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Srebrna, Skald Arkadii (and thoughts on writing)

Archive for April 2018

Music to write to

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I work better if I have some music playing, but my brain apparently got a bit ossified a bit since my master thesis (I listened to a loop of 4 songs for that time, made me type faster) and now I can’t write if I’m listening to something I can understand.

So, choices, choices. I tried, and these worked for me:

  1. Classical music. A lot of Vivaldi. Can’t be too fast, or too slow, or to dour. Just so. Goldilocks, me.
  2. A lot of stuff that’s marked “60 BPM”. Apparently listening to this is relaxing and helps thinking. I have to admit, it does help with relaxation exercises, but unless it has some character, I end up searching for replacement soon.
  3. Loituma. As in the band, not the celery twirling girl clip. Yes, including Ievan Polkka. Why? Because I don’t speak a word of Finnish (except for handmade terms, and they rarely sing about wool or knitting needles)
    I use these two playlists (if I’m not listening to my own ipod):
  4. Irish trad. The actual Irish, meaning, Gaeilge. Which, lately, is mostly Altan or Julie Fowlis for me. And I made myself a pretty little playlist on YT that features female voices:
    Some of these may be in English, but mostly it will be Irish. The same explanation as point 3. I don’t understand it at all, and I love the style (in general).  Helps me write, even if I have no idea what they are singing about.

Otherwise, sometimes, when writing English and listening to it at the some time doesn’t conflict, I indulge in the guilty pleasure of listening to this group of cuties: (especially Emmet Cahill, who is by far the best singer of the set – here the last singing of the four men:

For some reason, despite mostly lack of vocals, I can’t work listening to soundtracks. May be I’m focusing then on what was in the movie at that moment. Exception: Jurassic Park theme. This one: (and if pressed, I can whistle the whole damn thing…)

Written by Srebrna

2018/04/29 at 20:00

Posted in On writing

“POV” markers in FF

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…and why I have them.

Because they are lazy. I mean, really, people.

If you can’t write the narrative clearly enough for your readers to recognise whether you’re writing John or Sherlock POV, maybe you should reconsider taking your hands off the keyboard and taking a break?

I’m not perfect. I can’t say I haven’t used some kind of “pointer” as to whose POV I’m writing. But I at least try to be subtle about it.

Case in point: “But if you can still dream” – the POV is in the title of each chapter.

Another: Double Pride Double Trouble – no indication written, but I add “####” in heavy scene changing places AND I added font change for “parent” POV in earlier chapters.

You can do so many things with formatting, markers and titles, especially if you’re changing the POV on chapter level. Go fancy with the titles. Add first line with feeling. If you start the chapter with “John felt his heart could take no more” then we know it’s plainly John’s POV. If it starts with “Molly had never before performed an autopsy on a friend and never wanted to do it again”, well, the hint is, it’s not Mycroft’s POV, right?

Personally, I prefer adequate narration as the indication. Second is chapter titles.

But readers are SMART so if you can write it, they will understand. Without needing a big neon reminding them who is the main character right now.

If you can’t, well, then POV tags tell us “here there be dragons, don’t read any further”.

…and another little peeve – flashbacks. Dear Lord, people, think. Use italics. Use bold. Use scene breaking markers. Don’t just write FLASHBACK SCENE. It’s not a bloody movie scenario. It’s a story. When you read a book and a character thinks about their past, do you get a “FLASHBACK” there? Where the heck did this come from, stupid cartoons? Because, really. There are ways to form your narrative and to introduce the “memory” naturally in the text, without hitting your reader on the head with a big label.

You can use some smart introduction, like:

Mycroft sighed, looking at the broken figure in the hospital bed. It was just like always, like every time he had to pick up the pieces. It was just like that first time he had to take responsibility for someone his brother had accidentally endangered.

It was just like that boy – what was his name, Victor? Victor had looked just the same as John did now.

…and then put in some remark showing the time/place. The readers are smart. They will work it out.

Yeah. I’ve been reading way too much FF lately. Mostly Johnlock, so sue me.

Written by Srebrna

2018/04/25 at 19:56

Posted in On writing

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