[sticky entry] Sticky: [Public Post] New community for Go Write!

[community profile] go_write is continuing in a new community -- [community profile] go_write_2017 -- and we'd love to have you join us!

As a community, we've always aspired to be an intimate group, and most of the activity in this community has been private in order to let members comfortably talk about their projects and anything else writing related that they might not want to say to the entire internet.

We've decided to balance this desire for privacy with the need for a membership policy that's not too demanding on anyone, mods or potential members, by creating a new community which will be open to all new members until the end of this month, January 2017.

After January, the community will be active for the rest of the year with a fixed membership, and when posting to the community, members will know who they're talking to and can decide what they want to talk about within that group with confidence that they know who will be able to see it now and in the future.

(We're also going to remove members who join but don't seem interested after joining, which will be measured by participation sometime during a month long period in late February and early March. This is also meant to make the environment more comfortable for those who are interested in participating, because mysterious lurkers are hard to get to know.)

Currently, we're planning to continue doing this each year, so there will be a new community in 2018 as well, which will be open to new members in January of that year. We're hoping that this new model will successfully balance privacy and comfort for all members of the community with an ability to periodically add new members to the continuing community.

Membership in the new community is currently open to anyone who is interested. Whether you're entirely new to us, someone who's talked with us here in our public posts, or an old member who hasn't joined the new community yet, if you're interested in a private writing community please check us out at [community profile] go_write_2017. If you'd like to join, you should be able to just click the join button on the profile page, but if you have any trouble feel free to PM me.

On February 1st, membership will be closed and any outstanding invitations will be canceled, and membership in the new community will be fixed for 2017.
ljlee: (reading)
[personal profile] ljlee2016-08-31 01:21 am

[PUBLIC POST] The joys of research

Hearty apologies for two weeks (I think?) of silence, I've been tired and lazy and overworked. I've also been reading a book called The Art and Craft of Writing Historical Fiction by James Alexander Thom, which understandably spends a lot of time discussing research. It's not a book that speaks to my particular needs; Thom wrote novels about events from the past few centuries, not two millennia ago, so a lot of the materials he discusses just didn't exist in my time period or were lost. Still, his general points about sources and verification are valid for any period, I think, and I'm just happy to be reading advice specific to historical fiction as a lot of the stuff I come across online tends to be geared to speculative fiction.

What role does research play in your own project or projects, given the genre or genres you work in? What do you like or dislike about research? What are some helpful or unhelpful resources and methods?
ljlee: (jz_tears)
[personal profile] ljlee2016-08-16 01:12 am

[PUBLIC POST] Sympathy for the narrator and story morality

Today I revisited this post that discussed why movies like Fight Club and A Clockwork Orange don't really work as stories advocating the author's intended morality while Mad Max: Fury Road does. (Fight Club spoilers and Fury Road plot points at the link.) To cut a long story short, though I think the whole thing is worth a read, the poster who discussed Fury Road had this to say:

The thing is that the narrator is always sympathetic. Intimacy and familiarity breed sympathy. The audience is primed to feel sympathy for the narrator simply because they are speaking more than any other individual character.

No matter how unreliable, or morally dubious you make the narrator, they are still the hero or the story. Every villain is the hero of their own story. And when the villain is the narrator, the audience is hearing the version of the story in which the villain is the hero, and the audience is moved by that perspective.

Do you agree with this? Have you experienced it? The thing is, I'm struggling with this to an extent with my own work in progress. Though the bulk of my story is told from the viewpoint of morally sympathetic characters, I do have major morally gray or evil characters whom the story follows for a while and who have reasons of their own for the atrocities they commit. I'm actually hoping the reasons will be sympathetic, not to justify their actions but to show that it's everyday human beings, not incomprehensible monsters, who commit terrible acts. I'm pretty sure it'll still read as justification to a fair portion of the audience, though. Heck, even Immortan Joe from Fury Road has his defenders, so obviously even effectively written morality won't get through to 100% of the audience.

One way I think (hope) the narrative sympathy effect might be overcome is by showing the full impact of the immoral in-story actions and to give victims more narrative time and weight than the villains, making them and not the villains the protagonists. One way I think that morality in stories fail is when the story agrees implicitly with the villains' logic that their victims are objects to be used and discarded rather than people in their own right, by reducing victims to objects to be ogled rather than agents in their own stories. Maybe the problem with story morality is not that villains get to tell their stories but that the victims don't.

I'm not entirely sure about any of this, these are just hypotheses I'm turning over in my mind and the proof will be in the writing--and more importantly, in the reception. I'd welcome any thoughts on this.
ljlee: (hug)
[personal profile] ljlee2016-08-08 01:20 am

[PUBLIC POST] Characters we know and love (or hate?)

I made a boo-boo last week--I made a public post but forgot to make it, you know, actually public. [personal profile] lookingforoctober pointed out the error but it took me a while to fix it, sorry.

The lecture after the one I discussed in the previous public post made a really interesting point about our relationship to fictional characters. Specifically, the lecturer pointed out that we get to know characters in novels in a way we can't know anyone but ourselves in real life: By accessing their inner thoughts directly, or at least with the potential to. The actual exploration of characters' inner lives can be as immediate as real-time stream-of-consciousness (Mrs. Dalloway), entirely external as though captured by an invisible camera (The Maltese Falcon), or somewhere in between in the form of a condensed narration of a charcter's thoughts (The Great Gatsby, and I think most novels). This, together with the simpler nature of characters compared to real-life people, and the fact that we get to see them in the most dramatic and interesting moments of their lives, makes them in some ways more knowable and iconic than real people.

Who are some fictional characters that have touched you deeply? What is it about them that makes them so interesting?

ljlee: where I work & play (workspace)
[personal profile] ljlee2016-08-07 04:28 pm

[PUBLIC POST] Show and tell?

Note: I posted this last week but forgot to make it public. [/doofus] I've updated the date so it would show up in the timeline. Apologies for the mistake!

I'm listening to an audio lecture called Writing Great Fiction: Storytelling Tips and Techniques. I'm only three lectures in, but it's covering the bases pretty well. The second lecture was about the age-old admonishment of "Show, don't tell," and says that a) yes, showing is generally more evocative and immediate, but b) telling has its place as well. I remember quite a few occasions where editing to show instead of tell made my writing stronger, but I've gone in the other direction as well--simply summarizing an action that wasn't important instead of going into excruciating detail. What's your experience on this front? What are your thoughts on showing vs. telling? Is "show, don't tell" useful advice at all?

Also, I know this comm isn't generally about writing exercises but the end of Lecture 2 had a pretty interesting one if you want to try it: Describe a building, landscape, or object from the point of view of a parent whose child has just died--without mentioning the parent, child, or death.
ljlee: (peach_whistle)
[personal profile] ljlee2016-07-25 01:41 am

[PUBLIC POST] Have you made sacrifices to write?

I had a great time with History Exchange 2016, but it occurred to me even while I was writing for it that I was putting a great deal of energy and time into an endeavor that, practically speaking, had no immediate benefits for me other than personal enjoyment. I spent a lot of time on the Web and pulled a dozen books from the stacks at my school library for research, and even bought a book that my library didn't carry. (No regrets though, it was awesome in its own right.) All this for writing that I would not see one red cent for! Economically speaking, this is madness. I guess that's how hobbies work, though.

Beyond just spending spare time, though, I find myself always figuring writing time into my future plans. I mean, I became a lawyer on the hope that it would give me the financial security and spare time to write, though things didn't quite work out that way. My change in course to academics, while in keeping with my aptitude, was also driven by my constant need to leave some room in my life to write while making a living on the side. In a way it's working out so far: I don't make much money but I do make a decent living while having the flexibility to pursue my impractical passion. As my responsibilities grow, though, I'm going to have to make further choices, and I have a feeling I'll always hold back a part of me to have that space where I can keep writing.

Do you find yourself holding back or making sacrifices, whether of time, money, opportunity and so on, in order to write? Do you think you might do so in the future?
ljlee: (jz_glasses)
[personal profile] ljlee2016-07-22 01:12 am

[PUBLIC POST] Deadlines and other pressures

I am heartily sorry for skipping the public post last week, I was writing a story under a deadline and the weekend has been a blur. To make up for it I'll write two public posts this week.

So, to turn my excuse into an actual discussion subject, do you do well with deadlines and other types of pressure when you write fiction? How does it help you? How does it hurt? Do different kinds of pressure work differently on your writing?
ljlee: (peach_whistle)
[personal profile] ljlee2016-07-10 11:57 pm

Travel and writing

I'm not much of a traveler. I am abroad right now but that was for work, and now that the conference where I was an organizer is done with I'm doing what I like best--chilling in my room (hotel in this case) with nothing urgent pressing down on me other than getting on a plane tomorrow and maybe doing some gift-shopping. It's not that travel is devoid of pleasure for me, I just don't actively seek it out and I dislike the exertion and uncertainty.

Travel has been a central subject of a lot of great literature, though, and it's sometihng I have a hard time grasping on an emotional level. Mostly I find myself thinking, wow, how dangerous and difficult. Why would anyone inflict all that hardship on themselevs? Sometimes I wonder if I'm missing out as a reader and writer by being so indifferent to the thrill of travel (or if there is a thrill, it's mainly that of fear that something will go wrong). Then again, many famed literary travels (Fellowship of the Ring, Grapes of Wrath) were compelled by circumstances so maybe I'm on to something here.

What's your personal relationship to travel? Do your travel experiences or lack thereof affect your writing? Can you think of some travels in literature, fiction or non-fiction, that have influenced you or seemed particularly good or bad?
ljlee: (relaxed)
[personal profile] ljlee2016-07-02 12:24 am

[PUBLIC POST] Books you'd like to see adapted

I am back from my travails and, as promised, here is my make-up public post for last week.

Let's try something a little different: Are there any books, fiction or non-fiction, that you would like to see adapted to other media, like a movie, TV show, or game? If you want, feel free to add more detail. Why do you think this story would be good for that medium? What might some of the difficulties be? Do you have ideas about how to make the adaptation work? Any thoughts about who might play the characters?

One book I can think of off the top of my head is Idylls of the Queen by Phillis Ann Karr. It's an Arthurian murder mystery starring Sir Kay, who has to solve a murder to save Queen Guinevere who is accused of the act. A surly Kay and jaded Mordred make a great, entertaining detective duo, and Morgan Le Fay plays a prominent and spirited supporting role.

This is one of very few modern works of Arthuriana to star Kay, my favorite Knight of the Round Table. I love the way Karr portrayed his character, a decent and flawed man who makes sharp, wry observations of some of the worst aspects of Arthur's court. With Arthur, Guinevere, and Lancelot almost totally absent the other characters get to shine, and Karr captures the feel of a medieval court in a way I've never seen in the genre.

If I ever write a movie script I would like to adapt Idylls. Some of the snippets I loved from the book play out almost like a trailer in my head:

- The murder victim leaning against Kay at table and Kay being irritated at the intrusion until he realizes the man is dead;

- A hard-faced Kay telling Mordred, "Get out of the water and arm yourself." (Or something along those lines. Don't have the book on me.)

- Kay confronting Morgan Le Fay about her attempts to reveal Guinevere;

- Kay and Mordred dueling in thigh-high water, throwing up splashes as they hack at each other;

- Mordred screaming in rage and pulling a dagger from a tabletop to lunge.

As for actors, I have no idea. Probably some obscure method actors with theater backgrounds.
ljlee: (muzi_determined)
[personal profile] ljlee2016-06-29 12:48 am
Entry tags:

[Public Post] Crunch time

To members and non-members: I'm aware I've missed last week's public post. I'm about to put a major RL milestone to bed once and for all (yeah, seriously mixed metaphor there) and won't be able to give any post the time and attention it deserves. But! This Thursday I will be free, free, free, baby, and will make up for both the missed public post and make a late check-in post behind the membership wall. Sorry for the irregularity, and if any member would like to do a public or check-in post in the meantime that would be great, too.

So that's where I am. How was your week?
ljlee: (hug)
[personal profile] ljlee2016-06-19 11:27 pm

[PUBLIC POST] Writing for others

Hi everyone! I've passed a major RL milestone (defending my thesis) and have started working on a history fic exchange. I found a wonderful source on my assigned character and am having a lot of fun reading about that time and age. I've only worked on one fic exchange before but enjoyed that one, too, and I think I liked the gifting part even more than being gifted with a fic in return.

One of the things I liked about the fic exchange experience was that it wasn't in my comfort zone and forced me to stretch (I wrote about that experience here), and with this prompt I am similarly challenged to research and think about a historical personage I knew nothing about, and to immerse myself into an unfamiliar era and way of thought.

Have you ever gifted a story to someone else, whether in a formal exchange or because you were inspired by, or dedicated a story to, someone? Have you, or do you plan to, write a character inspired by a real-life person? What was the experience like? How is it different from or similar to writing for yourself?
ljlee: (reading)
[personal profile] ljlee2016-06-13 09:48 pm

[PUBLIC POST] Tor.com seeking submissions, new On the Premises short story contest

This is not your regularly scheduled public post, but I decided to post calls for submissions that recently came to my attention in case it's useful for anyone, and to make it public because it may be useful for our non-member commenters as well. Members, if you'd like to discuss these submissions privately with others feel free to start a new thread locked to members. Also let me know if these kinds of posts are helpful, because if so I'll try to do them more regularly.

Tor.com is seeking science fiction/fantasy novels to publish

For this month only Tor.com is reviewing manuscripts of 20K-40K words (they keep switching between "novella" and "novel" so it's a little confusing), including from new authors. They are accepting manuscripts from the four categories of time travel, space opera, near-future thriller, and cyberpunk, though they may switch up in the future. Deadline is June 30, so this is mainly applicable for those who have complete or near-complete manuscripts unless you write very, very fast.

New On the Premises short story contest

On the Premises, the short story contest zine that periodically publishes stories of 1K-5K words based on prompts I've been rejected twice maybe third time's the charm?, is running a new contest with the prompt "Darkness." If you can use the concept of darkness meaningfully and originally in a short story, go for it! Deadline is September 2.
ljlee: (muzi_grin)
[personal profile] ljlee2016-06-13 02:06 am

[PUBLIC POST] Positive Feedback!

As promised, this week we discuss the flip side of last week's post, positive feedback about your writing. What are some memorable compliments you have received? How was it helpful? When is a compliment less helpful, though still no doubt appreciated? How do you give positive feedback? What effect does positive feedback have on you? Feel free to discuss these or related subjects in the comments.
ljlee: (muzi_glum)
[personal profile] ljlee2016-06-05 06:05 pm

[PUBLIC POST] Criticisms of your writing

To members: Sorry I completely forgot about this week's midweek Open Chat. I was going to space it out from the last one, and then I got absent-minded, and now it's a bit too late. I'll resume next week, and schedule a post in advance so I don't forget.

To everyone: Let's talk about criticism, specifically criticism of your writing. Some questions to get you started:

- How do you generally respond to negative feedback?
- What's a piece of critical feedback that was painful to you?
- Did criticism help you, and how?
- What was an unhelpful piece of criticism?
- Have you make any changes in response to negative feedback?
- What do you think constitutes helpful negative feedback?
- Giving criticism can be as tricky as receiving it. Do you have any techniques for giving effective criticism?

Feel free to answer one or more of these questions, or to relate any other anecdotes or thoughts about critical feedback.

We'll cheer ourselves up next week with the flip side of this post, positive feedback, so stay tuned for that!
ljlee: bam bam (headdesk)
[personal profile] ljlee2016-05-24 12:54 am

[PUBLIC POST] The distraction called life

What's the biggest real-life hurdle to your fiction-writing? Is it lack of time from school or work, family obligations, health, or is it an internal problem such as lack of motivation or inability to manage time? I suspect that for a lot of us the answer is some combination. Feel free to discuss in as much or as little detail as you'd like, and members, remember this is a public post!

I have a fairly major deadline coming up this week on the same project (the thesis for my degree) that has stymied my fiction-writing progress for months now. It's not like I spend every waking moment on the thesis, but I do find it hard to find the presence of mind to work for any length of time on the story other than daydreaming and turning things over in my head. Now playing Candy Crush (Saga because I am an old fogie) and wasting time on Tumblr, that's where it's at.

I think this is one of those things that I have to power through to come out on the other side. And I do have a lot of affection for my thesis and want to get good results. After months of difficulty I finally think I can make a meaningful contribution and want to make it the best work I can. So the novel will have to wait a little, but I certainly won't be sorry to be done with the thesis so I can get some writing done on my fiction projects, including the novel and some long-dormant fanfics.
ljlee: Lee Yo-weon during a break in the filming (deokman)
[personal profile] ljlee2016-05-18 01:13 am

[PUBLIC POST] Song or verse for atmosphere?

Edit: I think the original question was too difficult (it was hard enough for me, that should have been a sign) so let me broaden the question: What kind of music, and possibly poetry, do you feel suits the overall mood of your project or setting? Or what kind of music do you like for writing to in general? The original post is also below so feel free to answer that one if you can think of something.

This one's inspired by a conversation from the previous week's post where [personal profile] inkdust mentioned a couple of lines that expressed her main character really well. That got me thinking about a quote that fit my character or story. So I cast about a little and found this from the Dao De Jing:

For only he that pities is truly able to be brave;
Only he that is frugal is able to be profuse.
Only he that refuse to be foremost of all things
Is truly able to become chief of all Ministers.
To me this expresses her arc fairly well, although it can also sound like boring moralizing and could be problematic for a female character. Not that my heroine is a self-effacing saint, but she does find herself achieving things she never imagined by laying down some of her desires and ambitions for compassion and decency. Let's see if I can manage that process without being moralizing or misogynistic. The whole Dao De Jing is interesting in this way, extolling the seemingly passive and traditionally feminine virtues in a society that prizes the direct and masculine.

What about you? Is there a line, or verse, or song that would express some aspect of your character or story?
ljlee: (peach_moved)
[personal profile] ljlee2016-05-13 01:10 am

[PUBLIC POST] Inspirational quotes and advice

Do you have any quotes or advice, whether directly related to writing or not, that you find uplifting, thought-provoking, or otherwise helpful in your writing?

I'm a bit of a quotes hound, and lately I found this bit  from an interview to be inspirational for my own project:

I believe fiction is also a kind of history. Even historical sources from modern times and later may consist of constructed documents, and sometimes fiction may tell the truth better than truth itself.
- Jong-il Rah, Professor Emeritus at Gacheon University and biography author

This gave me a big confidence boost because I'm writing about a real-life figure who lived too long ago (1st century B.C.) and about whom too few sources remain to write a proper biography. I fully acknowledge my project is a novel and not a biography, but it's heartening to think that I'm telling the story of my heroine's life in my own way.

Here's another part from the same interview that resonated with me:

The greatest injustice is to silence a person. . . . The elders used to tell me, if someone dies without having their say their untold story will return to haunt us. The North Korean regime [which executed former second-in-command Sung-taek Jang, the subject of Professor Rah's biography] might have thought they could erase a person's being by killing the body, but the past doesn't disappear like that.
- Jong-il Rah

There's something comforting about the thought that stories are durable across time and will outlast the destruction of bodies, evidence, and last words. You can steal the breath from a person but not their words; their words will be freed of their confines and float on the winds of the world until someone hears their music and breathes them into life again. In this way stories, no matter how crushed and silenced, will swirl around and around until they are heard. I would like to believe this is true.
ljlee: (dance_muzi)
[personal profile] ljlee2016-05-04 12:21 am

[PUBLIC POST] What's a non-writing skill useful for writing?

A lot of us spend time working on the practice and theory of fiction-writing. But are there skills that don't have to do directly with fiction writing that are nontheless helpful? I've heard of art being useful to writers, for instance, and a musician I know is guided by her musical skills and inspirations when writing. I know another writer who's also an actor, and have heard anecdotally of actors making good writers. Andrew Robinson, who played Garak in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, wrote the novel A Stitch in Time about his character's background that I found wonderfully moving and evocative, not to mention great world-building of Cardassia. I can see a direct connection there between the two skillsets since acting is about expressing characters, like much of writing is.

While I am not an actor, I found my experience playing and running roleplaying games highly useful for understanding characters and keeping track of storylines in my writing projects. Roleplaying has also given me a perspective of stories not as something that comes from me but from the characters' own motivations and interests. When it comes down to it I have to inhabit these characters and play them, an ethos that I apply to writing as well.

Are there non-writing skills or experiences that you find useful for writing? Have you observed others using different skillsets when writing?
ljlee: where I work & play (workspace)
[personal profile] ljlee2016-04-26 05:08 pm

[PUBLIC POST] Tools of the trade

What do you write with? What's your workflow like? Is there particular software that you like to use for certain purposes, or do you prefer writing in longhand and transcribing to a computer later on? Has technology affected your writing process in any way?

I have a mix of processes. Generally I like Scrivener for its ability to organize snippets of writing and to keep all my research in the same place, but its lack of mobile options means I use Evernote a lot when I'm away from my computers. I'm also fond of longhand writing when I'm in libraries and on public transport. This means I have a lot of scattered notes and bits in different places, all of which I swear I'm going to transcribe to my Scrivener project someday.

A major boon for research purposes is Zotero, a citations database program where I can organize my citations and take extensive notes, with search and tag functions available for later reference. Like Scrivener via Dropbox and Evernote it's all synchronized online, meaning it's automatically backed up and available on whatever machine I log into.

The availability of cloud and synchronization technology like Dropbox, Evernote, and Zotero made things easier in some ways and gave me peace of mind in the form of automatic backup, but I also have a lot of paper notes that are one careless placement or a house fire away from getting lost forever. Better get to it, I guess.
ljlee: (kira)
[personal profile] ljlee2016-04-17 03:51 pm

[PUBLIC POST] Let's talk fandom!

All right, the weekly open posts are back! This week let's talk about our fandom obsessions, or just works that we really like. Here are some possible discussion launchers, but feel free to ignore some or all of them and add your own:

- What are some of your favorite works?
- Were you or are you involved in fandom?
- How did your favorite works or fandoms influence your writing?

Go to town, folks!