I never, in a million years, would have guessed that I would be finishing this story over a year after I'd begun it. It was supposed to be for fun, for writing, and to assuage a major disappointment I had with the ending of Kotor II. It was never intended to be 50+ chapters long or over 1,000 pages. That's just crazy-talk, right there. In fact, the real end was supposed to be right around chapter 9 where Atton and Dane hook up. THAT was the original ending. But I'd set up this stuff with Dane and the Exchange that had promise and would have been left unresolved had I ended it there. But like Thelma suggested to Louise, 'let's just keep going,' my imagination did the same. So I did. And then some. And here we are, a year and half later.
There are other things I never expected, like the number of hits or reviews I've received. They both just boggle my mind. When I first started, I had two reviews on two chapters and the second one said, "Can't (read) this, too fluffy." Not exactly encouragement, but I was brand new to fanfiction and thought I was rich. It wasn't until around chapter 15 or 16, when you, my readers, began to get really vocal, did I realize what I had and how blessed I was.
I'd like to say I didn't write this for the reviews, but that wouldn't be an entirely honest statement. What WOULD be honest, is that after awhile, I wrote to get a certain kind of review.
This whole thing has been one gigantic exercise in rehabilitating a lost love of writing. I had been writing stuff for myself for years, showing no one, and getting more and more in my head about what I was doing. "Resolutions" and its readers have completely saved me. Until I began posting this story, I'd had no feedback of any kind outside of university term papers, which, anyone will tell you, are NOT the same as creative writing stories. But the feedback I began to receive was what I began to write for. You guys didn't just tell me you liked it (although I had those too, and that's perfectly fine by me, thank you very much) but many of you seemed to really get into it. You made suggestions or observations that changed how I thought of things. The course of the plot was somewhat guided by the comments made to me in the reviews. The amount of time and volume of reviews made me realize I would be doing a tremendous disservice to half-ass this, so I tried real hard to get it right.
In short, your reviews made me think, made me work harder, and made me realize that I had something to offer as a storyteller after all. I'm not Shakespeare and I don't pretend to be, but thanks to you all, I know I can entertain, and hell, that's more than good enough for me. It's not putting to fine a point on it to say that I feel like I can pursue what I want to pursue because of the devotion and affection of my readers. And for that, I can never properly thank you. (Well, I could, but you'd probably eventually tell me to quit groveling; it's not attractive.) ;)
And I'm going to try anyway. ;)
I have to thank you all for writing to me, be it a short review or long. The very fact you took the time at all earns you my undying gratitude. You all made every second worthwhile, truly.
And since some of you have asked what I will be doing next. Here's a brief line up in no particular order:
--Rian Sage's "Baggage" Challenge on my forum. (okay, so that's first since it has a deadline)
--A prequel and a sequel to "Lifelines" because Bao-Dur is hawt and that's just a fact
--some Kavar/Exile smut just because
--work on my own original fiction.
As for another long epic, I'll never say never, but it is highly unlikely. I've left a few strings untied in Res on purpose in the event the plot bunnies regarding the Rand and Onasi children demand to be heard, but that will likely be a no more than ten chapters at the most and a long time in the coming. Also, Lirik and Mira are up to something, but for now I have no immediate plans to say what.
Some people have asked me what I did that helped make my fic more successful. The answer is easy: I made it a priority. In the beginning, my motto was one chapter to be posted per week. This was instituted to run out a laziness I had developed when it came to working on my original stuff. No one can procrastinate better than I, so I forced myself to post once a week, two at the most. I think that helped build a following and earn the readers' trust. There are lots of fics that start out promising, but then the author either updates like a snail (like me on KFM) or they just give it up. Readers don't like that. I like to think my dedication to the story came through enough so that my readers could get involved and not worry that I would abandon it at any time. (Even though, right at the end my postings DID begin to come months apart—thanks for sticking to it.) Writing this fic became like a second job, and I put a lot of time and work into it and I think that it showed. (If nothing but in sheer quantity of pages, for Force's sake.)
So that's the main secret. Post regularly and post well. I think readers can feel it if you really care about the fic or not. That's not to say that stories can't be written for the hell of it, but I know the ONLY reason I have nearly 700 reviews is because my readers could feel that I was working for them and so they rewarded me accordingly.
Some character stuff…
This was so much fun to write but some characters were particularly entertaining. The games brilliantly made them all so rich and their backstories just full enough for plot fodder, but not so detailed that we're all afraid to color outside the lines because of canonitis. But of all the characters, Jolee and HK-47 were the most fun, Visas and Mical the most difficult, and Mission and Carth somewhere in between. Revan was a pain in my ass, to be frank, and so was Bastila (so I quickly killed her, moowawaaa) Also a ton of fun to write were the Thrakill twins (Lirik especially pinches Lirik's cheek) Raff O'Bannon and Darth Tertius. I have to admit, O'Bannon almost tops my list and I was a teeny bit sorry when Atton put a blaster bolt between his eyes. He was a bastard among bastards and I'm rather proud of him.
Atton was easy and most fun when he was Jaq and Bao-Dur was such a precious thing that after I killed him, I missed him too much and had to work him back in right away. Ahh, the Force. The deus ex machina of the murderous author. ;)
And then there's Dane.
She started out as an experiment. In the game, you're the center of the universe and your dialogue choices can be lighty-light to the extreme. You can, if you work at it, have your character be standing proud and tall, bathed in righteous light side glory, and have your actions influence positively everyone you touch. So that's how I made her. It seemed right to me to carry on the character I had created in the game into the story I was going to write that followed immediately after. Res starts right at the end of the game. It made sense to me that Dane should carry on what I had started there.
But then the story began to grow and I realized Dane's situation was going to have to change. But I vowed I was NOT going to have a witty, bantering, catty Exile. And I wanted her GOOD so no murderous rampages or fiery tempers. Instead, I tried to create a character who was the center of everyone's universe (as set up by the game) yet insecure, prone to hysteria, too involved in her man, and completely and totally unworldly. I wanted a character who was reallyreallyreally good and I wanted her to WIN. I was not interested in writing a story that somehow left the reader feeling like being good was something to be punished for. Dane took her licks, true, but her perseverance and belief in the inherent good of all people was NOT something I was willing to compromise. Our society spends enough time finding fault and being suspicious of those who are trying to accomplish something decent in this world. Not for a second did I want that cynicism to leak into my story or Dane.
I tried to make that the most apparent in Revan, who cut Dane down and called her names and chastised her for her naivete, but in the end, it was Dane who still had her integrity and Revan was nothing more than a person who had, yet again, given in to her darker natures.
It may have worked. It might not have. My interest was in creating a solid character no matter how crowd-pleasing she was or wasn't, and in that I think I succeeded.
Groveling and prostrations…
Now, I really want this last part to NOT sound like a yearbook entry or an award ceremony, but there's lots of people to thank.
One of the most brilliant aspects of this endeavor was the friends I made while doing it. I'm so fortunate to have stumbled across that silly game and then felt that silly urge to write a story about it. If I hadn't done either of those (and I thank my hubs for insisting I give Kotor I a try. Insisting, can you believe it?) then my writing would still be bogged down in various states of craposity. I'd still be telling myself "I'm writing a book" even though "writing a book" was then the equivalent of endless outlining and map drawing and character development instead of, oh I don't know, actual writing.
Anyway, besides all the help this story has given to my writing, I've had the added bonus of making many good friends. I'm not going to name all of you because that would take too long and also because I'd forget someone and feel lame from now until eternity. But Alice and Co, qt3.14159, padawanmage, Cablefraga, Auros, Rian Sage, lauraceleste, and phoenixasending deserve special mention. As does Alexandra3 who at times left such brilliantly honest and readable reviews, I often held my breath until I got one from her.
And Miss Becky who was my first buddy made, and the one who really and truly gave me the confidence to keep going. She loves good character stories as much as I do, and so to have her support and advice was invaluable. I love ya, darling, and don't know what would have happened without you.
And this last part belongs up with the successful action portion of my ramblings, but I don't want to repeat myself and I am really going to try to keep this under 5 pages. ;)
To have a really successful fic, or even a decent one, you need to have a good beta reader. (And preferably one who you can beta for too, to get a nice exchange going.) You have to have someone you can trust to tell you when you've screwed up and when you've got it right. A negative review is nothing compared to the mighty force of your beta reader saying, "You've got some good stuff here, but the rest needs MAJOR work." Or, "That makes no sense. Cut it," without a smidgen of sugary topping to take the sting out. You should have a beta reader who isn't afraid to tell it like it is, but who has earned your trust so that he CAN tell it like it is and you can hear it. And I was extremely fortunate to have found one.
Yes, this fic is over 1,000 pages long and many chapters reached well past 30. As tiring as I'm sure it was to read, imagine reading each chapter twice. Or three times. Imagine getting a 35-page chapter accompanied by a slightly whiny email asking in no uncertain terms if you would drop everything and get the draft back ASAP! If I had a medal for Bald as Malak, I'd airmail it to him priority overnight. (He's really far away so that's saying something.) BaM not only waded through my run-on sentences and dubious grammatical constructions, but also added a wealth of suggestion, ideas, and creativity.
BaM, you were a fantastic, honest, intelligent, and oft-times heroic beta reader and I am forever grateful for your hand in this collaboration and all the others in the works. Thank you for putting in the time that you did and for letting me return the favor with your fantastic story. It's been a blast. hugs and chocolate
So that's it. I'm at four pages so I'd better quit while I'm ahead.
Thanks again to all of you (and I SWEAR) I will reply to each and every review for these last chaps because I know that since you took the time to leave a review, the very absolute minimum I can do is respond to it.
And to any other writers, I say this: Stay focused. Don't let negativity or lack of response stymie you. If you really have a story you want to tell, then tell it, and the enthusiasm and energy you put into it will come back to you.
There is so much talent on this site, and so much creativity, and so many good people, I am proud to be a part of this community. Thank you all.