Bits of Fun

Nano Survey

Taken and adapted from The Polling Booth, because I like surveys and they’re a good way to kill time. 😉


– What age range are you?:  Late 20s
– Male, female, other?: Very much female.
 If 1 is 100% Masculine and 10 is 100% Feminine, what number would you rate yourself for your country/background?: Er. I dunno. 8? I very definitely identify as very female, but I also definitely have traits that others would probably consider masculine… but I don’t view them that way. It’s just the sort of female I am. I have trouble with this question.
– Country and/or Ethnicity (if you are comfortable telling this)? Southern American with Anglo-Welsh heritage.
– Myers Briggs Typology? (Take the test here): ENFJ (which is an evolution. I used to be an ENFP, but that’s definitely shifted in the past few years)
– What number of years have you participated in Nanowrimo?: Every year since 2002, except for 2006, when I was directing a show, and 2009, when I was writing my Master’s thesis. I’ve won about half the time, and I’m hoping to fulfill a three-year streak this year.
– Do you write books outside of Nanowrimo?: Obviously, given the nature of this blog. 😉
– Did you write before you participated in your first Nanowrimo?: Yes.
– How long have you been writing fiction for? And if before Nanowrimo, what forms?: I’ve been writing seriously since I was eleven (there’s a whole story about how Star Wars changed my life that I should probably tell here sometime), and I’ve been a natural storyteller for as long as I can remember. I was always the kid coming up with ridiculously complex worlds for us to play in. I discovered fanfiction as a teenager and spent a lot of energy on it, honing my skills. I never gave up on original things, but there were definitely periods of time where they fell to the background. Its’s only in the past few years that I’ve shifted to original writing almost exclusively (though the occasional fanfic does still prick at me for attention).

– Are you published officially (non-local magazines) and books (non-self-published/POD)?: I am published academically, not in fiction.
– What genre(s) do you usually write?: Interstitial ones. Everything with me tends to be a blend, because I can’t resist throwing fantasy or supernatural elements in to whatever else I’m doing. Historical fantasy is probably my favorite (see Aven), though historical sci fi/steampunk/alternate history is fun as well (see The Antares Project, though even there I’ve added a dash of mysticism).
– What genre are you writing for Nanowrimo?: This one’s weird because it’s a dystopian supernatural, but it’s also involving some historical research because the breakdown of society sets technology back, so living conditions are a weird amalgamation.
– Do you treat your characters as real/do they talk to you?: No. I actually used to pretend like I did, because it was very fashionable on the internet back in those days (and perhaps still is, in some circles, given the existence of this question), but no. I have not yet acquired enough divine power to make the things I imagine actualize themselves into reality.
– Are you an Improviser/Discovery Writer, a Milestone writer (set out certain important events to hit without the detail), an Outliner, or mixed (if so, how?)?: Definitely mixed. I generally have a strong idea of who my characters are (that comes easier for me than anything else), an idea of where they start and where they should end, and less of an idea of how they get there. With both Aven and The Antares Project I’ve also had some idea of their movement through geographical space; The World is Always Ending is going to be a little different, since it’s nonlinear. I don’t outline, persay, but I do timeline, which for me is more important — a strong sense of what happens when and to whom and how that influences cause-and-effect.
– Do you believe in event-driven, character-driven or story-driven?: I think all of these can be excellent, but I am definitely a character-driven writer. It’s a detriment sometimes, honestly. I end up just wanting to talk about these awesome people and their backgrounds and their lives, and I forget that the plot sort of needs to happen.
– In what order do you write? Forwards, backwards, skip around or mixed?: Absolutely skipping all around. I can’t write sequentially to save my life. I tend to jump about a lot at first (especially when Nanoing, since the only way to get 1667 per day is to write whatever scene is most in my head at any given moment) and then play connect-the-dots later on.
– Do you determine the ending first, later, or when you get there?: I generally know what the ultimate ending is close to starting a project.
– What do you feel is your weakest and strongest point in writing?: Weakest might be pace. Which is an unfortunate weakness when you’re trying to sell yourself. And it isn’t even that I have a slow pace, but that i’m prone to diversions. Because I like those in books that I read. I don’t mind a wandering chapter about social history, or exploring the relationship between two side characters, or giving some detail of a character’s background. I love that stuff. I eat it up. But I also was the kid who read encyclopedias for fun, so I am aware that this is not normal. All those extraneous details can hurt the pace of the actual plot, so a lot of my editing process involves excising those bits.
Strongest… Worldbuilding, probably, although I think I also create good characters. But the same work goes into both — knowing everything about what happened in the history of a country isn’t that much different from knowing everything about what happened in the history of a person, it’s just a matter of scale.
– What are you best and weakest at: beginnings, middles, endings?: Best at endings, worst at middles, probably.
– What materials/programs do you like to use when writing?: I’m using Scrivener now, and I can’t recommend it highly enough. I love, love, love how well it supports my writing methods.
– How many writing project do you have at one time?: Actively? Three or four, usually, with two weighted more heavily. And with a lot more ideas percolating in the back of my head, occasionally getting a little attention, things I scribble down so I’ll remember them in a year or so when I return to the project. Nano’s really the only time I can make myself focus on a single project for an extended period — which is part of why it’s so good for me. I need that discipline imposed on me (which is why I’ve started doing the Camp Nanos as well, and occasionally challenging myself to half-nanos during the rest of the year).
– Where do you get your ideas? (The dreaded question writers frequently get.): An easy question for me. History, mostly. Whether I’m writing a historical or not, history is just a mine brimming over with astonishing resources and inspirations. I’m also unduly influenced by Broadway musicals, generally the themes of individual songs moreso than the overall stories.
– Why do you write?: Because there have always been stories in my head, and when I was 11 years old, it occurred to me that I could make a career out of telling them.
– Do you research? If so when? before, during or after? If so, how much time will you spend on it?: Oh god, research is the best. I get lost in it. Right now I’ve spent two days reading selections of the WPA Slave Narrative Collection. Sort of as research for The Antares Project but sort of just for the hell of it. Fortunately, if my thesis taught me anything, it’s that there will always come a certain point when you have to stop researching and start writing, so I do know when to cut myself off. Not that I don’t get tempted back. 😉 During Nano, though, I try to keep it to strict essentials — quick-reference stuff without which I couldn’t keep going. And because Scrivener is awesome, I can make a note to go back and check other research later.
– Do you use primary (people who were there/experienced it), secondary (People who heard about it) or third-hand research (usually books, etc)? or mixed? If so, how much and how do you do it?: A lot of third, though first when I can get it. I write for a lot of historical eras where the primary documents are either sparse or else not necessarily reflective of all of society, so social history has to fill in a lot of gaps.
– For the Speculative Fiction/ Historical Fiction Crowd: If you world build, how much, when and how?: I sort of covered this already, but I love worldbuilding. I love playing alternate history dominoes — flick one over and see what else topples. I love maps. I love timelines. I love family trees. They make me so ridiculously happy.
– What books do you read inside of your genre(s)?: Historical fantasy: Mercedes Lackey’s Elemental Masters series. Steampunk: Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate and Finishing School Series. Straight historicals: Masters of Rome, Kate Quinn’s Roman series, Jean Plaidy’s English historicals, various biographies and social histories. For dystopians… more movies than reading, really, especially since I’m not as familiar with as many adult dystopians as YAs. (Open to suggestions, though!)
– What Classics have you read and enjoyed and disliked (inside and outside of classes)?: I make my living off of Shakespeare, though really those are plays and meant to be seen, not just read. I love Le Morte d’Arthur. Plutarch’s histories. Suetonius.
– What have you learned from Nanowrimo (so far)?: Discipline. Nano is so good for me in that regard. I’m prone to butterfly brain,

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