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Month-Long Writing MeMe – ER. . . WEEK 2

May 8, 2010

Catching up on the meme. . .

4. Tell us about one of your first stories/characters!

Do we need to do this so early in the month? First stories are hard for writers. We love them the most–but they’re also the roughest, kind of like the B movie that you know you shouldn’t watch over and over. . . but do.

My first coherent story–written in seventh grade, was so grandiose and self-important I don’t think I can share it here, but I’ll tell you about my first fanfic instead. Coincidentally, it was the first story I have any memory of writing.

When I was very small, and still a pre-reader, I had a collection of children’s books. They were by Disney, hardbacked, and maybe 11 inches tall. I don’t have any memories of my parents reading them to me, but I have a perfectly clear mental image of sitting in my room, saying to myself what was happening in them. In particular, there was one I didn’t like (the colors were all brown). Mickey, Goofy, Pluto, and I’m sure Donald, although I didn’t like him, either, and thusly edited him out, were camping on a wild river, and Pluto’s paws were getting tired. The story consisted mostly of Mickey and Goofy’s dialogue over how best to help Pluto make it home. I seem to remember it being cold, too… Pluto didn’t like having his paws in the snow.

5. By age, who is your youngest character? Oldest? How about “youngest” and “oldest” in terms of when you created them?

Um. I have a lot of adolescents, and they all kind of chunk in at around 15, so that would be either Kieran, Chayah, or the twins. I don’t think there’s anyone younger, although there may be a few sequences where we see characters as littles. Oldest is Daenor–dwarves have an advantage in that category.

Chayah wins for “oldest”, too. Most recent is Sandie, who may revert to Natalie before too long.

6. Where are you most comfortable writing? At what time of day? Computer or good ol’ pen and paper?

Night, night, night, and night–as late as I can. Prime writing time used to be midnight to three, but with the advent of a desk job it’s had to push back. I’ll usually do my initial stuff on paper, with fine-tuning happening on the computer. This has become more exaggerated since the spacebar broke on my keyboard–too much typing is a pain, and editing for the extra spaces that get put in sucks.

As far as comfort goes–my biggest quirk is that I can’t write while I’m sitting in a chair. If I’m writing with a pen and paper, I have to be on my stomach. Ditto for a laptop. I can’t use my favorite (and MOST comfortable) pose anymore–when I had the desktop, I had a big padded executive-style chair. I’d tip it back and cross my ankles on the desktop, with the keyboard balanced across my knees. I’d crank the music up to just below earthquaking, pour a huge glass of sweet tea, put on a giant pair of headphones–the ones that cover the ear with those little cups, and go. Couldn’t see the screen very well, but I felt like my fingers could just fly, and I was completely immersed in the world I was writing. I miss those nights.

7. Do you listen to music while you write? What kind? Are there any songs you like to relate/apply to your characters?

Ha! I should be reading ahead, shouldn’t I? Yes, I listen to music, and I need it loud enough to drown out the real world.

I’m VERY picky about what I listen to. The first song of a writing session has to be Toby Keith’s “I Miss Billy The Kid.” There’s something about the way the melody wanders in that lets me sync up with the music, and also lets me pull up the emotions I need to write with, almost like an inductive hypnosis cue, in a way.

I have an allergic reaction to stories where characters emote to songs–I’ve had to take Limp Bizkit’s “Behind Blue Eyes” off a playlist after I saw someone do a Face fanfic about it–so I feel a *little* hypocritical when I say that I almost always have a song that’s tied to a story I’m writing.

HOWEVER–

The song doesn’t really have anything to do with the story. It’s hard for me to describe, because I’m not someone who is generally moved by music, or has an emotional connection to it. But sometimes, just as I have a new story coming on, I’ll hear a piece of music that gives me a. . . um, how do I describe this?. . . almost a deja-vu feeling. It twinges a feeling in my stomach that is identical to the feeling the story gives me, and I can use the song as a touchpoint to pull back into that world when I revisit it. Memories used “Ten Rounds With Jose Cuervo”, weirdly enough; my A-Team hotel story uses Collective Soul’s “Runaway Train”–and those chord changes have become my link any time I have to write Hannibal, Face, or B.A. Murdock’s “Jack Daniels” story (did I ever post that for ya’ll?) was the Fall Out Boy song about Going Down Swinging (I was doing good to rememeber as many song titles as I have tonight).

I’ll turn Shinedown on when I’m working on Murdock character development, too. “I Dare You” seems to work well.

8. What’s your favorite genre to write? To read?

I spend a lot of time in fantasy and sci fi, on both fronts. I tell people that I spend enough time in reality, I don’t need it in my recreational activities, but the truth is that I prefer to invest what time I have with characters that are honorable, adventurous, and driven by epic forces. It’s hard to find that in your average chick lit book or arthouse movie.

Writing in the “real” world presents challenges that will ultimately leave me dissatisfied. Case in point: a few weeks ago I had a little snapshot where Murdock was prepping flight plans for a South American mission. In the show, South American countries are *always* fabricated, which forced me to either create a name and maintain canon (which feels like lazy writing), or respect the plausibility of a unit operating in a hypothetical modern reality and do the homework of finding a regime that was unstable enough in situ to merit A-Team shenanigans. (I went with canon, but it has continued to bug me ever since.)

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One comment

  1. I know what you mean about characters emoting to songs. I never want to see that! It’s such lazy writing, letting someone else’s words do the work.
    It’s fraught with pitfalls too. Many people won’t know the song. Some people will know it and not like it. Some people will like it fine, but think it’s really not appropriate to that character. And I always thnk soong lyrics written down, removed from context, can read really stupid and trite. Like bad poetry.
    So it’s fine to be inspired by a song, and think it speaks to that character. But there’s just no need to say anything about the song in the fic.



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