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08 October 2011 @ 12:02 pm
Furiosity - Please click on the cut below for the interview.

  1. Please introduce yourselves as an author.
I write under the pseudonym "furiosity" though I've also used the pseudonyms "swindleberry", "waldorfred", and "far_dareismai" for specific fests in the past. Most of my fan fiction has been in the Harry Potter fandom, primarily Harry/Draco in addition to a bit of genfic and some rare pairings such as Draco/Blaise and Theodore/Neville. I also write in the Bleach, Kateikyoushi Hitman Reborn, and Gintama fandoms (all anime/manga), though I have not written much in those. Over a decade ago I used to write in the Matrix fandom as well. My HP fiction may be found at a number of fandom archives. I archive the bulk of my work for all my fandoms at my Web site http://www.glass-fairytales.net/
  1. What is writing to you?
I am a storyteller. I have always been one -- I was the girl with the pocketful of imaginary friends. This would get me into trouble because for a long time, things to me were real if they existed in my mind, and I didn't understand why my non-imaginary friends would accuse me of being a liar. I detest lying, since it is one of the things that hurts the most, but it took me a rather long time as a child to work out the difference between truly harmless embellishment and full-on fabrication that can be damaging if people don't know it's make-believe. I had started writing down the adventures of my imaginary friends (and me, of course) in the form of a diary -- that way I could still pretend they happened to me without anyone getting upset. Soon after, I figured out that I was simply writing stories, like the ones in the books I loved so much, and that's when it really hit me: I didn't have to be an old person (aka an adult) or dead to be a writer, and that stories didn’t have to be in books to be really stories. The rest was easy. So, I write to tell stories. It is certainly a hobby in that I do it purely for enjoyment. Nor do I aspire to write professionally -- I used to, but learning a few basic things about the publishing industry turned me off the prospect. If there were a way to just churn out stories and sell them without the need for self-marketing that's required in today's book business, I'd happily sign up, since I have more stories and ideas than I know what to do with and I love to write -- getting paid to do what I love would be pretty awesome. But that's not how publishing works, and my temperament is remarkably ill-suited to how it does work: I'm not a people person (so clearly not a networker) and I have zero respect for people who engage in constant shameless self-promotion. And since I'm not getting paid to write stories, it will obviously remain a hobby by definition. A much-beloved hobby and one I wouldn't give up even if someone offered to pay me to abstain from it. :D
  1. Were you always good at writing? A lot of aspiring writers worry about this the most- if they have enough talent.
I would hesitate to say I am good at writing. I am good at constructing stories and relaying them in an accessible way (that is, my stories tend to follow earth logic, they're self-contained and loose ends are usually tied off, sometimes with bows); I am also a fast writer and, when feeling motivated, can write a lot in a relatively short time: I once banged out 50K in less than 4 days (it was to the detriment of nutrition, work -- took 2 days off -- and sleep, but I was feeling very motivated). I think the reason so many people have liked my stories is not so much that the stories are so great, but because they are consistently not as terrible as the average and there is a variety to choose from. I'm not saying that I think I'm a -bad- writer, mind -- but I think my skill level is just a little bit past mediocre, and even that is because I have spent a lot of time teaching myself how to write well, by learning from my favourite pro authors and by reading how-to books published all over the industry, subscribing to writers' magazines and following agent blogs.
I have moments of self-perceived brilliance, when I write especially funny or poignant lines and am immediately surprised at myself (and then quickly Google the line to make sure it really did come from me and didn't accidentally get lifted from someone else's story), but those are once, maybe twice, per story at best. I have considerable technical skill with the English language and know a lot about technique. Those things make me a capable writer, but they don't make me a good one. We all start somewhere, and for most, that somewhere is a bit south of mediocre. True talent is rare. Persistence and dedication to improving yourself are readily available and renewable resources for the rest of us.
  1. What are your opinions on beta-ing? Have you considered beta reading for others?
I think having a capable beta reader is very important to any fan fiction writer. I think there are too many "beta-readers" out there who act merely as a friendly test audience, or worse, as cheerleaders, which is quite frankly pointless. If you get a story back from your beta and she or he did not have a single critical thing to say about the thing, it doesn't mean you are a genius writer. It means you need to fire your beta and find a better one. That said, the ideal beta is not someone who hates everything you write -- that's just masochistic, since there is no accounting for taste. It doesn't even have to be someone who knows a lot about writing from the technical side; the great thing about reading is that you don't need to know how to write to know if what you're reading is good or not.
I have beta-read for a number of writers in the HP fandom, and for a couple in other fandoms, though many of them never wanted me to beta anything of theirs ever again, because I am ridiculously exacting and nitpicky, and I pull no punches: stories beta-read by me typically come back more red than they are black. I enjoy beta-reading because it lets me work very closely with a text and try approaching it from different points-of-view, which is something I can't manage with my own stories when I edit them, since for all that I am even more nitpicky and exacting when it comes to my own work, I know what I meant when I wrote this paragraph or that, and that is a huge blind spot, since just because I know what I meant, it doesn't mean anyone else will understand. A beta-reader eliminates that blind spot entirely. A thorough beta job takes a lot of time and effort, though, so I rarely beta-read these days.
  1. What do you normally look for in a good fanfiction you'd like to sit down and read? Or, on the other hand, what would completely turn you off from a fanfic?
For me, fan fiction specifically is about getting "more of the same" of the world I fell in love with, be it Harry Potter, Bleach, or any other fandom. I am not interested in people's creative interpretations of the world without a clear grounding in the original -- for example, in Harry Potter, wandless magic is an exception, possible only under certain circumstances. If a story takes the canon instances of wandless (or seemingly wandless) magic and extrapolates a reasonable logic for how it works, I'm all over that. On the other hand, if Harry's casting spells without his wand randomly with no explanation (or worse, the cop-out explanation that he's Just That Powerful), I hit the back button. A fanfic's gotta stay within the bounds of canon for me to enjoy it. The list of things that turn me off is far too long to enumerate.
  1. Just a quick yes/no question- do you normally give critique? Either in the form of reviews, PMs, blogging, etc.
I enjoy giving critique, but I rarely engage in it because in my experience, most people take it personally and can't handle it. I used to review H/D stories recced by the H/D Prophet, years ago, but stopped due to lack of time.
  1. What can you tell us about your writing style? Do you tend to focus on the dialogue, emotion, or description?
I think I have a fairly simple, straightforward writing style. I try to keep a reasonable balance between dialogue, internal monologue, scene setting, action and reflection.
  1. What do you base your writing on? Pure fiction, or your own experiences?
I certainly draw upon my own experience when writing stories about things that I have experience with, but if it's fan fiction, I base it on the canon text first of all, then on my own observations of/experiences with the world, then on independent research.
  1. What do you think is the problem that writers nowadays have most? If you had that problem, how would you try to solve it?
I don't think there is a global problem or set of problems that affect writers en masse. I think in order to provide a useful answer to this question, one needs to have read widely in a given fandom, and that's just not true for me. Most stories I begin reading, I don't get past the first paragraph or chapter, because I just do not enjoy them. But the issues I have with those stories have nothing to do with their writers: I have my preferences and those direct my interest.
  1. How do you become inspired?
I am never -not- inspired, so I can't really answer this question. There is always an idea or seventeen in my head; my greatest challenge is finding enough time to sit down and develop these ideas into stories. If you have to wait for inspiration, you are not a writer: you're a waiter. (I didn't come up with that; it's a paraphrase of an Anonymous-attributed quote).
  1. How do you begin your stories? What do you think an opening should achieve?
I usually start my stories in medias res -- that is to say, in the middle of things. The action begins immediately because nothing is more boring than paragraph upon paragraph of setting description or background history before you even meet a single character. Description and background do have their places, but starting with them is always a bad idea, because people want to read stories about other people, not about how many chairs there were in a certain sitting room and what colour they were, not about the day's weather, not about the character's grandmother's nasty fall that led to an early labour and how it was the reason the character's mother eventually developed a drinking problem. If there's a chair, it's got to be flying at someone's head or at least out a window, and if there's a maternal drinking problem, there is no better way to show it at the beginning of a story than to have the mother appear, drunk, and interact with the character in a way that shows that there is a problem, that there is unresolved tension, that these people are alive and real and will continue to be while the reader is with them. Openings should grab a reader's attention at least enough to make them keep scrolling down the page, curious about what happens next. That's really all there is to it, I think.
  1. What techniques to you use to develop your character/make it believable/move others?
I don't use any special techniques. I try to write characters who behave like real people might (or, to be more precise, like my perception of real people -- since everyone's own experiences colour how they see the world and everyone in it), but I don't -try- to be moving. I respect readers a great deal and so I don't deliberately try to manipulate their feelings. I think the best a writer can hope for is having the reader so involved in the characters and world that they feel echoes of what the characters are feeling without the writer needing to massage artificial melodrama into the narrative. I've never set out to write a story that would "move" people; I think that's pretty pointless, since what moves any one person is deeply individual and depends on a complex multitude of factors. In my observation, most writers who attempt to infuse a particular emotion into their story inevitably fall back on the sorts of clichés that you see in soap operas, and that's just not my style.
  1. How do you write an ending/epilogue? What do you try to do?
I usually write the ending before I write the bulk of the story, because I prefer knowing where I'm going before I get there.
  1. What do you think makes a good plot?
Plot by itself is only the means to an end. A story can have a brilliant plot, but if the execution is poor, the story will be terrible. On the other hand, a skilled writer can take a totally overdone, clichéd plot and make it fresh and interesting. What happens in a story is very important, but it is no less important than how it happens, why it happens, and how it affects the characters in the process (or just in the end). When developing a plot, I stick to outline form and get down the answers to the basic questions -- who, does what, where, with whom, why, how, what is the outcome -- and use those answers to create a logical progression for the story.
  1. What advice would you give to people with a writer's block in the middle of a lengthy story, or lose interest halfway through?
I think if you have lost interest, you need to stop. Trying to muddle through a story that no longer interests you is going to produce a story that is uninteresting to others. No story needs to be written -right this minute- unless it's breaking news.
It's different if you have a detailed outline of the story already set but are having difficulties developing the outline into narrative. I run into this all the time: the story was interesting before all the ideas were still in my head and unconnected, but now that I know exactly what happens, in what order, and why, there is no urgency to get the words out. To counteract this, I find scenes that are particularly interesting to me from a characterisation perspective and begin fleshing them out. In my native language, there is a saying that means something like "your appetite increases as you eat" -- so it is with writing, for me. The more time I spend writing, the more I want to keep writing, and so I am able to move on from the interesting scenes to less interesting ones.
As for writer's block, I do not believe there is a one-size-fits-all solution, because there are as many reasons for becoming blocked as there are writers, and the way it is experienced differs from person to person: some people just freeze up and can't face the blank page (or partial outline), others just don't feel motivated, yet others are able to write but they hate every word of it, and it's never the same; I've certainly experienced various forms of writer's block over the years. The only thing that has worked for me in overcoming it is forcing myself to write whatever I can -- if I can't work on the story I'm supposed to be working on, I go and write an LJ post, or write a completely unrelated story, or write about something I've experienced. Eventually the block snaps and I can get back to the original story.
  1. Any general tips for the either the newly budding writer or just someone aiming to improve their writing?
Read more good books.
Nennenenne on October 9th, 2011 07:06 am (UTC)
Thanks for sharing your thoughts. This is very interesting, even though I now know for sure I'm not a writer.
nandnlunarlunatik on October 9th, 2011 08:23 pm (UTC)
Don't be scared off by me, but you're my no1 writer in the H/D fandom, true fact.

You probably haven't seen me comment on your work before - I do believe I have once or twice for your fest fics, which were wonderful and I knew they were yours - but it's only because I've always felt that saying 'this is brilliant' doesn't do your fics justice, though I certainly do feel that and I've been reading your works for years.

I've read both the shorter and the longer pieces, and I'm in love with your characterisations and the way in which your stories are told. They are not just above average, they are of the highest quality in the fandom. I personally feel that your Draco and Harry are so credible, as characters from canon and as people in general and the fact that they are so consistent in different stories, barring of course crackfics, is what I find the most amazing thing of all. But not just them, you take care with other characters as well, and this gives you an edge which some other writers don't have at their disposal.

It often happens that long after I finish one, your story stays with me throughout the day; I think about how it is developed and told. One of the stories I come back to again and again is Goodbye to Yesterday, because of the completeness in terms of plot, of characterisations and of story-telling techniques. It's a perfect piece of work.

The language you use is economical, in the best sense of the word, and effective. If you think you have 'moments of self-perceived brilliance' only once or twice per story, you are quite wrong, love, trust me, there are more. Your characters and your language usually let me know I'm reading your 'anonymous' work in a fest.

I literally squealed out loud when I saw this interview in the h/d prophet and I read it at once.

Thank you for writing. I've always wanted to say that to you. And no, I'm not a stan. ^^