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30 – Do you have a favorite fic you've written? What makes it your favorite? And don't forget to give us a link!

I was sitting at dinner once with my mom, sister, and sister-in-law--SIL was still mostly new to the family, so she didn't yet understand the rules of how we relate to each other--and I made a comment about one of my nieces being my favorite. SIL blew a gasket about how that was a completely inappropriate comment. Then my mom calmly informed me that I was her favorite while my sister nodded indulgently. A few minutes later, I got up to go the bathroom and my mom re-identified my sister as her favorite. The rule in my family, established since the days when I went from being an only child to being a sibling, is that the favorite is the one who is (or most recently was) the physically closest to the person doing the labeling.

That's how I feel about my stories. The one I've re-read the most recently is my favorite. There are parts in all of them that I like, even if it's only a single line, and I can't think of any that I like in their entirety, all the time--which is why I'm always tinkering with stories--but if I've bothered to re-read it, it's become my favorite for the moment.

So, the child I'm sitting closest to today is this one:

Gettin' On - Teen Wolf - 686 words - Sometimes you need to be someone else to get by. - Sheriff & Stiles gen.


I wrote this for the "genre" challenge on [community profile] fan_flashworks as an exploration of grief and how people might deal with it. Unfortunately, I seem to be the only one who reads the story that way, based on the comments. Still, I really like what I was able to accomplish in only a few hundred words, plus I'm fond of the interpretation of the prompt.

What do you think? Do you have a favorite?
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I skipped a couple days, but I'm not going to compress the last two entries for this meme.

29 – What is your current project or projects?

Projectssssss. So many projects.

Right now, I'm working on two different fills for the TP Prompt Meme (still a few weeks left, if anyone wants to jump in), my assignment for the Trick or Treat Exchange, and a couple different treats for the Trick or Treat Exchange. I also have the file for the next chapter of "Thickness of Blood" open my computer, though I haven't added any words in awhile. And I should be working on the next chapter of "Tipping the Scales," but that's had even fewer words added than the ToB file.
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28 – Have you ever collaborated with anyone else, whether writing together, or having an artist work on a piece about your fic?

During Fandom Round 1, I participated in several Wars and Round Robins and shared universes with other writers. Inasmuch as those are collaborative art experiences, then the answer to this question is yes. As my name either didn't go on a lot of what was produced or my contribution could be viewed as stand-alone, there's no record (that I know of) of what I collaborated on.

Fandom Round Two has been much less collaborative. For my second Big Bang experience, I got a manip to go with my story. I'm...not sure the artist read the story, because the manip is only related in that it shows two of the three characters who had significant parts. I've also written a story for someone based on her art, as well as traded projects with her: I wrote her a story and she drew me an unrelated picture. Aside from that, I've not collaborated with anyone, though I would very much like to.
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27 – Where is your favorite place to write, and do you write by hand or on the computer?

I have an easy chair. It's red, as all my favorite things are, and it's exclusively mine in the household (save for the cats, who often share it with me). Most of my writing is done while sitting in this chair, using my red laptop, and often while drinking a cup of something warm (coffee in the mornings, Earl Gray tea in the afternoon, apple cider or mint tea late at night).

I will, if pressed, write in other ways. I carry a notebook around, though it gets very little action. I've written directly into the notes app on my phone. I've written on napkins and backs of receipts. My life these days involves a great deal of sitting and waiting for sports practices to end, which means a lot of theoretical time to write, though not a lot of impetus to actually put the words down.

But, mostly, all writing comes down to the red chair.
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26 – What is the oddest (or funnest) thing you've had to research for a fic?

Not sure. I live in a state of constant research, so it's a fine line about whether I looked something up for a fic or wrote a fic because I'd learned something cool.

Things I've learned about while being a fic writer:

-1920s female jazz singers (bestill my heart, Sophie Tucker.)
-werewolf origin myths
-Southern hemisphere star positions
-swords (duh!)
-high school sports tournament regulations
-regulations for the storage of corpses
-the history of beer
-the medicinal usages of mercury throughout the ages
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25 – Music – Do you listen to music while you write? Do you make playlists to get into a certain "mood" to write your fic? Do you need noise in general? Or do you need it completely quiet?

I don't have the relationship to music that seems to be so prevalent in fandom. It seems to me that music has only been becoming more and more important to fans over the last several years, and I really don't get it.

So, no, I don't listen to music when I write. There are no playlists or fanmixes. I wouldn't say I write in silence, though. I do a lot of writing with the family bustling around me, which means the TV is often on in the background. I write in coffee shops and while attending the kid's sports practices. There's often background noise; it's just rarely music.

Other times, I write after the family goes to bed, when I can finally turn the TV off. The kind of silence that exists in the world from 1-3 am is very conducive to finding words.

I do have a handful of stories with musical influences, though. As previously mentioned, several titles come from "Sticky Jazz" by Shriekback. I've also used "Nemesis" by Shriekback and "Pieces" by Fools Garden for titles. My story "Only the Young" is based on "Dreamline" by Rush and titled from "Only the Young" by Pretty Boy Floyd. The story "From My Heart and From My Hand" takes a lot from "Weird Science" by Oingo Boingo. And "And Hell Follows With Him" includes a reference to "It's the End of the World" by REM. These are all exceptions to the usual approach, though, most of which were done to meet someone else's requests.

(And now you know pretty much the entire song selection on my iPhone.)
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24 – Betaing – How many betas do you like to use to make sure there aren't any major flaws in your fic? Do you have a Beta horror story or dream story?

Both my use of betas at all and the extent of that use depend highly on what my story is being written for. If it's a bingo fill or something for fan_flashworks or comment-fic, I probably won't use a beta at all. I may not even mention the story to any of my regular betas. I'm always open to concrit on those works, but I'm going to deal with that after I get the credit for the fill and not before. If I'm writing for a fest or exchange, I try to have at least one beta. The only problem there is that...I really, really suck at deadlines. I don't often allow myself the time to get a proper beta read on stories. That said, I've probably been working very closely with at least one person for the duration of the story development and writing. I've had as many as five people help me out on stories in some capacity including, as mentioned previously, everyone in my family who understands fanfic including the kid, the spouse, my mom, and my nieces.

I don't think I have a beta horror story. All of my beta stories are my dream story because I've taught them pretty well to not let me get away with the crap I keep trying to get away with. Wait, there's a story. I had written, what I thought was, chapter 3 of "The Thickness of Blood" and sent it off to my beta for a SPaG check. Her primary note on returning the story was that the main character's actions weren't believable from the motivations I'd provided. So, rather than posting a chapter, I ended up having to rewrite the entire thing--and it really was a rewrite of the entire thing. Then, when I sent the revised chapter back to my beta, she came back with more notes that required a substantial rewrite. That was a great experience. The new chapter was so much better than the first attempt.
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23 – When you post, where do you post to? Just your journal? Just an archive? Your own personal site?

I post nearly everything to AO3 and fanfiction.net. There're a few things I've posted to [community profile] fan_flashworks that I've never moved elsewhere because I didn't think they were good enough, and a few small pieces (mostly Bingo fills) that've only been posted on LJ/DW. I used to post announcements of everything on LJ/DW, but I got tired of the few comments I was getting being split across the various platforms.
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22 – Have you ever participated in a fest or a Big Bang? If so, write about your favorite experience in relation to one. If not, are there any you've thought about doing? And if not, why not?

Nope, never.

Oh, wait.

I did my first fest in 2011 and haven't looked back. These days, I do between 10-15 fests/exchanges a year.

I've only done two Big Bangs, both of which were very early in my Fandom Round 2 days. The first was "The Measure of Ourselves," which was supposed to be for the first Teen Wolf Big Bang, until the Bang fizzled out and disappeared, and which is part of why the story also fizzled out. The second was "Zero Point," which was for the Werewolf Big Bang. I gave some thought to throwing in with the most recent round of the Teen Wolf BB, but htbthomas talked me out of it.

My favorite experience was during the 2013 Yuletide when htbthomas finagled her assignment to get assigned to me, then wrote me a story for My Secret Identity. And she didn't just write me any story--she wrote very nearly the exact story I'd spent twenty years wanting in that fandom and hadn't been able to write for myself. It was absolutely brilliant.
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21 – Sequels – Have you ever written a sequel to a fic you wrote, and if so, why, and if not, how do you feel about sequels?

I love sequels. I love continuances, follow-ups, and spin-offs to stories. Aside from crossovers, stories that bring us back in touch with previously-met characters and which further develop previous scenarios are one of my huge weaknesses. There is no other earthly reason that I would have willingly watched "Sam & Cat."

Practically every story I've started that's more than the depiction of a single scene has been conceptualized as part of a trilogy. I have, however, never written any of those trilogies.

"The Atropos Project" / "Grimm's Law" is the closest as they're both complete stories that were planned to go together. The third one was supposed to be "The Lethe Incident." I think I might have a page of story scribbled out for the last one, and at this point I have no idea what I planned to do with it.

"The Measure of Ourselves" / "Zero Point" is a fake example, as ZP was conceptualized and drafted as an entirely separate story which I only attached to "Measure" because I felt that they worked together. That I still haven't finished "Measure" is a different issue.

"The Thickness of Blood" / "The Ways of Hard-Knock School" is my more recent attempt. ToB is still very much a WIP, however, and "Ways" wasn't a planned follow-up, so much as a fortuitous assignment that fit into a world I was already writing. "Imposter Syndrome" can also be added to this as another fortuitous assignment.

Perhaps I should set a goal of actually writing a planned trilogy?
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20 –Do you ever get bunnied from other people's stories or art in the same fandom?

'Bunny' as a verb? I don't think I'm prepared to cope with that.

Of course I get inspired by other people's works. I've been negatively inspired by seeing people write a character or scenario a certain way and becoming so pissed that I wanted to see if I could do it better. (Turns out, I couldn't). I've been positively inspired by seeing art that I felt needed the rest of the story. I've been inspired by ideas that are dropped into stories and then never developed, perhaps because the author wasn't even aware of them. That's one of the great things about fanfic: where it can be an active conversation in how we see the characters and concepts of the show. When that conversation doesn't exist, I don't see much purpose to being in the fandom.
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19 – When you have bunnies, do you sit down and start writing right away, or do you write down the idea for further use?

Saving ideas for further use is not my preferred method, though I have done it. Usually this comes as a product of not having a clear handle on the idea at the time of generation. I have a WIPs folder filled with ideas that I started writing and then couldn't continue, for whatever reason. On very rare occasions, I've saved a single sentence or exchange for further use, though I can think of only one time where a saved sentence found a home.

I don't really sit down and start writing, either. Again, I have done, but it's not my usual approach. When I get an idea, I like to talk it out with someone. Htbthomas has been that someone a lot over the last few years, which has no doubt left her very confused about what I've written and what I haven't. Recently, the kid has become my captive audience. The spouse earned his right to be the spouse by being that person on my first epic, and he still gets pressed into service more often than he'd like.

Before I can start a story, I need to know its shape. Every story has a shape, which is a nicely vague and semi-mystical comment on the major theme(s) of the story, not a list of plot beats or an outline. I've never understood how story outlines are supposed to work. I'll talk through a potential story with anyone who's willing to listen, then think through it while I'm falling asleep, then start writing (not necessarily in that order and definitely not hitting each step only once).

Once I've found both the correct shape and the right place to start the story (both of which are essential), I'll start writing. The trick then is to not lose the shape. I can't even say how many times I've lamented at htbthomas about words not happening because "I'm telling the story wrong." Provided I don't get too side-tracked by parts of the story that don't belong, too badly interrupted by life or other projects, or too frustrated with a shape that won't hold, the story might even get finished.
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18 – Where do you get the most inspiration for your fics (aka "bunnies") from?

Exchange letters, mostly. Bingo squares are another good source. There are very few stories I've written that I generated the idea for myself. Sometimes I wonder if I even can come up with my own ideas, not that I'm in a hurry to try. It's so much more satisfying to write a story someone else wants to see.
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17 – Titles – Are they the bane of your existence, or the easiest part of the fic? Also, if you do chaptered fic, do you give each chapter a title, or not?

Titles are so incredibly variable. Some of my stories start with the title. (I knew I wanted to write a story called "The Atropos Project," so I started writing until I found out what that story was.) Sometimes I get titles that I can't match to a story and I end up sitting on indefinitely. Sometimes I start a story with one title and end up changing it at any point in the writing before posting because the working title doesn't fit what the story became. ("The Measure of Ourselves" was originally called "Abandon," as in "to do something with abandon"). Sometimes I finish drafting a story and have to put out a call to my friends in hopes that they'll supply a title. ("Mortal Mistakes" had a place-holder title almost right up until it went live. My beta made some suggestions, all of which I rejected. Except, something she said sparked the new title and it seemed so perfect that I adopted it immediately). Sometimes a title presents itself while I'm writing or as I'm getting ready to post. ("Imposter Syndrome" was untitled during most of the drafting, up until I started trying to unknot the ending and I heard the phrase come out of my mouth). I've also, on a couple of occasions, posted a story Untitled and/or changed the title shortly after posting.

My titles tend to be one or two words, but my stories also tend to be ficlets in the 1.5-5k word range, so one or two words is sufficient to identify the theme. A few times, I've had to resort to stealing lines from songs (notably, "Sticky Jazz" by Shriekback which is responsible for three, arguably four, titles), though I've usually done this because my goal is to title the story in a way that's not easily identifiable as mine. Which I guess means that it's time to find a different Shriekback song to plunder.

The only chapter fic I posted with titles on the chapters is "Grimm's Law," and I'm pretty sure I stripped the titles off when I archived the story on FFN and never put them back in. Titling chapters is too much work, especially since I don't get the feeling that most fans pay that much attention to titles.
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16 – Summaries – Do you like them or hate them? How do you come up with them, if you use them?

Ah, summaries. I remember a time in the world of fanfic when summaries were innovative and, I believed, completely superfluous. We were all going to read every story, so why waste the time on writing blurbs for their content? (I also remember when fanfiction.net was started and how I believed it was completely redundant, since every fandom already had its own archive. ::sighs::). My opinion did come around after I started to grasp that fanfic was neither a fixed nor a finite resource.

I like summaries. For the most part, I think they're fairly easy to write--though that doesn't stop me from agonizing over the exact wording. I try to do an original overview of the major themes or plot beats of every story, and I try to limit that overview to one sentence, with, I'm sure, varying levels of success. It's a lot like writing a thesis sentence for an essay: Identify what the story is about and, preferably, put it in declarative form.

When I'm reading, summaries that ask questions tend to put me off the story since the questions rarely seem to invite participation: "Main characters from the canon have gotten in over their heads. Will they survive?" Um ... yes. They will. (Unless the story is tagged for major character death, in which case I'm not interested). Question answered, I have no reason to read the story. Since it would make me a hypocrite to ask questions of my readers that I'm not willing to engage with as a reader, I always aim for the declarative.

When all else fails, there's also the pull-quote. I've done pull-quotes on a handful of occasions, one of which was because a sentence from the story did seem to perfectly sum up the whole story. Overall, pull-quotes feel a little cheap to me, so I don't tend to use them.

The biggest problem I have with summaries is finding the line between being intriguing and dispensing spoilers. There's a huge part of me that still feels that any info about the story up-front is a spoiler, and that the summary should be worded to conceal everything. This is stupid, yet is still the biggest block between me and a decent summary. I'm continually having to remind myself that stating "this thing happens" is not the same thing as stating "and these were the consequences."
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15 – Warnings – What do you feel it most important to warn for, and what's the strangest thing you've warned for in a fic?

I think the four set warnings on AO3 are the only things that must be warned for.

When it comes to warnings, I tend to come down on the side of them being content label instead of warnings, per se. I like to know when certain themes are present in stories because they're themes I'm in the mood for or not--though I can certainly appreciate that other people may have stronger responses. I also am interested in knowing what themes are going to be in a story because of how often fandom "bundles" themes; i.e. certain ideas gets grouped together such that if one is present, others are very likely to be. In Teen Wolf fanfic, for example, the label of BAMF!Stiles on a story is very likely to also mean Scott character bashing. So, I appreciate the label of BAMF!Stiles so I can have some idea of what I'm in for with the story.

I think the strangest thing I've ever warned for is "non-consensual grooming" on a story in which one character drugs and restrains another for the purpose of doing her hair and makeup.
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14 – Ratings – how high are you comfortable with going? Have you ever written higher? If you're comfortable with NC-17, have you ever been shocked by finding that the story you're writing is G-rated instead?

I tend to default to stories in the PG or PG-13 range, as differentiated only by the amount of swearing my characters may do, though I have written everything (I think). That said, I am really uncomfortable writing R-rated or higher stories. I've taken on the task because I believe it's important for writers to venture outside of their comfort zones and because I wanted to try to learn how to write something different than what I know. For all that I don't think my efforts at adult ratings are the best stories I've ever written, they are my best efforts, so they'll remain out there.
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Four days worth here because I got behind.

9 – Pairings – For each of the fandoms from day two, what are your three favorite pairings to write?

Pairings aren't really my thing. I've written pairing stories before, and I will do again, because sometimes I have stories to tell about couples or moresomes, but my go-to type of stories is either gen or gen with the pairings shoved into the background.

10 – Pairings – Have you ever gone outside your comfort zone and written a pairing you liked, but found you couldn't write, or a pairing you didn't like, and found you could?

Um? Every pairing I've written is outside my comfort zone. The more explicit the story, the more outside my comfort zone it is.

To try to answer the question in good faith, I'll say this: Right now, I really like the pairing of Liam/Hayden for Teen Wolf, only I find myself without any stories to tell about them. Conversely, I wrote the crossover pairing of Thea Queen/Cara Coburn (Arrow/Tomorrow People) into a story without any pre-meditation; the story was supposed to be entirely gen, until suddenly it wasn't. They weren't a pairing I disliked, so much as a pairing I'd given exactly zero thought to until I was writing it.

11 – Genre – do you prefer certain genres of fic when you're writing? What kind do you tend to write most?

My favorite genre of fic is hurt/comfort, though I find my definition of "comfort" to be somewhat at odds with fandom-as-a-whole. Rather than the comfort coming in the form of physical tending (or sex), I prefer it to take the form of solidarity, i.e. Character A gets hurt and Character B steps up to support A in his/her time of pain. It also works if B chooses to carry the burden while A rests or recovers.

I honestly don't know if this is what I write the most; however, it is what I most enjoy writing.

12 – Have you ever attempted an "adaptation" fic of a favorite book or movie but set in a different fandom?

I did a Teen Wolf adaption of the movie Weird Science! That was one of the more bizarre (for me) things I've written, because it wasn't planned, wasn't any set of characters I'd written together before that, and was a lot more explicit than my usual fair. I got the idea and wrote the whole thing in less than two days.

Fusions aren't my preferred way to approach stories, but I really like how that one turned out.
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8 – Do you write OCs? And if so, what do you do to make certain they're not Mary Sues, and if not, explain your thoughts on Ocs.

Absolutely. I have no problem with including OCs in stories. Very often they're dead, because someone has to be the victim of whatever crime my character are solving. The thing about OCs is that they should serve a function in the story that the canon characters can't. If their role in a story is to do what a canon character can do only better, they're coasting into Mary Sue territory. If they also possess attributes that aren't feasible within the canon, then they've probably crossed the line. The trick to writing OCs who aren't Mary Sues is to keep them grounded in the canon and to make sure their stories don't overshadow the canon characters'.
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7 – Have you ever had a fic change your opinion of a character?

No? I've never gone from liking a character to hating one over the course of a fic, or vice versa. I have gone from not really understanding characters' canon motivations to developing an understanding of what they could be based on fic, though.

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