Archives for posts with tag: how I write

If you’ve been reading my previous blog entries you know that I’ve been considering writing a story that involves chemically engineered angels, lesbians and a very corrupt government. The first part of it(most likely the prologue) is posted here under the title “First Impressions”. I’ve revised it, I’ve had a good think, and I think it’s something worth doing.
To give you some background on the story:

Riley is one of the victims of an aggressive government experiment that leaves her invisible to virtually everyone. But the purpose of this invisibility is to enable her and the others like her to help and protect people who are valuable to the government. Those people are the only ones who can see her.

Having been like this for three years, 22 year old Riley comes across a girl called Jess. She is not Riley’s charge, not meant to be protected, but still Jess can see her. Puzzled and thrown, Riley goes to the government and demands answers, none of which are given.

Riley keeps meeting Jess, who gets increasingly curious of who Riley is and why she’s invisible to everyone else. As her snooping becomes more and more personal, and by proxy a threat to the government, they decide to take her out.

If Riley saves her and hides her away, the government will surely use their trackers to find Riley and kill her instead(or possibly something even worse), but if she doesn’t, she will have to watch as they kill Jess. The only person who has cared about her for the last three years, the only person who has made her feel something other than what the government programmed her to feel, dead.

If only there was a hidden third option.

What I’m wondering now, is whose point of view should I tell the story from? Should I tell it from Riley’s POV and explain who she is and why she’s like that from the get-go, or should I tell it from Jess’ POV and leave it a mystery for half the book? That is the question.

If anybody has an opinion, I’d love to hear it!

I like writing fanfiction. In a way it’s easier than writing original fiction, because when you’re using characters from a film or a tv show or a book, then the characters are already there. They’re already done. All you need to do is put them into an event or a storyline. It leaves you free to focus on writing style and action, instead of expositioning the characters and explaining their lives and relationships. The reader will already know the character, which means all you have to do is stay true to the original characterization when you write the story. Unless of course you want to take an evil/annoying character and put them trough something that will change them for the better. Or an annoyingly good and innocent character and change them for the worse. There is just so much you can do, and the template is already there. It’s like when you were little and drawing in a coloring book. You got to choose your own colors for the image – sometimes they would be obvious and boring, but sometimes they would be completely crazy – and you were able to put your own stamp on it, pour your creativity over it, while still not having to think of everything yourself. And you all remember being children with coloring books, right? Sometimes you completely disregarded the lines. That’s what fanfiction is. And the possibilities are endless.

Personally I’m not that good of a fanfic author. I’ve written many that I hate with a burning passion, I’ve written some that I tolerate, and I’ve written a couple that I allow myself to be proud of. It’s just a matter of getting a good idea, holding on to it, and executing it well. I have no problems coming up with concepts. And they rarely let go once they’re in my head. My problem is with the execution. Usually with fanfiction I write a scene or two, sometimes even a chapter or two, but then I get stuck and move on to the next idea. I don’t think there’s necessarily anything wrong with this – I guess I reckon that if a story really doesn’t want to be written, maybe it wasn’t such a good idea from the start. But you can’t give up too easily. You have to invest your time into it, to get anything back. And it’s the same with every kind of writing. Another good thing about fanfiction is that if you’re writing in at least a moderately popular fandom, people will want to read it. You will get a few likes or kudoses or favorites, and probably a review or two as well. And for me, at least, it really helps to know that people other than myself and my friends are going to read it. It gives it a whole other purpose, not to mention the kick you get from hearing someone tell you how much they love something you’ve written. A complete stranger.

I remember one particular review – on the fic that I’m probably the most happy with – that was from the author of Kurtofsky classic “Strange Currencies”. I basically stared at it, smiled, and burst into tears. This person took maybe fifteen minutes to read my fic, and another five to write the review. But it completely made my day. That’s why I try to review as much as I can, because I know that even a small positive comment can cheer someone up immensely. Fanfiction is therefore, an exchange between writers of all kinds – teenagers, aspiring authors, actual published authors, people who have writing as a hobby, etc – of talent, happiness and tears, and perhaps most importantly, feedback.

When it comes to my writing, I have a lot to thank the world of fanfiction.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how I write, and I wonder, should I be writing more in Swedish? I usually think that I express myself better in English, that I’m better able to write in English, and that it will be easier for my writing to reach more people when it is in English. But obviously there are flaws to that. I’ve noticed, quite recently, that there are areas within the English language where I’m not as able as I would like to be. Describing environments and objects finds me grasping for words at times. Because while I’m perfectly able to use and understand social language, getting more and more apt in using advanced language in the context of politics, and picking up the expressions and sayings that I’ve missed in the past, there is a gap in my vocabulary when it comes to descriptions. And that’s particularly harmful when it comes to creative writing.

If I were to write in Swedish, this particular problem wouldn’t exist. However, I have gotten so used to English now that I find it difficult to write without the help of English expressions. It also happens that I mix English expressions with Swedish ones, thus creating something incredibly confusing. Swedish also feels a little false and contrived to me in these circumstances and I think it would take a lot to undo these feelings and impressions.

On to something that’s not quite as serious. What useful words exist in Swedish, but not in English?

  • fika: it can be either a noun or a verb and means to have a coffee or tea and a cake or cookie of some sort, often with friends or family in a nice setting. I love to fika. It feeds my soul with cozy feelings.
  • självklart: this is something I don’t think a lot of people have noticed, but the lack of this word in English bothers me a lot. It has several meanings, one of them being something that is self-evident. For example: “It is self-evident that she likes chocolates, the box I bought for her is empty!” But it can also mean of course or obvious.
  • orka: to have the energy to do something, for example: “Orkar du komma på festen ikväll?”=”Do you have the energy to come to the party tonight?” or “Jag orkar inte göra mina läxor!”=”I don’t have the energy to do my homework!” And it’s an awesome word sadly missed in English.
  • blunda: a verb that describes to close your eyes. It’s really weird that English doesn’t have something like that.
  • jobbigt: something that is hard to do, something you don’t want to do. It’s a word that contains difficult, troublesome, tiring, and annoying all in one word, which is great for dark October afternoons.

I hope this was somewhat entertaining at least. Recently my eyes have been opened to the fact that Sweden and Swedish really isn’t as bad as I’ve always thought it was.

Swedish acting, however, among other things, is just as bad as I’ve always thought it was.

So I had nothing to do last night and this happened. The song lyrics are of a song called “Flawed Design” by Stabilo, which I first encountered while reading a Kurtofsky fanfic some time ago, but it fits perfectly with one of my main characters for this year’s nanowrimo. So it turns out it was a good way to get into his character in a way I hadn’t done before.

And in case anybody asks about Tommy’s hair – yes he is based on Tommy Joe Ratliff, and I do plan to change his name sometime in the future, I just don’t know what to replace it with.

I know my drawings are a work of art, by the way, you don’t have to tell me. I’m especially proud of Tommy’s head and the buried brain.

(you can only see the details in all their glory if you look at the pictures in full size ;))

I’d like to warn you that this might sound like a pep-talk(and it probably functions in that manner – for myself).

Nanowrimo is coming up in three weeks and I can’t decide what to write. For those of you who don’t know, Nanowrimo stands for National Novel Writing Month and is a challenge for authors to write 50 000 words of their novel during the 30 days that constitute November. I did it last year but I only got to 32 000 words.

This year I have decided to do it again, and try to get to the full 50k this time. The most important part, though, is that I give it my best try. I just have to keep writing in the hope that I’ll get better. So at the moment I’m trying to cement two sets of characters for two separate stories because I have not decided which one I’m going with. This unwillingness to make a decision was, I guess you could say, destructive for me last year. Then I wrote about three different couples, three different major storylines. That was a problem, but I also think it’s what got me to 32 000 words, as opposed to a much smaller amount. So this year I’m choosing ONE, and something tells me it’s going to present a whole new set of challenges. It’s all about perseverance I think. Not giving up.

So how do you not give up? How do you not let the story take you as far as it will take you and then just stop writing? How do you make sure you don’t write yourself into a dead end that you can’t get out of? These are all extremely good questions. Because the truth is, committing to something like Nanowrimo is scary. It means you’re taking a risk. And it’s possible that you’re going to fail. But when I think like this, when I doubt it, and when it makes me wonder if I’m insane taking on something like this in the month that school is probably going to be the busiest, then I remember last year. Doing Nanowrimo last year was one of the best experiences in my life. And it has improved my writing so much. And the – admittedly still unfinished – novel I got from it was worth the time, the effort and the tears. Because it was more than I had ever written before. I’m not saying it was very good(I’ll post an excerpt soon and you can judge for yourself), in fact as novels go I think it’s pretty shitty and unstructured, but it proved to me that I can write.

This year I have my second chance.

After a long day(my Fridays in school are excruciating), I’m finally home trying to get something productive done. I’m listening to the new Muse album, probably one of my favourite albums in existence.

We were talking about language in school today(actually I have a class that’s called Människans Språk which best translates to The humans’ Language, I suppose, even though that reads horribly), more specifically about what’s right and wrong in our language. Obviously we were talking mostly about the Swedish language, and what changes are being made in it by the younger generations. Some grammatical rules are being changed, slowly but surely, and for some reason that makes me a little anxious. I don’t want our grammar to become more lenient, so to speak, I want it to stay correct. But then again, if it always stayed correct it would never evolve. Is it just that I don’t like change? Am I becoming a teenage version of those grumpy old men who can’t handle – can’t understand – change, no matter if it’s linguistic or otherwise? No. Well, obviously not. I’m part of the change. I’m very much a part of the internet generation. I love new words and I love when we incorporate English words into the Swedish language(for the most part). I guess I just like it better when languages evolve slowly. In that way everybody can catch up and get used to what’s new. But language is a matter of taste, too. Authors(even aspiring ones who don’t know what they’re doing) live on that taste. It’s the same when I listen to music – and the few times that I’ve written songs – I listen for the artistry, to hear what the songwriter has done to the language to make it special. To make the words resonate with people. And for that we need words that are complicated and messy. Old and new. Words that we can all relate to.

This has been an unstructured post, to say the least, but I’ll be back soon with a new short story that I’d love to get some feedback on – it’s another experiment.

When I write, which is not as often as I should, I mostly write romantic short stories. Often with an LGBT theme. Sometimes I also write fanfiction, but it’s been a while and as much as I love reading fanfic, I can’t see myself writing more in the future, beyond the occasional drabble(which is fanfic speak for a story between 100 and 1000 words).

A genre I would like to explore is science fiction, dystopian societies, maybe, but only if I get a really good idea. Without that drive such books often feel forced and unoriginal. For some reason, I fear being unoriginal more than I fear almost anything else(at least when it comes to writing).
A quote from page 170 of Stephen Fry‘s The Fry Chronicles sums that feeling up perfectly:

“It is probable that our fear of being unoriginal, of looking cocky, of being obvious or of being seen ever to have chosen the line of least resistance caused us difficulty in our comedy careers.”

Here he is talking about his and his partner in comedy, Hugh Laurie‘s views on the subject of being unoriginal. It’s something that I’ve always felt, a sort of urge to not follow the stream in what everybody else thinks and how they act. When I was little this applied to playing games and what I said in the classroom. Today it applies to my writing. And in a sense I do think it can cause difficulty, as Stephen Fry says, because this obsessive need not to do as everybody else does can take up all the energy, instead of that energy going in to the writing itself.