Do ideas come in little tiny pinpricks and then get expanded, or do they start great big and scopy and then get refined?
Both, really. Either. Some ideas spring fully formed from my head, others are vague and must be teased into existence. Some ideas are big, some are small. Most are weird.
Why do you choose to write in the tenses you do (present tense, or first person POV, or third person) and how do you choose particular styles for particular stories?
It's partly the story and partly the POV character that determines the tense/person combo. Some characters will let you all the way into their heads and they can be written in first person, but more often I have to observe from a little ways off.
I sometimes write in present tense, but I try not to do so very often. I feel like it can easily become kind of pretentious and arty, somehow.
When I choose present tense, it's because the story demands that urgency of being right there. I generally try to start in third and only go to first if I find I'm writing in it anyway without meaning to. And even then, I wrench it back sometimes.
In my XMM series Sucks To Be You, I wrote different installments from different characters's POVs and everyone had their own combo: Jean - third/present, Scott - first/past, Logan weird third that was almost first/past. It helped to give each character their own voice.
I only ever wrote in second person once and that was an Infocom games takeoff.
Do you have music that inspires your writing? (That you listen to while writing, or certain songs that remind you of certain characters.)
I usually make a playlist for a story that takes more than two sittings to write. It helps me to get into the mood for that story.
And I've been trying on and off to write a Harry/Draco story based off of a song -- not a song story with lyrics in the text and all, but using the ideas and mood from the song. It's not going too well, though. Perhaps that's a sign.
How do you brainstorm what comes next in a story?
I either sit out on my balcony, take a shower, or think about it while falling asleep at night. Those are all good methods for me.
What do you do when you hit a road block?
See above. Also, I watch TV.
How often do you end up deleting a whole bunch of already-written stuff, and how hard is it to let that stuff go?
Well, I edit a lot as I go, but it's rare that I'd delete huge chunks of anything.
What if you really, really want to include something but part of you is saying it's not right for that particular story?
Sometimes I do put things in that I like but know that I'll have to edit out before I actually post, like the Gone With the Wind references in Summer Thing. See? I was strong! I removed them! Having them there initially makes it easier to deal with not using them in the end. I can pretend that I'm going to keep them at first.
Do you take notes longhand, and if so, when?
Rarely. Though if I have a good idea on the bus or at work, I'll email cryptic notes to myself. I've been working on the computer so long that I just can't work so well on paper.
Plus I can never read my handwriting afterwards.
Do you use challenges by other people to inspire you?
Often. I adore challenges, especially pairing challenges. Trying to figure out how to make something work and make it in character and in canon is fascinating to me.
I'm also addicted to reading HP badfic and I want to do some personal challenges where I take some outrageous OOC thing, like Draco calling Harry "kitten" and write a story where it's plausible. Stay tuned.
Do you do anything in particular to get you into the right mindset to write a certain character or characters?
Well, sometimes, if it's a TV or movie character, I'll try to kind of move like them. It sounds weird, but it helps sometimes. I read old fic of mind about the same char, if I have it. I think about the char a lot.
You don't want to know what I did to get into the mindset to write the Jar Jar smut.
Which characters are easiest for you to write, and WHY?
Which ones are hardest, and again, WHY?
To combine these answers, some characters I just relate to more and thus they are easier to figure out. Others, not so much.
But otherwise, I think it's more the nature of the story that makes it difficult, not the characters. I mean, I could probably reel off pages and pages of Merry/Pippin dialogue with no problem, but I've never really tried to write a serious story about them. That would be just as much a challenge as anything else.
Which characters are most like you emotionally?
Ha. I'd like to say Scully, but maybe that's wishful thinking. I remember answering a little survey thing about "Which Buffy villain are you?" and realising that while I wanted to be Drusilla, I probably was Warren. And ever more shall be so. It's much too easy to figure out who you want to be and too hard to figure out who you really are.
Better to ask you -- which characters are most like me emotionally?
What about writing smut - do you find it easy, difficult?
Depends a lot on the story. Some fandoms and settings lend themselves to explicitness more easily. I find writing LotR smut extremely difficult because usually I'm trying to maintain a Tolkien-like tone so it's all about the euphemisms. While trying not to make them too dorky.
Rather scarily, I've found that the more disturbing I want the sex to be, the more explicit it is. Happy sex is more often glossed over. Make of that what you will.
What kinds of smut are easiest for you to write, and WHY?
That's unanswerable for me. It's not like I can say, wow, it's so easy to write handjobs but blowjobs are really difficult. (Though I admit to not liking to write anal sex because I never know how much about the logistics to include.)
Girlslash is sometimes harder because there's not as much good terminology to use.
Which of your stories is your favorite and WHY? Least favorite?
With over 200 stories, I think I get to go at least top five.
X-Files: The Rain, It Raineth All Around Krycek/Spender
Just a little challenge short, but I love the rhythms of this story and kiss and the way the title telegraphs the outcome, if you know the quotation.
Star Wars: Qui-Gon Jinn and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day Qui-Gon/Obi-Wan
The title is from, obviously, Judith Viorst's story about Alexander. I was very happy with the way I worked touches from that story into this. Plus it's funny.
X-Men Movie: Sucks To Be You 2: I Held A Butterfly Logan/Scott
There's cutting. And I like the title a lot.
Angel: Ring-A-Ring O'Roses Darla/Drusilla
This is Drusilla POV and was that ever fun to write. Girlslash and these two were just meant to be together.
Harry Potter: Summer Thing Hermione/Fred + George
This is, I think, the straightest thing I've ever written. I felt like I'd caught that summertime heat, that Judy Blume/Norma Klein growing up vibe, and all with two boys instead of one. I don't write threesomes, I don't read threesomes, I don't like threesomes, but I like this.
Least favourite, I would say: Enter When Ready Jadzia Dax/Scully. I thought I'd experiment with a more "straight boy" style with this one and I don't like how gratuitous it sounds to me. But it seems to have worked -- most of the feedback I get on it goes "My husband really liked this story".
How do you choose titles for your stories?
I'm a title freak. Often, the title is what comes to me first and the story follows. Ideally, the title should have a double or triple meaning, part of which only makes sense after you've read the story. (Obviously, that doesn't happen all of the time.)
I like a title that's either really short and cryptic or long and strange or interesting sounding somehow. Sometimes they're from quotations, but even then, I try to go for something kind of odd, that will stick in the mind. Either that or something very plain.
I think this is why I suck at writing story summaries. To me, the title is the summary.
I wrote one Scully/Holly story called The Flowers That Bloom in the Spring, Tra La. Sometimes people would refer to it as The Flowers That Bloom in the Spring and that would leave me swearing under my breath, "Tra la, dammit, TRA LA!"
Also I have written four stories with titles starting with the word "blue".
Do you write differently with a cowriter than you do alone? Is it easier or harder?
I've only collaborated on two stories with one other author, laurashapiro. It was fun -- a great experience. You have more ideas to choose from and there's a lot of energy. In a way it was harder though, because you're always making stylistic decisions and compromises. We wrote some damn good fic that I don't think either of us would have written alone.
I'd like to do more collabs with a few more people -- I think you know who you are. :)
Do you write original fic differently from fanfic (if you write it at all)?
I've only dabbled with original fic. But I don't think my process is any different.
When a scene feels forced, what are the first few tricks you try to fix it?
Usually, with me, it's a problem of tone. I look at the POV and see if I'm deep enough into the character or too deep or what. Sometimes I just have to peel back one layer and get a tiny bit closer to my POV character's thoughts and feelings. Sometimes I have to back off a bit.
Are most of your fixes deletions or additions?
Hrm. That's too hard to say. But I'm not much of an over-writer. I have to make sure I'm explaining enough, rather than too much.
How long does it usually take you to write a story? How many revisions do you go through?
Well, I think I've been working on my current story for a month and it will be at least one more. But some take a couple weeks. A month is probably a good ballpark for a larger story. When I wrote those 5x500 fics, I did most of that in one evening to work off a caffeine buzz.
I've been taking more time lately, though. I feel less panicked to write stuff and get it out the door. And I think it's helping a lot. I've got more time to chew over the story, to polish it.
If I get "not posting anxiety", well, that's what the drabble and challenge communities are for. :)
Do you use beta readers?
Yes, yes I do. Right now, we're not only doing beta, we're talking about the stories from day one, so that the ideas and the outline are discussed along with the actual text. It makes such a difference, I can't tell you.
And I think I'll add a question of my own:
Did you do this meme to put off working on your current story?