Monday, August 11, 2008

FanFic--Does It Work for You? Aug. 11, '08

Some years ago, I did fanfic and had a great time polishing the writerly muscles. You're given names, setting, etc, but what adventures can you have that keeps the original identifiable as such?

I read a whole lot of crap, and a few gems, which is what got me into writing fanfic in the first place. I felt that I could do better than most and as well as the top 5%. I got on a few popular sites, had some great times with fanfic fans. Then I wanted to tell stories with similar but not exact characters. In fanfic those are called ubers: different names, different times.

I always credited the original author/company and posted on free sites. These tales were to be shared with fans, they were not for sale.

A few good fanfic writers do continue stories of popular series and characters. There are hundreds of StarTrek and Star Wars books NOT written by Gene Roddenberry (while he was alive) or by George Lucas, for two examples.

Often with known names who stop their series, the publishing companies will look for writers who can copy that style and continue the adventure of the character, the family, the sweeping saga of a nest of mice. :}

Ghost writer Andrew Neiderman is still doing Flowers In the Attic books. The original author, V.C. Andrews died in '86. Her name still goes on the books, a percentage goes to her heirs, and a bit goes to Mr. Neiderman.

All these 'well-known' books are formulaic and are based on a paradigm of any number of familiar tales that go back as far as stories themselves: Marduk vs Tiamat--god vs dragon, Gilgamesh--the flawed hero, Old Woman and Coyote the Trickster--from American Indian tales, Amaterasu--the Japanese goddess who brought light to the world, etc. The Cat in the Hat is the Trickster all over again :}

Romeo and Juliet is based on a Greek tale from 1500 years before: Pyramis and Thisbe, off from that we have West Side Story.

Boiled down, everything is 'fan fiction' done by those who love what they read. If you are willing to put in the work: change the names, add new drama, put in a new setting, and write a good story, anything can happen.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Work In Progress--WIP, or Not, Aug. 10, '08

That novel or story feels as limp as an overcooked noodle. You can't always blame the muse. Sometimes it's the how of writing not the what.

Bumps and blocks come and then they DO GO! I had one for 20 months--nasty f**ker, but I kept thinking about my characters, I wrote notes to friends, I did other silly non-WIP stuff, and when I came back--they were there, waiting, ready to rock and roll.

There are times when it's more than BIC (Butt in Chair) and it's possible to identify souces of irritants that AREN'T RELATED (directly) to writing.

Surroundings: Does your writing area look inviting or would it be better off if a mudslide covered it, after a fire, a flood, and a tornado cleans up?

A comfortable chair that gives good support -- with or without arms is essential. So is a table at the right height, big enough to let you have 'props' to make you feel good about yourself: pix of family and pets, small statues of favorite things, rocks from special places, a bit of room off to the side for your tea and a brownie.

I've a mini-bookshelf with 5 dragon-themed knives and 1 sword, a bunch of tiny dragon figurines, 4 teddy bears (okay I'm wierd) rocks and shells from places we've been to: Dead, Red and Med seas, & Masada, a bunch of notebooks, my fav pens which I have to keep the cats from running off with.

Good lighting that focuses on the surface of your work space and doesn't glare, and no reflections of sunlight from a mirror to throw you off.

Your monitor top should be either level or higher than your line of sight. Otherwise your neck and sholders will hurt. Hardcover big old books will work in a pinch until you get something permanant to get that screen up.

NOTE: Makeshift 'raisers' can be unsteady if you don't have a big enough base--and sometimes even if you do. So secure your screen with something solid--baby bungee cords or those heavy leather bootlaces. You, the kids, the pets can knock the screen off and that would piss you off.

When was the last time you had your eyes checked? Seriously? I had trouble seeing the screen 2 years ago. I went from contacts to glasses, and the screen was bearable only if I sat a certain way. I realized I needed reading glasses too! Horrible bow to aging eyes but they stopped bothering me and the screen and I have a much better rapport.

If the mouse you're using alot makes that tendon running from your thumb down to your wrist hurt--look into the 3m mouse:

Honest, again it keeps the wrist and hand in a natural position. We've one here that's been lasting 5 years now.

Clean the mouse! That little circle underneath where the ball is pops open and dust, hair, and entire Horton Hears a Who universes live there! A bit of glass cleaner on a cloth will help get the crud off. All that crap gets in the wheels too, a pair of tweezers here can be helpful. A new mousepad that isn't worn helps too.

Closed mice--battery-free like those at -- I've one and I love it--has the mouse pad that plugs into the USB port. The pad is smooth and I clean it and the bottom of the mouse with a bit of glass cleaner every few weeks.

Hurts your wrists to type? RSI--Repetitive Strain Injuries are common to folks who do the same thing over and over, like us writing for hours. Inexpensive solutions: Take a 15 min break every hour, make some tea, water the plants, rub your wrists.

Buy an ergonomic keyboard! Most keys go |||||| .
Draw your hands up from your sides and they NATURALLY turn in like this: ////\\\\.

If you've a laptop that doesn't have an ergonomic keyboard, there are plastic platforms that raise the bottom a bit like so: / 30 degrees or thereabouts. I put two small metal angles like L's at the bottom of my wooden one so the laptop won't slide off. This also raises the screen to be easier on the neck.

I made one of wood scraps in 10 min with a few screws. Been doing good for me.

Don't EVER give up writing!