rynling: (Default)
I'm more or less constantly editing my more recent fic, but what prompted me to go back to my old FFVI fic was embarking on a deep dive into Vrazdova's archives. We used to be friends of a sort on DeviantArt (where she went by fashion-jerk), and when someone recently sent me a link to her BBC Sherlock story Adagio Lamentoso I recognized her name immediately.

Her writing is good, and I mean like, really good. Flawless, actually.

I'm gradually working my way through her FFVI novel Unbalanced; and, even though I'm very much enjoying myself, it also pains me to see that she wrote this in 2012, especially since the only thing I wrote in 2012 was, well... Anthro Bowser in Leather Pants. In other words, while I was partying Vrazdova studied the blade. This is why she is a fantastic writer and I am still embarrassing myself every time I post something.

I wasn't just drinking and goofing off, though. Up until around 2013 I maintained a fairly steady flow of content on LiveJournal, and 2012 was also the year that I finally managed to establish myself as a professional writer, albeit in an entirely different style and genre of writing. I was working my ass off at the beginning of my career, which is probably why I thought that I didn't have time to write fiction. I told myself that it was something I would do once I didn't have to worry about paying the rent, and in any case I didn't know anyone who also wrote fiction and could have encouraged me or given me feedback.

I think it's probably fair to say that Vrazdova has an innate level of talent that I simply do not, and there's really nothing I can do about that - but also, I should have started taking my writing a lot more seriously much earlier than I did. As things stand, I feel like I'm having to work extra hard just to catch up.

The take-away point here is that, if I want to be serious about writing, I am going to have to stop wasting time and (a) start writing original fiction so that I can (b) start getting challenging and constructive feedback. What this means in concrete terms is that I am going to have to deprioritize writing fic in order to put together a body of work that can be submitted along with applications for writing workshops.

More on this story as it develops, I guess?
rynling: (Mog Toast)
Because why write new fic when you can torture yourself by editing old fic?

After the World Was Won
This is a story about sexism in STEM fields wherein Daryl is frustrated with Setzer for achieving more recognition for doing basically the same work. Now that I am closer to the age I intended Daryl to be in the story, however, I realize that intelligent adults don't express frustration in quite the way I had her doing. I therefore made Daryl's language less blunt and her sense of ironic detachment drier. Setzer has an awkward monologue that I could have edited, but I decided that it's in character for it to remain a bit stilted.

Another Chip in the Pile
Dubious consent was a major theme in m/m fanfic when I wrote this story. I remember being bothered by that but at the same time interested in what dubious consent can do that depictions of healthy relationships cannot. For whatever reason, I still find stories of emotionally damaged people stumbling backwards into sex compelling, and I'm surprised by how fond I am of this fic, which is about Owzer attempting to fuck Setzer out of his depression. Politics aside, editing this fic taught me that the word "guttural" achieves semantic satiation very quickly, and I am hereby instating an ironclad rule that it can only be used once in any given story about buttsex.

Every King Needs His Guard
This is a very short postgame fic about Sabin assassinating Cid so that Edgar doesn't have to. I edited it to get rid of some of the more florid phrasing while making Sabin a bit scarier.

The Lure of Machinery
You can really tell I was still developing my chops when I wrote this one. Instead of fixing the numerous instances of stylistic awkwardness, I just deleted them wholesale. I should probably delete this entire story, but I am still to this day super into the idea of Setzer and Edgar being engineer husbands.

I wrote this Setzer/Edgar story only five months after "The Lure of Machinery," but it is worlds better. It's not good, exactly, but it's moving in the right direction. I edited the dialog to make it tighter and crispier. I've been so tits deeps in the pretentiousness of Zelda fic that I forgot I enjoy writing banter... I should get back to that at some point.

Two Kingdoms
A year or two ago the great and noble Kashuan reblogged a post about how the OP immediately hits the back button upon realizing that a fic is written with a first-person narrative voice. I thought of this specific Peach/Bowser fic when I read that post, and now I have finally edited it to be in third person. This actually took a substantial amount of work, but I will not embarrass myself by revealing just how much. The story is still a heap of weird and pretentious garbage based on deep lore culled from the instruction manuals of the NES era Super Mario games, but at least now it's marginally less cringe-inducing.

Claws and Lace
This is not old fic, but I've been returning to it to make edits every week since I posted it. When I said that it needed a lot of editing I meant that it needed A LOT of editing; I am very serious about my crackfic and would never joke about something like this. If I am going to write a story about Peach and Bowser having awkward monster sex then it is going to be classy and well edited, so help me Crackfic Jesus.

Okay wow, making these cosmetic changes has indeed made me feel a lot better about my monumental lack of progress on more meaningful projects. Good job team!
rynling: (Gator Strut)
After the hot mess of my recent Peach/Bowser smutfic, I've started to realize how truly dysfunctional my editing process is.

I'm constantly editing as I write a story. Not only will I begin each writing session by editing the previous day's writing, but I'll also write the same damn sentence multiple times. I think this helps with plot cohesion, and it means that I'm always saying exactly what I want without a lot of filler. Unfortunately, it also means that sentences and paragraphs tend to exist in multiple states at the same time, which results in technical errors like a lack of subject-verb agreement and stylistic awkwardness such as repeated words. In other words, the stitches holding together the seams are visible.

Once I finish with a unit of writing, I generally let it sit for a day or two before reading it over at least two or three times. I catch a lot of inconsistencies this way, but I also tend to get bored and impatient to move on to the next thing. I'll go ahead and post whatever it is on AO3, and then I'll eat lunch or take a walk or something.

After an hour or so has passed, I'll take my car out of my building's garage, park it on the street somewhere, and then sit there with my laptop and my iPad. I will read the story out loud from the AO3 page on my iPad screen while pausing to make any necessary corrections.

I will then copy all the text from AO3, paste it into the text field of a Tumblr post, and go through the whole thing again. Oddly enough, this is where I always end up finding the most errors. If I had to guess, I think the drastically different dimensions (specifically, the narrowness of the column in the Tumblr text editor) shake everything up just enough for me to be able to see things that I had previously glossed over.

This process takes a long time, and it also means that the initial post on AO3 is going to be messy for two or three hours. And even after I clean everything up, I generally return a week or two later and find even more things that need fixing.

The best thing for me to do would be to have a beta reader who could look over my work in stages, the first of which would be catching stylistic errors, and the second would be asking difficult questions about things like word choice and character motivation. Finding a good beta reader is more difficult than perhaps it should be, however, especially for someone like me, who needs a relatively long time to be able to trust and open up to someone. Over the past two years I've actually tried to ask two separate people I know in real life to be my beta readers, but neither worked out for various reasons. Writing is a skill, and so is editing; just because you're good at creating your own work doesn't mean you'll be able to give productive feedback to someone else.

In the end, I think it's worth remembering that I only started getting serious about my writing in November 2014, and it's really not fair to expect that my work will be perfect after only two and a half years' worth of practice. I've made a lot of progress with my writing, and hopefully my editing will continue to improve as well.

Game Blarg

Sep. 26th, 2016 03:29 pm
rynling: (Needs More Zelda)
I've been editing about four posts a day on my video game blog over the course of the past few weeks, and I'm finally done. I'm sure there are still typos, because that's how I roll, but I think I managed to catch and correct the most egregious errors. I also think I managed to make good progress in the way I think and write about games.

I began this blog last July, and since then I have written 81 posts, with an average of 1,000 words per post. This means that, in the past fifteen months, I have written and edited 81,000 words about video games. Hot damn.

Although it's hosted by Wordpress, which tends to be highly indexed on search engines, the blog receives less than a dozen hits per day and only has six subscribers. This is actually convenient for me, since it means there's nothing holding me back from cannibalizing my own writing. I've got several specific projects in mind, but first I need to submit my stupid manuscript for my stupid book about comics.
rynling: (Needs More Zelda)
As I continue to distance myself from Tumblr, I've been working on editing the short essays I've posted on a video game blog that I started about a year ago on Wordpress. I'm fully aware that this is a narcissistic thing to say about myself, but I'm impressed by the quality of my writing.

The posts I'm having to put through the most substantial edits are about the Zelda games. Although my writing is fairly intelligible, when I talk about Zelda I tend to lapse into Tumblrese, which can come off as incredibly strange when it's encountered out of context. If I had to guess, I'd say that I was doing this as a defensive strategy to disguise just how much I love the Zelda games, like, Haha I'm writing like an asshole because I'm not taking this seriously. I don't think anyone is fooled, though.

As I move forward, I'm going to need to work on developing my tone. I want to come off as informed and authoritative, but also chill enough that there's still room in my writing for passages like this:

Lenzo's sidequest is a more contained version of the larger quest given to Link by the King of Red Lions. It's also a kinder and gentler version, almost like a window into a parallel universe in which Link isn't persuaded into embarking on a crazy epic murderquest by a talking boat.

I've also started to edit my published fic again. There's really no point to this, and I don't think it's helping me improve as a writer, but I want to leave behind a pretty corpse.
rynling: (Mog Toast)
I recently got an influx of about three dozen comments on AO3, and I'm going to try to work my way through them today. Some of them are clueless, but most are kind, and it's important to me to show my appreciation for the encouragement I'm receiving.

A few of the comments are on older pieces, so I had to go back and read the stories in order to figure out how to respond. I stayed up practically all night dying slowly of embarrassment as I put together a long list of edits. Because most of these stories are crossposted on AO3, FFN, and Tumblr, it's probably going to take me all morning to get everything straight.

Meanwhile, I need to get the next chapter of my ongoing Zelda/Ganondorf story ready to post this afternoon, and I have a Peach/Bowser comic that I need to ink, scan, and color so that I can post it tomorrow in time for Monday afternoon Tumblr rush hour.

Fandom is fun, but it can feel like a full-time job sometimes.
rynling: (Mog Toast)
Still going through old stuff, still finding mistakes.

The Zelgan Big Bang fic has seven obvious typos, about a dozen redundancies, one minor formatting error, and one major formatting error. In my defense, the formatting errors are not my fault. To my chagrin, all the other errors are.

Meanwhile, A Game of Castles must be procedurally generating typos, because I have no idea where they're all coming from. This is the fifth or sixth time I'm editing that fucking story.

I remember reading somewhere that imperfections are like a signature, a proof of individuality and personhood. I get that, but I also suspect there are very few people on this planet who care more about their writing being clean and error-free than I do. Why can't my signature writing style be not having any mistakes whatsoever?
rynling: (Mog Toast)
In January, I edited:

* A Game of Castles, a delusional Peach/Bowser fic
* Ganondorf&!, an even more delusional Ganondorf/Bowser fic
* After the World Was Won, an embarrassingly awful Setzer/Daryl fic
* A Game of Castles, again, because there were still typos
* After the World Was Won, again, and it is still embarrassingly awful
* Bowser and Peach: A Love Story, which made me want to set myself on fire

I don't mean to brag, but when people talk about "bad fanfiction" they are specifically referring to me.

In the future, I will never write anything again.
rynling: (Mog Toast)
When I mentioned "the fic that gets an inordinate number of readers" in an earlier post, I was referring to Bowser and Peach: A Love Story. Because I serialized it at the height of interest in FFN, it got a lot of traffic, and it's currently indexed very high on Google.

This story is my first fic, and I feel bad for the version of myself who wrote it. She was so innocent, and she had no idea what the fuck she was doing. I've since gone back and edited it twice. The first time was to find and correct typos, and the second was to delete every instance of the female lead crying or being unnecessarily stupid.

The story is still a mess, however, and hurts me to look at it. It's like a train wreck, with cargo exploding into flame and passengers and livestock attempting to flee. Do I try to save the people and put out the fire, or do I just let it burn like the magnificent spectacle of failure that it is?

I've been content to avert my eyes in favor of other projects, but this ridiculous story still gets over a hundred hits a day, so it's probably time to roll up my sleeves and wade in.

Meanwhile, I'm still fixing small typos and wooden dialog in A Game of Castles. Despite my general incompetence as a writer and editor, people seem to be reading that story too (atthough it's been more or less ignored on AO3 and Tumblr). According to the statistics gathered by FFN, something like two to three dozen people are reading the entire story every day. This makes me wonder where all these silent readers are coming from. I suppose I'll never know. I'm assuming that a portion of the "readers" are spambots, but that's okay; it would make me happy if the nascent singularity ships Peach and Bowser too.
rynling: (Mog Toast)
I'm currently on another editing binge. It hasn't been pleasant.

I have a few pairings that I love and never get tired of, and every once in a while I'll go onto the appropriate tag on AO3 and read everything. This means that I end up reading my own fic in the context of all the other work that's been posted.

This can be embarrassing, especially in the Final Fantasy fandom. The stories those nerds write are amazing, while the ones I've written are shamefully awful need work.

All things considered, I'm not a bad writer. When it comes to fiction, however, I'm entirely self-taught, and my earlier stories had two major problems. The first was that I didn't know how to edit. (To be fair, I still don't, but I'm learning.) The second was that I used to have trouble writing if I wasn't drinking. I always wanted to write fiction, but I felt like I couldn't because of Reasons. I kept at it and found my way around that particular mental blockage, but the toll on the quality of my writing was high. Everyone who ever left a kudo on one of my stories is a motherfucking saint.

I'm going back to my old fic and trying to patch things up, but it's painful. I'm tempted to give up and delete everything.
rynling: (Ganondorf)
I got three notes on the Tumblr post of the new chapter. Granted, all three notes are good notes from good people, but I still cried. Like, a lot. Like, all day long.

I'm still extremely distraught. I'd like to be melodramatic and say something to the effect of "I am a garbage person who only produces shit work and I should just give up," but the truth is that I write compulsively and probably couldn't stop even if I wanted to. If I'm going to keep at this, though, I need to do it in a way that gets more positive attention and doesn't result in me feeling like a poor misunderstood tragic artist.

This is what failure has taught me.

  • Sometimes writing is magic, but mostly it's work. You need deadlines and a schedule.
  • You need to update frequently and on a fixed timeline. Once a week is good.
  • Never post anything in the morning. Tumblr primetime is after 5:00pm.
  • The best time to post anything is in the late afternoon or early evening on Sunday.
  • 2,500 word chapters are ideal. If a chapter gets much longer than that, split it.
  • No one wants to read The Next Great American Novel. Content is important, not style.
  • Keep editing the first few chapters as you go along. They need to be perfect.
  • Be active and supportive within the fandom, but don't expect anyone to help you.
  • Always respond to AO3 comments immediately, and reblog people's comments on Tumblr.
  • Commission artists to illustrate your story. There is no better advertisement.
rynling: (Mog Toast)
It's been twenty days since I posted the last chapter of the Zelgan fic.

During those twenty days, I've line edited each of the previous chapters along with all of my other fic. In addition, I've standardized everything across AO3, FF.net, and Tumblr. It's difficult to describe how much time and labor this has involved, but let's just say the rest of my life has suffered.

I've been working on the most recent chapter quite intensely over the course of the past two weeks, trying to tie all the themes of the story together with a huge dramatic climax followed by an extended sex scene. I've been planning this chapter for months now, and it's gone through countless outlines and drafts. I think it's really, really good.

When I post the chapter later today and it gets maybe seven or eight likes on Tumblr, it is going to hurt. It's not an exaggeration to say that I'll probably cry at some point.

At some point this stopped being fun.
rynling: (Mog Toast)
This week, as I've been finishing up the Zelda/Ganondorf novel, I've also been going through all the fic I've posted during the past twelve months (since November 2014) and line-editing it. The process itself is unpleasant, and it's even more unpleasant to be confronted with all of my typos and inconsistencies.

The older stuff (written before May 2015) has one typo for every 500 words. The newer stuff is much cleaner, but also much longer.

Also, because I have a constant powerful hunger for Bowser/Peach, and because most other people write that pairing as either insipid fluff or violent rape, I ended up re-reading my own stories. I've been editing them on and off for years, but I was still in line-editing mode and caught a few typos. How embarrassing.

The most frustrating part of all of this is that I'm not careless. I generally work on a story for at least a week, and I always let it sit for a day or two before I post it. I constantly edit a story as I'm working on it, and by the time I post anything it's already gone through several readings and revisions. So how are there still typos?

It may be that I'm mildly dyslexic, but I think it's more likely the case that I read and write so much both for work and for pleasure that I'm no longer acutely attuned to every single word I encounter or produce. It's like breathing – unless something really smells, I'm probably not going to notice a tiny bit of pollution in the air.

These typos may also be a result of my tendency to make stylistic and plot-related edits during what should be the final proofing, meaning that I don't always re-read the last batch of edits. There's nothing to be done about this save to hold off on posting something for a few more days, but by the time I'm on the last stage of proofreading I'm usually so sick of something that I just want it out of my hands.

The obvious solution would be to find a beta reader. I've given it serious thought, and in fact I've been courting (for want of a better word) someone on Tumblr because I admire her work and think it would be cool to become friends with her. We're now mutuals, which is nice, but I still don't feel comfortable asking her to beta for me. Even if I did, I probably wouldn't, because I'm not overly committed to "fandom" as a way of spending my time. Who knows, it's entirely possible that I'll change my mind, but that will either take time or a major catalyst.

In the meantime, I need to figure out a better solution for quality control.
rynling: (Teh Bowz)
Because something is obviously wrong with me, I've decided that what I need to help me get through the multi-chapter fic I'm writing is to work on another multi-chapter fic at the same time. There's a Bowser/Peach story I started in 2011 that I never finished because suddenly everything else in my life seemed way more important than fic. I have more or less given up on everything else in my life, but the fic is still waiting.

Looking at my old writing is painful. I was reading a lot of Homestuck at the time, and I think I had it in my head that I wanted to create some sort of adventure game. Like, these are your surroundings, what is your next move? The way I put this into practice was insufferable; nobody cares about that level of detail. I also made Peach seem vulnerable in a number of small ways that were, in retrospect, absolutely unnecessary.

The biggest challenge has been to edit everything into small continuous scenes. When I first started writing this story, I was thinking in terms of mise en scène and inserting a lot of cuts, but holy shit fiction doesn't work like that. Exposition is important, but the majority of the action needs to be conveyed through dialog. Unfortunately, I never pinned down the voices of my two main characters. What a fucking mess this all is.

Also I still don't have a title, because why would that be important, I mean honestly.
rynling: (Cecil Harvey)
Me going back to a fic I posted last October:

I had been putting off editing it because I knew it was a trainwreck; and now, seven months later, it's like opening a door on some sort of terrible crime scene. I'm like, what sort of person would even do this?
rynling: (Default)
On one hand, I'm like, I can't believe I wrote this.

On the other hand, I'm like, I can't believe I wrote this.

I am both impressed with my younger self and terribly embarrassed of her typos, stylistic errors, repetitiveness, and unconscious adherence to sexist genre conventions. Sheesh.
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