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D. M. Domini May 17 2009 05:39 PM

Writing Process
Lady Maelin had a question in another thread about the process of writing...


Originally Posted by Lady Maelin (Post 143677)
Lanen...since you don't keep many hand written notes about your books, do you print it all out as you go along, or do you keep each your notes and stories on some kind of digital computer storage?

Do you change your stories much once you have put it down on paper, or by then do you have it mostly all figured out?

I don't write, but I have always wondered about how a writer goes about writing a full book. The different stages of putting it all together...before it get to the publishing stage?

I thought maybe some of us could share our processes? I know it differs for all writers...each person has their own process that works for them, and it's not the same as everyone else's process.

Anareth May 17 2009 07:02 PM

Re: Writing Process
I do have two scribbling notebooks--either to fill in when I have time to write but don't have my laptop, or to stick notes--but I don't outline or have any order to it. All real writing is done on my computer. I just start at the beginning and write. Once in a while I"ll have a scene (usually from a story at another point in the "series") that I'll type out and save. I don't print unless I have to as it would waste a ton of paper and while I'm a clutterbug even I have my limits.

I save things to the hard drive, to a USB key drive, and my mother burns a CD copy sometimes when I send her a version.

Lanen May 17 2009 07:09 PM

Re: Writing Process
I keep a backup on a floppy disc (yes, my computer is that old!) and on a data stick and occasionally burn a CD. Nearly all my notes are either in a special 'bits and pieces' file, or on scraps of paper scattered about. That said, I have the outline of the work (as presented to my publisher) readily available, and I stick to it as much as the characters will let me. And yes, I only write at the computer. Being left-handed, my handwriting is very slow and awkward anyway. I ADORE word processors! :D

I vividly remember writing when I was a teenager, though - heaven forgive me for all those trees. I edit constantly, and I used regularly to run out of room in the margins for all the changes...

Greenrider Dawna May 17 2009 09:45 PM

Re: Writing Process
I also have a notebook where I scribble my ideas, character backgrounds, details about the particular world and societies, etc. Sometimes I outline, to get an idea of where it might go, but often I just start writing. I prefer to write my stories freehand even though I have terrible handwriting. For some reason, the ideas seem to flow easier for me that way. I then type them up on the computer and save them to the hardrive, as well as a data stick. For good measure, I usually send copies to my parents.

I then put the story aside for several days so I can read it over at a later time with fresh eyes to begin the editing process.

D. M. Domini May 18 2009 12:23 PM

Re: Writing Process
Addressing the actual writing process, since the others have illustrated various ways they keep it backed up (I do most of what everyone else does, with the addition of uploading copies to my webhost; I know a few other authors will use Google Docs)...

I write like a gardener. :D

I don't start with an outline--the story, when I start it, is sort of like a star nursery...lots of dust and motes and ideas and none of it really SOLID or coherant. No brightly shining stars yet, much less planetary systems with worlds and moons and civilizations. To use an astronomy comparison.

To go back to gardening...the story just grows organically. I start writing, and as I write, ideas come up. I write them in. I write and write and write, and as I write, things start to solidify in my mind.

I would compare this to an artist's sketch...scribbly, in weird colors like red or green or whatever thing you picked up, done on a napkin. You have the character's arm drawn three times, in three different positions so he or she looks like a hindu deity. It's messy and unrefined, and you're finding all sorts of issues.

I find once I'm about 10,000 or 20,000 in, I've started to identify which ideas, which branches are the ones that look like good prospects, and which should stay. So I go back and do another rough, cutting out the things that aren't working (I put them into a seperate file that I can "mine" for ideas later), and getting things more story-shaped. I keep doing like 1.5, 1.6, 1.7 "roughs" that I all consider the first draft, because none of them have a start, middle, and end yet.

It's sort of like a gardener taking pruning clippers to a bush, to make it shaped like a dolphin or a frog or a turtle. The bush grows on its own, the gardener clips away the parts that aren't growing in the right direction. It's still organic, but in the end it should be prettier and more refined.

I keep doing this. When I first started writing, I tended to line-edit a lot, but as I've "grown" as a writer, I've stopped doing this...I realize I'll go through a lot of changes before it's worth my time to polish on a spelling/grammar/flow level...I'd only be polishing things I'm going to clip away later if I try to attack those things at this stage.

Eventually I end up with a "finished" rough, in that it has a start, a middle, and an ending, and a plot line. I tend to have weird patchy holes where I abandoned scenes mid-word because I'd jumped on ahead to something else. The scenes are technically done, they just don't have the ending caps on them.

My next task is to do the second draft. This is where I look for consistency mistakes, for overall flow and story architecture problems (ie, does it read too fast? Too slow? Does the internal logic work?). I make sure I don't have gaping plot holes. And I finish off those dangling scenes. I'm not yet working on spelling and grammar mistakes, since in this phase there's the possibility I will massively re-write scenes, insert new scenes, get rid of some scenes that I had hoped hoped hoped would work and which ultimately did not. So there's still no point in polishing what might end up being turds.

If all is going well, and the story is coming together the way I want it, I go into the final draft. THIS is where I start to really attack the sentence-level stuff...spelling (I tend to have weird typos where the word was technically correct spelling-wise...but the wrong word, so spellcheck didn't catch it before.), puncuation, grammar. Word frequency...am I using something too much? Do I have a writer's tic? Do I need to get out my thesaurus? Smoothness...do the words flow together? When I used to polish my work too early, people told me I was really good at making things flow, so I try to get some of that going again with the final draft, since it seems to be a talent of mine.

I try to word-smith here...if something needs to be astonishing, or eloquent, or SOMETHING I try to pull out the stops and make it shine. I want the story to be a pleasure to read no matter what paragraph you're reading. I don't want to slack off because I'm mid-chapter and I don't strictly HAVE to be as witty as I am at the start of a scene or chapter. So I work on these things.

I try to get a beta in after the first and second roughs...the type of reader who can see large-scale issues, who can tell me if they get lost, or don't feel the love for something. (I save the line-level mistakes for after my final draft).

Then, if I'm lucky, I should have a story I can query an agent or publisher with.


For fanfic, I don't go past the first draft in most cases. (Although in The Skyboom I started over because I had massive character-portrayal issues. Robinton wasn't Robinton. I felt it reflected very poorly on me.)

But, in fanfic, most of the hard work is done--the world is there, the characters are there, I just need to give it a plot and some wordsmithing. It's fun and doesn't take too much brainwork.

In fanfic, I tend to write a few scenes, edit them for obvious mistakes, and post them as a chapter. Chapters are highly arbitrary.

Someday I intend to go back and do a final edit of them when they're done, but it's a low priority.

Anareth May 18 2009 03:24 PM

Re: Writing Process

Originally Posted by Lanen (Post 143820)
Being left-handed, my handwriting is very slow and awkward anyway. I ADORE word processors! :D

LOL, I'm right-handed (sorta..I've been known to use my left-hand for more mechanical things) but my handwriting is a disaster. Even my printing. It would take me hours to write a paragraph if I had to sit there and write it out by hand in any legible way.

Weyrlady May 19 2009 12:18 AM

Re: Writing Process
I have problems with the actual physical part of writing (it's r-e-a-l-l-y slow, and not real legible either), so writing something longhand isn't really an option for me. This actually worked out to be just fine, especially in this day and age. Their are so many ways to write without writing!

Participating in this forum and meetging y'all lovely types, for example, doesn't require 'writing'-as in holding a pencil and getting it all straight and quick.

Lady Maelin May 19 2009 10:01 AM

Re: Writing Process
WOW!!:eek: This is an amazing read...I am finding out so much
of how this all comes about. I am not a writer...never will be.
Me and Grammar have a distinct problem getting along,:irk: always
have had. :lol:

BUT!!!....I love to read and I love authors...much like I do other artist.
I love the idea of all the wonderful mental creative process that you
all go through, in developing an idea into a story. To me it has to be
kind of like dreaming, only with a start a middle and a slam bang finish.

I am surprised to find out that the creative mind seems to work so much alike, no matter what the field it's working in.

I also always seem to have paper at hand, in my nightstand drawer...
just in case I have a brilliant idea come to me...or while I'm reading one
of Anne's stories, I find the color of some characters eyes, or some special scene that I would love to do or add to one that I am putting together
I also gather information for the *work in progress* that I'm wanting to do,
in much the same manner you writers seem to. I gather it, sort through it at different time, toss what I decide I don't want...or change directions slightly after trying something new that works...and yes Domini...I do have many multi armed and legged creatures hanging around my studio...:lol:

Thank you, all for this amazing insight to how writing works for each of you...I really look forward to reading some of your publish works... some day:good:...AND.... Lanen's any time she's finished creating her next one!!!.:sneak:

D. M. Domini May 19 2009 02:59 PM

Re: Writing Process

Originally Posted by Lady Maelin (Post 143966)
I am surprised to find out that the creative mind seems to work so much alike, no matter what the field it's working in.

Back when I was a teen, 17 or 18 or so, I hung out on a digital artist's message board...Ebony Keep I think it was? This artist ran it, and if you click on that link you'll see just how astonishing a digital artist she is. I daresay she's as talented as Michael Whelan.

I came up with a theory that artists all speak dialects of the same "creative language". I was a writer on a message board with crazy-talented visual artists, they were all drawing and painting such lovely things that I *knew* how to imagine, but which, for me, came out as words on paper rather than lines and colors on paper as it did for them. I could see that we shared the same inspirations even if the end result was two very different types of art. And as I read their threads discussing digital (and traditional) art, it was quite illuminating, because I could see a common thread between how they did their stuff, and how I did mine.

(That's also where I saw a lot of sketches of multi-limbed beings and trees and hills seemingly existing in several dimensions or something ;) )


To me it has to be kind of like dreaming, only with a start a middle and a slam bang finish.
The process, for me at least, is much like daydreaming. I see the story as a movie in my head, except I'm pretty much God, so I can re-play or reboot or re-do things until they seem right. I put them down on paper in words to preserve them long-term. When I'm working on a scene, it's not uncommon for me to stare into space, seeing my interal dreamworld where the charcters are like actors on a stage, doing things. Sometimes as I search for the right words to describe their actions they'll kind of stutter, as I replay it over a few times until I get the event-sequence the way I want it. I will re-set things, and slip into their shoes and play by the rule-set for the particular character(s) I'm working with.

I even have camera angles to a certain extent, and I swing in and out of 1st person and 3rd person POV. I can see things from any angle. I suspect if I ever wrote a true-blue script I'd learn how to "see" events from even odder camera angles.

So it also has a large connection to acting, for me.

This all said--I also have a friend with enough sales at this point to be considered pro, and she tells me it's not visual at all for her. The way I understand it, it's more of rythem, song, candence for her--much more auditory. Much more style-oriented.

It differs for everyone, however--mine isn't the only way. Hopefully someone else will share their process with us. :)

Anareth May 19 2009 05:25 PM

Re: Writing Process
I've always thought that if I had any artistic skill or a close working relationship with someone who did, some of my stuff would be better in comic-book form, because I'm a very visual thinker. I block things as I write and I have to be careful about getting sucked into minute details that really aren't relevant! I'm writing a book, not designing a set.

Though funnily enough I don't have a concrete vision of what each CHARACTER looks like. I have general build, hair color, eye color, and that's more or less it. In fact with some of the minor characters, except where their name makes ethnicity clear, it doesn't even really matter to me what race they are. (Shalyn: for example Alan's boss. She's female, but I actually don't know what race she is, except that her name implies she's white or black, probably not Latina or Asian. And even with the latter you could fudge it with an Anglicized first name and married last name. And the thing is I don't actually care one way or the other! However, God help anyone casting for Val or Alan. I can't imagine an actor who'd live up to what's in my head.)

Lady Maelin May 20 2009 12:30 AM

Re: Writing Process
Domini...I understand what your talking about when you say you see things in your like a movie...to me if the book is really good, thats how I read it...I see it as a movie in my head playing out as I go along.

I also work most of my drawings and paintings out in my head before I start them, but then like Lanen has said before...that her character tell her where to do...so does my art work. I go along so far on a piece and then something else in me takes over and it devlops a life of its own...sometimes it's surprising to me at where I end up...but thats the fun of creating something isn't it!!!

Anareth...do you know ahead of time what your characters will look like, do you keep notes as to their eye, hair and skin tones...height, weight etc ??? Do you keep a bio on them so you can build a full bodied picture of them in your head?

Anareth May 20 2009 11:50 AM

Re: Writing Process
I don't keep notes on much of anything, to be honest, unless there is something I have to write out so I can see how it works, like timelines (I'm a visual, not verbal, thinker, so with some things I need a picture, sorta, to understand when things happen in relation to each other.) I used to write out a lot when I was in middle school and high school and just starting to write, but now I may write out scenes, but no notes or outlines.

I don't worry about exact numbers unless it's important (one character was a Naval aviator and as such has a height range she HAS to be in), more relative heights to each other. Val was "tall for his time" (ca. 5'10-11") which means first I can have him be to my tastes and second a hint to other characters and readers alike that he came from a very wealthy background for his day, Nadia is shorter than Elaine, Alan is about six feet tall with a 'swimmer's build' and 'pianist's hands' (Alan is the one where looks matter most as it's part of his arc), etc. I know hair and eye color on each but it tends to come up in the book only through one POV (Alan, most observant about others in a physical sense--he notes how other characters LOOK and is very aware of his own appearance, while Elaine tends to see what other characters do or are capable of doing.) I couldn't tell you to the inch or pound (except that none are obese, just average), just what they are relative to each other.

Skin tone--if they're one of my protagonists, assume they're white. ;) (Well, in Nadia's case, assume she has a light skin tone. She's part Caucasian, part...from a very unusual Mongoloid group known for having somewhat Caucasoid features.) If they're a male lead, they usually have dark hair and blue or gray eyes. Female leads are dark-haired. The only one where anything beyond that with skin tone is relevant is Val or any other vampire, who's either pale or trying to hide that they're pale. I've actually had to make myself make some characters blonde (a second-string hero has 'sandy brown' hair and the lead heavy is a blond.) Characters like Alan's coworkers or his boss the Senator (female and older, but beyond that just there), Elaine's Navy buddies, etc, I don't really know or care. A casting director could put anyone in there.

And I am doing this all from memory--I know WHO the characters are, and I have a general idea what they look like, and it goes from there. I know a lot more about their backgrounds than their precise looks (though I'm very good at looking at pictures of actors and going "no." Never seen one good enough to be Alan, WILL never see anyone who lives up to Val.) Things always come up, though. For example, the lead heavy, who went through two drafts with no name. Then it was suggested I give the villains mroe to do early, I needed a POV character for that scene, I picked him, had to scrounge up a name and the chapter opened "Mikelis always felt sorry for the dogs." I promptly PM'd Shalyn with "Oh, shit, he's got a personality, now I have to let him live!" (Shalyn, who is apparently training me to deal with fans, promptly began shipping him wtih the least-appropriate character available. ;) ) I haven't figured out much past 'he's blond, he's undead, he's evil', but he's turning out to be useful.

D. M. Domini May 20 2009 01:18 PM

Re: Writing Process
I'm opposite of Anareth - I always, always, always know what my characters look like. To the point that I utilize the Sims 2 Bodyshop to work out the details. (I love the Sims 2 Bodyshop...I get to model my characters, and Pern characters, and the result doesn't actually look half bad, since I'm resting on the laurels of talented visual artists who made the various clothes and eyes and skins to download...)

I keep a lot of notes--writing notes helps me bring the story out of the stellar nursury, it makes my ideas firmer. I don't often refer to them, however...they're there mostly as my process to solidify the ideas on "paper".

I also have a folder called "old" for scenes I ended up cutting. It's always fun to go through that...sometimes it's horridly obvious why I cut, cut, cut, other times I'm like, "Hey! This scene isn't half bad...maybe I can use it somewhere else..."


Shalyn, who is apparently training me to deal with fans, promptly began shipping him wtih the least-appropriate character available.
...should I admit here that I ship my own characters sometimes for the hell of it? Outside of the relationships I plan to actually get them involved in?

I think sometimes it must be absolutely hilarious for someone like, say, J. K. Rowling who has so *much* fanfic and shipping fics out there on her work just to *see* the combinations that come up. Although post book-four, as I recall, there were many, many highly suspicious lines that were easily taken out of context by HP fans. My eyebrow kept jerking up when reading at some of her word choices. I sort of suspect she did that on purpose.

(Come to think of it, I've been doing that in my Pern fic. Dropping false hints and lines about Robinton and F'lon that would be just awful if taken out of context and inappropriately interpreted. I don't intend to actually ship them, but I can't help but tease.)

Anareth May 20 2009 02:29 PM

Re: Writing Process
I shudder to think what slashers could do with mine.

However, to get my own twisted revenge, I'm going to frequently have the most likely target spout his VERY NON-PC views (which satisfyingly bother both my right- and left-wing characters to boot.) Guaranteed to horrify all modern viewpoints. And don't get me started on my one more-likely het pairing. (Give the 'shippers what they think they want...and have the characters go "Well...that was...yeah, let's not do that again.")

Lady Maelin May 20 2009 07:43 PM

Re: Writing Process
Question???..........what do both of you [Domini and Anareth] mean by *Ship* or *shipping*...when talking about your writing?

Anareth, how do you keep it all straight if you don't have each of your characters outlined somewhere? Like you I am also a visual person, I just don't have your memory to hold it all in my head...besides with my Pern artwork I try to be as close to Anne's description of her characters as possible. But like you...I do have to be able to see them fairly clearly in my mind...before I can put them on paper.

Domini...the way you keep tract of your characters sounds much like how I keep track of mine...when I'm working on a new *Pern* project. I go and dig out all the facts that I can find, when reading the books on paper by my nightstand [I keep notes on anything that comes to me while reading...I can suddenly get whole scenes pop into my head]...then put them all together on a more formal list of descriptions and hold it in my computer files...or print it out. You have computer generated portraits of some of the Pern characters...I would love to see them, as I'm sure so would quite a few other MoMers!!!

Anareth May 20 2009 07:52 PM

Re: Writing Process
*shrug* I just know. How do you remember what your relatives look like? Actually, bad comparison, I couldn't tell you hair or eye color on 99% of my relatives. Heck, I'd be making an...educated guess...about my Rhythm pro's eye color and I've been staring into his face for two and a half years now. I just have a general idea what they look like. I couldn't begin to draw them, and I would be a police-sketch nightmare trying to describe them, and I can't tell you a single actor (except to say that Nadia looks more or less like me) who has the right face. But if you asked me what color Val's eyes are I could say "blue." There are also just some basic assumptions--Val and Alan are normal males, therefore the odds are pretty high they'll be taller than the girls. Nadia's from a dirt-poor background and partially a smaller ethnic group, she's likely a bit shorter than Elaine, a healthy 21st-century adult female.

"Shipping" as a term originated aeons ago in the X-Files fandom as a short form of "relationshiping", "relationshippers", etc. It spread. Now 'shipping' is when you pair a couple of characters in your head or in your fan fic who may (or may not as the case may more likely be) be involved in canon. The term "slash" dates even FARTHER back, to the dark ages of early Star Trek fandom, and refers to homosexual pairings--it actually comes from the "/" between Kirk/Spock, the original slash couple.

Lady Maelin May 20 2009 08:29 PM

Re: Writing Process
Anareth...LOL...I take lots and lots of photos...LOL I do have a knack for remembering faces. I love faces...all kinds of faces...good looking or not, there all interesing to me. I sometimes appear to be staring at someone's face, all but to the point of rudeness...while I am storing their features, in my minds file, to use later. I also never seem to forget a face that I have stored in my mind...even when I don't remember their name....:ugg: I am horrible with names...but not the face that goes with it.

Do you write good descriptions of your characters in your stories? I always enjoy to read good descriptions, so I can visualize the characters in my mind. I think thats one of the reasons I love Anne's book...she is wonderful at describing EVERYTHING. I mean how many of us have gone off into our kitchens, looking for something to eat after reading one of her food descriptions...:lol:

Anareth May 21 2009 12:07 PM

Re: Writing Process
Not precisely. I take my cues from Tim, who admitted that with Mara Jade, the only descriptors he really had for himself were red-gold hair, green eyes, and a "dancer's build." That way the audience was free to picture more or less what they want. For me, I try to stick to what matters for the story--Elaine notices Val's eyes because he wears sunglasses even indoors and the shade of his eye color is a hint at his non-humanity. Alan is the "looker" who tends to judge on initial appearance, so he notes what Nadia and Elaine are wearing, their height, whether or not they're 'pretty' (Nadia, with her 'boho' clothes and loose braid is an initial yes, Elaine with her yanked-back hair and nonuniform uniform isn't), and in Elaine's case that's she's scarred down the right side of her face and neck (and presumably that side of her body, HUGE character issue for her.) With Alan I particularly don't want to go into TOO much detail besides gray eyes, black hair, and "tall and handsome." Mostly because everyone's take on handsome is a bit different, and I want the reader free to project a bit. (He does get nice hands, but that's my own fetish, so.)

For me, wandering into detail on physical characteristics that aren't relevant to the plot starts to border on anal. For starters, it's hard to do--I write limited 3rd POV so unless I have a character like Alan, whose focus tends to be on outward appearance, it's hard for me to work in details. There's the old "mirror" stunt, but that just screams "I AM DESCRIBING THE CHARACTER FOR THE READER." That only works if you have a character who is likely to spend a lot of time checking themselves out. With Alan, for example, he's a visual guy, but he's not that vain!

I'm on my work computer or I'd pull a couple example excerpts...off the top of my head, how I'd do a description...When Alan meets Nadia (a paragraph into chapter one--she's just bowled him over on the sidewalk) he notices that she is dressed in a "boho" way that's unusual for the non-artsy part of DC, where they are, that she is 'youngish' (he thinks; he's wrong, but he has no way of knowing that) and pretty enough he doesn't mind flirting with her, dark hair in a loose, long braid that again is Not Normal for the area, and that she was running on high heeled boots. I think the fact she has dark eyes may come up at some point but it's not precisely relevant, so it may not. Alan also notices and tries to peg her accent (missing by about 15,000 miles but he's a lawyer, not a linguist.) The point of the scene, besides flinging the reader into a normal day turned abnormal, is to establish that Alan is a smart guy but a bit prone to shallow looks-based judgement, and that Nadia is Not Normal.

In contrast, in chapter two, we meet the other protagonist, Elaine, and the other second lead, Val (Mark Valentine, who goes by Val for reasons explained much later.) In THIS case, Elaine notices his clothes, but is using them to try and peg what he does for a living. Her take on his hair cut is that it's neither military nor science geek, and only incidentally that it's dark. She notes his skin tone rather than his facial features and makes a guess (right for the wrong reason) that he spends a lot of time indoors. He's in good physical shape but the hair, clothes, and shoes tell her he's not military. (She'll later make a few judgements about Alan from the condition of his shoes.) Later when she comments on the sunglasses and he lowers them, she notes the color of his eyes because it's unusual.

Between both intros the POV characters pick up enough about the person they're looking at that the reader has a general idea, but can fill in gaps with their own preference, and they WAY each POV character looks at the other tells you something about that POV. (Alan is trying to figure out what you look like, Elaine is trying to figure out what you do.)

Lady Maelin May 22 2009 12:43 AM

Re: Writing Process
Anareth...I like it :D!!!
You seem to do well at letting your reader get a good idea of how they all look, along with their personalities...while most of them are looking at or sizing up the one of the other characters.

Everything you have discribed reads very well indeed.

If you as a writer... just started out with descriptions of each character, that would not only be very boring:sleepy:...but it would leave the reader flat:faint:...and looking for a more interesting book:roll:.

B U T.... The way you have gone about it you get to add to the characters full picture as your reading along...that will keep the interst of the readers high and very involved:good::good::good:

Is it more difficult to write a modern day story...or one in a different period or place ???

D. M. Domini May 22 2009 11:12 AM

Re: Writing Process

Originally Posted by Lady Maelin (Post 144082)
Question???..........what do both of you [Domini and Anareth] mean by *Ship* or *shipping*...when talking about your writing?

Anareth got it. It's when you pair characters together in your head romantically--for example, I'm a crazy Robinton/Menolly shipper, just because the subtext is everywhere in the books.

The word "slash" or "slashing" tends to be gay pairings, although the word is a bit bendy--I'll sometimes use it for non-gay pairings, I use the word fairly lightly, but *some* people use it for extremely pornographic gay pairings. I think at one point AMC used the word in her fanfiction rules as something she didn't allow; I don't think it's there anymore, though? Someone probably pointed out that green/blue rider pairings are slashy by nature even when they're romantically portrayed rather than pornographically portrayed.


You have computer generated portraits of some of the Pern characters...I would love to see them, as I'm sure so would quite a few other MoMers!!!
I had a thread called "Pern - Sims 2 Style" up but my domain is down so the photos are no longer there. I think people did like seeing them; perhaps I'll put up some more screenshots later. I don't really consider them art, however...I rely so, so heavily on the Sims 2 engine and other artists' textures and things to create them...basically, it's like putting together a doll from prefab parts. I choose the hair style and color, but someone else actually designed the hairstyle for the Sims 2 "dolls". I just chose the style they made. Make sense? But they do bear some resemblence in my mind--although not *exact* to how the characters would look.


Re: character looks--yeah, it's hard to get that into the work if you're avoiding the cliched mirror scene. But there's ways to manage it...my Raul character in American Goetia for example is a faun, but very human in his upbringing and personality, and he is very, very sensative about his looks so he narrates about it because it's sort of his neurosis. (Oh my god--my hat blew off! Everyone can see I'm horny! Er...I mean, that I have horns!) I like letting people know how my characters look--it's part of the thing I created.



Is it more difficult to write a modern day story...or one in a different period or place ???
I find it much easier to write a modern day story. It's a brainpower thing...you know what a sidewalk looks like, and so does your reader. You know what pizza is, and so does your reader. You don't have to worry about describing the world the character is in, except where it differs. You just have to be adept at noticing your own surroundings and putting that into words.

When you set a story on another world, you have to think...do they have roads? If so, what is paved with? How did the roads get there? Are they wide? Narrow? Were they made for humans?

You have to think about so many things for a paragraph that only mentions one or two direct words about them. You have to think about manners, about clothing, about food, about everything, and you have to come up with answers yourself or research them if it's a historical book, whereas in a story that's set in the modern world you already know how everything works, and you can just focus on the things you don't know, and the things you specifically want to make different.

Anareth May 22 2009 05:52 PM

Re: Writing Process
As long as description is integrated, I don't think it's a problem. I think you should NEVER read something where you realize "Oh, this is a paragraph of how they look" (there are some more literary styles that can get away with this, but not really genre fiction.)

In internet parlance, you pretty much will NEVER see slash used to refer to het pairings. There is some debate whether a gay pairing that's canon is slash, or if it should only refer to non-canon pairings. And the different nuances of anime terms (yaoi, yuri, uke, sem, etc) are just Byzantine.

If it's "real world" stories, I think it's easier to write present day to an extent (though the one place where I'm totally with Stephenie Meyer is that for me, cells phones and e-mails and such exist only where they HAVE to) simply because writing something set in the past requires a LOT of research or there WILL be some know-it-all who points out your mistakes. (I don't know on future as I don't write much/anything set in the future.) With a fantasy world that is TOTALLY outside our own, a low tech society is not hard because it's my world, if I can justify it within the physics/culture I've created, that's how it is, nanny nanny boo boo.

Now, when you get into Alternate Histories...THEN the crud hits the fan.

Weyrlady May 25 2009 02:18 PM

Re: Writing Process
This thread is absolutely amazing to read! There's how I do it. . . and then there's how everyone else does it. No one way is "better" than the other, and getting all the perspectives is absolutely fascinating! Keep on keepin' on.

I am both a 'writer' and a photographer, and find they tend to overlap a lot.I also have training in teaching and presenting, so that's probably why I tend to outline as much as I do, and am so 'theme-oriented'. I feel I need to get my ideas out on paper before I lose them (I have a very active mind; I'm always 'hopping' from one thing to another)

I've been told that I do have strong images in my writing. Well, whatever, but I think that's part of also being a photogtrapher. The entire point of photography is to ilicit an emotional responce from the veiwer, and personally I think that good writing should do the same thing. I want to see it, and smell it, and feel it, etc., take me there. I don't care if the story's set in the author's backyard, or on another planet.

Because I apparently have strong images, I do tend to "overuse" adjectives to some degree. I'm trying to 'fix' that, and all the while ferv ently avoiding the cliched mirror scene. I like to stick to reality, and real people don't usually stand around admiring themselves in a mirror. I agree that discription, while thorough, should be spread out. It depends on who's boots you're in at the time, who the character is, and they're relationship to the character being described. To use an example from my own stuff, the chapter from "Dragonrider with a Difference" where brown rider D'rel goes and talks with bronze rider N'stel. N'stel is D'rel's cousin, not his boyfriend, and he's probably seen the guy every day since he was born, so he knows what he's like- but does the reader? He's not going to take note of the fact that N'stel is quite a looker and quite the catch (which he is!), but D'rel has friendly dark eyes, and he'd probably notice the difference between them: N'stel's are crystal-blue. He'd also notice the similarities, or actually N'stel does, that they both like to break tradition and go against the grain. In writing this scene, I thought about my interactions with my own cousins. They are family, but I don't look at them like I want to marry them.

On the other end of things, Marianna (a main female protagonist) sees D'rel differently. She notices that he's not bad to look at, and that his hands are warm.She's not tall enough that he has to partially lift her on his dragon's back, and she notices that he's physically strong enough to do that without much trouble. His dragon (Zenyth) laughs at her for noticing all this, but he's happy because he wants to be Marianna's friend, and D'rel "never has much trouble with the pretty girls." Zen wants Marianna to be comfortable when with the 2 of them.

And speaking of shipping, I personally happen to think the dragon/rider relationship is beautiful- a powerful inter-species relationship like nothing else. It's not slashy but it is a 'ship, a lovely one.

Lady Maelin May 25 2009 11:20 PM

Re: Writing Process
Domini...I would think that when you were first start writing, you would start out with what you know, what is easiest and at hand...but I would think that that would get to boring after a while...and that creating a world of your own, whether in Sci-Fi or here and now...it would give you exciting challenges for your developing skills...not to mention giving you something that would stretch your creative powers to their fullest.

I know as an artist, I need to stretch myself as far as I can go, with trying to create something new that I have never tried before...sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't...but always I learn something new that I never realize I could do before. Here on MoM that seems to happen a lot....LOL.

I would think that the ultimate adventure for a writer would be in creating all of it yourself...characters, places, even time it's self if and when it might be needed...all that it takes for your own world to develop and come to life, to be all that you want it to be.

Anareth May 26 2009 12:11 AM

Re: Writing Process
The problem with creating a whole new world is...well, how many threads do we have here about "Anne-consistencies"? In fairness, Anne wasn't setting out to create more than a quick short for a magazine paycheck and it just snowballed. But ESPECIALLY now with the internet, if you have any following at all, and you screw up within your own rules, someone somewhere will nail you to a tree.

Also, I will admit...I've tried doing a fantasy novel set in a completely non-Earth world, and really? After a while it starts to sound dumb. It's not a bad plot, it's an interesting culture (there's another trap--turning it into a travelogue--JRR TOLKIEN I AM LOOKING AT YOU-I think I skipped sixty percent of LOTR because it was longwinded description or it was poetry, gag, not to mention the plot cul-de-sac that is Tom Bombadil), but having to come up with names for everyone and everything that don't sound like they came out of the fantasy-name generator starts to grate. Tolkien got away with it and it's kind of all been downhill from there. (And remember, when deciding to avoid that by swiping words from foriegn languages: someone somewhere will speak that language.) Also, avoiding fantasy or SF tropes is tricky bordering on impossible at times. People know the formula now, and they are ticking off the list as they go.

I don't know that it's particularly easy to write in the "real" world, either. The ADvantage to creating a world from scratch is that you can literally do whatever you want, up to and including bollocksing up the laws of physics, geology, and biology. If you are setting your story in the real world, you now have to either deal with what's here, or come up with something better than a "Shazam! It's magic!" handwave (unless you're writing boilerplate romance, in which case shazam away because no one cares, get to the sex). Otherwise, the same people with their original-world fantasy checklist are waiting to string you up for putting streets in the wrong place, the wrong armor on your knight, and misplacing that species of plant.

Also, almost all my ideas (save the fantasy, and that I really haven't done much with since...undergrad, probably, I remember drawing the maps in the old house) tend to come from looking at the real world a bit sideways. Kind of 'what if we were living in an Edward Gorey drawing' warped.

Lady Maelin May 26 2009 12:34 AM

Re: Writing Process
*Slash*That just sounds somewhat disturbing to me...especially when you tell me that that is a way for writers to discribing a pair of lovers...any kind of lovers. It sounds more like your trying to discribe a murderer to me.

D. M. Domini May 26 2009 08:10 AM

Re: Writing Process
The word "slash" comes from how you describe the pairings. For example, if I wanted to "slash", oh, Robinton and F'lon, I'd speak of the pairing as Robinton/F'lon. With a slash between the two names. Technically Robinton/Menolly is not considered slash because it would be a heterosexual relationship. Despite the little slash between the names.

You know, I wonder if the hard-core use of the word "slash" to describe excessively pornographic male/male pairings is due to the scary murder vibe the word "slash" gives out to folks new to the jargon...of course, in slash fandom, things can just get weird anyway, so on the other hand, maybe not. Harry Potter slash fandom is fun to meander through, a "rare pairing" written well is very interesting (rare pair meaning two characters fans don't typically write about in a romantic way) but depending where you go it can get very strange and/or squick-tastic. (squick--jargon for when you come across content you think is rather more icky than hot.) It's not for everyone, although it seems to have a large proportion of young internet-savvy females. Sometimes I theorize slashy fanfic with male/male pairings (god, I almost wrote male/mail!) is the female's equivalent to men's lesbian porn videos. Buuuuut, that's probably a topic for an entirely different board.

In regards to building worlds...well, you asked which was harder and which was easier, which is what I answered.

I personally write both, things that are "urban fantasy" and much closer to real life, and things set on different worlds, although everything I've done so far is based on the real world in some way, even if just a small way, and tilted or twisted a bit. You do need to keep on top of your own rules either way, as Anareth pointed out. Internet fandom is pretty frank about flaws.

Creating entirely new worlds is definitely fun, but it takes more brainpower due to the reasons I stated before, at least at first when you are setting up the rules. I'd expect it would become easier the longer you write in that world. I have two different universes that revolve on a non-Earth world, so I'm not dissing it (hehe), just pointing out that it's more difficult to write, particularly if you intend to do it *well*.

Shalyn May 26 2009 08:14 PM

Re: Writing Process
No matter what, I so prefer the slash between any pairings to the mushed together names people are using now. Those are just stupid...in my not so humble opinion, anyway!

Anareth May 26 2009 08:59 PM

Re: Writing Process
It literally comes from the specific slash between Kirk/Spock. Early Trek fandom was apparently a strange, strange place. And oddly enough, there is FAR more fan fic written by women than men, and the OVERWHELMING majority of slash writers are women. (A poster those of us familiar with NKT may know and love, who is a gay male, has frequently posted about this in his LJ, including a lecture to all the straight women writing slash on how gay sex ACTUALLY works, as opposed to how they THINK it works. He is not a slash fan.) Men do not write much fic and there is relatively little female/female slash (though this is NOT true of anime fandom, where yuri is not as uncommon.) There are theories on how women tend to like literary porn while men prefer visual, so they just don't get as much out of it.

And oh God, the portmanteau names...oy. "Spuffy" from the BTVS fandom is particularly annoying.

And I admit I am putting stuff in SPECIFICALLY TO PO potential slashers. They'll write it anyway, but I want them to know I will be onto it.

D. M. Domini May 27 2009 12:09 AM

Re: Writing Process
I think the smooshed together name thing is done with a lot of tongue-in-cheek...a lot like you get things like Bennifer in those celebrity mags. Slash fandom...at least the ones I've come across...tends to be pretty self-aware. You almost have to be, to voluntarily write/draw content that a lot of people will tie you to the stake for.

...I just totally realized that AMC does the "Bennifer" thing for her character's kids. That's too funny. F'lessan, anyone? Or even Robse (Menolly and Sebell's kid)? Hee hee hee hee hee!

Edit: Regarding gay men and their perception of slashy fic...there's an archive called "nifty" (warning--it is an adult site, if you choose to google around for it, although is is mostly plain text) that's purely of amateur gay original fiction. The "tone" is entirely different from that of fandom slash--I suspect a lot of it is actually written by men for men. Most of it is pretty bad...on par with your average pool of fanfiction. Someone should do a comparison some day...of slashy fanfiction written by females, to the slashy original fiction written by men. I wonder what you'd find if you analyzed that.

...I've revealed that I know far too much about the slash world, haven't I?

Heh. I told you my fanfic was much much lighter than, say, my original fic.

Greenrider Dawna May 27 2009 12:39 AM

Re: Writing Process
I haven't written slash myself and I seldom read it. I'm not against it or anything, it's just not something that really interests me, at least at this point.

As for world-building, I find that it is more fun to create my own worlds than to write something entirely Earth-based. I've written stories that take place on other planets, alternate Earths, and Earth so far in the future that it seems like another planet. Questions often arise, especially if I have a particularly exotic world in mind, such as how many moons can I have without messing up the tides and is a life-filled planet with three suns possible?

I do from time to time write stories that take place on Earth and, depending on the slant I take, that can be enjoyable too. Still, I feel that there is special kind of thrill that comes with creating my own worlds. I don't feel as constricted.

Anareth May 27 2009 11:24 AM

Re: Writing Process
If it's original fiction, it isn't slash. Slash is a purely fanfic term regarding canon characters. You can't slash your own characters--you write them as gay. Just like it's not slash if the fan fic characters are canonically gay. I've even seen debate over whether to write slash for canonically gay characters, you would have to write them as het.

Not my kink in any case, but there you are. I just look forward to blowing a few minds with my (probably most-slashable) male character's attitude regarding sexuality because it manages to offend/totally confuse both the liberal and the conservative protagonist.

D. M. Domini May 27 2009 01:29 PM

Re: Writing Process
Well, if you want to get really technical, you're correct about the definition of "slash" Anareth. But given it's practically slang anyway...sort of straddles the line between slang and field-specific jargon...and English is a living language, I don't think my use of it is incorrect, particularly since I said "slashy", which leans towards meaning "has slash-like qualities" rather than "it IS slash". ::shrug:: I used it as an adjective, not a noun.

Anyway, back to the original topic...


Questions often arise, especially if I have a particularly exotic world in mind, such as how many moons can I have without messing up the tides and is a life-filled planet with three suns possible?
I've always like the idea of a habitable moon that orbits an inhospitable planet. The planet will loom very large in the sky (or it will as I imagine it--a habitable moon orbiting a gas giant or something).

I'm also fond of planets that are closer to spectacular cosmic phenomena (nebulae and the like) that they are prominent in the sky. One of my worlds is close enough to a nebula that it shows up distinctly in the night sky, and you can see patterns in it. So instead of having various zodiacs and constellations in their myths and legends and religions, they base those types of things on shapes seen within the clouds of the nebula.

I mean, if you take a look at this pics on google, it's easy to imagine what sorts of myths and legends would spawn if you could see those types of things in the sky above with your naked eyes.

Multi-Facets May 27 2009 07:46 PM

Re: Writing Process
Well, The Dark Crystal got away with three suns. ("When single shines the triple suns" and all that.) Why not some other planet/reality/plane of existence with three suns? Maybe the suns are farther away than our own Sol, and thus do less damage from that distance.

Tara K. Harper's "Wolfwalker" novels take place on a world with eight moons; maybe they were small moons, or at least far enough away to not cause much damage to the tides.

Physics like that can be pulled off in fantasy. Writers just have to be careful how they do it, right?

Weyrlady May 27 2009 08:47 PM

Re: Writing Process

Originally Posted by Anareth (Post 144619)
If it's original fiction, it isn't slash. Slash is a purely fanfic term regarding canon characters. You can't slash your own characters--you write them as gay. Just like it's not slash if the fan fic characters are canonically gay.

I have a question. . . what about a pair where one partner isn't human? It's not a sexual relationship (how can it be??), but it is a relationship in every sense of the word. In the specific case of Kirk/Spock, Spock wasn't entirely human and I don't think that it really mattered in the sceme of things!

F'nor/Canth. They're canon and there is a slash. . . does that make that relationship "slashy"? (Talk about a way to sour a lovely relationship, but anyway. . . )I personally have to agree with Lady M. here- sounds like a horror flick. Maybe because I'd just rather accentuate the positive.

As for the habital planet question, I'd say the 3 suns would have to be REALLY far away, so as not bake everyone. And said planet would have to have an incredible atmosphere, no holes in the ozone layer included. Ever had a bad sunburn?

Greenrider Dawna May 28 2009 02:17 AM

Re: Writing Process
Hmmm... I could be wrong, but doesn't the term "slash" usually imply a sexual relationship? If Canth mates with a dragon that is paired with a male rider and F'nor has sex with said rider, then I suppose that could be considered slash.

I also agree with you, Weyrlady, and Lady Maelin, that the term does sound like something out of a horror flick! In fact, when I first came across it, I thought that that's what it meant!

In regards to the original topic, I actually did write a story a while back that was set on a planet with three suns. I placed them far enough away that the heat they gave off was relatively close to that of our sun and the people referred to them as "daystars." Had this been a novel, I most likely would have had to worry about how long it takes the planet to orbit all three suns, how they affect the seasons, etc. but since it was a short piece, I just focused on the immediate story.

D.M. Domini, thanks for the link to those nebula pics! They are beautiful and do inspire the imagination!

calenlily May 28 2009 03:46 AM

Re: Writing Process
Terminology clarification: "Slash" used as a descriptor of a fic means its fanfic gayness. Using the / symbol between character names indicates that you're talking about a relationship between those characters, but has nothing to do with whether or not the pairing is considered "slash".

Name/name generally signifies a romantic or sexual relationship (I've seen various authors put "," "+" or "and" between character names to indicate that two characters are the focus of a fic but not romantically involved) as a descriptor of a fic. In other contexts, it may or may not be taken that way; most people could probably figure it out based on common sense, but I would generally err on the side of avoiding the / symbol when talking about non-romantic pairings. It really depends on what you're talking about. In terms of your question about "F'nor/Canth", Weyrlady, if you're saying "my favorite rider and dragon partnership is..." no one's going to misconstrue it. If you're saying "my favorite characters are..." or "I'm a fan of..." people will probably still know what you mean (but in that same context someone could also put a romantic pairing using the same syntax, so it's a little more confusing). If you put it heading of a story, there will be confusion. I think most people will figure out that you're not actually saying what it sounds like you're saying, but there will probably be a few thinking its something brain-bleach worthy. Hopefully that answers your question.

This is a really interesting thread. Sometime when I have more time I'll have to write a post actually talking about my writing process.

Anareth May 28 2009 05:58 PM

Re: Writing Process
"Slash" is pretty specifically sexual. Not necessarily EXPLICIT, but it wouldn't apply to a nonsexual/romantic relationship. Most people can figure out by context what the / between character names (unless you're referring to a character who has two names, but let's not confuse things further.)

Three suns would take a LOT of monkeying to make work, considering the amount of radiation involved. Star Wars (which is space opera/fantasy, not SF) required a lot of retconning when people started trying to figure out how things might work, like Tatooine's twin suns.

Weyrlady May 31 2009 07:40 PM

Re: Writing Process

Originally Posted by calenlily (Post 144681)
Terminology clarification: "Slash" used as a descriptor of a fic means its fanfic gayness. Using the / symbol between character names indicates that you're talking about a relationship between those characters, but has nothing to do with whether or not the pairing is considered "slash".

Name/name generally signifies a romantic or sexual relationship (I've seen various authors put "," "+" or "and" between character names to indicate that two characters are the focus of a fic but not romantically involved) as a descriptor of a fic. In other contexts, it may or may not be taken that way; most people could probably figure it out based on common sense, but I would generally err on the side of avoiding the / symbol when talking about non-romantic pairings. It really depends on what you're talking about. In terms of your question about "F'nor/Canth", Weyrlady, if you're saying "my favorite rider and dragon partnership is..." no one's going to misconstrue it. If you're saying "my favorite characters are..." or "I'm a fan of..." people will probably still know what you mean (but in that same context someone could also put a romantic pairing using the same syntax, so it's a little more confusing). If you put it heading of a story, there will be confusion. I think most people will figure out that you're not actually saying what it sounds like you're saying, but there will probably be a few thinking its something brain-bleach worthy. Hopefully that answers your question.

Thanks, all! I figured that it would be interesting to read what pesople would say. . . That definitely clears things up. When I first became a Pern fan the Internet wasn't nearly like it is now.

Considering the whole solar-radiation idea (as well as the damage a lot of it can do!), a planet with multiple moons might be more plausible. Just a suggestion. . . We have something like 350+ days of sunshine per year here in AZ, and sometimes ju:sun::surfing:st one sun that's over 93 million miles away is enough!

vyon Jun 17 2009 08:45 AM

Re: Writing Process
Well, I got hooked on this thread pretty quickly. It's not discussing creative process and bouncing ideas around that made that creative process dry up for me. Oh, and using the same part of my brain to do University assignments, which can be a lot less interesting than creating my own universe.

On the suns and moons subject, what does having two moons do to Pern's tides and storm-patterns?

On creating planets - I'd rather create my own. It's more fun, and you don't really have to stay with what's scientifically possible so long as you're consistent within your own parameters. I have Endria where "The rules of science are all bent to hell," and the planet has nine invisible moons, one of which is described as "alive." The fun starts when anyone tries to land a space-ship on it. Anyone visiting the place is warned to leave watches, cellphones and anything computerised behind, if they want them to work afterwards.

Few of my stories are earth/present. Or even Earth at all. I did try writing Pern fanfiction, but didn't get terribly far with it.

When I'm stuck I'll draw a picture or a map, or even take to writing longhand, instead of on the computer. I even did that with my dissertation when I got stuck with that.

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