HWSWAnswers: Supporting Characters, Other Genres, Writing Advice, Pen Names, Why????

Emily asked:
I’m struggling with secondary/side characters at the moment – of necessity I have seven of them trucking around with the main characters. Most of them, while they have a backstory and a life (I wrote short stories for each of them, trying to get myself in their heads) there’s not much that appears on the page because it moves things away from my main story. How do you know when you’ve got the balance of that right? There’s two in particular that I keep trying to give a little more story to, but every time I try it drags things away from the main action.

Jenny:
What’s your main story, the narrative that has all the juice that draws your reader into the story?

That’s your spine, the thing that everything else relates to. So one of your supporting characters spent years in the circus; unless those talents are crucial to the main story, you don’t mention it because otherwise readers will say, “Wait a minute, what about the circus?” There’s this idea of the authority in the text (that’s you), the idea that this story differs from reality in that it is not chaotic, there’s somebody in control, so that each move in the story, each bit of information, is essential to that narrative. If you start putting things in that don’t connect, that don’t mean anything in the context of the story, the reader will try to make it mean something. If you have a character who’s always late, but that never has an impact on the story, the reader will slot it in anyway without you: “This is an annoying person.” “This person doesn’t like the protagonist.” “This person is losing her mind.” As the authority in the text, you have to make it all mean something, so adding back ground for supporting characters that doesn’t support anything in the story is just adding grit to the machine. Example: In Nita, Button is career-focused because her family has centuries of law enforcement experience. Career-focused is fine because she’s partners with the protagonist in that career, but what about the history? I had a lot of that and cut it because it didn’t mean anything to this story beyond the fact that killing demons is in her DNA, and then she falls in love with a demon. The fact of the history is important, the details are not.
In the same way, Button’s demon boyfriend has a long history of opposing the male protagonist, and that’s set up in the interactions between them without any details of exactly how he opposed him. The fact of the opposition makes the demon’s arc to the hero’s side important; the details of that are irrelevant. Or short answer: Play the important back story elements out in the interactions in the now and ignore any detail that isn’t directly relevant.

Bob:
There are only so many characters you can have on stage. And only so many readers can follow. Any time I get more than three or four on stage, it gets awkward. You end having characters disappear into the background, then suddenly reappear when they speak. Think of TV shows and film. How many key characters are in each scene? In real life, I can only focus on one thing at a time. I get easily distracted if there is a TV in the background. We were watching What Lies Beneath and there are scenes where the protagonist is in a psychologist’s office which is slightly below ground level and there’s windows near the ceiling with people walking by. Just flitting images. But I knew I would never be able to sit in that office and talk because that would distract me.

Jenny:
Also, hello, Bob.
That’s a good way to describe it. If the detail on the supporting character is distracting, cut it.

Bob:
If you need that many characters, give each one a significant personality or action tag that readers can put on them. Ask yourself if you can combine characters? On the flip side I often have characters who are minor and don’t seem to be relevant but I put them there. And I leave them there in the first draft. Because I must have put them there for a reason. In Shane I have the Field Marshal who didn’t even have dialogue up to a certain point where I realized he seemed to window dressing that served one point in the early part but not again. But I thought more about it and finally realized who he really was and what his role was. So in rewrite I’m layering him slightly, but not too much. Enough that when he plays that role, the reader won’t be completely shocked; but hopefully surprised.

And hello. Yeah– realized we decided on Thursdays, but this works because heading to mountains tomorrow anyway.

Jenny:
Oh, crap, we decided on Thursday? My mind is a sieve right now.

Bob:
I had thought I put alerts on my calendar. But this is good because just before you emailed I had been getting ready to email and postpone Thursday. So it works out cosmically.

Jenny:
I think that’s a good point about combining characters.

Bob:
But when the alert goes off on Thursday, I’ll panic.

Jenny: I’m sorry.

Bob:
There is no sorry in baseball.
Or Slack.

Jenny:
There’s no sorry in Slack? Sure there is.
I’m feeling regret right now.

Bob:
We’re too old for regret. Vengeance is better.
What were we talking about? My brain is a sieve too.

Jenny:
Supporting characters. I put one in Nita who was only in the first act. I loved him, but he had to go. They have to have a function all the way through the text.

Bob:
They key is named characters are important. Not named characters can flit by. But once you name a character, the reader assumed they’re important.

[We started to talk politics here. You don’t want to know.]

Lakshmi asked:
Do you read Urban fantasy? Would you consider writing one as a play project this year?
Or an anti hero story? Or a heist like Oceans Eleven? It’s an old favourite.
I’d love to know how you would approach and tweak these.
What would you change about Harry Potter?

Bob:
Lots to unpack there but the answers are pretty simple. Never read an urban fantasy so I wouldn’t write one. I’ve got a full plate of writing now. All my heroes are anti-heroes. Because I’m a contrarian. But not really. Will Kane in my latest books is the reluctant hero who really doesn’t like it. A heist is really hard to write because it would be like what we did in Special Forces when planning a direct action mission. They’d give us a mission packet with the target and parameters, put us in secure isolation and the A-Team would plan the mission, for at least five days. Twelve guys, each planning their specific part of the plan from infiltration to actions on the objective to exfiltration. And then all the contingencies and E&E (escape and evasion) plans. Some of my Green Beret books are like that– the early ones. Now, my heroes are like me these days– they tend to wing it. I read the first Harry Potter book years ago. I thought it was truly a child’s book. Not like LOTR, which is all ages. I heard the books mature, but it didn’t do much for me. I’m glad it got lots of kids into reading, though. I’m more a My Side of the Mountain reader; which if written these days would be considered child abuse. So.

Jenny:
Urban fantasy: I love the Rivers of London series. Would I write one? Nope, I am not urban. I have lived in small towns all my life and that’s where the fun is for me.
Antihero story: Faking It: love story of a con man and an art forger.
What would I change about Harry Potter? Well, it’s been a while since I read them. Probably have Harry and Hermione end up together. Otherwise, as I remember, I thought the books were pretty great as they were. (Okay there was that one with the Quiddich match that went on forever . . . )
The thing about changing a story that’s already been done well is that the bar is set pretty high. I did my Turn of the Screw novel because the female protagonist was the one who got screwed in the narrative, and I wanted to give her another shot. But of course, that turned out to be a completely different story. I think the thing about “inspired by” stories that works is when the new version does something different and becomes a thing on its own. Like The Taming of the Shrew, reconfigured as a high school romance (Ten Things I Hate About You) or as a political satire (the Shakespeare ReTold version). I like both of those better than the original.Or Emma as Clueless.
So I’d have to (a) want to write that kind of story and (b) find a new way into that narrative. Nope, not interested.
Until tomorrow when I will suddenly get the idea for a new Taming of the Shrew . . .

Lakshmi asked:
The best writing advice? Which part of the writing process do you enjoy most? Which part do you avoid?

Bob:
Best writing advice: write a lot. Then read a lot. I enjoy it when I’m in a flow and I know the purpose of the scene. I hate it when I have to write my way into the purpose of the scene. I’ve learned in the latter case to get the bones down and figure out the heart. But its easier starting with the heart. I watched Pretend It’s A City with Fran Leibowitz and Scorcese– binged all the episodes and really enjoyed it, especially as she talks about living in NYC, a lot when I grew up there. But she has lots of good insights into the arts, including writing. She said she only knew one author who loved the actual writing and that was Toni Morrison. She said the rest had a hard time doing the actual writing.

Jenny:
Best advice: Write the book you want to read and can’t find. That means it’ll be original and you’ll want to keep writing so you can see what happens.
Most enjoy: Making things up, people talking and revealing themselves.
Avoid: Description, plot, endings. No animal or child ever dies. Infodump, prologues, epilogues, smirking, intrusive speech tags, one-dimensional villians, broccoli.

Bob:
I don’t like brussel sprouts. Always called them Martian brains

Jenny:
I have big problems with endings. I like the start of things. Finishing, not so much.

Bob:
I like endings because the action moves faster.

Jenny:
This is true. But they’re ENDINGS. The ride is over. Actually, I lie, I don’t have trouble with endings, I have trouble with middles. I wander off.

Bob:
Except in New York Minute I had to rewrite that climactic scene so many times. It was just hero vs antagonist but it was technically incredibly difficult to pull off.
Wandering off is common.

Jenny:
I was reading a novel last night, and thought, “You know, novels are LONG.” They really are marathons.

Bob:
But a good novel you want to be long.

Jenny:
I need to write the first and last acts to start with, then tackle the middle. Eat dessert first.
Readers want novels to be long. Writers . . .

Bob:
Yeah but the middles sets up the ending. So. Yeah, the middle is always the toughest.

Jenny:
Writers want to finish the damn tihngs.

Bob:
Then shoot it with a gun.
Kill it.

Jenny:
Really. GET OUT OF MY HOUSE, DAMN IT.
Or at least off my computer.

This next question is right down your alley.

K. M. asked:
Can you speak to the pros/cons of using the same pen name for different subgenres?
I wrote a 3 book Sci-fi romance series as K.M. Fawcett. Next fall I will be publishing a contemporary romance series and am toying with using Kathy Moran Fawcett to distinguish between the two subgenres. Let me be clear, I in no way want to hide my identity from my readers (as some authors need/ want to). I received the advice that using two pen names will help to not muddy my Amazon “also boughts” and Amazon ads. Also 2 pen names gives you more chances to get more book bub deals. Do you believe this to be true? Thank you! I love reading your HWSW answers

Bob:
I wrote under five pen names for contractual reasons when traditionally published. I was writing at least 3, if not 4, books a year. And, hard to believe, back in days of yore, when they published using chisel and stone, they only wanted one book a year. Since then I’ve consolidated all my books under my name. I could see where you wouldn’t want to cross the streams of genre and confuse readers. I think Amazon has pretty much killed the also boughts. Replaced it with “books you might like” which also takes in your browsing history. As far as Bookbub– I ran tons of deals when Bookbub was but a swaddling baby and served indie authors. Many thousands of dollars to them. But once traditional publishers have gotten on board? Haven’t run one in years. The other reason is the long tail has disappeared for a BB deal. You’d spike and then have a long, sloping sales tail. Now you spike and kind of back to normal the next day. Unless its first in series; maybe. The true problem, and this is blashphemy, is that BB is part of what’s killing us authors. We’re pricing ourselves into oblivion. I say that but there’s nothing I can do about it. Just a reality. But a reader who can get discounted ebooks every single day from NYT bestselling authors cheaper than your latest title? It’s a tough road. I know some people are still having great luck with them. I’m contemplating applying for one later this year just before the fifth book in my Will Kane book comes out in June.

I guess I didn’t answer the pen name thing, but it’s specific to each author’s situation.

Jenny:
I don’t write enough to use a second name.
But it’s hurt me, I think, because people pick up a Crusie and think it’s going to be a romantic comedy, and when it isn’t, instead of treating the book for what it is, they think it’s a bad romcom.
People used to talk a lot about brands, and my brand is, much to my dismay, contemporary romantic comedy.

Bob:
Readers do have expectations. Honestly, brand is something I screwed up around 25 years ago, so I’m the wrong person to ask.

Jenny:
So when I don’t do that, people (editors, agents, readers, etc.) see it as a violation. “Write another Bet Me.” No. Using pen names might solve that, but I doubt it.

Bob:
Also, I’ve been so far out of the publishing mainstream for so long, I kind of don’t a lot of what is really happening.

Jenny:
How did you screw up your brand? You write different flavors of action adventure. It’s not like you wrote a book about a Green Beret who inherits a bakery in a small coastal town where he discovers letters from his grandfather and falls in love.

Bob:
Plus I tend to be smidge cynical.

Jenny:
I mean, you could write that, but there’s be guns and spies and betrayal and the love interest would die.

Bob:
For career purposes, I’d have made a lot more money sticking with straight military thrillers where the good guys always win and the bad guys are always really bad guys. Except I don’t believe that.

Jenny:
It’d be like me writing a romance where the heroine shoots the hero at the end. Narrative cognitive dissonance.

Bob:
That would be fun.

Jenny:
That is the problem with branding early in your career. Writers grow and change and evolve and mature.

Bob:
Yeah. I spoke with Sue Grafton one time about it at a conference and she was a bit unhappy to really be stuck with Kinsey Milhone, who barely aged. Her readers went nuts if she changed anything about the character.

Jenny:
We change, so our writing changes, too.
Can you image writing over twenty books about the same protagonist in the same time period? The alphabet thing was brilliant in a lot of ways–recognition in bookstores, always knowing the order of the sequels–but setting yourself up for that many books is insane.

Bob:
Yeah. One reason I’m writing Shane is because in my Will Kane books I started finding my snark again. I realized in one book, Kane didn’t kill most of the bad guys. The various female characters did.

Jenny:
Well, we have a lot of anger.

Bob:
Side note on Sue Grafton. Her agent gave a talk and said she’d be with Sue all the way through Y, when she meant to say Z. Gives a chill in retrospect.

Yeah– when the aspiring actress who introduces herself as “Truvey, my name rhymes with groovy” killed a really bad guy with her purse, I knew I’d hit my stride. But Truvey is pre-Madonna in 1977, so she had that going for her.

Jenny:
This is a character in a Will Kane book?

Bob:
Yeah. She appears to be an empty-headed wannabee actress, but turned out to have surprising depth.

Jenny:
And a heavy purse.
I love that when a supporting character suddenly develops layers.

Bob:
Well she hit the guy into the third rail, so technically that’s what did it. But he shouldn’t have called her a whore.

Jenny:
It’s always good when the dead guy deserved it.

Bob:
That was a lot of tangents.

Jenny:
So, to get back to the question, I don’t know.

Bob:
Ditto.

Jenny:
It would have been a bad idea for me, but I’m not prolific.
I would have thought it was a good idea for Bob, but evidently not.
As a reader, I find it annoying as hell.

You know, we’re both so tired (and so is everybody at this point in this country) we could just be negative from that. But it takes so long to establish a name, that I’m really thinking it’s a bad idea. Every author is a new product launch until their name becomes known to their readership. So taking a new name is walking away from all that work and starting over.
I think that’s a bad idea.

Bob:
Exactly. The brand should be the author.

Jenny:
Look at Naomi Novik: she’s doing fairy tales, military fantasy, high school fantasy, all under her name. I would never have read the first Temeraire book if I hadn’t read A Deadly Education and followed her name to the rest of her work.

I have a question for you. Why did you want to write a novel?

Bob:
I had a story in my head and needed to get it out.

Jenny:
I mean you had a military career there that was going just fine.
I’m not sure I can answer that for me, but it wasn’t for the money or to be famous.

Bob:
I didn’t even think about getting published until after my 2nd mss. And I meant it didn’t even occur to me to try. I just wrote.

Jenny:
I just remember one day saying, “I’m going to write a novel,” and then sitting down and doing it.

Bob:
Exactly.

Jenny:
Yes, but why? I have no idea why I decided that.

Bob:
I guess lots of reading can lead to writing.

Jenny:
It’s not like I had a political intent, or a message I desperately needed to get across.
Maybe that was it. Maybe it was writing the romance I wanted to read but couldn’t find.

Bob:
I think that’s a lot of writers. We write what we would like to read but can’t find.

Jenny:
84% of Americans want to write a book some day. Or at least they did about ten years ago when that poll was taken. Most of them will never do it. There must be some mutant gene that says, “You must make stuff up so other people can read it.”

Bob:
I always say we’re not in the bell curve and don’t assume we’re the positive side of it.

Jenny:
Look at all the fan fiction out there, and so much of it is fixing the stories they love.
That’s a kind of “writing the book you want to read.”

Bob:
Yeah, but lazy. Start from scratch.

Jenny:
I think their inspiration comes from the original work. They’re not trying to publish, they just want to write their versions down and share it with other fan fiction writers. I don’t think they’re lazy, I think they’re just coming from a different place.

Bob:
True– tons of fan fiction that is really good out there

Jenny:
Really, it’s a very pure form of fiction. They’re writing for love of the characters and that world, not for fame or financial gain.
I know there’s fan fiction out there for my stuff, but I never read it, too afraid I’ll absorb something that’s not mine and use it.

Bob:
Yeah– and Amazon killed its “world’s program” with two weeks notice. There were people made a good living doing it. Especially after Amazon marketed it to them.

Jenny:
World’s program?

Bob:
I had several authors ask me about doing it and I told them not a good idea because of right’s issues. Amazon ran a fan fiction program where bigger authors authorized people to publish their fan fiction and the royalty was split.

Jenny:
Oh. I missed that entirely.
Why did Amazon kill it?

Bob:
Yeah– several years ago. They ran into the problem I foresaw: rights. Who owns the characters, the setting? It got complicated.

Jenny:
I could see not agreeing because they’d take the characters where they wanted them to go, not where I wanted.

Bob:
That’s the creative side. But it was the practical that killed it.

Jenny:
There’s Faking It fan fiction out there where Nadine and Ethan get together. Nope, they don’t. I don’t mind about the fan fiction, I take that as a compliment, but I wouldn’t want to authorize that version.

I’m surprised Amazon didn’t see those problems coming.

Bob:
Amazon tries a lot of things. They pull the plug fast when it doesn’t work.

Jenny:
So anyway, I have no idea why I write.

Bob:
We have to.

Jenny:
Well, the voices in my head won’t shut up unless I do, but still.

Bob:
That’s why we have to.

Jenny:
And on that note, I will set you free. Unless there was something you wanted to talk about?

Bob:
Dinner time. I actually had to feed Gus while we were chatting. Because he will no be denied.

Jenny:
Gus forever.

Have a good night.

Bob:
Hopefully

Good night

+12

19 thoughts on “HWSWAnswers: Supporting Characters, Other Genres, Writing Advice, Pen Names, Why????

    1. I remember thinking “This is NOT as good as Hatchet” which was also about a boy surviving alone in nature. Apparently I felt like we only needed one book on that topic.

    2. Call it Courage is my favorite “child alone in nature” book. Fearful but surprisingly competent (surprising to him, not necessarily to the reader) boy goes on an adventure to conquer his fear of the sea. (Fear of the sea is a problem when you come from a seafaring culture.)

      I need to read that again.

  1. Always enjoy eavesdropping on you two! Fun and I learn a few new things too. Thanks!

    Have been trying to think of a question to ask you, but mind tragically blank. Unless to ask you to ask yourselves the question you wish other people would ask you? Or to tell us the best questions you have asked other writers and/or their best responses or advice. (Please forgive grammatical sins in foregoing!) Thanks again!

  2. I mean, I would say fanfic can be lazy in a way, but lazy isn’t necessarily bad. (Bob, just to be clear, I’m no way offended by your comment, it just got me thinking). People who do paint by numbers may be lazier than Leonardo Da Vinci, but they still get joy out of what they’re doing and maybe give small joys to other people as well.

    So here’s my story of being a fanfic writer, which I talk about sometimes here, but don’t share everything about usually.

    When I was younger, I was very oriented towards being a published author b/c I wanted that kind of check mark of credibility next to my name. My whole life I had been told “wow, you’re a good writer.” And it stuck with me and writing was something I genuinely enjoyed. So I wrote a lot of books. Ten. . . maybe? A lot. I started when I was about 18 and many of them were very bad. They were all novella/traditional Harlequin Mills & Boon length b/c I can’t seem to write long. But I had the discipline to put my butt in the chair and I had*some* talent.

    The latter books (further along in the learning curve) did pretty well in contests, in the slush piles. I got multiple requests for fulls, multiple requests for revisions from the same editors. But after a while I realized that trying to write to be published was killing my love of writing. Not the rejections (I was prepared for that) just the sense that so much of what was important to sell and make it a career was not important to me.

    I think self-publishing taking off was one of the things that made me realize it, b/c of course, if I really loved what I was writing, I could have done that proudly. But instead I realized I was just trying to jump through hoops to get someone else’s attention/praise. Yes, I was often teacher’s pet, how’d you know? No matter how I got published, it wouldn’t fill the hole I thought it would.

    And for a while it threw me into a funk and then I went back to my first love, fanfic writing and pursued being a ESL teacher/volunteer. That was at least 5 or 6 years ago? I haven’t really looked back. I may still decide to try to get something published some day, but honestly the hunger for that same recognition isn’t there any more. I have moved on to a new phase of my life now and I’m happy. Writing is just another hobby, something like running or Italian that I do b/c I enjoy it. I do it the way I like, when I like and if I don’t feel like it, I don’t.

    I’m not knocking anybody who does want to be published (traditionally or otherwise) and I’m saying anyone should go be a fanfic writer if that is not appealing them. I know a lot of people vary from lukewarm to downright hostile to it, so I’m not looking to convert anybody.

    Just saying there are many roads to writing happiness.

    1. This is so true. A friend of mine, back in the day, published two novels with Harlequin and quit. She felt guilty about quitting, said she felt like a dilettante. I said, “Do you know how many people never publish one novel? Was Harper Lee a dilettante?” but the pressure from the outside skewed her vision on what she’d done.

      In the end you can’t write for anybody else, for outside reasons, you can’t judge yourself by outside criticisms, you write for yourself first. It won’t be an honest work if you don’t write for yourself first. And it doesn’t matter whether it’s traditionally published, self-published, fan fiction, journals, whatever, all that matters is that’s it’s honest for you.

      I think fan fiction is great, but then I think every book I write is written in collaboration with the reader: I put the story on the page and she takes it from there, fills it out with her own expectations, hopes, fantasies. So fan fiction is just the extension of that, her (or him or them) putting their part of the collaboration on the page. And there’s nothing lazy about that.

      1. And imagine how much worse outside judgment may be today, with social media comments and pressure.

    2. I published my first and so far only piece of fanfic last year. I wrote it because I was very caught up in that story’s world and needed emotional closure, much sooner than the author was going to provide it through the next book in the series. And it was great fun to write. Matching the author’s voice and characterization was fun.

      And then I thought, well if I wanted emotional closure from the story, maybe I’ll put it online and see if other people want it too. And it’s been really nice getting kudos and comments from people about it.

      So I think fanfic fills quite a different role for writers than original fic, or at least it does for me.

      1. I totally agree about fanfic scratching a different itch. I’ve never wanted to write fanfic because I don’t want to play in someone else’s sandbox. Either I want to relax and enjoy someone else’s story, or I want complete creative control in mine.

  3. Me: “Hi. My name is Gary.”

    All: “Hi, Gary!”

    Me: “I am a fan fiction writer. It’s been almost 19 years since I last wrote FanFic. That was First Impressions.”

    All: Light scattering of applause.

    Okay. Enough of Fan Fiction Writers Anonymous (and trust me, a lot of that stuff was written anonymously, or under suedo-nyms. Those are like pseudonyms, but written on brushed leather.) (And they’re full of bad puns.)

    First Impressions was about creatures – but not characters or people – from Anne McCaffrey’s PERN series. Specifically a Fire Lizard teleports through time and space from the pre-colonization world of PERN to Earth, for reasons. It’s a pregnant Golden (Queen) Fire Lizard who lays a clutch of eggs and then disappears. (They do that.) Now let me wave my fingers and chant “Doodlydoo! Doodlydoo! Doodlydoo! Doodlydoo!” ** and now we’re back in 2001. DennyW is explaining to me that his friends and acquaintances of the NewsGroup alt.Callahans* are holding A Hatching. It seems that many, many Robinson fans were also Anne McCaffrey fans. So I went to Alt.Callahans and read some hatchings and cried the now famous, “Argh! _I_ could do better than that!” DennyW proceeded to make me put my money whereat was my mouth. The result was a somewhat better Hatching post and the first chapter of my story

    My story, because I received tres beaucoups de fan mail demanding more and I had not learned to say, “Just discovery!” or “No story – just noodling with an idea!” [cough]

    And then it won an award, tied for Best Long Story 2002. So I wrote 28 more stories, only two of which were almost fanfic. The majority were short stories and at least a third were flash fiction, under 1,000 words. When I finished Going Down in 2015, I retired from writing.

    *Alt.Callahans is a Newsgroup where fans of Spider Robinson, author of Callahan’s Crosstime Saloon post. A high proportion of them are inveterate punsters, just like Spider Robinson.

    ** Wayne’s World Time Travel or flashback cue.

  4. As a non writer I will say that if you give your characters names starting with the same letter and I can’t tell them apart, you don’t need them both.
    It astounds me how often that happens.

    I doubt that is helpful to a writer who has given them all backstories .

    1. I do go through and look at all the names in a story in alphabetical order so I can catch that. And then I wrote a book about Nick and Nita and I still haven’t fixed that because I don’t want to change those names.

      1. But Nick and Nita are your main characters. The reader would know that and not get them mixed up as fast as Kenny and Kelly who both work at the deli.

    2. I commented Thursday about books I’ve read where a large percentage of the women’s names are Maria or Anna or a variant and/or combo of the two. One of the problems is that the authors are stuck using the names of real people, and if you look at the Hapsburg dynasties – Austrian or Spanish – or the Fugger, that’s what you get. The same goes for Fredericks and Charleses and Louis. What were they up to, 16 before they cut that trend short?

  5. “We’re too old for regret. Vengeance is better.” I had to stop as this will be adapted to my 2021 self-talk and guide for my life.
    Thanks Bob.

  6. I think fan fiction is one of the best informal writing courses that exist. It’s a place to make your mistakes and get them out, without putting in all your good ideas.

    One of my recent favourites – Suleikha Snyder says that she learned to write such full short stories because of fan fiction she wrote prior to her novellas. Her work is thewhat made me willing to try reading short stories which I’d previously disliked because I found them to be too sparse.

  7. Thank you so much for your take on side characters, Jenny and Bob. I think I just have to maintain my focus on the main story, and not try and shove too much of the side character stories onto the page. I’m kind of stuck with the seven of them (I did consider killing a handful of them off, but that would have brought its own problems that would have complicated the story in different ways).

    I’m one of the fanfiction writers and avid readers, and I agree with a lot of what Jill said, particularly about the many paths to writing happiness.

    I also find myself fighting the internal thinking “It’s just fanfiction” over a lot of what I write in much the same way that I find myself fighting “I’m just a stay at home mum” sneaking into my thinking. It’s not “just” anything, and it’s what I’m drawn to write right now.

    My current work has been twenty years in the making, from first idea to two years ago deciding that if it wasn’t going to let me go then I had to buckle down and write it out of my head. There was a lot of research into everything from ancient Chinese trading ships to forms of poison and Chaos myths, and I’ve loved it when it wasn’t driving me crazy. And in a way, it’s very freeing to write in a way that can’t possibly get tangled up in thoughts of how to make it marketable. I’ve learned a heck of a lot about how I write from the process.

Comments are closed.