lesley_hastings: The words "Lesley Hastings" on a parchment background (Default)
I sent "The Demon Catcher" -- my original short story -- off to Dreamspinner last week. I'm extremely pleased that I managed to do this, regardless of whether or not it is accepted. I'm very grateful to everyone who took the time to offer me constructive criticism via email -- I found the editing/re-drafting process to be rigorous, and very beneficial.

I am also continuing to work on my new story set in the same 'verse, with the same characters, which is challenging but enjoyable. One thing that I'm finding new and slightly disconcerting about writing these original characters is waiting for them to reveal their motivations to me. I need to keep writing in order to get a sense of the characters, but then when I discover something new about them, I need to go back through what I've already written to ensure that it's consistent. I also find that I'm a bad judge of how much information that I need to give about what a character is thinking and feeling -- often, I like to leave that stuff implicit, but this can have the effect of making my characters seem rather detached and emotionless. This early on, I think readers need a little bit more. Of course, part of it is that I'm still not sure exactly what motivates my characters 100% of the time -- right now, I'm sketching the outline, and I'll have to come back to colour it in as things develop.

In the context of the short story, dealing with motivations was simpler. Euan (my POV protagonist) and Leon (my dashing hero) were immediately attracted to each other, they had a specific set of issues they needed to work through in order for that attraction to go somewhere (Euan's religious upbringing), and then at the end, it seemed believable enough that both of them wanted to stick together in order to explore their relationship further. Now, I need to work out how they feel about this thing lasting longer -- how do they perceive each other over an extended period of time, and how are their perceptions affected by their past experiences? I also want to avoid setting up a dynamic between them where one party is desperately in love and the other is cold and distant -- basically, I want both of them to be pretty well into each other, and for any tensions in their relationship to come from somewhere other than non-mutual-affection.

Another thing that I'm realising as I continue to write is how much I'm structuring this like a TV show, rather than a novel -- which makes sense really, given that most of the fiction I consume these days is television based. In many ways, "The Demon Catcher" is like the pilot episode, while the story I'm writing now (which I think will be novella-length) is like a three-episode arc in the context of a larger series. I imagine that this would pose some problems for traditional publishing platforms, but since I'm open to non-traditional platforms -- well, we'll have to see how it goes.

First, we'll see if Dreamspinner accepts "The Demon Catcher", and if they do, whether or not they'd be interested in more stories in that 'verse. If not -- well, I will find my own ways of getting the stories out there. :)
lesley_hastings: The words "Lesley Hastings" on a parchment background (Default)
I've started writing a new story, set in the same 'verse, with the same characters as the short story I just finished. I have a basic plot outline, and I think that, if I manage to keep going with it, this could end up novel-length.

So far, I've really been enjoying working on it. I'm enjoying spending time with these characters. I'm learning about them -- they're revealing new things about themselves to me that I didn't originally plan, but just work in perfectly with what I've already planned. Or sometimes those new things don't work in perfectly, and I have to change things to accomodate this new information. Feeling this thing coming to life is great, and that's something I'll have even if no one ever reads the story.

However, at some point, I DO want people to read this story, and that is where all the self-doubt creeps in. I'm under no illusions that what I'm writing will be a great work of literature. If the short story that introduces this world gets published in the Dreamspinner anthology, then I will probably try to submit this story to Dreamspinner too. However, I am not counting on that happening, and if that's the case, I want to do something akin to the Extribulum process that [livejournal.com profile] copperbadge uses when producing his original fiction -- that is, putting the work up here on my journal, asking my readers to provide concrit and then edit with that concrit in mind -- with a view to eventual self publishing, if everything all works out.

The thing is, I have this nagging little voice in the back of my head telling me that I don't have the right to do that. After all, my fanfiction isn't wildly popular. It's appreciated by a small core group in one or two fandoms, and I don't think it's bad at all -- but I'm hardly one of the writers that one HAS to read in order to feel at home in my particular fandoms. And the reason that that core group of people reads my fic is because I'm building on something that other people have created -- I'm asking them to take a chance on an extension of something that they're already familiar with. But with original fiction -- I'm asking them to take a chance on something that doesn't have that basic groundwork already in place.

Now, of course, with ANY fiction, we're always building on things that other people have done; all fiction exists in an intertextual space. And, indeed, this story I'm working on now was originally something that I intended to write as an AU Torchwood story -- although I abandoned that idea when I realised that the characters were doing their own things. This story didn't WANT to be limited by a broader canon, and it's a better story for that. But at the same time -- it makes asking people to read this story a completely different thing. There's less in the way of familiar territory. If I ask people to read this, I'm asking them to invest their time in something that's less certain, something that isn't limited by the boundaries that are present when they read my fanfiction.

And this nagging voice inside my head? This voice tells me that I shouldn't be asking people to do that. It's telling me that I'll look silly for making the presumption that anyone would want to take the time to review my work, to offer criticism ... let alone consider buying a published copy of anything. Even now, I'm feeling doubt about whether or not I should post this -- but I WILL post it. And I will post my fiction here too. (If not the story I'm working on now, then something else.)

While I know that everyone experiences self-doubt, I have the feeling that this sense of presumptuousness in WANTING to put one's work out there is something that bothers a lot of women in particular, due to the fear of appearing arrogant. There is, I suppose, a certain degree of arrogance in putting any of one's work out there, and I need to learn not to fear that.

After all, if I fail, I've lost nothing.

Hurrah!

Jul. 21st, 2010 01:19 pm
lesley_hastings: The words "Lesley Hastings" on a parchment background (Default)
I've finished the first draft of my short story! I've formatted the Word document in accordance with the Dreamspinner guidelines, and now I'm just letting it stew for a bit -- I'm tweaking little bits here and there and desperately hoping that it isn't full of really obvious plot holes. Overall, though, I'm really happy, because this story is mine.

And I want to share it, because even though it's not the greatest story ever written, even though I doubt many people will read it, fiction is all about that sharing. Writers need to relinquish a bit of that ownership, because that's how successful fiction works. So, if only a few people out there read it -- if they take a chance on it for any reason at all... then that would be great.

I'm hoping that I'll be able to send the story off to Dreamspinner by the end of the week -- and then, of course, will come The Wait, but that's okay, because I have other things that need my attention. And, as I said earlier, if the story is rejected, then I will post it here, because even though it's just a romantic little puff-piece, even though it's probably full of cliches, and not terribly realistic on some points... it's still something I wrote, and I'm proud of it.
lesley_hastings: The words "Lesley Hastings" on a parchment background (Default)
One of the nice things about writing fan fiction is that you don't always need a very solid plot -- and this is true regardless of whether you're writing porn or something else. You can bounce off plots that already exist in order to write missing scenes, develop characters, etc.

Since I've started writing this original story, I've been enjoying, in many ways, writing without those constraints -- I've been liking not having to rein my characters in, in some ways. I can add new elements to the characters without fearing that I'm contradicting canon, or that my wonderful new idea will be jossed at some point. At the same time though... I really do need to make the plot I'm working on WORK. I'm 2/3 of the way through the story now, and, as you might expect, the final third is where everything gets resolved -- I just hope that my resolution doesn't come across as too forced.

I'm not used to doing this!
lesley_hastings: The words "Lesley Hastings" on a parchment background (Default)
I've created this journal because after two years of writing fan fiction, I've started writing original fiction, and I wanted to create a space to talk about that. While I could do so on my fanfic/personal journal (on Dreamwidth: [personal profile] lefaym/on LiveJournal: [livejournal.com profile] lefaym), I liked the idea of a place that is specifically focused on writing original stories (to the extent that anyone's stories are original, anyway) -- a space that isn't all cluttered up with random squee, ranting, and personal issues.

The name "Lesley Hastings" is a pesudonym -- it has a particular meaning to me, which I won't be talking about lest it reveal my True Identity. The awesome icon that you see above was made by [livejournal.com profile] lionessvalenti. The name of this journal, "Small Rewards", refers to why I write. I write so that I can experience a sense of achievement -- ever paragraph, every scene, every story that I complete is like a small reward to me.

I'm not aiming to become the greatest writer ever, although I do hope that my writing will improve all the time. At the moment, I'm writing a short m/m romance story that I hope to submit to Dreamspinner Press for their "Myths and Magic" anthology. I'm not pinning my hopes on getting accepted, but it's nice to have something to aim for. If it's rejected, I can always share it here. If I do share fiction here (which I probably will), I want it to be completely open to constructive criticism -- so if I post something, then please, have at it!

I don't plan to limit myself to writing in just one genre, or to one type of romantic pairing, where that's relevant (and I probably won't even limit myself to pairings -- I'm rather fond of poly groupings too). The story I'm writing now is m/m, but ideally, I'd like my writing to include f/f and m/f too, and hopefully I'll be inspired to write about trans characters as well.

I'd like to do all of this in a socially aware and responsible way, and that's one of the things I'll be talking about here. I'll talk about concerns that might be raised in terms of writing race, class, disability and other groups to which people are assigned for the purposes of marginalisation. I hope I can avoid committing fail in my writing, and if I do, I hope I can be big enough to admit it and to apologise -- and then not make the same mistakes again.

I also want to talk a bit about the philosophy of writing -- for me, it's all about making people happy and bringing them pleasure. This doesn't mean my writing won't be dark at times, but I think the most important thing to me, when writing a story, is that people come away from it glad that they read it. I think that in order to achieve this, writers need to respect their audience. I don't think that the audience should be able to dictate to the writer, but at the same time, I think writers need to acknowledge that once they put a work of fiction out there, if that fiction is successful, then the audience will become invested, and that investment is something that should be honoured, and never disrespected.

So... that's my Grand Plan for now. I'm looking forward to seeing how this develops.

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March 2011

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