The pollster's lament
Meditations on complexity and nuance
23. How long does it usually take you to complete an entire story — from planning to writing to posting (if you post your work)?
Over the years, I had a number of stints working for polling companies — you know, those people who call you at dinner-time and who want to ask you "just a few quick questions", from Statistics Canada on down through the food chain.
The most common frustration from those who chose to respond — and one of the reason I so seldom respond to polls of any kind, unless they're meant more to be fun than anything else — is that they almost invariably try to force the world (and the person answering the questions) to fit into a reductionist's dreamscape of either/or questions and answers.
This isn't so bad when the question is whether you prefer to the Montreal Canadiens to the Toronto Maple Leafs (hint: the correct answer to this question is "Yes"), but not so good when it has to do with morally complex questons about public privacy or private morality.
For quite a long time, I thought the best story I'd written was one called "Old Friends" (In memory, at least, I still think it is pretty good. I think I'll give it a read and might then add it to my Hall of Juvenilia. But I digress.)
"Old Friends" was the kind of story I'm sure every writer wishes to have written. It came to me in a flash of inspiration, an image and a concept. I rushed to my typewriter, rolled a sheet of paper into the capstan, and started to type — and essentially went into a trance. Later, I would have vague memories of pulling out a finished sheet and rolling in another, but that was it.
The next morning, I came back to full consciousness with a completed manuscript stacked beside my machine. I read it, made enough cuts to warrant re-typing it, and that was it: a story that would stand up as the best thing I'd written for a decade or so, until "Sally McCaul" came along, anyway.
More recently, I wrote the pornographic "Strangers of the Flesh" during an online flirtation quite frankly as an effort at seduction. Unlike "Old Friends", I wrote "Strangers" in the full light of consciousness but at more or less the same speed. In any event, I had a complete draft in a few hours. The intended recipient quite liked it, too, but we lived in separate cities and the seduction itself never came off.
But in any case, when inspiration strikes, I can write very quickly indeed and need little or no planning to do so.
On the other hand, something like The Valley of Shabathawan was started (a lot) more than a decade ago, has been through several drafts and many transmutations and still isn't close to ready for prime time. I don't have much confidence that it ever will be, though this mimetic exercise has given me some cause to want to have another go at it.
But meanwhile, the answer to this entry's question is not one suitable to a poll, since it is thus: Completing a story can take a single night or many (many!) years.
0. Explain yourself! In which Young Geoffrey explains the meme and his reasons for exploring it.
1. Tell us about your favorite writing project/universe that you've worked with and why.
2. How many characters do you have? Do you prefer males or females
3. How do you come up with names, for characters (and for places if you're writing about fictional places)?
4. Tell us about one of your first stories/characters!
5. By age, who is your youngest character? Oldest? How about "youngest" and "oldest" in terms of when you created them?
6. Where are you most comfortable writing? At what time of day? Computer or good ol' pen and paper?
7. Do you listen to music while you write? What kind? Are there any songs you like to relate/apply to your characters?
8. What's your favorite genre to write? To read?
9. How do you get ideas for your characters? Describe the process of creating them.
10. What are some really weird situations your characters have been in? Everything from serious canon scenes to meme questions counts!
11. Who is your favorite character to write? Least favorite?
12. In what story did you feel you did the best job of worldbuilding? Any side-notes on it you'd like to share?
13. What's your favorite culture to write, fictional or not?
14. How do you map out locations, if needed? Do you have any to show us?
15. Midway question! Tell us about a writer you admire, whether professional or not!
16. Do you write romantic relationships? How do you do with those, and how "far" are you willing to go in your writing? ;)
17. Favorite protagonist and why!
18. Favorite antagonist and why!
19. Favorite minor that decided to shove himself into the spotlight and why!
20. What are your favorite character interactions to write?
20A. What are your favourite character interactions to write?
21. Do any of your characters have children? How well do you write them?
22. Tell us about one scene between your characters that you've never written or told anyone about before! Serious or not.
24. How willing are you to kill your characters if the plot so demands it? What's the most interesting way you've killed someone?
25. Do any of your characters have pets? Tell us about them.
26. Let's talk art! Do you draw your characters? Do others draw them? Pick one of your OCs and post your favorite picture of him!
27. Along similar lines, do appearances play a big role in your stories? Tell us about them, or if not, how you go about designing your characters.
28. Have you ever written a character with physical or mental disabilities? Describe them, and if there's nothing major to speak of, tell us a few smaller ones.
29. How often do you think about writing? Ever come across something IRL that reminds you of your story/characters?
30. Final question! Tag someone! And tell us what you like about that person as a writer and/or about one of his/her characters!
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