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The Toybox

people for the conservation of limited amounts of indignation


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well, this post went somewhere odd
children of dune - leto 1
seperis
Whoever's prompt I got for svmadelyn's flashfic challenge--okay, I think I accidentally broke that galaxy. This is the problem with being a liberal arts major in a high science fandom. I'm *going* to use Star Trek for my understanding of how the universe works. But I can fix it. Or just start over. Or possibly jsut take another nap.

*rubs forehead* I always say, no more challenges! Then I let CERTAIN PEOPLE manipulate me shamelessly.

Actually, this is a rec post.

Pyretic by Carla - my first slash OTP, my first readable slash, period (I don't count anythign I wrote in second person pov readable, it's *experimental*, and oh God, was I *high*?), St.John/Bobby, though this is more a post-type, and my God, wow. Short and bitter and a gut punch of a fic. I know this isn't what is considered a rare pairing, but man, it is *not easy to find*. But yeah, one good aimless stumble and I was rewarded with *this*, and *this* is worth a million really bad St. John/Bobbys that could have been written if it had been more popular. It's amazing and it's Pyro, pos X-Men II, and it's so utterly knocks-onto-your-ass. I am happy.

Hmm. For a while now, I've been meaning to ask my flist if I'm crazy. Before you respond with a resounding yes, please, *wait*. While working on the last story, my neurotic tendencies to never, ever know where exactly a story is going until I get there was questioned with surprise. Now granted, that poor person hadn't had to audience me much so was really unaware that my idea of method is to take a nap between sections in hope of inspiration.

I'm curious now. Does anyone plan theirs? I mean, when you open Word, do you sit down and say, a leads to b to c to d and I'll arrive neatly at e ready for the Dramatic Climax and there will be sex *here*. Or do you open Word (or your word processing program of choice) and think, you know? I am going to have Rodney walk down a beach. That could happen. Yes. Let's do that. And then eventually, there's a grocery store and you realize, wow, this has a plot, where did that come from? And when you're done adn go back, it was there all along, you just hadn't seen it before?

Because I swear, sometimes I get the vague impression my idea of creativity has a passing resemblance to a psychotic break.

Wait. This is getting long.



For the sake of memory and sanity, I'll use Something More. If you havne't read it, well, you won't have to, because the entire thing will be condensed here.

The only thing I had was Pru's prompt, domestic, which in Pruland means grocery shopping, cooking, and sex, so okay so far. And I had a really pretty stretch of California beach, except California's beaches can't be under private ownership (or so I was told), so I moved to Mexico, since I needed the Pacific for the mythical quality of it having no memory. I am *so cool* thinking of that, except actually that came from the Shawshank Redemption, which led to teh memory of Morgan Freeman wandering down the beach to see the Great Love of His Life (why doesnt' that damn movie have a *fandom*? I would *kill* for good Shawshank fic), which naturally led to Rodney walking, which had some unpleasant prison connotations that kind of scared me (ooh, John in *prison*) or you know, that other word for scared, which is ooh, hot, and then I thought, not this story. Another story. By now, Rodney had seen John and we start the story.

In the kitchen scene, I stopped for a cigarette and to paste to Madelyn and Nonchop and possibly Pru, and all three asked me, almost at the same time, no joke, it's like they were *talking to each other*--why did John leave Atlantis?

My initial response was, and I quote, "No clue."

Around the time I had Rodney trying to pack to run out, Madelyn asked again and I told her "I think it has somemthing to do with don't ask don't tell, but I'm not sure," and she kind of nodded her head and said, "really", and I said, "well, no. But it *could*." And then seh said, what about *this*, and then boom, I had my John-reason, which surprsied me a little, because actually knowing why somethign was happening before I got there was pretty new to me and not a little disturbing. And one of the three asked, what's with Rodney anyway, he's acting really freaky and that's when I read back and said, huh, and then, well, damn.

Which is to say, when it starts, unless I'm writing from a fairly specific prompt, until I actually *get* there, I have no idea. The freaky part, to me, is that i can read back later and see *exactly* when the story knew what it was, and sometimes, it's like *the story always knew* and I was just being dense. Then comes the fun of going back to remove the inconsistencies to follow what turns out to be the theme. And that thing with the psychotic break at the gate was *so cool* because it just *fit* why Rodney overpacked for a two week vacation, though he strikes me as an overpacker anyway. And I felt really smart until I remembered, right, I didn't *plan this*, it just was there.

And I'll be brutally honest and tell you that until around page twenty of Arizona, I still had John as an actual assassin. Which so totally didn't work that it's funny in retrospect when I read it, but in my own defense, *extreme sleep deprivation* going on while writing there and I was trying to finish before twenty four hours had passed, just to see if I could, so really, I think that's a legitimate reason.

And for the record: Rodney had to kill *someone*, and I could not make myself kill Lorne. I just couldn't.

If the very process of observing myself writing didn't completely kill the process itself, I'd love to figure out *why* I do it this way. It's stressful and requires a lot of coffee. And I'd probably have a lot less dormant WIP's wandering through my harddrive.

And just a thought: anyone writing John-and-Rodney in prison yet? I've managed, somehow, in three slash fandoms, to not yet have read a good prison story. I mean, they're locked up by natives all the time. But something with other prisoners and okay, if you're familiar with the show, think second seasonish Voyager with Tom and Harry in that ep. Yes. Like that. That was *canon*, and if there's anything that makes me slightly bitter, it's that one, I wasn't fannish back then, two, not even watching the *show*, and three, not a slasher, becuase wow. Fun.


Sometimes it feels like the stories already reside in my head just waiting for the key to unlock them so they can come spilling out.

I'd love to say I was all organized and always have an outline but that would be fibbing. I'll start with an idea and the stories tend to flow from there. And, sometimes the guys surprise the heck out of me with where they want to go.

Yes! That's--it's like it was there all along, and *you* are the one that's prying it out blind. Sometimes, I get the shape of it, but it's rare I can--consciously format it to what I think I want. Does that make sense? It's already knows what it is, I just have to give it the form to be read.

Okay, so it's *not* just me, this is *normal* and oh God, thank you, yes.

Okay, I have nothing intelligent to say about any of this, though I suspect we've discussed it at some juncture around three a.m. and had the according Deep Thoughts.

My question is--when you read posts of mine, do you like, hear my voice inside your head, like I'm speaking? Because this post, it was like you were *reading it to me*, and I'm sorry, I'm just on the floor right now.

Also, you were not *manipulated*, you were *bribed*. There is a difference.

Also, do you notice her CONTINUING INABILITY to get my name right?

....for what it's worth ....

I plan nothing when I write. Which is why I like questions -- because things start to slot together for me and it either all makes sense or blows up (or both) on me.

... then again, I haven't written anything that required more than one LJ entry in a long, long time.

(and I promise to never, ever, ever, volunteer to beta anything for you again because I am still severely ashamed at what happened. This is me committing public seppuku in hopes of reparation).

Re: ....for what it's worth ....

Um, rerun that last bit for me?

And yes to the top part. But again, second part, what?

I usually do have a good idea. Sort of. I say, "I work with an outline," but what I really mean is that I usually need to know where it's going to start, and where it's going to end. And the middle is this vague nebulous thing that says, in my outline, "and then stuff happens." Or possibly, "And then there's some sex."

*grins* That is always fun to have around. Especially the sex part.

Interesting. So you know your alpha and omega, but not between. Hmm.

John-and-Rodney in prison

You did have to say this right before I went to bed, didn't you. Evil woman! "Do you know how impressionable I am?!" she cried.

I never watched Voyager so I'm not sure what the prison episode was like in style or content; I vaguely recall having heard fans mention it before with a thumbs-up, but that's it.

Whenever I mentally put John and Rodney in prison, Rodney is always at risk of becoming someone's bitch. Then again, John isn't exactly a towering mass of muscle likely to dissuade attempts. We need Ronon to loom, maybe. But to ruin everything, I'll mention that in my most recent prison fantasy, Rodney was rescued from violation by a rough and scarred brute with a surprisingly soft voice and chivalric nature.

This kind of thing comes from watching Beauty and the Beast at an impressionable age.

Wait. I'm still at an impressionable age. I shoud worry, shouldn't I.

I shoud worry, shouldn't I.

I should also spell "should" correctly.

Actually on second thought, I think I know what the gist of that Voyager episode was, and yes, bad touch is always a good thing. If I'm thinking of the right thing. If I'm thinking at all, which is doubtful. It's late.

I do both. Sometimes I get an idea and plan a story around it, and sometimes the idea grabs me by the throat and throttles me.

Those latter ones are always the Lex POV stories. *darkly*

Clark works with me, or can be bribed. But Lex is a big stinking pile of OMG WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?! most of the time. And Luthor is... worse. Luthor made me miss writing SV Lex. A lot.

I think once the character telling the story is decided, that character tends to run the show. Sometimes I know right away, and sometimes it takes some time to figure out who would tell the story better. It really depends on how strong the character voice is for me. In some cases I feel like that particular character is telling me a story, and other times I feel like I am dragging the story out of somewhere vague and scary.

When I write I usually have this scene flash in my head, usually movements, or a place where the characters are, or sometimes a couple of lines of dialog, and I write it down somewhere, usually in short three line choppy sentences like "OMG would Rodney and John fight over ice cream? kiss (????)" or something that only makes sense to me.

Then I sit down, write out one or two scenes, have a freak out, save and close it, forget about it for a week until some day at three a.m. I open it up again and write it all in one go based on the scenes (usually with a complete revamp of the plot or scenes). Then I send it off to the beta, cry about how much I suck, fix it, then post it before I have another freak out and delete the whole thing.

Ummm, so, uh, to answer your question, it sorta has stanges, and my original ideas usually never have anything to do with the final product.

I envy people, really, who can sit down and write story and know exactly where it is going all the time, where the twists and turns are, and what little clues to add along the way. I find it frustrating that I can't write like that.

K. . .

Now, Where'd I put that tinfoil helmet?

You have a camera in my head, don't you.

It'll be easier on everyone if you'll just come out and admit it now, 'cause if you *don't*...then OMG, that's freakin' scary!

Because this is *exactly* how my "fic brain" works...Ask my beta. For my newest story, I'm in the "write out one or two scenes, have a freak out, save and close it, forget about it for a week" stage right now, with the week's time almost up.

So the progression to "write it all in one go based on the scenes (usually with a complete revamp of the plot or scenes). Then I send it off to the beta, cry about how much I suck, and fix it" is rapidly approaching. *g*

Does anyone plan theirs? I mean, when you open Word, do you sit down and say, a leads to b to c to d and I'll arrive neatly at e ready for the Dramatic Climax and there will be sex *here*.

Very, very rarely. I am soooooo disorganised. Which means I don't finish a lot of WiPs. *sigh*

The only fic of mine I an think of where there was any serious kind of planning was the SV fic Predestiny. Of course it's a serious head fuck fic, so you could argue that it didn't need the planning anyway *g*.

Yes. Let's do that. And then eventually, there's a grocery store and you realize, wow, this has a plot, where did that come from? And when you're done adn go back, it was there all along, you just hadn't seen it before?

Yes. Just like that. Possibly the reason why I don't write very much.

Hmmm...I dont if I really call what I do planning exactly....See, what happens is I'm usually in the shower (or some other place without paper or a computer), and I'll have an idea. Just a line someone says, or a scene, and I'll go, 'Oh! That would be so much fun to write! How could I make that work?' At which point I'll spend a couple of days tossing it around in my head, trying to think how it would work and who's pov it would be from, stuff like that.

Then I sit and write some of it, and only the core skeleton will be the same - everything will be different. I'll write in the one or two scenes I have in my head, and just make up everything in the middle. I NEVER know what's going to happen until the end, and I have to admit that I often get the idea from a random comment my beta tells me during feedback (poor girl, I always send her my wips, and she hardly ever gets to see them finished, no matter how much she says she loves them).

So, in answer to your question, a little of both *g* I wrote my thoughts on it a while ago, if you're interested ^_^

Oh! Also, I don't know if you've seen this, but I posted a download link in my lj for that Scifi Channel special that was on a while ago, From Stargate to Atlantis: the Lowdown. Just thought you might want a heads up in case ^_^

As for prison!fic, I have to admit I don't read a lot of it, but there was an interesting torture aftermath fic I read a while back called 'A Better Fate'. The rec is here ^_^

See, what happens is I'm usually in the shower (or some other place without paper or a computer), and I'll have an idea. Just a line someone says, or a scene, and I'll go, 'Oh! That would be so much fun to write! How could I make that work?' At which point I'll spend a couple of days tossing it around in my head, trying to think how it would work and who's pov it would be from, stuff like that.

*waves hands vaguely* Yes, I'm sort of like that. What's sad is when the "how would that work, anyway?" speculations wind up talking me out of writing the story at all :P Like, I had this vague notion once of recasting The Invisible Man with the brothers from My Chemical Romance, and xoverau probably still has the urge to hunt me down and hurt me because I hit this wall, where I determined it needed to be from the POV of the character I couldn't write, and the whole thing imploded.

josselin and I chatted about this not long ago, too, how we're both just fine with suspension of disbelief as readers, but as writers if we don't have at least some vague notion of how the thing hangs together and Makes Sense In Our Heads, we never get anywhere with it. I can't tell you how many story ideas I've lost to "oh, the timeline totally doesn't work" or "no, he's never had time to learn Sanskrit" or some such.

Mind you, it's quite possible this is a good thing for all involved. *snerk*

And this isn't to say I know what's going to happen in the story when I sit down, but the backstory? Is nailed. I don't necessarily have to know exactly where the characters are going before I write, but I need to know how they got where they are to begin with.

I need an outline when writing, or I will meander off into BILLIONS OF LITTLE DETAILS and my fic will go nowhere. Except for when a story Presents Itself, and then it comes as a whole block, without any conscious planning involved.

I'd just like to say that I really like the reason you provided for why John didn't come back to Atlantis. Especially that it didn't have to do with *don't ask - don't tell* thing (I'm assuming that's regarding homosexuality or?). Anyways. Sheppard /Weir dynamics is something I enjoy greatly in the SGA and it makes sense both that she'd have adversaries on this side of the gate as well as that John would do that to protect her.

Also, I have so much, much admiration for the people like you who can think up such fabulous stories.

You know, what's interesting to me is that someone once discribed your writing as circular (I think) in that it starts somewhere in the middle and sort of loops back to the beginning and then continues on to the end. That seems to make sense in conjunction with you've described as your writing technique because you literally do start in the start in the middle and then figure the rest out.

But what I'm curious about is how this sort of development affects your characterization. I mean, by fixing one point in the centre of the story, you've automatically fixed the beginning before you know the beginning. For example, in "Something More", we start with John having been gone for three years with no apparent inclination to come back. So that means that when we continue to the point of where he decided to leave, the fact that he's not going to have any contact with Atlantis for the next three years is fixed. But technically, at that point in time, he doesn't know this yet and must arrive at the decision independent of such knowledge. So when you were writing this, do you think, "Hmm, poor John's going to lose his friends, I wonder how he'd angst" or is it more "Hmm, poor John has to decide to leave, I wonder what he'd do." That is, is each scene in the timeline separate for you in the writing process or are the organically linked so that the beginning is in anticipation of the end? (If that makes any sense.)

I ask because I think both approaches seem to perfectly reasonable and could create take the same plot yet stylize it in completely different ways. And I think in non-linear timelines, it does tend to be the stylization that determines the story (or the flow of the story).

Personally, I do some weird pull out scene with a general idea of how it got there and then figure out where it should go. Then I write all the descripitive bits and try to fill in the plot. I think the approach to writing probably has something to do with how we perceive the writing process. I always feel that you're more of a writer in that you can carry off spontanetity of writing so that the whole dynamic is some interplay of characters and words and emotions which somehow fit into a plot but isn't necessarily about the plot. I mean, I always have some idea of what's going on in my story but I get bored writing the actual action because the story for me is more of a statement of my perception of the characters, of who they are, but I need to understand the storyline because they can only be those people in a situation I believe in.

Or something.

(I blame the fact that it's four am for my ramblingness.)

I never thought of it that way, but I--it mostly *is*. I like to start where things are *happening*. A lot of this is my impatience, but some of it is the sheer enjoyment of watching something unfold around me. I know something happened, and once in a great while, I even have some vague idea of *what*, but it's all about how this thing in the past shapes the future. Kind of.

But it's also something else entirely. When I started writing single pov stories, where I kept strictly to a single character throughout, part of the challenge was to make sure that I could write them *without* that knowledge. It's too easy to foreshadow, and it can be clumsy, and Iv'e never claimed I'm a master of subtlety, so if I don't know, neither do they. And to keep them in the momment itself.

So when you were writing this, do you think, "Hmm, poor John's going to lose his friends, I wonder how he'd angst" or is it more "Hmm, poor John has to decide to leave, I wonder what he'd do." That is, is each scene in the timeline separate for you in the writing process or are the organically linked so that the beginning is in anticipation of the end? (If that makes any sense.)

When it started, I knew Rodney was looking for John, who had left Atlantis for reasons unknown. Until around the fight midway through, I didn't know *why* though I was desperately tossing around ideas, becuase at this point, either Rodney is *going* to confront John with his own reasons why he thinks John left, or he's goign to suspect it, and I couldn't keep him blind forever.

Okay, ti's like--one fo those double sided puzzles? I love doign those with my mother, we both get a kick out of them, and someimes, we do them without hte picture. Yes, I know, masochist. We both know it's going to be something, but we don't get what it'll be until we get pretty into it. There the metaphor ends, but--I love to read. And when I write, i get teh fun of doing both, so I want it to be a mystery to me, too, until it's time to know what happened. John grew out of what Rodney saw--how he reacted, what he did, how he felt. Eventually, I could feel John just as clearly through Rodney. DOes that make sense?

The middle thing--if there was one characeristic of my writing that holds always, it's starting in the middle and figuring things out from there. It's--I want the mystery of the past, and I want to see how it influneces the present, how it shapes teh future, and I want it all now. I think--successfully--I've pulled it off well on a long story twice--once in SV and once in Seven Days, and yeah, tehy both start smack in the middle fo things.

I mean, I always have some idea of what's going on in my story but I get bored writing the actual action because the story for me is more of a statement of my perception of the characters, of who they are, but I need to understand the storyline because they can only be those people in a situation I believe in.

I see what you're saying, but--your method I think may be better. It's like--in the end, every story is the writer saying something specific, or showing up a mirror. Your method seems, to me, to cut to it faster.

Like--what you watn to say is something about the people, who they are, who they are becoming, who they could be? In some way, that *is* the plot, to find out these things? Tha's fantastic. And God, so *satisfying*, to me, than plot-heavy fics. Not that I dont love them, it's just the character-driven satisfy me in a completely different way.

Feel free to ramble forever. I'm seriously crushing on your brain here.

Here's how it works for me:

I am not a writer. It greatly annoys me, but it's just the way of things. I'm a painter. I don't like writing. It takes me *forever* and reminds me that I can't spell for shit, much to my mother's dispair. I do, however, have one of the lowest tolerances for boredom ever, and when I run out of stories to read I tell them to myself in a valient attempt to not become a danger to myself and others. I usually have four or five *very* vivid scenes that play over and over in my head for *weeks* before I write them down, usually just to get them to stop playing in my head because I am bored with them by that point, and almost always one of those scenes is the ending.

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