This week Michelle is going to share with us, everything she learned from some amazing authors, at the workshops for the Twilight Fic Meet Up that was in June. We are also going to include links to their popular stories, and I am going to review a WIP from Katinki too.
TFMU was a great time for seeing friends and, of course, making new friends in the fandom. But the meet-up was more than just a get together. It gave fic writers and readers a chance to interact and connect on a personal level. One day was devoted to workshops. And once again, the organizers did an outstanding job of recruiting speakers who know were knowledgeable about their topic. Our schedule looked like this:
- 9am–10am Reading & Reviewing Fanfiction, hosted by MsKathy
- 10am-11am: Lemons!, Hosted by TheFicChick
- 11am-12pm: Beta/Pre-Reader, Hosted by HolletLA
- 1pm-2pm Angst, Hosted by Katinki
- 2pm-3pm Fic Diving 101, Hosted by Leckadams
First up, Reading and Reviewing of Fic: I have to say, I adore what Ms.Kathy said about reviews:
~~Reviews are the method readers have to communicate with the writer. ~~
As it is, readers already get the chance to enjoy the story that the writers are brave enough to post. So the review is our chance to CONSTRUCTIVELY communicate back to the writer what their story/chapter meant to us. Ms.K and many of the authors shared how much reviews mean to them. Even if it’s just the ‘I liked the update’ or the 🙂 icon. However, it’s the review that gives an emotional insight, encouragement, and/or constructive feedback that the writer really cherishes.
They like to know we (the readers) are out there. They like knowing their characters make us happy, sad, mad, or even crazy. They simply like to hear from us. It’s not about ‘being popular’ as one of the writers said, it’s about knowing they are on the right track with their plot and making a connection with an audience. It’s also about respect… and that’s a two-way street in a reader/writer relationship. Such a great point!!
So, if you love a story, a character, a new plot or find an emotional connection; take a few minutes to let the writer know. It’s a great thing to encourage our talented writers to stick around!!
Next, Lemons! presented by the lovely TheFicChick. Wow! I think readers and writers alike got a lot out of this workshop! And no, we didn’t talk about all the naughty chapters in various fics. We could have but TheFicChick came prepared to educate us. I think I’ll focus on the points that really stood out for me.
- Lemons are NOT always about sex!
- Your characters should have a chance to learn about each other, to build that sense of ‘relationship’; it’s a learning curve.
- Sex is revealing: think about how you share your ‘self’ when you’re with another person
- It’s a time of vulnerability… sex or foreplay is a time when you or your partner give the ok to touch, seek, or share likes and dislikes
- You can use emotions vs. physical aspects of sex in your story.
- Be subtle. I like this one a lot.
- Be consistent: Don’t turn a strong male character into a chick during sex. Or simply stated, don’t go from one extreme to the other.
- Ask for help with words to set a mood: “Love Spuds” just doesn’t work with most (or any) stories!!
- UST from the start with a slow build up is great since it’s a good pace for a relationship. It’s very true that sex starts way before you get to the bedroom.
- Keep the dialogue going (Keep ‘em talking). It can compliment the action.
- You don’t have to have sex every chapter. After the character’s first true sexual interaction, you can allude to it in other chapters. It shouldn’t be the focus.
Wow!! I guess I was really paying attention to this workshop!! TheFicChick was a great speaker!! (I’m still waiting for the condom on the banana demonstration!!)
KB: I too think TheFicChick’s stories are great!! We recd. two of her stories here. Annie recd. Departures here last year. I recd. The Practicum here. Her one shot and The Practicum actually made our list for Mid Year favorites for 2013 here.
Beta/Pre-Reader, Hosted by HolletLA was our third workshop of the day. Can I just say, I need HolletLA every single day of my life!! I’m sure I’m on the ‘most wanted’ list by the grammar police.
She started her session with a simple but powerful fact: Know your level of grammar skill. For the writer, are your skills weak? If yes, then make sure you secure a beta with stronger skills. Sometimes, it may be the beta with lesser skills and you may need to move on to another beta. It was honest and straight foreword.
Other great tips included:
- Look it up! You can google it. (Edward’s voice being used here, of course) Grammar rules are easily found on the Internet.
- Your beta shouldn’t be a fangirl. It’s a working relationship that requires honesty.
- Check out Team Beta Project for a beta. It’s your job as the writer to find a beta that will help you grow with your grammar skills.
- Your beta and pre-reader don’t have to be the same person. Once again, it goes back to skills. They have two very different functions.
- Beta should be more about grammar/punctuation vs. pre-reader keeping plot, characters, and continuity on target.
I saw a lot of note taking during this workshop! I personally need a Grammar Fairy Godmother.
Next on the agenda was the Angst workshop presented by Katinki. Kate brought us into the session by asking us what we thought ‘angst’ meant. She got a lot of great responses. When she asked the audience for examples from the fics we’ve read… wow! It appears that we really like our angst!
Again, she was a presenter who came to the table with some great thoughts on writing angst.
- Make your angst real without over dramatizing it.
- What level do you want to take your plot / readers? How much is too much?
- RESPECT YOUR SUBJECT MATTER and know it. Research is your friend. If your subject matter is intense, then make sure you understand the timeframe it might take to resolve /or lessen the trauma. Writers can’t go from tragedy in one chapter to a HEA the next.
- Angst is a feeling you must convey to the readers. This is one of those times when you probably want a pre-reader to give you feedback to ensure the emotions are coming across in your words.
- Empathy is key.
- Angst is a setting, so you need to build around it.
- Keep it real, honest, and respectful. It matters to your readers.
I think at the end of this session, we were all sharing our personal favorite ‘angsty’ fics. Many thanks to Katinki for sharing her wisdom! Since I love angst, I’m looking forward to the Angst contest!!
I want to talk about her other WIP, Fic on the Fly. It’s definitely NOT angst, it’s a “Romantic Dramedy”. It’s an AU story actually, where Katinki is using prompts provided by her readers, and that in turn directs the story. I’ve not read anything in this kind of format before, and it’s very cool.
As for the story itself, it starts with Edward’s transformation with Carlisle, and follows canon up to, when Edward and the family relocate to the Pacific Northwest area, namely Seattle. There Edward is enrolled at the University of Seattle. He is minding his own business in the Odegaard library, when IT happens. You know, what I mean.
Actually, Bella and Edward’s first encounter is not canon, but quite hilarious. Edward doesn’t handle it well, so he takes off to Alaska, of course. There he feels sorry for himself, chats with Tanya, then returns. He thinks he can handle “this human”, but he’s wrong….
After having finally reached my destination, understand, I’d had no other form of distraction – aside from escaping the claws of a willing and tenacious wishful lover, of course. But in all seriousness, as I’d traipsed through the Alaskan wilderness, searching for sport, for food, for anything to occupy my attention, instead, as if my own mind were out to smite me, everywhere I’d looked – on every tree, every rock, every web of bony antlers – I’d found that damnable, delusional girl’s face. Those dark, reproving eyes. The hard, quivering brace of her jaw. The way her lips had stretched and frowned as she spat at me to be on my merry way.
Ignoring the outrageous and nearly all-consuming allure of her blood for a moment, the girl’s behavior was downright infuriating, not to mention naïve and foolish in the extreme. Threatening a vampire, especially one who wanted nothing more than to eat the one doing the threatening, was just bad form.
Yet at the same time, however, there was something about the challenge this girl presented. It wasn’t simply the puzzle of her vault of a mind, but also how she’d named me for what I was. Very few humans could name us on sight. In fact, I’d never encountered a single one who had landed on the truth by more than happenstance. But not this girl. No, she knew immediately what I was; I’d heard it in the quickened wet thump of her heart.
So for a creature such as myself, one who was rarely gifted the sensation of surprise, I came to the conclusion that she was utterly fascinating. Captivating even, never mind I knew next to nothing about her.
Fury, curiosity, and raging bloodlust was a very, very dangerous combination, by the way.
It turned my resolve to mush and somehow convinced me that the girl held no power over me after all. It told me that she was a mere mortal and that my internal fortitude was mightier than my baser instincts. And it made me tell my family that I needed no supervision.
How wrong I was.
Especially when the moment I stepped into my first nine o’clock class, after having skipped that first week, that same pair of angry eyes widened in shock and the scent of her blood hit me like a ton of bricks.
Bella is not interested in Edward AT ALL, and it’s kind of funny, because Edward being the self-absorbed vampire that we love, he just doesn’t get it. I mean, he wants to drink her dry, but he’s a “vegetarian”, so he doesn’t, but why does she hate him so much? When he finds out why, and Bella and him kind of call a truce, he still needs help, because of course, he’s fallen in love with her. His family or namely Alice, step in to help or do what’s best really. LOL
My sister sighed through the line and brought me back to the present.
“Okay, now tell me,” I said, as I began quickly pacing the perimeter of the lawn, careful to dodge Esme’s overflowing planters, of course. “What did you do?”
Alice sighed again, and I nearly threw my phone in aggravation. Taking a slow, deep breath of pine-laced air, I stopped at the far left corner, where through the trees, the Seattle skyline loomed, jagged and gray. “Alice? Tell me what you’ve done.”
“Fine,” she huffed. “I bought an apartment.”
I stilled and in the process, snapped a thick, overhanging branch that I’d not even realized that I’d grabbed. “You did what?” I asked, not bothering to even try to hide my incredulity.
Alice laughed, high and tinkling. “Don’t be so obtuse.”
Understand, occasionally living apart wasn’t that much of an oddity for our family. Through the various decades and cities, we all – Alice and Jasper, Rosalie and Emmett, even I – had temporarily moved out of the family home at some point in time. Never far, usually in the same town, but just enough for a little peace and space.
But this was not that. I didn’t need to be able to hear her mind to know that Alice’s newest acquisition had absolutely nothing to do with a sudden desire for privacy.
Raking my fingers through my wind-mangled hair, I closed my eyes, preparing for only God knew what. “Why would you do that?”
Still laughing, my sister clucked her tongue at me as though I were some kind of simpleton. “Because frankly, dearest brother, whether you like it or not, you need help.”
Another branch snapped, this one big enough and loud enough that it echoed like a gunshot through the entire neighborhood. “I do not.”
“Yes, trust me, you do. This isn’t exactly up your alley.”
“What’s not up my alley?” Yes, I was playing dumb. Unfortunately, Alice knew it, too.
She snorted indelicately. “Fine. Let me just be blunt here. You don’t know shit about women. And you certainly don’t know how to… to use an expression you might be familiar with… court one.”
I made a point to move away from the foliage lest I destroy it all. “Excuse me?” I halfway yelled, holding the phone out so that I could glare at it as a matter of principle. “Mind reader here. In case you’ve forgotten.”
“Whatever,” she muttered, and I swore that I could see her rolling her eyes the way she always did when she thought I was being an idiot. “Look, I don’t know if you’ve noticed or not, but women these days aren’t keen on stalkers. It’s just not something that they find romantic. It’s… just not. Trust me.”
“What are you implying?” I asked, indignant, because I was not a stalker. I simply was… concerned for Isabella’s safety. And yes, fine, I was completely mesmerized by her. I could admit that now, at least to myself. We vampires did that kind of thing when we found our… someone important.
“I said she was fuzzy, Edward, not that I couldn’t see her at all.” Alice paused, and in the background I heard half a dozen voices, all college aged, which told me she was somewhere near campus. A second passed before she quietly added, “And I can definitely see you. You were totally being a creeper, at least by human standards.”
“I was not!” I growled. “I love her.”
I had just enough time to curse and mentally berate myself for that little outburst before Alice went on as though I hadn’t just blurted a first in my endless, miserable existence. “You’re point? I bet if you asked her, she’d call you a freak.”
Ugh. Because there was no way in hell I would ask Isabella anything of the sort. She’d call me something far worse.
“Think of it like this,” Alice said, lighter, purposefully cheerful and taking on what I liked to call her saleswoman tone. By the way, no good had ever come of it.
“Now, with me being close to her, you’ll have a real excuse to be near her apartment. You can easily protect her. And while you’re at it, who knows, maybe you’ll run into each other outside of class and you can actually get to know her a little. Naturally. Like normal people do.” The saleswoman tone dropped and gave way to something that I could only describe as scandalized. “Not when you’re climbing through her bedroom window and hiding in her closet!” There were choppy, garbled sounds of Alice muffling the phone with her hand, but I could still hear her whisper to whom I hoped was Jasper. “I still can’t believe he did that! And you didn’t stop him!”
I lifted my face to the sky and sighed. “I can hear you.”
“Whatever,” she muttered again. Before I could point out my sister’s overuse of the annoying and clichéd line, she rattled off an address and issued orders as to what time I was to arrive with the first of her boxes.
Knowing that at this point, there was no hope of changing Alice’s mind, and okay, perhaps admittedly with somewhat piqued interest now that I considered her proposal and the possibilities it afforded, I asked, “So… just how close is your new place to hers?”
Alice chuckled, and I immediately groaned. “Alice? How close?”
“Across the hall.”
I’m so glad that I decided to NOT wait to read this WIP, because I love the idea of prompts, and this Edward is just too cute for words.
The last workshop, Fic Diving 101, hosted by Leckadams was one of my favorites simply because I’m ALWAYS hunting for a fic I’ve read but can’t seem to find it again.
Leckadams shared a powerpoint presentation that we all swooned over! I’m not kidding! She shared information about all the sites that you can pull fics from; how you can do searches via ‘Community’ on FF.net; and not to forget site such as A03, A Different Forest (ADF), and Perusing the Shelves for tracking down missing/lost fics. Some sites may require a log-in, but it’s worth it to find stories. She also pointed out to be respectful of the writers wishes if they decide not to share their stories on these sites.
Leckadams recommended everyone getting to know how to use Calibre! I think the entire group wanted a one-on-one session with her after she showed us just what Calibre could do. We were amazed! [KB: I don’t know what Calibre is, but I use FLAG to download my completed stories to my iPad here.]
The workshops were fun, helpful, insightful, and brought a new appreciation for both writers and readers. For the writers to actually see and meet readers who appreciate their talent and time….. then to have the readers learn how much emotion and work the writers put into their stories….. TFMU was the perfect experience for both reader and writer to share their mutual respect for each other and this fandom! And let’s not forget the fun part!! If you look at #TFMU or @TwificMeetup, you’ll see how much fun we had in Chicago! And plenty of pictures too!
Sadly, Sunday came to fast, and after our good-bye breakfast, many friends had to depart to their real lives. But a lucky few got to go on a “Twi-Fic Tour” of Chicago! That’s right, we were headed for a few of the locations mentioned in fics! How cool is that?
And oh, what an adventure we had….. the tour bus broke down! We still got to see 4 out of 7 locations. The best part was while driving to each featured fic site, our lovely tour guide @theswandive and others read excerpts from each story. It was personalized “audio-fic”. [KB: That sounds so cool. I forget how many fics are based in Chicago.]
Our first stop was Navy Pier featured in Summer Nights by Jenny0719. We were able to hop off and take some pictures… but when we got back to leave, the poor bus wouldn’t start. In other words, I got to shop for a Blackhawks shirt while waiting on the new bus. (Yay Blackhawks!) [KB: THAT’S RIGHT!]
Next stop was the Grant Park/Buckingham Fountain for There Will Be Blood by JohnnyBoy7. It was exciting to see parts of Chicago, but to put into frame of a fic that you really enjoyed made it that much more fun to see. (On a personal note: Lechadams’ phone is very slippery and doesn’t like landing on concrete.)
Stop number 3, found us at Couch Tomb for Beyond Time written by TKegl. This is the site where Edward tells Bella what he expects from his wife…. and since the fic is set in 1918, Bella is bit miffed at the old-fashion way of life. [KB: Huge fan of TM Franklin’s work! Check out her website here.]
A super sweet guy took a group picture for us and we tweeted to @tkegl to let her know how much we were fangirling! And the lovely, TKegl sent a few prizes for us from her book MORE.
Our last stop took us to Holy Name Cathedral for JohnnyBoy7’s There Will Be Blood. Wow! Such a beautiful church. Another group was taken, but where that photo went, I have no clue. I can certainly think of the scene from the excerpt and recall just how perfect the location is for that part of the story.
It just goes to show how much research writers do to make their story believable and better for the reader.
So there you have it…. TFMU was a blast! One last ‘thank you’ to the organizers for pulling off such a fun-filled event! Not to mention, the writers and presenters who took their time away from their busy lives to share their knowledge with us.
Here’s hoping that there will be a 2014 TFMU and that I’ll see you there!!
P.S. Since mentioning angst in this post, I just wanted to mention a great short but bittersweet fic that I think even non-angst readers should read. Say Goodbye by MariahajilE is complete at ten chapters. This story hurts. I won’t lie about that but it’s such a real story. She brings you the cycle of life in such a simple, straight, honest manner. Chapter nine is my favorite and it’s only snippets of how life goes from childhood, love, marriage, children, stressful moments, the highs and lows, bills to be paid, getting older, and then the next phase. You’ll be glad you put your big girl panties on and gave it a chance. But yes, you might want a tissue.
With all of these great one shots contests going on this summer, look forward to posts dedicated to the winners, as well as other stories that relate.
Have a great summer weekend!!