Sunday, September 5, 2010

A Writerly Survey

I found this survey from Creative A over at *Headdesk* ages and ages ago, and it was so interesting and writerly that I figured I'd try it out. (About time it got posted, too; this thing's been burning a hole in my post list for the longest time. Lots of answers to change.)

1) What’s the last thing you wrote? What’s the first thing you wrote that you still have?

The last thing I wrote would be... well... I wouldn't call it necessarily a short story, but at the same time, it kinda is... see, it's a letter, but there's kind of a story between the lines. Hard to explain, really, and it's something that is definitely drafty, but I think I'll end up fixing it up for... something. The only good thing I've gotten from my "honors" language arts program in two years, actually--it's from a class prompt.
The first thing I wrote that *I* still have is my crappy 20-something-k novella. It's technically an accomplishment, because I finished it. But at the same time, it sucks. Now, my mom probably has my handwriting practice sheets from kindergarten somewhere. If I toss a story, she saves it... that's kind of how things work at my house.

2) Write poetry?

Only for a class, and then very reluctantly. I don't like poetry. I don't like rhymes, and my free verse pretty much sucks. The poems I like invariably end up classified as "suckish" by anyone I show them to. I don't mind so much, though; I prefer prose.

3) Angsty poetry?

Nope. Well, I don't think so. Maybe sometimes if the assignment was a sad topic. But I'm not one to write about my personal life, and I like to think I don't angst too much about things other than myself. Although, some of my earlier prose writing is packed with layer upon layer of melodrama, which may conceal angst.

I mean, I'm sure I've written angst before, but I'm not exactly sure how to identify my own writing as such.

4) Favorite genre of writing?

Fantasy. I love to worldbuild and I love magic and supernatural things. About 95% of my stories are fantasy, 2.5% are science fiction, and the rest is what I term "realistic fiction," by which I mean it takes place on Earth with no paranormal elements.

5) Most annoying character you’ve ever created?

On the page, I'd have to say The Summoner, a lady who never summoned anything, talked in a weird accent, and never actually moved the plot forward. She's annoying because she's flat and crappily drawn, which bugs me. (She also inhabits that crappy novella of mine...)

Off the page, I've got two. They're twins, fraternal, brother and sister, and they never go away. I've pretty much decided I'll never be able to write their story because I don't know what it is. They just pop up everywhere. They've been in so many plots it's not funny. And they never rest. It's like it's their life's goal to force me to write nothing but the crap they shove down my throat for the rest of my life.

6) Best plot you’ve ever created?

I don't create plots. Plots require endings. ...well... Actually, I had this really complicated plot once for a book called THE RISE OF THE PHOENIX, which I'm semi-proud of because it was so complicated and yet I planned it from beginning to end. I never did write it, though. (And never will, because I was, like, nine at the time, and it sucks.)

I've never really plotted anything I liked, to be honest. The one time I wrote with a full outline, the stupid thing morphed beyond recognition within 2k.
7) Coolest plot twist you’ve ever created?

Eh... heh... I hardly ever get far enough to make the twists plot. I mean the plots twist. I guess I'd say the one in FOUR VISIONS where one of the four "victims" of this one thing turns out to be working with the runners of the thing.

Ah! Hah! Look at the vague!

8 ) How often do you get writer’s block?

I no longer believe in writer's block. I have issues from time to time as far as starting things goes. Sometimes I don't know what's going to happen next, but even those don't develop into full-fledged blocks. I can spend up to an hour and a half trying to start a writing session, though, during which time I may try out a good three dozen versions of a sentence or paragraph.

But I don't believe in writer's block. It's possible to break a block by forcing yourself to write, even if you'll have to edit the crap out of it later. (This is DESPITE what the *cough*slackers*cough* in my creative writing class claim.)

9) Write fan fiction?

Used to. I started out writing original stuff, switched to fan fiction for awhile, then switched back to my own stuff. I still fantasize about fan fiction if my own stuff is going really badly, but I haven't written any for a good five, six years.

Funnily enough, I never really wrote fanfics about books. It was always focused around video games. Huh. I wonder what that says about me...

10) Do you type or write by hand?

I write longhand if I can't get to a computer, but I still firmly believe that my best stuff comes from the keyboard. I type a lot faster than I write longhand, and I usually feel freer to make little experimental side-trips when I type because I don't feel like I run the danger of forgetting what's supposed to happen in the end.

11) Do you save everything you write?

Yes. Occasionally I toss something, but for the most part it all gets saved somewhere. I have yet to lose something due to computer crashes, though, which is really just dumb luck. I came (-) this close to losing a 30k draft due to file corruption, but I still have the draft because I just so happened to print the thing right before it corrupted. Dumb luck, indeed.

12) Do you ever go back to an idea after you’ve abandoned it?

Absolutely. I jump from project to project, and old projects come back as often as new ones come in. It's rather annoying, actually.

The most memorable project, I think, came from a WIP I can't think of a suitable title for. Let's call it NORTHERN for now. I'd completely forgotten about it. One day I was daydreaming some scene about a guy about to be killed when this little girl runs in and gives herself up to save his life. Much to my surprise, when the guy yelled at her to stop (like it would make any difference at that point), the name he called her was the name of the female MC in NORTHERN. Of course, everything had changed in the story, but it was essentially the same project.

13) What’s your favorite thing you’ve ever written?

Ah, right now I think it's that opening scene from THIRTEENTH HELL. I really love Jaina, the main character. She has a sense of humor that I really enjoy, though it's not over-the-top. Rather, it's a bit dry at times. But she calls the guy who kidnaps her "Muffin." I still crack up over that, even though it's a bit... well... meh.

14) What’s everyone else’s favorite story you’ve written?

Um, that would have to be my failed NaNo from 2009, I think, for the sole reason that it's pretty much the only thing I've shown to anyone else over the last year or two, where I think my writing has improved the most. (That would be the 30k lost to corruption, for what it's worth.)

15) Ever written romance or angsty teen drama?

No. I hate romance, and I get enough of the angsty teen drama in my life (I'm currently a teen, and all my friends are teens, and the people at my school are so loud one can't help but hear everyone else's angst in the halls and things) that I don't want to write it. That's not to say I never write angst, but it's not of the "my life sucks so much everyone hates me no one understands me" variety. (I get enough of that in my head and at school, thanks much.)

16) What’s your favorite setting for your characters?

Wild areas, definitely. I don't get to write those sorts of places much, though, because I rarely get to scenes in stories and such that take place outside of a settled area. Also, I'm sure I don't do such places justice when I do write about them.

17) How many writing projects are you working on right now?

I'm working very hard to ignore my lovely SNI (Shiny New Idea) and focus on my pretty-well-but-not-quite-completely-developed SEVENTH MAGIC project, but I'm failing. I'm trying not to get sucked into working on two projects at once, but... at the same time, I think it might be an interesting exercise to try out.

18) Have you ever won an award for your writing?

Nope. I've been nominated for a school-related writing award, but those results won't come until this September or so.

19) What are your five favorite words?

Baleful, obfuscate, fate*, moor, echolocation.

*This is strictly due to sound. I despise fate in real life and literature. Too often, people take it as an excuse for just sitting back and doing nothing and letting stuff happen to them because "it's FATE this has to turn out this way." Ugh. Cry me a bloody angsty river already.

20) What character have you created that is most like yourself?

Rachael, I think, from FOUR VISIONS. I didn't realize how much she acted like me (or, at least, the parts of me that I consciously recognize) until someone mentioned that she seemed a lot like me. I definitely wasn't going for that, though, and that aspect of the character really bugs me.

21) Where do you get your ideas for your characters?

They appear, usually with a name, with a personality fully formed. I rarely have to try to explore my characters. The problems with characters that I run into stem from the fact that their dimensions don't always translate properly onto the page.

22) Do you ever write based on your dreams?

Yes. Almost always. Most of my favorite stories came from dreams. DREAMERS did, and NORTHERN, and TIMELINE*, and a good many others that haven't gotten titles or anything yet.

*I actually don't remember what this project is. This answer has been preserved from when I first wrote this post manymany months ago. Go figure.

23) Do you favor happy endings?

I wouldn't know. I never get to the end. Usually, the stuff I finish ends well for the "good guys." I don't think I've ever written anything that ends badly for the protagonist(s).

Oh. Well. Maybe I have. A short story ends with the death of the POV character. But I don't really think of either character from that particular story to be any sort of "good guy" or "protagonist" because, well, they're both vampires. And I hate vampires. But they demanded I write their story, so... ugh.

24) Are you concerned with spelling and grammar as you write?

Not consciously. I'm one of those freaks who can pound out perfect spelling and grammar without thinking about it. I catch almost every typo. This doesn't really affect my writing speed. I like it, because editing for grammar drives me nuts. I have friends who think I'm obligated to check their grammar, and friends who give me stuff and ask me to check grammar, and while I don't mind helping friends out, grammar checking is tedious and thankless and no one seems to implement even half of what I correct anyway. It'd be doubly annoying if I had to do it on my own stuff.

25) Does music help you write?

Yes. Until recently, I couldn't write while listening to music with lyrics, but now I can listen to any song and still be able to write. The problem with lyric music now is that sometimes I'd rather sing than write, and it sort of tends to show.

Oh, but an exception to the past lyric music rule: about three years ago, I think, I got the idea for SEVENTH MAGIC* and the soundtrack for Wicked within the same week, and proceeded to listen to Wicked while writing SEVENTH MAGIC, especially the song "No Good Deed." Now, I can't listen to a song from Wicked without feeling a certain measure of guilt for not yet having finished SEVENTH MAGIC. Sheesh. How many times can I plug in my own book's title?

*The very first idea, which bears only a vague resemblance to the current incarnation.

26) Quote something you’ve written. Whatever pops in your head.

I've got several I can think of. Here goes.

1. He was... cute, I guess, but not the kind girls go all giggly over.

2. Death hurts. A lot. I should know--I've done it three times. Died, I mean.

3. I picked the legwarmer up with metal tongs, because there was no way I wanted to touch a possessed object with my bare hands.

4. Biker-looking guy. Pink, green polka-dotted, possessed legwarmer. A toy poodle named Blitzkrieg. Yes, this was going to be one of "those" cases.


  1. I love "obfuscate". It's such a great word. I also love your project titles. You need to cross the finish line!

  2. Ugh... I know, I know, I'm terrible at finishing stuff. >.< I just need to make myself write. That's really my problem.

    ...and yet, here I am, still on the Internet.

    ...y'know what? I'm gonna make myself type up that short story I was supposed to work on last weekend.

    Well, it's a step, right? ^^