Popularity and The Claw", which seemed an appropriate addendum).

In a way, Jade's Guide isn't anything I didn't already know. These are all guidelines I try to follow, to one extent or another. But it resonated with me right now, particularly Steps 6 and 8: Post When You Write Something and Write More. Because that's exactly what I haven't been doing: posting, and writing more. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized: my problem is The Little Hater.

The Little Hater is a concept presented by the always-briliant Jay Smooth, in a video about creativity and communication and getting stuck. I've posted about this video before*, but we can always stand to watch it again.

The whole thing is worth watching, but here's the key quote:

I’m sure there are people who wake up every day feeling confident that the entire world wants to look at their face and listen to them talk, but I’m not one of those people. When I’m in the groove, and getting work done, and I feel like I’m making the connection with you guys out there… it feels natural to keep showing up and maintaining that connection. But if I go too long without putting work in, and it feels like that connection is broken, there’s a little voice inside my head that starts playing tricks on me, and trying to convince me that the connection was never really there.

Jay calls that voice The Little Hater, and my Little Hater has been dogging at me for ages now, particularly around my journaling. That voice sends me into a death spiral of perfectionism and procrastination, telling me that no one really cares what I have to say, and it isn't really that good anyway, and if I'm going to post something in my journal now, it had better be good to make up for all the days (weeks, months) of inattention. So I'll start on something, but then get stuck on it and don't finish it (like the Agents of SHIELD post I started writing in June), or I don't bother to write it at all (I've had links in open tabs about the latest "misogyny in gaming culture" blowup for weeks now). It happens with fanfic, too; I start a story and then abandon it, halfway through or even as a final draft, after convincing myself that it's not worth posting. I haven't crossposted from Tumblr in forever (except for the fic WIP meme from yesterday), and I haven't reblogged a Tumblr meme or posted fic there in quite a while. A lack of creation leads to a lack of communication which leads to a lack of connection, and that causes a feeling of isolation that feeds back on itself.

The only way I've ever found to break out of these negative feedback loops is to swim upstream against them. Force myself to write even when I'm not inspired, to post even when I'm not 100% happy with the results, and so here I am, writing about this, and putting the post out for the world to see. At the very least, I need to notice this cycle while it's happening, if only to remind myself that it's not reality, it's just The Little Hater.

And The Little Hater is a liar.

Even when it doesn't feel like it.

*I wanted to link that post here, but going through my archives and trying to find it turned into a project that I was using to procrastinate writing this post, which is exactly one of the traps that The Little Hater likes to use against me. ;) So I stopped looking and got to writing; apologies to those of you for whom this is a partial repeat.
owlmoose: (book - key)
I got tagged to do this over on Tumblr, and I figured I'd carry it over here, too.

The rules: Post one sentence, with no context, from all of your WIP. Then tag five other people to do the same. Except I'm not going to tag anyone, but I would encourage everyone to do it. :) It's good for pulling things out of the cobwebs.

Here are mine, for fairly generous definitions of "in progress" and "one sentence". Some of you might recognize some of these.

  • The candles burned out, one by one, as Teagan waited, alone in the parlor.

  • Varric checked the map. “I don’t know why I’m even looking at this,” he said, crumpling it up and sticking it back in his pack.

  • "Miss Leandra?" he said, eyebrows half up, his Starkhaven accent sharp. "And where are you going, alone, at this hour?"

  • "You wanted to fly, right? Here’s your chance."

  • "Beautiful and deadly," said Penelo. "At least we don’t have to worry about darkspawn."

  • It was, in fact, a man Yuna had never seen before, with dark blond hair, a sharp nose, and a sort of machina weapon slung over his shoulder. And unless she was mistaken, very much alive.

  • "I will return with Jack Sparrow in chains, or not at all," Alice replied, making a brief, stiff curtsey.
owlmoose: (ff12 - ashe)
Why am I suddenly struck with all these ideas and inspiration to work on Wardens of Ivalice when I have three other exchange/gift fics in various stages of completion that I really ought to finish first?
owlmoose: (ffx2 - yuna)
Today is my single day off in a marathon concert week (we even had an extra rehearsal on Sunday night). There's only one performance, on Friday night. I have mixed feelings about single shows -- it's nice that I don't lose my entire weekend, but there's way more pressure to be perfect because we don't have another shot at it. One of the pieces is fiendishly difficult, but I found in last night's dress rehearsal that I know it better than I thought I did. As is usually the case. I wish we had another week or so to work on it, but I think we'll do fine.

Meanwhile we are having a heat wave, and it is glorious. I know many of my fellow San Franciscans are melting, but I am so happy. You people who enjoy your cold and your fog get your preferred weather 80% of the year; let me have this moment of cozy warm glory. ;) It's supposed to break tomorrow or Friday, so I'm enjoying it while it lasts.

The Agents of SHIELD finale was last night, and overall I am pleased. The season had its bumps and its low points, but as a first crack at cross-platform storytelling, I don't think they did too badly. I think I have a larger post brewing on this. Watch this space.

Good progress on DOINK! today. I am inching toward an ending. Let's see if I can get it there.
owlmoose: (ffx2 - paine smile)
Because why not write ladies? But let's go a little deeper than that.

Background: Over on Tumblr today, [ profile] saathi1013 pointed out how often we have conversations about why people in fandom write m/m slash, or why they don't focus on female characters. So she flipped the question around and asked us to "celebrate presence instead of justifying absence", suggesting that we talk about why we choose to write and read about female characters. And I am happy to rise to this challenge.

The easy answer is that I am primarily a het writer, and it's pretty hard to write het without writing female characters. That's still a little too facile, though, and I write enough gen that it doesn't tell the whole story anyway. What it comes down to, I think, is that I write stories I want to read. And I want to read stories about women, and their lives, and their relationships (with friends, with family, with lovers, with the women and men in their lives). So I prefer put female characters in the spotlight wherever I can, to give them the recognition I think they deserve.

Of course, there are male characters I love, and whom I will always number among my very favorites. (After all, you also can't really write het without writing about men!) But in whatever I read, watch, or play, I'm always looking for the women. I'm more likely to identify with female characters, and I'm more likely to be interested in where their stories are going. It's difficult for me to enjoy media with no female characters at all, and nothing gets me to disengage from a story or backbutton out of a fic more quickly than cutting the women out of the narrative. Kill off the only woman? Pair up two men in a way that erases or disrespects a canon female love interest? I'm probably done, and I'm most likely not coming back.

I want my stories to reflect the world I see around me in some way. And that's a world that contains women. I write female characters because I can't imagine not writing female characters, and I guess that brings this post full circle: Why not write ladies? The truth is, I can't think of a single good reason.
owlmoose: (dim sum)
The Dragon Age Kiss Battle is still going! Many prompts and excellent stories for your perusal.

And don't forget the Final Fantasy Kiss Battle -- it got off to a bang and then suddenly slowed waaaay down, but there are still a ton of open prompts. Especially for you, Team Ifrit. Yes, you! We're in a solid second place right now, but it would be easy to catch up with just a few more fills. :D

I've written multiple fics for both battles, with ideas for more, and I also wrote a Porn Battle story which I will crosspost here eventually, and then yesterday I made actual progress on my [ profile] dragonagebb story, so that was exciting. I might actually get that one done after all!

I was browsing the "finish your stories" community [community profile] onedeadplotbunny, and came across this post about Premise Bunnies: story ideas that are a good premise for a story, but don't really come built in with a plot. And boy did that ever resonate. Wardens of Ivalice, for one major example: it got its start as a premise bunny (Grey Wardens come to Ivalice and fight darkspawn), and the plot has been slow in coming along the way. The Sherlock Holmes/Iron Man crossover, that's stalled at a single chapter, even more so. Most of my crossover ideas and AU ideas are premise bunnies, really, and most especially the occasional flash thoughts I get around original fiction are *always* premise bunnies. And that's even worse, because at least with fanfic premise bunnies I have existing characters and situations to work with, to eventually inspire plots. To take an origfic premise and turn it into a plot seems so daunting that I never even start. Maybe someday I'll figure it out, and maybe I won't, but at least I'm getting a better idea of what's holding me back.
owlmoose: (da - hawke)
After I answer this question, only one more remains. Any other requests?

Today's question (well, actually yesterday's, but who's counting?) comes from [personal profile] stealth_noodle, who wanted my thoughts on characterizing customizable video game protagonists in fic. I've been thinking about this question off and on ever since it was asked, because I think it's a pretty fascinating one. It's definitely an issue that comes up in Dragon Age fandom quite a bit (and I imagine Mass Effect fandom as well). How much flexibility is there for a fanfic writer when characterizing a Warden, or a Hawke, or a Shepard? Are there defined lines that we need to play within? Or is the protagonist essentially an original character, giving us total freedom to make them whoever we want?

Of course, there are some fic writers who feel free to say "Canon? Pffft, I do want I want" and take any character in the direction they like, not just customizable protagonist characters. And there's certainly nothing wrong with that approach, but that's not the kind of fic writer I am. For me, the interesting thing about fanfic is finding new and interesting things to do with characters and story within the structure that the canon provides. Even when I write a story with an AU premise, I try to keep events and characterization as close to canon as possible. Then again, can one even say that there is such a thing as "canon" for the Warden, or for Hawke?* As a general rule, I would say yes, but it's such a broad space of possible canons that there's a lot of room for flexibility. (More so for the Warden than for Hawke -- the Warden has a set backstory, different for each Origin, but personality-wise, they are essentially a tabula rasa. Hawke, on the other hand, does have an in-game personality, although the player has a hand in creating it.)

When it comes to writing the protagonist characters into my own work, I'm almost always writing about a particular Warden or Hawke -- one that I created myself, usually through the course of playing a full game. If I write about Sereda Aeducan, for example, she's not a generic female dwarf noble. She's the Warden I spent over a hundred hours with, playing through DA: Origins, Awakening, Golems, and Witch Hunt. The story is her story, set within her canon and reflecting the choices she made and the outcomes she discovered, or an AU with a purposeful divergence. When I decided to write Justify the Means, an AU about a very different kind of female Aeducan, I actually created a new character and played through her origin. This is why I don't write fic about Tabris, or Amell, or male Cousland, etc.: I've never played a Warden of that background, so I don't know who they are, or how to tell their stories properly. There've been a very few exceptions, mostly when writing to prompts or plot bunnies that don't suit any of my current Wardens, but writing a specific Warden whom I already know is much more within my comfort zone.

I can have a little more flexibility with a Hawke, as long as the Hawke isn't central to the story. For example, I wrote a few stories featuring a male Hawke before I ever played through my Garrett's canon, so I had to come up with a generic Garrett Hawke to fill that role. But as with the Wardens, I'm much happier if I have a known Hawke to work with (diplomatic rogue Marian, aggressive mage Marissa, snarky warrior Garrett) and am unlikely to put a generic Hawke into a starring role.

Although there are exceptions, from what I've seen, I think most fic writers who work with the protagonist characters in these kinds of canons do something similar. They aren't writing stories about A Warden or A Hawke or A Shepard, they're writing about their Warden/Hawke/Shepard. Some feel more bound to follow the canonical background and events of the games than others, but it's still where the seed of the character arises. In my case, as you might expect, I do use canon as my foundation -- I am very unlikely to create headcanons for my player characters that directly contradict the events of the game, although sometimes I'll fudge things a little for the sake of storytelling.

So in a way, it's not really that different for me than writing other characters. The main difference is that I had a part in creating the original canon, and that is most definitely part of the fun.

*There's also a larger question about what "canon" even means in a universe as flexible as that of Dragon Age, where outcomes and characterizations change based on player choices, and even more options open up when modding gets involved, but that's another conversation for another day.
owlmoose: (ffx - auron)
[personal profile] ossobuco asked me to write about "[a] fandom project (a single fic, or a set of related fics, or something more long-term as long as you see it as one collective thing, however you want to define it) that has been particularly fun to work on, for whatever reason."

I have many options here: I could talk about the Final Fantasy and Dragon Age Kiss Battles, or my Alistair/Aeducan fics, or the Hawke Alphabet, or MegaFlare and "Reconcilable Differences". But as soon as I saw the question, I knew immediately what I was going to write about: Death Shall Have No Dominion, aka DSHnD, the FFX/X-2 AU fic I wrote with [ profile] kunstarniki.

I first met [ profile] kunstarniki, more often known as Ikon, in 2005, when we traded reviews on our Paine/Nooj stories and started following each other on LJ. Around that time, she was writing a story about Nooj during the time of the Crimson Squad, in the form of a journal. Soon, others were joining in: [personal profile] ryry started a journal from Gippal's point of view, and another writer, Lee (no longer in fandom so far as I know) took on Baralai. When Ikon asked if anyone wanted to take on Paine's part of the story, I jumped at the chance. We didn't collaborate in the traditional sense of working on drafts together, but we drew inspiration from each other, weaving threads together and playing off unexpected things to turn the four separate stories into a seamless whole. And it was incredibly inspiring. I wrote a thirty thousand word story in less than a month, a creative outburst unlike any I've experienced before or since, and it was incredible fun. The stories were collectively known as The Confessional; once they were finished, Ry created a website to host them so that the journal entries could be easily read in chronological order. It was one of the first things I ever did in fandom, and still one of my fondest memories, but I mostly mention it here as backstory for what came next.

Also in 2005, I was also working on an epic fic about Auron ("A Guardian's Legacy"), and Ikon and I used to speculate about Auron and Nooj: how would they interact? Would they get along, or clash? Since there's basically no reasonable way for them to have met as adults in canon, what kind of AU would best bring them together? It all stayed in the realm of idle chatter until late 2005, when I was struck by a plot bunny with such force that I realized I was going to have to start writing it down. I invited Ikon to join me, she accepted, and the rest is history. We started posting the story in February 2006 and finished it October -- 33 chapters, at a pace of almost one per week -- and although I've never done a complete wordcount on it, it has to be over 100k.

This story was much more of a true collaboration. Most of the time, one of us would write a segment on our own, then present it to the other for suggestions and editing. But some of the interactions and conversations were written in a true back-and-forth manner, with each of us reacting in near-real time to the thoughts of the other. Then, once we decided we had enough material for a chapter, I would assemble the pieces in order, and we'd both read through them and edit until we were satisfied. This was before Google Docs, so we did most of our communication via a LiveJournal community we created for that purpose, as well as to provide a home for the published chapters.

Despite having some very different ideas about the characters and the canon, Ikon and I worked amazingly well together -- more often than not, even sections written with little group discussion would fit without much editing. It was the same creative charge I got from The Confessional, but dialed up to eleven. I've worked on other collaborative writings since, including another with Ikon, but none of them have ever been quite like DSHnD. I look back on both the story itself and the experience of writing it as one of my favorite fandom experiences, and I doubt anything will ever quite equal it. Sadly, Ikon passed away in 2009. But I'm happy to have DSHnD stand as a memorial to her, to her writing, and to my friendship with her.

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