Q&A Writing # 2

So, I found these questions on Tumblr a few weeks back, and I thought it would be fun to answer them. Yes, I’m procrastinating, spending way too long on this instead of working on my next story.

You know what? I’m an adult, and I’ll procrastinate if I want to.

1. From one to five stars, how would you rate your writing? (No downplaying yourself!)

When I started writing fan fiction about 15 years ago, my first stories were definitely one-star quality; things like plot, punctuation, grammar, and getting a beta were unknown entities. They weren’t necessarily bad ideas; they were just poorly executed.

I think I’ve improved and continue to improve with every story I write.

Right now, I think my latest story, Newport is a solid four-star piece of writing; I’m very proud of it.

2. Why do you write fanfiction?

Because I enjoy it.

3. What do you think makes your writing stand out from other works?

I don’t know. But, the most common things my readers usually compliment in their comments are how I describe my settings, how detailed my stories are, and the depth of my characterization.

4. Are there any writers that inspire you?

Not in the sense that they inspire my own writing or what I want to achieve as a writer. There are writers who I greatly admire and whose writing I believe I’ve learned from by reading their books.

I love Neil Gaiman’s ability to create an atmosphere in his stories.

I love how Terry Pratchett can hide stinging satire and social critique in plain sight by wrapping it up in humor.

I love Andrezjes Sapkowski’s unapologetic use of exposition and his long, philosophical dialogue.

I love how Tove Jansson can write with such a melancholy voice but still always portray hope.

And, of course, I love J.R.R. Tolkien for the absolute mind-bogglingly detailed world he created.

5. What’s the fic you’re most proud of?

It’s always the last story I wrote. My relationships with my old stories are complicated. I love them dearly when they’re finished, but after a while, I start seeing what I perceive as mistakes and things I now wish I’d done differently.

It’s not something that bothers me, or feelings that I express openly. To me, it’s natural; obviously, as I continue to improve and learn, I’m not satisfied with my old work.

All my stories are the best piece of writing I was capable of when I wrote them, but I always push myself to improve with every new story. So, therefore, I’m always proudest of the last story I finished.

6. What element of writing do you find comes easily?

World- and Character building.

7. What element of writing do you struggle with most?

Smut. It isn’t difficult; it’s just really boring to write. And, a hassle; even if you stick to just two participants, you have to keep track of four arms and four legs, and, realistically, most people don’t bend that way.

8. Which character(s) do you find easiest to write?

Well, J2, obviously. But, out of the two of them, Jensen’s voice is always easier for me to find, and the outline of his character is always the sharpest. I think I’m getting better at writing Jared, but his character always takes more thought and work not to feel flat and dependent on fandom-established character traits.

Outside of J2, it’s the characters who just “pop-up” and make themselves know, telling me they’re in the story whether I planned for them to be or not. These days, they’re almost exclusively OC characters.

9. Which character(s) do you find most difficult to write?

Characters are one of the easier things for me to write, mostly because character journeys are some of the things I truly enjoy about writing. It’s why I write.

Depending on how you interpret the question, it could have two answers.

If you’re asking what fandom-specific characters/actors I find most difficult to write, it’s (almost) all of them. Not J2, obviously, but as I’ve transitioned into writing mostly OC’s as secondary and minor characters in my stories, I feel confined and restricted when I try to fill supporting roles with established characters/actors.

There was a time when even contemplating putting an OC character in mystories felt unthinkable; now, it’s the opposite. As a result, I approach a new story with the understanding that it’s J2 and then (almost) exclusively OC characters.

If you’re asking what type of character I find hardest to write, it all depends on the story and my own personal circumstances when writing it.

When I wrote Phoenix, it was hard (and therapeutic) to write Alona’s character. At that time, my mother had passed away from cervix cancer about a year earlier. That particular subplot was a way for me to work through my grief.

Another character from that story that I found difficult to write was May. The character came to me easily, but I was extremely fond of her, and I didn’t want her to be dead. I felt like I was grieving her death along with the rest of her family.

The most difficult character I’ve written to date was Veronica, from my most recent story, Newport; her mind was an unpleasant place to be. It was emotionally draining exploring her personality. It was also challenging to portray how unpleasant she was without turning her into a Cruella Devile type character—I wanted her to be real, not a caricature.

10. What’s your favorite genre to write for?

Alternate Universe and Romance

11. Who or what do you find yourself writing about most?

Jared & Jensen, RPS AU’s. I’ve been writing them exclusively for about ten years now.

12. Tell us about a WIP you’re excited about.

Excited? Frustrated would more accurately describe my relationship with my current WIP.

13. First fandom you ever wrote for?

Well, technically, I think there’s some Louis/Lestat (Anne Rices Vampire Chronicles) fanfiction jotted down in a journal from when I was 14 or so… we’re talking 1996 here, people. So, it was long before I had an internet connection or even knew what fandom or fanfiction was.

But, if we’re talking establish fandom, I started out in the Buffy fandom back in 2005. I exclusively wrote Spangel, Spike/Angel.

14. What’s your favorite fandom to write for?

For the past ten years, it’s been Supernatural RPS. Before that, it was the Buffy/Angel fandom. I have a suspicion I might write in The Boy’s fandom once I’ve seen season 3, but we’ll see.

15. What’s the weirdest fandom you’ve ever written for?

I’ve only written in the Supernatural and Buffy/Angel fandom.

16. Any guilty pleasure trope(s)?

No. I never feel guilty or ashamed about tropes, ships, kinks, and whatnot. I like what I like, even if it’s trashy or silly.

17. A trope you’ll never, ever write for.

I’m a pretty easy-going fangirl. So when it comes to pairings, kinks, and tropes, my philosophy is: to each their own. I don’t disapprove of any tropes; there’s certainly plenty I don’t read and would never write, but only because they don’t appeal to me.

But, at the top of my head, some of the tropes I’m sure I’ll never write are:

ABO, Mpreg, Highschool, Darkfic, Crime Boss, Dystopian, Pornstar, Spy/Assassin, Slavery, Tentacle fic, Hooker fic, and many more.

18. Wildest fic you’ve ever written?

Eh… wildest? My first foray into fanfiction was a 21 part Spangel AU (no, I won’t link it) where they tried out a new sex toy every chapter. Each chapter was 2-3K installments of poorly written, unbetad, anatomically impossible, dirty porn written by someone who had no idea how realistic sex between two men worked.

That’s pretty wild.

19. Do you prefer canon-compliant, AUs, or something in-between?

AU’s. Always, always, AU’s.

20. Gen fic or shippy stuff?

Shippy stuff but not very graphic these days.

21. Favorite pairing to write for? (platonic or romantic!)

At the moment, it’s Jared/Jensen; I also really enjoy writing Jensen and Christian Kane as friends.

22. Do you listen to anything while you write?

Depends on the story. While writing JADE, Scrapbooking, & Phoenix, I had specific playlists to help me capture the feeling and atmosphere I wanted to portray in the story.

I listened to a lot of Dolly Parton when I wrote Phoneix, and I don’t even like Country.

When I wrote Newport, I couldn’t stand listening to music; it distracted me. For my current WIP, it seems music is a distraction this time as well.

23. Do you prefer prompts and challenges or completely independent ideas?

Completely independent ideas. Don’t tell me what to do!

24. One-shots or multi-chaptered works?


I haven’t written a one-shot since I don’t know when; during my spangel days?

I keep trying, but the word count just keeps increasing. Phoenix (111K) was supposed to be a one-shot. Newport (130K) was supposed to be a one-shot.

I’ve finally stopped lying to myself. I write 100K + stories; it’s my thing now. These days, I don’t even consider a story a viable idea or a work in progress until it’s passed 30K.

25. Have you ever daydreamed about side adventures/spin-offs from your fic? Tell us about them!

Sure. All the time.

No. The stories I wanted to tell are available on AO3; the rest is between me and my characters, and we don’t want company.

26. Is there anything you’ve wanted to write, but you’ve been too scared to try?

Scared? Not really. There are certain genres that I enjoy but have refrained from writing, not because I’ve been scared but because I don’t think I could do it justice. For example, I love fantasy, but I would never consider writing it.

27. What’s the nicest comment you’ve ever received?

All of them.

Obviously, it’s wonderful to receive those amazing one-page comments that describe in detail everything they love about your story. Or, the commenters that leave a note after every chapter, and you get to follow along as they experience your story. That’s absolutely delightful.

But, for some people, just pushing the comment button and writing “I enjoyed it” might have taken as much effort as that one-page comment.

I try to remember that just because words come easy to me, they might be extremely hard to find for others.

It’s so easy today to just press the Kudos or Like button and move on. Therefore, I’m so appreciative of every reader who actually takes a moment to stop and write me a comment, whatever it may be.

28. How well do you handle criticism when it comes to your writing?

I think I’ve learned to handle it fairly well, but how I deal with it is different depending on the situation.

When I’m working with my beta, I suck it up; as long as I know the criticism is given to improve my story or my skill as a writer, I can take it.

As for people not enjoying my writing or my stories, I’m not bothered by it as long as they’re not assholes about it. I certainly don’t enjoy everyone’s writing, so it would be unrealistic, and frankly, quite arrogant, to expect everyone to enjoy mine.

As for nasty comments, I’ve been extremely fortunate and haven’t really had to deal with those. During all my years in fandom, I’ve received maybe a handful of truly spiteful comments, so it’s been easy to shrug them off.

29. Have you ever gone outside of your comfort zone for a fic? How did it turn out?

Not really. I never set out to write a specific type of story; I never sit down and decide I’m going to write a coffee shop AU or a thriller. Instead, what usually happens is that I’m walking around, minding my own business, and then slowly, a vague idea starts sloshing around in my head.

Then, one day, out-of-the-blue, a character or two, or ten, pops up and starts nagging me to tell their story.

30. tooth-rotting fluff or merciless angst?

Angst. But only if I’m allowed to fix it.

31. Do you have any OCs? Tell us about them!

Yes, several. They’re more real to me than most people I meet face-to-face.

32. Summarize a random fic of yours in 10 words or less.

Broken Jensen wears suits, saves a hotel, and eats eclairs. 

33. Is there anything you wish your audience knew about your writing or writing process?

The story I post on LJ and A03 is the final result of a lot of work—a lot—and the first draft of the story seldom looks anything like the last draft.

Every story I post takes about 1 year of intense work to finish, the first draft can take anything from 6-8 months, and I spend another 4-6 months working closely with my beta writing a second, third, fourth, maybe even a fifth draft polishing it.

34. Copy and paste an excerpt you’re particularly fond of.

Pulling at her hair again, Cho sighed. “Fuck, Jensen. If I pull this off, I deserve to be canonized.”

Jensen snorted. “Cho, if you ever set foot in a Catholic church, the crucifix would melt and the Virgin Mary statue would cross its legs and look for the nearest rape whistle.”

35. Ramble about any fic-related thing you want!

I don’t really ramble anymore. 

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