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The Toybox

people for the conservation of limited amounts of indignation


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children of dune - leto 1
seperis
Before anyone actually *says* diva, I'll say it for you. It's unsettling to be this insecure when I'm not even posting stories, because, really, it's just unnatural to feel like I should spellcheck my LJ posts and correct my grammar first, because this is as good as anyone is getting from me right now. Mostly.

Anyway, Child got sick at school again today, so another nap, morning this time, which is bliss, btw, and I knocked off another six or so pages and made the mistake of noticing what I was doing.

I'm thinking about something julad and I talked about a while back, on writing linear and non-linear--or rather, do you do it in order as you go or do you skip around, write the ending, the middle, part of the first part, etc. Because for the first time since X-Men, I'm completely non-linear and I'm not sure why.

I have a theory on why I prefer linear--writing, that is, not how the story is structured. Usually, there's only about four sections of a story I actually want to write. Think on that one and mull the length of Somewhere I Have Never Travelled or Jus Ad Bellum. Both only had about ten or eleven sections between them that I *wanted* to write--usually the turning point bits, or the sex bits, or the turning point in sex bits, or the dramatic bits that also become sex, because, I'll say it happily, I'm porn girl when it comes to my characters--and okay, anytime I get to do a dramatic on-screen death. Not that I don't get enamored of other bits over time while writing or editing them, it's just they are mostly ways to *get* to the Good Stuff that made me want to write the story in the first place. You get the idea there.



Jus was planned out pretty carefully, and with the outline, I could skip around if I wanted to, since I had a specific set of things that *had* to happen to get to the Good Bits. Somewhere was entirely different, since I outlined after the fact to keep up with where I already was while writing, but the same basic idea--I had Certain Things that Had to Happen, and to get to them, to make them make sense to *me*, I had to write the bits in between first, or the Good Bits wouldn't make any sense. It's about context.

I'm really overusing the word 'bits' here, but go with it.

Anyway.

Linear makes sure I don't get bored, as a rule--if I'm still anticipating the writing of the Bit I Want to Write, I tend not to stop or give up. This backfires often, but the other way, writing the Good Bits and then going back to fill in, works even less, though at least it has the advantage of being a hell of a lot of fun.

Anyway, I was being needy and also, strange, and wanted to entertain xoverau. When I want attention, I tend to write snippets. I was speculating with her and amused us both by writing out bits of an idea--just sketching a single scene from the middle. It ended up turning into something that, if you squinted a little (a lot), does in fact resemble a story. And so far, I've been just filling in sections, trying to create a backstory and a front story and everything in between for a single clear scene. Which is, well, odd, because I feel faintly off-center, writing a section that has to have an earlier scene written to give it context or let it make sense. At this point, I have a lot of middle story, a bit of beginning, and so far, nothing more concrete than my head to connect the two, and I'm kind of amused at the idea of an ending that isn't even in existence in my head as a possibility.

I mean, yeah, it's great to write again, don't look a gift horse in the mouth, glass houses and stones, and I'm absolutely thrilled that I can feel it again, but changing my method like this isn't what I had in mind either.

I can see the advantages, though--there is a certain amount of concreteness to it. It's very rare I'll write a section and then delete it. Yes, it happens, but it hurts, so I tend not to do it. Once it is written, it is JennCanon, forevermore, dammit, and that actually does help focus on the end goal--to get there, must have steps a, b, c-e to get f to work the way it is written. It's vaguely like setting up big signposts on the road that say, you go *here* and then *here* and then *here*, which is kind of cool.

Also, and this is the really fun part, I get the scene out while it's still very vivid, before I can overthink it or it starts to get boring, and that really does make a difference.


Now, someone who cares about grammar. And by *cares* I mean, someone who is happiest when mocking other people's grammar problems. You know who you are.

I'm doing a past/present mix, single point of view. For a bit of the story, it'll be present/past/present/past/present/past before I move into strictly present, I think, but strictly within the single pov of the character. I started off using the 'had' conjugation (and I've been out of high school too long that I don't remember what that is called) for the pasts, since it was vaguely reflective from the present time as presented in the story, but this is *not* working, or at least, it's difficult as hell to keep up for multiple pages and it sounds clunky and I keep falling into past tense without thinking about it. Would mixing that and simple past work to get through the dialogue and the action or is that just the most ridiculous thing ever?

And does that paragraph even make sense, or do you need examples and context?

Email or here, feel free to answer. I'm kind of getting desperate. I'm correcting myself every other line, which is just weird.


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Sorry the boy was sick - but glad that you are writing!

*hugs*

*grins* Me too. Even if it is--well. Not as much me as I am used to.

*G*

Oh, bought a CD. Give you two guesses on what it is.

I've written stories that start in the present tense, go into the immediate past and the completed-past, and then jump into the future tense. That is to say, i feel your pain.

A lot of people will tell you to ditch the had-has stuff after the first establishing use of the tense and write the rest of the scene in simple past tense. I don't always like the way that sounds, although it is becomeing standard style and for exactly the reasons you cite.

ie, if you begin in past tense:

Logan remembered that night two years ago at the school's New Years party. He had lurked in the corner, smoking, watching Marie as she moved to the rhythm of the music. An hour passed. As the crowd thinned out he sauntered over to where she was standing.

You'd be grammatically correct to use has/had for each verb that takes place at the party: An hour had passed, the crowd had thinned out, he had sauntered etc. But you don't have to if you find it's clunking up your prose.

Or, starting in the present, you just use simple past:

Logan remembers that night two years ago. He lurked in the corner etc etc etc.

Does that help?

Or, starting in the present, you just use simple past:

*nod* I may have to go with it, really. The original problem came up because of the way I structured each flashback, with the pov character kind of almost-reminiscing, if that makes sense. I may need a new way of introducing to get it to simple past, because the past-past is just *hard*. It's easy to forget to do and after a while, it gets very, very clunky to keep saying "and then he had" for every action or reaction. Plus, the present tense is very immediate and kind of fast, so it feels like it slows down unbearably.

Yes, that was a *lot* of help. And thank God I made sense when explaining it. I re-read my description several times trying to make it make sense.

I agree with brancher. The usual way is to use "had" in the first sentence or so, as a way of establishing that this is essentially a flashback, and then go to simple past tense. It's transparent to the audience.

Whatever you do, don't keep using the "had" method throughout the flashback.

You're trying to use past perfect tense. It can make a story clearer, more solidly set in a specific time setting, but if you goof, it gets really murky really fast. Write me if you want me to look over some text!

(I just offered to beta for jenn. I'm not worthy!) ;)

your new "friends". I came across your writing a while a ago (when you started "how it's gonna be"). I actually got to know LJ and LJ writers through you.
your stories are breath-taking. I only read QAF, 'cause I don't know the other shows. it took me some time to figure how to open my own LJ' and the function of flist,and then I friended you, so I can easily check for new stories. I read the non fiction too, 'cause now I feel like I'm getting to know you. sorry for the long post, I just wanted to let you know how much I love your writing

*squee* And you did entertain me, quite well in fact. I'm excited to watch something like that form.

Also, and this is the really fun part, I get the scene out while it's still very vivid, before I can overthink it or it starts to get boring, and that really does make a difference.

Huh. Nice to know I'm not the only one who loses interest in a scene after i get it plotted out inside my head. I'm starting to learn that my best way of actually finishing a fic is to *not* think about it until I'm writing. Otherwise, I can mentally "write" a fic out in my head, tell myself the complete story and then have no interest in sharing it with others.

Okay, yes, that self-involved blather was brought to you by the letter B (for Boredom). I'd help with the grammar, but...my grammar's all instinctual anyway, and I actually know *nothing*.

Otherwise, I can mentally "write" a fic out in my head, tell myself the complete story and then have no interest in sharing it with others.

That's exactly what I do too... so I get the kick out of knowing where all the pieces fit, but not the boredom of walking characters from point A to point B.

as for the grammar - yegads - it's like trying to describe a scene from 12 Monkeys

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