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response to this comment - this got too long and I A) don't feel like shortening it and B) want this on my journal. So here we are, tattooedsappho. welcome to...whatever the hell this is.

I am really hesitant to write fandoms I don't know or characters I don't feel comfortable with. I'll write pretty much any ship but I need to feel like I am at least comfortable with the characters before I do so. (Example: I will write not write Lucius as a main character in a fic b/c I don't feel like I have a good grasp on writing his character but I'll write Bellatrix with any of the other characters I feel comfortable writing even if I didn't ship that particular pairing.)

So, I have a question - how do you write when you're pushing to new fandoms/styles? Do you watch/read the original or just see how the fandom treats the characters or what? ::sits all wide eyed and waits for answer::

One of the things I'm really good at is empathy, so I'm very able to connect with characters and get a feel for them, for what seems in character for them, that sort of thing, pretty easily. I have a tendency, though, to be very self-critical, so while I'm empathetic and creative, I put a lot of importance on how other people might see things.

I'm very lax with my blog in these terms now, but I used to not even like things from shows or movies I hadn't yet seen, just bookmark the pages (then I got to saving everything but personal posts and harry potter to my drafts, because I was convinced I didn't 'know enough'. I still have hundreds of thousands of drafts on my Tumblr. It got bad and stayed bad).

But, as it's naturally recommended writers do, I think. A lot. And my upbringing trained me to think critically about everything. So every time I watch something or read something, I come away with a lot of information/opinions about it. Historically that's given me a leg up in understanding and in writing - not that I really felt it, but it has. For a long time, I only shared Harry Potter fic. Sometimes I would write out things - there are many elementary and middle school diary entries that would be classed as meta and some even as fic (mostly self-insert, and mostly terrible by current standards) but I would never post them if I thought someone might challenge me.

That was back before I'd really internalized how talented of a writer I am, and back when I was very particular about canon. Everything that I let others see had to be able to fit into canon, in my eyes. I also couldn't conceptualize doing short works - I thought that in order for them to be valid, they'd have to be longer. (ie my 60,000w+ Dramione fic....that I haven't finished yet but haven't updated in over two years oops)

But after finding and really getting involved in rather than observing the fandom side of tumblr - and writing more poetry than prose - I started realizing that shorter pieces were totally valid, that when someone posted an opinion that I disagreed with, it didn't mean that I was wrong, simply that we didn't agree. And internalizing that gave me the freedom to go off of what I understand/feel.
Now, all of that said, I do still test out the waters first. I generally know how the fandom perceives the characters, but I'll go read fics with them, preferably with the ship or dynamic I plan to write, and see how that's done, see where - or if - it lines up with my thinking. I'll sometimes go back to the original - don't even ask about the early HP writing days, back when fic was shared mostly by email list and all the archives were pairing-specific - but that's not usually realistic. Especially in terms of detail, I search through and read Wiki pages a lot. They aren't always the most helpful, but more helpful than Google in general; Tumblr tags are also rife with various information and meta and gifsets in particular can be a way of going back to the original material without rewatching.

Switching to ao3 from ff also helped - being able to tag things, learning that AU was actually a thing and it could be totally cool if what I wrote didn't match up with canon because that was a whole genre.

For styles, it's even harder to push myself, at least in terms of fic. I had this English teacher senior year of high school who knew that I was damn good so whenever he gave writing assignments he would straight-up talk to me personally (which wasn't surprising - 50-person school, 17-student grad class) and say that there was a more difficult or intense version of the assignment and see if I wanted to tackle that. And because I'd started internalizing how good I was, I started just rising to the challenge. Now, it's harder to do without someone else pushing me (which is a trend in my life in general) but challenges, prompts, requests, all that, help me open up with it. As I've gotten to be part of communities where people make what could be called mistakes and are promptly lauded for trying, I've gotten better at just sitting down and making myself do the damned thing.

But in the end, that is really what it comes down to. As my dad's told me for a while, "you can't edit something that hasn't been written." So putting things down in the first place is mostly the goal. And generally those things are really good? Somehow? But that just seems to be how I write?
So I don't really know what to say about that, but okay, here goes:

A) make yourself write the thing. If you don't think it's good enough, that's a rubbish thought, because there's no actual standard. Art is art. It's art whether x person or y person thinks it is.

B) Don't be afraid to edit ruthlessly or ask for help. Whether that's in the form of a beta, or a friend who casually glances at it and tells you that you spelled 'the' wrong twice, it's helpful. Spell check is (usually) often helpful. Add fandom-related words to your computer's dictionary.

C) If it helps to plan the thing out piece by piece, either by outline or a list or w/e, then do that and work by it.

D) Get acquainted with the fandom - not just with the material (but that too) but people, blogs, fics, in it. Even if you aren't super comfortable with the characters, if you feel like you have a place in the fandom, it'll be easier to write about it.

E) For style: read examples. Read as many examples as it takes for you to be able to use the format in your head. (Like with haikus: you should be able to somewhat separate the lines mentally, and remember how many syllables they are - 7, 5, 7, respectively) without looking that up. If it feels like a copy and paste job, that's what it'll read like, and it's awkward, both for you and for readers.

F) Let yourself have fun. If you like the character, or at least have emotions about them, you don't need to feel like you could describe them at length to someone the way you could your best friend, or like you could imitate the way they talk. When you're writing them, you're having a conversation with them, not as them.
This goes for POV, too - if you want to have someone be a main character but don't feel you could write from their perspective, stick to the head of a character you know, see them the way that character sees them.

*clears throat*

What a cocky, silly, boy he was, Draco. Just so...full of himself, high on arrogance, on undeserved adoration. He'd had promise once, but perhaps he no longer did; Cissy, ever the mother, had spoiled him rotten, and now he couldn't even punish a stupid mudblood. Who did he think he was? Just as bad as his father - ugh, his father. Bella had warned Cissy, she really had, when she'd come back, that she didn't think Lucius was game for this battle, for proving himself a Death Eater like he should be able to, and as always, Cissy hadn't listened. And now their chances of catching Potter, of being able to watch as the Dark Lord, her Lord, ripped the horrid boy's life out of him once and for all, rested on the incapable bloody Malfoys. Bella could almost cry of frustration.

She wouldn't cry, of course, she
never cried; she'd just be there to pick up the fucking pieces when irresponsible, uncommitted, fearful Lucius let them fall. If only there'd been a way to convince her Lord that he could just send her to find the damn boy and bring him back to be killed; but no, He wanted more revenge than that, and refused to realize that they could kill Potter first and then take care of the rest of the blood traitors and mudbloods and half-bloods, the whole vile lot.

The lack of logic must be related to something about their masculinity - their fragile, fragile masculinity.

"Ugh," she thinks again, not caring that she groans aloud, no longer willing to listen to her sister's weak-willed excuse for a husband go on about Merlin-knows-what. She pushes her large wooden chair out from the table, and it squeaks against the floor, an unpleasant, beautiful noise.

"Bella," both her sister and her Lord moan in unison, as though they worried she'd actually
leave. She glares at Cissy - why she still acted as though she had any control over her sister whatsoever, Bella can't fathom - and leans into the Dark Lord's shoulder, breathing against his neck.

hungry," she says, in that coarse, singsong tone of hers that's his favorite, and heads off to the kitchen, ready as ever to bark orders at that damned house elf.

Like that.

Hope some of that helps, darling! <3

(ps - that was my first time writing bella's pov, normally she's one of the characters I use others' eyes to see, but it seemed fitting here since that was your example)


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 15th, 2015 02:42 am (UTC)
IMMENSELY helpful!
The reason I asked in the first place was because (as some other people have mentioned) many of the pairings over at Drabbletag 6 are from fandoms I am COMPLETELY unfamiliar with, there are a few that I know of and then a few that I am/was active (or at least have been a fan of the book/show for long enough that I could jump into being active without much issue) in but mostly I'm just sitting there all "uumm...who?what?" and while I am not about to go and suddenly jump into a new fandom, if semi-familiar characters pop up in a prompt I now have a plan of action so to speak. Thank you ^_^
Jun. 15th, 2015 04:27 am (UTC)
Wonderful! Happy it helped :)

There aren't many of them that I'm entirely unfamiliar with. There are a few, and then there are those that I know a few people in those fandoms so I know a couple character names and can picture the characters when I see someone's written them, but still have never watched the show (I'm thinking specifically of Nashville here). But two fandoms that I've been in but never written before recently, OUAT and BTVS, I am familiar with them if not totally. Like, I may not have watched much of the middle seasons of OUAT, but I've watched enough to have a feel for many of the characters and their relationships, so I pushed myself into writing something for OUAT when the Aurora/Mulan prompt popped up.
Trying to get past just reblogging stuff onto my tumblr but actually producing fanworks, glad to see others are in the same boat <3

Also, your icon is fabulous.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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