13 April 2020

"Never Have I Ever" Writer Tag

From an original photo by Evie S. on Unsplash

Today's post is inspired by this little meme running around the blogs of authors and book reviewers. I discovered this first on Paper Fury (which is legit one of the most beautiful blogs out there), who in turn got it from An Ordinary Pen. I thought it'd be fun to play along, so here I go! 

NEVER HAVE I EVER...


STARTED A NOVEL THAT I DIDN’T FINISH

✔️ Definitely yes, but I still intend to finish them! I consider them on long-term pauses. Right now The Step and the Walk and The Name and the Key have been stopped as I work on Son of the Siren. My brain can't hold one book in its head for more than one time, I'm afraid. 

WRITTEN A STORY COMPLETELY BY HAND

✔️ Before the advent of personal computers in everyone's household, I wrote things out by hand, but none of it was substantial in size. As soon as we got our first family computer, I have typed everything out ever since. I always loved playing on the computer and typing on my dad's electric typewriter or my grandmother's old-school typewriter. There was something so professional about the typed word versus the written - something about typing made it feel all the more real and tangible - and it's always been my preferred method to write.

CHANGED TENSES MIDWAY THROUGH A STORY

❌ I'm interpreting this as meaning using tense specifically in a narrative as opposed to everyday situations (where I've made this mistake), so I'm going to say no. I'm kind of a fuddy duddy with tense, anyway, and prefer narratives written in the past tense. Over the last ten years present-tense narration has really exploded in fiction, but it's difficult for me to get behind as a writer and reader. That's personal taste though - one is not superior to the other, as they both are meant to accomplish different things with their use.

NOT RESEARCHED ANYTHING BEFORE STARTING A STORY

✔️ I'm someone who tends to write when the mood strikes, and I strike while the iron is hot. Sometimes things pop into my head begging to be written down, so I'll get it in a draft first, and then look stuff up to make sure it makes sense. I also like researching while writing quite a bit because you can find unexpected story threads there, too. This is the bane of being a pantser - you get a huge thrill writing off of the fumes of inspiration, and letting the story take you where it feels right, but...you can lose control of your narrative quickly and time management goes out the window. I'm trying to get into plotting a lot more to address the shortcomings of writing on impulse as opposed to writing with structure.


CHANGED MY PROTAGONIST’S NAME HALFWAY THROUGH A DRAFT

❌ One of the very first things I do when I write a story is start with a name. I will come up with a title and character names first, and pretty much construct everything else from that. Because I grow ideas, personalities, and people from names, I am a stickler and don't like to change names once they've been chosen, because the name is very much who my characters are. This is probably a trickle-down effect of the "Law of True Names" that pops up in fantasy so much - I tend to choose names very deliberately, so once they're selected, I can't give them up. 

WRITTEN A STORY IN A MONTH OR LESS

❌ No! This is impossible for me. I just don't have that kind of focus, energy, or time management skills. Maybe someday I will grow the discipline in order to master this tempo, but I think it's a long shot!

FALLEN ASLEEP WHILE WRITING

❌ I'm surprised I haven't, given how many late nights or insomnia spells I've had in my writing life... I've definitely pushed through more than I should have, and obviously have written while exhausted, on the verge of passing out. But as long as the brain is whirring with ideas, there's no such thing as sleep.  

CORRECTED SOMEONE’S GRAMMAR IRL/ONLINE

 ✔️  I taught English Composition at college for a few years, and am an English teacher now, so yes, that allows me to make grammar corrections in real life in the proper context. I'm also an editor, so add that to the list of appropriate instances grammar correction is warranted. Correcting someone's online grammar, however, is a dickish move and the lowest common denominator of internet debate. It's the equivalent of an "um, actually" or "splaining." Don't do it. I say this as someone who has been both a victim and (regrettably) a perpetrator of offering "helpful" correction. Don't do it; it's wrong; and you'll always be the asshole if you engage in this behavior.  

YELLED IN ALL CAPS AT MYSELF IN THE MIDDLE OF A NOVEL

❌ No. That would take myself out of the story I'm trying to write, and it's just extra, fruitless work to be deleted later if I engage in this kind of self-flagellation.

USED “I’M WRITING” AS AN EXCUSE

✔️ I've used it to justify some odd research ("a history of sandwiches"), questionable internet search history ("temperatures at which the human body decomposes in water"), and brief obsessions with random or overly specific topics ("18th century candle-making techniques"). 

KILLED A CHARACTER THAT WAS BASED ON SOMEONE I KNOW IN REAL LIFE

❌When I was young and immature - and in the throes of mental illness - I tried to process a lot of what I was going through by modeling my characters and plot after people or events from my personal life...but then I'd put them in fantastical situations or exaggerate them so much that nobody could tell there was a real-life connection there (except when I was a bit dumb and just told people to mess with them. Guys, the Kristina from her early bipolar era of her life was awful). I have never killed off a character inspired by a real person, though, even back then when I was all over the place. In fact, as part of my health recovery in my 20s I vowed to never write characters inspired by real people anymore, and I stand by this decision today. I also don't feel good about killing characters, anyway, so I try to avoid it where possible. 

USED POP CULTURE REFERENCES IN A STORY

❌ For the type of stuff that I write, noooooooooooooooo. That absolutely would cause the world I've created to crash down and suspend the reader's belief (and in speculative fiction, the aim is the suspension of disbelief). As a reader, I'm not a fan of seeing pop culture references crop up in a work, either. Such references may be fun easter eggs for readers, but on the flip side of that coin, it can also make you feel like you're not "in on the joke" - and I don't like feeling excluded from the story I'm reading. In general, I feel like pop culture references only work in a very limited type of story and context, and otherwise  - when done poorly - it's an example of the author's voice invading their work to say "Look at me! Look at what I know and like!" 

WRITTEN BETWEEN THE HOURS OF 1AM AND 6AM

✔️ Guilty! I started this terrible habit young, too. Like at 11 or 12 years old. ...And when my mind's on fire with a story, I can't sleep and have to get it down before my brain can shut down and rest. 

DRANK AN ENTIRE POT OF COFFEE WHILE WRITING

❌ No, because I hate coffee.

WRITTEN DOWN DREAMS TO USE IN POTENTIAL NOVELS

✔️ Usually I have a good memory for recalling my vivid dreams in vivid detail, but the older I get, the more I find that this isn't so true anymore. I've started typing directly into my phone's notepad as soon as I wake up to make sure I don't miss anything. Most of the time it's not so much what's happening in the dream itself as it is the setting, or what people are wearing...I try to note how everything looks for future reference. My dreams have been incredibly helpful with worldbuilding and the creation of new creatures. They say that people with mental illness are prone to have unusual, brilliant dreams...whether this is accurate, a symptom of "mad genius," or simply a side effect of a medication, I'm just grateful my broken brain comes up with such beautiful, if not colossally fucked-up, stuff. 

PUBLISHED AN UNEDITED STORY ON THE INTERNET/BLOG/WATTPAD

❌ I would never want to put something out in public that didn't pass through an editing, proofreading, and revision process. I would be too embarrassed...and I am also a perfectionist, so there's that.  I already feel shame when I continue to find typos or mistakes in something after it's been passed through edits multiple times...😔

FORGOTTEN TO SAVE MY WORK/DRAFT

✔️ Yes. I am human and sometimes a dum-dum. It hasn't happened in a long time, but it has happened more than once.

TYPED SO LONG THAT MY WRISTS HURT

✔️ Yes. My freshman year of college I got carpal tunnel syndrome and had to wear a wrist brace for a while. I have since learned the valuable art of taking breaks and watching how I position my hands and wrists as I type. 

SPILLED A DRINK ON MY LAPTOP WHILE WRITING

✔️ Yes, but more often than not I'm spilling food on it. 

FINISHED A NOVEL

✔️ I finished The Name and the Key in 2013. It was my first novel and I also had to finish it because it was my graduate thesis. Fail the thesis, fail grad school...so this was excellent motivation to complete a work!

LAUGHED LIKE AN EVIL VILLAIN WHILE WRITING A SCENE

✔️ When I was in high school I was at the Young Writers at Kenyon program and my writing class asked our teacher if we could all write erotica. I was 15 and had zero interest or experience in the opposite sex aside from innocent crushes, so my brain exploded when our teacher said "yes." I had no idea what to do, and I knew I couldn't write anything seriously erotic because I hadn't even thought about the human body in that way. So I ended up writing a cartoony sexed-up version of Spoon River Anthology titled Swoon Shiver Anthology that was just over-the-top ridiculous...and laughed like a maniac the entire time I wrote it in the computer lab. I just kept thinking, "this assignment is stupid so I will write something stupid..." and it ended up being really fun. But definitely not erotica.

CRIED WHILE WRITING A SCENE

❌ The only time I've ever cried when it had to do with my writing was when I finished my graduate thesis...and it lasted all of five seconds because I was like, "Oh crap, I gotta turn it in!" ...I do kind of hope that at some point my writing will move me in an emotional way, but for now, I'm like, "No time for feels! Gotta get it done!"

CREATED MAPS OF MY FICTIONAL WORLDS

✔️ I'm on the fence when it comes to maps and fantasy...but when it comes to getting a basic gist of location so I can describe something competently in the text, I've doodled on scrap paper or printed out a map of Europe or Asia and then drawn right over it to get a sense of distance and scale. If I was a professional artist, I could see myself going all out with making one for my own pleasure. And if I was working for a major publisher, I'd let them put a map in the book, sure. Generally, though, I'm of the persuasion that maps shouldn't be a necessity for readers...your world and its worldbuilding should be clear enough for your reader to understand without supplemental materials.

RESEARCHED SOMETHING SHADY FOR A NOVEL

✔️ Yes. My Google history is disturbing. 

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