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Astinus August 5th, 2013 8:10 PM

Random Writing Nonsense
This thread can technically be considered the DCC for Fanfiction & Writing. In this thread, we can post our thoughts on anything to do with writing. Talk with your fellow writers, share tips, discuss anything that comes to mind.

Only requests are to stay on-topic and only posts related to writing in this thread.

This post can be updated at any time with any changes, which I will announce.

Happy posting!

Astinus August 6th, 2013 8:27 PM

It's rather fun doing research on various things for my stories. I can get so easily distracted.

For instance, I was writing a fanfic, and wanted to get the correct layout of a character's apartment. This first lead to me quickly watching a few minutes of the show to get information from the canon source. While I got my answer, I went a little further. I looked up various Japanese apartment buildings and their floor plans, because I knew that there was an apartment building that looked like the one from the show in pretty much the exact location as it does in the show. Unfortunately, I couldn't get any farther than that for more information.

But it did lead me to continue researching Japanese apartments, and I found one that will work for another fic, with the proper amount of bedrooms and a floor plan that works for the family. I looked up the location of the apartment complex on Google maps and found that the buildings are located right across the street from a little bakery. Now I know that this family will be eating well (since the mother works in a restaurant and there's a bakery right down the street!)

There are a few other writers out there who get distracted by research. Or there are some that find just the strangest things. For instance, my friend found out that Grotle's nuts taste bad to humans.

Does anyone else out there research this much while writing? Or are there some who just don't research and use whatever information sounds right for the story? I'm not sure how well the latter would work, because there always seems to be the one person who will read your story, catch you where it's wrong, and will point it out to you. And besides, research is fun, and you learn so many things.

Whenever I am finding myself on Google maps, studying the streets of Japan while I'm supposed to be writing, I'm always wondering if I'm the only person who does that.

Khawill August 6th, 2013 9:15 PM

When I write, I don't usually use actual places, especially when Ive never been there. I feel like researching would never justify the place. Though I do research scientific, historic, and linguistic things about general areas so I can at least imply an area. I don't get carried away while researching because I usually look up what I need as I need it and then go back to writing. It is always more fun to make things up as well (different universes/planets are much better for me to write about, even if it seems like another earth)

When I research other things for fun though, I will get carried away. Things like actors, animes, movies, or objects can lead me on a Wikipedia adventure that can easily drain a few hours of my free time.

Cutlerine August 7th, 2013 1:59 AM

It depends. If I'm writing fanfiction, I generally don't need to look up much other than a couple of political histories to get a sense of the backstory for my regions. (Most of which, I noticed, are former colonies or mandates of one empire or another.)

If I'm setting things in the real world, or a version of it - then yes. London is the setting for what I'm working on right now, and I do know it reasonably well, but there are quite a few things I find myself having to research while writing - the Ravenmaster of the Tower, for instance, or the origins of the Koh-i-Noor, or the borough history of Finsbury to see whether or not I can conveniently replace it with a rift leading down into Hell. A few hours later, I usually look up from a study into book theft in British libraries as compared to American libraries, and wonder exactly how I got from searching for the original layout of the Reading Room of the British Museum to that.

For the most part, I try not to depend too much on my research - I want my version of Edwardian London to have the ring of verisimilitude about it, but given all of the supernatural elements I've added to it, I don't want to restrict it to the truth; I want to give it scope to change. I research the history, and deviate from it in places where I think elements I've added would have changed the course of history, and generally explain other deviations from reality in terms of their relation to that point.

As far as floor plans of buildings go, I have several stock plans in my head that I sort of twist into new shapes whenever I need a new one. Although I'm not usually that detailed; often, I only need to mention a couple of rooms, and as long as I'm consistent in the way I describe characters moving from one to the other I don't mind so much about the specifics of how it works. I suppose I don't really describe things and people in that much detail unless they're really important; while I'll always try and lay out the rules and structures of my worlds as clearly as possible (without obstructing the narrative, hopefully), I generally don't give much in the way of description of people or buildings unless it's necessary. 250 pages into this story, for instance, and all we know of one of my main characters' appearance is that he has sandy hair, a curved mouth and bright eyes; I tend to focus more on showing what he does and how he acts. No matter what description an author gives a reader of a person or place, they always end up picturing them in their own way, often in a way that contradicts the description - even if they try not to contradict it. With that in mind, I've mostly dispensed with that sort of description, and focus more on getting across a broader sensation of the thing in question.

Wow, I digressed quite a lot there. I'll, er, see myself out before I derail the conversation.

Thergox August 7th, 2013 5:37 AM

I hate researching. It's such a pain. Because of this I usually base all of my topics off of something completely nonsensical or imaginary and build my fantasy worlds off of that. Of course, there are irritating essays and other such writing papers that get in the way of those, but I still drive my finesse into those as well. That said, I don't really write fanfictions because of how knowledgeable you must be with the story you're basing it off of.

I once collaborated with a friend on Young Justice and Full Metal Alchemist. . . That went terribly. I had no idea what Young Justice was, and, frankly, I was somewhat annoyed by how she made all the characters know everything and kill the entire point of the plot, and I only saw three episodes of FMA. We eventually dropped that when we figured out that neither of us could write what the seven sins would do. And that, my friends, is why I rarely do fanfictions.

However, there are often other projects that require attention to details around characters, too. For one of mine, I am including Marley, Riley, and Cynthia in it, but I'm not quite sure if I've quite knacked their personalities. Even with research (I suppose I'm a terrible researcher), I can't quite get them to be as they are.

Awkward. August 7th, 2013 9:43 AM

I think researching to an extent is good for your story, but keeping it close to the truth is really boring. There needs to be an author's originality in a story, and in the case of fanfiction, if the story is all 100% canon and 0% fanon, well, doesn't that defeat the purpose?

As for floor plans and settings though, I feel like those should never be researched or thoroughly described. Personally, it's more fun to leave it to the reader to imagine those settings to what they see fit. I usually don't like books or stories that lay out the entire setting word for word, because that's no fun. If they toss in a few minor details, I'm good with that, and I usually just create my own settings. That's technically the whole point of books, isn't it? To let the reader imagine their own world with a specified plot.

Idk that's just me. I'm sure very few people actually like not describing a setting intensely. I think it just ruins the fun of reading tbh.

Astinus August 7th, 2013 7:39 PM

Despite the fact that I do all the research that I mentioned, it never fully comes out through my writing. I research the general area of the real world city that I'm writing about, because nothing pulls me out faster of a fanfic that takes place in Japan than the mentioning of full-sized, multiple-roomed, sprawling houses with front yards, back yards, and outdoor pools in Odaiba, a subsection of Tokyo.

The thing with house/apartment floor plans is because I'm absolutely obsessed with those. Any house that I see ends up with me trying to figure out how it's laid out, how people can move around in it. So as I'm writing, although I might only say "He walked from the entrance directly into his bedroom", I know that the character has to take two steps up from the entryway, head straight a few steps, and then turn immediately to the left to reach his bedroom. It helps me as a writer, but will never reach the readers.

That's really what it's all about, and the advice I've always heard applied to research. Do it so the writer knows the details, but the reader isn't bored by the writer's knowledge.


When I write, I don't usually use actual places, especially when Ive never been there. I feel like researching would never justify the place.
It will be interesting for me, because I have two stories planned where one takes place where I currently live and the other takes place where I'm planning to move. I'd like to see how much information I'd have to research or how much translates to the story when I write those pieces.

Though my Pokemon stories get very little research done to them. Only the attacks a Pokemon could possibly learn and maybe what each town has in it, and everything else is just me winging it.

PJBottomz post reminds me of a quote I found, which doesn't fully match what he said, but I was still reminded of it.


I think a big part of why I read way more fanfiction than books is that there’s just a hell of a lot less exposition

the first 10 pages of most books are always “these are the main characters and here’s some background on each of them and this is the setting etc etc” and it’s such a ****ing hassle getting to the plot sometimes

fanfic is just like “**** it you know all of this already let’s go”

bobandbill August 9th, 2013 6:20 PM

I do some research on various aspects. A current fic I'm working on I actually put stuff on hold because I knew I was going to Japan shortly at the time, during which it was full swing of winter. And I wanted to feel what it was like again before writing too much on winter, given it was a good number of years since I've experienced snow.

Overseas travel certainly isn't available usually though, haha. But it's hard to beat a real experience. For everything else, there's mastercard google!

I can't say I've done particular research into floor plans ever before, but then it hasn't really been something that I've had to consider with any of my writing, really.

Sheep August 9th, 2013 6:43 PM

I usually write stories for fandoms that I know like the back of my hand so research usually isn't necessary. There are times when I forget minute details and need to look things up, though, since I'm a perfectionist and want everything to match up. 8D; I'm thinking of doing an original series sometime but right now the details are a little foggy.. but I do need to write sometime since I've been a bit rusty due to laziness, sigh.

Fairy August 9th, 2013 6:46 PM

Well, I can definitely say I learned something new! Which is silly, because common sense would have lead me to this conclusion, but I guess I just didn't have much foresight lol.

I never really thought that writers (outside of journalists) would use research tools, or even go so far as to travel to obtain information for their works. Which, again, is kinda silly considering that artists don't always draw apples form their imagination. But part of me always assumed that being able to write about an environment, make it come to life, and do so accurately, strictly limited to one's imagination was somewhat of an achievement for writers.

Actually, that inspired a question. For writers, what's more valuable, authenticity or creativity? Or does that depend on the genre?

bobandbill August 9th, 2013 7:13 PM


Originally Posted by Alexial (Post 7777251)
Well, I can definitely say I learned something new! Which is silly, because common sense would have lead me to this conclusion, but I guess I just didn't have much foresight lol.

I never really thought that writers (outside of journalists) would use research tools, or even go so far as to travel to obtain information for their works. Which, again, is kinda silly considering that artists don't always draw apples form their imagination. But part of me always assumed that being able to write about an environment, make it come to life, and do so accurately, strictly limited to one's imagination was somewhat of an achievement for writers.

Actually, that inspired a question. For writers, what's more valuable, authenticity or creativity? Or does that depend on the genre?

Well, again it was more coincidence that I actually was travelling and writing a fic that had relevance to it, haha. But it's certainly something authors do - travel about if they want to know more about a setting. Plus it lets you see more on how people behave in a different culture and environment. It's not something writers just do as well, I'd say it extends far beyond that. Take Pokemon for instance! Masuda took a team of developers to France for a while to research it given they're basing Kalos on it.

Research is most certainly what I did with my Colosseum parody fic, but not much was done outside of Pokemon research itself. ;p Ie playing through the game again, and also using Pokemon that I used in a fic (seeing how they attacked or whatnot helped in some regards too). I took a bunch of notes as well of various parts to see if I could include them in the fic and in what manner.

But on the flip side, a lot of what I wrote in that fic was on the spot! I had a general direction and plot in various parts, but the finer details often came from just writing sessions, and I changed a bunch of events on the go too if it felt that it'd work out better. Which is probably why my fic ended up so darn long compared to my original (naïve) expectations. =p

As for the question - I would say it depends (not just on genre but also the writing style, topic, etc), but creativity is one I might value more. Authenticity is good to keep things real, and have the reader be immersed rather than think 'what is going on/this is wrong' or the like, but if what you are writing doesn't offer anything new or exciting or the sort, then that's no fun to read either. And it's what brings the magic or charm, so to speak, into a story. Pick your poison, I suppose. Of course, a balance tends to be the best. ;p

Cutlerine August 10th, 2013 3:59 AM


Originally Posted by Alexial (Post 7777251)
Actually, that inspired a question. For writers, what's more valuable, authenticity or creativity? Or does that depend on the genre?

This strikes me as a bit of an odd question. I mean, authenticity and creativity aren't mutually exclusive; in fact, they work together: creativity brings a story to life, and authenticity keeps it believable. Finding a way to make something feel authentic requires creativity to begin with; after all, if you're going to have a character do something like slay a dragon or forge a skateboard out of a chunk of the sun in order to skate through space, you need to think pretty hard to come up with a way to make that seem authentic.

I guess it depends on what you mean by authenticity. I'm interpreting it as 'aspects of a story that make it feel real', so if that's not what you meant then ignore everything I'm writing. It's fairly independent of genre; a story needs to be more than a straightforward recounting of the minutiae of everyday life (unless you're Proust, I guess, but if you're Proust you certainly shouldn't be taking writing advice from me), but it does need to remain believable to the reader. A reader shouldn't start thinking, Well, this is silly halfway through, even if they are reading about the aforementioned solar spaceboard.

Er... I guess I'm just repeating what bobandbill said by this point. I'll stop, but after just this last observation: I think enough creativity brings its own authenticity. It self-organises: enough creativity and it tends to not only establish its own world and characters, but rules for them that bind them into a reasonable approximation of the real world, or at least into a coherent world that follows its own laws. That gives it its own authenticity, apart from that of reality - China Miéville, for instance, rarely sets his novels in anything approximating the real world, and never outright explains the laws of his settings - but they follow the rules and, almost without noticing, you adapt to the odd terminology and accept how the book works.

So, to conclude: authenticity and creativity are, well, inextricable. I'm not sure I could separate them into disparate parts of the storytelling experience.

Astinus August 16th, 2013 6:08 PM

Earlier today, I found that I can not listen to a livestream of people playing video games while writing. A part of this is due to the people playing the video games eating crunchy food. But it leads me to wonder what other people listen to while writing.

I have a playlist of songs that are either instrumental or that I've heard hundreds of times that I can just block them out. Some of these songs are from video games (Dangan Ronpa), remixes of video game soundtracks (Overclocked Remix's Final Fantasy VII), or random songs that I particularly enjoy ("Summertime" by DJ Jazzy and the Fresh Prince).

What about everyone else? Do you have a writing playlist? A particular set of songs to put on while writing? Or do you prefer the natural sounds of your writing area?

Phantom August 16th, 2013 6:25 PM


I don't particularly listen to anything while writing, but I can't write in silence. I usually turn on the tv, random channel, just for background noise. Oddly enough it really helps me out. I've always been able to work better with the tv on in the back, even when I was in school doing homework. Half the time I don't even know what show it's on.

As for the previous talks about research, I love it way too much. As someone else said, I usually only write for fandoms I know really well, or far too well, but there's always that bit more of research you can do. And sometimes it can pop up some REALLY good ideas. I know at least one of my favorite characters I made wouldn't be here if I hadn't done my research.

Awkward. August 17th, 2013 9:03 PM

Oh god, I love listening to music when writing. I like to listen to a lot of uplifting and fast-paced songs because it keeps me awake and eventually they drown out but I still get the motivation. Many a stories have been written over Katy Perry.

Something interesting I've always noticed is that my writing skills deteriorate during the nighttime and replenish the next day. Around 12:30 PM - 4:00/5:00 PM is usually when my writings skills are at their peak. That makes me wonder, does everyone else have a "writing time" in which their skills are better than other times?

There's also other things like weather, temperature, outside influence from others, distractions, location, etc. that can affect writing greatly. I think the perfect writing conditions would be a rainy day, sitting on a plush, cool couch in a comfortable sitting position with music playing at a soft volume, home alone. At least, that's what I want. I dunno how it works for others.

Nolafus August 17th, 2013 9:50 PM

I can't listen to anything while I write. I concentrate on the music rather than what I'm writing. Even for instrumental songs I can't write to because I listen to every melody and try to pick out each individual instrument. I just can't do it.

As for specific times I write I usually write right before I go to bed since that's when most ideas come and I suffer from mild insomnia so I have nothing else to do. Since I write late at night I re-read what I write sometime during the next day to cover any obvious mistakes I made. I can also write while it's raining locked away in my room where no one can disturb me. PJBottomz just described the perfect writing scenario minus the music.

Astinus August 17th, 2013 10:04 PM

I'm incapable of writing during the day. The best time for me to do any writing is after 11 at night, when I am settled in after coming home from work and no one is expecting me to do anything. If I try to write during the day, I'm either constantly interrupted or I feel guilty because the sun is up and I should be outside doing something. I'm more of a night person anyhow.

Best writing scenario for me is a rainy summer night where I have my window open, the sound and smell of rain coming into my room, and no cats to pull down the screen of my open window.

Sheep August 18th, 2013 4:35 PM

Ahh I almost couldn't find this thread because it wasn't in the main writing board, nor was it stickied.

But I totally agree with the above. I feel that ideas come to me much more naturally at night so most of my writing is done past 9 or 10PM.

Fairy August 18th, 2013 5:52 PM

My anxiety tends to act up around 8 - 10pm, so my creativity tends to fluctuate during that period. Sometimes, when I get anxious, writing/drawing is the only thing I can do to cope with it. Other times, I can't even imagine writing or picking up a pencil. It really just depends.

I find I write better under pressure though. When I have extra time, I tend to just waste it lol.

Squirrel August 18th, 2013 6:35 PM

I always prefer writing with a deadline. If I'm writing with an unlimited amount of time I never feel pressured to finish it so I always end up delaying and eventually forgetting about the work, but if I've got a deadline to meet I find it much easier to work effectively. Usually I'll get a friend or family member to help out by providing some kind of ultimatum if x amount of work isn't done by a certain date, but it's been a long time since I've done any serious writing haha.

Pikachu August 18th, 2013 11:11 PM

I always listen to music when I write! I always listen to music when I do anything, actually. Most often soundtracks, if I'm doing something where I just want some music to set the mood rather than actually listen to it.

I don't write much fiction at all these days, I guess I don't have the patience for it. RPing is more rewarding imo because even though you can't control the story completely, you get so much input from what the other players do and you never quite know what comes next. Plus, the interactions and relationship building is something you can't have in the same way when you write a fic on your own.

Just something I thought about xD

Nolafus August 19th, 2013 1:18 AM

I find it harder and harder to continue with a huge writing project if it doesn't have a deadline. If it does have a deadline, then I normally get it done early, like my Current World Issues paper I turned in two weeks early. A good quote I got from one of my LA teachers is that writing is never done, it's due.

bobandbill August 19th, 2013 3:00 AM

I like to listen to music when I write. Sometimes a certain artist or album puts me in a pretty good writing mood.

Deadlines... sometimes they work for me, sometimes they don't. I seem to be pretty mixed with them. Then again a bunch of deadlines that failed for me was in part due to other obligations I had. But I think if I need something done I worked better by setting x amount of time a day to do it rather than try and have it all done by some date.

Squirrel August 19th, 2013 5:04 AM

You guys can listen to music whilst writing? I've always found that hugely distracting - it always makes me want to start including themes akin to the song's lyrics or to even implement the lyrics themselves, or use the music video etc. I'm not the most creative person so I guess when I'm writing and I hear an external story like song lyrics I instantly muddle it with my own thoughts, so silence for me haha.

Ash August 19th, 2013 8:03 AM

When I'm writing anything I can't really listen to anything with words. However, non-lyrical music is fine and it helps me concentrate and, depending on what music I'm listening to at the time, helps me get into the feel of what I'm writing. I haven't written a story in the longest time but it helped me from time to time when I was roleplaying or writing an essay of some sort.

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