vr_trakowski: (metaphor)

This is very interesting!  http://unuttered-questions.tumblr.com/post/155605282181/gingersnapwolves-transcthulhu-dabe-strudel

As a (white, straight) writer, I’ve found myself becoming more aware of my characters and how I create them over the years--due in no small part to Tumblr and its like (never let it be said that online activism doesn’t have an effect).  And I’ve found it goes both ways for me.

For instance, I’ve got a original/non-fanfic story going where I started out with two white main characters.  And when it finally dawned on me that there was no reason they had to be white, I took another look at them both.

My heroine, the focus of my story--she was easy to change.  Her characterization was very fixed in my head, but I could alter her race without issue (helped along, certainly, by the fact that it’s a fantasy world and she doesn’t have to be a minority as such).

My hero--not so much.  For whatever reason, my brain simply would not let me alter him.  He was short, white, and blond, and the moment I tried to change that, it killed the story dead.

I have no idea why.

So I changed the heroine and her city and her culture, and probably improved the story thereby.

The same thing happened a few years ago during NaNoWriMo; I changed one character's appearance--not even his race, just his height and hair--and the story was dead in the water.  It's weird. My brain is a mysterious place.

vr_trakowski: (write)
Sixteen years ago, give or take a day or so, I posted my first fanfic.

Fandom’s really always been a part of the Internet, but in 2000 it wasn’t as organized online as it is now.  Fanfiction.net existed, but it wasn’t yet the go-to source for fic; stories were mainly hosted on individual fan-run sites, and bulletin boards were the order of the day.

I’d been a fan long before I knew what fandom was, but my venture into Prey was only my second attempt at online fandom as a social thing.  I’d read stories for Space: Above and Beyond and sought out factoids about the show, but I didn’t participate in the community, as such.  In the Prey fandom I found a small but welcoming community willing to speculate endlessly about the universe of the show and how the plotline might be resolved (second-worst cliffhanger ending ever, I swear).

And there were writers.  Not many, because even in its heyday Prey never had a huge following, but there was fic.

I’d been writing fanfic for years for my own pleasure, but for the first time I really wrote a story, or the beginning of one, rather than isolated scenes.  And I took my heart in my hands, and gave it over to be posted (thank you, Joxer!).

I don’t remember, any more, exactly what I expected.  I don’t think I hoped for anything more than a lukewarm response–it was my first attempt in the fandom, after all.

Sixteen years ago exactly, I got my first review.  And then another, and another.  And I was stunned.

They loved it.

It was alchemy.  It was magic.  It quite literally changed my life.

Because of the Prey fandom, I had the courage to write for U.C. Undercover, and then Firefly and Law and Order: Criminal Intent.  And then I hit CSI and GSR, and never looked back.

The Prey fandom presence online faded away, as so many do, and the message board has gone the way of most such outmoded sites.  But I remember.  J.K., I have no idea where you are now, but yours was the first e-mail I got, and I have it still.  Every so often I re-read it, to remember the thrill and the joy of knowing I got it right.

In honor of this, and to remember, I’m reposting that story.  It was online for a while, but then I took it down when it was turned into a hard-copy ‘zine.  Apparently the press that published is no longer active (the site’s still up, but nobody’s home?) so I doubt anyone will object. Skein is now up at AO3 and will be posted at FF.net as soon as I can get the latter to behave is finally up at FF.net argh.

If you choose to read it, and I don’t suggest you do so unless you saw the show, please be kind.  I do like to think my writing’s improved over the years, and I had to seriously resist the impulse to spruce it up in places.

Thank you, Prey fandom.  You showed me that my work had value; more, you proved to me that I did actually have a gift.  1.5 million words later, I am a writer.

(Also, I have a thing for emotionally damaged half-aliens and the women who save them, but we knew that already.)


Feb. 18th, 2016 10:54 pm
vr_trakowski: (metaphor)
I’m thinking of porting more of my stories from FF.net to AO3--not removing them from FF.net by any means, but AO3 is more user-friendly and I’ve had people ask in the past for a way to get multi-chapter stories all at once. 54 on AO3 versus 208 (good grief!) on FF.net--I’m not counting that last Advent trainwreck because I didn’t put those on FF.net. But I don’t know as I’d move all of ‘em; some never got read as far as I know, and there’s a few I’d prefer to ignore (the first effort in any fandom can be embarrassing).

The trouble is what to choose--and how to do it. AO3 has an import feature but FF.net won’t work for it, which means I’d have to do all 40 chapters of HttM, for instance, one at a time. Now, it is a good opportunity to fix the little errors that do creep in, but it’s going to take time and fiddling, and I’m six months behind on my Website, and trying to write, and, and.

Maybe I can just do them very slowly. It’ll confuse anyone following me on AO3, though. And is it even worth it to do all that CSI stuff? As far as I know, GSR was pretty much fading by the time AO3 really got off the ground. I don’t think there’s much of a presence there.
vr_trakowski: (write)
Cut for self-indulgent musing.  )

Those of you on the storm track, hatch your battens, bat your hatchings, and keep your heads down.  I'm staying home to guard my books. 
vr_trakowski: (Default)
Cut for self-indulgent musing.  )

Those of you on the storm track, hatch your battens, bat your hatchings, and keep your heads down.  I'm staying home to guard my books. 
vr_trakowski: (Default)
So I've been rewatching Space: Above and Beyond for the first time in years, and the first time since I got the DVD set.  It's interesting to see what I remember and what I've forgotten, and it's still an outstanding show even if the computer special effects haven't aged well.  And I still have as much of a crush as ever on Cooper.  

There's something else, though. 

Back when I was living in England, in 1997, one of the four channels I got on the TV in my room started showing S:AAB, and I started watching it--more out of desperation than anything else.  I'd refused it the first time around in the U.S. since I didn't want to watch a military show, but with just the pilot I was hooked.  

I watched each episode greedily and even went to the length of going to Bristol to buy a used VCR so I could record some (no small expense for me at the time).  The movie rental place in Bath actually carried the first episode on tape, though that was the only one they ever had, and I watched that too.  I picked up some of the spin-off novels and novelizations and kid's books and graphic novels for the show--yes, they existed, but possibly only for the British fans. 

And I was disappointed.  Most of the plotlines/writing were terrible, and never rose above mediocre.  I thought to myself that I could do better.  Mind you, at the time my exposure to published fanfic was basically nil, and while I did eventually write a little, I was more focused on doing a better job at novelization than the official writers had. 

So I started with the first episode I had on tape, which was "Hostile Visit".  I spent hours rewinding in increments to get the dialogue down, and I wrote it out slowly, describing the action and interpreting the facial expressions.  I even threw in a bit of supposition here and there, to make it more interesting.  I got about three-quarters of the way through "Choice or Chance" (maybe more) before I went home.  

(Side note: I took the tapes with me but of course they wouldn't play in the U.S. machines.  I left before the station had broadcast all the episodes, and had to wait over a year before someone reran it in America.  Argh.  It was not released on videotape here.)  

Before I left, though, I started exploring the fledgling Internet for fandom information, and found a S:AAB fansite with fanfic.  And they accepted my novelization of "Hostile Visit".  When I got a FF.net account, I put it up there too.  

It's still there.  It dates back to before FF.net allowed italics, so I used asterisks instead.  *eyeroll* 

It's fascinating to watch the episode and hear my own phrasing rising in my mind.  I've certainly improved as a writer since then, there are bits that make me wince, but it's been ages since I actually read it and I'm astonished that I could recall things at all. 

Oddly enough, I'd like to clean up the posted version and settle one or two words that were ambiguous on videotape but clear on DVD (there's at least two I got flat wrong).  I'd like to finish "Choice or Chance" even though the audience has to be about nil now.  But I'm afraid to mess with the FF.net version because that might pop it back up to the top of my fic list, and that would just confuse people. 

I wonder where I put the hard copy...  


Apr. 3rd, 2012 08:15 pm
vr_trakowski: (Default)
Comment to this post, and I will list seven things I want you to talk about. They might make sense or they might be totally random. Then post that list, with your commentary, to your journal. Other people can get lists from you, and the meme merrily perpetuates itself.

[personal profile] phdelicious kindly provided the following:

Dreams--I enjoy them, as long as they're reasonably pleasant.  I have recurring landscapes in my head, including an entire mall that I revisit from time to time, and my sleeping brain also has an obsession with elevators (they rarely move in just one dimension) and, of all things, parking garages (no idea).  I have obsessive dreams about trying to get to a store to buy scones and clotted cream.  And nearly all my dreams have crowds of people I don't know.  

Writing--What I do for fun, as anyone who's reading this should know.  :P  One of my two-point-five talents.†  Actually, it's not writing in the strictest sense most of the time; it's typing.  My handwriting is awful; I deliberately cultivated sloppy writing as a child, in a reaction to my peers dotting all their "i"s with hearts, but even now writing clearly requires effort and my mother theorizes that I have a learning disability.☎  

Pets--The stuff of life.  I can't imagine growing up without them!  Five cats, two dogs, three rats, five guinea pigs, a gerbil, a turtle, and countless fish.  Never let your father name the gerbil--Alphonse, really?  And sometimes the nicknames are more fun than the formal ones--there was Squippy, Jack the Nipper☂, the Fluffbomb, the Calorie Pointer, Rupert, the dog we named after my great-aunt--and mustn't forget Mom's previous cat, whose given name was Saufie.  It stood for Smart Ass Under Foot.  Which she most definitely was. 

Fairytales--Practically infinite resources for the imaginative.  Even the most familiar and worn-out of tales can be refreshed into something new--take the concept and run with it, invert it, flip it inside out and dance with it.  Check out those from other cultures, and see what's the same and what's different.  Confound expectations.  Play.☛ 

Monuments--I am rarely impressed by them.  I saw Mount Rushmore and wondered why anyone had spent time on that. 

Vacation--I keep thinking about taking a week off to get stuff done, and then realising✈ that I'd probably just sit around and amuse myself on the computer, and get nothing accomplished... 

Laughter--To be expected, when my family gets together.  We love to laugh.  Sit us down to eat, and the puns start flying; leave us there long enough, and we begin uniting efforts to make my mother crack up (by no means an easy task).  This can be somewhat daunting to guests.  As [personal profile] jeanniemac stated long ago, "Dinner at the [name redacted] cannot be described; it can only be experienced."§ 

†Reading, and I throw a decent pot with some practice. 

☎I really predate the focus on learning disabilities.  I'm not at all convinced she's right, and if I do it's quite minor, but it's true that I can't do much of anything that requires fine motor control in the fingers. 


☛The recent upsurge in fairytale TV amuses me, and I admit to being a fan of OUAT, but that ain't exactly quality stuff.  Try
Castle Waiting (thank you [personal profile] cincoflex!) and Robin McKinley if you want the good crack.  Or even Charles deLint, though his quality wobbles all over the place. 

✈Still stuck between American English and British English.  Sigh. 

§We hand out magnets if they don't run screaming.


Mar. 27th, 2012 10:59 pm
vr_trakowski: (Default)
The trouble with writing romance is I haven't kissed anyone in over twenty years and didn't enjoy it much when I did.  I can fake it decently, but sooner or later one runs out of reasonable adjectives. 

Oh well, I write a mean spacewalk when I put my mind to it.  
vr_trakowski: (Default)
Much as I adore and depend upon [personal profile] cincoflex, I am heading into the wilds of a fandom she does not share.  Since the muse is seeing fit to grace me with another OUAT fic, I'd like to have someone take a look at it before I slap it up; unbeta'd posting tends to make me nervous. 

Anyone feel up to dealing with my florid prose and telling me if it's in character?  I doubt this thing will clear 2500 words. 



Feb. 5th, 2012 07:42 pm
vr_trakowski: (Default)
Snabbled from [personal profile] cincoflex  and I don't know who all (with a slight modification)...  

Post the first sentence (or three) from every WIP you're currently working on, even if it's very short. Then invite people to ask questions about your WsIP. With any luck, the motivation to take that WIP one step closer to completion will appear as if by magic!

I'm not working actively on so much these days, though my muse is apparently not done with the HP universe.  I'm throwing a couple of these in for fun and they're not all first sentences.   But if anyone wants to comment, feel free. 

Cut for tidiness... )

Separately, it has been gently pointed out to me that I've been less than gracious in my responses to folks' enthusiasm about my venture into HP fandom.  I do apologize!  I didn't expect anyone to be interested, but that's no excuse.  

vr_trakowski: (Default)
I think I'm done.  *boggle* 

Somewhere around 22,000 words, I estimate, and by no means finished--there's polishing and rearranging to be done--but the storyline is wrapped up.  The plot emerged on the third try and then attempted to strangle me, but I hammered it into submission.  

I still find this completely bizarre. 

Also, would someone please tell my muse that not everything mixes well with Labyrinth?  Thanks.  *eyeroll*  

vr_trakowski: (Default)
First it was "Oh hi, write this plot in a universe you barely know and don't really fan at".  Fine, eventually she convinced me, and I got into it fairly well. 

Then a couple of days later it was "Hey, that one's a bit heavy-handed, write this too!"  Gah.  I can do that, but I usually get a little more time. 

That was yesterday.  This evening, it's "Nah, that's too convoluted.  Have a third idea." 

It's not that I don't agree with her.  I just wish she'd bloody well slow down.  



Jan. 1st, 2012 11:16 pm
vr_trakowski: (Default)
Sometimes I could kick the muse out the window.  I'm writing Harry Potter fanfic, heaven help me.  No, I'm not going to post it, it doesn't even have a plot--it's just a couple of concepts I wanted to work through, including a perfectly logical reason Snape could survive the events of Deathly Hallows without violating canon.  

But still.  HP fic.  Me.  Over 3,500 words since last night.  It's not as bad as that PotO stuff, granted, but... 

Send help.  Please. 

vr_trakowski: (Default)
A few nights ago I dreamed about Prey*, so I pulled out the show to watch again.  Parts of it haven't aged well and the science is shaky, but the writing is good, the characterization and acting is terrific, and I am happy to enjoy Debra Messing's† (redheads!) and Adam Storke's beauty and the occasional shot of Vincent Ventresca in loud boxers and nothing else.  :P 

The series ends dangling at the end of a frayed rope, with two characters on the run, one drugged unconscious, and one captured and subjected to one of his worst fears. 

And that's where I came in. 

I wrote fanfiction, off and on, for quite some time when I was young, though I had no idea what it was.  My first brush with the idea came when I began reading Star Trek novels, but those were all commercially published; the first time I ran into the not-for-profit fan stuff was when I got hooked on Blake's 7 and started poking tentatively around (this was before the Internet really took off, so it was all printed fanzines).  Unfortunately my naive self came smack up against catalogs of Blake/Avon slash and ran squeaking, and that was that, until I started watching Space: Above and Beyond in Bath§ and found an early fan site.  

The only S:AAB fic I ever completed was a novelization of the episode "Choice or Chance", but I had fun reading for a while, though there wasn't much available then.  And then I watched Prey, and was left--like the other fans--with the terrible ending and a burning need to solve it.  At this point I can't remember what motivated me to actually post instead of just writing to please myself--I hadn't posted "Choice or Chance" online yet--but I did, throwing up roughly 18,000 words☂ that solved the cliffhanger (and began my own particular pattern of people rescuing themselves) but didn't actually end, per se. 

And I was absolutely stunned by the response. 

The Prey fandom was never that large, but it was my first fandom community, as it were, and they loved my humble effort.  I was floored.  Oh, I thought I wrote tolerably well, but it was the first time I had validation from someone who wasn't a teacher, or family.  It was a generous outpouring of praise for an unbeta'd first-timer...and I was hooked.  *grin*  

Over the next year and a half I squeezed out three more parts, each one almost as long, ending up with roughly 66,000 words of story.  Compared to some of my later efforts this seems paltry, but to me at the time it was an epic.  And I fixed it.  I solved some of the riddles, I answered some of the questions, and I gave the characters a much better future than the show ever did--not a happily ever after, because that didn't fit, but a bright new day.  

Now, after watching the series again, I'm rereading Skein.  And, despite some rough patches and spots I’d love to tidy, I have to say it holds up pretty well.  

I did good. 

*The link goes to IMDb, despite the lack of detail, because the Wikipedia entry is inaccurate. 

†This was before she got her nose altered.  I think she's lovely as she was, though I can see why she did do it. 

§I actually went home before the series finished its run there, and waited over a year before it started reruns in the United States.  I was not happy.  

Skein is not available on my site or FF.net; the original version is still floating around the Internet as the Webmistress never got around to taking it down.  The revised and expanded version in hardcopy form is apparently still available from Blackfly Presses, but honestly, it's overpriced.  I suppose by this time I could repost it, but I hesitate to do so while Blackfly is still selling it. 


Aug. 25th, 2011 08:22 am
vr_trakowski: (Default)
[info]its_always_been (a Tony/Pepper comm) is having a cliché challenge, with twenty-five choices. 

Should I be embarrassed that I've already done eight of them?  Plus one with Cincoflex

*is amused* 
vr_trakowski: (Default)
Snabbled from [personal profile] celli :

If I made Cinderella, the audience would immediately be looking for a body in the coach.
— Alfred Hitchcock

When I write a story, what do you immediately look for?

I do realize that this question does not always have an answer either.  
vr_trakowski: (Default)
Snabbled from cincoflex

Give me a link to one of my fics, and I'll give you a detail that didn't make it into the fic - it could be background canon, deleted material (if I still have it), the music that helped me set the mood or a look into the future - or it could be a question about inspiration, the writing process, research.

...if I remember! 


Jun. 11th, 2011 11:43 pm
vr_trakowski: (Default)
• Comment with "Come at me, bro"
• I'll respond by asking you five questions so I can get to know you better.
• Update your journal with the answers to the questions.
• Include this explanation in the post and offer to ask other people questions.

Because [livejournal.com profile] mingsmommy was kind to me... 

1. You are, bar none, one of the most talented and creative writers I've ever read. Where do you find inspiration? 

*blush*  Thank you! 

Well, it's more like inspiration finds me, occasionally using bloodhounds and searchlights.  I'm very intuitive that way, which sounds good but can be a real hassle; I usually have to wait for the idea to smack me upside the head.  It's not that I don't sometimes come up with a plot through deliberate "what if"; but the best ideas usually come out nowhere and demand to be written down. 

These days, inspiration seems to be nurtured by a really intriguing movie or TV show, but sometimes I read something and think "hey, what if it went this way instead?"  

2. Obviously, you are incredibly well read. That somehow makes me feel justified in making this a two part question. What is your favorite novel? Under what circumstances did you first read it? 

Oh, whine, you're going to make me choose?  :P  There isn't just one!  I love the Chronicles of Narnia for its hope, and The Secret Garden because my mother read it to me after my brother was born, and the Secret Country trilogy because it's what I and my friends wanted to do as kids, and the Tale of the Five series because it's just fantastic.  One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish and Call of the Wild were two of my early favorites.  I wore out a copy of The Wounded Sky traveling across the U.S. and back when I was fifteen.  The Rains of Eridan.  Shards of Honor.  Crimson Roses.  Finn Family Moomintroll.  Robin.  The Spellkey, read at my grandparents' in California, along with Silver Woven in My Hair--had to get a long lease from the library for thoseDragonflight, which I've probably read over a hundred times, and was given to me by my mother's best friend, who also introduced me to the wonder of Pilgrimage and The People (see Ingathering for all their stories), among others.  

I suppose if my apartment were burning, the first thing I'd throw out the window would be They Stand Together because I had such trouble getting a copy, but it's not a novel and it's probably easier to replace now.  

3. I always say we shouldn't have regrets because even the things we see as mistakes or missteps have led us to where we are, and where we are is exactly where we're supposed to be. But, sometimes, I do wish I'd done a couple of thing differently. What is something like that for you?

I would have declined the opportunity to have a boyfriend, way back in my sophomore year of college.  Some people may be able to make themselves fall in love, but I am not one of them, and I knew it then and went ahead anyway.  I hurt him, and that is something for which I have not forgiven myself. 

There's all kinds of excuses for it--I was young, love's always a risk, it was a necessary experience for both of us--but I knew better than to behave like that, and did it anyway.  It still makes me a little sick.  

4. Would you rather cook or clean?

Cook, most definitely!  Or bake, if given the choice.  Not that I'm particularly skilled at any of it.  One of my small fantasies is to make enough money to afford a cleaner.  

5. What is the oddest thing that ever happened to you? 

Difficult to say!  Probably it's a tie between knowing ahead of time that my brother would fall into my grandparents' pond when we were kids, and the whole haunted dorm thing during college.  Oh, and there's the bit with my mother's earrings, but I promised her I wouldn't tell that story.  Nah, the other two are weirder anyway. 

Thanks for indulging me!  ;) 

vr_trakowski: (write)
I wish I could write more Law and Order: Criminal Intent fanfic.  I adore Bobby Goren, though admittedly I am several seasons behind due to the wrong sort of cable.  I wrote a few bits early on, but didn't really catch his true flavor. 

But much as I love both him and Eames--though I don't ship them--I can't think of any decent plots that I can actually carry out.  Part of the problem is that I don't do case files well, and what else is there?  Anything else would be long.  

One of the better L&OLCI fics I've read, among a very limited selection, was Piaffe417's Lost and Found.  It's quite a unique one, but works beautifully and makes a lot of sense.  How would Bobby react if he thought Alex was dead?  

I do plan to catch up, thanks to Netflix.  But it's a lot of seasons! 
vr_trakowski: (write)
I wish I could write more Law and Order: Criminal Intent fanfic.  I adore Bobby Goren, though admittedly I am several seasons behind due to the wrong sort of cable.  I wrote a few bits early on, but didn't really catch his true flavor. 

But much as I love both him and Eames--though I don't ship them--I can't think of any decent plots that I can actually carry out.  Part of the problem is that I don't do case files well, and what else is there?  Anything else would be long.  

One of the better L&OLCI fics I've read, among a very limited selection, was Piaffe417's Lost and Found.  It's quite a unique one, but works beautifully and makes a lot of sense.  How would Bobby react if he thought Alex was dead?  

I do plan to catch up, thanks to Netflix.  But it's a lot of seasons! 

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