ext_31419: (DS - My fandom is unhinged)
[identity profile] ximeria.livejournal.com
How do you imagine what goes on inside a Mountie's head? Or how do you get inside the mind of a Chicago Flatfoot with experimental hair style? Or even worse, how do you even begin to write Diefenbaker, when your native language isn't Wolf, let alone English?

Let's start off easy: Hello, my penname is Ximeria, to many people simply known as 'Xim'. I'm here to ponder a topic that should have made me run for the hills back in 2001 when I first started writing fanfic.

See, I was born, and I still live, in a small country in Scandinavia (Denmark for those who are geography nerds or simply curious). For those who don't know, the language here is Danish, not English. Location wise, we're half-way around the globe from Chicago (give or take a bit).

So, what am I yammering about? Let's just say there are a few things that can seriously pull the writing experience to a grinding halt.

Writing from a different language or culture than the characters. )
china_shop: Neal, Peter and Elizabeth smiling (Dangerous with gun)
[personal profile] china_shop
Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] sageness for beta, to Miriam for her substantial input to this, and to both of them for hundreds of betas over the years, which have taught me heaps.

So what do you mean by “action scene”, anyway?
When we talk about action scenes, we’re looking at anything from hand-to-hand fights and shoot outs, to car chases. And Due South canonically has a lot of them, so if you want to evoke the flavour and feel of canon, consider adding one or two into your story.

I chose to discuss action scenes because they’re not my forte: watching movies, I often zone out when the dialogue stops, and only tune back in when the main character says, “Phew! We made it!” (And then I have to figure out who died and whether I care.) I’ve been known to write [insert action scene here] in my first drafts, and then I either come up with something in the rewrite -- making it as quirky as possible -- or get help from my betas.

And there’ve been several action scenes where I’ve had to rewrite them half a dozen times, changing the setting on each rewrite because logistically they just don’t work. But when I nail an action scene, when it does work? It’s satisfying, it adds depth and scale to the story, it emphasizes that I’m writing about cops, and that they live in a big complex world that encompasses more than Kowalski’s apartment, his couch and his bed. ;-) And I always feel like I learned something.

So, what makes action scenes tick? )
sage: close up of a red poppy (poppy)
[personal profile] sage
For ease of organization, I'm dividing questions into thematic groups. You'll see that I'm NOT deleting multiple instances of a question because in general, each of these questions addresses a HUGE topic and there's a lot more room for discussion than can be covered in a single Answer Post. For example, [livejournal.com profile] sprat's awesome first post addressed some techniques for writing sex scenes, but we could probably talk about writing sex every week and not explore everything. So, if you have an idea for a post that covers similar-but-not-identical turf as one already done, you can totally claim it!

For guidelines on what makes an appropriate question about craft, please see the series' introductory post.


Please add new questions in the comments of THIS post, and I will edit them in. To volunteer to tackle any of these questions, please do so at the newest Volunteer Call post. Thank you!! :D
[identity profile] llassah.livejournal.com

This is a response to the question posted by [personal profile] bathsweaver about AU fics,

Oh, I've got questions about setting up/casting AUs, what's kosher or not (given the assumption that everything is acceptable, but some things are more acceptable than others).

Names, for example. If you're setting up an AU in--ah, bah--the Irish Potato Famine (examples are hard!), does it really make sense to have characters with Italian and Polish surnames? And familial relationships--is splitting up/fusing characters' families (Vecchio and Smithbauer are brothers! Frobisher is RayK's dad! Turnbull and Thatcher are siblings!) simply not done?

Or a better question, is there a way to make it work, without asking too much indulgence from your readers?

Notes: I have cited a fair few Alternate Universe fics in this essay. I am aware that the list is incomplete- there are fics I have not touched on, mainly due to time and space (I need a tardis). However, I might not have come across them, and would be very grateful if you could chip in with aus you have enjoyed. It is due to a peculiar cross between research and masochism at this point that I want to read them, for reasons that will become clear below. This essay should also possibly be called a meandering…chip in, correct, interact- I am in a position as far from knowledge as the original questioner. Enormous thanks go to [personal profile] eledhwenlin for her amazing powers of finding a fic based on a few vague phrases, and enormouser thanks go to [personal profile] lamentables for an amazingly fast, amazingly insightful beta on this thing. Errors are mine, the good things are hers *g*.

The Au: Trials, Tribulations, and…other things that begin with ‘T’

sage: Still of Natasha Romanova from Iron Man 2 (Default)
[personal profile] sage
Pick a question, any question, and tell us what you think.

Guidelines are in all the prior volunteer call posts -- if you can post within a week or so, please step up! If you want to be next after that, just say so!

If you have questions to add to the list, please do so. :D
[identity profile] sprat.livejournal.com
(Hi, yes, me again. I'm snagging another question for selfish reasons--I really want to hear what you guys have to say about this one. *waves*)

I like writing. Mostly I do, anyway--there are those times when I hate hate hate writing and I want to kick writing's stupid ass because it is stupid. But for the most part, I like it. It's satisfying and absorbing and occasionally giddy-making. I can't imagine any activity that could possibly take its place in my life. It's something I've always done.

But for as long as I've been writing, I've been dreading those moments when it's time to think up a name for the story. Every single thing I come up with seems cheesy, or pretentious, or totally not related to the story in any way I can fathom; I could overthink the decision for hours, if I let myself.

Clearly that would be crazy behaviour, though, so I've had to come up with a few strategies to prevent my weird brain from getting in its own way.

1. Pick out some word from the body of the story that sounds pretty! Add bonus points if the word means two things at once, because then you can kinda imply that you had deeper things in mind than the hotness of Fraser licking Ray's hip.

2. Steal lines from songs you like! I did this with The Best Parts of Lonely (which is from Left and Leaving, by The Weakerthans) and also with April After All (which is a song by Ron Sexsmith). Again with the bonus points if you can kind of draw parallels between the subject matter of the story and the song.

3. When all else fails, panic and call it whatever stupid thing pops into your head when you close your eyes! I, uh, don't actually recommend this. Just, sometimes, for me, it's this or not posting a story at all. Which is how I end up with gems like Untitled Ficlets 1, 2 and 3! Or, you know, Auralphilia. *g*

4. While I was putting this post together, I found this here amazing little script by someone called Maygra, who is maybe or maybe not the same as the LJ maygra, and anyway, it is an automatic title generator! Seriously! I don't know how well it would work in a practical sense, especially for dS fic, but I kind of love it anyway. It gave me "The Silky Thief"! And "The Academy of the Slaves"! Tell me those are not great titles for pretty much anything.

All right, that's what I've got. Obviously, I am in desperate need of some better ideas, and since there are lots of very good story titles out there, I know you guys can help. How do you come up with titles for your stories? How do you tell if it's a title that works? Link us to your favourite resources! GIVE US YOUR SECRETSESSSS!!
sage: Still of Natasha Romanova from Iron Man 2 (make tea)
[personal profile] sage
Hi! We've had a nice, lengthy break from the Craft Series, and hopefully we're all refreshed and ready to get back into workshop mode!

Who's up for snagging a question from the list and starting off some discussion?

Guidelines )

There are newer additions to the list of questions, so there's a lot to choose from! Remember also that you can add more questions at any time. :)

Okay, so...volunteers? Comment below! First come first serve -- I'd love to have a handful of people on deck for the coming weeks.

Thanks!! ♥
sage: Still of Natasha Romanova from Iron Man 2 (flipflops by tx_tart)
[personal profile] sage
Well, it looks like we're all crazy-swamped with preparing for [livejournal.com profile] muskratjamboree or [livejournal.com profile] rat_jam (the online alterna-version), so let's officially put the craft series on hold until sometime the first week of April. :)
sage: Still of Natasha Romanova from Iron Man 2 (greek)
[personal profile] sage
Everything is going beautifully! I'm SO THRILLED with how well this series on writing is turning out! If you haven't yet seen [livejournal.com profile] dkwilliams' post on Endings, please go look. It rocks.

Now it's time for another call for volunteers!

Guidelines recap: )

If you can take on a question, please comment below! And as always, please add more questions to the list at any time! Several more topics have been added since it first went up, so check out what's new -- you may find something you can cover!

Thank you!! ♥
[identity profile] dkwilliams.livejournal.com
So you’re reading a wonderfully written story. You've been expertly seduced by the beginning, your interest and imagination have been skillfully played by the storyline, and you’ve been teased by plot twists until you’re breathless with anticipation. The climax of the story finally comes, and it’s perfect and you’re shaking from the intensity, laughing aloud from the joy of it – and then the writer just ends the story, rolls over and goes to sleep, leaving you lying there in the virtual wet spot, feeling vaguely unsatisfied about the whole thing but not exactly sure why.

Put that way, it gives you a whole new perspective on your writing, doesn't it?
Read more... )
sage: Still of Natasha Romanova from Iron Man 2 (happiness by tx_tart)
[personal profile] sage
In a few days, [livejournal.com profile] dkwilliams is up with the question: "how to know when you've reached the end". That means we need a volunteer to be on deck to go next!

Guidelines recap: )

To grab the spot after [livejournal.com profile] dkwilliams, please to comment here to claim it!

Also! Please DO keep adding questions to the list! It's totally fair to ask questions that are related to topics already covered. For instance, [livejournal.com profile] nos4a2no9 gave us a great post on plot-driven casefic, but plot is a huge and complex subject and we've only talked about one part of it. (Romance plots work differently than case-plots, for example.) So, remember that the list is always open to more additions! :D

This is turning out beautifully and I'm so thrilled! Yay fandom!! \o/
[identity profile] vienna-waits.livejournal.com
Exposition, or “I first came to Chicago...”

Hi, folks. My name’s [livejournal.com profile] vienna_waits, and my topic is exposition and how to gracefully work it into a story. After a general discussion of the key elements driving your use of exposition, I’ll outline several strategies and show they can be used effectively with examples from both canon and fic. (Please note I will only be pulling good, Paul-Gross-arms-worthy stuff from people’s fic here. Yay for well-done exposition!) For the purposes of this post, I’m going to define exposition as “background information that references a) things that happened before the story began, or b) things that happened during the story but are not shown on-screen.”
Step right this way for more... )
[identity profile] sprat.livejournal.com
Hi. I'm here to talk to you about writing kissing and/or sex. I volunteered for this question because I write a lot of stories about kissing and/or sex; kissing and/or sex are some of my favourite things. I don't feel like I'm any kind of expert on the matter, though. This is not so much a compilation of Rules You Should Follow as it is a collection of things I think I do myself. You might not find this helpful at all, or maybe you'll like parts of it and completely disagree with me about other parts. That's cool. You will almost certainly have helpful hints of your own that aren't included here. In both cases, please feel free to add to this in the comments.

Start small

I usually start writing because there's one small, particular thing I want to see some character doing or saying--Ray K wrapping Ray Vecchio's fingers around a crossbar in their headboard, for example, then giving him a look that dares him to keep them there.* Then I try to figure out what the characters are feeling in that little scenelet, and then why they’re feeling like that, and then I build up the context and backstory from there. This means that my stories are generally pretty lacking in traditional A plot (like, crime stuff and action and whatnot) because I usually only add that stuff later, as a frame for the character interaction to hang out inside of. I’m okay with that, personally. YMMV.

(Sometimes my small, particular thing (SPT™) is not part of a story in which there is smut. Sometimes it doesn’t involve kissing, even. As distressing as this can be, I’ve found that the story I’m writing usually turns out better if I focus my attention on building it around whatever the SPT is and, if necessary, leave the smut out of the picture altogether. It is a sacrifice, but it is for ART, yo.)

continued... )

Okay! The end! That's all the rambling I'm up to tonight. It's your turn, now--tell me what you do to make your kissing scenes more kissingful or your sex scenes sexier. What's your trick?

*[livejournal.com profile] pearl_os and other Ray/Ray oppositionists may mentally add a Fraser to this example; he can be on the other side of the bed, watching.

**The author is sleepy and therefore takes no responsibility for any mixed or unusual metaphors; continue reading at your own risk.
sage: Still of Natasha Romanova from Iron Man 2 (rayk eyes)
[personal profile] sage
Yay, we've gotten off to a great start! Now we need someone to step up and tackle a third question.

Here's a recap of the guidelines )

It's first come, first serve, so if you're up for doing the next one, please comment here!

Thanks!! :D

ETA: Anyone can add more questions to the list at any time! Just leave a comment in that post.

ETA #2: [livejournal.com profile] vienna_waits has asked to be on deck for the exposition question the FOLLOWING week, and I'm cool with that. But we still need someone to grab a question to respond to sometime between 2/23 and 2/28! YAY [livejournal.com profile] sprat to the rescue with kissing! Woohoo!! \o/
[identity profile] nos4a2no9.livejournal.com
or, How To Write Plotty Casefic Without (Entirely) Losing Your Mind

I'll begin with a small caveat: I haven't published any long, plotty case-based fics for this fandom. I'm working on several, but most of you who come here for advice or helpful hints will probably ask yourself, "Okay, who is [livejournal.com profile] nos4a2no9 to tell me how to write casefic when she hasn't published any?" And I guess the answer is that old chestnut, "Those who can't...teach." I have written epic casefic in the DCU comicsverse, and I think some of the hard lessons I learned over there will shed some light on the fraught process of crafting a long, detailed and realistic case-based story for the dS fandom.

I've broken this down into sections to make the process a little clearer. These are techniques that I've found work for me, and while everyone will have a different approach I think I've come up with some basics that will help get you started. Please add any tricks and tips you've come up with when you try to tackle the sometimes unwieldy and always challenging form of long fiction. It's not an easy process and you will, at points, want to tear your hair out in frustration, but rest assured that the end result is usually a very solid, intelligent and well-plotted story. It's as satisfying in its own way as the best-written novella or PWP and I think it's my favorite of all the genres this fandom has to offer. So that's my pitch. Let's get started!

Go Big or Go Home

The first question you want to ask yourself when you sit down to plan your casefic is, "What kind of story do I want to tell? How long do I think my story needs to be?" These are essential questions because a) it will help you figure why you're writing casefic to begin with instead of a shorter story about, say, grocery shopping, and b) the length question will help you determine exactly what kind of crime the characters should be investigating. Not all crimes are created equal and deciding early on how much space you'll be able to devote to the case-related elements will help you figure out how everything will come together, and when.

The vast majority of the fanfiction published in the due South fandom clocks in at roughly 1000-6000 words and usually focuses on Fraser and Ray (or Ray and Ray, or any other pairing) in a romantic relationship. Since the story is short there's usually only room for the 'A' romance/sex story but some authors make use of day-to-day details (Fraser and Ray's work at the 2-7, for example) in order to set the scene and create some tension and momentum in order to move the plot along. Minor crimes or funny, oblique references to wacky dS-style crimes (pickpockets! elderly vigilantes! evil Santas!) are probably safe to include in these shorter stories since the focus is on the relationship and not the crimes being investigated or solved. You can get away with a lot if your crime-related 'B' plot in a short story is just being used as background material: I like 'em because they're fun to set up and resolve, they don't take a lot of time or planning, and if done right the minor inclusion of case-related details can have a subtle effect on what you're trying to accomplish with your romance. Plus, a stakeout is always a good setting for a makeout. :-)

Longer stories (6000+ words) make use of a 'B' plot wherein Our Heroes investigate a crime that is integral to the plot and larger thematic elements of the story. Fraser and Ray might be tracking down a dangerous serial murderer, or they might be called upon to investigate an international terrorist. Along the way they'll probably grow closer, make discoveries about one another and their personal dynamic will change (that's the 'A' plot in long-story form). If you've plotted your story correctly there should be some correlation between the investigation and what's going on between the characters.

To wrap this so-obvious-it-hurts introduction to casefic, remember to always start by asking yourself, "What kind of story do I want to write?" If you're more interested writing an 'A'-plot romance that explores the character's sexual or emotional connection over a specific period of time, don't gum up the works with a lot of case-related detail. But if the story you want to tell is big with a capital "B" (Big Drama! Big Emotion! Big Angst! Big Humour! Big Big Big!) you'll probably get a lot of mileage out of the long, plotty casefic form.

So Where Do I Start )

The Devil's In the Details: Reference Materials You Can Count On )

Putting It All Together )
sage: Still of Natasha Romanova from Iron Man 2 (canada flag by c_regalis)
[personal profile] sage
If you'd like to volunteer for the next question, please read the following and then comment below.

sage: Still of Natasha Romanova from Iron Man 2 (rayk dim)
[personal profile] sage
Hi! This is the first post in what I hope will be an ongoing Craft of Writing series. The way it works is I'm going to pick a question off the list, give my thoughts on how it can be resolved, and then in the comments, we'll talk about it. If you have alternate suggestions, great! If you want something elaborated, also great! The thing is, we want to keep this discussion fairly close to the topic in question, so if this inspires OTHER, totally unrelated how-to questions, please go add them to the list!

Following this post, I'll do an Admin post requesting a volunteer to take on another question.

[livejournal.com profile] fspider suggested:
Something about developing voices/dialogue? You hear about writers hearing a character's voice, but how do you reach that point lacking a lightening bolt? )
[identity profile] sprat.livejournal.com
Hey, hello, it's been a while. Offline commitments have meant that [livejournal.com profile] gurrier and I haven't been able to do much with this community for the past...while. But [livejournal.com profile] sageness (one of the organizational genii behind such crazy schemes as [livejournal.com profile] out_of_con_txt and [livejournal.com profile] rat_jam) has come up with an idea for how to wake things up again, and we liked it so much that we're handing her the keys to the comm for a while. (And I'll be sticking around to help out, too, because this sounds like too much fun to miss.)

I'll let her explain...

[livejournal.com profile] sageness writes:

New Series!

We are happy to announce a new project here at [livejournal.com profile] ds_workshop! We're beginning a CRAFT OF WRITING series to be designed by YOU. Think of it as a "How do I...?" Q&A session in a writer's workshop. Everyone is invited to ask questions so that all of us can learn to write better stories.

Here are some examples:

What goes into writing a good kiss?
How do I use setting in _________ circumstance?
How do I avoid writing generic sex scenes?
How do I organize casefic?

We want to focus on questions that are specific to CRAFT, so it would be better to post things like "How Victorian IS Fraser?" and/or characterization issues in other communities more geared toward fannish meta. A character question that WOULD be appropriate here would be, "How can I show Thatcher's softer side and still keep her in character?"

Once we have some questions to choose from, myself, [livejournal.com profile] gurrier, or [livejournal.com profile] sprat will post asking for a for a volunteer to ANSWER one of the questions on the list. If you've written a fair bit in DS and you feel like you can answer a question, comment to claim it. Hopefully your post will spur some discussion of different techniques for solving the specific writing problem, given different styles of writing, and we'll all learn something new. :)

The series will be open to all types of writing technique questions: Gen, Het, Slash, Femslash, and OT3 topics are all good. Adventure fic, case fic, crack fic, long and plotty fic, short and drabbly fic, porn fic, romance fic, Dief fic, Dead!Bob fic, Turnbull fic, Stella fic, any kind of DS fic. Ask questions. We'll find answers.

Sound good? Okay! Sage will probably do the first post, and after that, we'll have an Admin post calling for a volunteer to do the next Answer Post, and so on.

What we need NOW is for you to comment with questions below. As time passes and topics are addressed, please continue to add new questions to the comments of this post. :D
sage: Still of Natasha Romanova from Iron Man 2 (ray cotw)
[personal profile] sage
I'm writing this post because I have absolutely no confidence in doing plot. My degree is in poetry and the writing program never taught us anything about constructing story, so the following is what I've learned on my own and from what others have carefully explained to me (over and over again) while I scratched my head and tried to understand.

Plot, or something like it )
china_shop: Neal, Peter and Elizabeth smiling (Nice pile o'rocks)
[personal profile] china_shop
This has probably been written a thousand times before, possibly even once or twice by me, but it bears repeating: good betas are an incredible gift.

When I try to explain to non-fen why I write fanfiction instead of original fiction, the answer comes down to a) I LOVE THESE CHARACTERS! and b) with fanfic, I'm writing within the context of a community.

In my experience, writing original fiction is almost always done in a vaccum. Relatively, anyway. You might have a writing group or do a course, or you might have a friend or two with whom you can discuss technical issues, plot snags, or whatever, but you will rarely find people who care about your characters as much as you do, who have a deep understanding of them, who will invest time and energy into helping you make your story work. Original fic is, by and large, lonely. Sort of the opposite of fanfiction.

In fandom, people read, comment, write fic and meta, chat, inspire, make icons and vids, post picspam, and beta. And the greatest of these is beta.

Read more... )


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