Friday @ 12:59 pm

So one of the ways writing fanfic, specifically fic for live-action series, improved my writing craft was it made me start asking myself, “Would this character be a fun role for the actor?”


Here is where I confess I know jack shit about acting, so this is definitely not acting/screenwriting advice, but for the purpose of the exercise it lead me to try and always write characters with well-defined inner lives and rich emotional expression, and put them in a variety of (often cross-“type”) situations (i.e. the comedic character having dramatic scenes, etc.).

Like . . . I’m not always good at it. But. I try.

Sunday @ 5:55 pm

Lain’s life with the thrill kill cult.

The Moffat Count.

Fun breakdown of the four kinds of narrative plot twists, with examples . . . and why three of them basically suck.

13th January, 2021

While I’m apparently having Opinions on Writing: Number One Hot Tip for anyone writing about characters going any place, particularly any place real, is to use actual locations.

Like, even if you’re just opening up Google Street View and walking yourself down a foreign city’s road. Don’t just have characters going to “a department store”;1 have them going to the Sogo on Nathan Road, or the Myer in Bourke Street. If they’re going to a coffee shop, make it the Elements at the back of the grey import sporting goods store; you know the one, you can get that Earl Grey hot chocolate there that sounds weird but is actually amazing. Give your characters opinions on locations around them! Make them hate a particular restaurant, or have opinions on local public art, or memories associated with a particular park. If you’ve never been to a city? Go talk to or read things from people who have; blogs, Yelp reviews, whatever.

Even if you get some of the details slightly wrong, and you will,2 the benefits of making your characters and your world feel “lived in” are worth it.

  1. Unless you’re trying to disassociate the character from the space they’re in. Which maybe you are! But, if so, do it intentionally.
  2. I once wrote quite extensively about a building that, when I actually went to physically visit it several years later, I realised was about half a block back from where I’d assumed it to be, given Street View. I’m not sure anyone really noticed.

Iddy.

Very often hate reads are undertaken by people who fall outside of the text’s original demographic. I must stress that this doesn’t invalidate the criticisms (especially if we are talking about marginalised people deconstructing mainstream work written about them but not for them), but when it comes, say, to an unqueer white nerd who fundamentally believes all vampires should scary monsters and not romantic heroes, his point of view on Twilight may be useful but ultimately, I shouldn’t consume so much of his work that I internalise his voice. It would not be constructive. Because I am not trying to write for him.

I should not cultivate in my head a Critical Voice that is antagonistic to the premises of the genre I want to write in. That way lies compromising my ideas to appeal to hypothetical readers who would never actually want to engage with my work, all the while alienating people who are actually invested in the premise itself.

Jeannette Ng on not requiring what you hate.

Ng’s point here is that brutal, nitpicky critiques, sporkings, and hate reads can be fun… but they’re fundamentally poisonous to your own ability to write, because they stifle creativity. Part of learning is fucking up, and unfortunately when you’re a paid creative oftentimes the only way to fuck up is to fuck up publicly. But if the threat of the critical voice means you don’t have the courage to try and fail in the first place, you’ll never get anywhere at all.

And as Ng points out, this critical voice seems to hit marginalized creators the hardest. “Submit like a white man” might be a jokey thing authors say to each other when they’re angsting over whether to send this novel to that agent, but there’s a painful core of truth there. Because who is it in society who gets permission to fuck up royally, in public, and recover from it? Who gets lauded for “doing better” and who gets eviscerated for not being perfect in the first place?

These things matter.

As a personal confession, I do occasionally indulge in bouts of hate reading although, honestly, not that much given the state of Mt. TBR. But even when I do hateread I try and approach it constructively; obviously someone liked a work well enough to publish it, or make it popular, so… why? Dan Brown makes mediocre men feel smart. Twilight makes awkward teenage girls (and women who were once awkward teenage girls) feel loved. And, yes, usually there’s more to the story than just that (cough E.L. James cough), but…

But.

People like things for a reason, even if you don’t. It’s often useful to understand why.