How to Train a Writer
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Sunbitten

Not really looking for any information in particular. Just saw these questions in another forum and thought them interesting.

1. How often do you work on your story/stories?

2. How do you focus on your characters?

3. How do reviews affect you? Are they important to you? Don't care? Inspirational? How do you deal with negative reviews? Do you allow anonymous reviews? Do you have to have a certain number of reviews to continue?

4. What is your favorite genre to write?

Backroads' EDIT:

Here is the official list of questions!

1. How often do you work on your story/stories?

2. How do you focus on your characters?

3. How do reviews affect you? Are they important to you? Don't care? Inspirational? How do you deal with negative reviews? Do you allow anonymous reviews? Do you have to have a certain number of reviews to continue?

4. What is your favorite genre to write?

5. Why does HTTYD fanfiction rock?

6. What is the meanest thing you've ever done to a character in a fanfic?

7. What ratings do you prefer to stick to?

8. Who is your favorite character (or characters) to write about?

9. How would you describe your style?

10. What great cliches have you noticed in fics? What strikingly original ideas?

11. What "audience" do you write for?

12. What do you think of mature themes? What mature themes are most appropriate for HTTYD? (The discussion above and some things Calico said got me thinking about that)

13. Alternate Universes and Original Characters. Share your thoughts.

14. What are your writing bad habits?

15. What turns you off faster from reading something: bad storytelling or bad technical writing (grammar, punctuation, spelling, etc)?

16: What writing style do you stick to or do you ever switch it up? [i.e. past tense vs. present tense, first person vs. omniscient, dialogue vs description]

17. Do you rework posted chapters/stories or is what is up is up?

18. How long do you like your chapters to be?

19. What should go into the ideal HTTYD fanfiction review?

20. Where do you get inspiration for your HTTYD fics?

21. What goes into making a ship/pairing work?

22. Short stories/One-shots vs. Longer Fics. Why?

23. What should be taken from criticism/compliments? How do you work it into your work?

24. Do you stick to the world of Berk or do you ever venture into other areas? If so, what goes into designing those areas?

25. If you're ever used an Original Character, what goes into designing that character?

26. Do you ever "copy" styles from things you've read?

27. Taboos. Is there anything that should just never be done in an How to Train Your Dragon fanfic?

28. If you edit stuff you've already written, what sort of things do you edit?

29. Broad question: What "weird" things have you ever done with characters?

30. Do you feel your writing has "grown" over the fics you've written? How?

31. What do you do when you have writer's block or other writing frustrations?

32. What's the worst fic you've ever written? (any fandom)

33. Do you use a beta? Do you beta anyone?

34. What things from the movie are you most fond of expanding on?

36. Do you ever read a fic that you consider amateur, and give pointers to the person?

37. What is your definition of "flaming" or "flames"?

38. What is a non-MarySue character like? Wouldn't canon characters qualify in this category, too?

39. What sort of plot ideas would you give up to other people?

40. What kind of fics do you enjoy writing?

41. What drew you to HttYD in the first place? And then what drew you to the fanfiction?

42. Do you have any little things you emotionally connect with one of your fics (i.e. a song, an incident)?

43. How much does review quantity matter to you? What fics of yours have received the most reviews? Why do you think that is?

44. How many fics do you focus on at a time?

45. What "setting" do you have to be in for writing? Do you have to be in a certain place? Do you have certain rituals?

46. When writing a fic, do you tend to see words in your head or pictures that you try to describe in words?

47. For multichapter stories, do you prefer to write the chapters as you post them or write out the entire story at once, then break it up into chapters?

48. Why does the How to Train Your Dragon archive have a ton of stories written for it, as opposed to the other archives for previous Dreamworks movies?

49. How did people react to the "worst fic you've ever posted"?

50. Do you reply to every review? Why/why not?

51. How important is getting a specific "ship" into your story? i.e., do you write the story for the ship, or is that sort of a side detail that doesn't matter?

52. What is your favorite fic you ever, ever, ever wrote? Why?

53. Who in reality knows about your fics and what do they think of them?

54. Do you think the movie release will give you further inspiration to write fics? How so?

55. For your HttYD fics, what inspiration led to their creations?

56. How can you tell (or define, I guess) if someone is a careful or not a careful writer?

57. Where do you get your ideas for titles?

58. Are you opposed to killing off characters? Why/why not?

59. What do you think of cross-overs?

60. Swearing. Do you like it for fics? Why/why not? How much?

61. What are your favorite relationships/themes/movie incidents/etc. to pick at?

62. Do you like to introduce a story like it's the first time visiting Berk or do you prefer to assume a reader has seen the movie?

63. What's the most out-of-character moment you've ever seen in a fic?

64. What's the craziest thing you would like to do in a fic but don't have the guts to do?

65. When looking at the fic tag on the main listing of stories, what attracks you to a story or repels you? Summary? Author? Amount of reviews?

66. Continuation of this past conversation... do you read everything of a favorite author?

67. Do you ever change your writing style for different fics?

68. What is the hardest thing for you to write?

69. What do you think of alternate endings?

7/21/2010 . Edited by Gumdrop Boo - Ch4rms, 12/7/2010 #1
Backroads

Ooh. Questions to answer.

1. Work varies. Since it's summer it's been more frequent on the ones I do with other people, but the vast majority of mine that are mine alone tend to get ignored because summer is playtime.

2. Not exactly sure if I understood this question, but I really try to keep them in character. In fanfics, I usually write down how I interpret the character. I like getting into their heads a little bit.

3. a. Oh, reviews are fun. I won't deny that.

b. I think they're pretty important because they're usually encouraging and a great way to get feedback. Though I'd rather just not get the ones that say "good story". I think inspirational is a good word because it is inspiring to get them, makes me want to write more.

c. Negative reviews? I think they're is a different review besides a critical negative review and a flame. I do like to be told what didn't work because that's always very helpful. I like to think I'm at a point in my writing where criticism is delicious to me. I try to take them for what they are worth and learn from them. Crazy flames--I've rarely gotten those. Yay! The ones I've got, I just think "psycho" and move on.

d. I'm fine with anonymous reviews. Some people never bother to sign up/sign in, and I like to get those reviews. Some people don't like anonymous reviews because then you get the aforementioned psychos to spam your review or something, but while it's easy to block a ff.net user it's just as easy to delete an anonymous review.

4. In this fandom, I've done a lot of little dramatic pieces, a few funny ones, then my friend and I have partnered up on two full-length ones. One's a rom-com that may wind up getting way too serious, and the other is a supernatural piece.

5. Because it comes from a good source material! It just lends itself well to fanfiction. There's enough characters to work with, a nice creative setting, things one can relate to, etc.

7/21/2010 #2
Gumdrop Boo - Ch4rms

1. How often I work on stories:

Nearly everyday when I'm in the fever for it [I often switch from fanfiction to playing the Sims 2 in blocks]. The stories vary as I have few IP going at a time.

2. How I focus and develop characters.

I take details about them from the source and apply or expand them to develop a narrative or deeper emotional connection between the reader and the writing of them. I choose to do this in omniscient, in fact I don't believe I have any first person stories on here...

3. How reviews affect me?

They are happy, deliciously happy as they reflect the impact that my writing had on the reader. People always strive for praise so a review is like a little added ray of sunshine to my day.

Are they important to me? Yes, but my writing and plot/character development is what keeps me inspired. Sharing and getting feedback is perk. So if I happen to be writing something I'm particualrily inspired about, I could go for chapters without a review and just keep on updating it. Though the lack of reviews I'll admit makes me lazy because I assume no one is taking an interest so i can update at my own pace knowing people aren't eagerly waiting to see what happens next.

I've never actually gotten a negative review, I find the psycho flamers are kids trolling the more popular or weird fandoms like Harry Potter and anime stuff. Critique I respect and love to have dialogue about sometimes it might make me reconsider what I have written if the critique makes a good point.

Anonymous reviews are fine to me, it just irks me I can't reply because I usually try to reply to all my reviewers, even the 'That was awesome, update soon!' ones. Just so they know they matter to me :D

4. My favorite genre

I love drama, and I think that has developed as I have gotten older. Drama is the best for me because I can always add snippets of humor, angst, or action. Romance is big for me too, I love a good romance and even if my stories don't have 'romance' as a genre you can bet there's a ribbon of it strung in there somewhere.

5. Why does HTTYD fanfiction rock?

Well, as whole the fanfiction is riddled with some weird fics that I wouldn't care to read. However, I have come across some brilliant ones that I luurve and often re-read, and often search for for new ones that catch my interest to see how others interpret the characters or expand on the movie deatils.

I love the one-shots I see here. I love writing in this fandom because the source material [in my case movie, more than book] gave us characters that weren't wholly developed so we can expand on them, mature them, write a prequel, or whatever. It gives us historic, fantasy, and modern all in one and that's why I love the movie enough to write fan fiction about some of it's aspects.

7/21/2010 #3
Backroads

I remember the days before the review reply system and everyone would just respond to their reviewers in the subsequent chapter. It was nice because then your anonymous reviewers could see what you wanted to say to them. Then again, it was also public and who knew if someone would come back to read the reply? I know a few people who still do it that way, but I think ff.net generally frowns upon it now as a waste of space (which it can be) and encourages the review reply.

I was thinking about the reviews, and I realized they really don't make me write. I was looking through my stuff and found a bunch of pieces that were really quite popular that I would avoid for years.

7/22/2010 #4
Hell's Fiery Belle

I've only written one fic, so I might just jump to the last question.

I think it's the characters. The movie had these characters that were just vague enough to capture the imagination to do things with.

7/22/2010 #5
Hell's Fiery Belle

I think I may add some questions here, too:

What is the meanest thing you've ever done to a character in a fanfic?

What ratings do you prefer to stick to?

7/22/2010 #6
Gumdrop Boo - Ch4rms

The meanest meanest absolute meanest thing I ever did to a character in fanfiction was in a Sky High fic. I took a side character and developed an OO love interest for them. He fell and whatnot but in the end I had him kill her for the greater good and she wasn't even evil, still the girl he fell in love with. It was a tragedy.

I like a K+/ T rating.

7/22/2010 #7
Backroads

Wow, Boo... that's pretty bad... Darn superhero greater good.

Let's see...I have this thing for writing "ghost fics", which tends to require characters deaths in order to produce a ghost. So I guess my biggest mean thing is killing off characters.

How I've killed off characters for ghost fics: Stabbed in the heart, killed by Voldemort, choked on a piece of poisoned broccolli (my personal favorite), car accident, fell off a dragon. I must say, killing characters is fun.

I've also done more emotional things, but usually not in "fan" fiction. I have stuff in the fairy tale sector where people have been turned into animals for years, which I think is mentally anguishing.

I have a "mean" thing that hasn't actually been written yet. No killing, but I think it's fairly detrimental to the point where I can't even laugh evilly about it like I can with character deaths and transfiguration. So it may be the meanest thing I will ever do to a character.

I usually avoid "M". I'm not really a prude, it's just that they tend to be in poor taste on this site. I've never written one.

7/22/2010 . Edited 7/22/2010 #8
Gumdrop Boo - Ch4rms

Agh, speaking of mentally anguishing. Did you ever see that movie, 'Lady Hawk?' I remember watching that when I was a kid and I was mentally anguished for those poor people that were cursed to be animals. Is that what you do in your fairy tales? Lol.

Is your 'mean' thing unwritten for your RxF story? I know you said it'd be a rom com but you also said it might get too serious. Oh that reminds me I need to go back and review your newest chapter. Lata!

I'll wander into an M story but like you, a lot of them are really awkward. I did manage to find a pretty good HTTYD lemon, just the middle part of the story though. Also M could be like hella violence or cursing and so far I haven't wandered into anything in this fandom too harsh in those themes. I might touch on M-related material but don't overdo it--just suggest it. I think I prefer the suggestion more than an actual detailed scene.

7/22/2010 #9
Sunbitten

1. Rarely. I haven't worked on anything in months.

2. I try to write them as they are in the movie.

3. Reviews are a form of encouragement/criticism, both great. I don't think I care too much about the number. I've seen fics on this site over the years that have thousands of reviews and yet, frankly, suck. I've also seen stories that don't have huge numbers of reviews that are very excellent. I do allow anonymous reviews for all the reasons already mentioned. It gives everyone a chance to read and review and if the review is nasty you can always delete it. I think it's stupid to have a certain number of reviews to continue and I hate when people say that because it means they're not writing for themselves.

4. I usually do more dramatic pieces. I also like romance.

5. I trace the rock-ness of HTTYD fanfiction back to the movie. That movie is not a single genre category. That just screams so many options for fanfiction.

6. *looks back at fics* I don't think I've ever done anything really mean! I'm too nice to my characters. That, or I just haven't done anything dramatic enough. Some slight angst here and there, but nothing big. Backroads, you forgot about that time when you locked up a character in a prison for years and had another one get their child kidnapped and a horrible love triangle and you just barely finished that fic last month! Did you already forget about it? And Gumdrop Boo, I may have to check out that fic! That sounds tragically romantic.

7. Actually, I tend to stick to K-K+, now that I'm looking at my stuff. Not without exceptions, though.

7/23/2010 #10
Gumdrop Boo - Ch4rms

HAHA @ your reminding of Backraods evil things she has done to a character. Oh man I laughed out loud as your list went on. Prison, child-napping?

And if you like the Sky High fandom, Sunbitten by all means give my story a try it's the 'Bonds' one, just clarifying because I have two in my page. Be warned though it's one of my older ones so the writing might not be to what you're expecting after reading any of my HTTYD stuff. :)

7/23/2010 #11
Sunbitten

*shrugs* It was kind of a depressing fic, actually!

I'll be sure to check that out!

7/23/2010 #12
Backroads

Oh, yeah. I forgot about that one. I take everything back I've ever said. I've never been meaner or will be meaner than what I did in that one. 'Cept that one was a pain to write which is why I ignored it for two years in the middle of it.

The mean thing that has not been done yet... yes, it will be done in the R&F fic.

And I love Lady Hawk! I think that's where I got some of my inspiration. Technically, the story was a retelling of a fairy tale where the characters suffered these transformations and I do have this theme of separation because of it, but I also categorized the story as "Humor", though that doesn't mean much with m.

My turn to ask questions!

Who is your favorite character (or characters) to write about?

How would you describe your style?

What great cliches have you noticed in fics? What strikingly original ideas?

What "audience" do you write for?

7/23/2010 . Edited 7/23/2010 #13
Gumdrop Boo - Ch4rms

... D: You're going to be mean to RxF?? No! Sad, they already had to be forced to marry. Is it baby-related??

Oh fudge I still need to review that last chapter.

Out of HTTYD I think I love writing for Ruffnut and Hiccup the most, not as a couple but I really love the chapters of them above the other ones. They're my top two faves.

My style? well Usually I go on with multi-chapters 20+ but in this sense I'm experimenting by writing contained one-shots and having them chronologically out of order and what not. If not that a constant in my style is a good balance of dialogue vs. description, a better vocab and I usually write 5+ pages for a chapter. Also, most of my stories really dig into the character in some manner, I love writing for character. Also I tend to stay true to cannon for the most part. No OOC!

Most lemons are horribly cliched. Mary Sues are disgustingly common. I'm picky and just tired of seeing weird things that aren't unique in this fandom like out of cannon slash, mpreg, time-travelling future person gets thrown into the plot--you can't be Dr. WHO!

As far as what I like--when I see fics here that expand on details from the movie or are well written and have well written characters that they've worked with and still have a resonance to the ones from the source. Examples include:

Duchess's Delanie's 'Disasters in Childrearing'.

Backroad's 'Trolls eat children' and 'Dragon Preoccupation'

Calico's 'All of him'

SaintFireStar666's 'The Change'

As you can see I'm partial to reading one-shots.

I write for an audience who appreciate good writing, who have a sense of maturity because I find myself writing rather adlut-ish as in there's a lot of drama. I'd say 16+ is the audience I aim for when I write my stuff, though younger teens might get into it too, and that's just fine :)

7/23/2010 #14
Duchess Delanie

1. How often do you work on your story/stories?

When I'm excited about them. Whatever that means in time.

2. How do you focus on your characters?

I like getting into their heads, examining what they would do in situations. I just started one that I think is going to be very character-oriented, and I have others that are simply enjoying relationships. "The Art of Running and Hiding" was to simply see how two characters meshed.

3. How do reviews affect you?

I admit, reviews are usually what keeps going unless I'm super-excited about something.

Are they important to you?

Yes.

Don't care?

Oh, I care. I admit it.

Inspirational?

Very much so. Reviews are what inspired me to extend "The Art of Running and Hiding."

How do you deal with negative reviews?

Never had one. Helpfully critical reviews, yes. Flames, no.

Do you allow anonymous reviews?

I actually don't know. I'll have to check my settings.

Do you have to have a certain number of reviews to continue?

No, and I hate it when people do that! But a review does let you know someone is out there reading my fic.

4. What is your favorite genre to write?

Romantic comedy!

5. Why does HTTYD fanfiction rock?

To me, it's because I can relate to it. Me: Tuff. Hubby: Fishlegs. And it's an awesome story. I also loved the book series. And there is so much you can do with it!

6. What is the meanest thing you'e ever done to a character in a fanfic?

I had Fishlegs struck by lightning. He was fine a few days later. No biggie.

7. What ratings do you prefer to stick to?

*checks* I've never written about a K+. Then again, half my stuff here was written years ago when I was a smaller duchess and going under the name of Dead Cheerleader. Now I'm older, married, and probably not opposed to writing anything higher.

8. Who is your favorite character (or characters) to write about?

Ruffnut, Fishlegs, and most recently Astrid.

How would you describe your style?

I'm pretty simple. I like to be fresh, easy-to-read, though I feel I'm getting a bit fancier and thoughtful with my new one, probably because I'm hoping to be a little more epic with it.

9. What great cliches have you noticed in fics? What strikingly original ideas?

Dragon!Hiccup and Human!Toothless. *shakes head* They're everywhere. Astrid/Hiccup angst is everywhere, but I don't know if it's a cliche. I know a lot of people are overly concerned with Hiccup and his poor foot, but I think that's to be expected and you can do a lot with it. I just hate the idea that Hiccup is now incapable of anything.

A cliche I did like was the old amneisa cliche. Calico wrote one and it was incredible.

Original ideas... I've seen a few fics, namely from Inquisitive Tea and Backroads, that do some amazing things with Norse mythology. Heck, Backroads killed Hiccup, but it wasn't a death fic. Inquisitive Tea made Toothless the son of Hel. I thought those were both original.

10. What "audience" do you write for?

General audience. People that appreciate good stuff, like Gumdrop Boo said. I don't think I write specifically to hormonal teenagers, or even people my own age, though I'm still technically a teenager. But I don't think I'm aiming for any small group.

This is fun. I'll have to think of questions.

7/25/2010 #15
Calico

1. How often do you work on your story/stories?

Pretty much whenever time and inspiration permit, which is sadly not as often as I'd like.

2. How do you focus on your characters?

My main characters pretty much have to live in my head, and yes it gets very crowded in there.

3. How do reviews affect you? Are they important to you? Don't care? Inspirational? How do you deal with negative reviews? Do you allow anonymous reviews? Do you have to have a certain number of reviews to continue?

Not going to deny I love reviews. It's satisfying to know someone is enjoying your work. I have a hard time looking at anything I write objectively and I frequently wonder if it's going to connect with anyone. There are some great reviewers in these parts, and I'm always appreciative of them! I'm not adverse to anonymous reviewers in any way. But even if there aren't a lot of reviews, it helps when the story is favorited or put on alert. I actually wish FF.N would institute a rating system, so that even if a person doesn't feel comfortable leaving feedback, they can still show they've read it and give it a relative thumbs up or down. I'm not a good reviewer; for some reason I find it hard to get beyond "fire bad, tree pretty." I'm trying to be a lot better, though.

4. What is your favorite genre to write?

Angst, usually of the romantic variety. I tend to be drawn to characters that are darker and more open to that sort of thing, I think. Funnily enough (or not) I think Hiccup is a very dark character though it's hidden very well. I wish I could write his funnier side better, though :(

5. Why does HTTYD fanfiction rock?

I think it's the high caliber of writers it's attracted. Gumdrop Boo, Backroads, Duchess Delanie, almne, Inquisitive Tea, Crazy-Chemist1, Lio and a bunch of others that sadly haven't updated recently have all created some of the richest most enjoyable works I've read in a long time. I'm not exactly sure what it is about this little 'kids' movie, but it's attracted a lot of talented people.

6. What is the meanest thing you've ever done to a character in a fanfic?

Well a long time ago in a different fandom I had created an entire family for a canon character, and ended up killing most of them off leaving the soul survivor to angst like there's no tomorrow. More recently I had Astrid sent off to be married to someone else and left Hiccup to suffer :(

7. What ratings do you prefer to stick to?

Usually between T and M, more for the freedom to explore mature themes than the need to be graphic.

8. Who is your favorite character (or characters) to write about?

Right now, definitely Hiccup and Astrid, separately or together. I'm going to miss them when they finally move out of my head.

9. How would you describe your style?

Weird :D

10. What great cliches have you noticed in fics? What strikingly original ideas?

Mary Sues and Toothless-Stus mostly. Any fic that tries to pair Hiccup up with someone else (usually male) and feels the need to turn Astrid into a ball-busting bitch. I won't criticize anyone's pairing, but when you need to tear down a canon character to do it, it's seriously poor form.

Original stuff: "The Lost Boy" by Crazy-Chemist1, an interesting AU where something horrible happened to Hiccup and he comes back hard and angry. "The Past is Present" by almne, a future fic where a cynical Toothless discovers a boy that may be Hiccup reincarnated. "The Dragon Journals" by Contraltissimo, which is the movie written from all the dragons' POVs, and is surprisingly very well thought out. "Irritation, Hatred, and Something Else", Backroads's (and friend's) very engrossing study of an arranged marriage. Gumbdrop Boo's seasonal series while not necessarily original in idea, but unique in form and the rich, detailed content. Inquisitive Tea's very interesting foray into Norse mythology, which keeps Hiccup so perfectly in character with the film in his dialogue I'm positively green with envy.

11. What "audience" do you write for?

No idea, really, lol. Like I said before, weird things pop into my head and I write them out. Sometimes they connect with people and sometimes they don't.

7/31/2010 #16
Hell's Fiery Belle

1. How often do you work on your story/stories?

I have a grand total of two one-shots. I'm a reader. I will write when I get a really awesome idea.

2. How do you focus on your characters?

Play the story I want to write over and over in my head before putting pen anywhere near paper.

3. How do reviews affect you? Are they important to you? Don't care? Inspirational? How do you deal with negative reviews? Do you allow anonymous reviews? Do you have to have a certain number of reviews to continue?

I really don't care one way or the other about reviews, to be honest. Though they are fun to read. I will say that. If the negative review comes from someone who knows that they are talking about it, awesome. I think I allow anonymous reviews... I don't see why I wouldn't. Though part of me wonders why you just don't join the site if you're going to be doing things on it. I just don't like it when people abuse the review system by using anonymous reviews. Then again, I've seen people abuse the review system even with logged in accounts. (I spend a lot of time reading reviews to stories, which is weird as I don't get as nearly excited about my own.)

4. What is your favorite genre to write?

Romance. I'm a hopeless romantic.

5. Why does HTTYD fanfiction rock?

I agree with Calico. There are some amazing writers out there.

6. What is the meanest thing you've ever done to a character in a fanfic?

Ruffnut was attacked by a dragon. Nothing more. Aren't I the cruel author?

7. What ratings do you prefer to stick to?

I haven't written anything high, simply because I haven't thought of anything for a high rating. Reading wise, I'll read anything, and M written by adults are very good because adults know the real maturity that should go into an M. There is nothing worse than a thirteen year old kid writing a sex romp.

8. Who is your favorite character (or characters) to write about?

Ruffnut.

9. How would you describe your style?

Still in flux. I'm new to fanfiction. Still trying to decide how to go about writing it.

10. What great cliches have you noticed in fics? What strikingly original ideas?

Great cliches? I don't think there is anything more fun than a cliche that is done well. Bad cliches: anything involving physical transformation. That's bad! Original ideas: I love what Backroads did in killing off Hiccup *giggle*. But I also love the more subtle originality in exploring little-seen ideas and details.

11. What "audience" do you write for?

So far... romantics.

NEW QUESTIONS!

12. What do you think of mature themes? What mature themes are most appropriate for HTTYD? (The discussion above and some things Calico said got me thinking about that)

13. Alternate Universes and Original Characters. Share your thoughts.

Mine:

12. What do you think of mature themes? What mature themes are most appropriate for HTTYD? (The discussion above and some things Calico said got me thinking about that)

I think they're fine. Great, in many cases. I'm an adult according to my driver's license (maturity level is up for discussion) and I know there are a lot of adults in this section who loved the movie but have the life experience to take it a little further beyond the teeny bopper stuff. I think they can be mishandled, as in cases of kids writing above their experience level and people reading stuff they really don't understand and not "getting" it--then again, I figure that's a reader's fault. But when M and even more mild-toned T stuff is done well, it's amazing and gives great insight into what can be done with these characters.

13. Alternate Universes and Original Characters. Share your thoughts.

I personally do not like AU unless it's very subtle off, like a "what if" approach where small details are changed. Some AU I've grazed through seemed like some kid was too afraid to write original fiction. Original characters can be done well, though, but I don't like reading about them if they're the stars.

8/2/2010 #17
Duchess Delanie

12. What do you think of mature themes? What mature themes are most appropriate for HTTYD? (The discussion above and some things Calico said got me thinking about that)

Generally, I'm fine with them. If they're done well. I agree that there is nothing worse than some little virgin who has never been in a relationship and who is in jr. high trying to write a sex scene. I say Mature Themes should be done by Mature People who Know What They Are Talking About. This isn't to say that adults should only write from literal personal experience; I'm just saying these people would have reasonable access to that knowledge and experience of how things should work.

In HTTYD, there are adults! Which I think is good for the fanfiction community. I originally joined when I was a kid and actually had the audacity to start a fairy tale about a married couple (which I really need to work on) but I think I appreciate good fanfiction more now that I'm older. So since there are adults and mature people around, I think it's good to be able to read something on that level.

For HTTYD mature themes... well, there's marriage. Arranged marriages, the nuances of marriages, problems in marriage. Infants! That's a recent theme I've noticed, and it's a good one to tackle in a mature way as opposed to "The Stork Brought It!" And death. The circle of life. Adults thoughts--not necessarily sexual/relationship, but about what it means to be an adult.

I have no interest in reading descriptive romance-novel style sex scenes with heaving bosoms and that ilk, but I think mature authors can go to a more emotional level.

13. Alternate Universes and Original Characters. Share your thoughts.

Simple answer: I hate them.

Advance Answer: There are exceptions. I'm reading a really good right now that's AU. And Backroads' Disa is the coolest OC ever. I don't want to read about Mary Sue, though, with whom Hiccup falls in love.

8/2/2010 . Edited 8/2/2010 #18
Calico

12. What do you think of mature themes? What mature themes are most appropriate for HTTYD?

I'm pretty flexible and I've certainly written some . I've read some mature stuff that I enjoy, and some that has really disturbed me. As far as inappropriate, I'd like to say Toothcup *shudder* but really it's a case of to each their own, I suppose, as long as they're clearly marked.

13. Alternate Universes and Original Characters. Share your thoughts.

I'm fine with either to a certain extent with the caveat that they have to be written well.

AUs have the potential to be very interesting. I just read the opening chapter of a fic on LJ where Hiccup did not go after Astrid after she found Toothless, and instead they left the island as planned. This set off a terrible chain of events on Berk while Hiccup established a nice life for himself, though lacking his hero turn. Years later Astrid looks for him to help back home. It was written so well, with such details and care for the characters, I'm left really looking forward to the rest.

OCs can be wonderful additions to a story, especially in a fandom as lacking in canon characters as this. Gumdrop Boo has created two awesome characters in her seasons story - despite the circumstances I like Brynna; several other authors fill in parents for the younger characters really well; I've read another story on DA with Hiccup interacting with a little girl and it was so adorable. It requires effort fleshing them out and introducing them organically, and not warping the universe to serve their purposes. I can put up with pretty much anything if it's written well.

New questions:

14. What are your writing bad habits? (inspired partly by reading this article: h t t p ://trickster.org/fannishbutterfly/10_peeves.html)

15. What turns you off faster from reading something: bad storytelling or bad technical writing (grammar, punctuation, spelling, etc)?

My answers:

14. What are your writing bad habits?

I have an obsession with commas. If I'm not, careful, they, will, litter, my, entire story. And to a lesser extent ellipses, but I think I keep them under control outside of dialogue.

I also think I probably use epithets more often than prudent (that's a descriptive phrase used in place of a name or pronoun, the most common we use in this fandom is probably "the Viking" or something like "the green-eyed boy").

My prose probably gets a little violet at times, if not downright purple. However I don't use words that I don't know the meaning of, lol.

15. What turns you off faster from reading something: bad storytelling or bad technical writing?

For me, it's definitely bad technical writing. I read very fast, so if I have to slow down and "translate" what I'm reading I get taken right out of a story.

8/2/2010 #19
Duchess Delanie

14. What are your writing bad habits?

I can lose interest in what I'm writing. This is why I'm a Physical Ed. major and not an English major. I like writing--I'm just easily distracted, so I might not always be devoted to my writing.

I also have difficulty with chapter length. I've had people say "whoa! That's way too short!" or "Whoa! That's way too long!" I need to work on pacing pieces.

I don't think I do enough description, either.

I use "then" way, way, way too much.

15. What turns you off faster from reading something: bad storytelling or bad technical writing (grammar, punctuation, spelling, etc)?

Huh. This is something to think about. I think I'm going to have to say bad technical writing. If I glance at something and immediately spot lots of errors, I turn away. I may not realize for awhile that it's bad storytelling. Make it look good, and I may stick around a little longer.

Backroads, you need to sticky these questions somewhere! Get them organized!

8/2/2010 #20
Gumdrop Boo - Ch4rms

For the record, I have a solid black kitty cat and of course he reminds me of a night fury and he is eating my baked potato as I type this :P

New and newer answers to new and newer questions:

12. What do you think of mature themes? What mature themes are most appropriate for HTTYD?

Descriptive violence and teh sex are what mature themes are to me as I suppose anyone else. I think violence or death is the most appropriate as we saw maimings and whatnot in the movie. I've used violence and rated those stories T but there is a point violence can be TOO descriptive and it's just not fun to read anymore because your sitting there with your lip twisted up but I haven't come across any violence like that here yet - if you browse the M section of HTTYD you find a bunch of pervy Toothcup shiz that just doesn't mesh well with my brain or life. There was a cool lemon one but I think teh sex is only appropriate if you're writing for older versions of the characters because I really see them as HIgh school freshman in the movie and yes their hormones are a raging but there is absolutely a way to write something enticing and provocative and leaving much to the imagination without having everything laid out and bared to the world.

13. Alternate Universes and Original Characters. Share your thoughts.

I'm open to OCs, I have a few and if they're done right they can really freshen up a story. Like Calico above said, a lot of people fill in the teens's parents really well. My policy for OC's is to not give them names really unless they are crucial to the plot. Otherwise they are epithets. [See above in Calico's post for an explanation of what that is]

AU's...eh...not so much. I'm sure there are good ones but I'm a stickler for cannon, I enjoy cannon so much it's hard for me to get into an AU. I go on rants to my room mate's g/f about how if author's don't like to stick to cannon but use pre-made characters they could make a whole original story instead of making fan fiction of it. That's my two cents, sorry AUer's :(

14. What are your writing bad habits?

Well I often read and re-read my chapter before I put it up then I read in live preview and then find mistakes and then quickly correct and update it and then read it on live preview again and find more. They're itty bitty mistakes but it's a hassle. I guess that's what beta-readers are for? I always stick to omniscient, and I don't know if that's a bad habit or I just need to broaden my range.

15. What turns you off faster from reading something: bad storytelling or bad technical writing?

Technical writing and FORMAT. A dozen or more misspelled words gives me an impression the author is lazy or unintelligent and if they are unintelligent then how can they're story be any good. God I sound pretentious but it's true. If the whole story is in BOLD it hurts the eyes. If there's a bunch of title bars before a section of paragraph saying 'x's point of view' and switching to 'y's point of view'. Tense flip-flopping in the middle of the story grates my cheese as does too many things in parenthesis, though keep-me-posted used brackets which for some reason are classier and I like them. I started using them personally after seeing her use of them.

New question: 16: What writing style do you stick to or do you ever switch it up? [i.e. past tense vs. present tense, first person vs. omniscient, dialogue vs description]

My Answer: I stick to limited omniscient in these stories, that's like the best of both worlds because you only know what the character knows for the most part but can reveal clues to the big picture. I like past tense, sometimes I deviate to present but in other stories. I try to balance description and dialogue but if I had to choose a side I'd rather read a whole page of description than pure dialogue with no description. It's about the details, yo.

8/2/2010 . Edited 8/2/2010 #21
Duchess Delanie

16: What writing style do you stick to or do you ever switch it up? [i.e. past tense vs. present tense, first person vs. omniscient, dialogue vs description]

Usually, I'm third person limited omniscience. I would love one day to do full-on omniscience (In HTTYD terms, Cressida Cowell in her books, while primarily focusing on Hiccup's thoughts, could switch to another's characters thoughts seemlessly and then totally become "the translator" and blather on about something else in author perspective and it was flawless). But full-on omniscience scares me. I've done one story (not HTTYD) that was in first person and it was a lot of fun (I need to work on that). I like to have both description and dialogue, but dialogue is more important to me. Still, a balance is best. Again, I need to work on getting in more description. I really like doing people's thoughts. That's fun to me, and probably why I enjoyed my first person piece so much.

8/2/2010 #22
Hell's Fiery Belle

14. What are your writing bad habits? (inspired partly by reading this article: h t t p ://trickster.org/fannishbutterfly/10_peeves.html)

I focus way too much on dialogue.

15. What turns you off faster from reading something: bad storytelling or bad technical writing (grammar, punctuation, spelling, etc)?

Bad technical writing. It tells me this person is an idiot. If you could tell a story and wanted to write it, you would know basic skills.

16: What writing style do you stick to or do you ever switch it up? [i.e. past tense vs. present tense, first person vs. omniscient, dialogue vs description]

So far, it's been third-person limited omniscience in past-tense. I never liked present tense.

8/3/2010 #23
Calico

16. What writing style do you stick to or do you ever switch it up? [i.e. past tense vs. present tense, first person vs. omniscient, dialogue vs description]

Third person limited POV, definitely. I don't really like first person, I will read it, but never write it. It just seems really hard to maintain and is so limiting.

I usually do past tense, but on occasion have used present tense, for times where I was looking for an immediacy in the story telling, if that makes any sense. Little trivia: my current story in progress was begging to be present tense. I wrote the whole first section that way and then changed my mind and edited it to past tense, then when I started the second section I got three paragraphs in and saw it was in present tense again :( So I took that as a sign, went back and re-edited the whole thing, only to change my mind later and go back to past tense. It was a serious head/desk moment. Thankfully I've stuck with past tense since.

I think I do a good balance of dialogue and description. Sometimes the story requires one more than the other, but I like both equally.

8/3/2010 #24
Duchess Delanie

So I caught myself tweaking and, well, full-on rearranging stuff on a bunch of my fics today, so...

17. Do you rework posted chapters/stories or is what is up is up?

18. How long do you like your chapters to be?

8/7/2010 #25
Gumdrop Boo - Ch4rms

17: Do You rearrage/tweak things on posted chapters?

I've done it when I catch gramar/spelling/punctuation errors and I might add a few lines or change a word of dialogue to sound cleaner but never have I rearranged a plot device or whole paragraphs within a chapter that have been there for awhile. Especially on newer stuff, older stuff is the way it is.

18: How long do you prefer to write your chapters?

I try to at least get onto a fifth page when I write. My ideas last about 5-7 pages though for each chapter no matter what. The longest one I ever did was 17 pages because it was the finale of a story in a nother fandom. For my HTTYD my longests was eight and the shortest was five, but that is also my average. I also like to read that length.

8/7/2010 #26
Duchess Delanie

17. Do you rework posted chapters/stories or is what is up is up?

Definitely rework, hence the creation of the question. I'm reworking one of my oldest pieces right now.

18. How long do you like your chapters to be?

I'm trying to decide. I think I lean toward about three pages, though I'll read any length as long as its good.

8/10/2010 #27
Duchess Delanie

19. What should go into the ideal HTTYD fanfiction review?

8/10/2010 #28
Gumdrop Boo - Ch4rms

See? I'm such a fiend, at work and being alerted to when forums are updated :P

19: what should go into the Ideal HTTYD fanfcition review.

As an author, and I'm sure others do this too- we sneak in meaningful bits of symbolism or references to to other chapters or the movie subtly and hope that a reader might point it out and if they liked it.

So an ideal review would be a reader who noticed this, tells what they did like in the chapter, tells what they didn't like if they so felt that way but also with a suggestion of how it could have been better. I personally love it if the reviewer got a laugh and points out what line or action did it. I do that in my reviews a lot. Basically I love reviews that input on what the reader loved to read most of all--so I can have reference for future writings if something was well received.

8/10/2010 #29
Hell's Fiery Belle

17. Do you rework posted chapters/stories or is what is up is up?

Haven't yet. On one side, shouldn't you be putting up what is more-or-less complete? People will read it, and that's what they will think of it. On the other hand, it's your work, the document manager program allows you to remove entire chapters for edit or replace content, so why not?

18. How long do you like your chapters to be?

I don't think I have a preference.

19. What should go into the Ideal HTTYD fanfcition review.

The ideal review that I've probably never given:

A lot more than "good storee. kep goin' and update soon. =D"

Discussion of what happened in the story, what it meant to you, how you reacted. Thoughts. Questions. Advice if you're capable of giving it and it's applicable. Potential problems. Reference to canon. Are these characters in character? Is this the world of HTTYD? Stuff that applies to the story--which I've broken before in too many reviews, I need to work on that and stick to the story. Fanfiction.net says to give both good and bad, which I think is great, though if the story really sucks I tend not to be reading it. But I think reviews should be more than just praise and brown-nosing or on the other hand ranting and expecting a story to be something. There's this amazing story in the fairy tales section that somebody gave really bad reviews to simply because he didn't like the story according to personal taste. So he basically reviewed sixty-plus chapters with how he would have written it. Useless and rude. I think reviews should be in general positive, unless the story is heinous and the author needs to be told.

8/11/2010 #30
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