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What do you think?
...no, what do you really think?
Feel like a little discussion?? 
17th-Apr-2007 04:13 pm
kitty leaf
Well, we've had a few fics submitted and reviewed and all in all, I think things have gone fairly well!

Thanks to our authors and all the reviewers who took time to give feedback.

I really hope you guys will consider submitting something as you work on fics (you are working on fics, right?). And PLEASE consider pimping us to your friends.

Okay, now to the business of the day: We had a poll a few weeks back (remember that?). There seemed to be some interest in discussing writing as well as having some specific writing challenges. So, I thought we would use one to lead us to the other!

So, please *please* join me in discussing the following:

What type of scene is the most difficult for you to write and why? (emphasis on the why) And please feel free to include examples (good or bad) from your own writing if you wish!

Hmm, well, for the moment I'm going to skip the part where my smut muse has decided to up and leave…and I'll say that action scenes are the most difficult for me.

I usually have a clear idea of what I want to happen in an action scene (I can kind of see it in my head), but how to get that on the page in a form that is even remotely coherent and doesn't use the same boring descriptions over and over is really hard! I seem to end up confusing the reader as to who is doing what, and I seem to get bogged down in the details. One fist punch here, then there's movement and Jayne (it's usually Jayne :) is throwing some guy here, and then he's drawing a gun and firing and…

Yeah. It's why my action scenes are short and my action fics are fairly rare. Here's one of the few brief examples of action that I've written:

It was all Jayne said before pushing back his chair to throw a punch at the nearest man moving toward the captain and Zoe. Book was on his feet in an instant, moving to usher the young women behind the bar for safety. He could see the captain taking pleasure in throwing a man across a table, while Zoe kneed another in a particularly sensitive area. Jayne, of course, was now surrounded by three men and thoroughly enjoying himself.

“Preacher, look out behind you!” Jayne called out, while punching one of his attackers in the face.

Book didn’t question his advice. He whirled to see a man with a whiskey bottle raised to strike him. One quick snap to the throat and the man was doubled over gasping for breath. Saying a prayer of forgiveness under his breath, he resisted the urge to help the man. It didn’t take much to resist though, as he was soon ducking to avoid a chair that was thrown across the room.

I think it's one of my better one's because I didn't let it go on long and I tried to keep the details to a minimum, but it still ain't great. (Feel free to critique it if you wanna. No pressure though).

Lately, I've been thinking that writing action is a bit like writing a sex scene. How to describe body parts moving around without getting mechanical about it and still conveying the emotion. I mean really, they're exactly alike! (Jayne would not be at all surprised to hear that.)

And now I'm going to point you to a reference wherein you'll see that I just plagiarized that idea from someone else. I didn't mean to. *head/desk* But the reference is very worth checking out and was provided to me by the lovely lvs2read. It is actually The formula for writing sex scenes by cupidsbow and it's worth a read (although it does contain slash, so there's your warning). I like the ideas she presents though on how to use a few basic structures to get the desired response; namely the Action Formula ("The action formula can be broken down into three parts: a) the action/context ratio, b) show, don't tell, and c) negative/positive build.") The one idea I think I will definitely use when I next try an action scene is for every action a character performs, I should include two descriptive statements to evoke the feeling/emotion of the scene/character. Yeah. That sounds good.

So, that's what's hard for me. Let's hear what type of scene is difficult for you and maybe we can structure some challenges around that, 'kay?

Oh, and feel free to comment on anything I've just said.
18th-Apr-2007 01:27 am (UTC)
Hmm, what is difficult for me are quite a number of things. In no particular order...

1) writing space action sequences. Never having been in space (though I have joined the ranks of space cadets on more than one occasion), I have difficulty showing intense action with multi-ship battles. This was really hit home to me when I attempted a Star Wars novel some 12 years back.

2) writing Zoe to sound like Zoe, Wash to sound funny and River to sound cryptic (with the requisite truth that is only understandable once the story is finished). I also have a tendency to write all Rim worldes the same, hence, my Jayne sounds an awful lot like Mal.

3) writing a story where no one gets injured. I have this sadistic part of me that loves to come out in my fics where my fav character is permanently injured, though never killed, and then goes through the deeply emotional/traumatic recovery. My Xena stories had Joxer and Gabrielle so beat up... My current fic (uh, hello, Muse? You still here?) has my BDH getting hurt.

4) writing a story without romance. I find this hi-sterical given the very real lack of romance in my life.

5) coming up with plausible plots that haven't been done a million times before. I'd love to try having Jayne be a daddy, but it ends up being sickingly sweet and icky. Truthfully, I think he'd be running so fast that you wouldn't see the dust, just the bootprints, until he finally realised that he ain't getting any younger and finally accepts junior, thinking it a hoot to teach him/her how to shoot and scare the bejeebers out of Simon.

6) getting motivated to write. I love the Friday challenges and ideas swirl around in my noggin, but getting fingers to keyboard is difficult. It's a shame that my muse loves early mornings and late evenings for inspiration as that's usually when my body says "sleep now!"

There's likely a slew of more things that plague me, but I can't think of them right now. So, I leave it up to some of my fav writers to keep my engrossed and not let the firelight die. Because, really, that's how the show stays alive for me. And to all of you who write regularly - THANK-YOU!
19th-Apr-2007 12:52 am (UTC)
Hmm, well, we could do something about writing a space battle. Although if we find anyone who has experience with that, it'll crack me up! (the actual battle, not the writing of it).

Coming up with original plots can be difficult. bookaddict43 and I are always talking about the theory that there are really only 7 basic plots in writing. However, the execution is what's the most interesting. But with so much fanfic out there, it can be difficult to get something really original.
19th-Apr-2007 02:04 am (UTC)
What are the seven basic plots?
19th-Apr-2007 02:32 am (UTC)
You'd have to ask bookaddict43 about that. She read some book about it, so she knows. I just like talking about the idea--I'm odd that way.
19th-Apr-2007 06:56 am (UTC)

It's a really interesting theory, that I don't know if I wholly believe in it. But give it a read and see what you think...
19th-Apr-2007 12:48 pm (UTC)
Wasn't this discussed by Plato or someone originally? I seem to remember hearing about it in that context.
18th-Apr-2007 02:59 am (UTC)
For me it's not so much the action scene itself, but the placing of the scene in the narrative in a believable manner. I often have the fight all mapped out but can't introduce it into the story properly and sit for hours staring at it!

I also have the same placement problem with the sex scene, in addition to what words to use. I find myself repeating phrases from previous fics and while the scene might be the same, want to use different terminology.

Like artemis_prime I sometimes have great difficulty not including romance, particularly Jayne/Kaylee, into my story.

And finally...

here's my take on your action scene! Blame it on the fact I've been editing reports all day and am in beta-ing mode! :)

"Fight!" was all Jayne said. Pushing back his chair he threw a punch towards the man closest to the captain and Zoe. Instantly Book rose to his feet and ushered the young women to safety behind the bar. Glancing back he saw captain pleasurably throwing a man across a table, while Zoe kneed another in a particularly sensitive area. Jayne, of course, was now surrounded by three men and thoroughly enjoying himself.

“Preacher, look out behind you!” Jayne bellowed, punching one of his attackers in the face.

Book didn’t question his advice. Whirling he saw a man with a bottle raised to strike. One quick snap to the throat and the man was doubled over gasping for breath. Muttering a prayer of forgiveness, he resisted the urge to help the fallen man and ducked to avoid a chair flying towards him.

19th-Apr-2007 12:03 am (UTC)
I often have the fight all mapped out but can't introduce it into the story properly.

That's very interesting. I can do all the lead in because that's often the most interesting to me, but the scene itself fails. So, does that mean you write/think in action more than...exposition (maybe not the term I want here)?

Hmm, did you look at any of the sex writing references at lvs2read's post? Helpful with the words and stuff at times.

I particularly like the last paragraph of my scene that you tackled. It cleared up all that awkward phrasing I used!
18th-Apr-2007 06:26 am (UTC)

I'm just not any good at writing it. I've got an awesome beta that helps me with my Stargate SG-1 fic and I've actually written a short NC-17 piece in that fandom. But on my own I'm just crap.
19th-Apr-2007 12:06 am (UTC)
Well, check out this post! It has several references for writing sex scenes. They are very helpful, particularly the first three! ;)

Fanfic Resources

I may post this directly to the comm at some point too.
19th-Apr-2007 05:05 am (UTC)
Awesome, thank you! XD
18th-Apr-2007 07:24 pm (UTC)
(1) Sex scenes, especially slash. First of all in general I find it hard to write sex scenes because (a) for me good smut has to find a fine line between romance novel and vulgar, so it is hard to portray sex without falling into either of those category. This leads into my problem with writing slash (well femme-slash in my case) scenes. I often use pronouns, and possessives to make the sex less vulgar by opening up the action from a normal Proper Noun + Verb + Direct Object (in sex scenes often the D.O. is another Proper Noun). In slash however the people are the same gender and thus removing names creates great confusion. So I guess help on ways to soften it other than this would be greatly appreciated.

(1a) Leading up to the sex. All of the sex scenes I write just open in the middle of sex (which is rather ironic because the lead up is my favourite part of smut). I don't particularly no why I can't write it, it's just that bit between haha talking (or I hate you, I'm coming to strangle, and kick you out of this dimension now, which is more often in my case) and having sex.

(1 - ex) I don't have any Firefly smut, I just have Doctor Who (no prior knowledge needed all pronouns here) smut so here is a brief example though (these are the first senctences of the the story): It's wrong, she shouldn't be doing this. She should be yelling with righteous anger instead of pleasure and wants. His hands shouldn't be gripping her hips so tightly that they'll leave bruises, but it feels so good. She should be pressing her heel to the back of another, she should be clutching another to her breast. It isn't though. It's his mouth that sucks and nips at her breast as his hips thrust, bumping into hers as they're carefully established rhythm becomes messy with increasing pleasure.

(2) Referring to who said what in dialogue. Once I start people talking I just want to write "A" "b" "A" "B," and on, but it doesn't read well so then there is "A" She said. "b"He Said. "A" she said, etc. So often I end up editing my dialogue a lot, to be indirect statements with very little actual dialogue. Any help on this would also be appreciated.
19th-Apr-2007 12:48 am (UTC)
good smut has to find a fine line between romance novel and vulgar

Definitely! And it can be really difficult to find that balance. Sometimes I use the good old technique of reading through some scenes that I've found particularly well written and tried out what those writers have done (not necessarily copying, but just emulating their style...yeah, that's it *means it to be flattering and not as evil sounding as it just did*). I like your example from your Who fic. It definitely gives that emotional connection through the action without it being overly descriptive, so I think you've found a good balance there!

I know I've read something specific about the use of pronouns in slash fics, but I can't remember where it was. It does present a problem though!

I might have found it in one of these fanfic resources (also provided by lvs2read). There is a section about writing sex scenes and I've found several of them to be very useful. One of them does discuss the importance of the lead-up to the sex. I think beginning a scene in the middle of the sex can be very powerful, as it emphasizes it as a dramatic point. But sometimes you just want the build to be the dramatic point.

Referring to who said what in dialogue.

I have trouble with that too! I really have to think about coming up with other ways to deal with it (and I find that varying what I write there makes the writing more interesting). Possibilities that I use are:
1) leave off the tag entirely--it works sometimes, but you're right about it not reading so well, particularly if overused;
2) make a regular tag "Jayne, where did you get that?" Mal asked.--I try to come up with a variety of verbs to get away from the standard asked-said combo;
3) Use a separate statement for a tag. I try to combine it with an emotion or action. "Jayne, where'd you get this?" Mal picked up the bottle carefully. -okay, maybe not the best example, but hopefully it makes sense- :)

I'm getting good ideas for some workshop challenges here, so hopefully we'll try something soon!

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