Wow. Finished at last.
It's both cool and weird at the same time.
Thinking back to when I was first writing Aftermath
, with the idea burning in my head amidst the frenzy of wedding preparations, I feel incredibly gratified that the story has come this far. It was just a little Cloud/Tifa fic. They sooo
needed a break from what canon was tossing them. And I had a few ideas for other chapters. So in Oct/Nov last year, I sketched out a rough plan- it looks like this:( The rest under here... )
about the original version of A Taste of Home
. Am I a writer or a storyteller? Do I tell instead of show? Is there a flair to my writing? These are questions she brought up that I still ask myself as I write/edit my chapters. While I won't claim that I'm a good writer now, I think I'm a much better one than I was a few months ago. And like teaching, where you go back over a lesson to see how you could have taught it better, I think that ongoing self-scrutiny is what leads to improvement.
Part of the experiment was also seeing how well I could work with deadlines. The verdict? I did well getting out chapters every month... until I got pregnant. Hey, you try writing when you're falling asleep in front of the keyboard! :P Jonathan Stroud recently wrote in his NaNoWriMo pep talk about how writers have to be dedicated to writing under pressure. A year's deadline is actually only 5 or 6 months when considering all the editing, etc. that a book also needs to go through.It takes dedication and a certain amount of "forcing yourself" to get that first draft out. And since this was supposed to be practice for writing my own novel, I'm feeling buoyant about my future as a novelist. (BTW, I'm not doing NaNo, but I got a peek at the pep talk through somebody in the Bartimeaus community! LJ, I <3 you.)
Another part was keeping it realistic. I did a lot
of research, both in my canon sources to make sure my characterizations were accurate, and on scientific things like solar energy. This was actually something Stroud recommended on bartiforums
that I read ages ago. Want to make your fantasy story believable? Look it up, and stick in proper details. It's a lot of work for a line or two, but then it no longer sounds like you are just making stuff up. Yes, your readers can tell when you have no idea what you are talking about. And actually, the geeky part of me found this a lot of fun. Bioluminescent creatures are pretty cool!
Another thing I tried was writing in different styles. Could I make it clear who was talking through simply dialogue? What if I had two time-lines? Am I any good at writing an action sequence? (Something I avoided for a long time- until a reviewer mentioned it.) Creating suspense? Making a scene sparkly and euphoric? Maybe. I tried, anyway. You know what they say about practice...
I also experimented with symbology and themes- Square's "wolf" interpretation of Cloud's character, for example. Was I successful? I don't know- honestly, I think I've only had a single reviewer notice the deeper themes. So this probably still needs work. But I don't mind- I like knowing they're there, at least.
In my quest for improvement, I joined the Genesis Awards
forum. Not just a forum where the LTD is done to death, but one where fanfiction writers actually talk about writing. It's amazing what sort of tips you can pick up by reading through old threads. And in getting some in-depth feedback from another member, I realized that, for example, my knowledge of punctuation was not up to standard. (It still isn't. Sigh. Double dashes still look weird to me, wheatear
.) I also started to read a lot more critically- both my own work, and that of others.
It wasn't until Full Circle got nominated (for which abrogate_nadir
gets eternal gratitude!) that I finally got a beta, though. (Ha! Irony!) It was great to have that second critical opinion of my work. It made me a lot more confident about publishing, and I've actually done few retro-edits to Level Up
and Full Circle (Epilogue)
- something I used to do compulsively for the other chapters.
Actually, I'll still be editing- judging is just around the corner, and I want it to be in the best shape possible before it goes before them. I have no idea when I'll start writing again, but I think "Crucible" will be my next project. A short little 5 chapter fic that will require loads of research. Sounds like fun, right? :)