January 31st, 2003


no subject lines before my alarm goes off

lori has a timely thread going about beta-reading. I was thinking of this again last night, having rediscovered that I can't get even the slightest bit of critical feedback while I'm writing. It completely stops me in my tracks, shuts off the spigot mid-flow, dries up the well. It's less painful when I'm finished with a story, and the more distance I have the less painful it gets, in most cases.

I haven't had a beta reader since I started writing in Buffy. Trying to find them in my previous fandom, Stargate, was like trying to find hen's teeth. Or so it felt. I started right off the bat in Buffy writing a long serial, and thought at first that I might want to make some radical revisions along the way, but so far that hasn't been the case. It's such a freakishly ambitious project for me--22 longish stories--that I've had to employ a number of mental tricks to keep myself writing. Thinking of the series as one continual, pre-beta draft helps me keep going. But by the time I'm done would anyone want to beta their way through 396,000 words? I'm fooling myself that I'll ever seek a beta for it, but I'm doing it deliberately.

Things I more or less believe, as I try to sort through my thoughts here:

* A trailing 99.9999 percent of all stories would be improved in some way by using a beta.
* Most writers can probably improve their work over time just as much if they master the ability to read for comprehension, parsing for the tricks of effective stories and integrating them into their own work, along with technical writing rules.
* Fan-fiction writers should use betas only when they feel comfortable.
* Having a story beta read can be a painful experience or a helpful one.
* A lot of writers find betas at their own level of accomplishment, rendering the process pretty ineffective.
* I'm a blunt instrument with poor stories, and a rather careless, blind, and over-forgiving beta with good ones. Either way I suspect I'm not very palatable.
* I don't need a beta to post good stories.
* I could post *better* stories if I got one.

I'm perfectly comfortable writing stories until the end of time without any beta readers, editing myself as I go. I know that when I'm done with a story there are probably still going to be a number of awkward sentences that could have been better worded, some gaffes, some muddy areas, and who knows what other host of problems that I'm utterly blind to. It just doesn't bother me. It doesn't mean I don't want to improve or that I blow off errors--I mean, I freak if I have a typo in a list post, and I often edit an *LJ* entry a dozen times to make corrections or get just the right phrasing. It's just that, if a writing system works, I don't want to upset the precarious balance, the ritual mojo, by messing with it.

Anyway. There. I found something to ramble about.

In other news, I drank last night *and* had pie. And a tart too. No half measures when you jump off the wagon. Jump off with both feet. Two drinks was enough to do me in and give me Twisty Gut this morning. Two desserts has left me sugared and demented, like a winter-stunned bear with its fur sticking up all over in licks.

Can't remember my dreams, but as I wrote the above, I received a vague impression that they involved licked fur.

AUs and S/X

A good post on Spike/Xander characterization and AUs can be found here and an essay on the "two-step" theory of parquet deformation fictional extrapolation can be found here, both of which make me hip-hop happy. Essays on Spike and Xander and writing! All my favorite things.

(Google "parquet deformation" by the way, and you will see that I do have a tiny bit of geek in me.)


Five by Five

Yes. Memeness. Memosity. Gacked (*gack*) from spike21, who in turn gacked from X, etc.

1. As a child, who was your favorite superhero/heroine? Why?
Doctor David Banner, The Incredible Hulk. I think it was the haunting theme music. Theme music goes a long way. In fact it's probably a big reason why I'm still watching Angel.

2. What was one thing you always wanted as a child but never got?
To go to boarding school.

3. What's the furthest from home you've been?
Well, that's a funny question. Since I grew up on the east coast, I've always considered that to be "home" in a sense. And when I moved here to Seattle, that was the farthest I'd ever been. But now this is home. So there we have it. No matter where you go, there you are.

4. What's one thing you've always wanted to learn but haven't yet?
Another language.

5. What are your plans for the weekend?
Finish my new X/S story if possible, work out, see Kat Allison (yay!), do laundry. Apartment cleaning, on the other hand, is contingent on whether Kat will actually be stopping by to see it. {g} Hey, Kat...?