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About Deviant Artist Member TheOtherSarshiFemale/Romania Groups :iconaudiofans: AudioFans
 
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I'll write you a 5-page (approx. 2000 words) story on the topic/subject of your choice.

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I'm no longer dreaming of getting published: I'm hungry for it, like a ravenous wolf who once got a taste of its prey and now cannot help but stalk. I have plans, I have ideas, I (finally!) have courage. The only thing I seem to lack is time (last year I was almost exclusively out of work. This year I took everything that came my way; it was, perhaps, unwise).

My first novel is out, published in a free-to-read format on BigWorldNetwork.com. In April it will come out as an ebook, audiobook and paperback. Right now it's in a strange sort of place: it was published chapter by chapter every week for a year, with three breaks of a week each. 48 chapters. Around 140.000 words. You can go check it out: it's fantasy, dark(ish), and it's about an angel and a woman lost in Hell - the literal place where demons and devils roam. You might like it or not, it's in a bit of a niche. 

Anyway, episodic literature is amazing to write. There's no better prompt to keep you going until you finish that book except having a manageable deadline every week. That being said, it also has its own challenges, some of which I knew before going in (I talked more about this subject on my English blog, barely created, here):

  • you can’t go back to change what you’ve just written – and this can become very annoying and very problematic. (Neil Gaiman recommends that you don’t, in fact, write serial fiction, because of this very reason – I’d find a reference, but I can’t remember on what occasion he said it)
  • you have to make sure that everything sounds great to start with, because of the previous point
  • you need to have at least some things planned if you want foreshadowing. Or consistency. Consistency is good.
  • you must never write yourself into a corner
  • you need to be the sort of person who has good tricks for beating writer’s block, or the weekly deadline will spell ‘dead’ a lot more enthusiastically
  • creating a world that’s sufficiently rich in details ensures that later on you’ll be able to grab a few of those details and use them in cool ways. If you don’t use them, they still count as atmosphere
  • the serial novel may not be the best novel you can write, since you might wish you’d done something differently later, or you might have a few bad weeks in which things go badly, or because of Unforeseen Events. Of which there are plenty in life.
Now, I'm the sort of writer who writes without having planned much in advance. I have a vague idea of where everything is going, which is good for foreshadowing, but I improvise a lot. This isn't something I can change, because even if I plan, I plan badly. There are some things I want to do, which I later realize are cheesy, inconsistent with the characters, or simply don't work. I don't mind throwing things in the recycle bin and moving on.

This means that I have a lot of practice at coming up with solutions when I back myself into a corner. I have tricks for beating writer's block and moving the action forward. Here are some of the things I do:

  • I let my characters act. If there are two characters who want things that intersect, that's a plot. They don't even have to be in conflict; if one is, say, an artist who wants to graffiti an important building out of frustration that he isn't successful... and a thief who wants to steal something out of an important building... I can push them towards the same building and have them meet. Something is bound to happen.
  • when I need a solution, the first place I look for it is the past, the things that have already happened in the book. Can any of it save the day? Or make it more complicated? Can we have a fake solution? Let's say that the artist of the previous example lands in jail, confused by the police with the thief. He wants to get out, naturally. So he tries to prove that his intentions that night were not related to thievery. So, he explains that he was trying to do graffiti - will it get him out of jail? (that's a solution) Does he think that he's getting out of jail, but he won't be because they didn't see why he would both deface the building and commit a robbery? (that's a fake solution) Do they decide that he's KGB and was trying to signal something through the graffiti? (this is... well. Making it worse)
  • sometimes it feels like a part of the story lack fun, or that it's plain, flat, whatever. Unfortunately, it's important for the plot, so it has to be there - one option is to introduce background action which spikes up the fun. I had a case like this, in which a devil was explaining things to my main character, but it was 6 or 7 damned pages of monologue. I was bored. The angel was bored. That week, my readers would be bored. So: background action. The angel knows that the devil monologues like one of Dostoevski's characters (open Crime and Punishment, it's basically composed of long speeches), so he takes the opportunity of his sitting down in one place, being distracted, to set a magical trap, which can be activated at will. While nodding. And agreeing. And hearing the devil go on about how devils will try to trap you if given a chance, unlike angels. Voila! It's more exciting.
  • I take my time and don't mind going through 5 or 6 different variations of a scene. In my head, not on paper. On paper it would be a waste. What seems to be original and very exciting can sometimes be the result of taking something much more ordinary and tweaking it bit by bit until it's exciting.
  • when I don't know what would be exciting, I either call a friend, or imagine calling a friend (it depends on the time of day &c.) to talk about the plot as if it were my favorite thing in the universe and I'm trying to sell it to them. Usually, trying to make it sound grander to them, I figure out how to actually make it grand in my story. You see, when I actually write, I pay attention to every detail, but if I tell someone else, I immediately switch to a bird's eye view, which can provide new insights. Then I can come back to detail-mode and write it.
All of the above may or may not work for you, or for other people. Different authors have different styles. I'm character-oriented, but others are plot-oriented. I can't write based on a plot unless I really must, others can't come up with things on the spot and keep the plot together. The biggest advantage I have is not that I know these tricks, but that I know who I am as a writer, and what works for me. I don't think there's a "right" way to get inspiration and write. There's only a "right for you". Knowing that the above works for me helps just as much as knowing that I need a full day to write 10 pages, that I must edit on a normal basis in order to have any subtlety and that I'm at my best when writing for a few hours without interruptions. Also, that I'm more creative in the afternoon. None of this is universal, but it helps me, and the point is to do what it takes.

Something else I learned:
  • my mood severely influences my creativity and writing becomes like pulling teeth.
  • I need certain conditions to write properly (either silence or background noise, being left alone, fresh air, or fresh air in my recent past, no jazz, proper lighting, and no stir-crazy feelings)
  • the biggest enemy of making Flight from Hell a good novel was leaving any part of it "as it is, because it's fine". The temptation to be lenient with myself and lazy were sometimes there. It took a lot of effort not to let myself do it.
  • focusing on writing a bit at a time which will keep the reader interested means that you learn just how much can go into a few pages and that the final result might be more exciting, catchy, action-filled, or detail-filled. You're suddenly aware of the value of space, which I was usually aware of for short stories, but not so much for longer literature. Somebody else told me in an interview that she experienced a bit of this effect as well.
  • most of the time I was used to writing for that week's episode and it had become enough of a habit that it wasn't an issue to do it (I procrastinated, but not terribly much). However, there were a few key points when it was bad: the first few episodes, as I was getting used to the rhythm and trying to figure out how things would go; the time when I changed the setting and I didn't have my proper writing conditions (a more Southern climate is not my friend); a part in the middle when I freaked out that I was ruining the novel and I was scared of doing anything for fear I'd mess things up; at the end, when I needed to time things just right so I could wrap it all up in the number of chapters I had left.
  • my narrative voice changes a lot and I'm afraid it can lead to a bit of a stylistic roller-coaster. I have two choices now: to try to make it all the same in the novel, or to push it more in the oddball direction. I'll go for the latter for the final version, because it's both more interesting and more honest.
One thing that definitely changed, as well, was my attitude to receiving edits. I had two editors working for me, who sent back grammar, punctuation and wording changes, occasionally along with comments concerning bigger things that didn't work, or were unclear. I used to fear this, in a sort of phobia way. Even though I knew this would never happen, I kept imagining that one day I'd open the file and there would be red writing everywhere, with "THIS SUCKS!!!!!!!!" thrown over every other paragraph.

It wasn't about the editors, they're the coolest, it was about me. My fear of failure, despite knowing that I'm a good writer, is huge. Maybe that's why I became a good writer in the first place, because I kept stressing over everything and trying to improve myself. My style used to suck, so I banged my head against great books with an awesome style until something of them entered my brain. It was good, but it's also self-destructive after a point. Being afraid to double-click a document is on the self-destructive side. Cowering in fear that I might destroy my own creation is also on the self-destructive side.

In other words, managing my own damned psyche became part of the writing process, too. Maybe there's a bit of that for every writer. Or maybe there isn't. I don't know.

Anyways, it's a fascinating experience. I'm not sure I'd recommend it to beginners, since the deadlines can be taxing and it's easy to fall behind, or wish you'd never gotten into it (I didn't have this problem too much, but a friend has been writing "never again" at me concerning her own episodic novel). But it can be worth it: it can be exciting, you can learn things, you have the satisfaction of seeing people read it relatively early on. And, well, on the reader side, it can be fun waiting for a new chapter each week and speculating about what would happen next.
The episodic literature experience
I published an episodic novel over the past year and it was interesting enough that I wanted to talk about it.

Btw, I now have a blog in English (as opposed to having a blog that's mostly-not-in-English; that one still exists, but you might not be interested in it).
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My novel's come to an end. Not for you, for me. I've written it, the very last two episodes/chapters need to go online in the next two weeks. And then... done. It was a long project, lasting a year, and sometimes I feel like I've failed, and sometimes I feel like I did it just right.

I want to write about the experience, and I'll cross-post it as a deviation here and as a post on my blog, but if you have any specific questions or random comments (whether you've read it or not - I don't mind), you can ask them here. I'll make sure I'll answer them in the post.

dA is still my place of posting personal stuff, it turns out. I feel more open here. I can rant, I can grumble, I can go personal. On the blog everybody and their dog is watching me.

So, here's how it goes: I'm editing in English and translating English-to-Romanian a philosophy book that'll make my hair grow white before its time. It's hard work, especially since I have a minor interest in philosophy, which is a very different thing from the Major Interest in Philosophy I'd need to have to make working on it piece of cake.

I have two books from another publishing house that I'm working on translating whenever the philosophy book is too much. They're fun. They're written by a guru of dubious morality, but who's hilarious as hell. His life advice is the usual New Age "live in the present! Enjoy every moment!" sort of thing. I can't say I believe it, but it cheers me up.

I'm ghost-writing something for someone. Supposedly. I got busy and since there was no real deadline... fuck it. I'm bad when there's no deadline in sight.

I'll be teaching a few English classes to a local company here, because some people needed an English 'trainer' in the area and they stumbled across me.

I might also get more translations.

And I might want to revamp one of my never-published stories and submit it to Tor.com. They want to start their own novella/short novel imprint, and I thought, well, why not.

Oh, and some guy wants me to look up some Japanese terms. But that has no deadline, either.

Life is good. And lovely. And, shush, this is semi-secret and stuff, but my love life's cooler than it's ever been. I've found someone who can match me wit for wit, sarcasm for sarcasm, and fluffy romantic stuff for everything else. I've found my inner fluff-monster and it's so cuddly I'm damned if I can recognize myself.

We went out yesterday night and ended up eating at some restaurant in the tourist area of the city at 10 PM.
"Eating late," he said. "We're such crazy kids."
"What's the problem with eating late?" I demanded. "Do you think it'll make me fat? 'Cause that's wishful thinking, let me tell you." (I'm underweight - always have been; not malnourished, but skinny enough to circle my wrists with my thumb and pinky and have room left)
"Well," he answered. "It's a crime against nature, eating late. It starts raining, nature cries, thunder roars its disapproval."
...Ten minutes later, as we were walking around through the plaza, we started getting rained on.
"You and your pathetic fallacies," I grumbled.
My novel's come to an end. Not for you, for me. I've written it, the very last two episodes/chapters need to go online in the next two weeks. And then... done. It was a long project, lasting a year, and sometimes I feel like I've failed, and sometimes I feel like I did it just right.

I want to write about the experience, and I'll cross-post it as a deviation here and as a post on my blog, but if you have any specific questions or random comments (whether you've read it or not - I don't mind), you can ask them here. I'll make sure I'll answer them in the post.

dA is still my place of posting personal stuff, it turns out. I feel more open here. I can rant, I can grumble, I can go personal. On the blog everybody and their dog is watching me.

So, here's how it goes: I'm editing in English and translating English-to-Romanian a philosophy book that'll make my hair grow white before its time. It's hard work, especially since I have a minor interest in philosophy, which is a very different thing from the Major Interest in Philosophy I'd need to have to make working on it piece of cake.

I have two books from another publishing house that I'm working on translating whenever the philosophy book is too much. They're fun. They're written by a guru of dubious morality, but who's hilarious as hell. His life advice is the usual New Age "live in the present! Enjoy every moment!" sort of thing. I can't say I believe it, but it cheers me up.

I'm ghost-writing something for someone. Supposedly. I got busy and since there was no real deadline... fuck it. I'm bad when there's no deadline in sight.

I'll be teaching a few English classes to a local company here, because some people needed an English 'trainer' in the area and they stumbled across me.

I might also get more translations.

And I might want to revamp one of my never-published stories and submit it to Tor.com. They want to start their own novella/short novel imprint, and I thought, well, why not.

Oh, and some guy wants me to look up some Japanese terms. But that has no deadline, either.

Life is good. And lovely. And, shush, this is semi-secret and stuff, but my love life's cooler than it's ever been. I've found someone who can match me wit for wit, sarcasm for sarcasm, and fluffy romantic stuff for everything else. I've found my inner fluff-monster and it's so cuddly I'm damned if I can recognize myself.

We went out yesterday night and ended up eating at some restaurant in the tourist area of the city at 10 PM.
"Eating late," he said. "We're such crazy kids."
"What's the problem with eating late?" I demanded. "Do you think it'll make me fat? 'Cause that's wishful thinking, let me tell you." (I'm underweight - always have been; not malnourished, but skinny enough to circle my wrists with my thumb and pinky and have room left)
"Well," he answered. "It's a crime against nature, eating late. It starts raining, nature cries, thunder roars its disapproval."
...Ten minutes later, as we were walking around through the plaza, we started getting rained on.
"You and your pathetic fallacies," I grumbled.

deviantID

TheOtherSarshi

Artist
Romania
Proud owner of 4 DDs and 7 DLDs :D

Off dA:

:bulletgreen:I proofread texts for Project Gutenberg on Distributed Proofreaders. It's fun. Consider this pimping.
:bulletgreen:I translate from Romanian to English and the other way around, if anybody's interested in my services. (I've been hired as a translator before)

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:iconxlntwtch:
xlntwtch Featured By Owner Aug 9, 2014   Writer
:iconblinkthanksfavplz: ... :)
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:iconhueco-mundo:
hueco-mundo Featured By Owner Jun 17, 2014
Happy Birthday! Hope you have a great time! Airborne 
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:iconbetuwefotograaf:
Betuwefotograaf Featured By Owner Jun 17, 2014  Hobbyist Photographer
Wishing you a very happy birthday
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:iconfelanore:
Felanore Featured By Owner Jun 17, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Hyaaaaapeh Birthdeh! =D Hope all is going well with you, and that you don't die! ^_^
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:icontheothersarshi:
TheOtherSarshi Featured By Owner Jun 17, 2014
Haha, thank you! I'm actually doing okay... except perhaps for that little part where this was one of the lamest birthdays ever. It contained dentists, waiting and updating Windows...
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:iconfelanore:
Felanore Featured By Owner Jun 17, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
I'm sorry to hear that (exclamation point). Well, this is me sending you lots of good vibrations. FEEL THEM. :iconadorableplz:
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:iconartbypaulfisher:
artbypaulfisher Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you very much for the favourite :)
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:iconempresshimiko:
EmpressHimiko Featured By Owner Dec 6, 2013  Student General Artist
^w^ Thank you for favoriting the second fan panel for Mangaka [Sempai saw.... Sempai noticed! <3 ]

Hehe (^_^') Looking back, I'm thinking of re-drawing the panels.... I like to think I've improved in two years and can do a neater [if not better] job
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:icontheothersarshi:
TheOtherSarshi Featured By Owner Dec 6, 2013
Ah...Blush Emote I actually saw it before... and knew it was there... and liked it... and remembered it...
...and yesterday I was looking for it in my favorites, to show it to someone, but I couldn't find it anywhere. Which was when I realized I never actually fav-ed it.

Sorry. I was absolutely certain that I did.Blush Emote
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:iconempresshimiko:
EmpressHimiko Featured By Owner Dec 9, 2013  Student General Artist
>w<
You show it to people? Hehe, I'm honored <3
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