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16 September 2007 @ 06:41 pm
2 Writing Dilemmas (input appreciated) + A Happy Note  

Dilemma #1: Exposition Fear

So, I'm writing another chapter fic for the Dresden Files. I'm on the 7th chapter of it (for once, I've actually written in order) and I've come to the point where I need to start doling the exposition. In the commentary for the Doctor Who episode 'Boomtown', John Barrowman talks about 'Line Fear', which is when an actor has a major piece of dialogue to say (in his case, with a bunch of techobabble) and gets so nervous about it, they start to dread it. I think I have 'Exposition Fear', because every time I start to think about working on the chapter, I go 'meh' and try to work on something else instead. I've tried to have the exposition worked through the whole thing as the mystery unravels, but I think there is a moment in every Dresden Episode/Fic where it comes down to Harry and Bob talking it out. So, I guess this isn't so much a 'what do I do?' as, 'dude, this sucks', but if you have any tips or suggestions, I'm happy to hear them.

Dilemma #2: Too Many Cooks

I'm also working on Firefly fic and whenever I try to write for it, I have trouble juggling all the characters. You've got nine crew members hanging around, plus whatever other characters who are guest starring in the story. On screen, the actors are in the background and you can see the characters doing stuff, but in writing, the characters don't do anything unless you write them doing it. So, aside from splitting them down into smaller groups as much as possible, how do you manage that many characters without it coming down to either have someone talking for the sheer sake of letting everyone know they're still there or else writing them out of a scene they would most likely be in?

+ A Happy Note:
Guess who finally has Stargate Atlantis Season 2 on DVD to watch? Yeah, it's me! Screw you, Zip.ca, just keep hoarding your SG dvds despite my prioritizing them! I have other ways of getting my fix, dammnit! Now I finally get to find out what the hell is going to happen to Atlantis. It's been, like, a year since my mum and I finished Season One, too late to catch Season Two starting on Space. We're a year behind in seasons too, so, I know I have another one to catch up on before Season Four airs, yes? We still need to get ahold of Season 10 of SG-1. Is it out on DVD yet?
Current Mood: giddygiddy
Current Music: Ants Go Marching - Rockapella
tigerkat24tigerkat24 on September 16th, 2007 11:09 pm (UTC)
For the second one, Firefly fics are a bitch like that. I would suggest throwing in the occasional "Zoe nodded silently" or "Jayne snorted, but said nothing" just so they're still making a contribution. It doesn't have to be speech, and usually it's not just to let people know they're still there, because half the time Jayne thinks everything Mal says is ridiculous, Wash doesn't like violence, Zoe doesn't say much usually and Simon is usually confused, etc. etc.
As for the first, my only advice is to just sit down and make yourself write it. It sucks, yeah, but a lot of the time that's the only way I can make myself do scenes I don't want to write.
The Writer They Call Tay: Firefly: Mal messawanderingbard on September 17th, 2007 02:50 am (UTC)
Yeah, that makes sense. It's good to hear you say that (read you write that?), since I give those characteristics to the people and then I think 'maybe Zoe should saying something here', but she wouldn't really. It's nice to have some back-up to one's opinion. :D
formerly lifeinsomniac: BernardsHelljoonscribble on September 17th, 2007 12:08 am (UTC)
Ah, the dreaded InfoDump moment. Every Dresden Files story and episode's usually got one. And writing fic for this fandom usually means one has to get used to doing it. I totally agree that it's a pain and you try and do everything within your power to avoid it, but you can't.

One thing I usually do that works for me is to just write out in one big paragraph the information that has to be related. Once that part is actually written out, I find it easier to go back and hand out to each character, what he or she is going to say to get said information across. It helps me organize and it also helps sometimes to just get the information down somewhere before having to make it be related in an interesting, readable way.

Hope that sort of helps. I'm ridiculously pleased that you're writing another multi-chapter fic!
The Writer They Call Tay: Firefly: still flyingawanderingbard on September 17th, 2007 02:51 am (UTC)
Oooh, that's a very good idea. I will definitely try that. I have a horrible habit with not pre-planning. I could never stand making mind maps in school and I should probably employ more brainstorming tactics than I do.

I'm ridiculously pleased that you're writing another multi-chapter fic!

Hehe. I hope I can live up to the expectation. This one bit me hard. :D
formerly lifeinsomniac: Books&Lolliesjoonscribble on September 17th, 2007 03:01 am (UTC)
Glad to help!

I tend to dorkishly do an outline when I start on my multi-part fics.

Good luck! Can't wait to read it.
AngiePen: Firefly MalJayne -- mineangiepen on September 17th, 2007 05:30 am (UTC)
Even in the series, they're not all together in one room (or whatever -- say within a few feet of each other if they're outdoors) at the same time all that often. If they're having a big group discussion or briefing or something, then one or two characters can do most of the talking and you can just toss in a reaction shot here and there from the others. But just showing them walking in and sitting down, or getting up and leaving, will remind the readers that they're there, even if they didn't blather on at any point during the scene. I don't think you necessarily need to have a big everyone-gathered-together scene in every story anyway; use the characters you need and leave the others to just be around doing whatever somewhere else, whether on the ship or in town or wherever they are.

And you can write them in the background too, the same way they might be shown on film in the background. So maybe Mal and Zoe walk past Kaylee buried shoulders-deep in something she's fixing while the two of them are talking about whatever. Or Simon wraps up surgery after digging forty-twelve pounds of shot out of Jayne and sees that Book had come and gone at some point without being noticed and left a plate of dinner to one side for him.

So most of the writing for those scenes will be Mal and Zoe's conversation, which moves the plot forward toward wherever it's heading; or Simon's operating, which is all suspenseful 'cause we're worried about our favorite hunky jerk losing his leg or whatever and Simon's all stressed out about it too, until finally he's done and thinks it'll be okay so yay. Kaylee's in the first scene so we know she's around and doing things, but she has no lines and the reader isn't going to really focus on her. Jayne's in the second scene but he's unconscious the whole time (although even if we didn't see it because maybe it happened before the story started, we know for a fact that Jayne's been out and about having fun). And we know Book's been around and doing things but we never saw him onstage -- the focus was on Simon where the writer wanted it.

Just a mention that someone's there while leaving the focus on the characters who are actually doing plot-related things lets you focus on the major characters (major in this story, or even just this scene) while reminding the reader that the others are around, doing what they do. Even just showing the results of other characters' actions, like the food Book left, gives the readers a sense that there are other characters doing things beyond the current setting -- that there's a larger world out there with people going about their lives, even if it's just the larger world of the ship beyond whatever compartment the action is currently in.

Hope that helps some. :)

The Writer They Call Tay: Firefly: Kaylee cuteawanderingbard on September 20th, 2007 08:57 pm (UTC)
Thank you for your very thoughtful response. I understand what you're saying and it really helps me out. :D
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The Writer They Call Tay: DW: Rose / 9awanderingbard on September 20th, 2007 08:59 pm (UTC)
lol. I don't mind battle scenes, I'll certainly trade ya. I do action much better than exposition. I've taken your advice, however, and got everything I want down. The chapter I was stuck on is now done, though I'll probably come back to it. So, thank you! :D
Beck: Hufflepuffmuffinsiconfluence on October 3rd, 2007 08:59 am (UTC)
You've managed 9 pups before, love. I have faith. This may no longer be an issue, but still, I have faith. :D
The Writer They Call Tay: Dresden: wandawanderingbard on October 4th, 2007 03:33 am (UTC)
Aww, thanks babe. I got your card in the mail today. Thanks for sending it. It's very pretty! :D