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A Fic Year In Review - 2013

Time for another Fic Year in Review!


January

The start of the year belonged to finishing off Beloved. Wrapping it up gave me quite a bit of trouble so progress was pretty slow.

Beloved 25


February

Beloved 26


March

Beloved 27


April

Beloved Epilogue

And Beloved, finally finished! Wow that was... one chapter a month. Although in retrospect the start of the year was quite busy. I like it more with the distance of time, but it's still not my best work. Pleased I managed to finish it though, and people overall appear to have enjoyed it.


Xmas Giftfics 2012 Part 2
Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, FFVII

I was soooo late with Christmas fics. My time was shorter than average due to overtime at work, and that time was mostly spent gnawing on Beloved, so I didn't really dig into these until way way too late. The FFVII fics of this set were decent enough I thought, the Haruhi one I'm not really happy with. Haruhi's one of those fandoms which I really like but in terms of writing it's never fit quite right, like a pair of clothes in your favourite colour that's the wrong size.


May

Xmas Giftfics 2012 Part 3
FFVII

The little Kunsel short I enjoyed, wrote that one very quickly. Smewhat ambivalent about the cracky omake one. I have a soft spot for the Fallacious Deity crossover, since I really like writing Fallacious Deity stuff, what can I say, dimensional hopping is nearly as alluring as time travel for me.


June

Xmas Giftfics 2012 Part 4
Portal 2, Persona 3, FFVII

Portal 2 one was a bit experimental, in hindsight I really don't think it worked out. It's quite difficult to match Stephen Merchant's style without being a comedic genius yourself. The Persona 3 one caught me offguard but I'm pretty pleased with that one. The same could be said for the bodyswap one - although in many ways I felt that one needed many more words than I gave it, should have been a multi-chapter fic to really do it justice.


July

Okay, so PAX happened in July, that's my excuse for apparently posting nothing.


August

Umm, this is awkward... SMASH happened? Actually August was an epic month, no surprise I had no time for writing.


September

The rest of the year belonged to A(r)mour. Despite everything going on, I managed to keep a consistent update schedule for the most part!

A(r)mour, Chapter 1
A(r)mour, Chapter 2
A(r)mour, Chapter 3


October

A(r)mour, Chapter 4
A(r)mour, Chapter 5
A(r)mour, Chapter 6
A(r)mour, Chapter 7
A(r)mour, Chapter 8


November

A(r)mour, Chapter 9
A(r)mour, Chapter 10
A(r)mour, Chapter 11
A(r)mour, Chapter 12


December

A(r)mour, Chapter 13
A(r)mour, Chapter 14

A(r)mour's a bit of an odd fic, basically me scratching an itch for a fandom in which I'm not quite sure if I liked the canon, but I liked something about the cast enough to worry at it until fic came out. Not sure how I feel about the fic itself, but it did what it set out to do.  And now I can start the year on a fresh slate! ...Except for another waiting set of giftfics. Dammit.


Total Year’s Output: Approximately 60,000 words
Back down again! D: Damn, that's only a little more than half of last year's output.


Looking back, did you write more fic than you thought you would this year or less than what you’d predicted?
Less, although I'm not sure why as there were not any particular droughts in terms of writing, perhaps it was only posting?


What pairing/genre/fandom did you write that you would never have predicted in January 2012?
Junjou Romantica, clearly. I had the plot bunny rolling in my head after watching the anime, but never expected it would bother me enough to write a longfic of it.


What’s your favourite story of the year? Not the most popular, but the one that makes you happiest.
Beloved. But that's mostly from a lack of choice. I have unposted WIPs I already like more.


Do you have any fanfic goals for the New Year?
Finish off my current crop of WIPs. I also have some original projects I want to devote more time to.



This is the part where I ask you guys for feedback. Concrit, favourite/least favourites and why, posting suggestions, writing methodology discussion, anything you feel like sharing should the urge strike you. There is admittedly not a lot to discuss this year, but thanks as always for reading!

Comments

( 26 comments — Leave a comment )
vulcanatf
Dec. 31st, 2013 06:17 am (UTC)
Lo and Behold I'm suddenly reminded of the Kunsel /Cessnai body swap fic as a continuation to the Sepheroth /Cloud fic.
It still has possibilities. The question is do you have the time and inclination?
sinnatious
Dec. 31st, 2013 10:33 am (UTC)
Ahaha we'll see, I've only just started tackling them.
lenine2
Jan. 2nd, 2014 03:13 am (UTC)
Your fics are wonderful. I re-read The Fifth Act and Beloved recently, and all of your related one-shots.
sinnatious
Jan. 2nd, 2014 03:53 pm (UTC)
Thank you! Hearing it's worth re-reading is about the nicest thing you could say to me about a fanfic.
(Anonymous)
Jan. 2nd, 2014 06:10 pm (UTC)
I stumbled upon "The Fifth Act" and "Beloved" just two weeks ago when I finally picked up and finished playing Crisis Core. Just wanted to thank you profusely for writing and sharing these stories. I only hope you'll continue to write more for the FF7 fandom.

You have some of the tightest plotting and some of the most natural thematic progression I've read in "The Fifth Act" and "Beloved." I just want to ask how you go about writing these longfics. How clear of a picture do you have for these fics before you dive into writing them? What's your process like for plotting these long stories?

I also noticed that "The Fifth Act" is a more character-driven story than "Beloved," i.e. whereas "The Fifth Act" is basically a domino effect of character motivations/actions, "Beloved" is much more externally-driven, with most of the conflict being imposed from without rather than from within. Do you prefer reading/writing one type of story more than the other?

There are also several moments in "Beloved" where Cloud has to confront some of the ... more latent demons in his life, like his total and complete lack of drive/ambition. It's not something that is really resolved in the story (aside from him recognizing the problem), but what is Cloud's dream now that the entire Sephiroth fiasco is over? In the same vein, what's Genesis's goal in life now? I can't imagine them living quietly in Costa del Sol and having a typical happily-ever-after ending.

Last are just a few headcanon questions: How in the world do you think Genesis and Angeal became friends in the first place given how utterly different they are? How do you think they befriended Sephiroth, given the rank difference (canon heavily implies that Sephiroth was 1st Class already by the time Genesis and Angeal decide to go join SOLDIER)?

Aaaaaaand this comment ended up much longer than I thought it would. Feel free to ignore/answer as much of it as you wish! Thanks again for writing and sharing your fics with us. :)
sinnatious
Jan. 4th, 2014 11:02 am (UTC)
Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment! I will attempt to answer some of these.

For longfics, I usually get an idea for a premise, then brainstorm by writing a few random scenes based on this premise. Once I have enough of those, I start sketching out a very skeletal plot outline with a vague notion of how it will end. Then I start writing from the beginning. Usually the plot outline gets thrown out/heavily amended halfway through because I'll either have landed on a better idea in the process of writing, or more frequently, realise that the original plot outline involves the characters acting terribly OOC. This process continues until (if I'm lucky) the fic is complete!

I definitely prefer both reading and writing the former - character-driven - stories. But those types of stories are also much harder to write well. If I were more awesome all of my stories would take that form. Maybe one day.

Headcanon-wise... just my personal headcanon, mind, but I don't see Genesis and Angeal's friendship that surprising. Two above-average, ambitious kids growing up together in a small town, who have probably been exposed to each other more frequently due to their (unknowing) status as experiments and Gillian's position as a quasi-parent to Genesis. As for befriending Sephiroth... jeez, it could be any number of things. Maybe they bonded during a mission gone wrong. Maybe Genesis kept challenging Sephiroth to spars until they realised they'd become friends. Maybe they were forced to share quarters/offices for a while. Maybe once Genesis and Angeal rose through the ranks the three of them constantly got stuck at boring functions together. I could throw plot bunnies at that one all day. XD
(Anonymous)
Jan. 5th, 2014 06:52 pm (UTC)
"The Fifth Act" had me convinced you were one of those heavy by-the-outline types since everything came together so well. Now I'm just even more impressed by that story and your writing. :P

Thanks for the extensive reply!
tenshinoakuma
Jan. 9th, 2014 10:06 am (UTC)
METHODOLOGY DISCUSSION YOU SAY?

I think it's fair to say that in terms of what we write most of the time, we're kind of on the opposite ends of the spectrum, since I tend to write one-shots and struggle with multichapters and the opposite seems to be true for you, yeah?

I'm sort of thinking that maybe my struggle with multichaptered stories is that I didn't know about the various forms of dramatic structure. Now that I actually know about things like Exposition, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action and Denouement, I'm like, okay, planning out this multichaptered story is significantly easier than my failed attempts when I didn't know about narrative structure. (Whether I can actually write the thing is still something to be seen. Hopefully this year is the year I actually do it!!)

I think my question's related to what the anon was asking, but do you have background/knowledge in dramatic structure and/or do you bother with it when planning out your stories?
sinnatious
Jan. 9th, 2014 11:15 am (UTC)
\o/ I am always so happy when you turn up in these types of threads because you are always the best for these discussions~

That is definitely a fair assessment! I am a little jealous of your ability to write one-shots, tell me your secrets. How to keep them focused and simple? How to end them without leaving them feeling unfinished?

That's an interesting point about narrative structure, I'm curious to hear how that changes things for you! I know a bit about it - mostly the basic three act setup, the Hero's Journey, the standard stuff. I'm not a big fan of following a formula though, personally all I've ever seriously concerned myself with is a good start, making sure the climax is the biggest moment, and keeping the denouement relatively short.

Although that said, this is probably why a lot of my earlier stories (and even some of my current ones) often seriously stumble in the middle. These days I get around it by asking myself 'what actually happened in this chapter? Nothing of importance? Scrap it and make something happen' but could probably save myself some pain by plotting out the middle of the story a bit more. :/ But I get my best plot ideas while writing more so than sketching outlines. What about you?
tenshinoakuma
Jan. 10th, 2014 12:47 am (UTC)
With one-shots, I feel that I'm only trying to get one idea across, so I hone in on that. Keeping them focused on that one idea is pretty much the same technique as what you just described; excising the parts that aren't relevant to the idea. Or in some cases, just removing things that aren't so strongly linked to the idea. Sometimes I end up cutting things that might have been nice to include (e.g. detailed Beat and Rhyme interaction in Dreamless, where Rhyme was searching for answers post-game) that don't necessarily detract from the focus, though. So I think I actually need to pare back on my editing machete just a tiny bit.

I think what helps in ending one-shots is that usually the ending is one of the first things I write (or is the idea that got me to write in the first place!). Everything else is just build-up to that. If I don't know how it's going to end, I ask myself, "Has the story covered the parts of this idea that I wanted to explore fully enough?" and/or "Will writing more start to explore a related, but different idea?" and when the answers to those two questions are "Yes," then I find that's a pretty good place to stop haha. (I'm also a huge fan of ending things on one-sentence paragraphs

I've also gotten the best plot ideas while writing, but I also generally have problems with the middle, since I find that I can do strong beginnings and endings, but the middle is also where I stumble since I usually don't have a clear picture of what I want to do with them. Still, it's much less of a problem for me when the stories I wrote are only about 3k words, verses 50k+.

At the same time, the plot ideas I get while writing tend to be small things, not really huge shocking swerves in terms of story, but I find the lack of plot outlining tends to hurt my ability to get past the first few chapters since I kind of flail and wonder what I'm trying to achieve. I lack the discipline to push on regardless, alas! So what I'm hoping to do with the Free! Desert AU is have a well-structured plot outline (BEFORE I start writing) and add stuff to it as I get ideas. I ended up making a flowchart. I love it. I look upon it with a happy tear in my eye. We'll see how it turns out!

You've mentioned earlier that you were having trouble wrapping up Beloved. Was that the usual stumbling around the middle? I know we've had a discussion on "inspiration" and just having to push through it when you don't have it, but what do you do to force yourself to push on writing a part that's giving you difficulty?
sinnatious
Jan. 10th, 2014 01:47 am (UTC)
Ahhh, you make it sound so easy! I am fairly brutal with my editing machete but perhaps when tackling one-shots, need to become more so.

Yeah, the middle I think is what most people struggle with, so at least our problems aren't unique! Probably why so many longfics get abandoned.

*__* Flowchart! Sounds like you have an epic planned. Can't wait to read it~

Beloved was a bit of mess, yes. Some of it was definitely stumbling around the middle, but I think most of my problems really came down the fact that I was trying to focus on too many different things, and in order to ferry one part of the story along I kept putting the other parts into a holding pattern. Was also struggling with the issue of anti-climax, since my planned outline for the ending wasn't playing nice with characterisation and I wound up moving some things forward mostly because Genesis didn't strike me as that patient, which played havoc with everything else.

Getting over the bumps... sometimes I pick up a beta, or even just a reader to act as a sounding board. Having someone reading my work helps pressure me into pushing through it, lol. If I'm reasonably close to the end and have a decent backlog of chapters I'll also start posting, because having a deadline helps force me to write through lack of inspiration as well. Or sometimes I'll just write a super crappy version of that scene and skip past to the next bit, just to get the writing flowing again. Can always come back and edit it or rewrite it later. Got any tips of your own?
tenshinoakuma
Jan. 10th, 2014 02:47 am (UTC)
Haha I have fewer tips and more "these are the things I tried and they semi-worked and semi-didn't."

I also write a super crappy version of a scene I'm having difficulty with and come back to fix it (I used to, and still sometimes do, just skip the scene with the intention of returning to it but I found I just ended up not writing the scenes). Sometimes if I really can't figure out how to write a particular scene, I jot down in [ ] what the scene should contain. For example, right now in the desert AU I have, for two different scenes:

[makoto on his way to making a delivery, haruka accompanying him, but not helping?]

...

[STUFF. i’m guessing haru wandering off at some point, makoto chatting up mikoshiba and nitori, gou and haru and then suddenly rin!! happening in the rest of this chapter]


Very professional, I know lol. (If I didn't have the flowchart, I would have expanded more on "rin!! happening," phrase but since I do have the flowchart, I treat "rin!! happening" as a keyword to mean a series of plotpoints, sort of like what you do with mindmapping.)

In addition to that, have a weird process of alternating between handwriting and typing scenes on the first draft, printing it out, editing on paper before transferring it across to the computer again. It seems terribly inefficient but for some reason, seeing things in a different form kick starts my brain into writing more.

Something that has helped me with RP and writing up reports during my internship was listening to music albums (no or minimal lyrics) with lengths of about 60-90 minutes. Block out all other distractions and just focus on writing for the duration of the album. Preferably pick one I know inside out so I intuitively know how long I've spent on it. I guess it's kind of like giving me a mini deadline. However, I've never really been able to get this to work for fic writing; for some reason, the music actually distracts me from my thoughts while typing, so that seems to be out :|a

Right now, I'm going to be trying out HabitRPG to help me sit down and actually dedicate time to writing (and other things), since I've realised that I need rigidity and structure to get things (and more in the same amount of time) done. One of my problems is that I just don't actually make time to write (whatever free time I have tends to get dedicated to gaming and art oops), so by setting aside 30 minutes per day for writing on HabitRPG, I'm hoping I start building up a habit of writing daily.

Edited at 2014-01-10 02:48 am (UTC)
sinnatious
Jan. 10th, 2014 12:00 pm (UTC)
Ahaha, I do that sometimes too, who cares about professional, right?!

Although your process of switching mediums sounds laborious. Can definitely understand how the different context can change how you read, but the most I've ever done is put it in a read-only PDF! That's dedication.

Ah, the music thing is one I hear a lot, but rarely works for me. It's great when you get into the zone, but a lot of the music I listen to will subconsciously change the pace and mood of what I'm writing! XD Maybe with tailored setlists....

Oh neat, HabitRPG looks really cool! What a good idea. I'm tempted to take this up myself.
tenshinoakuma
Jan. 11th, 2014 01:09 am (UTC)
If you want to party up if you do join HabitRPG, just let me know! :>b
(Anonymous)
Jan. 10th, 2014 06:05 am (UTC)
Just jumping in here! (I'm the anon from earlier.) I also have a load of trouble with long chapterfics and tend to write short character studies rather than long plotty stories. In fact, I cannot remember the last time I actually wrote something plotty (short *or* long), which just goes to show ...

Anyways, read through your other comments, and since you don't seem to have an issue with the beginnings or ends, I'll throw in my two cents on middles here as a fellow perpetually-doomed-to-writing-oneshots writer. Here are some of the biggest issues I run into when I stall on a story:

1. I'm sick of the story's tone. Happens a lot with heavy-handed stories. Just gotta put it aside for a bit and come back to it later.

2. I've lost track of the bigger picture. What is the story about? When I stall here, it usually means (a) I've written something that directly contradicts the theme I've chosen for the story or (b) there is a hidden theme in the story that is hopping up and down and clamoring for attention and overall just distracting the story from the main theme. (This theme either needs to be expanded upon or cut out entirely. Otherwise the entire story will end up feeling incomplete even when you do finish it.)

3. Pacing feels off. I'm trying to cram the story into the wrong story structure. I'm either spreading a story that is too simple across too many words or trying to cram too complex a story into too few words. The biggest red alert here is perhaps a misplaced climax. (I don't know if anyone else has ever planned for Scene M to be the climax, written Scene H, and *then* realized that Scene H is the climax, not Scene M, but it's happened to me on a few occasions, and, holy shit, it sucks.) This issue is often (but not always!) connected to #2, since a hidden theme can wreak havoc with your pacing by making a story more complex than you had otherwise planned, meaning that if you don't want to cut that theme out, you're going to have to restructure the story entirely. (Meaning ... longer. Potentially much longer. And then you'd probably have to add extra action elements in to compensate.)

There are definitely other problems, but those are the ones I struggle with the most in terms of "middles."

As to *how* to get over a doldrummy middle ... some questions I always try to keep in mind: What just happened? What's the logical fallout for my characters? How will they react (emotionally)? What will they do next (logically)? What's the next big event? How do I get my characters to the next big event in a manner that is consistent with their characterizations? Where do I want my characters to end up (overall)? What's the theme? Are there any hidden themes/threads ...?

Of course, knowing what the problem is and even knowing how to sort of solve the problem are entirely different from solving the problem. D:

Anyways, hope this was at least a little bit useful! I admit that my main issue is that I'm shoddy with the bookends. It's hard for me to come up with good beginnings, and if I do happen to come up with a good beginning (trust me, it comes once in a blue moon), I often don't have a good ending planned. If it's not one, then it's always the other ... >_>
tenshinoakuma
Jan. 11th, 2014 01:39 am (UTC)
Those questions you've brought up are certainly the kinds of questions I ask myself when stuck! Though more often than not, I come up with a big blank, but I think that kind of leads back to my lack of planning and structure, since more often than not, I don't know the answer to, "What's the next big event?" With one-shots, I could easily get away with cutting to a new scene, but doing that frequently in a multi-chapter gets tiring for the reader, I think.

With regards to issue 1), I think if you, the writer, is getting tired of the tone, there's a fairly good chance the readers will, too. Just going off the various stories I've enjoyed (often in different mediums), the ones that I liked most and made me feel most emotional are ones that know how to break up sad and serious tones with something a little lighter (e.g. the majority of Atlus games, Frozen, the Lion King). I feel that having the same tone fosters reader apathy; when something is just depressing depressing depressing, my emotional reaction to the story flatlines. Breaking the serious tone with humour and the like (or vice versa), when done well, actually makes the reader feel the emotional highs and lows more keenly, I feel.

2) and 3) are definitely my problems, and ultimately I feel it came down to not really understanding anything about story structure, and thus, I never had structure. Like I mentioned briefly earlier, I'm currently using a flowchart for my planned story structure, and I think it's more useful than simply writing down plans in a list-like format (what I was doing before) since I can actually see where I've crammed too many or too few plot points. I'm not sure if that's something that might help you (and since I haven't finished writing the story using this flowchart, I've yet to have results to show that this method works), but it might be something to consider, too. If you'd like to see the chart, I can definitely show it.
(Anonymous)
Jan. 11th, 2014 04:48 am (UTC)
Re. heavy tone and readers probably not liking it if the writer's tired of it: We'll have to agree to disagree here. I think there are too many factors to say for sure, both on the writer's part and the readers'. God knows that if most readers tire of heavy, depressing tone, Dostoevsky wouldn't be nearly so popular these days. :P

One of the things which I know is holding me back ... I had a discussion with someone the other day about how stories in general tend to boil down to two major types: one is the type that "goes far" (i.e. where the focus is on lots of things happening) and the other is the type that "digs deep" (i.e. where the focus is on characters' internal struggles). Neither is better than the other, but they do operate on different standards, and success is measured differently based on what type you're trying to write.

I completely admit that I default to "digging deep," partly because I like to really explore characters and partly because I lack the creativity to create a good plot-arc where Things Happen. That means that a lot of my stories have only one major fuse (at the beginning), and the rest of the story is driven by the characters constantly reacting and pushing the plot forward on their own. "The next big event" is usually "the next big emotional realization for the character," which drives them to do X, which results in Y, so on and so forth until the end.

Understandably, this often does not result in a long chapterfic, and sometimes it does not really result in a recognizable action plot (more of an emotional plot) ... some writers are able to wrangle out a good action plot from such a structure though. If you have 2+ characters who are both affected by the initial fuse but who have two different reactions to it (sending them off on different trajectories), you could cook up a conflict that creates a believable, organic character-driven action-plot (which means us writers don't need to push and shove our characters around as much; we just let them loose, see what happens, and edit furiously before we publish).

I don't know, I'm just nattering away now. XD

If you're having trouble with pacing or themes rearing their ugly heads, the best thing I can suggest is getting a dedicated beta reader -- or two ... or ten (the more the merrier!). Readers read differently than writers write, which sounds like common sense, but it's amazing how many people know this but don't take advantage of knowing this? Readers can really catch things that we as writers would never, ever notice in our own stories.
tenshinoakuma
Jan. 11th, 2014 05:23 am (UTC)
That's a good point, that there are people who enjoy heavy tone throughout. Different tastes, and such. I've always preferred the things that do mood whiplash well so that's coloured my perception on that.

I think I've heard a similar thing, just referred to in different terms: plot-centric versus character-oriented, though these aren't mutually exclusive. I think I'm similar to you in that I also default to "digging deep."

Admittedly, I've never tried having a beta reader, partially because most of what I write are one-shots typed and posted in a day, so I hardly have anything long and meaty enough for pacing to come into play. The other reason being that... no one I've shown drafts to has actually been able to catch anything that needs changing. (This certainly doesn't mean my writing is perfect, but that maybe my more immediate friends don't make good betas.) Since both you and Sinnatious have mentioned betas, though, it does sound like something I should probably actually make the effort to obtain.

And don't worry about nattering, I really do enjoy these kinds of conversations :) Though now I'm really curious about the fandoms (or original universes) you write for!
(Anonymous)
Jan. 11th, 2014 06:37 am (UTC)
I think getting any somewhat critical reader would do. Just someone who can look for things that can be improved -- not necessarily things that are "wrong" but things that could be made better, if the distinction makes sense. You can also just ask for general reactions from a set of test-readers on passages/sections that you are a bit uncertain about; this can help you gauge whether or not your writing is having the impact you want it to have.

The last thing I put online for public consumption was in 2010, so ... wow, guess it's been a while. My main fandoms at the time were FF8, FMA, and Stargate SG-1. Since then I've been dithering around in my own quiet verse (I love writing stories and then shoving them into the abyssal depths of my hard drive, never to be seen again!), but I recently dipped into the FF7 fandom after my replay of FF7 and my first playthrough of CC. Er, interesting experience, but I'm glad to have stumbled upon "The Fifth Act" and "Beloved" first.
sinnatious
Jan. 11th, 2014 05:30 am (UTC)
The issue with tone is a mix of preference and execution type I think. (Throwing in my two cents because it's a thing I have opinions on.) If you'll allow me to champion the cause of variation in mood - Unrelentingly dark or unrelentingly comedic both can get quite fatiguing, and the stakes have to be constantly raised in order to continually up the emotional ante. Whereas if you insert moments of levity and safety into an angsty piece, or moments of darkness into a light-hearted piece, it gives it a much bigger emotional swing - the difference between pulling back for a punch or simply pushing forward. It's a fairly tried and true technique of playing with readers emotions and perceptions and I've seen it used to truly devastating effect - the same plot points executed in a more consistently dark approach would never have been so effective.

I agree though that there are some rare authors who can pull that off, along with a selection of readers (usually of the more literary bent) who have such an appetite. Crime and Punishment is lauded as one of the all-time classics, but most people struggle to read it. (Although I'm not sure if that's because Dostoevsky is unrelenting or if it's because some of his philosophy can get a little dry - personal preference of course, my appetite probably veers much more genre fiction than literary.)

I am surprised though anon to hear that your one fuse method doesn't work for longer stories. Once you start introducing cause and effect and action and reaction, that one fuse can go a long, long way. I think you already have what you need to write more longfics. Maybe you need a stronger antagonist? I notice a lot of stories lack of a proper villain, so to speak (even if the villain is metaphysical rather than a character). If they're defeated too easily, they're not a good antagonist and yeah, the story will resolve itself much too fast.

On your original comment... maaaaan, do I know the pain of points 2 and 3. Part of the reason I struggle with short fics is related to that - the pacing is just all wrong for how much I try to cram into them. Have certainly encountered the misplaced climax too, though my personal method for fixing that is to find a way to make the following climax bigger. Easier said than done of course, but I've found one way of doing that is to ask 'what is the worst possible thing that could happen RIGHT AT THIS CRUCIAL MOMENT?' Not necessarily worst in terms of 'world-ending' or mortal peril, but worst to that particular character and their goals. Maybe that might help you too?

Edited at 2014-01-11 05:32 am (UTC)
(Anonymous)
Jan. 11th, 2014 06:40 am (UTC)
I acknowledge the strengths of variation in tone, and I agree that for longer stories, it can be a draaaaaaaag if there's no change -- but oftentimes, that may be the effect the author is going for. I mean, god, Crime and Punishment made me feel like I was going insane in a 3'x3' cell with no windows, but I would argue that is *exactly* the effect Dostoevsky wanted the book to have on his audience. That feeling of oppressive, overhanging, claustrophobic gloom and fidgetiness. Sure, maybe it would've been easier to read if he'd readjusted his tone every now and again, but I think that would've been detrimental to the atmospheric coherency of his novel.

So overall, I guess I'm just ambivalent about it. I don't have a particularly strong opinion either way, because it's such an individual choice on the part of the writer. Some people craft their writing so that it's easier on the readers, while others write because they want to explore an idea, or because they want to evoke a particular mood/atmosphere, and I think each piece calls for its own individual approach.

(One thing I *can* say, though, is that it drives me up the wall when a tone change is not telegraphed far in advance. It should be -- often at the beginning of a story. Otherwise, it just disengages the reader from the piece. There's a certain style of prose that gives writers enough room for a potential tone change, and there are other styles that telegraph, "This Will Be Very Serious, NO LAUGHING ALLOWED," and I think writers have to be very conscious about which is which ...)

I understand how to write a long story intellectually ... but tbh, I'm beginning to suspect that I'm just Not Creative Enough -- or I don't have the energy to devote to being creative, or I'm not inspired by the material, or IT'S ALL BEEN WRITTEN BEFORE AND PROBABLY BETTER (hellllllo, FF8 and SG-1 fandoms), therefore making all my effort quite pointless.

Though now that you mention it, I'm also balls with external conflict. Absolute shit with it. I can't remember the last story I wrote that had a proper antagonist, which is probably because most of my stories are *so* character-focused that the characters are struggling more with themselves than anything else.

I think shortfics can (at best) support one emotional plot and/or one action plot (and one theme). Anything more than those two plots means your short story is actually a novella/novel and should be restructured as such.

Hahah, the misplaced climax ... well, long story short, I'd been subconsciously writing a story about Theme X rather than closely-related-but-not-the-same Theme Y, and my entire story up until that point had been supporting Theme X. This meant that the Theme Y climax I'd constructed needed to be tossed and the entire story rebalanced. Luckily, it isn't that long, and I have a few months' space from it, so it shouldn't be too difficult to edit. If I add another climax in, I think I would be building the story into something it's not, if that makes sense?
sinnatious
Jan. 11th, 2014 11:17 am (UTC)
Yes, definitely the subject matter and goal of the story makes a big difference in what path you choose regarding tone. Haaa, my bugbear probably comes from reading a few too many fanfic where tone and purpose were poorly mismatched. I meant no criticism of Dostoevsky, it was just a good example. (I do agree with you point about styles and tone changes too, though). Oh man I could discuss this kind of thing all day. \o/

Naaaah anon, don't worry so much about others having done the same thing before. Think about how many dozens of time travel or dimension travel or high school AUs or whatever there are in most fandoms, and consider how much they can vary in execution. You're probably just suffering from Dunning-Kruger effect.

Although ouch with that story, that does sound like a dilemma! That does make sense, can totally empathise. Good luck with the edit! And post fics!
(Anonymous)
Jan. 11th, 2014 09:11 pm (UTC)
Well, I'm glad you like discussing tone and mood variation and style, because here's another question for you!

Sometimes I have this dilemma where my character is being moody. And I don't necessarily want the piece to be heavy and moody, but I'm writing in super-tight 3rd POV, and he's just ... brooding or being otherwise uncooperative. I haven't figured out a good way around this yet, except to just change the POV character if possible, or to really loosen up the POV (to the extent that all the narration in the middle turns into basic actions/descriptions with very little intrusion from character thoughts/impressions). Do you have any suggestions here?

Or, god, another one is where the character's just really prickly and quick to take offense at almost anything. Then the entire story can so easily be dragged down into this mire of "I hate the world, fuck the world," when I really want to keep it from being *just that*. As amusing as it can be at times (esp. if the character is a bit snarky), there really needs to be a proper balance.
sinnatious
Jan. 11th, 2014 11:14 pm (UTC)
That's a tough dilemma indeed. I would usually either keep those instances brief (a couple of sentences versus a couple of paragraphs), or if it's introspective break up the interior monologue with exterior activity. Or more often than not, provide a foil to the moodiness, usually in the form of another character, so the moody character can keep being moody even in tight 3rd person while the foil goes around lightening things up tone wise. To borrow FF for an example, consider Squall hanging out being his broody angsty self - if it's just him, things can get heavy and depressing pretty fast. But consider if, I dunno, Tidus is in the scene too - even if Squall is sulking and resistant to any kind of interaction and maybe even hating that Tidus is there at all, Tidus's usual demeanour and quips automatically lightens to the mood for reading, even if Squall's POV is still being depressing. Might not work in your precise setup but I hope that helps (or at least gives you some alternate ideas?)

Although by the prickliness it almost sounds like an issue with the choice of characterisation more than anything? It sounds less like a tone issue at that point and more like veering into making the character unlike-able. If that's the intention, then you can possibly defuse that by having another character draw attention to it and mock it. In acknowledging it in text, it loses potency.

Wouldn't work for all situations, of course. Like you say, it's alllll a delicate balancing act. :)
Illuvia Illuv
Aug. 6th, 2014 02:47 pm (UTC)
Curious!!
This is just out of pure curiosity, haha.

You mentioned that you wanted to devote more time to original work. I was wondering -- do you share your original work anywhere? If it's on par with your fanfiction, I would love to read it as well. But I totally get if you don't showcase your original stuff in case you want to publish it....which you should! I mean, if your original work is anything like your fanfiction, it totally deserves to be published!

I guess I'm just curious since you don't talk much about your original work, and you're such a great author that reading it would be so much fun :)

Thanks!
sinnatious
Aug. 6th, 2014 07:03 pm (UTC)
Re: Curious!!
Hey!

I don't share my original work anywhere, no. I'm terrible at finishing any of my original projects. But thanks for the lovely compliment regardless. :)
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